Everyone is familiar with the phrase about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. When the housing market was handed a proverbial lemon in the mid-2000s, home builder Cathy Walsh turned it into a new career in real estate.

"That was an impetus," Walsh said of her transition from general contractor and designer to full-time real estate agent.

"Real estate is now my primary focus," said Walsh, a Hinsdale resident and broker with Jameson Sotheby's International Realty.

She's no longer building houses, but Walsh said her background as a builder and interior designer is a valuable tool in matching buyers with their new homes. With inventory at a low, Walsh said a buyer's ideal home might not be available at the time they need to buy. She said her background allows her to look at a home and see what it can be.

"That's critical when inventory is low," she said.

Prior to earning a degree in interior design and a license in real estate, and building and selling several homes in and around Hinsdale, Walsh worked as a nurse - a job that has more than a few parallels to her current career. She said empathy, good listening skills and a calming presence are key to both roles.

"I'm not someone who runs off the rails easily," she said, and her calming demeanor can help to relieve some of the stress and emotion involved with a real estate transaction.

Walsh said the decision by seniors to sell their home can be particularly emotional.

With so many baby boomers entering their senior years, Walsh said she's seeing an increase in customers looking for a home where they can age safely and comfortably.

"The ability to age in place is becoming a huge driving factor," Walsh said.

Older buyers often want homes with first-floor primary suites and laundry rooms. Homes with those features, or the space to add those features, are in particular demand, she said.

She speaks from personal experience when she talks about the difficulty seniors face when transitioning to a new, often smaller home. She recently helped her 100-year-old mother purchase and move into a townhome in Hinsdale.

"She is my oldest client," Walsh said.

Walsh said she has aligned a team of experts to help make the transition as smooth as possible for her older clients.

"I have great services that can come in and help. I've really worked hard at getting resources behind me," she said.

With few homes on the market in Hinsdale, Walsh said it's a good time to sell. Even with interest rates on the rise, they still are relatively low compared to the markets of the 1980s, when buyers paid rates in the high teens. But unlike the market of a few years ago, when buyers were waiving inspections and buying homes in as-is condition, Walsh said today's sellers might need to work a little harder to get the best price.

"The sellers are having to make adjustments at this point," she said.

Her job is to help buyers and sellers negotiate a deal that works for both.

- by Sandy Illian Bosch

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean