Stephen Burkett: Helping People with the Process of Buying and Selling Homes
When I was growing up, my father and I used stop at car dealerships on the way home from Sunday lunch. Dad would shift the car into idle while he walked around to different vehicles evaluating their price and miles to the gallon. We were in the market for a Ford Windstar that year – the same vehicle I would eventually use to learn parallel parking and thus fail by the same skill on my driver’s test.
We would go there on Sundays for one important reason: the dealerships were closed. There was comfort in knowing that we wouldn’t be bothered by an eager salesman whose aspirations of closing the deal overlooked the needs and means of the buyers. Dad always wanted to take his time, evaluate the possible purchase, and gain information before contacting a sales person.
It’s easy to make stereotypes about salespeople. Like my father, I would rather evaluate my options without the pressure of someone who was looking to capitalize on my investment. Thus, Zillow, a real-estate marketing app, became my friend allowing me to virtually visit listings on the market without pressure.
What I found over a simple cup of coffee on a 20-degree day was a surprisingly genuine, personal, and no-pressure approach to the process of home ownership that is as much about goal achievement as it is about relationship. My conversation with Stephen Burkett, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway, shattered the too-common stereotype.
Unlike other agents, Burkett’s background is in management, with over 28 years of experience in assisting Fortune 500 companies to improve focus, create alignment, and ensure synchronization of all aspects of the business. In his sales and operational planning role, Burkett’s main responsibility was to ensure a company’s revenue by breaking down the output required by each division and managing employees in their various roles. Surprisingly, this is not a guy who is passionate about analyzing numbers and logistics. Instead, Burkett is man driven by his interest in people and the process involved in making them successful. Citing motivation as a key component of success, Burkett found his niche in developing materials and offering trainings on how to inspire and guide teams so that their personal goals become undeniably intertwined with the greater goals of the company.
“I like helping people get from point A to point B,” Burkett mentions as he talks about his transition from management to real estate. In this respect, Burkett’s experience in management is not unlike his current role, overseeing an intricate process replete with unknown variables and complications. Only this time, the desired result is getting into a home. It is this process that Burkett feels passionate about: “I don’t care what the price of the house is to sell or buy. I will help buyers get into a much lower income home just to help them get into it… I really love that part of it,” he said.
In the course of our entire conversation, Burkett only mentions one transaction, a client he helped get into a $66,000 home. In spite of the client’s excellent qualifications and credit score, he was dismissed by other agents whose efforts were directed towards more lucrative listings. “That guy deserves to be in a home like anybody else,” says Burkett who remains focused on building a business with integrity and honesty that “meets people where they are at.”
Burkett’s care for people is more than just talk, and as we near the end of our conversation I find that I am at ease. I haven’t been judged on my lack of knowledge about real estate or dismissed as a first-time home owner whose prospects of buying remained daunted by a convoluted process that feels out of reach. Instead, I feel that I have been extended an invitation of guidance without pressure. An invitation I will certainly remember when it comes to finding a home.
215 S. Centerville Road
Lancaster, PA 17603
By: Roxannah Hunter