More Insider Tips (and Life Lessons)
Updated: May 2
“I never try to convince anyone to buy a home. I can feel the energy of a place and know if it's the right place for my client - and I try to help my clients access that too.”
Jackie Bitensky didn’t grow up in Jerusalem or ever think she was going to live there, but now she knows it like the back of her hand. Working as a real estate agent in a city gives you a close look into the heart of a place and Jackie’s got the pulse on Jerusalem.
One time, at a Chamber of Real Estate Agent workshop, Jackie ran into another agent who had a home to sell and was looking for a buyer. Jackie was currently working with a client who was looking to buy but this property was in a different neighborhood than her client wanted. Jackie figured she would suggest it anyway. It turned out that the owner of the home for sale was a well-known, female Jewish educator that Jackie’s client deeply admired. They were so excited that it was the house of this woman that they closed the next day at full price.
Jackie didn't get into real estate thinking that she would be helping people find their homes, but it turned into something she couldn't ignore. In 1996, as a mother with small children, Bitensky wanted to stay home with her kids, but she didn’t have the luxury to do so. She started off at her aunt’s short-term rental business as an office manager - simply out of necessity. The office manager was her official title but after 8 years in, she had mastered every aspect of the business. That’s when she couldn’t ignore the calling.
In 2004, she entered the business with intention and got her real estate license. Not one to stay still, in 2012, after working for other companies, Jackie decided it was time to start her own business. One impetus to branch out on her own was her mother’s passing. “Before she passed away I wouldn't have had the courage to start my own business. Losing my mother to cancer built my character. I also got divorced not long after. Not being someone's little girl anymore helped me grow up in a lot of ways.”
Her mother unknowingly also gave her the physical means to start the business. Her mother had gifted her a gold watch that somehow got lost. The insurance payment from the loss was the exact funds she needed to strike out on her own.
Once she became independent, Jackie became more involved in the community. In 2016 she ran for the board of directors of the Jerusalem Chamber of Real Estate Agents - and won. There are only seven board members and she’s one of them. Since then she has been elected every single year and serves as the Treasurer. The chamber advocates for real estate regulations in the Knesset that ensure a high standard of professionalism and that agents and their clients are protected.
Through her tenacity and career development, she learned to let go of her fears and what other people think of her. “As soon as I didn’t care if someone voted for me or not, I ran because I wanted to be on the board. In the end, I was surprised to find out how many people voted for me. There is no connection between how you see yourself and how others see you, or how you think others see you.”
A creative spirit, Jackie is in her element as an independent real estate agent. She treats her clients like family and does everything she can to meet her client’s needs. She works strictly with sales and has built a network of trusted connections with every type of professional, lawyers, architects, engineers, mortgage brokers, and more in order to make the process as easy as possible.
Jackie really knows how to listen. One of her secret skills is the uncanny ability to tell if a home is right for someone. “I can feel the energy of a place and know if it's the right place for my client - and I try to help my clients access that too."
After almost 25 years in the business, Jackie has some tips for you:
1) Three questions you need to answer before selling your home:
a: When do you want to sell by?
b: Why do you want to sell?
c: How much do you want to sell it for?
2) Selling a house requires many professionals (lawyers, architects, engineers, mortgage brokers), not just an agent, and it’s crucial that you trust your agent. Make sure you choose an agent with a network around them - trust is key!
3) If you haven’t had any offers in the first month or six weeks then it's time to re-evaluate the price.
4) Before you sell your house, make sure everything is in working order (no leaks, dampness, etc..). Double checking that everything is working, can also help you make a sale sooner and smoother.
5) Call your lawyer and prepare the apartment for sale before anyone comes to see it. You should not wait until you have a buyer to have your lawyer check that
it’s legally registered correctly under the right name and that it’s ready to sell! Otherwise, it could significantly delay or even destroy the deal.
6) Have something on the walls. Before you sell a home, spend a little money to decorate to help people visualize.
7) If you're selling an apt with an existing tenant, make an agreement and have good communication with the tenant. Jackie sometimes makes a WhatsApp group with herself, the owner, and the tenant so that the tenant is kept in the loop and doesn't feel like he/she is being thrown out. Need to have transparency!
8) Owner should let the agent show the apartment because otherwise, the buyers can feel like they are a guest in someone else's house and they don't feel like it's actually available. (Some people just aren't ready to sell their apt and potential buyers feel that.)
9) Finally, when selling a house it should be clean and tidy. All the shutters should be open and make sure to pick up any underwear and bras off the floor (true story!)
Have more questions? Looking to sell your home?