Buying or selling a house is always an extremely stressful process, no matter how far you are moving. Doctors even rank moving as one of the top 5 stressors in adult life. You would think that after moving 12 times in the last 20 years, I’d be a pro at it, but alas, it’s not easy. Looking back 20 years ago, it was a breeze. It was just me, packing up a 1 room apartment, moving to another 1 room apartment. But fast forward to 2014, and I was packing for 100. Me, my husband and 2 kids, yeah I said 100 because my kids have enough stuff for 100 people. I know, you know what I mean! Luckily, this last time we moved, we didn’t have to worry about selling a home, only buying. Enter Shoshana Socher. We were relatively new to the Cleveland scene at the time when I contacted her. I was pregnant with our daughter and had all the pregnancy hormones going on. Couldn’t decide on anything, but we knew we wanted to stay in the Heights. Shoshana was so knowledgeable about the area that it was a no brainer to ask her to be our realtor. I remember her showing us houses and just being really chill. And I loved the fact that when we would walk into a home, she would sometimes say…”this isn’t for you”, which was my immediate thought as well. She not only asked us what we were looking for in a home, but she got to know us. She stuck with us for over a year, helped us buy our home we’re living in now and helped us negotiate—A LOT.
After we bought our home, Shoshana didn’t disappear from our lives. We needed a plumber, so we called Shoshana and she gave us a referral. We would see each other in Target with our families and comment on each others Facebook pictures. So, when I joined CESM, she was the first person I thought that everyone had to know about! And it didn’t hurt that I got to sit down with her a few weeks ago and interview her. I for one had a blast! She is so interesting and always has amazing ideas (check out her 10 year plan at the end). I knew she was a dynamic woman, I just didn’t know how many layers of awesomeness there were (and there are a lot BTW).
KH: Thank you so much for meeting with me! Tell me about yourself and your family!
SS: My family moved to Cleveland from California in 2000. My husband, Abraham, was a professor at Oberlin and we had 5 kids at the time and added 1 more in Cleveland! We have 6 children ages from 32-11 years old and 4 grandchildren. So, I’m at all stages of motherhood!
KH: So, tell me how you got started in real estate?!
SS: I got my real estate license when I was 41, in 2006. Typically, they don’t let people like me own a business, but I had this idea! About when I was 40, my husband and I were super broke, we homed schooled our kids, and were really deep in the home schooling world. He was a professor and didn’t make a ton of money for a family of 8, but we had a really happy life. We just kept getting broker and broker and broker and one day we were like “we need to have more money in our lives. ” So I said I’ll get my real estate license and sell real estate, thinking it would be like HGTV, where you just go around to fabulous houses and show your clients the closets and such. It’s not like that…AT ALL!
KH: Some people move into their houses and have leaks…like us!
SS: Stuff happens. What I didn’t realize in getting a Real Estate License is the actually opening a business part. I have to say I was really green in that piece of the puzzle. I just didn’t know. So for a long time I sold Real Estate, I hustled HARD! Found clients and built a sphere based business where I was getting referrals form people I knew and referring other people to them for all kinds of things. Around 2009, Coby, my son, came to work with me and it was just the 2 of us and we hustled hard to get clients and make deals. Then we hired an Administrative Assistant and grew from there. We realized that if we really wanted to own our own business, we had to grow outside of the 2 of us. So now we have a team of 7 agents and 3 operations people. We’re always looking to grow our sales team.
KH: That’s amazing that you have a partnership with your son. Not all families are able to work together. What’s it like working with him?
SS: It’s awesome! It wasn’t something I was looking for, but every mom should look at their children as their resources and if their child grows to be a good fit, don’t be shy to develop that!
KH: How did that relationship start?
SS: He was home schooled until he was in 10th grade and decided he wanted to go into business and we kind of laugh that he’s been home schooling his entire life. If he makes a mistake, he looks at me and says “oh, it’s my teacher.” We had to set a lot of ground rules. One of the biggest one is that we don’t talk business during family time. At the end of the day, he’s my child and I’m his mom. If we spoke business all the time, it just wouldn’t be fair to any of us. We need to have that mother/son relationship as well as a professional one. We also have to be really concise and careful with each other and we really, really try to be open with each other.
KH: How do you juggle all of that? Being a mom, business owner with your adult son, being a grandmother and having time for your husband?
SS: I’m a mom of a child with special needs. Bayla is 11 and she has Down Syndrome. It’s not a challenge but any parent of a child with special needs there is an added layer because of the tremendous amount of appointments you go to, especially when they are younger. Every parent wants their kids to do things, swim, ride bikes, etc, but for my daughter she will be able to do them, it will just take longer, you just have to be more focused but you still want the same things for them. Even now, it’s really intense and I try to compartmentalize if I can. I sometimes work weird hours. Like this morning, I was up at 5am and worked until about 7. From 7-9:30am, I got Bayla ready for school and on the bus and got some things done around the house and just did mom stuff. Being in business for yourself, you can do that. Unfortunately, when you work 9-5, it’s a lot harder. When I first started, I would work all day and then take a break when she got off the bus and as far as she was concerned, I was a stay at home mom. Because when we were together, I rarely worked. But I hustled the times when she was in school.
KH: How has the community helped you get to where you are now?
SS: On the personal side, I love the organization, Upside of Downs and The Friendship Circle. Those are two organizations that we have participated in and I love to be a resource for parents of kids with special needs. I started a few groups on Facebook for Jewish people with kids with Down Syndrome. We have parents from all over the world that are members.
On the business side, I really got involved in the local community. Got involved in local Chambers of Commerce, I give referrals all the time and I became a part of the landscape. And once you are a part of it, people want to invite you in. The community is so welcoming to new businesses.
KH: In all of the places that I’ve lived in, I’ve never felt a more welcoming business community than Cleveland. Everyone wants you to succeed. They want you to do well and promote the community. It doesn’t matter if you are a direct competitor or not, it’s just so great!
SS: Yes. Our community has been extremely helpful in growing our business. They want to adopt you in! And I really believe that there are a few key components as well….Be the person people want to do business with, self-educate, dress like a business owner and give referrals. I’m constantly giving referrals to people who I think will be able to help them!
KH: What do you want people to know about working with a realtor?
SS: If someone wants to sell a house, buy a house or invest in Real Estate, then just call me. I’m a great sounding board. There is still a lot of opportunity in Cleveland. There’s still opportunity to buy under priced properties and there is always an opportunity to buy a great house in a great community. We have so many amazing places to live!
KH: It’s true. There is just so much! What do you love about owning your business?
SS: I love the variety of talking to so many people! I love the creativity of growing the business. In my past life (before kids), I did a lot of things and played a lot of instruments. I thought I was going to be a professional violinist. But the great thing about owning my business is there is still that creative piece that I get to manifest in a different way. And I love that my family sees me making a difference in our community and at home. They see me achieve my goals and you can really make a difference with your family’s financial goals.
KH: What do you want women to know who always thought about starting their own business?
SS: YOU CAN DO IT! I had a hand-me-down van, 1 pair of shoes and only went to second hand stores. Now I own a my own business and employ other agents. Every single minute you spend with your children comes back to you in every respect. You will always be someone’s mom, but you have a skill set you can use and make a different not only at home, but also in your community.
KH: What do you wish you had known before becoming a realtor?
SS: It’s really hard work. Knowing that wouldn’t have stopped me, but you have to do every single thing on your own.
KH: Lastly, on the business side of things, how does your faith impact your business?
SS: I don’t work Fridays and Saturdays. My clients know this upfront. I turn off my phone and truly unplug for 25 hours a week, plus all Jewish holidays. Most people who own their own business do not do that and it’s been imperative to both my business and home life!
KH: In this world, it’s really easy to check emails, Facebook and Instagram all the time. So that’s perfect. OK—on to some fun questions! What’s your favorite place on the East Side?
SS: North Chagrin Reservation is my favorite place!
KH: What’s the best time saving hack to share with other moms?
SS: Instacart! It has changed my life!
KH: Favorite thing to do with your kids/grandkids?
SS: Swim, bike ride, garden.
KH: What would I be surprised to know about you?
SS: I thought I was going to be a classical violin player. I played for twenty years!
KH: What do you do on your days off?
SS: ?? Days off? Spend time with family on Fridays and Saturdays!
KH: Favorite things to do for “me” time?
SS: Yoga and Orange Theory! But it took me a long time to get there!
KH: Proudest Mom moment?
SS: One of my daughters is gay. She and her spouse have children and it was a really proud moment for me to have my own piece of Pride month!
KH: Proudest business moment?
SS: The first time we sold 100 homes in a year (about 3 or 4 years ago).
KH: What’s next for your business?
SS: Growth. I plan to move out of a sales role and run our team, teach classes and be an adviser when we get to 10-15 agents. We also want to open a Launch House in Beachwood. It would be a open work space for businesses to use and we want to employ people with special needs to help run it!
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