A Conversation with Sarah Kavalier

New role is a “dream job”.

On February 1, Sarah Kavalier embarked on a new career as Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group’s Homebuilder Marketing Manager. Kavalier’s expertise, experience, and creativity will be focused on new construction. It’s a role that feels custom-fit for Kavalier, who brings a unique perspective due to her multifaceted background.

Kavalier worked as a full-time real estate agent for Coldwell Banker from 2003 to 2009, then focused her attention on her family from 2009 to 2012. In 2013 to 2015, she was drawn back into the real estate arena as an agent’s assistant, most recently to one of Coldwell Banker’s own top sellers.

Kavalier has experience in national sales from Pella Corporation and home building from Kavalier Construction, her husband’s former company. Becoming Homebuilder Marketing Manager is a culmination of those experiences. This is a job that combines many of her strengths and she has a passion for this kind of work. When presented with her dream job, she knew she couldn’t pass it up.

Why was this position created?

Last year, Robert Burns was named Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group’s new president. He recognized that new construction is a major driver of the central Iowa real estate market, and made a major investment in growing that segment of the company’s business by creating the Homebuilder Marketing Manager position.

With this being a newly formed job, I have the opportunity to help define my new responsibilities. I want to be the person that agents can go to when they want to grow or establish their new construction business. I want to provide them with the tools and company support to nurture their relationship with builders, which includes Coldwell Banker’s best-in-class suite of tools and services.

I’ll be accompanying agents to meetings with builders, learning what the specific obstacles are for clients and brainstorming solutions. Our goal is to help builders be more productive and enable them to spend more time doing what they want to do—whether it’s being on the job site or networking and meeting with clients. I am available for consultations with builders and agents if they want to grow their new construction business.

What are your immediate goals?

First, I would like to remember the silly copy machine code. But my focus has been building relationships with the agents and builders.

What are your long­ term goals?

This first year, I’m really focusing on getting to know agents, and want to ensure we’re serving our current agents and builders to our best ability. I want to remind them of the vast resources available in Coldwell Banker’s toolbox, to help them work more efficiently.

One thing I’m focusing on right now is setting up a new construction program for agents who are interested in that market. It will include classes and regular lunch and learns that discuss topics such as how to leverage social media, the advantages of using a home stager, advice for agents from a builder roundtable discussion, and legal issues in construction.

From October through December, I’ll be assisting agents in creating their marketing plans. I’ll be teaching them what they need to do at the end of the year to prepare for the following year. I’m also looking forward to holding “Social Media Sundays” with agents, where once a month, we’ll all meet for breakfast and work on getting our posts scheduled for social media.

Hopefully in working with me, agents can find that one thing that inspires or motivates them to be what they want to be or do what they want to do, and run with it.

How can agents and builders better utilize technology?

I think the key to optimizing social media tools such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is to really understood what your “friends” and “followers” want to know. Just because you’re a real estate agent or builder doesn’t mean that everything on your page has to relate to that. You need a variety of posts to engage people—that includes tips and reminders, community events, and sometimes even a little of your personal life.

What is the most pressing concern facing homebuilders today?

In the past few years, there’s been a shortage of lots, causing an increase in their prices. That’s made it difficult to build homes for $250,000 and less, particularly in the western suburbs, where many people want to live.

My long-term plan to address the lot situation involves monthly breakfasts called “Own Your Hometown.” We’ll invite city planners and their building departments to share the vision and plan for their communities. This will help Coldwell Banker agents establish relationships with builders and developers, so we’re aware early on of upcoming projects.

What aspect of your job are you most looking forward to?

I know the challenges of starting a new role. Getting used to the morning traffic and setting up a new routine provide opportunities for a fresh start, but can be challenging in the beginning.

Keeping the “big picture” view in mind was my focus. Introducing myself to new colleagues and getting reacquainted with familiar faces energizes me and brings life to my work. It takes time and patience to put many of the pieces together, including the monthly breakfasts, lunch and learns, and educational program for agents. I’m really looking forward to spending time out in the community, working, meeting, and learning alongside agents and builders.

Do you do any volunteer work?

Currently, I am on the Parent Board of the Rams Swim Club, helping with marketing to grow our presence in the community. I’m also involved in social media and fundraising efforts for my son’s baseball team.

Tell us more about you.

I live in Altoona with my husband, Jason, and our three boys: Cole, 12, Grant, 10, and Roscoe, 7. We are in the stage of our lives where our kids’ schedules seem to be filling up the calendar. My husband and I enjoy bike rides together with friends when we can. Balancing the many roles of being a working mother is a challenge and a gift.