Never out of commission

Photo by Nicole Hamel

Buying or selling a home can be stressful, but Kim Ducharme-Levensohn gives her clients closure. 

On the surface, working as a Realtor sounds like the perfect job. Just show a few houses, make a few phone calls, and pad your bank account in one afternoon by selling a million-dollar home.

Unfortunately, things rarely are that easy in the real estate industry.

Just ask Kim Ducharme-Levensohn, who specializes in residential real estate for Leesburg-based Morris Realty and Investments. Achieving the coveted title of multimillion-dollar producer every year since 2012 did not come without a never-ending schedule.

She has spent Thanksgiving and Mother’s Day showing clients prospective homes, wrote a contract while riding to a Florida Gators football game, and negotiated a contract in the middle of a weeklong cruise. Client phone calls come as early as 6am and as late as midnight. 

“My computer always comes with me whenever I go out of town because, as a Realtor, I have to stay on top of my clients’ needs,” she says. “The only time of the week I always leave open is Sunday mornings for church.”

For Kim, hard work and around-the-clock communication have paid big dividends. On Dec. 6, the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties presented Kim with its Realtor of the Year award during a banquet at Lake Receptions in Mount Dora. The award honors a Realtor “who has contributed the most to the profession, to fellow Realtors, and to the community,” according to a press release.

“I felt very honored and humbled to receive the award,” says Kim, a 1999 Leesburg High School graduate who resides in Winter Garden. “We have around 2,200 agents in the association, and some of the past winners of this award have been mentors to me. To be mentioned in the same breath as they are is certainly a privilege.”

Kim’s award hardly came as a surprise to clients such as Denise Distel.

“Kim has helped me purchase three homes over the years, and I never hesitate to use her services because she’s intelligent, trustworthy, and very knowledgeable when it comes to the real estate market,” says Denise, a resident of Lady Lake. “She never promises the moon, but she certainly delivers the moon.”

Fruitland Park resident Amy Fulmer echoed those sentiments.

“Kim has bought and sold homes for me and some of my family members,” Amy says. “She never leads you in the wrong direction, and if she shows you a home you don’t feel is right, she is never pushy. She is passionate about helping clients find their forever home.”

For Kim, the formula for success meant putting in a lot of hours at the bottom before starting to climb to the top of her profession. She was introduced to real estate in 2006 after being hired to perform marketing and advertising duties at the now-closed Neil Fischer Realty in Leesburg. That was during the middle of the country’s housing boom, and seeing agents achieve financial success gave her the itch to sell homes herself. Kim earned her real estate license that same year.

Not long after that, the worst housing market downturn since the Great Depression reared its ugly head. That—combined with the fact that new agents are hit hard by the financial realities of the real estate profession in their first year—left many first-time Realtors exploring other career options.

Kim decided to persevere.

“At the time, I was living with my parents and had a part-time job,” she says. “I was new to real estate and didn’t know what a bad market was. I sold homes but selling was slow. I was just trying to build business and get things going for myself. Staying in the career was a matter of determination to make it, because many agents were getting out.”

Kim knew she would not go from rookie to rising real estate star overnight. Researching the real estate industry, enrolling in continuing education classes, and learning the ropes under mentors all proved invaluable.

“The most important advice I could give to new agents is to have a mentor,” she says. “What you learn in real estate school has nothing to do with the day-to-day business. When you receive your license, you’ll still have tons of questions. How do I find buyers and sellers? How do I formulate a listing plan? It’s good to have a mentor who can answer your questions.”

She also realizes that the little things can make a big difference when it comes to success or failure. At Christmas, Kim sends each client a personalized ornament, and after each purchase, she puts a sign in the yard welcoming families to their new homes. Clients repay her in kind by inviting her to attend birthday parties, housewarming parties, and outdoor barbecues.

“With Kim, it’s not about the transaction; it’s about building relationships with people,” says Lady Lake resident Joy Girard, who utilized Kim’s services for several home-buying and home-selling transactions. “She gets the job done from start to finish, and because of her professionalism, you never have to worry about anything throughout the entire process.”

In addition to her success at Morris Realty and Investments, Kim has been active in her profession. She served as president of the Realtors Association of Lake and Sumter Counties in 2016, graduated from the Florida Realtor Leadership Academy in 2012, and served as chairwoman of the Realtors Political Action Committee in 2013.

She also is an advisory board member of LifeStream Behavioral Center’s Open Door, a shelter in Eustis where homeless people can take showers, do laundry, receive a haircut, or grab a bite to eat. The outpouring of love there is heartwarming for Kim.

“It helps them get their dignity back,” she says. “I really love this program. My job is to sell homes, and I see that joy when families move into a home they really like. I cannot imagine what it would be like not to have a home. Even if a homeless person is having a bad day, Open Door provides them a safe spot.”