Real Estate Agent Magazine sat down with Sandra Shank. Sandra’s commitment to the community shines through as she discusses her active engagement in various local initiatives including Abundant Life Ministries-Hope House, Inc. Sandra is 2023 Good Neighbor Award Winner.

REAM: Can you tell me more about your journey as a resident of Palm Coast for 19 years and how it influenced your decision to become a Realtor?

SH: I have been a resident of Palm Coast for twenty-two years.  When I moved to Palm Coast, one of the things that immediately stood out to me was the diversity of the neighborhoods.  Having grown up in the inner city of Miami there wasn’t racial diversity. As a matter  of fact, the first community I lived in when my family relocated from Georgia had a wall that was constructed in the 1930’s to separate the Black Liberty Square housing development from the already established White neighborhood on the west side of NW 12th Ave.  

REAM: What drew you to the real estate industry?

SH: To be frank, it was suggested to me multiple times to become a real estate agent. However, I had no desire to “sell” properties.  My perception of the industry was not very positive and my view of sales often made me think of greed.  However, in 2016 I was approached by a friend who wanted to become a real estate agent, but they weren’t confident that they could be successful in the class and asked me if I would join them to be a “study buddy.”  As a former classroom teacher, I excitedly accepted the offer to help someone else achieve their goal as a “study buddy.”  I had no idea the journey that lay ahead.  One decision resulted in me embarking upon one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life. I was being positioned to help people just as someone had helped me. At the age of 23 it was a mentor who told me it was time to purchase my first home. No one had ever suggested “such a thing,” after all my mother had been a tenant my entire life. Again, it was someone else extending an “opportunity” that landed me on a dot that would become a part of my journey to becoming a Realtor. I closed on my first property at the age of 24 and my mentor provided down payment assistance.

REAM: Can you describe the strategies and practices you implement to make the home buying or selling process fun, easy, and stress-free for your clients?

SH: The strategies and practices that I implement to make the home buying or selling process fun, easy and stress-free for my clients are the same strategies and practices that I use in everyday life.  I am transparent, honest and flexible. I approach my clients in the same manner that I want to be approached, while being mindful of the fact that I am where I am because someone believed  in me. I am not looking at my interest; I am looking at what’s in the best interest of my clients. I am a staunch advocate of housing stability for ALL. I know the  impact of purchasing my first home, I became a stakeholder. As a stakeholder, I am in the position to effect change that can transform the lives of others. Be it a residential or commercial transaction, I am always thinking about how this transaction can improve the lives of all members of my community.  

REAM: Could you share an example of a challenging negotiation you successfully navigated and the skills you used to achieve a positive outcome for your client?

SH: A challenging negotiation I successfully navigated involved a single parent with two children. The challenges of this transaction involved convincing a “CASH ONLY” seller to consider a buyer who was financing; layered funding; sensitivity to significant mental health issues; working with local governmental resources to address post closing rehab. This transaction was the lowest purchase commission I have received. However, it is the most valuable commission I received. A family was able to transition out of homelessness into homeownership.  

REAM: What are some of the habits you’ve developed that have led to your success?

SH: Some of the habits that I have developed that have led to my success is to always be honest and to keep my clients realistic. If I am working with a first time home buyer, I discourage purchasing at the top of their budget.  I remind them of the “rainy day” that will surely come. I remind them that they will not be able to call a landlord to make repairs. I remind them of the increasing insurance and property tax expenses. I also remind them that with homeownership comes freedom. Freedom to plant a vegetable garden, have a pet and to create the space they desire to create as if they are artists designing on a blank canvas. I remind them of the impacts of housing stability on individual and family well-being. This transparency and guidance have led to them trusting me as their REALTOR.  

REAM: How do you stay flexible and patient when working with clients who may have changing preferences or unique requirements for their real estate transactions?

SH: Patience and sensitivity are the keys to working with clients who may have changing preferences or unique requirements. As a REALTOR, I must place myself in the shoes of the clients I am serving. I must remember that this is more than a transaction; it is a defining moment. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first-time homebuyer, divorcee starting over, job relocation, or simply the needs of a growing family. When a person determines that it is time to buy, sell, or lease, it’s because a change has occurred that necessitates this decision. The changing preferences or unique requirements may be reflective of the anxiety they are experiencing or the current dynamics of their situation.

REAM: Tell us about your first sale.

SH: My first sale involved a close family member and it was indeed to have been given the honor to serve in the transaction.

REAM: In what ways do you actively engage with and contribute to the local community?

SH: The ways in which I actively engage with and contribute to the local community involve serving as Vice Chair of the Planning Board for the City of Palm Coast; Member of the Flagler County Affordable Housing Advisory Committee; Rotarian – Flagler Beach Bunnell Satellite Rotary Club and CEO/Founder of Abundant Life Ministries-Hope House, Inc., a residential group home for teen boys. In 2017 I began A Christmas To Remember, a fun filled live event for children and youth under the supervision of the Department of Children and Family Services and local families in need. It is a completely free event with lots of food, activities, entertainment and most of all gifts.

REAM: What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Hobbies? Sports?

SH: I absolutely love the beach. It is my place of serenity and refilling.  It is where I see and hear the beauty of nature and my heart is open and receptive to the voice of God as He leads me on this journey called life. 

REAM: What is something your colleagues would be surprised to learn about you?

SH: I loved the sitcom “MASH” and received my first military fatigues at the age of the seven. It was my goal to become a military doctor. Although I grew up in the inner city, I have always been fond of horses and once upon a time wanted to become a jockey. 

REAM: Is there anything else you would like to add?

SH: As REALTORs we have the ability to effect change in the world. Real estate agents are like teachers in that nearly every transaction involves one. Teachers touch lives forever. Real estate agents are pillars upon which lives, communities, economies and policies are established.  We should be the most integrous person in the room advocating for ALL and holding decision makers and stakeholder accountable. We are a vital part of the ecosystem with the ability to ensure that it is healthy and balanced. Resulting in a vibrant and productive system upon which ALL can and will benefit.

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