Anyone who knows Carolyn Chodat might assume her favorite children’s book was “The Little Engine That Could.” As an adult, she certainly exemplifies the determination and daring to pursue her goals that the tiny locomotive displayed.
A native of Montreal, Chodat relocated to Arlington in 1970 with her husband and two sons; three years later, they moved into their first home in Medway. She worked part-time at Levitz furniture until her children were older, when she entered the real estate profession full time.
“I had met so many people in my furniture sales job, it seemed a natural segue to sell homes to consumers who were buying the furniture,” she said.
Chodat scurried up the career ladder, opening her own brokerage firm only one year after earning her sales associate and broker’s licenses.
“I’m sure it seemed very naïve to everyone, but to me, I felt that what I didn’t know, I’d find out from other professionals who did know and would guide me,” she said.
So with very little experience and one other agent, Chodat opened her own office in Medway in 1984. “I actually talked a number of friends into getting their licenses to come work for me. It was a little like three blind mice initially and we grew to about 12 agents, many of whom are still with me,” she said. “We were oblivious to the pitfalls, and fortunately had little difficulty, because if we didn’t know something, I’d ask an attorney, our real estate board or our franchise holder.”
After three years as a franchise owner, Chodat took the plunge of going independent as Classic Properties Realtors in 1987. Now in its 26th year, she continues to own and operate the company, actively listing and selling real estate as well. “I feel I can empathize with my agents in the challenges of the industry working by shoulder to shoulder with them,” Chodat said. “We are a great team.”
When Chodat opened her own office, Massachusetts had approximately 18 multiple listing services, forcing offices to pay duplicate fees for data that might be available in a neighboring town. Chodat became an integral member of a task force that worked diligently for four years to create a single listing service in the commonwealth.
“Our MLS is one of the 10 largest corporations in the country, comprising approximately 30,000 agent subscribers,” she said. “To this day, it does not cease to amaze me how it all came about. It was an exciting, challenging time and we all believed it would happen.”
MLS Property Information Network officially became incorporated Feb. 1, 1998, and Chodat was elected the first chairperson of the board.
Tenacity serves as the driving force behind Chodat’s success. Convinced that owning her own business when she had little experience did not deter her. “I have to say it’s not a fearlessness about me; it’s a feeling of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ I would say I have a personality that has a positive attitude and calm patience. You have to look for solutions. They are usually there if you think things through,” she said.
Kathy Condon, CEO MLS Property Information Network, nominated Chodat for a 2013 Women of FIRE Award and cites her dedication to the industry and her determination to mentor the next generation as two of her many outstanding qualities.
Throughout her career, Chodat has kept her focus on what she can accomplish, holding fast to her dreams and advising other women to do the same. “Believe in yourself, dare to believe in your aspirations, even if you are afraid. It doesn’t take courage; it takes willpower, and we all have willpower!” she said, paraphrasing a Georgia O’Keefe quote as her source of inspiration.
Tags: Women of FIRE 2013