Surprisingly, Judie Parks has not been involved in her family’s real estate business since she got out of school. This local realtor worked at the Naval Ordnance, Humana and was a computer engineer at the Ford Motor Company all in the first chapter of her career. After turning down an offer from Ford to relocate to Detroit to take on a bigger job, she stayed in Louisville, left Ford, got her real estate license, started working for the family company and never looked back. Now she owns the family company with her brother, Dave Parks, and they are a franchise of Berkshire Hathaway known as Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Parks & Weisberg, Realtors. As much as she loves real estate and her clients, this “painfully shy” businesswoman would rather be reading a book or cooking in her kitchen. This balance of high-profile Louisville realtor and relatable mother of three grown boys has kept her consistent and steady in a very unpredictable market. Meet our newest FACE of Louisville.
You have a master’s degree in computer engineering and worked at the Ford Motor Company. How have the skills you learned in that career translated into your current career?
The main thing that you learn in engineering school is how to think. That may sound simple, but, in reality, it is not. Engineering school provided me the steps to break down any problem into a series of steps and start to achieve the solution or expected outcome. This is a huge benefit to my personal business, as well as helping my agents achieve their goals.
You are now involved in the family business, with the Parks name being known for real estate here in Louisville. What is the history of this business?
The Parks have been in the real estate business for almost five decades. The company was originally started by Charles Weisberg and Lewis “Sonny” Bass, then passed to Frank Weisberg, Ron Weisberg and Pat Parks (my mother) and now is owned by my brother Dave and myself. We are truly proud to be one of the oldest family-owned real estate businesses in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Our history reflects that through good and bad times we have remained a steady force in the market, known for good marketing and professional, top-notch service to our clients and our agents.
What sets your business apart from other real estate companies in Louisville?
The main differentiator is that as owners, my brother (in a more limited role) and I still actively sell, so we have a true understanding of the challenges that our agents face on a daily basis and how to overcome them. We share our business opportunities to provide an immediate source of business to our new agents to get them jump-started. Our training is top-notch and our new licensees remark, after attending hours of Post Licensing Education, that they appreciate how well-trained they are.
You have a good balance of buyers and sellers as your clients. How does knowing your buyers help your sellers?
Working with buyers allows me to experience in real time the changing trends that a seller needs to be aware of so that they are in a position to take advantage of the market and not be chasing the market. The buyer’s perspective is as important as the sellers and if you focus only one side of the transaction you are not as effective in marketing a home to successful closing.
You talk about the “Pottery Barn/HGTV” effect on the housing market today. Explain to us what that is and how it affects your business.
I use the style “Pottery Barn” because it is easily identified as a “today” look. Over the past four to six years, buyers’ expectations have only increased. A buyer expects a house to be in “today’s” style or very close or they don’t make an offer. This is especially true in homes $500,000 and above that are between 10 to 20 years old. They became outdated very quickly, and HGTV played an enormous part in this by convincing buyers that a home should always be “flipped or updated” prior to selling and at unreasonably low contractor prices. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, but in Louisville, it costs more to renovate homes than depicted on those TV shows. It sets a very unrealistic expectation for the buyers and the sellers.
What is the hardest part of your job? What is the easiest?
The hardest part of my job is knowing that my financial success is completely on my shoulders. This can be very scary. But I tell myself the same thing I tell all our agents: “I can be as successful or as unsuccessful as I choose.” Even when the market bottomed out, I showed up every day and worked.
The easiest or best part of my job is working with the people who I get to help every day, my own personal clients, our staff and our family of agents. I feel very lucky that I wake up every morning wanting to come to work!
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
Own a small tea room with a bookstore attached — the kind of place where you snuggle up in an armchair and get lost in the book and nosh on homemade treats.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a big believer in taking care of myself, so I practice Reiki and meditation.
What are three words that describe you?
Tenacious, compassionate and genuine
What advice do you treasure?
If you don’t value yourself, no one else will. This translates into every decision I make from choosing who to spend my personal time with, boards to volunteer on and clients to help. The other piece of advice that I took to heart when I was deciding to give up my career in engineering is “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” Better words have not been spoken.
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ____.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Go to the farmers’ market.
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
What are three of your favorite things right now (besides faith, family and friends)?
Cooking, reading and chocolate
Thank you, Judie! To learn more about Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Parks & Weisberg, Realtors, visit bhhsparksweisberg.com.
Thank you to Adele Reding Photography for the wonderful photos of Judie.
Read about more inspiring women in Louisville in our FACES of Louisville weekly features here.