Elaine Koch, leader of the Elaine Koch Group, Long & Foster | Christie’s International Real Estate, Bethesda, MD, is a commanding force in the D.C. Metro real estate arena. With more than 30 years of experience, her reputation as a respected, trustworthy, and experienced Realtor® is known throughout the region.
Elaine knew from a young age she wanted to be a real estate agent. “I grew up in a historic home. I was so fascinated by that house. I remember venturing up into the attic, being intrigued with the original log cabins on the property, the barns and outbuildings, and even the various tombstones throughout the yard. My grandfather was a developer, and I felt this passion was just in me. I instinctively knew real estate was what I wanted to do. So when I graduated from high school, I told my dad I wanted to be a real estate agent. I knew it, right then and there, that it was what I was meant to do.”
Elaine obtained her real estate license at 18 while simultaneously working toward her bachelor’s degree in finance at the University of Maryland. While in school, she went to work for Winchester Homes in Maryland as an assistant for six of the sales managers. “It was a great place to start, and it gave me the tools to take my career to the next level. After college, I started working for a custom home builder and eventually ventured out into full-time real estate sales in 1998.”
Today, Elaine leads her own dynamic team of professionals who are recognized as one of the leading real estate groups in the D.C. Metro region. Although she began with a specialized focus in Montgomery County, she expanded to additional areas, including the District of Columbia, Potomac, Bethesda, Frederick County, Kentlands, and Lakelands.
Currently, Elaine is most passionate about mentoring the agents on her team and the prospects of growing her business. “That piece of the business — the everyday interaction with my agents, coming to me for advice, seeking my opinion and guidance — is so personally rewarding. It is gratifying to be able to help them with their business, help them succeed, and see how happy they are when they have a win. The best reward is seeing the appreciation they have for me in return,” she shares.
Elaine admits that it is often difficult to strike a balance between her personal and business life, so she is a firm believer in blocking off time for everything. “If I want an hour off, I schedule it. If I want to take a vacation, I put it on my calendar. The second thing I do is hire talented people to help me achieve that life balance.”
To maintain a sense of order in her sometimes chaotic days, Elaine is extremely focused, organized, and goal driven by keeping a record of what goals she aims to achieve. “I have my goals for one month, one year, five years, 10 years. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t look at those goals. I also have a bucket list written down too! My girlfriends laugh at me when I tell them I’m going to do something because it’s on my bucket list and I need to cross it off,” she smiles.
“Being able to look back at my lists and compare where I was five years ago, see what goals I have accomplished, and what things I have crossed off my bucket list is so fulfilling. There’s a great sense of achievement. Now, I’m starting to set goals for where I want to be five years from now.”
Elaine’s long-term goal is to continue to grow her business with the intention of one day seeing a team member take the helm or to leave it as a legacy for her daughter. “Right now, she just started college and is not at the point to consider it, but possibly in the future. It’s been in the back of my mind because it’s rewarding to be able to pass something like that on to your children.”
Elaine offers sage advice to up-and-coming Real Producers. “Network and prospect. If this is your passion, and you truly want to make it in real estate, then you have to prospect and put the time into it. If you’re willing to do that, you will be successful,” she enlightens. “I also think it’s important to align yourself with a team. Structure for a new agent is critical. Most agents on their own don’t have the training and expertise for making it in the business and getting off to a good start, so they end up getting out of real estate within the first year or two. I have agents on my team that tell me they wish they had joined our team years ago because there are so many things we teach them they didn’t even know existed. We give them the tools to be more successful.”
She added that one of the biggest challenges facing realtors is getting clients to trust your judgment on pricing or preparing a home for sale. “It’s an emotional transaction, and often clients think their home is worth more than it is.”
This stage is when Elaine brings her talent for interior design into her tailored approach to selling homes. “My pre-planning recommendations include customized interior designs to make sure every home I sell is presented to its fullest potential resulting in top dollar for my clients.” Her years of experience and keen market insight provide an added reassurance for her clients. “They know they can trust the accuracy of anything I’m involved in with the business because I have done my homework.”
Elaine defines success as loving what you do while also having the time to enjoy your life and friends socially by making sure there’s a healthy balance between work and spending time with the people who are significant in your life. “With real estate, it’s so easy to get caught up in the overwhelming stress of sales and not take the time to actually enjoy living. I’ve always been an advocate for balance. Early on in my career when I hit that $10 million mark, I knew it was time to get an assistant. My mentor asked why I felt I needed an assistant, and I said, ‘Well, I have a 5-year-old daughter, and I want to be with my family too.’” Now that her daughter is in college, Elaine reflects on the time she was able to spend quality moments with her because of that decision. “My daughter is my world. We share a passion for interior design and decorating homes. She’s even helped with staging a little bit. However, now that she’s off to college and I’m an empty nester, it’s been an interesting change for me. As a parent, I’m trying to let go.”
Elaine hopes she will be remembered for her role in accomplishing people’s dreams — whether it’s finding their dream home, selling their home at a time when they needed to, or helping her agents succeed. “Frankly, real estate is such an integral part of who I am, being remembered as that person who had a reputation as one of the best real estate agents in the industry would mean a lot to me. I think I’m there, but I know I will never stop striving to be the best for my clients and my team.”