If there’s one thing Margaret Muir learned from her parents, it was to be ethical and to always tell the truth – but her real estate career began as one big lie.
In 1989 she was a successful advertising executive in New York City when her mother became ill with ALS. She wanted to be with her, but she knew her mother wouldn’t want her to give up her career and her life in New York – so she lied. She told her she was disenchanted with advertising and wanted to take a night course in real estate in the seaside town of Madison, Conn., where she had spent her childhood summers and where her mother now lived.
“I told her it was too far to commute from New York and could I please stay with her,” Muir said.
She then moved in with her mother and took the class, thinking she’d never use it. But when the course ended three months later, Muir had to continue the charade by getting a job and affiliating with a local real estate office.
“I was terrified. I had to put someone in my car and drive them around and sell them a piece of real estate. It absolutely terrified me,” Muir said. “I had no idea it would go this far. I thought my bluff would have been called by this time.”
Her mother passed away the same year, but instead of returning to the advertising world and New York City, Muir decided to stay with her new career in Madison.
“I started meeting really interesting people and I started having fun,” Muir said. “I made the decision to stay here – in this little town where I had spent summers as a child and had some very happy memories – and sort of heal.”
Muir has been selling high-end waterfront property ever since. Her properties usually range between $750,000 and about $5 million. However, she noted she recently got a $10 million listing.
She helped start the Madison office of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty in 2005 and has been the top producing agent there ever since. She also was the top producing agent statewide for the firm in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Ironically, one of things responsible for her success is her honesty, according to real estate agent Clint Rodenberg, who has known Muir for about 20 years and has worked with her at Sotheby’s for the past three years.
“She’s very realistic about what properties can bring when she talks to sellers … rather than telling them what they want to hear in order to get the listing,” he said. “She’s very consistent in that.”
And except for one big lie, those stories ring true.