When she lost her business, her savings, and all hope of a quick financial recovery, Jaylene Groeniger returned to her roots and dug into real estate. Now she is one of the most successful realtors in the Treasure Valley.

October 14, 2020 5:14 pm

By Shelley Hunter

Listen to the Episode

About Jaylene Groeniger, Real Estate Agent

After working for more than 30 years in a highly profitable family business, Jaylene Groeniger and her husband expected they would eventually take over and run the company until their own retirement. But that didn't happen.

When the 2008 California housing crisis came knocking, home prices fell, foreclosures increased, construction permits halted, and nearly every business in and around the housing industry got burned--including the Groeniger's long-standing pipe supply company, a 72-year-old business.

As Jaylene said, "My husband, after working there for 32, 33 years for the family business walked away with literally nothing."

Had they known about the impending collapse or even had an inkling that they would not get a penny from the eventual acquisition of their business, the Groenigers likely would have made some adjustments to save their own home, grow other businesses they had started, and stay in California. But that didn't happen either.

Listen to this episode to learn how Jaylene ended up in Idaho, and in an attempt to recover financially while still taking care of her kids at home, went into real estate full-time. She is now one of the Treasure Valley's most successful realtors.

I just surrender it to God that I know He's going to make sure that I can make ends meet.

He'll protect me and watch over me...

and I'll have what I need.

It's totally a faith-based business.

- Jaylene Groeniger -

A new home in Idaho

The Groeniger's Home in Idaho

A Personal Note about Jaylene

In 2017, I felt the pull to move to Idaho myself. I had no idea what the future held for me and my kids. I just knew we needed to go.

When I told my dearest friend of the prompting, she supported me fully and referred me to Jaylene--a real estate friend of hers who had moved to Idaho a few years prior. 

I called Jaylene and liked her immediately. But more importantly, I found great comfort in knowing she understood where we had been and where we were going. She knew both real estate markets--the Bay Area and the Treasure Valley--and was uniquely qualified to guide me through this particular journey. On top of that, she shared my faith in Jesus Christ.

When you're moving to a new state--ripping your kids out of the only town they've ever known, in the middle of the school year, and in the middle of critical high school years--you have to know that the Lord is going to carry you. But that doesn't mean the move won't be stressful. Because we shared a common foundation, I could speak candidly to Jaylene about my faith, my fears, and my uncertain future. She understood, offered counsel, took care of all the details, and prayed for our comfort.

Prior to this interview, I only knew Jaylene as a successful working mom and thriving realtor. I am sorry for the trial that led her here to Idaho and to this profession, but I am not sorry that she was here for me when I needed someone I could trust. I know the Lord didn't place her here JUST for me, but I have to believe He knew we were coming and that she would be here to help.

In the words of President Spencer W. Kimball, "God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs."

I am thankful He picked Jaylene and that she accepted the job.

Jaylene Groeniger in the sun

Real estate is really about event planning and coordination of a lot of different moving parts, and so it really fit well with my background. I started doing very well right away.

- Jaylene Groeniger -

What You'll Learn in this Episode

  • How Jaylene transitioned into real estate and why
  • How to get started in real estate if you don't have savings
  • How to find a mentor to help you grow your new real estate business
  • The best (and worst) things about being a realtor
  • Most Importantly: How Jaylene has seen the Lord’s hand in her career

How to Reach Jaylene Groeniger, Realtor

Download the Transcript

 Finding a New Home (and Business) After a Devastating Financial Loss

Guest: Jaylene Groeniger

Shelley Hunter: You're listening to the Faithful Career Moves Podcast. I'm your host, Shelley Hunter. This is a place where we talk to people who recognize the Lord's hand in their lives and specifically in their careers. 

Thank you for joining me on Episode 11 of the Faithful Career Moves Podcast

Today, I'm interviewing Jaylene Groeniger. She is a highly successful real estate agent. I've been wanting to learn more about this profession for some time because I see many people go into this business to have a job with flexible hours. I also see families combine their talents and do real estate together often, but I know it's not easy money, even though it sometimes appears that way when the housing market is booming.

In the past five years, I've had the good fortune of working with two women who are realtors, both were there for me during a pretty tumultuous time in my life. I noticed that they share some commonalities, both are type A detailed-oriented, "get it done" kind of gals, both are exceptional communicators, constantly keeping me and all parties informed of everything going on, and both even doubled as therapists sometimes, because, let's face, moves are stressful.

I am immensely grateful to two women who took care of all the moving parts for me to sell my family home, buy a townhome, sell that townhome, and then buy a new home in another state, all within 18 months, and all with a series of miracles that these women helped facilitate.

Alix Galati, if you're listening, I'm coming for you next. 

Today, I'm talking to Jaylene Groeniger. I knew Jaylene to be a very successful realtor and a woman of God. I did not know she went into real estate full-time after a devastating financial loss. We'll pick up the story in about 2008 with the California housing crisis.

Jaylene Groeniger: My husband's family owned a pipe supply company. They had 18 locations over California. They were the largest mom-and-pop pipe supply company in the United States at one time, and it was 72 years old. Mike and I would have eventually become third-generation owners and managers of the company when his parents retired, but we didn't make it that far, and it was a multi-million dollar company. They were grossing 380 million a year in 2005, just before things started changing. They had grossed the most they've ever done, and then it just started changing. We had a lot of construction companies that had been in business 50 plus years that were going bankrupt.

You take all of those bankruptcies and combine them with some other mitigating factors that were occurring at the same time. We had just bought a $3 million computer system to upgrade the computers. We had a class action employee lawsuit and we had a new bank that was pretty new to commercial lending, all at the same time. It was just all of those factors, all within a few years of each other. 

My husband, after working there for 32, 33 years for the family business walked away with literally nothing. It was really sad and hard, and we owned a $2.5 million house in Pleasanton that I'd been keeping alive by using all of our retirements and everything, never thinking we'd lose the company.

Basically took every dollar of savings and trust funds that we had established for kids, our retirements, and cashed them all out, keeping the house going while making less and less money each year. We didn't know until the day after they closed on the acquirement of the business that we weren't going to be getting anything. Mike and I had to quickly shift gears because we thought we were going to get enough to pay off our mortgage, and had we done that we probably wouldn't have left. We would have paid off our mortgage or at least paid it down to where we could manage the mortgage.

I was a very successful business person when I met my husband, kept my real estate license there, I had a huge sphere, and I was very active with the school districts. I had done a lot of event planning, charity events from just raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. I could have been very successful there, but that wasn't God's plan.

Shelley: Jaylene, you had another business as well, I believe.

Jaylene: I owned a few businesses. I also owned a property management company that had 10 properties in my vacation rental repertoire that were owned by my husband's parents. They were in Hawaii. Hawaii was requiring property management companies to have a real estate license starting in 2012.

Shelley: I see.

Jaylene: It didn't matter the state, I went and got my license in California so that I could continue to own the property management company in Hawaii.

Shelley: Were you able to maintain that business?

Jaylene: Hawaii went down the tubes too.

[laughter]

Shelley: Oh, gosh, I had no idea all of this when I called you, to be honest.

Jaylene: Yes, we lost all that too.

Shelley: We're laughing now, but I know it wasn't a laughing matter.

Jaylene: It was very difficult. It just strengthens your testimonies though, I think, when you go through hard times like that and you realize, you look back and you say, "Oh, God was there for me for that. God was there for me for this." He always provided a way.

Shelley: I love that you have that perspective. You get to Idaho, is this when you decided to go all-in on real estate?

Jaylene: When we decided to move here, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. My husband was commuting from the company that acquired us for three years. I needed to be home with my kids. I got my license here in Idaho, it just made sense because I was already licensed and I didn't really intend to be a real estate agent, honestly. I thought I would be a broker. I have 36 years of accounting background, 26 years of business management, and with all of the experience that I've had, I just saw myself more in the management role and contract role than selling. Of course, you have to go through so many years of selling to become a broker, and so I started doing the sales part and loved it.

I loved to help people when I see a weak area to step in and get it done. Real estate really is about event planning and coordination of a lot of different moving parts, and so it really fit well with my background. I started doing very well right away. It just became something that I enjoy. I love meeting new people, I love Idaho, so I'm good at selling it because I love it. Now being a broker is not my goal.

I like being under a brokerage because there's a lot of liability exposure in real estate, and I liked to have that shelter. I am going to get my broker's license so that I may be an associate broker, because I feel like knowledge is power. I can have that for marketing myself and my ability to people that don't know me.

Shelley: Let's talk about the flexibility you get as a real estate agent.

Jaylene: It turns out it's not as flexible as it seems. [laughs] The more successful you get, the less time you have at home, you're out a lot and you work a lot of weekends. You go on vacations, you're still doing real estate. I devote, I'd say, 60 to 70 hours in a week to real estate, especially as you get bigger in your business, your business expands than you actually are spending a lot less time at home. 

My kids are now off to college and stuff, so I'm not needed to be at home as much, but it is flexible in the way that, hey, if I have an appointment at 10 o'clock, I'm not going to schedule another appointment.

Shelley: The kids were how old?

Jaylene: When I first started out, they were in sixth and my twins were in eighth grade, and so I could be home, went to pick them up from school or be home when they were home and do work from home during those hours, which helped me actually be home with them during that time.

Shelley: I know as a client when you're in the throws of buying or selling, there's just like, we need to go now, I need to see this house now, or somebody wants to come over now.

Jaylene: Yes, you do have to be able to go right now. You have to be able to leave your house and meet a client at a property in one hour.

Shelley: What's the best part about being a realtor?

Jaylene: The people, I love people. I love meeting new people. I don't think I have a client that's not a friend of mine. We start out not knowing each other at all and we get to know each other very personally. I think having all of the friends that I have from these businesses, it's the icing on the cake for me, and I just love knowing that I help people.

Shelley: Then what's the hardest part?

Jaylene: The hardest part is, some of the agents and difficulties with people on the other end that are not as maybe savvy or maybe have bad communication skills, and it makes it difficult to make sure that your clients are happy when you can't really do anything about the other side. I want every deal to go very smoothly and both sides to be happy, and sometimes that just does not happen, so that's the hard part.

Shelley: You said a little bit ago that you found that real estate is a little bit more like just event planning. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

Jaylene: In event planning, you always have to prepare for something not going right. There's always something and it's stuff you cannot control. It's very similar with real estate, because you don't know. You don't know until you start moving forward what you're not prepared for. It's adaptability to be able to move quickly in a different direction than you had originally planned on going without it seeming chaotic, to be able to make it seem seamless to other people.

Shelley: What's the path to becoming a real estate agent? Somebody's listening to this right now and they're thinking, "You know what? I can do this. I'd like to do this." What's the first step?

Jaylene: Education, first of all. You've got to get your real estate license, and there's an intense education program you go through. I advise agents all the time, or people that want to become an agent, I tell them, "Have money in the bank. You have to have capital." Doing real estate is not inexpensive. It's an expensive business to be in. You've got to have some money to back you up until you start doing enough deals that you can build from. Listings are expensive. I usually spend about 1% of my what would be a commission on that listing. Sometimes it can be even a little bit more depending on the type of listing it is.

You have to have money. You've got to be spending money to make money. It's not like you just go in and you're going to make all kinds of money. You get 3%, no, you don't get 3%. You're going to spend at least 1%. You've got to pay your broker splits. You've got to pay your franchisees if you're with another broker, and then you've got to pay marketing expenses, especially if you're new and you've got to get all your marketing stuff upfront. If you don't have this good sphere.

Shelley: Let's say I want to get into the business, but I don't have a year's worth of savings and I can't see how I'm going to. Would I go work at a brokerage firm in the office in some other capacity?

Jaylene: Yes, you could do that. You could do transaction coordination, be an admin person that sits at the desk, takes the calls, fields them and learn a little bit about the business. Those are salaried positions, so that's good, too. Some agents that I know actually pay people to go out, deliver flyers, door knock, sit open houses.That'd be a good way to get some exposure, the home selling too.

Shelley: A common misconception, when the housing market is hot, a lot of people decide they suddenly want to become real estate agents.

Jaylene: Yes, everybody thinks they can make quick money. They think, "Oh, I can sell two or three houses a year and be fine." You really can't. Most people that want agents, they want people that are doing it full time, have experience. If you're only selling two or three homes a year and think you're just going to use that and go vacation with it or whatever, that's not reality. You're not going to get more business doing that either because people want experienced people. If you're not doing several transactions a year, you're not gaining that experience.

Shelley: When you started, though, and you were new to Idaho and you didn't come with that network, how'd you get your first client?

Jaylene: I was actively involved in what it was called Friends of Beacon Light Road. The minute we moved into our house, I found out they wanted to make Beacon Light Road five lanes. I got actively involved in the politics of that and became the chairperson for Friends of Beacon Light Road and actually stopped that development. That was where I got some name recognition and was very active in eagle politics. That, and then I did a lot of floor time. I worked in the Coldwell Banker office in Eagle all the time. I was there five days a week.

I worked shifts where we would take phone calls. People called, and said, "I want to buy a house and I see this one out here on bla-bla-bla Street." I'm like, "I'm on my way, I'll show it to you right now," and that's how it just started.

Then you'd get that buyer and then that buyer tells their friend and then you get their people. I think my first year, I think I did two million dollars in real estate, which is remarkable, because even back in those days, the average price for a home was $250,000, I think, or $200,000 to $250,000. That's completely changed now.

Shelley: Another common misconception is, I don't need a realtor because I've got Zillow, so I can see all the houses that are available.

Jaylene: Yes, I get that a lot. There's a lot of people out there that want to do like “for sale by owner” or just call the listing agent themselves. I'm all for that if people want to do that. I support them, I've represented buyers that are buying “for sale by owner” listing and help them through the process. You just have to go in knowing that there could be problems and neither one of you are going to know how to handle it, if there's a problem in the inspection what are you going to do, if you don't understand the contracts in Idaho and how Idaho real estate law works, then you could find yourself in a problem with the house if you don't have representation.

It could end up to a very expensive lawsuit.

Shelley: That makes a lot of sense. I seem to notice that sometimes families create a business out of a single person who starts in real estate and is successful. Then, like you said, it grows and you need help. The other people in the family, they're already sort of been mentored in a little bit whether they want to or not. I've seen that quite a bit. A father, daughter, a mother, son, siblings. Why do you think that that happens that way?

Jaylene: I think it's like you say, they have by virtue of living in the same home as a real estate agents seen and witnessed and maybe even participated in that family member's business, and it just kind of organically happens. It is very prevalent, a lot of husband-and-wife teams actually. I know quite a few agents that their sons or daughters, they've seen their parents be very successful at it, so they start doing it and their parent mentors them and then they retire and the kids get their sphere. Yes, it's common to have a family business in real estate.

Shelley: Thank you. What haven't I asked you about real estate that I should have?

Jaylene: Oh, I think people should know the area, get to know the areas if they're new here. I would suggest that they go to open houses and look at it, watch open houses, look at the agents, see how they're handling their open house and kind of get familiar with how it works. Then, if they still feel like it's something they're interested in, reach out to a real estate agent and ask them if they would mentor them and get their questions answered before they start into it.

I do that a lot with new agents and people that are either going to get their real estate license. I have clients that are going to become real estate agents. I tell them, "Great, call me when you need some help and I'll be here for you to help you get on your feet." There's a lot of agents like me that will help people get on their feet. Seek those people out.

Shelley: It does seem to be kind of a collaborative space, which is weird because you're competing against each other, are you not?

Jaylene: I don't look at it like that. There's a lot of people that are real estate agents, and almost every single person I know has multiple friends or family members that are real estate agents. For me, I look at every deal I get as a blessing from God. If I don't get the deal, I look at it like my Father in heaven is watching out for me. Maybe that deal would not have been a good match for me. Maybe something was going to happen. Maybe that personality wouldn't have been good and it would have been a problem.

I feel like any deals I don't get is because of Him watching over me and any deals that I get, I give Him the glory. I'm grateful to Him that I feel that He's guided those people to me and it's been a good match for that reason. I'm very faithful that way. I have a lot of real estate agents who are very, very dear, close friends of mine.

Shelley: Jaylene, you're such a good example to me. What is a leap of faith that you've had to take to get where you are now?

Jaylene: Real estate, as you know, it's hit and miss. One month you might have 15 closings, one month you'll have nothing. Maybe you'll go three or four months with nothing. I just know that God is watching out for me. I really surrender it to Him. Like right now, I don't have any upcoming closings until next year. I've got a lot of things under construction for new builds.

Right now, I don't have anything else in my pipeline. I'm looking at several buyers I'm working for, but there's not a lot of inventory for them. That's why a lot of people are going to build new construction, because just there's nothing out there. I just surrender it to God that I know He's going to make sure that I can make ends meet. He'll protect me and watch over me and that I'll have a buyer or something, or one of my listings will sell and I'll have what I need. It's totally a faith-based business.

Shelley: I love that you see it that way, though. Tell me an unexpected blessing that you could not have seen for yourself in doing this business.

Jaylene: I guess it goes back to the people. In California, I just didn't have a whole lot of Christian friends or people that were faithful, that have relationships with God. I think, in this business, I've been so blessed with a lot of and surrounded by so many people that feel the way that I do about God, and we can talk about it and pray together. It's good. I'm surrounded by those people. I wasn't prepared for that.

Shelley: It's so interesting to me because you and I are not exactly of the same faith, but I was referred to you by a mutual friend who told me that you're Christian. The comfort feeling for me is that buying a house is a big deal. Moving to Idaho is a big deal. Bringing three teenagers was a big deal.

I needed to be able to say to you, if this is the right house that'll work out and I'm not worried, it was comforting to be that honest with you. I never felt flustered by the process at all, because I think I could feel that you felt the same way as I did. Like this was meant to be. If this is part of God's plan for you, it's going to work. If it's not, it's not. Something else will come along. You removed all this stress for me.

Jaylene: That's awesome to hear that. That's how I feel about every single person I represent. Some are believers and don't have that faith. In fact, I have one guy, I'll say right off the top of my head that he is not a believer and professes that but he has said to me, "I've never been a believer, but you really make me reconsider that just in how you are as a person." 

It gives me hope and faith that people that are not believers that I deal with will come to seek God through me and know that He's there for them and that they will have that level of comfort too.

Shelley: My last question for you is, how have you seen the hand of God in new career?

Jaylene: Oh, in so many ways. Not just the people, but my business is just amazingly huge and it just continues to grow. Even while I was battling cancer, I did $8.5 million in real estate, and that was a big deal. That's a lot in real estate, and I wasn't even working full time. I don't even know what my numbers are, but I'm sure I've doubled that this year. He's blessed me with so much work, and especially because I've been helping a lot of other people out that have had problems in their lives and they needed some financial support. He has been there to provide for me so that I can do that.

Shelley: That's interesting. Another unexpected blessing, I would imagine. Jaylene, thanks for being on the show today.

Jaylene: Oh, you're welcome. Thank you for the opportunity.

[music]

Shelley: As I record this podcast, the housing market in Idaho is going crazy, but I love to hear that Jaylene, firm in the faith, knows that God has a plan for her and for her clients, whether they believe it or not. I can't help but reflect on the trial that brought her here in the first place.

In fact, if my calculations are correct, the housing crisis that buckled the Groenigers is the very same one the upended Karen Stapley’s family business, the one we talked about in Episode 3. 

Isn't it interesting how both women responded, but in totally different ways and how God had a recovery plan in place for each of them uniquely suited for their talents with future work He needed them to do? It's like that saying, if you wait long enough, every story has a happy ending.

For the record, I work with plenty of wonderful amazing people who are not Christian. I most definitely do not limit my professional engagements to faithful people, but when I can share that part of my life with an associate, I find peace in knowing that we're both seeking God's will in working together, and that brings me comfort.

Be good out there and trust that God does indeed have a plan for you. Some of the most devastating losses you will suffer are just clearing the way for you to embrace something better. Thanks for listening.

Once again. Thank you for listening to the Faithful Career Moves Podcast. It's my hope that listening to this episode will inspire you to think more broadly about how your career and your spiritual journey intersect. If you like that idea and want others to have a similar epiphany, then please share this podcast on social media, leave a review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts, or leave a comment on the website. Doing so will help others find this content as well.

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Shelley Hunter

About the author

Founder of Gift Card Girlfriend, Shelley is a prolific content creator and personal branding expert. For the past 20 years, she's also been coaching people on how to up-level their careers, return to the workforce, and start side gigs of their own. Shelley is a work-at-home mom who left a traditional career as a programmer to be unapologetically home with her kids.

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