“It’s a hard business, but it’s also a simple business. Just do the right thing,” Terry Pufahl said, describing real estate. Pufahl’s real estate career has spanned over three decades and he is recognized for his active involvement in professional standards and education. He has also had a hand in some tools OKCMAR members are familiar with. Not only he has served on the board, but he was part of the committee that researched the Supra lockboxes and ultimately brought them to OKCMAR. He also served on OREC’s Contracts and Forms committee for over 15 years. So those contracts and addendums you utilize are a product of his contribution! The 1997 OKCMAR REALTOR® of the Year became recipient of the Oklahoma Association of REALTORS® Lifetime Achievement Award this year!
Tell us about your background. How did you get your start in real estate?
I had been working in international sales and marketing administration for Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita for 20 years when my wife Molly, a nurse, was called to an executive position in Louisville. I decided to follow her instead of going the long distance route.
I had always been interested in real estate, but up until that point never had a chance to focus on it. I took this opportunity and obtained a real estate license when we moved to Louisville. After a few years I became a broker.
What was a lesson you learned as a brand new REALTOR® that would still serve as relevant advice today?
My broker guided me through the rules and techniques; and I sold a house within a few weeks. I thought to myself “oh this is super, what a fun and easy career”. However, I did not in fact do all the right things. I did not have enough sales for 6 months. So I tell all my agents to do the right things not only ethically, but also to continuously market themselves. Be proactive. Make those calls, introduce yourself, make those connections. Sometimes you can get something by doing nothing but for the long term it does not work that way.
How did you end up establishing a career in Oklahoma?
I followed my wife yet again for her job at Integris in Oklahoma City. I first became a sales associate and managed Bob Linn’s office on Classen Avenue. Then I had to take a detour for a few months when my father became ill. I resigned and helped take care of him in Wichita. Not long after I returned, I started working for Mike Cassidy, managing his operations at Coldwell Banker. I then had the opportunity to become owner and managing broker of Keller Williams Northpoint, which is now Keller Williams Platinum.
How did you become involved in education, professional standards and OREC?
I worked closely with Jean Thornton, a significant OKCMAR leader who was passionate about education, and helped her with some classes. Then OREC asked me to teach the Real Estate Contract and Broker Relationship classes all over the state. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting real estate professionals in other towns. I am not a teacher by trade, but the positive reviews were enough to keep me teaching for a few years.
When I worked at Cessna, part of my job responsibility was to help with corporate attorneys on contractual development. It was so interesting to me, so when I had the chance to get involved at OKCMAR in professional standards, I took that opportunity to develop my knowledge while making a difference.
I had stayed on the OREC task force even after retiring, but after about 15 years serving I decided it was time for me to hang my hat. One of the reasons being that I had been losing contact with the day to day operations.
What would you say was one of the most difficult things you’ve had to do in your career?
Conducting hearings while I was serving on OKCMAR’s Professional Standards committee was extremely difficult. Those were my peers. However, it was rewarding knowing that in the end you are doing your part in upholding the standards in the industry.
Lack of professionalism is one of my biggest concerns. It is frustrating when agents do not cooperate and, well, do not do the right thing. When I taught those classes I always mentioned this: no backstabbing. Be available, be respectful of fellow REALTORS®. You can still be aggressive, but don’t be blinded by the dollar. Remember that what goes around comes around.
Before we go, anything else you’d like to add to the advice you gave earlier?
I submitted this story in my memory and used it in training my agents. It involves Brad Reeser, someone I have utmost respect for. I was fairly new in my ownership with Keller Williams. I was meeting with his father, Pete Reese, and a recruit in Edmond for lunch. We walked in and Pete excused himself, walked over to five or six tables, and shook hands at each table. Then he came back and we continued the conversation with this recruit. Not long after, Brad walked in with his family and I saw him do the same thing! So many people knew them. They excelled at creating these connections.
It’s a people business, it’s a ‘who knows you and who do you know?’ business. Look how successful Brad is. That’s the way to do business.
Get your name out there and keep adding to that name list. Get them talking about real estate. Continually promote yourself and don’t miss opportunities. It does not necessarily have to be someone who is likely to buy in a few months. If one person does not need your services, someone they know might. Make them remember you in a professional and respectful manner. When will that perfect time be where an introduction leads to a home sale?
You don’t know, so you have to always be ready!