When Camille Johnson turned 60 she decided she needed a change.
A Realtor for more than 30 years with Coldwell Banker, she was still doing great; she was No. 1 in sales there since 2002.
“But I thought: You either fade into the sunset or do something new and exciting,” she said. “I thought a new challenge would be great.”
And that’s what she did, starting her new agency, Camille Johnson, Realtors.
The business, which has 13 agents and three staff members, moved into its new offices in the Midway Center at the corner of Estates Drive and Highway in September.
Those agents include two family members — her daughter, Kristin Clements, and her daughter-in-law, Anna Johnson. Both have five years of real estate experience of working alongside her.
The new challenge has been extremely uplifting, Camille said.
“Everyone has been so encouraging, so positive,” she said. “I also had people ask me, ‘What took you so long?’
“(The change) just underscored for me and my family the need to go something new and exciting.”
Despite all her years in the real estate business, she needed a broker’s license to have her own agency, so she began taking the necessary courses to make that a reality.
She also needed an office. A few months were spent working out of her home, using bedrooms as offices and constantly stepping around the fax machine situated in the hallway.
But now Camille Johnson, Realtors has a home office. Her personal office has a large window that let’s her look out over U.S. Highway 84. A conference room is available to meet with clients. Some of the veteran agents have offices while others have cubicles, but Camille says she doesn’t expect them to be in the office much; not if they’re out selling houses.
Her business handles only residential listings throughout the McLennan County area and can take care of the entire process of buying and selling houses, she said.
“We treat everybody the same, whether it’s a $50,000 home or a $500,000 home,” she said. “We have a great group of people who want what’s best for their clients.”
In the current market, houses don’t stay available for long, she said. Camille said a house recently was listed in the morning and was already sold by the end of the day.
“It’s just amazing sometimes,” she said.
Part of that fast pace can be attributed to today’s technology that has information accessible to anyone with a computer or a smartphone.
Camille said for her business, having an interactive, up-to-date website is crucial.
The biggest change since she began in the business is the interaction with their clients.
“We used to talk with the client, learn what they are looking for and the general area, and then put together a list of houses that we would go to and look at,” she said. “Now, they give us the list of houses. With the internet they know what they’re looking for. We’ll still work on having a selection of other houses to show them, but they pretty much know what they want already.”
She jokes that her smartphone is never far away, so she’ll able to answer phone calls or texts. She has received plenty of those late into the evening. Even documents today are signed electronically, she noted.
“Technology has taken over all facets of our business,” she said.
And while she understands the efficiency that today’s connectedness provides, Camille still wants to have that personal touch with her clients, especially the face-to-face contact.
“I really like to keep a balance,” she said. “There’s a lot of interactive parts to this business. It’s important for me to have a personal connection with each of my clients.”
Many people may not realize the importance of being compassionate with their clients, she said.
“A lot of times this is traumatic for the person,” she explained. “They may be looking for a home because there was a death in the family, or a divorce, or you’re moving from a place where you’ve lived for a long time. There’s a trauma that a lot of people go through.
“I believe this is a group that wants to help people and make it as smooth a process as possible. We’re not just after a commission.”
Although this has been her career for most of her adult life, she wasn’t always in real estate.
The Bruceville-Eddy native graduated from Baylor University with an education degree and initially taught school in Bruceville-Eddy and then Stephenville where her husband, Fred, served as city manager. After a couple of years he decided to attend Baylor Law School to earn a law degree, so they returned to Waco and she considered real estate.
“I was looking at it as a way to supplement my income,” she said. “But the job fit me like a glove. I enjoy meeting people.”
She said this new chapter of starting her own agency at age 60 is really out of character for her.
“I’ve lived in Waco in the same house for 22 years,” she said, with a laugh. “I go to the same church. This was a big step, because I don’t change.”
Camille Johnson, Realtors
104 Midway Center in Woodway