“The secret is you must believe what you can’t yet see.”
Out of college, Balaram Owens, of RLAH Real Estate, landed a job as an account receivables clerk at Total Wine, but after several months on the job, he was fired because he didn’t clock out for lunch, as he was supposed to.
“That was a humbling experience but gave me my first thought that one day, I wanted to work for myself,” Balaram remembers.
While getting fired was challenging, it ultimately led Balaram on the road to much greater success. He recognized the value of working for himself and set out on a path to create a life of abundance.
“Success is doing what you want, when you want, with whom you want,” Balaram explains.
Real Estate Beginnings
Balaram went on to land a job at Keller Williams as a Market Center Administrator (MCA). He remained in that role for almost a decade and learned a tremendous deal about real estate — the good, the bad, and the ugly.
“To say those years were tumultuous is an understatement,” Balaram recalls. “I had worked for six team leaders and four ownership groups, and [experienced] three office moves. Consequently, those offices were never successful, which caused a lot of finger-pointing, backstabbing, and infighting. You find out a lot about yourself in times of turmoil and discomfort.”
Through all the transition, Balaram remained steady. He wasn’t the most technical MCA, but his agents trusted him, and he was committed to helping others succeed.
“Those years taught me the importance of servant leadership and made me want to be the controller of my own destiny,” Balaram says. “The discomfort of those years gave me the courage to step out and be a full-time agent. I figured if I’m going to be uncomfortable, let me make that choice for myself.”
In late 2014, Balaram got his real estate license and stepped into selling real estate full-time. Immediately, he was in love with the new role. Being a real estate agent allowed him to do more of what he really loved — help people.
“I think the icing on the cake is that it’s helping people make one of the biggest decisions they will make in their life — where to live. To have someone entrust you with that decision is extremely humbling and gratifying. My job proficiency is tied to my clients getting what they want. It’s hard to succeed in this business without making sure your client wins first. My wins are a byproduct of continuous client happiness,” Balaram says.
Today, Balaram is steadily building one of the D.C. metro area’s top up-and-coming businesses. He closed over $11 million in 2019 and was named a Best Agent, Top Producer by Washingtonian in 2018 and 2019.
Leveraging His Niche
Balaram is a rarity in the D.C. area in that he is both a city agent and a suburban agent. His familiarity with both areas stems from his childhood, when his mother moved from Columbia Heights to Germantown, Maryland. Balaram utilizes his familiarity with different parts of D.C. to his advantage when understanding market conditions.
“D.C. was vastly different during that time,” Balaram remembers. “D.C. had a bunch of negative stigmas, one of which was the murder capital of the United States. On the other hand, Germantown, Maryland, was considered the ex-burban farm country.”
Balaram also leans into the lessons he learned as an MCA. Despite the turmoil, all those years as an MCA have proven to be tremendously valuable.
“The game-changer for my business is the agent and vendor relationships from all the years of being an MCA at Keller Williams…the countless referrals I receive from those agent relationships. Watching what separated the successful agents from the ones that struggled…My lender is someone I met at one of my Keller Williams offices over 13 years ago,” he says.
As he looks to the future, Balaram continues to aspire to do more of what he loves — helping people and building relationships. After so many tumultuous years as an MCA, he’s grateful to be on the path of running his own business.
“The engagement and excitement continue from being grateful for where my life was before selling real estate. My quality of life has improved so much, from a happiness standpoint and financial standpoint since I started selling real estate full-time. I don’t have any regrets of all those years of being an MCA because I don’t think I would have had the courage to bet on myself and believe in what I couldn’t see,” Balaram says.
“Without self-belief, nothing is possible. The unfortunate part is the willingness to believe comes from discomfort. I encourage people to believe in and bet on yourself.”