In this month’s issue, read how Kristen Bernard, Realtor/Broker Keller Williams Realty Is A Teacher at Heart, while being a Top Producing Realtor here in CLT!
Written by: Heather Pluard
Photography by: Kelly Klemmensen Photography
In less time than it takes a person to graduate high school, this former third-grade teacher became a multi-million-dollar-producing real estate agent in the Charlotte market. Now she’s leading her own team at Keller Williams South Park, closing on almost $46 million last year with Boundary Real Estate Group. Kristen Bernard could easily write a lesson plan on how to succeed under any circumstance.
“I started my career during the housing crash,” she says. “I knew if I could sell when everyone else thought the market was gone, then I’d be even more successful when it came back. I didn’t let the housing crisis dampen my spirits. It fueled me.”
Kristen grew up in Pageland, SC – a small town with one stoplight and about 3,000 people. She went to college at Gardner-Webb University and earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She then moved to Charlotte, where she finished her master’s degree and taught third grade at a Title 1 school. “I wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives,” says Kristen. “Teaching in an inner-city school was a life-changing experience for me. It was truly eye-opening. While being a part of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, I met some of the best people I’ve ever known.”
During her summer off in 2008, Kristen went back to school herself for a real estate license. That fall, she began working part time as an independent agent while she continued to teach. “I saw I could make a difference in adult lives as well as kids, and I was passionate about real estate,” she says. “I started building my network and selling houses to people I worked with, most of whom were first-time home buyers. I loved teaching people how to buy a house and how that process should look. It felt like a parallel experience to my time in front of the classroom.”
By the end of her second year working part time as an agent, Kristen made $28,000 – a number that eclipsed her salary as a public school teacher with eight years’ experience and an advanced degree. She left CMS and jumped into real estate full force. After a couple of years at a small boutique firm, Kristen joined Keller Williams Realty SouthPark. Later, she joined another rockstar Keller Williams agent, and together they created a team that had over $162 million in sales in just five years. They were the number-one Keller Williams team in the region three years in a row. Kristen attributes much of her success to the organic, relationship-based business model that she continues to use today.
“My goal has always been to turn clients into friends,” Kristen says. “I get to know them, and I put them first. Now more than ever, people need to know that they are not just transactions. I’m calling and checking in on my clients. Not to talk about housing, but to see how they are doing with everything that’s going on. I’m taking this opportunity to be the calm in as many people’s lives as I can.”
Last year, Virginia Popovich retired and gave Kristen the opportunity to take over Boundary Real Estate Group. “I’ve looked up to Virginia my entire career,” says Kristen. “She started this team. I took what I learned from my personal experience and used it to shape the team into one that reflects my principles and values. Our group feels like a family. We set big goals and build plans to get there, and we have fun along the way. I want people to join my team for leverage and never want to leave!”
Boundary Real Estate Group’s Director of Operations, Meredith Ledford, helps provide excellent leverage for the group. “Kristen’s easy-going personality draws people to her and makes her a natural team leader,” Meredith says. “She genuinely likes talking and meeting people. She pours into her past clients with personal touches and client appreciation events – which is one reason referrals are always coming in!”
On a personal level, Kristen’s team is about to double in size. She plans to wed her fiancée and business partner, Glenn Kirby, later this month. They’re each bringing two children to the union, ages 8, 9, 11, and 12. “My heart is full,” smiles Kristen. “That applies professionally, too. I love what I do and the people I work with.”
Kristen puts her passion for teaching to use in the Keller Williams market center. Eventually, she would like to become a Keller Williams instructor and continue to help other agents grow. “I’m proud to be aligned with the number-one training company in the world,” she says. “I’m also proud of Boundary Real Estate Group and how we give back to the community. A lifelong friend of mine has a son, Brody, who has blood cancer. My team has taken their whole family under our wings. We’ve partnered with Be the Match Foundation and the American Red Cross to hold a blood and swab drive to help Brody and many others in need. Real estate is so much bigger than selling houses. Love on people, be consistent, show up, and build relationships if you want to be successful. There are roller-coaster days, especially now, but when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”
To learn more about how you can help save lives, please visit Be the Match at https://bethematch.org and the American Red Cross at https://www.redcross.org. There is ongoing critical need due to the coronavirus outbreak.