Margaret Babbington’s dream Mother’s Day would start with a sunrise bike ride with her family from Rehoboth Beach to Lewes, Delaware, a preferred route of hers. The idyllic day would continue at “my favorite place on earth — our home in Rehoboth” with the rest of the family, including her mother and mother-in-law.
“Family First” is not just a Mother’s Day thing for the founder and CEO of the Babbington Team, of Compass. It’s more like a mantra that she and the team strive to live by. In this industry that is always on, day and night, weekdays and weekends, Margaret knows that maintaining boundaries are crucial. With the right tools, “We can have boundaries and still do a big, huge business. We just need to be protective of each other.” So when they stay grounded and create that atmosphere, the processes and systems they have in place will support them. Maybe that’s why this team’s trajectory has been so impressive — they are growing roughly 40 percent year after year.
As an empath who cares deeply about others, Margaret readily admits that she can take on too much herself. So how does she do it all, then? “Honestly, it’s a moving target for me,” she says candidly. “Balance is key for me.” One tool that is vital for her in combating this overwhelm is self-care. “Self-care is not selfish! You recreate yourself, and it makes you a better you.”
This team’s core principles center around growth and taking care of each other. One of the things they do is a group chat to keep them connected. But even that comes with boundaries. “We keep group chats to on-and-off times, unless it’s a huge emergency.” In addition, the team does a lot of enrichment and holds quarterly growth meetings. Often, they will read books together and practice rehearsing different scripts in a variety of situations. Here, they will try to focus on slowing speech down or interpreting body language. They provide feedback for one another as well. For example, why are you doing this with your arms? The major point in this exercise is to remind them all, “We are that person [we are serving]. If you are not calm and your clients are not calm, then it’s not going to be a good transaction.”
Growing Up Unconventional
Born and raised in D.C., Margaret says she moved six times before first grade. “I learned how to be self-sufficient at a young age. My parents were hippies — very unconventional — and I grew up surrounded by a diverse community of friends and family.” Little did she know, this would be invaluable to her career in real estate. One of the byproducts of this was learning how to be a big thinker and not fear failure.
Margaret went to Loyola University in Maryland and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Her first job was in marketing and catering with her mother’s downtown catering business on K Street. Then, she did event planning and group sales for the Spirit of Washington. After graduating from college, she worked in commercial property management in both D.C. and Maryland. One fateful summer night in college, she was working a primo waterfront gig at the Sequoia Open and met her future husband, Brendan. As it would turn out, he is the yin to her yang; whereas she is a risk-taker, “he is a conservative and cautious man,” she noted.
In 2000, she began working with a Fortune 500 company as an information technology recruiter and team lead. Soon enough, she founded her own recruiting company. When she was looking to grow and wanting a change, Brendan reminded her of her obsession with real estate. They were investors, and she had fallen in love with turning “an ugly-duckling property into a swan.” After six years, she decided to take the leap and jump into real estate.
Things didn’t go as planned; she had a rough start. “I went from a big career to 100-percent commission. I made very little money, and after six months went back to work. I did that again for a year and then finally came back to real estate.”
In retrospect, she mentions that joining a team could have alleviated that. “Trying to start from nothing can be discouraging, and a team will feed your business right away. You’ll also have exposure to many more transactions through a team, and will increase your depth of knowledge in this business exponentially.” Teams were just starting to come into vogue in 2007.
Since that humbling experience early on, Margaret has been on a tear. Last year, her team did 127 transactions for $92 million in volume, and that number will likely hit $130 million in 2020. Her career volume for 13 years is over $300 million.
One of her biggest challenges was making the transition from a solo agent to running a team. “You have to refine your decision-making and grow and scale in response to the business, constantly reevaluating what works and make adjustments accordingly.” As the team lead, she focuses on individual successes and adores watching agents grow personally and professionally. For Margaret, that is the pinnacle of achievement. Well, that, along with her family…
Brendan works for Google, and they have two children together. Their oldest daughter, Mae, is a student at University of Maryland, and their son, Brendan Jr., is a junior in high school. They also have a dog named Cookie.
Margaret is living proof that you can do big business and still put family first.