For RE/MAX REALTOR Debbie Harber, solving problems for her clients, whether it’s helping them find their dream home or sell a property, is the most rewarding part of her job. However, nearly 25 years into her successful career, Harber says she was initially reluctant to even go into the real estate industry in the first place.

“My mother, who had been an agent for more than 20 years, told me that it could be a great fit for me,” Harber says. “I resisted at first because of course I didn’t want to do what my mom did or told me to do!”

Early on in her career, Harber learned that happy clients and a strong referral business were vital for success. In 1994, Harber began working for Henry S. Miller, a well-known Texas brokerage firm. “Our office was like a small family where we all of the agents came together to collaborate and help each other – I loved that!” Harber says.

One Sunday while answering the phones, Harber received a call from a young woman who was having trouble finding an agent. She and her husband were recent college graduates, and many other firms and agents were not giving them the attention they needed to find their dream home in the right budget. “Over the course of a few months, I showed them over 400 homes,” Harber says. “I had the time, and they had not found what they wanted. Many agents in my office told me I was crazy and that I should set them free. However, I didn’t listen, and eventually they purchased a home for $305,000.”  At the time, average-priced homes were around $150,000.

Harber says that particular experience not only helped teach her about the market, but about the importance of good work ethic. “I learned to keep working until the buyer is happy,” she says. “These lovely buyers then started referring their friends to me, and now for more than 20 years I have had the privilege of a strong referral business.”

While working closely with her buyers, sellers and investors has been instrumental in her career longevity, Harber says that the real estate industry seems to be becoming more transactional-based instead of people-based. “I don’t think the internet-based real estate sites really guide buyers and sellers to the right financial future,” she says. “As an industry, we owe our clients service that goes way beyond just opening doors, writing offers, Facebook posts and putting homes on the MLS.”

Harber urges young realtors to “get off the computer, get out and learn about your market to truly understand your clients and their needs.”

For Harber, her clients are always the first priority. “I never, ever see it as a commission,” Harber says. “I believe if I serve my clients well then I have helped them set themselves up for a better financial future. I get joy out of that.”