In another age, Edie Hill might have been the alchemist who found the secret formula for spinning lead into gold.
After a divorce in 1973 that forced her to rely on public assistance to support her three children, aged 7, 5, and 2, and with only a high school education, she began a career in real estate. She joined Foster & Foster Real Estate in Acton as a sales associate. Six months later, she was earning enough to get her family off public assistance.
But there was no alchemy involved. In addition to being tenacious and driven, it was sitting with clients and helping determine how to meet their needs that led to her success.
“It’s not complicated. It’s listening. That’s one of the hardest things for people to do,” she said.
Within a few years, she became a top-producing sales associate. And in 1984, she opened her own real estate company, E.A. Hill & Co., based in Acton. That office grew to 20 sales associates and was ranked in the top three in market share by the time it was sold to National Realty Trust in 2001.
Grace, Directness, Honesty
Hill handled her struggles with a combination of grace, balanced by directness and honesty, said her daughter Christina Hill, who nominated her mother and is also a 2012 Women Of FIRE winner.
Upon selling E. A. Hill & Co., Hill became vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, where she became the top selling sales associate in Acton. In 2007, Hill and several other sales associates at the office, including Christina Hill, opened Keller Williams Realty Boston Northwest in Concord. That office now has 62 sales associates and is the market leader for units sold in Acton, Boxborough, Concord and Sudbury.
Hill has accumulated a formidable array of licenses and designations. She has served on the Greater Boston Real Estate Board of Directors and spearheaded several critical programs, including the statewide Multiple Listing Service and the electronic lockbox system, which replaced a key-based system with a keypad, vastly improving security.
“It was a big expense for the transition from key to box, but it was such a fabulous product because it tracks who goes in or out,” she said.
Helping Other Women
Christina Hill said that her mother is always willing to help women struggling with obstacles.
“I do believe that people can achieve what they have to and what they want to. It’s putting one foot in front of the other and doing it,” Edie Hill said.
A high school student who once worked for her was accepted to a high-ranking college, but suddenly lost financial support from her family.
Hill guided the student to the college’s financial aid system and paid for her books in the beginning. The now-college graduate recently received a movie option for two books she has written.
Hill teaches her associates, primarily women, to think like business owners and uses her personal experience to demonstrate that anything is possible.
Clients have needs no matter what the market, and addressing those needs is paramount, she said.
“I think it’s wanting to do a good job for the people I work for,” she commented. “Every client is different and has different needs. It’s being able to sort through it all and come up with a solution, so it’s challenging and it’s always changing.”
She paused, and then said with a laugh, “Every time I think I know everything, everything changes.”