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Kenya Burrell Van Wormer Found Her Way in Real Estate by Taking Many Paths

Updated: Aug 22, 2019

“You earn what you give. So you have to be giving your all, all the time.”

Kenya Burrell-VanWormer is a sixth-generation Texan and native Houstonian and distinguished real estate professional with more than 18 years in the industry. Her career path took numerous turns over the years which has led to her varied experience ranging from new home construction, sales, marketing, management, and working with clients from around the world.

Her top-producing achievements have earned her numerous honors and awards and landed her in the esteemed position as president of The Houston Association of Realtors. HAR represents nearly 39,000 members and is the second-largest in the United States.

Regardless of what path you are on today, Kenya shares that if you’re honest and fair, there will always be an opportunity awaiting you.


Please share the moment you decided you wanted to step into leadership.

After a few years of gaining experience in the industry and involvement with my local association, I decided to take my career to the next level and obtain my brokers license. As my involvement in leadership increased, simultaneously, additional career opportunities became available. The decision to get involved in leadership started at the committee level with Women’s Council of Realtors, the Houston Association of Realtors and the Texas Association of Realtors. I believe in the principles of Servant Leadership and have always kept those values close to heart when serving. As Immediate Past Chair of the second largest Realtor Association in the country, it was an honor to serve our 39,000 + members and their interests.

What advice did a mentor give you?

I feel fortunate to have had a number of mentors in my life, from my amazing family to industry veterans. Narrowing down just one piece of advice just doesn’t seem right, as I credit my mentors with providing the guidance and balance to my success! So here are a few nuggets: 1. Keep learning. 2. Time is one of our most precious resources, spend it wisely 3. Follow Your Passion 4. Give back

What advice do you have for women in our community?

The sky is the limit, and knowledge IS power!

Know your market. Know your business.

Understand what the consumer wants and give it to them. Evaluate the various business models, brokerage options (Independent/Franchise/Team) and deliver exceptional service. We are empowered to decide how we choose to succeed in this industry.

Kenya Burrell Van Wormer, immediate past president, Houston Association of Realtors, sat down to chat with Debra Trappen in January 2019.

Post by Molly McKinley


Rather read it? Check out the full transcript below

Hi, I'm Kenya Burrell-VanWormer from Houston, Texas, and I'm a proud Texas realtor. I've been in the real estate industry for 18 years, and what's amazing to me about the industry that we're involved in is there are so many opportunities for women, for everyone, who's interested in being involved in this, in this industry. I started out as a licensed realtor in Texas, then decided to earn my broker's license. Once I earned my broker's license, I thought about the clientele that I was serving and decided to earn my CIPS, which is a Certified International Property Specialist designation.

I was fortunate to earn that designation in Paris, France in 2006, and it really opened a lot of door for me with the international clients that I was working with. So, from realtor to earning a broker's license, to having a small brokerage, to managing, managing a luxury firm, and also working for a homebuilder as their marketing director and broker of record. So you can see, my career path has changed quite a bit during the 18 years that I've been involved. But, what's great about this industry is that there are opportunities in different facets of this industry that you can work in. So there's opportunity everywhere, it just depends on you, what motivates you, what your interests may be, and where your career may lead you next. Now, none of this happens on your own. I didn't just decided to wake up and get into real estate and, um, find the right context right away. It took some time to really understand how this market works, how the industry works, and to be comfortable with going from a paycheck to commission.

So, if you're new to the industry, you understand, you basically earn what you give, which means you have to give it your all all the time. So depending on if you're starting out as a realtor or if you're in a brokerage now trying to understand if you want to start your own or stay with an existing, or move to a franchise, or become independent, you have so much freedom in this industry. And I think that's what really attracts a lot of us into real estate. So, I want you to know that no matter what you do, you can't go wrong being involved in this industry. You can work as an independent. You can work for a company. Or you can manage everything on your own. The sky is the limit for you in real estate. I've had great mentors along the way, and I'm very fortunate to say that I've been asked to serve in leadership, not only in my career but through my association.

It's important to me to give back. I grew up that way. Giving back is just something that is innate for me and my family. So, if you have the time to give back through associations, it really helps to develop not only who you are, but to help establish relationships and networks that will help you in your career. I've had several mentors along the way, not only in my family but in my professional life. And the best advice that I have received from them is to always stay true to yourself, understand the business that you're in, know your market, understand the clients that you're serving, and be honest, and fair. And that will take you far. So I'm very grateful for the ladies in my life who have encouraged me and inspired me to do more, not only professional but as a volunteer leader. And I think that if that's something that you have time to do, I encourage you to do it. The benefits are there, and you get more than you really give. I am Kenya Burrell, and I am Woman Up.

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