Stephanie Henne in the Spotlight – Where She Belongs

To film a forthcoming Greater New Orleans episode of their hit show “House Hunters,” HGTV turned to Kenner native Stephanie Henne, an Athena top producer for the past four years in a row. The home renovation network could not have picked a realtor who better exemplifies the empathy, problem-solving know-how, and facility for generating interest that real estate requires.

HGTV initially found Henne in April via TikTok, home to one of her several social media accounts dedicated to real estate. It’s a contemporary example of a realtor spreading the word of her abilities far and wide through online savvy, but it’s also a milestone rooted in the longtime Louisianan’s history of hard work.

Whether over the Internet or face to face, Henne’s approach to real estate traces back to her eight years as a nurse.

First in medical-surgical, then in presurgery, nursing taught Henne how to combine critical thinking with care. If an ill person’s blood pressure dropped, she had to use her intellect to solve the problem, and fast. If patients misunderstood instructions for surgery prep, she had to determine how best to re-explain them for maximum clarity. Nurses absolutely must understand complicated situations correctly.

But left-brain knowledge was not enough in the hospital: for Henne’s critical thinking and advice to matter, patients had to not only comprehend what she was saying but also believe her. Every day, someone’s life was on the line, and she had to earn their trust. That’s why she paid attention to their human needs beyond the textbook technicalities. Empathic, she connected with their emotional situation. Patients, out of their element and dependent on the surrounding medical experts, found they could trust Henne.

Now her compassion and knowledgeable problem-solving allow Henne — who earned her real estate license in June 2018 — to advocate for her homebuyers and -sellers. For instance, recently, inspections revealed an older house’s aluminum wiring needed replacement before her hopeful homebuyers could obtain insurance. The $30,000 repair quote presented a roadblock. But since brokers across New Orleans trust Henne, she was able to explain the issue to the listing agent, who quickly procured the thirty thousand from the seller and put it toward the task. Henne’s warmhearted ability to sense the right way to interact with others in sensitive circumstances, coupled with her understanding of the underlying facts, secured for her clients a very successful outcome.

Another factor behind her success, according to Henne, is Athena, because the firm supports her in creatively marketing to audiences through her nurse’s blend of logic and sensitivity. She says, “Athena is very selective about who’s on the team; Athena agents are professional, trustworthy, and share a close-knit, family-style culture of co-workers, not competitors.” Henne feels nourished by a boutique brokerage that “is so creative and innovative with their marketing and with figuring out the next thing others haven’t yet caught on to.”

As her “House Hunters” spot demonstrates, Henne’s marketing aptitude is certainly impressive. Her website offers helpful insights — like the gentle instructions from her nursing days — through popular blog posts, an ongoing endeavor suited to Athena’s ethos of thought leadership and creative outreach. Among Henne’s most well-received writings have been “The Bucktown Boom” and “Moving With Kids.” That last notably provides left-brain tips even as it connects heart-to-heart with homebuyers, beginning this way: “Moving is one of the most physically and emotionally exhausting things we do in our lifetime. Moving with kids is even harder” — and she continues from there, perceptively.

Where will Henne go next? In the upcoming two to three years, she aims to assemble a team. A buyer’s agent, a listing agent, an assistant. Organizing such a squad would let her mentor real estate entrants remotely while devoting more time to her own family.

But don’t be surprised if, with her nursing strengths and marketing chops, Stephanie “House Hunter” Henne accomplishes that and, before you know it, finds another stage to step onto.

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Nicole Schlaudecker Joins Athena!

Athena is delighted to welcome veteran agent Nicole Schlaudecker to our team!

From her grammar school days when she sold homemade jewelry, Nicole Schlaudecker has always had a gift for sales. Since 2013, she has applies those skills as a real estate professional, helping families buy and sell homes in Metairie, Kenner, and New Orleans.

Nicole regularly works with contractors on renovation and new-construction projects.  And she isn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves to do what it takes to help her clients, even assisting with renovation projects.  Nicole’s clients benefit from her expertise in guiding them on sound repair and renovation decisions that yield the highest return on investment.

Born in Gretna and raised in Lakeview, Nicole attended Cabrini High School. She lives in Lakeview with her husband and their 9-year-old son. She also has a daughter who recently graduated from LSU with a finance degree and is now a loan officer.

Nicole volunteers for a local rescue shelter, and she regularly fosters dogs.  It’s not unusual to see 1-2 puppies in her home, sharing the couch with Prim, her black and grey Catahoula/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix.  Nicole is also deeply involved with her son’s school, St. Louis King of France.

Whether you’re interested in buying or selling a property, give Nicole a call. She’s as loyal as they come and can offer you a wealth of experience.

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Stacie Carubba is now a partner at Athena Real Estate!

Athena Real Estate is delighted to announce that Stacie Carubba has been made a partner of the brokerage.

Stacie, whose business philosophy relentlessly focuses on delivering “results, not excuses,” has a reputation for going above and beyond to get the job done. She is a dynamic agent with a contemporary approach to real estate and marketing.  Through the organizational systems Stacie has developed to run her business efficiently, Stacie manages her time to ensure her clients get the individualized attention they need and deserve.

Stacie grew up in Metairie and attended Mt. Carmel Academy then Louisiana State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Textiles, Apparel and Merchandising with a minor in Business Administration.  Having garnered an admirable reputation as a realtor with Athena Real Estate since 2015, Stacie has remained a top producing agent in the city year after year.

“I’m a quintessential New Orleans person. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I know every bit of it inside and out. I love the quirks and the idiosyncrasies; I think that is what makes us special. I love the passion of the people here and just the resilience of the city.”

“Results, not Excuses”

While caring for her grandfather at the end of his life, Stacie learned about the contributions that he made as a band professor. Many of his students reached out and fondly shared his inspiring words, “Results, not excuses.” Stacie knew this was meant to be her tagline and it all clicked.

“It’s a very personal slogan, but it also sets the bar really high. I need to be accountable to my clients and give everything 110%. To this day, I truly believe that much of my success is due to Pappy’s virtue and influence.”

As such, Stacie has acquired and honed her skills to anticipate client needs and remain current on the latest market trends, statistics, and strategies. She uses her ability to manage expectations effectively and to act as a reliable sounding board for her clients.

Real Estate is a Lifestyle

With the support of her brokerage and her colleagues, coupled with her unstoppable “Results, not Excuses” drive, Stacie quickly rose to the status of mega-agent. She consistently closes multi-millions each year and has topped $10 million in sales volume for the past two years.

“I always say real estate is a lifestyle. You have to be in it 24/7. It’s way more than a job for me; it’s definitely my passion. Even though it’s work, it lets me have a creative outlet, it brings me joy, and it makes me feel fulfilled. Once I started building relationships with my clients, I just felt alive and happy. I feel like I’ve finally found my calling.”

Stacie is an alumna of Delta Gamma Fraternity and previously held a leadership position within the organization for many years. She is the Vice President of the Synergy chapter of the Business Network International and she currently volunteers with the Junior League of New Orleans, Immune Deficiency Foundation, and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

As a result of her personal success and public contributions, Stacie was inducted into the Marquis Who’s Who Biographical Registry in November 2020.  In a whirlwind finale to 2020, Stacie also achieved her associate broker status in December one week before her recent nuptials on New Year’s Eve.

Mentoring Future Partners

Athena prides itself on mentoring new agents within the brokerage through scheduled lunches, meetings, and phone calls in an effort to help new agents reach their full potential. Stacie has taken on the role of mentoring new agents, and she is building a new team within the brokerage.

“Athena lets you keep more money in your pocket and be yourself. Athena allows their agents to have more autonomy and carve out their own niche within the community rather than being put into a little corporate box.”

The opportunity to participate in equity with the firm is unique to Athena.  Stacie recalls that “the second that they rolled out the program, I said, ‘I’m going to be the first person to do that.” She is the first, but won’t be the last. Now that she owns a stake in the brokerage, Stacie knows the real meaning behind delivering results, not excuses.


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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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