Why I Chose Real Estate-Because All Roads Led Me Here
I am the 4th of 5 (the oldest is my step sister who became part of our family in 1983). I am the 28th (of 30) grandchild of Irish grandparents. My grandmother came over on a boat from County Mayo, Ireland at 17. She and my grandfather had seven children, my mom was the youngest. I was the first one that was allowed to be my grandmother's namesake. One of my cousins even has two birth certificates. My aunt was made strongly encouraged to make a name change when my grandmother learned that she had named her daughter Bridget. My grandmother lived a life of honor and integrity. She loved her family and welcomed everyone in. If an extra guest showed up, she put the kettle on and put another potato in the pot. She was faith filled and joyful. She laughed and she loved. There were 30 grandchildren and I think each of us felt as loved as if we were the only one! I guess by the time I came along, she had decided it wasn't so bad for a girl to be named Bridget. Growing up, girls named Bridget were few and far between, I was always proud and try to live up to the honor daily.
In the picture above I am the infant on Gran's lap, my brother Anthony is in the sailor suit on PopPop's lap and Mike is on the floor (in a matching sailor suit), Dad is the 4th from the right, top row, and Mom is in the black dress, 4th from the right, in the 3rd row.
My birthday is on Flag Day, so I often had flag cakes for my Birthday. I believe this was my 2nd birthday. The other picture is of Christmas morning, 1970. I was 3, Anthony (far right) was 4, and Mike had just turned 6.
I am an Army Brat, my dad was a career soldier. I am blessed, my family is close. When you are all you have when you move to a new town, you learn to rely on your brothers and sisters. You also learn to make do with what you have and make friends quickly. We moved many times over the years, but Baltimore was always home. Most of my mom's family (6 sisters and brothers, their spouses and most of the 30 grandchildren) lived in and around Baltimore, many still do. I can remember apartments, and base housing, living with my grandparents. We also owned 2 houses in Catonsville, MD, both are less than 3 miles from where I live now.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
I can assure you my answer was not "When I grow up I want to be a loan officer"
I wanted to be a teacher, a nurse (Dad said I should be a Doctor, but I had no interest in that), a ballerina (Ok, that one was pretty short-lived considering my stature and my lack of grace). I wanted to be the mother of 10 kids. I wanted to adopt special needs kids (This one came from a story my mom read us on one of our many long distance car trips, a Reader's Digest Condensed version of "Nineteen Steps Up A Mountain".) I wanted to help people, to be a cheerleader, to counsel, to nurture.
I was always the nurturing one in the family. When I was very young my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, I can remember massaging her back around the radiation square to help to relieve some of the pain. I did my best to help out where I could, taking care of whatever needed to be done. You can read about my mom in my post Motherless Daughters.
Nursing seemed like a good and obvious career choice. Looking back, sometimes I wish I would have stuck with nursing. My dad once told me that I didn't have to be "Just a nurse", that I could be a doctor if I "put my mind to it". I know he was trying to be encouraging and supportive, but I heard "If you are not a Doctor you aren't good enough"...hmmmm there's probably years of therapy sessions in that statement. Over the years I have been a Hospice volunteer, worked at Mount Washington Pediatric hospital, am the go to girl when family is in the hospital. People still say that I would have made a good nurse.
I then learned about Physical Therapy, that seemed like an even better idea. It would still allow me to help folks, without the death part. I chose the University of Delaware because of it's PT program and entered with a "Physical Therapy Interest". I volunteered in a PT office. I loved the part where I helped to make people feel better, the application. Very quickly I realized that the science required to understand the "how" (the research) was not something that interested me. I took the required pre-reqs and found as I had suspected the sciences were not my strong suit.
I explored options in classes, worked in restaurants, played, became a Resident Assistant...by my Junior year I had to declare a major. It's a little embarrassing to say that I sat down with the course book and paged through major by major. Some I had knocked out automatically for lack of interest, or lack of desire, or lack of skill. I looked at each requirement list and checked off classes I had taken and determined the classes still to go. Since I had taken summer and winter classes, I had enough credits to graduate early with a degree in Human Resources with a concentration in Consumer Economics with only one more year of school. I declared my major. Luckily I loved the CE courses, but wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with it. I continued to work in restaurants, waiting tables and bartending.
By the time I graduated I decided that the restaurant business would be a good place to start. I already knew about it and quickly got a position as assistant manager for Sir Walter Raleigh Inns, a local steakhouse chain in the Baltimore/Washington area. As a 20 year old manager in a restaurant with high school, college and some older employees, I had a ball! The people were great. I can remember one older patron who after asking for a manager declared "You are the manager? Does your father own the restaurant?" My reply "No Maam, I went to 4 years of college to get this job!" Hmmm, is this what I should be doing? I left there to manage the restaurant in the Downtown Athletic Club. I had more autonomy and it was very much like having my own restaurant.
It was during this time that I met my husband. I guess that was where I should have been at the time.
After a few years, restless, I decided that I needed something new. Sales! That's it! I applied for food sales (a logical step, or so I thought). Every company wanted sales experience. To get experience I applied with companies that would take someone with no experience. It was the early 90's. Pagers, cell phones, copiers....not for me. I worked with a head hunter who got me an interview with a commercial cleaning master franchise named Coverall. I was so impressed by the company and their premise that I was devastated when the head hunter told me they were probably going with someone with sales experience. I loved the concept, I loved the company, I was impressed by the owner. I knew I would excel. As luck would have it, my next interview was across the street, the interviewer was delayed in traffic. I took that opportunity to go to the Coverall offices, meet with the owner to make sure that he knew I was interested. He had me interview with the Ops manager and the sales manager. Before I left I was told that I would get a call by the end of the day (a Friday) or on Monday. I said "You are going to make me wait until Monday, aren't you?" The owner laughed and I left. Later that afternoon I got the call. "We'd like to offer you the position." "AWESOME! Uh, er, I mean thanks! When do I start?" And so began my illustrious sales career.
I worked with Coverall for 4 years, working my way up to Regional Sales Manager. When Coverall's owner decided to invest in the pre-sort mail business, he asked me to head the marketing department. As a start-up, I was the marketing department. I created marketing materials, telemarketed (Sometimes the telephone scripts I wrote needed to be tweaked..."My name is Bridget and I am calling about your mail needs" was met with snickers....oops, revision needed!), made sales calls on companies and organizations all over Maryland and DC, hired and fired, ran the sorters and encoders, and helped to build the business from the ground up. Later the owner brought in a business partner/investor and then decided to go full time back to Coverall. I decided that was my cue to begin to find a different position.
With a strong sales background and still no desire to go into copier sales, I interviewed with Tennant Co., an industrial equipment and floor coating company out of Minnesota and determined they were the best in their business. I was awarded a territory with parts of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. A female in a widely male profession I loved what i did. I demonstrated equipment, met with COO's, company presidents and with janitors, mayors and town managers, equipment operators. I created proposals and made comparison bids. I explained, I demo'd, I taught, I walked the walk. One of my favorite memories is as a new rep, I was dressed in my new suit and heels with my fancy leather brief case. I drove onto the grounds of the ALCOA plant in Frederick, MD. According to their website, ALCOA is the world’s leading producer of primary aluminum and fabricated aluminum, as well as the world’s largest miner of bauxite and refiner of alumina. The plant supervisor met me at the security building, told me that I looked nice, then proceeded to hand me a hard hat, steel-toed boots, a lab coat, and ear plugs, and told me that if I ever showed up in heels again, they would turn me away. LESSON LEARNED! I had a great time going into manufacturing plants, packing, packaging, car dealerships, cement plants (calling cement concrete is like calling bread flour), small and large cities, government facilities. There were good things, I was home every weekend, and my territory allowed me the ability to pick up my step-sons at the half-way point (or more) on our weekends. There were not so good things, I was travelling 1000-1500 miles per week and spending up to 3 nights a week in hotels. That was a lot of driving and a lot of alone time.
Not long after 9/11 capital equipment purchases were down, many companies were fixing instead of buying new. I began to really look at where things were and about how much I was missing at home. Like many after that time, I was re-evaluating my priorities. I was making a good living, but my passion for what I was doing was waning. I grew restless again.
Looking for a Family to Protect Your Finances? You have found the Right one! Anthony and I are on the left.
The refinance boom was in full swing with rates low (though not as low as they are now). My sister owned (and still does) a contract mortgage processing company in Westminster, MD. She needed help and offered me a job. I knew nothing about mortgages. She patiently taught me line by line and disclosure by disclosure how to process loans. We arrived in the dark of morning and left at the dark of night. We barely broke for lunch. It was trial by fire to be sure. Business was good, working with my sister was great, we worked long and hard. I got to solve problems, help people through tough situations, help them to make good, sound financial decisions.
In November of 2004 I found out I was pregnant. I was thrilled, but I loved my job, it was stressful and crazy but I was good at it. I had always imagined myself a stay-at-home mom. I wasn't ready to do that. Lucky for me, after I had my daughter, I was able to bring her into the office with me. There were many days that I would be sitting at my desk, nursing my daughter, talking with a client and typing on the computer. If Syd cried and I was on the phone, my sister was there or her business partner Heather would take her. Her bassinet was set up next to my desk. I was able to work my schedule around my daughter's. What a wonderful life! At about 9 months Syd was beginning to crawl. There were lots of files around the office and it was no longer a good place for her to be.
My brother Anthony was a branch manager for Allied Home Mortgage, he offered to have me work in his office as a processor. It was perfect. I could continue to bring my daughter to work with me, and continue to do the job I loved.
Not long into my new job with Anthony, Allied was holding a National convention in Texas. At the last minute Anthony decided that I should go. My husband would have the baby, so I knew she was in good hands. Off we went. The convention was fantastic, I felt more connected with the company we worked for, learned a lot and had a great time. I came home fired up! I had all kinds of ideas of how we could help more people, do more loans, do things better. I decided that I should be a loan officer because it would allow me to have a better connection with the people I met, it would give me more leeway to discuss loan options that I didn't have as a processor. I already knew the paperwork end of it, working with Anthony I began to understand more about why one loan was better than another for a particular client. Anthony and I are a great team. He is an engineer by education, very technical, very specific. I had the sales and marketing background, I was big picture. He is numbers, I am enthusiasm.
Over the years we have helped many first time homeowners to find the right loan. We have helped people dealing with divorce to muddle through with dignity, we have helped people with damaged credit to begin to re-build. We have been there for so many firsts, weddings, births, new jobs. We have counseled, laughed and cried, we have fought for what is right, we have gotten people into better programs, we have saved clients many thousands of dollars. We have done it all ethically and responsibly.
When I look back over the years, I realize that all roads have led to where I am today. As a child my goal was to help people. My mother's close knit family was a model for my own, I am forever grateful for that. I tried lots of things until I found out what would work best for me. I stumbled upon a consumer economics concentration in college, that I didn't even know what I would do with once I had it. My time in the restaurant business allowed me time to learn to connect with folks from all walks. My background and love of sales and marketing helps me in my day to day duties and adds to my partnership with my brother and makes us a better team. My close relationship with my family allowed me to fit into their companies, help them and in turn find a profession I love. My desire to be a good mom allowed me to choose a job with flexible hours and a good income that would allow me the freedom to be available for my stepsons, and raise my daughter AND have a career I love.
Why did I choose Real Estate? Because all roads have led me here.
Bridget McGee Maryland Mortgage Mama NMLS# 196068 SWBC Mortgage. 410-960-2061 EHO firstname.lastname@example.org or www.marylandmortgagemama.com
If you are considering purchasing a home in Maryland and want to be sure you are mortgage ready, my brother Tony and I will be happy to help! We help to make the mortgage process a pleasure!
If you already own your home, we are happy to provide a no-cost mortgage review to help you to determine if refinancing may be in your best interest. Please contact me at 410-960-2061.