When thinking about the real estate field, it’s easy to picture working face-to-face with an agent, going on showings, or scrolling through your phone to check out new listings on the market. But how do all these puzzle pieces end up coming together so you can finally close on your dream home or sell your existing one? Meet the behind-the-scenes dream team at Century 21 Alliance Group in Valparaiso: Kathy Bowgren, Susan Bushbaum, Jennifer Jern-Freitas, Amanda Genovese, and Cassidy Stewart – the professionals at the office who run a fine-tooth comb through all areas of the business.
Jeanne Sommer, Owner of Century 21 Alliance Group, has intentionally shaped a family within the company over the years, and a very successful one at that. Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team and company work, after all.
Kathy Bowgren, Office Manager, has worked alongside Sommer for about 15 years. Bowgren spends most of her time at the office training current agents and office staff, hiring new agents, and, as the rest of the in-office crew would put it, being the ‘momma’ of the office.
“All of the girls in the office call me that,” Bowgren laughed. “I just think it’s because I spend a lot of time looking out for everyone and problem-solving wherever I can. We’re a family-oriented team and will always work together toward a common goal.”
Susan Bushbaum, Accounting Clerk at Century 21 Alliance Group for 6 years, came out of retirement to join the family and work toward its common goals of teamwork, success, and happy clients.
“I organize paperwork, post to our QuickBooks system, cut checks, and handle all other finance needs –I’m the money girl,” Bushbaum said. “Coming out of retirement was a great choice for me. I’m happy to be here with this crew. We make a great team.”
Another addition to this great team is Jennifer Jern-Freitas, Transaction Coordinator of 5 ½ years. Jern-Freitas titled herself the taskmaster and a sort of hub for all things logistical.
“I am very detail-oriented. I handle everything from the appraisal and inspection up until closing. I review documents and work with buyers, sellers, agents, lenders, and the title company,” Jern-Freitas said. “Buying and selling a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime –it’s a big deal. My job is to make this process as smooth and easy as possible.”
Cassidy Stewart is the Administrative Assistant and Processor – or “diffuser” of the office, as she puts it (lavender scented to be exact). She works hard to keep the office flowing smoothly and lends a helping hand whenever possible.
“There’s no rivalry here whatsoever, it’s all about camaraderie. Whenever there is a situation where I know I can help so that it isn’t put on someone else’s plate, I will gladly jump in to alleviate someone else’s stress,” Stewart said. “I try to put a positive spin on everything and am always working to help everyone on the team’s hustle.”
Amanda Genovese, Administrative Assistant, works alongside her in-office team uploading listings, keeping pricing accurate, and other fine-tuning tasks.
“Most of my time is spent reviewing documents and other aspects to make sure everything goes smoothly to help our realtors and make sure the clients have a nice experience,” Genovese said. “It’s all about the clients here, and we work hard together to ensure this.”
Though they may not be out in the community talking face-to-face with clients, the behind-the-scenes team noted that each contribution, or puzzle piece, is just as important.
“The environment that we have here is very supportive, and I feel like I have a place of purpose,” Jern-Freitas said. “In-office, we do as much as we can to give our realtors time to do what they do best.”
“Without the in-office support and fine-tuning, the business just wouldn’t run correctly or as efficiently. Everyone’s job is just as important,” Bushbaum added.
Although they primarily work within the walls of the Valparaiso office, the team of five still manages to spend a large amount of time talking with clients over the phone –whether its touching base, walking them through important steps, or gathering needed documents.
“A big chunk of my job, and my favorite at that, is talking to our clients to set up showings. In most cases, this is one of the most important times in their lives. Hearing their excitement is pretty cool for me, and I really enjoy this aspect of my position,” Genovese said.
Genovese’s co-worker Stewart also dedicates most of her day to talking with clients on the phone.
“My role is pretty balanced between the paperwork side of things and talking to customers. There will be many times when I end up talking to clients for long periods of time – I could be calling to set up a showing and making sure the seller has their pets out of the home, which will then turn into a 30-minute conversation about dogs,” Stewart joked. She loves every minute of it.
A common thread for them all? Feeling cared for and supported by owners Jeanne and Nick Sommer.
“Jeanne and Nick have such a passion for real estate and they truly care for their employees. Here, I feel like I’m appreciated as a person,” Jern-Freitas said.
“Jeanne and Nick are such great owners. They make coming to work fun and have given me the opportunity to grow within the company. I have moved to three different positions in just three years,” Stewart said. “They want you to grow and learn with the company.”
“We are extremely family-oriented here,” Bowgren said. “It’s a great place to work, and I love the team environment.”
For all of your real-estate brokerage firm needs, you can contact the Century 21 Alliance Group at (219) 462-2090 or visit their website at https://www.21alliance.com/.