Fortner believes career all about helping people
April 10-16, 2017
By Nick Popowitch
When Kathy Fortner started her career in real estate 12 years ago, she couldn’t have asked for a better beginning.
“I got the most unrealistic view of real estate,” Fortner said, “I got my license in August and by September or October, I sold my first piece of property, which was an apartment complex.”
Fortner, a Realtor with Keller-Williams, and 2017 president of the North Pulaski Board of Realtors, didn’t let her first sale go to her head. She used the momentum from that first sale to build a strong foundation for her successful career.
“Nothing comes that easy,” Fortner said. “That was a blessing from above, because everything else, you work at it, you follow the leads, you show houses, you list houses... it’s a process. But that got me really excited about real estate.”
Fortner, an Arkansas native, was born in Stuttgart, and her family moved to Fort Smith when she was four. She worked for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield for 17 years before deciding to leave her job to raise her children full-time. She decided to work in real estate after her oldest son went to college.
“I needed something to do, because I was going to miss that boy,” Fortner recalled, “I still had a teenage son at home, so I didn’t want to go back downtown and work the 8-5 thing. I needed some flexibility, and real estate gave me that. I love what I do, I’m glad that I did it.”
Fortner began her career with Crye-Leike, then moved to Coldwell Banker, and finally to her current position at Keller Williams, where she has worked for four years. During her seven years at Coldwell, Fortner became friends with Bob Walker, who first got her involved with the North Pulaski Board of Realtors.
“Bob got me my first position on the board, he recommended me,” Fortner said, “I’ve been on the board now for six years. I think it’s a great thing. The board offers us, as agents, a lot of things.”
For Fortner, being a Realtor is all about helping people. She recalled an especially moving experience she had helping a family with seven children find a home.
“They had a limited budget that they needed to meet to find a home, and we looked and looked, and we finally found one,” Fortner said. “When we got it closed, the next morning, the mother had all those kids lined up at my office door with little hand-written cards, or a flower they picked, or candy. Every one of them gave me something and said, ‘Thank you miss Kathy for our home.’ I was in tears by the time the last one came through.”
Fortner realizes how emotional the home-buying experience can be, and does everything she can to minimize that stress.
“When I sit down with a buyer or seller I’m always giving them stories or situations of what people go through. Walk them through what could happen, to prepare them up front,” Fortner explained. “It’s highly emotional, I always try to stay really calm; I don’t get angry with the seller that comes at me because I understand. I just try to calm them down.”
Getting in touch with a neighborhood is also important, according to Fortner.
“Another thing I love about this job is connecting with the neighbors and the neighborhood. Getting down to the roots of the neighborhood, and knowing who’s around there, they will help you sell your listing.”
For people starting out in the real estate industry, Fortner stresses the importance of professionalism.
“You’re starting a business, not a hobby. It’s a profession, and as a professional Realtor, you have ethics and standards that you live up to, and you need to treat it as a business.”
Fortner also stressed the importance of learning from experienced Realtors.
“Don’t recreate the wheel. People have been in real estate for a long time, and you’re going to get bombarded with all these things,” Fortner warned. “Don’t spend any money until you’ve talked to somebody who’s been in this business at least 10 years or more. Let them guide you on what is worth spending money on, and what’s not worth it.”
Despite her busy schedule, Fortner makes time for her family, and takes off every Tuesday to spend time with her granddaughter. In her free time, she also likes to cycle, stay active in her community, and enjoy relaxing with her golden retriever, Splash.