Debbie Zolan’s Success Story

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As a part of our exclusive Real Estate Agent Success Stories series, we spotlight inspiring stories of the most successful real estate agents in the industry!

In today’s issue, we’re going to highlight the fascinating story of a highly successful real estate agent in Brooklyn, NY — Ms. Debbie Zolan.

Debbie is the Principal of the Zolan Rossiter Team at Compass, a leading real estate brokerage firm in NY.

Debbie’s impressive achievements:

  • closes over 10 deals per month
  • earns up to $500k of annual gross commission income
  • closes over $10MM gross annual transaction volume as a single agent
  • is proficient in residential real estate buying and selling and residential tenant and landlord representation
  • has been in business for over 10 years

Read Debbie’s story below to learn how she became a successful Realtor and got to where she is today.

We hope Debbie’s story inspires you and serves as a stepping stone for your own career.


What led you to become a real estate agent?

What led you to start investing in real estate

After working in advertising and launching a T-shirt brand, which was adversely affected by the downturn in the economy in 2009, a friend suggested I go into real estate.

We were walking around in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, and he noticed that I knew a lot of people. My son was 3 and I was closing down my online fashion brand and wanted to find something else to do.

After my friend said he thought I’d be a great real estate agent, I asked friends in the business and spoke to my husband and decided to go for it. I got my license 3 months later and went to work for a fantastic brokerage.


What challenges did you face at the beginning of your real estate career?

I was very fortunate at the start of my real estate career in that I had a wonderful manager and colleagues.

I also had a tremendous sphere as I grew up right outside NYC and knew a lot of people.

Lastly, I got my real estate license in 2011 after a pretty tough market, so I joined when things were looking up. Not sure I had the typical start as an agent. I got lucky!


What helped you to overcome those challenges?

It’s a tough business, and you have to have a thick skin.

You lose out on property listings. Friends don’t choose to work with you. Other agents start to encroach upon your buildings or neighborhood.

It helps to have a good circle of friends in the business who understand how rough it can be. You can commiserate and share war stories.

It also helps to have a spouse or partner who listens and helps you focus on your positive accomplishments.


What was the most stressful challenge you had to overcome during your career?

I represented the sponsor of my building in Brooklyn and he needed to sell a certain number of apartments in a very short time period in order to keep the 421-A tax abatement benefit.

I was only in the real estate business for one year at the time, but when I found out that the property developer (sponsor) of MY building wanted to sell the units, I reached out to him to tell him I wanted to buy my apartment and sell the rest of the building.

I won the pitch and worked tirelessly, around the clock, 7 days a week until I sold 12 apartments in, I think, 3 months! And I did it alone.

It was a crazy time, and I had to educate myself about new development when I was still such a green agent but I did it. Probably one of my most proud accomplishments in all my 13 years of working in real estate.


What has been the most rewarding part of your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is always about helping my clients achieve their goal of either selling or purchasing a home.

When they are happy and feel supported by me through the process, that’s the greatest feeling.

I want my clients to feel that they have the best agent in their corner. And it’s really lovely when my clients become life-long friends — as it happens often.


What lead generation strategy have you found to be the most effective for your business?

The best source of new business for me are referrals and recommendations from current and past clients.

I work really hard to stay in touch with my clients through events, holiday and occasional outreach, a monthly newsletter, and just “hello” texts.


What essential software tools do you use in your business that you can’t live without?

The Compass platform is incredible. We have a proprietary realtor CRM program and marketing templates.


Can you recommend one or more training programs/courses that catapulted your business to the next level?

Can you recommend one or more training programs courses that catapulted your business to the next level

I have access to real estate coaching and a number of training courses through Compass. I like to stay on top of everything so I can be the most informed agent possible for my clients.

Find suggestions of the best real estate agent coaching programs and real estate mentoring programs reviewed by Real Estate Bees.

— Kimberly Anderson, Senior Creative Editor at Real Estate Bees

Can you recommend one or more must-read books that have greatly impacted your business?

Can you recommend one or more must-read books that have greatly impacted your business

I loved Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara.

It’s about the restaurant industry but really, every business can be a hospitality business — transforming ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences.

Find more suggestions of the best real estate books reviewed by Real Estate Bees.

— Kimberly Anderson, Senior Creative Editor at Real Estate Bees

Can you share any funny or unusual anecdotes from your career?

I worked in new development overseeing sales in a new condo in Brooklyn and spent two years in the company of a full-male crew of construction workers.

My daily language consisted of mostly swear words and to this day, I am still trying to break the terrible habit of using curse words so often.


What is your advice to newbies who are just starting out in their real estate career?

My suggestion to new agents is to align yourself with a fantastic real estate brokerage and join a real estate team as an assistant or junior agent.

Find a real estate team that will train you in the field vs. behind a desk, just doing comps. The best place to learn is in the thick of it.


If you also want to share your real estate success story with the thousands of Real Estate Bees’ readers nationwide, apply here. It’s absolutely free!

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