Leslie Dahlen
REALTOR®, Broker

A long time ago, in a suburb close by, I got my real estate license. I knew I’d have fun learning about it. I convinced myself that it was also a “logical” career move. I’d recently completed my MBA degree and left my corporate sales job. So, this was a way to put all that business training to good use. 

I’ll admit, I mostly got into it for the adventure of it all. 

I was fresh off of two other adventures--living in Spain for 3 months, then coming back to MN and buying a home. I could relate to people who wanted to buy a home. Plus, the thrill of the home search was fun.

At that time, the market was going up. I got to work on some cool projects, like land development and 1031 exchanges. I even found ways to combine my love of travel and real estate. 

For a few months, a friend and I hosted client trips to Biloxi, MS. We helped investors buy property there to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. I was always looking for new opportunities. 

While I helped other families move, my husband and I moved several times ourselves. It was an exciting time.

Fast forward to 2008. Everything seemed to fall apart. The market crashed. Those next couple of years were difficult for many of my clients. 

For me, it was the most challenging, yet defining point in my career. It no longer seemed at all ”logical” to continue in real estate. But I wanted to help the people I could. In the midst of the chaos, I finally realized why I should serve in this industry.

I believe your home should be your sanctuary, not your source of stress. In the aftermath of the housing crisis, people felt stressed. Homes had lost value. Loans were hard to come by. 

At the time, I was representing a new construction development. Half of the owners were now stuck in construction loans that couldn’t convert into end loans. I’d also recently gotten my broker’s license and bought into a national real estate franchise. 

If that was not quite enough drama, that same year my husband and I decided to start a family. So, in the middle of this crisis, we were also expecting our first child. 

Despite the obstacles, there were always solutions. Taking action was better than staying stuck. 

I worked with each client, and we figured out a plan. We’d rent homes that couldn’t sell. We negotiated with banks, exchanged properties, and used seller financing. I reorganized our business into an adaptable independent brokerage. 

There were so many creative ways to solve the financial problems. The real joy, though, wasn’t in figuring out how to make the math work. It was in making a difference in people’s lives.

In recent years, the market’s gone up. We’ve seen happier times in real estate. I’m a natural optimist anyway. I know things are going to work out, so I keep going until they do.

As for my family, we did wind up moving shortly before our oldest daughter was born. In my pregnant state, in lieu of an ocean, my “must have” was a house with a pool. A few years later, we moved again, when a sudden health crisis made us want to live closer to family. It’s in times of change like this that I get to help other families. 

While I still love adventure, I love people more! Living through crises has made me appreciate calm. Most families I meet need the stress taken down a notch too. 

In real estate, I’m totally fine with predictable next steps. I like systems that make for a smooth client experience. 

It’s become my mission to help people get into homes that improve their quality of life. Almost as important, I want them to enjoy the process along the way. 

Home should be your safe haven, a place to gather with family and friends. It’s for making memories. Finding the right one shouldn’t be stressful. You might even call it fun!

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