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New: An Interview with Margaret Smith on Confidence and the World of Real Estate

Posted on Nov 9, 2017

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Pickett Street’s Margaret Smith. Though I’ve only been working with her for about six months, I’ve already come to know Margaret as a positive and hardworking force of nature.

Margaret is the Director of Operations for Pickett Street Properties; she recruits, screens, and interviews candidates and manages social media, client events, system evaluation, branding/marketing, and overall growth and planning for Pickett Street. I was recently lucky to be able to chat with her about her experiences in the world of real estate.

Hi Margaret! Congrats on five years of working with Pickett Street. Can you talk to us about how you started working for Pickett Street?

Before Pickett Street I was the Docent Program Coordinator for the Seattle Art Museum. I NEVER thought I would work in sales or for a sales company–and now I can’t imagine anything else in my future. This career gives me an opportunity to help and inspire people in a much bigger way and through a bigger platform than I ever imagined.
I was ready to leave the museum because I wanted a career where I could support myself financially, and that’s hard to do in the nonprofit industry. I have always had great success with my network (human capital is precious, my mom taught me that), and so I called up some friends to let them know I was looking.
At the same time, Jesse was spreading the word that he was looking for a team admin. We happened to have a mutual friend, and she connected us and we started the interview process.

I thought this would be a gig I had for a few months until I got my next “real” job.

The first month I was there I realized I had a huge opportunity to create a platform for myself and the team where we could inspire our friends, family and colleagues to create and infuse positive change in the world.

What’s your favorite part about this job?

My favorite part is the freedom. Freedom to be myself and use my personality–just as I am–to help build a business and life by design. Before this industry I felt restricted by my personality, like it was what held me back from success. Now, it’s actually to my advantage to be myself and have confidence in who I am.

That’s very inspiring! And it’s awesome that Pickett Street gives you the space to build professional and creative confidence and be yourself. What are two or three of the biggest things you’ve learned about life and people while doing this work?

1.  I am way more powerful than I ever knew. There’s something in me or in my spirit that pushes me to go much farther than most people will. I push harder on projects, goals, ideas, personal development, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. I didn’t realize how many people won’t do that.

2.  People want to be encouraged, inspired, and often times they just need a little push in that direction to get started. If you can be the person that gets the ball rolling,it’s possible to start a movement.

3.  You can’t care as much about what people think about you, and I do care- because I care about building a bridge. It always used to cause me such frustration and anger when I would hear people talk, and then I learned that no matter what I said or did, they would continue on just as they were. Because that’s what they’re good at. My job is just to “do me” and “make it happen” as my mom says. Perspective is very important to me and there isn’t an hour that goes by where I haven’t thought about what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes.

4.  Action is critical. Taking action towards your goals or dreams is often all it takes to make it happen.

Do you have a favorite story or two from your years of work?

One of my favorite stories is how Cody Touchette, our preferred mortgage lender with The Touchette Team, changed my perspective and life path. I use this story often because I never thought it was possible, and I use it to inspire others into action.

After probably 6 months with Pickett Street, I walked into a single family home we had just listed, and I cried. It was an adorable rambler, amazing natural light, just minutes from our office.  I cried because at the time I had no way to make an offer on the house, and I never thought I would be in a place where I would buy a house on my own.

I decided it was time to get over myself and figure it out. I had a conversation with Cody about numbers, in which he showed me how my buying power could change if I considered a duplex/triplex/fourplex. Every time I went up a level, my buying power went up. It was something like this:

Single Family Home: buy up to $225,000
Duplex: up to $325,000
Triplex: up to $400,000
Fourplex: up to $450,000

Each time you add another unit, you add that rental income to your income. Cody showed me how I could buy a duplex and pay ZERO of my mortgage. ZERO. He said if he could go back and do something different with his first purchase, he would have purchased a duplex. So that’s what I did:

Everett, WA Duplex:  $296,000 + $22,000 in rehab using the FHA 203K Loan.
Mortgage: $1900/month
Upper unit rent: $1350
Lower unit (where I lived with a roommate) rent: $600

= I actually made $50/month.

After this purchase, my parents were so intrigued they sold their single family home and purchased a rambler with a mother-in-law unit behind it that brings in an extra $1,100/month.
The idea that I could even inspire my parents to do that blew my mind.

This is my favorite story because it’s totally changed the trajectory of my life and my family’s.

What an uplifting and motivating story! I feel ready to purchase my first home.
Thank you so much, Margaret.

To contact Margaret and the rest of the Pickett Street team, reach out at (425) 502-5397 or

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