Female Founders: Teri Degnan
Today, as part of our Female Founders series, we are featuring Teri Degnan, Broker/Owner of Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting in Newport, Rhode Island. Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting launched in 2012 and has become beloved in the Newport community since then.
Like many, Teri Degnan didn’t start her career in real estate. Teri was working in financial services when she decided it was time to switch things up. “I think I just knew I needed to try something different and I took a leave of absence from my job,” Degnan recalls. During those six months of leave, Degnan traveled cross country before settling in Newport, Rhode Island without a job. As the clock ran down on her leave, Degnan described herself as being “kind of in a panic” about what she was going to do with her life.
She got a job in real estate, which she soon learned combined her love for connecting and negotiating with people. “I sort of fell into the industry,” says Degnan, “I found a job because I could get a job in real estate because I was qualified.” With a business background and being an attorney, Degnan thought she’d “give it a shot, and then it just worked out. I love it.”
“I love being out there and talking to different people, seeing different things, and being on the move all the time–that’s my passion.”
When COVID first sent states into a strict lockdown, Degnan, like so many others, saw her business slow down drastically; people quickly pulled their houses off the market. Thankfully, the lull didn’t last long and Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting thrived throughout the summer. Flocks of people from cities like New York City and Boston made their way to Newport to escape temporarily, and subsequently fell in love with the area, ultimately deciding to buy a home.
When the market came back, it didn’t come without some anxiety for buyers and sellers, though. Buyers who normally wanted to “walk around and touch everything in the houses” weren’t able to and sellers were nervous about putting their homes on the market, not knowing if it was the right thing to do. Degnan spent a lot of time helping both buyers and sellers understand whether it was the right time for them to buy or sell. For many, Degnan’s conclusion was “absolutely it’s time.”
Taking a leap of faith into a market that had just come back isn’t something done without great thought, and also goes to demonstrate just how much Degnan’s clients trust her. Degnan says her success stems from being completely open and honest with her clients. “That is the most important thing. One thing that I think that most people will say about me is that I’m very, very direct,” Degnan reflects. “I just have to be very honest with them and if I don’t think something’s a good idea I have to explain to them why I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
As a result, Degnan says that most of her business comes from referrals and that’s exactly where she wants to be. She stresses the importance of reputation in the industry and the fact that it could make or break a business.
“I’m not afraid to tell someone something they don’t want to hear. And I think that goes a long way toward building trust.” —Teri Degnan
Degnan leads by example when training or coaching agents, and carries her philosophy of trust and honesty into the office. “I do what I say I’m going to do, and that’s something I always share in my office,” Degnan states. “Don’t say you’re going to do something and then not do it, because then you’ll never have the trust of your clients,” she continues.
Degnan makes it a point to be a resource for her agents, encouraging them to text or call her to ask a question or run through a scenario. Degnan helps her newer agents learn to trust their instincts, which she believes is a crucial skill to be successful in real estate. “When you’re newer in the industry, you don’t really trust your instincts yet,” says Degnan, adding “so there’s a lot of coaching like that” involved in her day to day.
Before the pandemic, Degnan had team meetings every other week, assuming schedules allowed it. Now, she has a meeting every week via Zoom to talk with her team about what they’re experiencing and what she’s hearing, believing that sharing information is what helps her agents learn and strengthens her team’s already strong foundation.
When asked about how she shifted her strategy to reach more people online during lockdown, Degnan says, “We had all the technology before, we just use it more.” She further explains that everyone already knew how to use the technology before, but embraced it more during the pandemic. Degnan’s team also doubled-down on the tools and technology they already had before the pandemic. “Everyone is trying to sell you a new tool, right?” asks Degnan, adding “I haven’t found value in a lot of them.”
Recently, Degnan leaned on her partnership with Union Street Media to redo her website. She had recently launched an expanded lead acquisition strategy with them and wanted to seize the opportunity to elevate her website as well, viewing them as ultimately one and the same. “I think Union Street was amazing during COVID because we redid my website so it just looks better,” Degnan says. Degnan most appreciated how Union Street Media helped her achieve her goals without adding new tools to the mix. “It was such a strong strategy and I really truly appreciated everything that Union Street Media did for me during that period because we worked within my current budget and just shifted the resources to redo the website.” Degnan continues, “At a time when I didn’t want to spend more we just held the line and got that done at the same time, so that was really helpful. They didn’t stumble [during the pandemic].”
When she initially started Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting, Degnan never expected the business to grow as much as it has. From a few friends joining her in the beginning to now working with twenty-two agents, Degnan says, “It’s crazy to look back at where I started and how many people I started with” and see where we are today.
“Realtors in general are a really interesting collection of people because they come from all walks of life and they end up together.” —Teri Degnan
Degnan thinks back to the very beginning of starting Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting when she was intimidated and worried about the success of her own company. Degnan believed that everyone already had a realtor and wondered how she’d ever be able to get a client. She then came to realize that “so many people don’t have a realtor” and she tells every new agent that “maybe they do have one, but maybe they’re retiring or they don’t want to work with them. It’s like dating, there’s someone for everyone.” She encourages agents to be tenacious, just as she was.
Degnan’s forced downtime during the lockdown hasn’t made her want to slow down anytime soon. In fact, when asked about her plans for the next few years, she says the exact opposite. “I can’t really see myself retiring,” Degnan admits, adding “I don’t think it’s in my nature.”
You can learn more about Teri Degnan Real Estate and Consulting on https://teridegnan.com/.