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VOLUME I: CONVERSATION IN REAL ESTATE (CIRE)Meet Kim WilkinBy Laurie LeonardKim Wilkin speaks with the genteel charm of a Southern lady, yet the packaging belies both a very complex and well-traveled businesswoman.The youthful 50-year-old has graced the offices of Austin Realty for several years, becoming one of the agency’s residential housing stars. She recently sat down with Go4Rent to discuss the market in whitehot Austin and why she believes plying clients with relationship-building flowers or Lowe’s gift cards upon closing never hurts. She also told us that she broke the standard mold by working as a ski instructor in Europe after earning her BBA in Finance from the University of Texas Austin.“Yes, instead of getting a regular job when I graduated, I ended up moving overseas for five and a half years. I lived in London; Kitzbuhel, Austria; Northern Italy; and Germany. I learned to speak German the way a kid does: I asked what something was; I asked ‘how do you say this?’ And that’s how I learned it. At the time I was fluent. I can’t read or write German now. [Speaks German for a moment and laughs.]"She came back to the U.S. and started a wine distributorship, building that business for 15 years, then selling it. “My family had always been small-time real estate investors. While being a wine importer and distributor, I started investing in residential real estate,” she says. “I really feel that real estate is a way to wealth.”
Indeed, she is realizing her ambitions, becoming a Platinum Top 50 REALTORS® Finalist in 2020, a Realty Austin Diamond Club $10M+ Top Producer in 2018 and 2019 and Austin Business Journal’s Nominee for Top 50 Residential Realtors in 2014, among many other accolades. She is also a Certified International Property Specialist, a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and graduating from Graduate, REALTOR® Institute.Today, she is also a Go4Rent client and enjoys using our services whenever she needs a vetted lead. Her market includes Central Austin and downtown, including Pemberton, Zilker, Tarrytown, Westlake, Rosedale, Northwest Hills, Westlake, Rosedale and Allendale. She works with single-family homes, condos and duplexes; and her expertise includes short-term rental investing not only for local clients but for foreign investors in the Austin market. She can help her clients buy, sell or lease their home.“I have been a residential Realtor for a decade, and I have been an investor for a little bit longer than that. And my family invested. I used to, when I was younger, go to see my parents’ fourplexes and have to go paint and help them fix things when tenants moved out, and my grandparents also did it,” says Wilkins.She praises Austin for “continuing to grow and continuing to build. There are just so many buildings downtown that are slated to be built… including residential properties at 70 Rainey and 5th & West, The Independent and The Proper. On Rainey, there are two new buildings, 44 East and Nativo. Nativo is an Airbnb building and is categorized as a hotel, but you can own incoming producing condos in this building.”
Her advice for any newbie property managers hoping to tap into Austin’s meteoric rise is to focus on quality — keep up the premises, for sure, but also use this as a way to attract the right type of tenants. She says a proper vetting process alleviates a lot of potential problems: “You have to answer the phone when they call when something is broken, but generally tenants who are long-term are looking after the property [very well].”Another piece of advice is to ensure you continue your education, such as she has done with her multiple certifications. “I have completed courses on working with foreign investors and people moving to the U.S. [For example], I have a few lenders that work specifically with Latin populations, since we are hugely influenced by Central and South America here in Texas. And I’m also a certified luxury property specialist … which required a course on how to work on the luxury side of things, as well as how to market luxury properties.”Such certifications help her build relationships with both clients and peers, which helps “to get your properties sold, or connect with Realtors in other states where we’re reciprocating with clients. It also just brings it to a different level. You never know when [a potential client is] looking [for someone with particular expertise and one has] these certifications, that that Realtor has this quality, this type of education, can handle this style of client well, and works well with international people, luxury people. Continuing education is extremely important to stay on top of things.”Another Wilkin trait is simply knowing her city very, very well. For example, Austin will be getting a Tesla plant and she’s excited. “I’m gonna have to take a course on how to drive a Tesla!” she quips. “I really am excited. Austin is so innovative and forward-thinking. Even 30 years ago when I moved to Austin originally, it was full of entrepreneurs."
"People want to be here," she continued. "There’s a lot of life that is happening here in Austin, and as a result more industry is coming. We are developing, we are open to industry and we are open to the growth. We have some issues with infrastructure. But beyond that, there are a million reasons to love Austin and about two not to: one is the infrastructure, and the second one is August, when it’s 105 degrees. That’s all over Texas though!"When she’s not looking after her clients, Wilkin will either be chatting with friends or partaking in her favorite activity: travel. “I just went to the San Juan Islands on the outskirts of Seattle, and it was gorgeous. It was on the Canadian border … the weather was great, 55 to 80 degrees, and I island-hopped for a week. We hiked and I tried Northwest Seafood—salmon and halibut and oysters and crab!”