Kelly Leighton

Last Updated: April 2, 2019 | View all posts by Kelly Leighton

A Day in the Life is a new series on JustListed where Kelly Leighton spends some time with a Realtor® and writes about their day-to-day business and lifestyle.

John Esser believes in going the extra mile.

As I trailed behind the Camp Hill-based agent in a vacant soon-to-be-listed townhome outside of Harrisburg, he changed lightbulbs, folded towels, replaced a shower curtain and adjusted window shades. The home, to be listed for $140,000, is one of his less expensive homes, but Esser didn’t take any shortcuts.

“I’d rather put in 110 percent and sell the property,” he told me as we waited for the professional photographer to come.

He carefully goes through each room, making small adjustments to make the house look better. He removes a spring wreath, noting it could date the photos, and adjusts curtains to let in some sunlight.

“Just a few little things can add a lot.”

Born and raised in central Pennsylvania, Esser, 39, has been in the business for 13 years with RE/MAX Realty Associates. After graduating from University of Delaware with a degree in finance, he worked as a mortgage originator for a few years, buying multifamily properties on the side to fix up and rent out. But he hated his day-to-day job.

So, he quit.

He was unemployed with a few properties to pay for. His dad had retired and talked about getting a real estate license, and Esser, not wanting to be left behind, took the classes with him and got his license as well. And he’s been in the business ever since.

“I like to be busy and working,” he said. “Life has many chapters, the more the better.”

After setting up the townhome and instructing the photographer, Esser puts a lockbox on and we head to our next visit, a walk through at an $850,000 home in Camp Hill.  It’s a bit of an unconventional walk-through, as the sellers are remaining in the house for an extra six weeks, but I learn all about the buyers’ future plans for renovating the home, which is a bit dated.

We then hop back in the car and head to the settlement. “The biggest problem in the industry is lack of communication,” Esser tells me in the car. He has a hiccup with a settlement that is supposed to be signed tomorrow. He calls the other agent and explains the situation, asks for her patience and promises to follow up in two hours.

“No one picks up the phone anymore. If I had just texted her, she doesn’t know my tone, we don’t get to have a real conversation.”

While the majority of his business comes from referrals, when he started, Esser started from scratch. He talked of reading the classified ads in newspapers, looking for owners selling their home.

“If I couldn’t convince them to give me the listing, I asked to help them look for their next house.”

He’d drive around, looking for “for sale by owner” signs, trying to forge relationships. “Even if they don’t hire me, I am still getting my name and face out there, creating a relationship.”

“It’s important for me to build friendships with my clients. I don’t want to just sell them a house and not hear from them again,” he added. “I want them to call me when they need a recommendation for an electrician or a plumber.”

As we head to the closing, he tells me he often listens to motivational podcasts in the car while he’s on the go, looking to constantly expand his life.

“If you’re not growing, you’re not challenging yourself,” he said.

At the closing, the buyer grumbles about all the paperwork he has to sign.

“Isn’t everything supposed to be digital by now?”

Once the mound of paperwork is finally finished, the buyers say goodbye and we sit down to discuss tomorrow’s settlement, and problem-shoot what to do if the settlement isn’t going to happen.

He has another walk-through tonight at 5:30, and then he’s heading home to his farm in Dillsburg, where he lives with his wife, Jamie, also a Realtor®, and a plethora of dogs, horses, chickens, swans and everything in between.

I ask him if his dad is still in the industry, he laughs and tells me no, he thinks it was a ruse. But it got him moving and changed his life.