The real estate market is very strong in Louisville, and the demand for houses is high. That means that the top realtor in Louisville is extremely busy. Who would have thought that Terri Bass has only been in this business for 10 years? It was her savvy marketing and loyal network of friends and acquaintances around town that helped her launch her new career initially, but it’s her work ethic, honesty and dependability that keep her successful year after year. She has a knack for “rightsizing” people into just the perfect home for their lifestyle and stage in life. She loves homes and it shows, having renovated and lived in many homes over the last 30+ years with her husband. Meet Terri Bass of Lenihan Sotheby’s, today’s FACE of Louisville.
You have only been a realtor for 10 years and are the top seller in Louisville. What do you think is the secret to your success?
Prior to working as a realtor, I spent 30 years working with a number of non-profit organizations, serving on boards, volunteering and chairing events. I became proficient at organizing events and motivating people to get involved and make a difference in the lives of others and our community. Through my community involvement, I made many friends who felt they knew me well, who knew what motivated me and knew how I handled a challenge. They felt they could trust me. Trust is a key component between a realtor and their client, as we are often managing one of their biggest assets. I guess I already had a good referral network going into real estate, although I didn’t realize it at the time!
You use an interesting term when referring to the majority of your clients — you say that you are “rightsizing” them and their needs. Explain what “rightsizing” means.
One of the favorite roles I am asked to serve as a real estate professional is that of an advisor to homeowners considering “downsizing,” or as I refer to it, “rightsizing.” I find rightsizing a better description of what my clients are wanting to accomplish. They may end up with more or less square footage, but if we take our time to determine what their ultimate goal is, they will be living in a home that is just “right” for them.
Many of my clients wanting to rightsize are of the Baby Boomer generation. The fastest growing segment of the population is 65-74 years old and lead the country in new household formation. Today’s Boomers are more growth-minded than seniors were a generation ago. They are healthier, more active and expect to live many more good years. Most also want to enjoy their home for the rest of their lives and are planning for their next home to accommodate them well now and throughout their future. Boomers will have a big impact on real estate sales for the next two decades.
Guiding these clients through the process of deciding whether to make a change or not involves asking questions about why they are considering a move and determining if their goal is obtainable.
My clients’ answers are usually one of the following:
- They want less home and property to maintain, and to simplify their lives so they can travel more.
- They want to find or build a home that is more conducive to “aging in place,” which often includes a first floor master.
- They plan to pull out some of the equity they have in their current home, invest it and purchase a less expensive property.
All of these scenarios require different analysis and planning, because everyone’s situation is different, but for most, I can guide them through the process and in the end, obtain their goal of making that “just right” transition. Making the right move at the right time, whether it is because your family is growing, you’ve just gotten your first real job or you’re planning to work less and play more, is more than just a move of location or a financial move. Where you and your family call home, the social fabric you enter, becomes the hub of all other aspects of your life.
You love homes, having renovated and lived in seven homes with your husband over the past 33 years. What is it that you love about homes, from vision through implementation of a renovation?
We’ve enjoyed taking good homes and then enhancing what is there along with creating spaces that fit our needs. Earlier in our marriage we made additions to a home on Orion Road that worked for our growing family, preserving the integrity of the original colonial style construction, but expanding the kitchen, family room and bedroom. The biggest challenge was the work we did on a home that was over 100 years old, blending the old with the new so that it appeared to have always been there. We’ve always made sure to consider entertaining spaces as we always have used our home as a place to not only entertain our friends and family, but also to host events for the non-profit organizations we are involved in. Since moving to our current home two years ago, we’ve hosted parties for CASA, Scholar House, G Foundation, The Police Foundation, St. Francis School and Filson Club, with more scheduled for this year!
You told us that you spent more money in marketing your homes and yourself in the first couple years than you made. How did all that marketing make a difference early on?
Yes, having come from a marketing background, I believed that I needed to let people know that Terri Bass was taking on a new challenge. People knew me as a mother, wife, board member and community volunteer. I felt it was important for them to know I was now a realtor and that I was fully onboard! I spent twice as much as I made the first year marketing myself using print ads and direct mail. The second year I broke even. I believe branding myself as a realtor was needed so that prospective clients would think of me when considering buying or selling a home and be comfortable knowing I was a full-time, professional agent.
Using all your experience, what truly makes a house a home?
The way people live in their homes and the memories they make create the fabric of the home.When meeting with a client to discuss marketing their home, I always ask what they enjoy about their home, favorite spots in the home and why, and what makes their home special to them.
What are the trends in the Louisville housing market that we need to know about?
The market is improving, and there is a shortage of inventory on the market right now. We haven’t had this strong of a market in many years, so if someone is considering making a change, timing is good for the sellers and for buyers as well, as we anticipate housing prices to continue to edge up and may see some increases in interest rates later this year.
If you were not in your current job, what would you secretly love to do?
I would love to be a professional chef.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I was a lumber buyer and can drive a forklift.
What are three words that describe you?
Intuitive, compassionate, conscientious
What advice do you treasure?
I try to live by a quote I believe was made by Martin Luther King. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”
Fill in the blank. You’ll never see me without my ___________.
List of passwords.
Where can we find you hanging out around town?
At one of the many great restaurants in town or one of the beautiful homes I represent.
Favorite thing to do in Louisville?
Tell us some of your favorite local restaurants.
What’s on your personal reading list right now?
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three things you can’t live without?
Good wine, good food and travel to places I’ve never been.
Thank you to Adele Reding Photography for our FACES of Louisville photography.
Want to be inspired? Read about more amazing local women making a difference in our community in our FACES archives.