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Moler finds niche in real estate

November 10, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Nine years ago, Cynthia Moler watched as her business, an indoor tennis club, literally collapsed in a lightning storm.

The blower that kept the fabric cover inflated over the four tennis courts at the Hagerstown Tennis Club stopped working. Then the backup generator failed.

"My bubble actually was bursting," said Moler, who can joke about that night now.

At the time, it was a devastating blow for Moler, who was dealing with personal issues as a newly single woman trying to make it on her own.

But Moler, 51, was determined to turn around her situation. She picked herself up and began selling real estate.

In her first year, 1995, she was named Long & Foster's top producer for the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region.

Now with Coldwell Banker in Hagerstown, she remains at the top of her profession.

In late October, Moler surpassed $20 million in sales for the year.

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"As far as we know, nobody's ever done that on their own," Moler said. "I'm very competitive. I don't like to be second."

No matter what the market conditions are, Moler consistently is recognized for being good at her job.

Moler said she got there through trustworthiness, hard work and a little help from her friends.

The first house Moler sold belonged to a couple she knew from the tennis club.

"They're still my best friends. They trusted me," she said.

Moler said she simply called someone she knew could afford the $799,000 property bordering Fountainhead Country Club's golf course and the deal was sealed.

She would come into the office at midnight to search the computer for other real estate agents' listings that were expiring. The next morning, she would call the homeowners and persuade them to list their house with her.

"I convinced them I would work hard," she said.

Moler has managed to get a lot of repeat business. She says it's because she's up front with homeowners and buyers. If there's something wrong with a house, she doesn't try to hide it.

"The most important thing is never, ever be dishonest," Moler said.

Another advantage she had from the start was the help of an assistant. Few agents in the area employed assistants when Moler started selling real estate.

Moler was smart enough to know she wouldn't be able to handle the organizational tasks of the job. And she recognized the benefits.

"If you're here in the office doing paperwork, you can't be selling anything," she said.

Joy Shives, who has been her assistant for about 21/2 years, recently got her real estate license so she can fill in for Moler as an agent at times.

Shives was the first and only person Moler interviewed for the job. Too busy to answer the dozens of phone calls she got from applicants, Moler said she was impressed by Shives' upbeat phone voice.

Even though Shives didn't have any previous real estate experience, Moler liked her determination and confidence that she could get the job done.

"We clicked right away. It was wild," Shives said.

For Moler, selling houses seems to come naturally.

It's a matter of finding out what features buyers are looking for and directing them to houses that fit, Moler said. That way, no one's time is wasted.

"It's the easiest job in the world because it's like a treasure hunt," she said.

Moler said she befriends her customers.

One of them, Gene McElwee, dropped by the office recently because he's thinking of selling his house. Moler sold his last house in Big Pool in three months.

"There's no question you can't ask them," McElwee said of Moler and Shives.

McElwee had his doubts in the beginning.

When he first saw Moler, it was a 95-degree day and she was dressed in black. It was so hot her mascara was running. And the lock on the door she was showing was giving her trouble.

Still, she was upbeat. McElwee was impressed.

Real estate can be a hectic and crazy business at times. When times get tough, Moler and Shives try to make light of it.

"The more stressed we get, we laugh," Shives said.

They also are able to put things into perspective.

Having both lost their mothers, they realize that whatever may be troubling them pales in comparison to that pain.

If she had it to do over again, Moler said she would have gotten into real estate from the beginning.

Shives reminds her that her previous experiences, from studying early childhood education at Frostburg State University to running the tennis club, have made her the person she is today.

Moler had to agree. But she still doesn't miss running the tennis club.

"That turned out for the best because I make way more money," she said with a smile.

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