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Agent Spotlight: Betsy Millane

Author, interior decorator, past president, grandmother, and real estate advisor, Betsy Millane, crafts everything she takes on with care and intention. From holding classes for seniors, providing expert recommendations for clients, to writing a novel, going above and beyond is the only way she knows how to operate.

What is something your clients find comfort in that makes them turn to you for their real estate needs?

I listen. I care. I communicate. Their needs come first. I have a stable full of wonderful contractors who can come in and help them with all of their needs before, during, and after the move.

What do you love most about your role as a real estate advisor?

The people! I grew up in a real estate family. The dinner table discussion was all about my mother and father’s work challenges and strategies, and how to do good so you can sleep at night. My father once bought a furnace for a buyer because the seller had taken it. It was a cold December morning in Michigan and the buyers discovered the furnace was gone when they moved in. In an era without cell phones and a day full of appointments, Dad had to act quickly and didn’t have time to call the sheriff, the other agent, and the attorneys. He bought it because he needed the peace the gift would bring everyone. He said “I have to sleep nights” and “They have kids.” His reputation for doing this spread near and far, but that isn’t why he did it. He did it because it was the right thing to do.

Did your parents pass down any ideas or business practices? 

My father passed on his mindset to me – that if you do what is right, it will work out all right for you. It was clear that he cared greatly for his clients, as I do. He was confident in his skills and set high standards for himself. I feel the same way. It pervades everything I do in this profession, from caring for houses long before they are sold. I had listed a vacant house. I stopped over to check it, smelled gas, and stayed while National Grid came out. I hand-wrote a note to Marty Walsh asking for his help in getting a title for the house I had listed, out of probate court, where it had been for 3 years during Covid. It worked! Going the bonus mile is the only way I know I will sleep nights.

Could you describe a recent client experience?  

One of the owners, whose mother had died, stopped me as I was leaving the mother’s house after dropping off some paperwork. She said how grateful they were that I moved them forward, as it allowed them all to process their grief constructively and get past it, free of the clutter of feelings they had when they thought of the house. They were so happy with a person I recommended to clear out the house because it lightened their load significantly. We can sell houses all day long, but in this situation, I was reminded that we do far more. We help people move on, and let go. We take care of their memories and their grief and help them turn it into a positive change that everyone can move from. The owner felt they were in good hands with me, and that makes me happy, proud even.

How does your interest in interior design play into your role as a real estate advisor? 

I am very sensitive to light in a home. Bring it in! Current paint choices update a home so very well. A conversation arrangement in the living room, v.s. a television as a focal point, can make the house look beautiful. A balance of color and furniture makes a room expansive, friendly, and appealing to buyers. I study home decorating magazines and visit open houses to know what’s current. Just a few tweaks can transform a house and make it a solid sale.

What is your course, “Staging Using Your Own Things,” about, and how can people take it?

I have taught this class, “Staging Using Your Own Things” at the Center at the Heights in Needham and the Council of Aging in Wellesley. A house needs to be ready for the market. Staging is a commitment of time, space, and money, and seniors often don’t want the disruption and cost. I find that decluttering goes a long way, for example: getting rid of furniture that is no longer useful or beautiful, painting the walls to make a house look fresh and inviting, and decluttering brings out the beauty in a home. I urge sellers to remove one big piece of furniture in each room to allow buyers to project their furnishings into the house. I have a PowerPoint presentation so they can see some before and after transformations. I don’t expect a total cleanout. I love seeing old wedding photos and other beautiful items. The collages of the 70s have to go, but not all the reminders of a beautiful life, well lived in a well-loved house should disappear. Buyers want to know this was/is a happy home.

What are some of your favorite local hobbies, activities, or organizations that you participate in?

I love my friends, my networking, my church. All my business is from referrals so I cultivate relationships in every dimension. A friend once told me: “People want to work with You! Not just anybody!” and that was heartening to hear. Enriching the community through volunteering is an ongoing effort. My passion for the environment led me to gardening and working with Green Needham. I am the past President of the Needham Women’s Club as well as the past President of the Women’s Business Group that was based in Wellesley. These organizations make a difference in the communities as they give back in many ways. For example, the Needham Women’s Club has a Holiday House tour that brings happiness to many. The Women’s Business Group supported various charities through donations and work events. I am also a writer and author. The response to my book, Sixty Blades of Grass, a historical fiction based on a true story, is fantastic. The reviews are in! The readers love it! Baking is something I enjoy so I bake almond cookies for my clients.

How long had you been working on Sixty Blades of Grass and where did the idea stem from?

My family was active in the Dutch Underground during WWII. I did a Junior Year Abroad at the University of Lancaster in Lancaster, England, and visited relatives in Holland, where I heard their incredible stories of bravery, sacrifice, hunger, and loss. I stood in the closet where they hid Jewish people. When I returned to the States, I wrote down what I remembered, and shared the stories with my family. Later, encouraged by writing coaches and other writers, I wove the stories into a novel. Writing it took about two years. To get published took ten. I am perhaps the most persistent person you will ever meet, but I believed in their story and I believed I could write it. After countless rejections and subsequent revisions, I found an agent and a publisher. Sixty Blades of Grass was published in June 2023 by Bloodhound Books.

What do you love most about where you live and work?

Boston is a vibrant town and I love exploring it, taking in the museums, the shops, and the concerts. The access to the ocean and great parks makes a break easy. But I would not be anywhere without friends to enjoy it with. 

Any favorite spots or recommendations in the Wellesley/MetroWest area? 

Elm Bank is a favorite to walk with friends in. The restaurant scene in MetroWest is fantastic. Volante Farms is a great place to mingle with the plants and people.

What are three sources of joy in your week? 

Workweek joy:

  1. I am all about the relationship, not the transaction. My intention is to become their real estate resource for life, and their go-to for friends and family.

  2. Houses are important because they turn into homes. Home is where we go to recharge, get inspired, get up and face our day. Home is for family and friends and is an expression of who we are. I love houses - all houses - because they become homes.

  3. Joy comes when I find the match, make the connection, negotiate what is important, and finally, bring over their housewarming gift. Joy comes when I drive away, imagining the home they are making at that moment. When a client tells me they are grateful to me for how I managed the experience, I am grateful to them for the opportunity to be a part of their lives during this stressful time.

Personal joy:

This is so easy. The grandkids in Chicago. We Facetime if not in person. Gram rules!

 

Betsy Millane | 54 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02482 | 781.429.7790 | Betsy.Millane@GibsonSIR.com

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