By Josh Moss
The story of Heidi Fore the realtor began in Milan, Italy, with Heidi Fore the runway model. It was 2002, and Fore was living with three other women — from Bosnia, Croatia and Portugal— in an apartment. Life was good. “It was nothing supermodel-like,” Fore says now, smiling. “No covers on Vogue or Cosmo.” It didn’t matter that she wasn’t scoring national magazine spreads, though, because Fore didn’t want to make a career out of modeling anyway. After all, a California law school had already accepted her, and she planned to start classes come fall. At least that was the plan before she had a devastating phone conversation with her dad.
“I talked to my father one day from Italy to tell him about a job that I had booked, and he broke the bad news to me,” Fore says. “This tumor had grown from his colon through his large intestine, small intestine and gallbladder, and they were doing emergency surgery.”
With her mother heading back to school to get her master’s degree in special education, Fore knew she had to return to Louisville to contribute financially and to haul her brothers to football practice, take her dad to chemotherapy and care for her 88-year-old grandfather. “I thought, OK, Heidi, you’ve got a degree in marketing. What are you going to do with it?”
She got her real estate license from the World Academy of Realty, on South Hurstbourne Parkway, because it would allow her to help her family and still be able to write contracts and fire off e-mails from home. Fore’s father died about a year after she returned from Italy, and by that point law school was no longer attractive. Her upbeat and at times bubbly personality — “I just love helping someone find their first home!” — was too good a fit to exit the real estate world. Plus, she is good at what she does.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), agents average 10 transactions annually. In 2006, Fore closed 43 transactions worth $9 million (“Last year I sold houses in 19 zip codes across five counties,” she says), and she estimates she’ll sell more than 50 homes this year. For 2008, the 28-year-old has already set her goal at 100. Though she’s only been in the business since 2002, the June issue of Realtor Magazine named her one of the top 30 realtors younger than 30, and Real Estate Magazine recently recognized her as one of 50 realtors “on the rise.” She’s also penned a book, titled How to Buy a Home in Louisville, Kentucky.
“She’s making quite a splash in the real estate market here,” says Linda Gibson Cecil, a realtor who has worked in Louisville since the mid-1990s and who currently manages the Wakefield, Reutlinger and Co./Realtors office on Glenridge Park Place. “I know other people putting up those kinds of numbers — and more — but they’ve been in the business . . . for 10, 15 or 20 years. She must be doing something right.”
One of those things is embracing technology. Tom Hebert, an associate broker who has been a realtor since 1990, worked with Fore before she left Re/Max for Keller Williams Realty this past July. When they were colleagues, Hebert often asked for Fore’s marketing and technology advice. “She’s technologically savvy,” he says. “Her website has actually popped up a couple times when I was looking for something else on the Internet. She has kind of spidered out.”
The website (heidifore.com) includes, among other things, the Multiple Listing Service (a database with all the realtor-represented homes for sale in Louisville) and tools to calculate things such as mortgage payments. From her webpage, it’s possible that Fore’s clients — some of whom are from Cuba, England, Greece, Italy, Japan, Mexico and Sweden — could search for a house, find links to book airline tickets and a hotel room, and schedule when Fore should pick them up from the airport. It’s how she reeled in Don and Eileen Hennessey, a couple that Fore helped with a work-related move from Charlotte, N.C. “I found her on the Internet somehow,” Eileen Hennessey says. Once Fore started showing them dozens of homes around Louisville, the Hennesseys realized that their online search hadn’t led them astray. “Heidi doesn’t waste any time,” Don Hennessey says. “She reads right in to what you want.”
Gibson Cecil, for her part, thinks that Fore — along with other young agents — is at an advantage because of her technological skills. “It wasn’t like this 14 years ago,” Gibson Cecil says. “The (Multiple Listing Service) wasn’t on the Internet yet. . . . We didn’t have PDAs or a lot of the techie things that are now a way of life in the world of real estate. Younger people understand technology, and it’s just second nature to them. The older agents are challenged by that.”
Not only does Fore utilize heidifore.com as a tool to generate interest about herself, but she also knows how to benefit in other ways from her marketing degree — which she earned from Xavier University in just three years. She creates color fliers and brochures when her clients are selling their home. She has plastered her white Jeep 4x4 (“a big sticker book”) with decals of her name and her website’s address. She even dresses so she’ll stand out, wearing shiny silver high heels or red lipstick that matches her miniskirt and the Keller Williams logo on her blue-and-white-striped shirt. “I use my marketing degree, in some form, every day,” she says.
Fore grew up near Atherton High School, the oldest of four siblings. Her mother was a teacher (although she stayed home after having her fourth child), and her father was an attorney. At Sacred Heart Academy she “loved to study and go to class,” and, after high school graduation, she went to Xavier. Soon after, in 2000, she held a Nashville-based marketing job, which connected her with a modeling agency in New York. Ultimately, that gig landed her in Milan.
Now Fore, a self-proclaimed “gadget geek,” spends her days showing homes and expressing unbridled optimism about the real estate market. (“People will always need to buy houses,” she says.) According to Fore and statistics from the NAR, people are still buying homes in Louisville despite the, as she puts it, “doom and gloom” that the national media portrays. Nationally, in 2007’s second quarter (April - June; the most recent statistics available), the median sales price of existing single-family homes was $223,800, compared with $227,100 in 2006’s second quarter. But locally, from April through June 2007, the median price of a home selling in Louisville was $139,300, up from $138,100 over the same time frame in 2006.
“The only part of the national tr/files/storyimages/that applies to Louisville is that our foreclosure rate is going up,” Fore says. “But as far as depreciation and the housing slump and all these other phrases we hear nationally, I’m really not seeing it. . . . Houses have been sitting on the market longer — that is true — but they’re still selling.”
Once Fore finishes selling for the day, she’s not done working. Yes, she spends time with her husband, Sean Fore, whom she married in 2004, but she often stays up into the wee hours, cramming her website with . . . everything. Because, as far as Fore is concerned, she can always supply more Fore-approved local hotspots or wedding-planning tips or buying-and-selling strategies.
“People want information, and I give it to them. When clients go to my website, they never have to leave,” Fore says. “That’s the glory of the Internet. You don’t need a realtor to find you a house online. I have no problem saying that. It’s my knowledge of the process and my knowledge of the market and the prices and the area that makes someone choose me as their realtor. They can find the house themselves on my website.”