No wonder HGTV picked Brandon Nelson Partners’ Paulina Antczak as the real estate agent for an episode of their hit show, “Beach Hunters” last year. She’s got a big personality, a welcoming and telegenic smile, and an emerging talent in the field. With just three years in real estate, Antczak, 30, has earned a spot at the top in Whatcom County. In 2017, the Whatcom County Association of Realtors named her its Rookie of the Year, an award recognizing a realtor who shows great potential.
Before real estate, Antczak started her own flooring business, Fairhaven Floors, with her little brother, Mike, and the guidance of their parents. Before Fairhaven Floors, Antczak spent about 10 years in Connecticut with her family after emigrating from Poland when she was seven. The family lived above a pizza shop and ran a successful flooring company built on strong relationships, community engagement, and more handshakes than signatures, she said. “The smell of pizza still makes me nostalgic,” she said. Her story sounds like the classic American dream, authentic and inspiring, and it appears the dream has some staying power for Antczak. Life as a realtor is chaotic and ever-changing, requiring long hours and hard work. It’s a life with which Antczak is familiar.
Before heading to the office, Antczak and her husband, Jacson Bevens, spend their morning routine together. Her day starts at 5:20 a.m., when she grabs a quick cup of coffee before working out. While Antczak goes to her 6 a.m. workout class at Barre3, Jacson begins cooking them both breakfast: fried eggs, bacon, and goat cheese on top of toast. Their well-coordinated plan means each of them get a shower after cooking the bacon to avoid bringing the scent to their clients.
Antczak’s desk at Brandon Nelson Partners is next to Jacson’s in the spacious, loft-like office. Music plays throughout the space thanks to coworker Grace. Antczak makes her way around the office in slippers to avoid wearing her white, four-inch heels as much as she can. When she is at her desk, she juggles her two cell phones —one for real estate, one for Fairhaven Floors —which buzz constantly. If she is holding the phone with one hand, most likely she is answering a text with the other.
She even brings both phones into the bathroom with her for fear she’ll miss a client trying to reach her. “I’m afraid he’ll call right as I walk in there,” she says, not entirely joking.
Antczak’s first visit outside the office is to the Home 2 Suites by Hilton Bellingham Airport. She’s there to connect with good friend and business associate, Sara Holliday. Working in the extended-stay hotel, Holliday hosts many guests who are looking to transplant to the greater Bellingham area and are in the market for a realtor. Thanks to their strong relationship, Holliday is a great source for client referrals.
When Antczak gets into her white Range Rover, she apologizes for the stack of high heels, boots, and extra clothes that live in her back seat. More than a mode of transportation, her car represents her mobile lifestyle. With the press of a button, she starts the car as music by The Weeknd, the Canadian singer whose music is on the soundtrack for the blockbuster movie “Black Panther,” fills the vehicle. She adjusts the volume and pulls out of the parking lot. “I love your dress!” Antczak says. “It’s probably one of yours,” Holliday responds, laughing. The two women are giddy, catching up on everything from business to family to fashion. Both agree that they could use a day off, then laugh as if such a concept didn’t exist in their superwoman world.
Next on Antczak’s to-do list: Take GoPro footage of one of her listings to show interested out-of-town clients. Antczak says she likes to take these short videos for clients who live far from Bellingham to avoid unnecessary travel time. Today’s listing is located on Lake Samish and on the market for $1,495,000.
But before Antczak can even make it to her listing, she is pulling over to answer the phone. Safely parked in at a nearby gas station, she chats with a client who is in the market for a home in one of Bellingham’s most-desired neighborhoods: Sunnyland, Columbia, and Cornwall Park. She talks to her client with the confidence of an expert, but the warmth of a close friend.
“Don’t worry, we just have to stay vigilant, Rose,” she says before hanging up.
Bellingham is one of the hottest housing markets in the state and even nation, according to a recent story in the Seattle Times, exceeding the national average for median home price growth. While the national average sits at about 6 percent, Bellingham home prices increased by 12.2 percent in 2017, nearly the same rate as the white-hot greater Seattle metro area, at 12.7 percent.
The combination of the market and the fact that Antczak is a fast learner has proven lucrative. In 12 months, her “total volume” is $10.4 million from a total 27 homes sold. Nationally, the median total volume per realtor in 2016 was $1.9 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. You don’t become Whatcom County rookie realtor of the year for nothing.
Back on the road, Antczak is struck by the beauty of the drive, and again of the home as she pulls into the driveway. Barefoot, Antczak slowly makes her way around the modern house, with her GoPro steady, and rattles off details of the impressive home: award-winning architecture, 130 feet of lakefront property, detached guest house, etc. She’s been here before, but seeing a house like this never gets old.
BACK AT THE OFFICE
3:30 – 4:00
Back at the office, Antczak juggles her cell phones, returns email, and chats with her boss, Brandon, the agency owner. He offers her guidance and checks in regarding the progress of clients and properties. They converse as good friends who respect one another.
Most of her time at the office is dominated by making email and phone call connections to past, current, and potential clients. “Eighty percent of our business at Brandon Nelson is captured by referrals, so relationships are essential,” she said. Beyond keeping up with clients, Antczak writes contracts, and follows-up with zoning and regulatory agencies to answer questions about the details about homes or properties of interest.
HOME & GARDEN SHOW
On this day in early March, her office time is cut short in order to take over for her husband at the Home & Garden Show at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden.
She changes from a stylish skirt with heels to professional-looking jeans and leather boots, all from the back of her car. “I’m going to Lynden, I can’t wear this skirt,” she says. Her career is more like a lifestyle, with different facets that require different versions of Paulina. However, her strength, femininity, and smart, sarcastic sense of humor never seem to leave her personality.
After one more wardrobe addition (a stop at Target for a pair of socks forgotten in the morning rush), Antczak is on her way to Lynden to relieve her husband at their Fairhaven Floors booth. Before she even gets there, she’s run into half a dozen people she knows. For an observer, Paulina’s effortless interaction and welcoming personality makes it difficult to tell who is client, family, or friend.
Her night won’t end until nearly 8 p.m., yet she has no complaints. Her work and her world—real estate, sales, and connecting with people—has no time clock. “I’m a lifer,” she says.
200 cell phone minutes
2 cell phones owned
80 texts sent
4-6 cups of coffee
6-7 hours of sleep