She’s bright, energetic and notably well-versed in all facets of today’s real estate market. Perhaps what’s most unique about Dara Gilman, is that her knowledge, sophistication and maturity far exceed her chronological years. Born with an entrepreneurial penchant, real estate seems to be a natural choice for Gilman who burst on the D.C. real estate scene fully prepared, quickly becoming the bright, new star of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty.
“I have to admit that initially I was a little hesitant,” says Gilman. “When you’re in your early 20s and trying to save some money and build your resume, an all-commission based job can be rather intimidating. Although I enjoyed where I was working at the time, I felt there was no where for me to go; no room for growth. I needed something more stimulating and challenging.”
Immediately after graduating James Madison University with a degree in international business, Gilman accepted a post with Time Inc. as a corporate sales assistant. She then accepted a position as production coordinator with LivingSocial, a popular website offering discounts on food and entertainment. This required relocating to New York. While she enjoyed the work, Gilman was anxious to return to what she considers her hometown in D.C.
“I feel a strong connection to this city and the people,” she says. “Though I’ve enjoyed traveling around the world, I’ve always known it was here that I wanted to make my home and build my career.”
FINDING HER NICHE
While neither of these positions were what she considered her true vocation, Gilman does credit these corporate experiences for encouraging her to dig a little deeper and realize where her true passion lies. “Real estate is the perfect fit for me,” says Gilman. “I love everything about this industry, especially working closely with my clients.”
Growing up in Japan offered myriad adventures for the young Gilman and certainly broadened her world perspective. It also happens to be where she first felt the allure of real estate.
“I consider Tokyo my second home,” she says. “It is truly beautiful, and I have so many fond memories. It’s also where I first realized my interest in real estate.
“I was only about 13 years old at the time,” she continues, “and my mom and I were just taking a walk. We passed by this gorgeous house, very western-style, which you don’t see much of in Tokyo. There was something about the presence and style of this home that drew me in. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to explore the immediate connection I felt with the home.”
Without saying a word to her mother, Gilman memorized the phone number and as soon as she returned to their apartment contacted the agent whose name was listed on the sign.
“I just started bombarding her with questions,” Gilman says with a laugh. “I wanted to know the square footage, how many bedrooms, what were the features, anything I could think of. I got so excited learning about the home and connecting ways in which it would be a great fit for my family.”
Gilman concluded the phone call by requesting a faxed copy of the floorplan. It was then that she finally decided to share the information with her parents, who actually had not expressed any interest in moving. She sold the idea, and before she knew it the family was moving into the beautiful, spacious home.
“I think ever since then it’s been in my blood,” says Gilman. “I don’t know how to explain it, it just excites me.”
Gilman has been aptly described as a “global citizen,” and certainly, her cosmopolitan upbringing coupled wiThexposure to so many diverse cultures, sets her apart from most of her contemporaries. Aft er living abroad and traveling extensively, she returned to the Washington, D.C. area equipped with a sophisticated and international world perspective. Add to this a sincere passion for real estate and it’s easy to see how she’s blossomed into a knowledgeable and successful real estate agent. She possesses both a natural acumen for business and an astonishing, and seemingly innate, appreciation for architecture, design and the myriad subtle influences of various cultures.
Gilman’s cultivated nature is enhanced by a genuine fondness for people and the desire to meet and get to know them. Her outgoing personality coupled with a sincere interest in others makes people feel immediately at ease. Drawn to her warmth and guileless nature, she seems to evoke virtually instantaneous trust. Invariably clients become and remain friends.
“I don’t know if it can be attributed to living in various places around the world or if it’s just my nature,” says Gilman, “but I’ve always loved meeting new people. In fact, the more different their background and experiences are from mine, the more fascinated I seem to be.”
Gilman’s extensive exposure to so many different people and cultures has certainly proved to be a powerful asset in her real estate career. Because of her many interactions she has developed engaging ability to effortlessly relate to and connect with virtually anyone she meets. One of the consistent compliments she receives from clients is that Gilman makes them feel immediately at ease and as if she completely understands their wants and needs.
“I do know that all my opportunities to experience other countries and people has given me a deep respect for other cultures,” says Gilman. “That’s one of the reasons why I love what I do, because I get to work with so many different people with varied backgrounds and experiences. I know that all the opportunities I’ve been blessed with to become acquainted with diverse cultures and people has helped mold me into the person I am.”
Not surprisingly, Gilman moves with grace and ease through the diverse strata of real estate. Whether the elite world of multimilliondollar homes or guiding a nervous buyer through the maze of firsttime homeownership, she’s able to connect with her client and communicate comfortably.
This client-centered focus has led to an exceptional start to Gilman’s career with a multimilliondollar track record of successful sales. WiTheach new transaction, she draws upon her own professional knowledge, network and life experiences to attend to her clients’ needs and objectives. Additionally, her comprehensive knowledge of the D.C. metropolitan real estate market makes her keenly suited to exploring all options for her clients.
“Being a successful real estate agent means matching buyers and sellers together in a way that achieves the goals on both sides,” she says.
Multitasking is practically a given for any successful real estate agent, and Gilman is no exception. In fact, it’s just one more arena where she shines. In addition to her devotion to her clients, complete with highly personalized follow up, she also makes time to give back and contribute to her community.
An active member of the organization Suited for Change, Gilman says she was looking for something that was completely separate from work and that would give her the opportunity to help others.
“One of the areas where I’m most heavily involved is working with women who have had challenging pasts,” she explains. “They need a little help getting back on their feet, feeling confident again and worthwhile. We help with finding them appropriate clothes for job interviews, help them prepare for those job interviews and generally serve as advisers and mentors as they find their way into the job market.”
When she isn’t hosting an open house, showing clients homes that she has pre-selected as suitable or any other number of work-related tasks, Gilman might be found taking a little time for herself in her Soul Cycle class, sampling the delicacies of the newest addition to D.C.’s rapidly growing list of fine dining restaurants, or, more recently, pouring over the latest issue of Bride’s Magazine.
With everything on her plate, one would expect Gilman to show signs of fatigue or burnout, but nothing could be further from the truth. Her face glows with enthusiasm, and her body virtually vibrates with excitement. If she appears to be juggling anything, it would be all the things that she feels so passionately about – work, family, friends and community. With seemingly endless energy, Gilman approaches each new day with eager anticipation and a wholehearted commitment to helping someone find their dream home or helping sellers prepare their home to show at its best and negotiating the best deal for them.