Despite exciting and varied careers in journalism, TV hosting and production, multimedia sales and marketing, and founding an online lifestyle magazine, Nicole Brende has always felt like she was destined for a career in real estate.
The Brende family undoubtedly has the real estate bug, as her mother, father, uncles, and cousins have all been or are still in the industry — her father has even been a land developer in Greater Houston for more than two decades. Now, Brende has been a member of Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty's Circle of Excellence since 2012, and in the company's Hall of Fame since 2017.
Beyond being an expert on the local market and in the ever-changing rules and regulations of the industry, Brende has found that the most important goal is always to act with integrity, professionalism, and respect for all participants in any transaction. Being a strong communicator helps too, as she strives to always remain approachable and available for her clients. She is also certified to work with relocation buyers, a specialized skill much in demand in a fast-moving city like Houston.
Brende is a proud supporter of her community, serving on numerous charitable host committees and staying active with the SMU Houston alumni chapter and Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She is also a guest writer for local publications, and enjoys spending quality time with her family, traveling, cooking, and attending the Houston Symphony, Theater Under the Stars, and charity events.
We chatted with Brende to find out more about her work and what drives her.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Nicole Brende: I feel as if I can bundle all my varied experiences and skills into my current role as a fact-finder, communicator, compelling storyteller, salesperson, and entrepreneur. Although touring pretty homes seems like a perk, there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes: staying current on market knowledge, trends, and inventory; relationship building; understanding contracts, ethics, and changing laws and regulations; successful negotiations; and so much more. There is never a dull day in my line of work.
CM: What's one piece of advice you'd give to people looking for their dream home?
NB: Be patient and prepared. I suggest buyers begin by writing down their wishes. List the styles of homes they like, areas of town, specific school requirements, and other lifestyle requirements. Once your chosen local Realtor is armed with this information, a short-list of available homes is easily made and the search can begin.
Sometimes I am able to direct buyers to a home that is for sale, but not listed — a "non-MLS" or "pocket" listing. Since these are not published, only Realtors who are "in the know" will find them. When there is no inventory that meets your requirements, you may have to consider working with a builder to customize your dream home. Your Realtor will know the builders in your market and be able to walk you through all the important steps as you embark on the project.
CM: And advice to those who are selling?
NB: Trust your Realtor! Sellers must be mindful that the market may have changed since they purchased their property, perhaps even as recently as one year ago. An experienced local Realtor will look at the home from an impartial perspective and help guide sellers through the often emotional step of deciding a fair list price.
I also recommend that sellers prepare a list showing the value of their home's features and improvements, and also compile a binder that includes user manuals and warranties for all major equipment and appliances, as well as recent utility bills, maintenance receipts, and as much pertinent information about the home as they can.
CM: Sum up Houston in three words.
NB: Diverse. Culinary. Cultural. Giving. Oops, that makes four words!
CM: What do you consider your "special skill"?
NB: Patient positivity. I know that buying a home is one of the biggest investments my clients will make, and that it can be stressful. I always make the effort to keep things positive and put things in perspective, even when clients are faced with tough negotiations. Sometimes this requires reminding them that I am on their side.
CM: What's one thing people might not know about you?
NB: Together with my German-Canadian husband, Jan-Oliver, we are known as "The JaNic" (Jan plus Nicole). We even have our own website and other joint social media accounts, and we welcomed our first son in October 2018. I have a twin brother, and I am a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Southern Methodist University Alumni Association, and Alpha Chi Omega sorority. My hobby is writing for my lifestyle blog, Trende Brende.
See Nicole Brende's latest listings here or contact her at 713-302-9828.