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MaryJo Heitkamp-France, shown with her husband Ron France, at the installation dinner for the Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors in 2016, when she was named a director.
As someone who began a second career in real estate after a 30-year career as a self-employed salon owner, MaryJo Heitkamp-France is very familiar with new beginnings. After leaving her salon career, she became a managing partner of CNY Signature Properties, LLC., a licensed real estate sales associate, an accredited buyers representative, and has served as a director of Greater Syracuse Association of Realtors and a chair on the Fair Housing and Diversity Committee. Although she has been in the business of real estate since 2010, she is a newer member of the WBOC.
“In the past I’ve attended a few meetings and classes they’ve had, but I’ve never participated at this level. So, it’s kind of new to me. I’m still learning,” she said when asked about being a new member. “There are a lot of resources available when you’re networking with other women career-wise. There’s a lot to be learned, there’s a lot to be shared, there’s a lot to be admired.”
Learning about what it meant to be a member of the WBOC was similar to how MaryJo learned to be a realtor. Networking and learning from her fellow professionals became helpful in both ventures. Both choices were also reflective of MaryJo’s own desire for change in her personal life. The decision to change careers is not something that happens overnight. The choice to start a new career was deliberate for MaryJo and it came with a lot of self-reflection and seeking out opportunities to learn.
“So, this is career number two.” she said, “I retired from the salon to do something else. I just didn’t want to be tied to the chair anymore. I wanted to be able to travel and do other things at this point in my life. My husband is in real estate and he sort of nudged me to go ahead and push through real estate. But I’m still learning the profession as well.”
As a realtor, she pursued opportunities that would allow her to better learn the profession. She took specialized buyer training courses, became ABR and e-PRO certified, and attended the National Association of Realtors conference several years in a row. These opportunities not only helped her build her skill set as a new professional, but it helped her connect with issues facing the real estate industry.
But this transition was not only a reflection of a new career choice, it was also reflective of MaryJo’s personal need for change.
“The transition was based on a tragedy that I had endured.” she further explained, “My husband, Ron, works for the National Association of Realtors. He was doing a lot of traveling at the time for his job. He wanted me to join him on some of these trips, so as to not be home alone. However, I was stuck behind the chair. That was when he planted the seed of change. I decided change was what I needed and I took the real estate course.The rest is history. We now have our own brokerage and help sellers save money. We also work with buyers and walk them through the house purchasing process. I love what I do. It truly brings me joy.”
This sense of joy is one of MaryJo’s favorite things about the real estate business. She has the power to make someone’s life brighter by making their dream of homeownership come true.
“My favorite part is finding people homes they love and seeing their faces on closing day when they get the keys to their brand new home. They’re so super happy and that makes me happy as well.”
MaryJo is all too familiar with crossroads and the unexpected changes that come with living life. But some of those changes are fueled by resilience. When asked about what advice she had for people considering changing their own careers, she replied,
“Do it. Don’t be scared. Just do it. If you’re not happy or you’re tired of what you’re doing presently, then take the dive and just do it.” SWM