Michelle Renninger is a Portage-native and Valparaiso University graduate who, after working in new construction for several years, turned her sights on real estate and joined the team at Century 21 Alliance Group.
Renninger got her start in the industry working in new construction with Vision Homes.
“That’s where I, kind of, got started in real estate,” Renninger said. “They were a local builder no longer building anymore but we did neighborhoods in Portage, Burns Harbor, Valpo, Chesterton and Westville. I worked for them for about five years.”
“My grandfather actually got me started there,” she added. “He’s an agent and he got me started in new construction. I was responsible for everything from picking out a lot and a floor plan to closing, and everything in between. It was really fun and it’s actually where I met my husband so it turned out really well!”
In 2008, when the housing market was taking a nose dive, the new construction market was taking a severe hit. Renninger, and Vision Builders, were not immune to the troubles that were rampant across the country.
“One of the owners came in one day and said, ‘You know, we love you but there may be some things happening with the market here,’” said Renninger. “He knew Jeanne (Sommer) and I think he and Jeanne had a conversation about me joining their team.”
“He then called and said how Jeanne’s the best there is and if you’re going to learn from anybody it should be her, and that she wanted to meet me. It was a huge compliment and I think it was just a few weeks later that I started here.”
In her time with Vision, Renninger had worked with some Century 21 Alliance Group agents and had often visited their offices while seeking and working with home buyers.
“We had a very, very strong relationship with realtors,” she said. “Some builders do and some don’t but we loved to work with realtors.”
In moving from new construction to working with buyers and sellers, Renninger said, “It’s, sort of, different sides of the same coin. With Vision I worked primarily with buyers and I loved it. We dealt a lot with first time homebuyers which was really exciting. I loved working with buyers, finding that perfect house, that perfect floor plan, and watching it all come together was really even more exciting!”
“Here, I deal mostly on the listing side which is working with sellers,” she said in contrasting the two positions. “I’ve had to educate myself on the sellers side of the market which I think are two completely different things. It’s great to understand both perspectives - buyers and sellers - and I think they’re very different.”
As a Listing Specialist on the Jeanne Sommer Team at Century 21 Alliance Group, Renninger enjoys her time working with all of the agents on Jeanne’s team and, most of all, the home sellers who put their trust in her.
“It’s amazing and it’s an honor really,” she said. “She (Jeanne) has so much experience that, for a new agent, is invaluable. She is a great trainer and it’s very, very important that all of the agents here are trained and educated on the market, contracts, and negotiations.”
“The Team is just amazing. Every property is different, every seller is different and every situation is different so, for us, the team concept works really well because we can feed off of each other. I feel very lucky!”
The decision to buy a home is one that is never taken lightly. For most, it will be the biggest financial decision they make in their life and one that can be quite stressful. To Renninger, helping clients through this process and making sure they get what they’re looking for is paramount.
“There are so many agents out there and for someone to choose us it’s almost an honor for them to trust us to guide them through that process. It’s not business, it’s personal for us. We want them to keep coming back to us after they buy their first house. We want them to come back when they buy their second house, when their families change and they have kids, and then when they want to downsize. We want them to keep coming back.”
“There are lots of options and we take it very seriously that we want them to be happy,” Renninger added. “Finding that perfect house may take a day or it may take five years. We’re always on the lookout, in the back of our minds, for clients who want that house on the water with the view or the house in this one neighborhood. That’s fine because we’re going to keep looking for them until it’s the right home.”