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We are delighted to announce that top New Orleans real estate agent Jamie Magee has joined the Athena team.

As a Realtor® with Athena, Jamie Magee continues to expand her business and her reputation as a dedicated and approachable agent. She genuinely cares about the outcome of every transaction, and she makes sure her clients know that she loves, respects, and honors them. While she prides herself on adeptly handling the “nuts and bolts” of every deal—from negotiations all the way through closings—she understands that her job is really about treating people fairly and serving her clients’ needs. That is undoubtedly why so much of her business comes from referrals and loyal clients.

Before embarking on her real estate career, Jamie worked as a tour guide and carriage driver where she gained an in-depth knowledge of the neighborhoods of New Orleans. After 14 years in that industry, Jamie became a real estate agent and quickly became one of the top-producing agents in the New Orleans area.

Jamie is a certified New Orleans Historic House Specialist. Her detailed knowledge of the neighborhoods of New Orleans serve her well in real estate. Many of her clients purchase older homes, and she can provide guidance on the costs and practical considerations of home renovations.

Jamie, a Metairie native, enjoys spending time with her husband, Will, and their three children, Isabella, Benjamin, and Bailen. Will is a Deacon, and his father is a Bishop. Jamie’s faith is important to her, and she believes that her regular prayer and church fellowship are the foundation of her success as a professional with strong ethics.

Jamie consistently delivers quality, personable services to her clients.  To get started working with Jamie, call or email her today!

Jamie’s Cell: (504) 250-5858
Athena Office: (504) 507-8331
Jamie’s Email: mynolarealtor@gmail.com

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Athena Proudly Welcomes Tamara Neal to Our Team

We are delighted to welcome Tamara Neal to the Athena Real Estate team!

Tamara is a licensed and practicing real estate agent who has years of experience as a New Orleans walking tour host and carriage tour operator. She is a certified expert in the history of the City’s buildings and their unique architecture. Downtown, Uptown, French Quarter, Garden District, Central City, Mid-City, and her hometown of Metairie – Tamara knows them all. Tamara’s great knowledge of the City make her a natural for real estate.

Tamara has deep family roots in New Orleans and moved to join her family here in the 80s, after early years growing up in Biloxi, Mississippi. Her first career was traveling the country showing Quarter Horses, which segued into positions at racetracks, including assistant trainer and Master Farrier. She opened a uniform company when she moved to Metairie and then spent more than a decade in the tour business before making the transition to real estate.

“I know every inch of New Orleans,” Tamara said, “not just the buildings and streets but the mood and environment of the neighborhoods. I have learned to read people very well, and that allows me to help my clients find just the right environment for their unique lifestyle.”

She also loves home décor and teams with daughter/partner, Jamie Magee, to provide great recommendations for makeovers and renovations.

In her free time, Tamara spends time with family, especially her grandchildren. She also does volunteer work with rescue animals.

Tamara has the combination of knowledge and people skills allow her to help clients find exactly what they are looking for. To take a tour of the City’s best home opportunities, call or email her today!

Tamara’s Cell: (504) 513-0092
Athena Office: (504) 507-8331
Tamara’s Email: my1homerealtor@gmail.com

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Stop Talking and Help (Part 2): Athena Increases Agents’ Commission Income

The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is certain to affect virtually every business in operation in the United States—and globally.  Particularly vulnerable are those independent contractors, like real estate agents, who rely on commission income.  With government orders to “shelter in place,” and the lack of government services vital to conduct real estate activities, the pandemic will negatively affect agents’ income, no matter how badly they want to work.

At the core of Athena’s values is its commitment to put people over profits and support the members of its team.  So when this nasty virus first hit our shores, Athena announced its COVID-19 Agent Support Policy.  Since then, Athena has dedicated half of its operating cash to support its agents financially, reserving only the resources necessary to maintain basic operations.

But Athena’s owners couldn’t help but ask: what more can we do to help?  Indeed, what more can every brokerage do?

Athena’s COVID-19 Agent Support Policy was a good start, but we are doing more to support our agents.  Effective immediately, Athena is increasing every agent’s commission compensation on any transactions closed for at least the next 60 days.

We call on every brokerage to follow suit and support the agents who rely on commission income for their livelihoods. We are confident that, once the crisis is under control, real estate activity will boom, and ours will be a good business in which to be.  Until then, brokers have an obligation to help agents “bridge the gap” and continue to make ends meet.

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Stop Talking and Help: Athena’s COVID-19 Agent Support Policy

With Louisiana–and all of America–in a state of emergency, there is sure to be a disruption to all industries, real estate not the least among them. Athena Real Estate has carefully considered measures it may take to help the business disruption to our agents during these trying times. We are proud to announce our company’s COVID-19 financial support policy for our agents, effective immediately.

We’ve all heard enough lip service from companies with “health tips” and policies that “support” their teams in spirit only. Rather than extending more words of encouragement that ring hollow, Athena will provide financial assistance to our agents whose businesses have been significantly disrupted by the emergency declarations in Louisiana and the response to the COVID-19 virus. Agents with significant disruption to their business may receive an immediate cash advance on real estate income, which they may use to pay bills, buy medical supplies, pay for childcare, or for any other purpose. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Athena firmly believes that brokerages and employers have a social responsibility to support–financially and otherwise–their employees and independent contractors during difficult times like these. Saying you are a “family first” company requires more than words of encouragement: it means putting people over profits. Especially in our industry, where moms and dads rely on uncertain commission income, brokerages have a responsibility to “bridge the gap” for team members struggling to make ends meet during an unavoidable period of business interruption caused by a national crisis. We hope other brokerages will recognize they have such responsibility and follow our lead in supporting their agents while the country fights through and recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Athena Real Estate is delighted to welcome Alison Tujague to our team!

Alison Tujague has a unique blend of talents and experience that make her an ideal real estate agent: she adds value to every transaction, whether a client is selling a house, buying a dream home, or investing in one of New Orleans’ hidden real estate gems.

Alison’s approach is strategic and personalized. She paves the way by taking the time to truly understand a client’s goals. She then capitalizes on her knowledge, passion, and experience to provide practical, market-sensitive guidance that ensures her client reaches his or her goals. Throughout the process, Alison displays her trademark honesty, hard work, and attention to detail.

As a REALTOR® and former SEC-registered investment advisor, she excels in identifying real estate opportunities. She is a great source for optimizing a home’s value through curb appeal, design concepts, home staging, and renovations.

Alison is an accomplished investor in her own right. Her real estate savvy and expertise in adding value were the subject of an episode of TLC’s popular home improvement series, Flip This House.

Born in New Orleans and raised in River Ridge, Alison is a graduate of Louisiana State University. She holds a Series 65 Securities License as well as LSE and LSS REALTOR® service designations. She currently resides in Old Metairie with her husband and three children and volunteers her time at Jesuit High School, Holy Name of Jesus School, Boys Hope of New Orleans and other local organizations.

“I absolutely love real estate,” Alison says, “and I have an eye for it. For a couple purchasing a home for a growing family or an investor seeking to maximize return, I’ll make sure they get the best value on the market.”

If you are a buyer, seller or investor in New Orleans, Alison is a smart choice. Call or email her today!

Alison Tujague
Cell: (504) 236-1618
Office: (504) 507-8331
Email: alitujathena@gmail.com

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Athena proudly welcomes attorney/realtor Meg Peters to our team!

We are delighted to announce that attorney/realtor Meg Peters has joined the Athena team!

The New Orleans real estate market is full of opportunities–if you have an agent who can negotiate a great deal. Meg fits that description: she is a lawyer with years of experience in title work, both as an attorney and title insurance agent. She has deep knowledge of market trends and valuations and will make sure her clients get the best deals possible.

Meg grew up in Mandeville and graduated Mandeville High. She then earned a BS in Psychology at LSU and a law degree at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. After obtaining her law license, Meg pursued her passion for real estate performing title searches at Access Land & Title Services and by practicing as a title attorney for two NOLA based title companies before joining Athena.

Meg’s market knowledge of both the Southshore and Northshore reflects her roots in the New Orleans area: Lakeview and Mid City, where her sister’s family and Meg’s family live; Uptown, University, and the Lower Garden District, where she studied law and previously lived; the Westbank and Metairie, site of her title work offices; and the North Shore, where her parents live and where she grew up.

“Acquiring or selling real estate in the New Orleans market can be complicated,” Meg said. “I have the skills, knowledge, and commitment to guide my clients through every step of the process and meet their financial and personal goals.”

Meg and her husband, Blake, find time to visit family on the Northshore and in his hometown of Baton Rouge. In their free time, they enjoy trying new cuisine around the city, live music, comedy shows, being outdoors with their rescue pup, Gator, jogging the various NOLA neighborhoods, and playing tennis. Meg also enjoys volunteer work, most recently for the “New Orleans Finest” fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Meg is a focused, persistent and knowledgeable agent who goes the extra mile. She will do the same for you: call or email her today!

Meg Peters
Email: meg@megacquires.com
Cell: (504) 320-2424
Office: (504) 507-8331
118 W. Harrison Ave., Suite 301
New Orleans, LA 70124
Licensed in Louisiana
www.AthenaRE.com

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Athena Proudly Announces its Maternity & Paternity Pay Policy

 

Since its inception, Athena Real Estate has stressed the importance of putting people over profits.  Now, with its policy to pay its real estate agents maternity and paternity bonus pay, Athena is leading the charge to support moms and dads who need time off–putting Athena’s agents over its own profits.

Many real estate companies claim to be “family-first.” But after signing the necessary paperwork, agents of these brokerages quickly learn that such “buzz words” ring hollow.  Athena is “upping the ante” with its new maternity and paternity bonus pay policy.  Athena’s “family first” culture means something–as proven by Athena’s new policy of supporting agents at a time when their true family deserves to be put first.

Many Athena agents (and real estate agents in general) are parents who chose this profession for the opportunity to make substantial income while having the flexibility to devote time to their families.  As commission-based independent contractors, however, agents only make money when a sale goes through. And as any new parent knows, providing care for a newborn leaves little time for pursuing real estate transactions, especially in the beginning.

Recognizing this “gap” in care for new moms and dads, Athena now provides its agents with steady income immediately after the child is born. Athena’s management will protect the agent’s role within the company and coordinate with other agents to ensure that existing client relationships are maintained during this important time caring for a newborn.

How does the Athena Maternity/Paternity Bonus Pay Policy compare?

While virtually every brokerage offers some form of “bonus” pay for recruiting agents and doing things that benefit the brokerage, as far as we can tell Athena is the only brokerage in Louisiana to provide maternity or paternity bonus pay to its agents.  Athena is breaking the industry norm and living true to its motto: “Defy the Ordinary.”

Why did Athena adopt a Maternity/Paternity Bonus Pay Policy?

Athena values its agents and does not operate like other brokerages in our industry. While most brokerages accept any agent who wants to join the brokerage thus maximizing profits on a quantity-approach, Athena is different and only works with agents who are exceedingly professional and meet the high standards that Athena developed.  But this cuts both ways: Athena’s owners believe that these agents deserve to be treated like the elite group they are, and Athena views helping them financially after a major life event as a honor, not a burden.

The unfortunate state of affairs in our industry–indeed, in most industries in the United States–is that maternity and paternity pay is the rare exception, rather than the rule.  Athena hopes its ground-breaking policy kick-starts a trend to provide maternity and paternity pay, not just in real estate, but in the workforce in our country as a whole.

For more information on Athena Real Estate and its agents, contact us at (504) 507-8331 and ask for one of the owners.  We’d be happy to talk with you.

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Top Real Estate Agents in New Orleans: Finding the Realtor Unicorn

Buying and selling homes are two of the most significant investment transactions in which most people engage.  With a marginal difference in price (even just 1%) potentially translating into thousands of dollars, no wonder home buyers and sellers in the New Orleans area fret about finding one of the best real estate agents. And with so many agents in the business—literally thousands in Louisiana and hundreds in the New Orleans area alone—finding a top realtor can be a daunting task indeed.  Fortunately, some guiding principles can make narrowing the field of candidates a bit easier.

Here are Athena’s top five tips on finding the realtor unicorn to sell or buy your home in the New Orleans area:

1.  Understand how real estate agents operate. Real estate agents (technically called “Salespersons” under Louisiana law) are required by the rules of the governing authority in Louisiana, the Louisiana Real Estate Commission, to be affiliated with a real estate brokerage and under the supervision of a “broker.”  For this reason, when you list your house for sale, the listing agreement is technically with the brokerage for whom the agent works.

But make no mistake: with most brokerages, agents operate with tremendous independence, rendering your listing contract with the brokerage a mere technicality.  With rare exception, real estate agents are independent contractors and “run the show” in their dealings with clients.  Of course, reputable brokerages like Athena Real Estate have their agents undergo rigorous training.  Just don’t expect that an agent’s broker will be involved in your specific transaction.  For that reason, it is all the more important that you choose a competent, well-trained real estate agent to represent you.

By the way, while most people use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference between a real estate “agent” and a “realtor.”  Everyone with a Louisiana real estate license is an “agent,” but only those who are members of the National Association of Realtors are “realtors.”  As becoming a realtor requires additional training and certification, make sure the agent you hire is also a realtor.  (Reputable real estate companies like Athena require that all their agents maintain membership in the National Association of Realtors through a local chapter such as the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors.)

2.  Education and experience matter. The barrier to entry to becoming a real estate agent in Louisiana is relatively low: you have to be 18 years old, have a high school degree or GED, take a 90-hour course (available online), and pass an exam.  Compared to other professional certifications, this is an easy hurdle to jump, enticing droves of candidates to get their real estate licenses with the prospect of making substantial commissions.  Unfortunately, with the floodgates open to all kinds of licensees, the quality of agents in Louisiana run the gambit—from highly-qualified, well-trained, and competent agents with professional degrees, to high-school dropouts who got their GED’s and passed the real estate exam only after failing it five times.

We don’t mean to say that a graduate degree is a pre-requisite to being a good real estate agent, and there are certainly agents out there without college degrees who have been very successful in the business.  But, in our experience, education and experience do matter.

Thus, when you interview agents, ask how long they’ve been licensed.  (And verify what they tell you by searching for their license information on the Louisiana Real Estate Commission’s licensee search page.)  And ask about their educational background and work experience.

Because of the way real estate brokerages operate—with the brokerage taking a cut of every commission dollar an agent earns but paying the agent only when a deal closes—they have every incentive to take on any agent who walks through the door.  For the brokerage, there is only financial up-side to taking on an agent who, despite being less-than-competent, might manage to squeeze in thousands of commission dollars a year.  With the quality of agents on their roster so unpredictable, most real estate “brands” have little meaning to clients apart from the individual agents they hire.

But top real estate companies do things differently.  At Athena, for instance, our doors are not open to any agent who has a license.  To ensure quality representation of our clients, we interview and vet all candidates who want to join our team.  And we bring on board only those who have the education and training necessary to be among the top real realtors in New Orleans.  Above all, Athena agents must exhibit a high degree of professionalism and integrity.

3.  Beware of an agent’s workload. Give a task to a busy person, and it’ll get done?  Not necessarily.

Of course, one of the most significant factors to consider when choosing among the best New Orleans real estate agents is his or her experience and success in the industry.  By and large, there is a reason why the “billboard” agents have been so successful in the industry: they have repeat clients because of a proven track record of success.  But agents are human, and everyone has a breaking point where too heavy a workload causes the stretched-too-thin agent to lose focus on your deal—or pawn you off to an underling.

If you ask an agent whether he or she is too busy to focus on your deal, chances are you will be given a self-serving response: “of course not, you will be my top priority.”  Agents not only sell houses but sell themselves, and acquiring your listing requires a strong pitch about how important you’ll be and how equipped the agent is to handle your listing.

The solution?  Contact a referral service or reputable real estate brokerage who is in touch with each agent’s strengths and weaknesses, workloads, and personalities to ensure a good match with you and your deal.  At Athena, we pride ourselves on strong central management and regularly give clients recommendations for agents who are best suited to a particular deal.  Our clients then have the opportunity to interview candidates and select the best fit among the best agents New Orleans has to offer.

4.  Understand team structures. On a related note, well-informed home buyers and sellers need to understand how real estate “teams” work.  In Louisiana, realtors are allowed to form “teams” who work cooperatively together to service clients’ needs. Each team ordinarily has a leader who assigns work on deals to agents under his or her supervision.

Often, team leaders are the “face” of the team—on billboards, in social media, and generally in marketing to clients—but most of the work is done by other team members.  Like someone hurt in a car accident who hires a “billboard” lawyer but is then pawned off to another attorney, clients who hire mega-agent Tammy Smith may be surprised when they don’t hear from her again until the closing (if there is one).

Don’t misunderstand: teams can be very effective.  If well-organized and not overworked, a team structure can allow agents to be highly responsive to clients’ needs and effective in their representation.   It’s just a double-edged sword; what can make a team structure great—defined roles among team members—can also allow the “leader” you hire to take ride-out your deal in the back seat.

Well-managed real estate companies like Athena mitigate against this “down-side” of team structures by supervising agents’ workloads and matching the right agents with the right clients.  Unlike some individual agents—who fight for every listing no matter if it’s the right fit for the client—top New Orleans realty companies develop management structures that foster “win-win” relationships among the brokerage, agents, and their clients.

5.  Insist on robust social media marketing. Like it or not, social media is here to stay.  If you have any doubt about this, just check out this site on the pervasiveness of social media usage in our country.   Even if you’re not a fan of social media, it’s beyond dispute that social media offers fertile ground for marketing real estate listings.  In fact, the “reach” of social media advertising (number of views per marketing dollar spent) blows print advertising out of the water.  And with the ability to target particular areas, demographics, and people likely to buy or sell a home, the pin-point accuracy of social media marketing is unparalleled.

In the real estate industry, however, there is a gaping generational gap among agents dividing them into two categories: those who are super proficient in social media marketing, or those who don’t (or may as well not) do it at all.  If you hire an agent in the latter category, you are selling yourself—and your wallet—short.

Best to know these types of things up-front: when interviewing a candidate make sure they are apt in social media marketing, and ask to see examples.  Better yet, use only agents with real estate companies like Athena who train and require their salespeople to be proficient in social media marketing.

With so many real estate agents “hanging their shingles” in the New Orleans area, it can be difficult to sort through the pack to find one of the best.  But by considering the guiding principles outlined in this article, you can strike out the vast majority of agents who simply won’t pass muster.

At Athena, we ensure quality representation by screening candidates and working only with competent, qualified real estate agents.  Among our agents are lawyers, MBA graduates, and other qualified professionals.  And, taking nothing for granted, we require that our agents undergo training and keep a close eye on the transactions agents with our brokerage are handling.

To learn more about Athena or be matched with a candidate who best fits your transaction, give us a call and ask for one of the owners.  We’ll work with you to find the best fit among our top agents.

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Athena hosts its second annual crawfish boil

With great food and drinks, caricature paintings for the kids, and a tremendous group of people, Athena’s second annual crawfish boil was a huge success. Team-building events like this–and our commitment to top-quality representation of our clients–are what make Athena Real Estate one of the top real estate companies to work for in the New Orleans area and Louisiana at large.

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Athena’s newest team member David Waldvogel is a smart choice as your real estate agent

David Waldvogel is excited to bring his passion and construction knowledge to Athena home sellers and buyers. “I can help my Athena clients visualize how a home or business can transform into exactly what they want,” he says. “With my construction background, I can also give them an educated estimate of costs.”

David’s roots in real estate and construction are deep: he grew up in a family whose business is real estate development and property management and after graduating from Slidell High School, he focused on real estate courses at the University of Southern Mississippi. When he and his wife moved to New Orleans after Katrina, David went into construction management, where he excelled in project management, documentation and contract negotiations.

“Many of my construction projects were renovations and restorations,” he said, “and I gained an in-depth knowledge of real estate in all the neighborhoods and business areas of New Orleans.”

David decided to join Athena, a top New Orleans real estate brokerage, because of the excellent commission package it offers, strong recommendations from other real estate agents, Athena’s modern branding, and the technology and support it offers its agents.

David, his wife and three children live in Lakeview near her parents. They are active in the Saint Dominic school and church community. His backyard BBQ pit is a favorite meeting place for family and friends.

David is a people-person who is driven by a desire to use his knowledge to help people realize their dreams. For anyone looking at real estate in the New Orleans area, he’s a smart choice.

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