Vitals: Audu Real Estate
Years in Business: 18
Size: 1 office with a small team of agents
Region Served: Greater Grand Rapids Metropolis
With a background in the hard sciences such as biology and chemistry, Lola Audu came to the U.S. from Nigeria as a student before becoming a U.S. citizen in 1999. She was drawn to the real estate business thanks to an entrepreneurial spirit learned from her parents and a fascination with how the housing market worked in this country.
“In many parts of the world, you can’t own land, and if you do, you buy it in cash,” she explains. “The process of leveraging money to enable the sale of a housing asset was a new one to me in many ways, but one that I found fascinating.”
Audu became a REALTOR® in 1995 and opened Audu Real Estate in 1999, serving the West Michigan real estate community for 22 years.
In 2017, the West Michigan market was “extraordinarily active,” with bidding wars on most properties, though it slowed to normal levels by the end of the year.
“The low inventory also impacted prices, with the average sales price booming,” says Audu. “There’s been a lot of rethinking and retooling and investment in trying to bring new housing online.”
Over her career, she served as the first minority president in the 117-year history of the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS®, has been involved in the National Association of REALTORS® and the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, and regularly trains on social media and blogging.
“The arena I feel I have been called to is rethinking our functions about our industry and where we need to go,” she says. “For me, this started in earnest during the real estate crisis when we saw our industry get hit hard.”
In 2006, Audu became involved in the online lobbying community to help agents learn to appreciate technology and the Facebook platform, and was also a pivotal voice in helping others learn how to deal with short sales and surviving during that time. This propelled her into the world of education, which led to her role in writing and teaching the coursework in social media and blogging that was certified for Continuing Education in the state of Michigan in 2007.
Having grown up in West Africa, Audu is very interested in cultural training, knowing that it’s important to serve people whose cultural context is different from the agent and broker profile that exists today.
“I had a very unusual upbringing,” she says, comparing it to someone growing up in Chinatown in New York City, where even though you’re in the U.S., everything around you is so culturally attuned, you might as well be in China. “Mine was reversed. I went to an international boarding school in Nigeria, which attracted a lot of different kinds of people. I found myself being raised in a mini United Nations. We had 44 kids in a graduating class from 16 different countries.”
That experience spawned a way for Audu to better relate to the world and understand people—qualities that she feels have helped her become a strong broker and agent, something she tries to instill in others.
“I am interested in training agents that help us move forward as an industry,” says Audu. “I do more speaking and training, and thinking of coursework and questions our industry needs to be thinking about for the future, so that we are creating something that is relevant to the next generation.”
In 2018, Audu looks forward to working with NAR’s Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee and continuing to make a difference.
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Lola Audu: Moving the Industry Forward