Her grandchildren call her “busy,” and with good reason. Birmingham real estate agent Stephanie Robinson, with RealtySouth’s Mountain Brook office, puts in countless hours each week, from hosting open houses to showing homes to eager buyers, all in an effort to help her clients buy and sell homes. Her endless drive has won her a spot on The Wall Street Journal‘s 2015 list of Top 1,000 Agents in the Country. Stephanie is friendly, funny and passionate about the people, food and places that make Birmingham great. It’s a pleasure to learn more about today’s FACE of Birmingham, Stephanie Robinson!
Where did you grow up? What brought you to Birmingham?
I grew up in Columbia, MO, and then went to the University of Alabama. I married a great guy, Gordie Robinson, from Birmingham. We have lived here for about 30 years and have four daughters and three grandchildren. I kind of moved to Birmingham kicking and screaming, because we had lived in Saudi Arabia when we were first married, then moved to Atlanta. I loved being in Atlanta. So when my husband said that he wanted to move back to Birmingham, I was not happy. At that time, there were probably only three good restaurants here, and we had been in Atlanta with all of our friends from college, and there was tons going on there. But I’m telling you, it’s just been the greatest move. I think Birmingham is a hidden jewel. I should have been a Welcome Wagon person, because I just think it’s such a great place to live and raise a family. There are a lot of fun, new things going on, and the size of the town is wonderful. I love all this city has to offer and I love Birmingham’s welcoming spirit.
What first sparked your interest in real estate?
I used to always drive our friends around when they would come to town and show them different neighborhoods. When my girls got to school, I was planning to go back to get my master’s in education, and my husband was actually the one who suggested I consider real estate. I’ve always loved homes, so it was just a perfect fit. I love working with people and matching them up with the house that’s perfect for them. I love putting that puzzle together.
How has the Birmingham market changed during your career?
Twenty years ago, everyone wanted to buy a house that they could tear down and rebuild or renovate—everyone wanted a fixer-upper. Now, everyone wants to walk in a house and be able to just move right in and have it be perfect. Buyers want everything updated. The trend across the country is that people want less space, but they want it to be really nice, and they want to have entertaining space outside.
What is your favorite kind of property to sell?
I love a house with some character and charm. But if you have a very “vanilla” house, it’s also fun for a purchaser to be able to easily transform it into something exciting and put their touch on it. We’re so fortunate now with Pinterest and home shows on TV; people can add simple things that are not expensive that just bring a space to life. My favorite thing is to find someone’s first home, whether it’s a young couple or a single, first-time purchaser. It’s so exciting to walk with them each step along the way, and I love seeing their excitement and finding the right house for them.
In general, what would you say the Birmingham buyer looks for in a home?
People love a nice kitchen, because that’s the hub of the family. Kitchens and bathrooms are always key, and nice-sized closets. People from out of town are always looking for a flat yard, and they find that to be challenging sometimes. But, again, outside living space is important. Having a fireplace or a gathering place on a patio or having a really great deck or screened porch is very desirable.
What tips do you have for people looking to buy or sell?
I always say “when in doubt, get it out,” because buyers want to come in and see the space in the home. If you have a lot of pictures of your family in your home while it’s on the market, you want to minimize that, too, because people start looking at how cute your children are instead of noticing how great the living room is. I also try to always price realistically, and we have a wonderful group of agents at RealtySouth who help with finding the best pricing.
What is the most challenging thing about your job?
Whether it’s a purchaser or a seller, I try to keep their best interests at number one. That is always my main goal. So it’s challenging when you’re trying to give a seller the best advice you can give, and they don’t want to hear it.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
It’s fun getting to know the clients and having them so often become good friends. I love getting to know about their families and then sometimes it’s a difficult situation, like there’s been a death or a divorce, and I love trying to help them and be the positive light in the situation where things are not so good. Buying and selling a home is a very personal thing. And I really think if you work hard and do the best possible job, that’s always going to come back around to you.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
I had a very large home on the market that really needed a big family to fill it. I was the listing agent, and the family that bought it had four children, and had adopted four children, and I’ve never been so excited for a family to move into a house. It was just such a heartwarming story, and I loved how it all came together.
What is your favorite thing about Birmingham?
The people. This is a great town with really terrific people. Of course, I also really love the restaurants, and I like that you can experience just about whatever you want but still not be in such a big city that you can’t get there easily. I’ve loved watching Birmingham evolve. But the people are the best thing about Birmingham. This is the most giving community, both of their time and of their money. This town will just get behind and support so many wonderful things to make the town better.
How do you like to spend your spare time?
Well, I’m trying to start exercising more, I love going out to eat and I love spending time with my family.
What is one of your guilty pleasures?
Definitely dessert. I like a good panna cotta and a lemon tart. And, of course, I love chocolate.
What is the best piece of advice you can give?
I’ve told my children that whatever they do, I want them to do it 200 percent. I think it’s so important to find something you have a passion for, because then it’s not so much work. It’s enjoyable, as you’re putting all of your energy into it.
Aside from family, friends and faith, name three things you can’t live without.
My cell phone, my glasses and a really good cup of coffee.
Thank you to Meg McKinney for the terrific photos of Stephanie at 4370 Cliff Road in Forest Park. And if, by chance, you’re in the market to buy a fabulous home, you can learn more about the properties listed by Stephanie Robinson by clicking here.