Real Estate Was the Best Career Choice, Agent Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Robinson For The Register-Guard

Kathie Robidou avoided a career in nursing, but she says the field she did choose almost killed her.

"My grandmother and two aunts were nurses," Robidou says. "When I was a young girl, I had dreams of growing up to be a nurse. But the first couple times I saw somebody with a wound I knew that was not going to be my career.

"I don't like to see people injured, at all. Once they're healed up, if they need help the rest of the way, that's OK. But I can pass out if I see ...?."

Three months after she became a real estate agent, Robidou and three others were driving back from a house tour when their car was broadsided by a teenage girl who ran a red light on West 11th Avenue.

There were serious injuries, but everyone survived. Robidou almost lost her left hand.

"I had to wear one of those Isotoner gloves on my left hand to keep it from swelling, and my broker would tease me like I was trying to imitate Michael Jackson. ... But I still made the Million Dollar Club the next year."

Robidou is described by some as a gentle dynamo. Her team was No. 2 in sales in Lane County last year and is breathing down the necks of the ubiquitous Whipples, Randal and Cindy, and their No. 1 team at Prudential.

But, after 22 years in the business, Robidou also is, in one sense, starting over. She has opened her own office, Advantage One Properties. She had been thinking of doing so for some time when Curtis Irving announced last fall that he was going to close his office, where Robidou had been an agent since August 1985.

Irving's announcement caused Robidou to accelerate her plan to do "something different." Irving's office closed Nov. 13 and hers opened Nov. 16, in leased space on the top floor of 1500 Valley River Drive, right behind Marie Callender's. She will have the Coldwell Banker franchise for this area, taking over a designation that had belonged to Irving.

Robidou, born in Bremerton, Wash., has lived in Eugene since she was 6 months old and attended school here. She and her husband, John, were married two months out of high school. They bought their first house that November and had three children during the next 51/2 years.

She waited until her youngest child was 10 before entering the "outside" work force. By that time, her mother and stepfather were running their own business, A&M Autobody Collision Repair Center, and John was the general manager.

Robidou chose real estate for more than one reason.

"It had always interested me. I like people and I like houses. I liked the Realtor I had (when buying a house). I'm very much an extrovert and it seemed like something that would go well with my personality. And I'm a strong negotiator."

She says it takes skill to be an agent.

"It helps if you can listen to people and understand what they're saying they want," she says. "A lot of people will listen to people and get a different picture from what the person is saying. Or they stop listening because they've made up their mind they know what (the client) wants. It's really critical in this type of business to listen to what a person is saying and interpret what that is.

"You have to help them figure out what's important to them by finding out what they don't like," she says. "Once in a while clients have such a broad range it's very difficult because with such a big window they don't know which way to go. Nothing has a particularly high priority. Those are very difficult people to work with."

Several big changes have occurred since Robidou started selling houses. The biggest is the advent of the computer. …