Inside the world of realtors: Entrepreneur shares her journey

Terry Odeny

Terry Odeny is the CEO and co-founder of Olympia Gold Real Estate.

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • When she started out, Terry Odeny was green in an industry dominated by men, meaning she had to work extra hours to learn the craft.
  • Olympia Gold Real Estate specialises in the provision of services such as development conceptualisation, real estate development exit and real estate off-take guarantee.

Right from a young age, Terry Odeny, 33, was drawn into the real estate. Right after graduation, she quickly immersed herself in real estate consultancy, collaborating with other key players in the industry to offer clients solutions.

Things were tough at the start. Ms Odeny was green in an industry dominated by men, meaning she would have to work extra hours to learn the craft.

“In the early phases of my career, late nights, long hours and weekends were all part of the job. It took me some time before I was even able to strike a work-life balance,” says Miss Odeny.

Her determination would eventually lead her co-found Olympia Gold Real Estate in 2019. The firm specialises in provision of services such as development conceptualisation, real estate development exit and real estate off-take guarantee.

Collaborating with other developers, they also sell various developments to a clientele ranging from ordinary citizens, to high net-worth individuals, diplomats and corporations.

Running a business is tougher than she expected. Unlike other fast-moving consumer goods, people invest their lifetime savings into buying a home. This makes it a very emotive process, and one has to be patient with clients.

Getting employees who could understand this and how to work around it was not easy, and Ms Odeny says she had to look for people with the right attitude and then train them on how best to get the job done.

International recognition

“Employees are at the heart of any business, and without the right staff, not just in terms of skill, but also the right attitude, a business cannot progress. The staff have a very big effect on the customers,” notes Miss Odeny.

She says they were finally out of the woods after they started meeting their fixed costs with ease. From going for several months without making any sales, they were now closing major deals.

Satisfied clients would then refer them to others, and they were thus able to increase their workforce. From a workforce of less than five, the firm now employs more than 30.

For their efforts in the industry, they have received local and international recognition including the Realtor of the Year Award.

Ms Odeny attributes much of their success to networking and taking advice from people who have travelled the same road before.

“In my career, I have seen some people do extremely well, and I have also seen others make a lot of mistakes, but what sets apart those who are successful from those who are not is the ability to seek counsel when it counts.”

When she is not active in the world of real estate, she immerses herself in nature. She says this helps her unwind, rejuvenate and gain ideas for projects.

Real estate projects

“In those moments of stillness, when you are surrounded by the tranquility of nature, you are reminded of the innate connection we share with the natural world, and hence the need to factor in aspects such as sustainability in real estate projects,” notes Ms Odeny.

She advises anyone looking to venture into the real estate industry to be clear and specific about what they want. Having measurable goals can help one avoid costly mistakes.

She also advises people looking to venture into the industry to patiently grow their portfolios and avoid succumbing to outside pressure that may compel them to take shortcuts.

“In real estate, you have to start from somewhere. If, for instance, you buy an affordable house that goes for between Sh2-5 million, you can be able to get a steady tenant, the property will grow in capital gains, and you will be receiving a lot of cash flow from it.”

And with modern applications like Airbnb, even such affordable houses can give returns of up to 30 per cent, compared to other real estate investment vehicles that generate about 10 per cent in gains.

“You can start with one house, and if your cash flow is good, you can talk to your bank to get the next house, and in a few years, you have accumulated up to four apartments.”