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Stephanie Jones, GRI, CRS, e-Pro, Associate Broker/MAR Approved Educator, of Marquette is the quintessential “Superior Woman.” A 1985 graduate of Marquette Senior High School, she is one of the biggest cheerleaders for the greater Marquette area. A realtor in Marquette, she understands that a house does not become a home until a community feels like home.
By Dale Hemmila
For many people there is a vocation and an avocation. So it is with Stephanie Jones, a realtor in Marquette, Michigan, for the past 24 years. While her vocation may be real estate, her avocation is marketing and supporting the community where she lives.
To learn that from Jones, all you have to do is know her personal mission statement: Improve My Community Through Real Estate.
For further validation of her avocation, sit down and talk to her about her vocation, and you find yourself in the midst of a conversation about how important community is long before you ever hear a word about mortgages, appraisals, home closings, brokerage fees or any of the other real estate terms she uses every day.
“I sell Marquette,” she said, which includes selling its restaurants, shops, hotels, schools, hospital and university and, well, you get the idea.
In addition to selling real estate, she also invests some of herself in Marquette, as well. Currently she is president of the Marquette County Economic Club; a member of the board of directors of the Lake Superior Community Partnership; she volunteers for Pathways Mental Health Clubhouse Program; and she has chaired fundraisers for the U.P. Children’s Museum, Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter (UPAWS) and the Marquette Women’s Center.
“I choose to help organizations that can make my community better,” she explained. “I have to impact my community positively.”
That sense of community impact rolls over into working with her colleagues at Marquette County’s Select Realty, where $10 is contributed to the Marquette County Community Fund for each home the agency sells. In addition to other volunteer efforts, the agency workforce recently picked up buckets and brushes to wash windows following the death of longtime downtown Marquette volunteer window washer Phil Niemisto. The employees also donated to the Niemisto scholarship fund at the Marquette Area Public Schools, Jones’s alma mater.
“As a group, we are willing to give our time, not just our money,” she said. They give to the Marquette Community Foundation to make sure the money donated “stays in the community.”
Real estate seemed like a natural course for Jones, who said: “I’ve been in sales since I was a kid.” Her retails experiences began when she worked in her mother’s clothing store in downtown Marquette.
As her experience in real estate sales has grown, she has used her sense of commitment to volunteer within her vocation as well.
Her state and national involvement allows her to follow legislation that can affect realtors, homeowners and home sales nationally and in Michigan.
“That’s where I felt I could make a difference,” she said of her involvement. “I think my voice can be heard.”
A hot button issue statewide that she watches closely is the focus on the impact of short term rentals on local communities.
“They have a valuable place in Michigan’s tourism industry,” she said, “but they need guidelines. They shouldn’t have an unfair advantage over the hotel industry.”
Jones once was named “Rookie of the Year” by her real estate agency and now, with more than two decades of sales behind her, she is passing on her knowledge to other real estate rookies.
She is the only approved real estate educator in the Upper Peninsula, and conducts between four and eight week-long classes each year focusing on pre-licensing and post-licensing education for newcomers. Her classes begin with a dose of “realty reality.”
“The first thing I tell them is if you are going into real estate to be your own boss, you’re wrong. You will have hundreds of bosses,” she said.
And it is true that every buyer and seller a realtor represents wants to make sure you are working for them. That makes it a “people job” and one she compares to “juggling jellyfish.”
“There are so many moving components in every transaction,” she explained. “There are 10 steps in every transaction and a process for each step. But I love the variety. It’s a roller coaster. I love the highs, but the lows are low when things don’t work out for a client.
“Buying a house is one of the top three stressors in life, and we are the shepherds for that. When I see someone is so happy when they buy a house or sell a house, there is great fulfillment in that.”
Jones says she tries to ignore her phone after 9 p.m. on weekdays and generally works six days a week in her “controlled chaos” environment.
“I really try hard to take Sundays off,” she sighed. “I need that time to recharge my batteries. Like everyone, I’m trying to strike a balance between work and play.”
She smiled and said: “I thought I was going to have an assistant, as my son Mitchell worked at the agency for a while. But he joined the Air Force and now I couldn’t be any prouder.”
So working on her own from an office filled with a collection of shark tchotchke — “I love sharks; they are majestic predators,” she said. “Diving with sharks is in on my bucket list…” — it appears she will continue her career as she has with a catchphrase she developed years ago to entice her clients by asking: “What doors can I open for you?”
Meanwhile, vocation and avocation have certainly opened a lot of doors for her.
To reach Jones, visit the Select Realty website: www.selectmqt.com