National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals

February 6, 2017

Go the Extra Mile.. It's Never Crowded!

Your Customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care D.R.

A NAGLREP social spotlight by Darla Michelsen

Gene Brake is a Realtor serving Spokane, Washington

It was 30 years ago when Gene went to the march on Washington and saw the first display of the Names Project Aids Memorial Quilt.  An activist was born.  During this time Gene was a customer care manager in a variety of corporate businesses, including Time Warner Cable, Southwestern Bell, and the U.S. Census and the Starbucks corporate office. He trained customer service agents how to deal with situations that occur in the service world.  

His love for working with people drove his transition to real estate. It also gave him flexibility to spend more time with his grandkids, go fishing, and have a life outside of work.  Gene has been with Keller Williams from the beginning of his real estate career.  Growing up in Texas he was familiar with KW as a home town name.

Darla Michelsen: As a Facebook friend I often noticed the nice things Gene would post.  We had the pleasure of getting to know each other better at the 2016 NAGLREP conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Darla Michelsen: Is there something that you really love about the area where you live and work?

Gene Brake:  Yes! I have a passion for Historic architecture and my favorite is mid-century modern. I live in the historic district in Spokane and my husband and I have been restoring our 1909 Craftsman home. It's ridiculously large for two people, but we fell in love with the home because it faces a park.  One of my goals is to save and restore old homes in Spokane. I'm very involved in my home owner's association and the local historic preservation organization.  I want to see these older homes in the hands of new owners that maybe couldn’t afford a newer home. That’s why I’m excited next year’s NAGLREP conference will be held in Palm Springs, The mecca for mid century modern architecture.

DM: What do clients say about you as an agent?

GB: They say Do you do this for everybody? and it’s because I may have helped them weed their flower bed and paint walls and I make their home presentable to sell. I know it can a daunting task when I give people a list of everything that may need to be done. Helping with all this is just part of what I do.

DM: What’s your most successful marketing piece?

GB: In 2010 I joined NAGLREP and I’ve gotten the greatest pay back from that than any other investment I’ve made in my business, hands down. I’ve received not only referrals, but just being able to reach out and ask questions to the group is invaluable.

DM: Tell me three things people wouldn’t know about you?

GB: I did competitive ball room dancing and taught dancing for many years.  I’m very driven politically. People knowing my views now would be surprised that I started out being involved in the Gerald Ford campaign.  And my ex-wife and I were on a game show together called Dream House that took place in the 80’s.  Our winnings got us a house full of furniture and a down payment on our first home.

DM: What are your hobbies or things you like to do with your free time?

GB: I love plants, gardening, fishing and being on the water.

DM: What experience sparked your desire to give back to your community?

GB: It started for me 30 years ago I went to the march on Washington and saw the first display of the Names Project Aids Memorial Quilt, and an activist was born. I came back to Texas where I was living and organized the Names project there and started hosting panel making workshops. We did drag shows to raise money for our first display. We founded the Imperial Court of San Antonio, and it’s part of the second largest LGBT organization in the world.

DM: Why do you think it’s important to be aligned with NAGLREP?

GB: Each of us needs to feel comfortable in our own skin.  To live your authentic self is to embrace it and live it. There are many in the business that are still not open about who they are. Belonging to NAGLREP is a way for me to say that I’m proud of who I am in my life and business.

DM: What were two things that stood out at the NAGLREP conference?

GB: In my career, I’ve seen the best of the best from Mary Kay to Zig Ziegler, and Julie Nelson was a highlight for me. She spoke about how it’s not all about the money and always working, that we work to live and there must be a balance.  The second thing that stood out was talking about all generations wanting to give back to their communities and how they see that happening. Let’s find what we have in common in this journey and work together to make it happen.

DM: What would you like people to know about you?

GB: I was so taken back by the attack on Orlando and remembering my own history and how a place like that bar was a safe place. I think it’s important to understand that we need to embrace each other’s viewpoints and to realize each of us has a place where we came from, and to allow ourselves to be open to another’s journey.

Darla Michelsen: Gene made a great impression on me as a person and now as a friend. He was warm and genuine.  It was a pleasure to get to know him better.  He’s lived an amazingly rich life and I look forward to hearing more stories and spending more time with him at this year's conference in Palm Springs, and take in one of those amazing home tours that I know Gene is excited about.  

Tags: LGBT Realtor Spokane, Gay Real Estate, NAGLREP

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