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“Success — it’s really simple. There’s absolutely no substitute for hard work,” Nancy Itteilag, with Washington Fine Properties, begins.

As the old adage goes, luck is what you make it. And in her three-plus decades in real estate, Nancy has developed a habit of making her own luck.

Roots Run Deep

Nancy’s work ethic and outlook stem from the wisdom and advice of her father, a WWII veteran. “He believed if you set your goals and put your mind to it, you can achieve them. I was fortunate that he encouraged me to go to grad school and reach for the stars,” Nancy reflects. “He even took me on my first train ride to interview for grad school. If I had to credit one single thing in my life, I was lucky to be born into the family I was born into.”

Nancy’s first professional endeavor was as a marketing representative for IBM. There, she learned and practiced the sales skills that would serve her for the rest of her professional life. Yet, Nancy soon found out that raising a family and corporate life are a tough match. “I had a newborn child, and I was flying on airplanes three days a week,” Nancy remembers. “My wake-up call was an earthquake in California. I had my new son and my nanny with me because my husband also traveled a lot for his career. We were in this earthquake, and I thought, ‘This is no way to raise a son.’ The whole room was shaking. He was almost two, and he was laughing like the bed was a trampoline. But I’m watching the walls flex and the silverware fly, and that was my wake-up call.”

Nancy knew she would need to transition to a profession that required less travel. That’s when she turned to real estate.

Finding Her Calling

Nancy had long held a love for real estate. “I had a lot of friends in the foreign service who asked me to watch for things while they were abroad. I was always sought after for advice by friends in real estate when I wasn’t in real estate. So I got my license and did it on weekends while I was with IBM, then waited two years before making the switch,” Nancy explains.

Nancy considers herself fortunate. She landed with Pardoe Real Estate, a small firm where she was the youngest agent. The owner, Samuel P. Pardoe, was a real estate legend, and he needed someone to handle the marketing for a new development. Nancy was in the right place at the right time. She led the marketing efforts for that development and went on to spearhead four more major residential developments.

Over the years, Nancy has continued to do a blend of new construction and resale business. She believes she’s lucky to have had that opportunity, but she recognizes the value of hard work, too. “There’s absolutely no substitute for hard work,” she says. “I have a really strong work ethic, a disciplined schedule.”

Nancy has now been in the real estate business for 33 years, and she’s not slowing down. In 2021, the Washington Business Journal lists her as the number 11 agent in the Washington area.

Nancy credits her formal training background at IBM with a lot of the skills she uses today. “I think it helps tremendously to have worked in a corporation like IBM, where the sales training was outstanding. Anytime you work for a major company, you learn a lot of good basic business principles that are transferable to real estate,” Nancy says. “For example, at IBM, we were taught we never disparage the competition. When I’m asked about other agents, I never disparage the competition. What I can say is what I can do for you and what we do best.”

Work Hard, Play Hard

“As much as we work hard, we also make time to play hard,” Nancy smiles. “It’s important to have balance in your life. I am an example that you can work hard, play hard, and have a very happy life.”

Nancy enjoys golfing with her husband, Jack, as well as swimming and playing tennis. Jack also works in the real estate business (as a commercial appraiser). Her son, Chris, is an active agent on her real estate team, and her daughter, Valerie, helps the team with staging and design. “Along with the demanding schedule of a real estate agent, I make time to do the things I love outside real estate,” Nancy says.

As she looks ahead, Nancy sees a long future in real estate. She says that “retirement” is not in her family’s vocabulary. My father-in-law worked until he was 85, and I really think it keeps the mind sharp,” Nancy explains. “The beauty of real estate is that we’re working with numbers and properties and how to make them as beautiful as we can. The entire process is better than a crossword puzzle to keep the mind sharp.”