How Sandra Juliano’s impressive resume led her on a path to real estate success
Transitioning into real estate part-way through your career certainly isn’t a move everyone can pull off. Many try—believing that they have the contacts and vision to succeed—but only those with a honed set of skills (and a thirst for continuous improvement) are able to make it in this competitive industry. One such successful career jumper is Sandra Juliano of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. Read on as we dive into Sandra’s impressive background and learn how she became one of the network’s top performing agents.
With a vision that not many pre-college students have the luxury of possessing, Sandra’s career path started when she chose to major in International Business, with a double minor in French and Spanish.
“I thought I was going to work at the UN in New York City as a global translator and ‘make a change’ in the political arena,” Sandra said. “But unfortunately, the world had different plans for me—when I got out of college in the mid-90s, there was a real job shortage, so I jumped on the very first thing I found—an assistant role to the VP of Latin American Human Resources at AIG. My languages helped me secure that position, and I enjoyed my work there.”
This experience opened up further opportunities for Sandra, and she soon found herself employed at MasterCard in international human resources, helping executives within the company move to new international assignments.
“I helped them with goods and services differentials, identifying international schools, helping them figure out what they were going to do with the home they were leaving—the whole kit and caboodle,” she explained.
Fast forward a few years and we’re at the dawn of the Internet Age—and Sandra was intrigued: “Everyone had questions like, ‘what is the internet?’ and ‘how do we advertise on the internet?’ ‘What's an IP address?’ and ‘What's a custom URL?’ To me, it was kind of interesting. So I went over to Citibank and worked my way up to VP of Internet Marketing.
“I was helping them sell 13 different personal lines of business online. Everything from a checking account to encouraging our users to apply for a mortgage online. And, as you can imagine, back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, that was pretty groundbreaking.
“I would help each of those personal lines of business develop their advertising and marketing online through Citibank’s central web presence, CitiCenter. That's how I was exposed to identifying who the buyer is and helping them to find what they needed.”
Sandra and her team were posing questions that—at the time—had not been answered by many. And there certainly weren’t hundreds of blog posts and guides for online marketing professionals.
“How do we find someone who's looking to open a bank account and subsequently get them to come to Citibank? Was the user experience a friendly one? Was the process secure? All of that we had to consider,” she said.
Finding a family-friendly career
As Sandra’s family grew, the traveling involved in her job started to get in the way of how she and her husband wanted to raise their children.
“I walked away from corporate America and swapped the traveling for a half-acre property in rural Ridgefield, Connecticut,” she recalled. “It was easier than I thought to leave that role—not having to pick up and go into Manhattan every day or get on a plane to California or Miami—and it was just great being a mom, but I felt like I needed more.”
Eager to re-enter the world of work, but this time with specific stipulations in place, Sandra started exploring roles that would better suit her needs. After looking into careers that could be done solely from her home, she landed on the idea of real estate, knowing it would keep her in her community and close to her family.
“Real estate just seemed the most attractive option to me,” she said. “So I got my license very quickly, and I jumped right into the business. And next April will be my 20-year anniversary as a licensed realtor—I've been doing it full time since I started.”
Since making the move to real estate, Sandra found that her job worked perfectly around her family life. “If I had to go to my kids’ school to read to them or be a lunchtime mom—or if they got sick—I was always five minutes away,” she explained. “And I could work my own schedule around my mom duties. I didn't know all of this when I made the decision to go into real estate, it just really sounded exciting. It sounded like I could make my own schedule—and I found a way to do that which worked really well for me and my family.”
Building on experiences
With so much valuable experience under her belt before starting her real estate journey, Sandra was brilliantly placed to excel in her new role. Looking back on her career, she highlighted her work in helping employees move around the world at MasterCard as one of her favorite duties.
“It was very personal, you know, discussing the international schools for the children, moving the family dog, working with employee permits, etc.,” she explained. “So I became very friendly with the employees and their family because I would have to speak with them regularly about their move. I enjoyed that personal element because it was more than just a job.”
There’s an obvious parallel there to working in real estate, which isn’t lost on Sandra. “My corporate relocation background has served me very well,” she agreed, recalling a specific family she has just helped with renting out the home she sold to them seven years ago.
“When I sold them their house, they only had one child, and now they have three,” she said. “They were moving from New York City, from a small apartment, into a four-bedroom home in Ridgefield. So I've seen their lives transition—it's been a unique insight into somebody else's world.”
“I can legitimately say to my clients that I understand what they’re going through,” she continued. “I've helped many others do this. Whether you're moving across town or around the world, I know what you're going through. I know what it feels like, and I know the checklist of things that you need to take care of as part of your move.”
From a marketing perspective, Sandra’s time at Citibank gave her a great understanding of the importance of the customer journey and brand awareness. “I remember it being drilled into us every month when we would go over our corporate reports,” she said. “How are we finding the person that we're trying to speak to? How are they finding us? What kind of material do we have in the branches? Does it look identical to our online material?
“Carrying that customer loyalty through from beginning to end or ensuring that the level of comfort they are used to in a branch was the same as when they were online. These aspects all help me today: when I have a new listing, how am I going to find the right buyer for this home?”
Embodying the Forever Agent℠ spirit
Compared to Sandra’s previous roles, she has found her time working in real estate more fulfilling, due to the local—and “forever”—nature of the work. She explained, “The people who I helped relocate internationally while at MasterCard, I got to work with them for only a short period of time and then they were off in their new location and we almost severed ties, if you will, because they didn't need me anymore.
“But now, when I help a buyer find a home, I'm going to bump into them at the grocery store. Or they may be on the PTA board meeting that I am attending, or they'll call me and say, ‘Hey, you know when we first met, we didn't have kids. Now we have kids. Can you make recommendations for a pediatric dentist?’ So I feel like I'm still a resource for those folks because they're in my neighborhood.”
This outlook helps Sandra fit perfectly into the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices ethos of the Forever Agent℠—treating all clients like clients for life and earning repeat business as a result.
“I do get a lot of repeat business as well as a lot of referral business,” Sandra said. “My clients feel comfortable giving my name out to their friends and family as well as asking me either to help them move again, or if they just want to get a pulse of what's going on in the real estate market, they'll call and ask me—or they'll see me on the soccer field when we're at a game with our kids and they'll say, ‘Did you see my neighbor? They just put their house on the market. Have you seen it? What do you think of the price point?’ They feel very comfortable coming to me. I'm very lucky in that respect.”
But it's not just about calling yourself a Forever Agent and then waiting for the repeat business to magically appear. You must actively embody the Forever Agent through your actions—something Sandra has been doing since she entered the industry.
“Before COVID, if someone was looking to buy a home, we would be in the car together, going from one property to the next,” she said. “You have to find lots of different things to talk about, so I would try to find out some of their favorite activities or their favorite chocolate.
“I would write down that information so I could fill up a closing gift box with things that are important to them. So, if they are runners, I would put in a gift card or a brochure for the Ridgefield running club. Or if they love cheese and wine pairings, I would send them a gift card to our local cheese and wine shop. Just things like that—it helps the clients remember what a personal process it is.”
There’s no denying that the world of the real estate agent is a competitive one. Ideas like those detailed above really help you stand out from the crowd. But that’s not all Sandra does to elevate herself above her peers—especially when it comes to properties on the luxury spectrum.
“In our tiny little town, we have over 300 licensed agents. So I have to make sure that whatever I do really stands out,” Sandra said. “So I try to go as above and beyond as possible—I don't just go in and take pretty pictures and I don't just say, ‘I'll write some pretty copy for you’—I work with a stager, I take aerial photos, I will hire a copywriter and invite her to come to the house—then she gets a sense of the spirit of the property itself. I do interactive floorplans, which not a lot of agents do.
“I tend to be very hands on, I am not a team, I am me myself and I. If I meet with a seller, I always say to them, ‘Any conversation that you have is between the two of us. There is no assistant that you're going to email.’ They truly get me and all my services.”
While it’s been clearly established that Sandra’s work exemplifies the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Forever Agent, how does she feel the company aligns with her outlook?
“[Being part of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices network] has had a very positive effect on my career,” she shared. “I think because of the brand recognition, and the fact that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices has a very robust portfolio of products.
“We also have that recognition in the community, so people see the name and there's a certain level of comfort knowing that they're going to get a quality agent.”
The leadership team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties have also been integral to Sandra’s success and career satisfaction.
“This is my shout-out opportunity: I know Candace Adams well [President and CEO at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England, New York & Westchester Properties] and I think that her leadership has been exemplary.
“Brenda Maher is our regional SVP. I've known her for many years, and I will go to her and just know that anytime I have an issue or concern, she listens. So I have the backing of not just the larger corporate organization and not just Candace steering the ship, but I also have local resources. Gene Marconi is our attorney, and there are times where I will email him and say, ‘here's my situation. What do you think?’ And I get an answer back in real time.
“So there's a real strength in the leadership all the way from the top down. And I just love that—it's a great resource for me personally and professionally and, ultimately, a great help for my clients.”