Four REALTORS® have been selected to be honored as the 2021 REALTORS® to Watch. The award goes to REALTORS® under the age of 40 for their excellence in leadership, community involvement, and everything else that makes a well-rounded young professional in real estate.
“We had some excellent candidates for the award this year, and these four honorees really earned it,” says Texas REALTORS® 2021 Chairman Marvin Jolly. “It continues to inspire me to see how the honorees promote the REALTOR® brand with their professionalism and dedication to real estate. They’re giving back to their communities in some really amazing ways, and their association involvement is a significant demonstration of their commitment to improving the industry.
“I’m proud to see these REALTORS® to Watch be recognized for their achievements so far, and I look forward to hearing about the amazing things they will continue to do in the future.”
Bart Stockton’s real estate roots run deep.
“I remember accompanying my grandmother on property showings and open houses as well as organizing and filing around the office,” he says. “I feel fortunate to grow up in a family that both valued and helped people realize the dream of homeownership. I knew early on that I wanted to be a part of that.”
A defining characteristic of Stockton’s career is his appreciation for education. He worked alongside his uncle at a family brokerage and real estate school while taking college courses to become a secondary teacher; that’s when he caught the real estate bug.
“I’m an information sponge!” says Stockton. “I love nothing more than learning new things about real estate, even if it’s obscure or not practical to what’s going on at the moment.”
He earned his real estate license in 2003 at the age of 20 and quickly joined his local association because of “the strong value that my uncle and grandmother placed on the REALTOR® brand, mark, and mission.”
“That value was instilled in me and continues to drive me and our company to be more than merely real estate practitioners,” he says.
Stockton manages nearly 100 agents in three offices, and although he is certainly a leader in his position, he describes himself as a reluctant one. He doesn’t seek out leadership positions, but he steps up to further the mission of an organization when the need arises.
Nevertheless, Stockton has extensive experience in leadership positions among industry associations, his church, and civic organizations. The satisfaction of a job well done and leaving something better than how he found it are driving forces when it comes to how he leads.
“I’m fond of telling my agents and students that there is a big difference between 10 years of experience and one year of experience repeated 10 times. I help agents realize that if this is going to be a career, they must look for the learning potential in every transaction.”
In 2008, Stockton received TREC certification to teach qualifying and continuing education courses. He also writes and teaches his own courses and was the contributing editor for a real estate textbook from a national publisher. He even takes courses that he himself teaches to watch other instructors and learn from their styles and experiences to improve his own skills.
“I believe that everyone I meet has something that they can teach me, if I will only get out of the way and let it happen.”
“When I decided to become a REALTOR®, I knew it came from my most basic instinct, which is to help others,” Jessica McCreary says. “I thrive in being someone’s advocate.”
For McCreary, mentorship is the constant thread that runs through her experience in real estate. When she began her career in 2009, her mentor told her to find a niche and become an expert in it. So McCreary took off in the specialty of estate sales.
“It was an area of real estate many agents had not yet tapped into, and it allowed me to get listings in some of the more elite neighborhoods of Houston, which can be difficult as a new agent,” she says.
McCreary earned her broker’s license in 2015 and started her boutique real estate firm and property management company.
McCreary says one of the industry challenges she had to overcome was her age: she earned her license at 22 and became a broker of her own business when she was just 28.
“Being a new agent in real estate, it is already challenging to get steady business and leads coming in. But you couple this with young age, and it is even more challenging to set yourself apart in an already extremely competitive field because inexperience is assumed,” she says.
McCreary threw herself into association involvement, often participating in Houston Association of REALTORS® committees. She completed training with the Texas REALTORS® Leadership Program (TRLP) and the West Houston Leadership Institute. She also served on the Agent Leadership Council at Keller Williams Memorial for three years, during which time she taught classes to new agents and participated in top-producing panels.
“It was during that time that I found I had a passion for mentoring other agents,” she says. “I sincerely wanted to see them succeed, and I have brought this passion to my brokerage. I see myself more as a mentor than a manager.”
She excels in an entrepreneurial environment, where growth and change are regular aspects of the job. She holds numerous designations and regularly takes classes to stay up to date on new trends and topics.
“I move with intention, and I put into action every goal I set for myself and the brokerage,” she says. “I know that everything I have done in the last 12 years has served a purpose and led me right where I need to be to continue this journey.”
“I’m the girl who owns way more boots than heels and is happy to muddy up a pair for you while I get the gate,” Jessica Rumbaugh says.
Rumbaugh specializes in rural properties with an emphasis on client education and helping to connect clients with the right resources to meet their goals and be successful landowners. For the last two of her seven-plus years of real estate, she has been a broker and owner of her own business in rural residential properties, farm & ranch, and recreational and hunting properties.
Her interest in the land market came naturally—she has well over 100 years of family history in agriculture and is a fourth-generation farmer and rancher.
She decided to become a real estate agent after having a negative experience selling her home. The agent who helped Rumbaugh sell her home left her feeling pressured into poor situations and unhappy with the experience overall. She channeled her frustration into motivation and took it upon herself to do her own research on the industry and processes.
Seven months later, she got her license. From that day forward, she vowed to always put her clients first, listen to their concerns, answer every question, and treat everyone she encounters in a transaction with integrity and respect.
“I often think about that agent and how we were treated, and I am thankful for the experience because it pushes me to be better in an industry that I otherwise may never have considered as a career,” she says.
Her business focus is on client education. Rumbaugh’s blog blossomed into a full repertoire of resources for clients and the public. She is also more than happy to assist a fellow REALTOR® with any rural property questions they might have. The pandemic has piqued interest in land sales, as more customers consider leaving the city for rural property, and Rumbaugh says many of her new clients have found her online through her educational resources.
Rumbaugh is active in her community and industry. She has extensive experience on local, state, and national committees and farm & ranch associations, and is also actively involved with the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has won various awards, including the Excellence in Agriculture award with the Texas Farm Bureau, a Texas Proclamation by her state senator for her accomplishments, and a County Activity of Excellence award for organizing youth livestock shows online after COVID-19 canceled the county fair.
“All I wanted to do was show up and do what I could to preserve our community and be a voice to help make it better,” she says. “I never would have dreamed I would receive recognition for what I’ve done.”
Jonathan Lindley started taking pre-license courses in high school—before he was old enough to even take the exam. Although he was a bit tentative at first, he found his footing and hasn’t looked back.
“Fast-forward 15-plus years later, I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Lindley says. “This business has been so rewarding to me, and I am truly thankful for every day I get to be a REALTOR®.”
Lindley is now a co-owner and broker in McAllen overseeing more than 20 agents; his real estate specialties include commercial sales and leases, farm & ranch sales, and foreclosure listings.
His advice to new agents is don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to hear the word no. “A close friend and mentor told me that the answer is always no unless I ask the question,” he says.
Lindley became involved in his local association in 2017 and wishes he had sooner. “The networking has been phenomenal, and I feel the people I’ve met and things I’ve learned have elevated my career to a whole new level.”
He became president of the Greater McAllen Association of REALTORS® in 2020. He says the uncertainty surrounding that year greatly impacted him in his association involvement. Instead of waiting for more stability, Lindley rose to the challenge. He fought to have REALTORS® declared essential workers, helped to establish a diversity and inclusion committee, and worked with association staff and leaders to equip their members with the tools necessary to navigate the new and fast-paced market.
“Our industry is constantly changing, and we need to be in front of those changes not only for our fellow REALTORS® but also for the consumer,” Lindley says.
Lindley volunteers with his local and state associations as well as his community at large. Whether leading a food drive or volunteering with his local association to serve meals to underserved communities, raise supplies and monetary donations for assisted living communities, or donating to the local dog shelter, Lindley seeks opportunities to help those around him.
This passion for his community seems to translate well to his career.
“I am in a profession that grants me endless opportunities, but more importantly, I’m in an industry where I feel I am truly changing people’s lives,” he says. “It’s exciting to wake up and not know how the day is going to play out, who you’re going to meet, or what impact you will have on them!”