The Alimond Show

Maddy Cockerill of Bethel Homes

November 16, 2023 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Maddy Cockerill of Bethel Homes
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

What if you could turn your passion for real estate into a vehicle for transforming lives in distant countries? Well, that's exactly what the Bethel Homes Team is doing, as they balance the intricacies of the real estate market with an inspiring mission of service. Join us on this exploration into their transformative work in Bolivia and Ghana, where they've successfully established nine homes, and have two more underway. Their journey is driven by their faith values, local community upbringing, and a selfless use of their financial privilege to support those in need. 

Through our riveting discussion, we also unravel the secrets behind building an organic network of young women Realtors. We delve deeper into the journey of motherhood intertwined with running a successful service-based business. As we navigate the competitive real estate market, we also shed light on Bethel Homes Team’s innovative use of AI and chat GPT, which enhances their marketing materials, offering their clients much more than a place to call home. 

Wrapping up the conversation, our focus shifts towards empowering young women professionals. Hear the compelling stories that underline the importance of strong female relationships, standing up for oneself, and the need to maintain an aggressive mindset. The Bethel Home Team's experience in managing their family-run business, Fort Bacon Farm, is a powerful testament to their passion and perseverance. Listen to this enlightening conversation that transcends the realm of real estate, shedding light on vital aspects of passion, perseverance, and empowerment. So come join us as we unfold the narrative of the Bethel Homes Team, from their inspiring mission to their commendable dedication to empowering women in the professional realm.

Speaker 1:

Have you done any podcasts or no?

Speaker 2:

but you've done video stuff. I have. Yeah, I've done video. How do you feel about that? I'm comfortable with that because you're you know, usually I go in knowing exactly what I'm going to say, and so more of a conversation yeah, exactly I'm going to say something to them, but I'm excited, thank you. I've been practicing in my car on the way here Hello Right. Right and listening to your podcast, but thank you so much for having me. I love listening and I'm honored to be here.

Speaker 1:

And I love it, thank you. What I really love about you and your story is your why behind your real estate business, thank you. Can you tell me a little bit more about that and what inspired you to do that? Yeah, well.

Speaker 2:

I think there's there's a lot of wonderful agents out there and that part of business is so important Getting your skill and your craft done really well. But that doesn't really keep me going year after year. And there's a bigger piece, I think, of serving others. That is so motivating and I also find my clients care about that and I consider what we're doing really on behalf of them because they care about giving back to and so in the real estate process. Well, if you don't mind if I give a little bit of background, say what is it?

Speaker 2:

What do we do? Yeah, so Bepple Homes team we give 10 percent of our sorry. First of all, bepple Homes team is myself, maddie Cockrell and Wesley Smith, my business partner. It's just the two of us right now. We're always looking for the right person in the future, but we give 10 percent of our proceeds from each transaction to building homes in Kujibama, bolivia, and we just started our first in Ghana. Oh nice. So, I'm really excited.

Speaker 1:

Why did you pick Bolivia? And then why Ghana?

Speaker 2:

So we just found partners there. We found a 501C3 that we could funnel the money through here, and then we have partners on the ground there. So we have builders and access and contacts there. That's amazing. And so we've been able to build, fund 11 homes, and we have built nine, and two are in process. So it's such an honor to know that what's happening here in our real estate market in Northern Virginia is affecting another real estate market somewhere else. That's amazing.

Speaker 1:

Now, why I know you said why you're doing it.

Speaker 2:

I think, because I think it's really important to know that where we are is extremely privileged, and even in all the stress and wherever you are in your budget here we are at a level of financial privilege vastly above the rest of the world, and it's very easy to forget that, and I think this keeps us really grounded in the fact that there's a lot of real estate markets that don't look like ours and we can support another one while we're still a part of our own. I love that, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Now, as a kid growing up, how are you involved? In the community or in growing up, I think.

Speaker 2:

I think supporting those in need was a big part of my faith values, and so that's just what we tried to do wherever we could. You know local food ministries I love Tree of Life ministries, I love Loud and Cares. There's just a lot of great things going on here that you can participate in. You grow up local, yes, ok, yeah, here in Leesburg, so that's probably the seeds of it.

Speaker 2:

But really, you know, I was really impacted by how expensive it is to live here in Loudoun County and how much we all have to go through to afford housing here, no matter where you are on the scale, and yet even that is such a privilege, and that there are families. So you don't mind me sharing the families that we're building for in Bolivia. They have worked for generations to purchase the land that they are living in and we are simply providing the funding for the home and for the structure. So they have bought it and that's taken up a lot of the resources and funds and we're coming in and saying, here you go, here's the money to build your home. That's awesome, yeah.

Speaker 1:

That's such a beautiful like mission, obviously. But then why behind what you're doing here? Because I can see how any not just real estate, but any service-based professional it can feel a little bit monotonous and it can feel a little bit like, especially when you're in Northern Virginia. Yes, like you know, you're in a million dollar home, or whatever. You know you might kind of lose touch with like reality of the world.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly Because we are in a bubble in Northern Virginia and there's so much money flying around in real estate transaction either way and you as the buyer or the seller can feel so stretched where you are, and so I see it as a service to my clients to say, just so you know, on my side of things we're going to help take care of someone that needs it and someone less fortunate, and we're doing that on your behalf. I love that and thank you. It's really fun because we're able to. We have partners on the ground in Bolivia and Ghana that we're able to really communicate with, so we can send our clients updates on hey, your home is under process or this is the family that is moving in because of your transaction. So that's an honor.

Speaker 1:

So it's basically each home that somebody buys you guys build. I know you said it's 10%.

Speaker 2:

Yes, it's, 10% so it depends. It depends on, obviously, our transaction, but it usually no more than three transactions per home.

Speaker 1:

So we'll let you know, I didn't know with the equivalency of it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yeah, yeah, now it changes. Yeah, and it's much more affordable than here in Loudoun County, but the economies are so different there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's beautiful, I love that. So tell me a little bit about being a mom and balancing the Very hard. All the things. Yeah, because you've got three kids.

Speaker 2:

I have three kids.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I do too.

Speaker 2:

Oh, you do Okay cool, so you've got three kids, oh so you've got little kids, yeah, okay, so it's a different.

Speaker 1:

It's a little bit of different mom cycle you're in right now. What are you in? What cycle are you in? I have 16-year-old, 12-year-old and 8-year-old. Oh, that sounds like it has its own challenges.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, but yours can buckle themselves in the car.

Speaker 1:

Yes.

Speaker 2:

And they can shower themselves and brush their teeth.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, it's really difficult balancing. It's a constant discussion I have with other women in my life. Yeah, working for me brings me a lot of joy and a lot of passion and that makes me a better mom, so I'm trying to walk the line of carving out both. I also think you can work with people that understand that and some people that don't, and so a working real estate agent and a mom I'm working with clients that know that about me and respect that and my time I appreciate that too, I'm sure.

Speaker 1:

What type of communities have you found in this area that have helped you, whether it was before real estate? Or as an agent, now as a mom. Are there any groups that you're like A part of?

Speaker 2:

I think I've developed a pretty organic group of young women realtors that I really rely on. Some are moms and some aren't. Part of my story is I got my license at 19.

Speaker 2:

I've been a baby, I was a baby and I have to tell you, I was so embarrassed of how young I was for so many years. One time my broker gave me a compliment in a meeting and said, hey, and she's only 20, and I was so mortified and scared of people knowing how young I was. Tell them, no, right. But all that to say, there are agents that are. A lot of agents are doing this as their second career, and so it's unique to work with agents that this is their profession, this is what they're doing and they've started off and they've studied this and this is where they are, and especially young women, because it's a really male dominated field.

Speaker 2:

So when you're in an office, you know, with many people four decades older than you. You kind of collect women that are younger and we've really stayed in touch and supported each other. I love that. Thank you, that's awesome.

Speaker 1:

How are you navigating things? Because the last three, four years in real estate has been amazing for agents in our area, yep, and this year things have shifted a bit, things have changed.

Speaker 2:

Things have changed a lot, I'll say. I work with a lot of first time home buyers and so the past couple of years was really challenging On that front in terms of how competitive everything was. You know, going up against 10 and other offers per home for a town home in Leesburg was really uncomfortable for those folks. But things are not better for buyers now. I mean, the inventory is not better, the interest rates are higher. So I have had to learn how to deliver a lot of bad news, and that's been difficult.

Speaker 2:

That's why you said I deliver good news, I deliver bad news, yeah there's a skill to deliver bad news and I never really knew that before. But it's hard. Yeah, you do. Yeah, to get to the point and not drag it out, and be clear and supportive.

Speaker 1:

How do you meet your potential clients now Like what's your best, I'm referral based now I started off as mainly Zillow leads about 10 years ago.

Speaker 2:

I would show up at a home and someone had clicked I want to see this on Zillow. We met and tried to form a relationship. That form of lead generation is really not there anymore, and so I'm blessed to now just be referral based, which is really important.

Speaker 1:

What are some tips for somebody not necessarily just a real estate agent, but just overall somebody who wants to build their business based on referrals? How do you?

Speaker 2:

nurture that. I think one really important factor for me is communicating with my past clients in a way that is low pressure but reminds them that I am in real estate and I'm selling homes, and that is a balance that I think is really important for new agents to start. So, when you do have a client, keeping that relationship going can really remind people that they can call you when they need to sell their home or their friend needs to sell their home. But at the same time, I've personally really shied away from such aggressive marketing because we're all being marketed to in the world, we all hear it so much and if you want to call me, you will, I hope to do and I hope to remind you that I'm here, but I hope you want to call me when you get the chance Awesome.

Speaker 1:

So, in terms of AI, you guys, are you using AI?

Speaker 2:

in your business. Right now I'm starting. Yes, I'm using chat GPT quite a bit for developing marketing materials. Okay, do you do?

Speaker 1:

all your marketing on your own. I do Okay, I do it on myself. It makes it so much easier doesn't it, it does, it does.

Speaker 2:

You know, I have colleagues that are sending all that out and I'm just not at that level and I don't really want to be. What do you mean? Sending it all out that are deflecting different parts. You know hiring marketing manager or you know deferring their tasks.

Speaker 1:

But I mean, ai makes it easier.

Speaker 2:

Oh, so much easier. Yeah, it's incredible. That is your assistant now. Yeah, yeah, I'm showing it to as many people as I can. Yeah, I don't know if you've tried the new chat GPT, canva, oh, canva, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I haven't tried it, but I've seen it because I use Canva all the time. Yeah, I just haven't. What were the changes?

Speaker 2:

on it, so you can essentially tell this extra feature on Canva. Can you make me this Okay? Clean this up with chat, gpt and AI technology is working.

Speaker 1:

Instead of going into chat GPT, doing it copy and pasting it back into Canva Right.

Speaker 2:

And even image movement. They can move images all around.

Speaker 1:

I did see that you can now click. So there's like actually, when I was messing around with reworking our YouTube covers, I was spaced too far from somebody because we used to do it. We don't do it now. We're both a wisk mixer. We used to do it that way and I was too far from the person, so I literally use that feature where I could just grab me, move myself over within the frame.

Speaker 2:

I know it's getting faster and faster, and so everyone's marketing is getting better and better. We need to stick there.

Speaker 1:

I know, and what you think is that you've got to like get on it. Get on it If everyone's going to be like joining. So I like it because it keeps you up on your toes.

Speaker 2:

It really does. Yeah, that's one thing I've loved about Bethel Homes team is that we have something to share, more than just ourselves and our homes, that people can connect with, and I feel like every business owner could really use that tip and to find a cause that they're passionate about and share that with their community, because people care. I mean, we're all busy, but we care. Where did the name come from? Bethel Homes means house of God, and my business partner and I have a faith based perspective of the world. That definitely isn't a requirement of our clients, but to me, house of God is just a holy place and that the home is very special and holy and important, and that's what we do Everything in real estate right. Your home is so important and your largest asset and we want to protect the purchase process so that it can stay that way.

Speaker 1:

I love that. That's awesome. I like that you have meeting. There's nothing wrong with like first time, last time, realty Right, yeah, it's a little bit different.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely, and that serves a purpose too. But yeah, it is a way to communicate what you care about.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I like that. Thank you Okay. So, in terms of looking into the future, where do you see Bethel Homes? Where do you see you as a mom? Where do you see you as a person in this community in the next five, 10, 20 years?

Speaker 2:

Oh, my gosh, what a great question. I would like to see Bethel Homes. We would like to see Bethel Homes add more teammates. That's something that it's a very unique role. Some teams are structured in a way that people can come and go easily, but we're pretty an intimate team and we're doing a lot of it ourselves, so we would love to find more agents that are the right fit for us and for our group. That's a hope in the next five years, whatever that looks like. As a mom, I'd like to be able to wake up later than 6am.

Speaker 1:

It sounds like that's kind of it's overrated. It's overrated, right. I've been talking about four.

Speaker 2:

You do. Yeah, I just love it. Yeah, it's so good. Maybe I'll get used to it. On a personal level, I think as a mom realtor I'd like to gain more boundaries in between my work and my children, and that is hard to do. But I'm finding myself. I'm taking a lot of calls in the middle of family time. I'm having to step away because real estate, there's a lot of crises and things come up and you need to deal with them. So I'd love to challenge myself to just set some more firm guidelines on my hours of my business and that's something I'm not very good at now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure that's hard. It is, yeah, because there's a lot of high pressure, high stakes things going on, so not easy to set aside.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, whether you're a mom or not, I think it's just being able to, Especially as an agent. Not that I have personal experience, but I know a lot of my clients are agents and that seems like number one biggest struggle that you either had at the beginning or that they're still having after 20 years of being an agent Right right, right.

Speaker 2:

We all need to figure that out. How to do that these days, yeah.

Speaker 1:

What's a resource book or podcast or course that you've taken that's helped you become a better business owner? Oh, what a great question.

Speaker 2:

I would say probably any networking group in our community has made me a better business owner. I love the Loudoun Leadership Breakfast. I love the Loudoun Chamber events. I think whenever you're gathering with other small business owners in your community, the inertia that you get after that is so powerful. I mean to walk away and just feel like I'm in this world. I'm in this community. There's other people trying to do what I'm trying to do, so I learned so much from those, even if they're from other fields.

Speaker 1:

I love that, thank you. What would you be doing if you weren't an agent? You weren't allowed to be an agent, oh wow.

Speaker 2:

That's a good question, because I've done this my only first career. I think that I would be. I have this little. Well, I do do something else. I have a family farm, fort Bacon Farm, in Perseville. I'll have a little shout out to it what's it called? Fort Bacon Farm? Fort Bacon Farm Fort Bacon Farm we're on Snickersville Turnpike and my husband and his brother raised grass fed beef and we have a little farm stand and I love selling meat and grass fed meat. So I think that's probably what I'd continue doing if I couldn't be an agent Selling local meat.

Speaker 1:

Now do you help with the actual processing?

Speaker 2:

No, no, thankfully we have a USDA butcher for that farm and I'm trying to picture you with the big, the overalls, it's not. There I'm the fraud. And when I meet people, I'm not the farmer, I'm a fake farmer. No, and I'm watching the kids at home while he can move the cows, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I know that's the case. How many acres do you guys?

Speaker 2:

have out there. Altogether, the farm is close to 350 acres, which is amazing, and it's the fifth generation. It's a century farm, so we're honored to keep it going and working in Loudoun.

Speaker 1:

I love that. Now do you help run the social media for that?

Speaker 2:

I do.

Speaker 1:

Okay, I'm going to look it up now.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, go look it up, go look no-transcript. You mean in general, in general. What a great question. It would change for each of them, don't you think? I think a big prayer in hope of mine is that they find great friends, because I'm so supported by friends in my life and other women in my life and I would like each of my three daughters to have wonderful female friends Three girls. Three girls, three girls, yeah, yeah. So I really like them. Why is?

Speaker 1:

that so important? Because you said, you've had it in your life.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we talked about other women that we work with and that inertia of relationship is so important, and so my hope would be that they each have really strong friendships. I love that, yeah.

Speaker 1:

What about you? You're my kids. I think I just I want them to. I don't want to say find happiness, but just really find what like. It's like literally a slogan we have on our cups here at the studio, like what sets their heart on fire oh, that's beautiful, you know like to devote their life to something that they can wake up every day and be as passionate as I am to wake up and do what I do. And I always have people tease me and they're like well, you're lucky because you get to be a photographer, and it's like it's not really the photography thing, it's just being able to communicate and connect with people and get to know people and just love on people and that's my thing that I'm passionate about.

Speaker 1:

So I just hope my kids all find like that thing and they don't get distracted by all the crap that's out there because it's easy to lose yourself in that. So I hope they find that thing and just pursue it. That is great.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to add that to my list for my gifts, I'm going to steal yours. That's a great idea.

Speaker 1:

That's awesome, all right. So if you had one specific message to the world, just generalize. It doesn't have to be about business, it doesn't have to be about, you know, raising kids, but just overall, what's something? And whether it's because it's you've seen it and it's frustrated you, or just something that's inspired you.

Speaker 2:

I'm going to narrow the audience a little bit if you don't mind, of course not, but something that's been really important for me as a young woman professional is growing. Some teeth Is the term I like to use, or claws it's been. I want to give the message to other young women starting a business that we can be kind, we can be loving, we can be fun and gentle, but we can also be fierce and aggressive and like a puma. Like a puma, yeah, and that's perfect.

Speaker 2:

And I was confronted early in my career with people that have been doing this a lot longer than me and were a lot older than me and I had to defend my client and some of those conflicts really showed me that I have an aggressive nature and some teeth. That at least in my industry not every industry, I don't know in photography if you need teeth, but in certain areas of business it's okay to tap into that and be aggressive when you need to be for yourself and for your clients. And I want to share that message to young women and I wish I'd gotten it a little sooner that that part of my personality and myself as a professional is a good thing.

Speaker 1:

I love that. I love it too. You know how I reacted, though, when I was kind of confronted with a little bit of for me I guess it was competitive cattiness, right Is? I reacted by saying I didn't have clients that had to fight for, it was more of just For yourself. I was not really competitive, correct?

Speaker 1:

Yes, I'm not really even competitive, but I essentially retracted and I said you know what? My walls are going up and I'm just going to build. Rather than trying to participate in which maybe isn't the best thing, rather than trying to participate in other people's communities, I'm just going to build my own thing and you're welcome to come join if you want. Otherwise, I'm just going to build up over here Because I didn't like that feeling of having to fight. Yep, you know, and that served you well, and it did serve me well, and going back, I wouldn't change it because I actually really like to just build things as big as possible. It include as many people as I can as possible, instead of always trying to be included by other people or placate as a good word.

Speaker 2:

Right, right and you can over here building your little empire, which is wonderful. But yeah, I love that. I would like young women, professionals, to ask that's a great message Be aggressive.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, be aggressive. Yeah, there we go. There's a sign for it already. Thank you so much for being on at the podcast, thank you. Thank you for having me and sharing your story. That was useful, thank you.

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