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In Sudden Succession

By MNR News posted 11-23-2021 09:30


How a Realtor® went from agent to owner in the wake of tragedy

When Wendy Emler started at Century 21 in Fairmont in 2012, she had no ambitions about eventually taking over the business. Tragically, Dale Schuman, the brokerage’s owner, developed terminal cancer barely a year after she joined. Still reeling from the news, she was more than a little surprised when Schuman approached Emler and her husband Clay about becoming the brokerage’s new owners.

“I didn’t even have my broker’s license at that point,” Emler recalled. Daunted by the prospect of taking classes and passing exams while juggling a busy real estate career and raising two children, she was reluctant to assume responsibility for the entire business.

“It took quite a few conversations to get me on board,” Emler said. But eventually Schuman convinced her that she was well suited for preserving and advancing the legacy of the brokerage he’d worked so many years to build.

“Dale cared a lot about this office and his agents. He told me that he knew I would take care of his ‘family.’” What he meant by that, Emler explained, is that she would be dedicated to helping the brokerage’s agents succeed. “He knew I wouldn’t compete with them and take new customers, but rather I’d pair them with the right agents.”

Flattered and honored by the enormous trust that Schuman placed in her, Emler dove into preparing for the transition. But given the timeline, the sheer volume of tasks and details was overwhelming. Despite some bumps along the way, Emler eventually took the reins and runs a thriving brokerage today. For those who find themselves grappling with a sudden succession, she offers some key insights.

“Do you research and ask for help from other brokers, friends, attorneys, and people have gone through it,” Emler said. And if your brokerage is part of a larger corporate entity, don’t hesitate to reach out and learn about the kind of resources they offer for managing successions. Most of all, stay focused and always be an advocate for yourself.

“It can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary,” said Emler. “Be proactive and start planning things ahead of time, and let others know what that plan is!” It takes a team to move forward and succeed, she added.

“I was really thrown into this role and reluctant to do it,” Emler reflected. “But I love helping our agents, removing their stress, and seeing them succeed. In the end, that means we deliver for our customers and build on the legacy of what Dale created.”