Mahi Kouvlis – Focus on Growth

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Mahi has been a powerhouse in the real estate world for over 12 years. Mahi’s spirited personality and dedication to her clients have made her a standout in southern Massachusetts. She’s not just about selling homes; she’s about building lasting relationships and helping people find their dream homes. Click here to read more about Mahi.

Show Notes

Welcome to the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast where you’ll hear the good, the bad and the ugly of how real estate agents overcame challenges and grew their business. Check out the Episode Notes at CrushItinRE.com/podcast. Here’s your host, Lindsay Favazza.

Lindsay Favazza: Hello, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Agents Who Crush It in Real Estate podcast, where we dive into the journeys of some of the most successful realtors in the industry. I’m your host, Lindsay Favazza, and today I’m thrilled to introduce my guest, Mahi Kublas. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Mahi has been a powerhouse in the real estate world, getting her license in 2002, but only going full-time four years ago. Her journey is unique, starting in her family’s restaurant business in Taunton, where she honed her skills in management, customer service, and problem-solving.

These early experiences laid the foundation for her exceptional career in real estate, where she has built strong community connections and a reputation for excellence. Mahi’s spirited personality and dedication to her clients have made her a standout in southern Massachusetts. She’s not just about selling homes. She’s about building lasting relationships and helping people find their dream home. Without further ado, let’s dive in. Mahi, welcome to the podcast today.

Mahi Kouvlis: Thank you. That was crazy. I feel like a movie star all of a sudden. 

Lindsay: You should, because this is your movie, and we’re about to roll. This will be on Netflix. I’m just kidding. Why don’t you take us back to when you got your license? You were telling me earlier that you were like, “I can’t believe it was 2002. It was so long ago.” Tell me about that process and why you decided to get it, and then why you decided to eventually go full-time.

Mahi: Sure. I got licensed in 2002. We recently were married, and the next step was to buy our house, which we did. Literally, I think we closed on our first house a month after I got licensed. That was really the trigger. I was really intrigued by how it worked and all the things I had to do. I didn’t obviously close my own first house, because I wasn’t quite there yet, but I think that was really the trigger. It was really interesting, and all the facts that I had to learn that I had no idea about, I was oblivious to the whole process. It really kicked me into gear and said, “This could be pretty interesting.”

Lindsay: Any of your clients since then that you’ve taken through the process that have done the same thing? Because I know that that’s a very familiar story. They’re like, “I got started because I bought a house.” Have you had clients that have turned into realtors after you’ve gone through the process with them, or no?

Mahi: I have a couple who actually are taking their classes.

Lindsay: Oh, that’s so funny.

Mahi: I don’t know what will happen.

Lindsay: Full circle.

Mahi: Yes, it’s great.

Lindsay: Take me back to now four years ago, why you decided to dive in again. What made you go, “Hey, I’ve got this license looming. Why don’t I use it?”

Mahi: I guess, we’re going over 20 years and I was on and off, active, inactive. I would renew. I would do my classes. I think I sold one to two homes a year for a majority of that time because I was running our family business. We had a pizza shop. My parents had it since I was, I think, two. I literally grew up there. I’d left for a small amount of time going corporate into an accounting firm, one of the top five in Boston. That was great. It wasn’t really my calling. It was one of those decisions where I had to talk to my dad.

Obviously, he was on the road to retirement. Back in the day, it was, “Oh, I’m the only child. I’m going to take over this business.” It wasn’t really what I wanted to do. Thankfully, he was super understanding and supportive. Everything I learned there, I was able to take with me. I had that conversation with him a few years ago. I said, “Listen, I think the time has come. I need to cut this cord and move on because I really want to jump in.” It almost domino effected everything. I was able to cut that cord. I was able to join the Maquia through some friends and connections. He retired and sold the business a year later, maybe two.

Lindsay: That was probably better for him too because then he didn’t always have his foot still in that door either. He could sell and walk away as opposed to if you had taken it over, he would probably still be coming in and giving you advice and not be able to fully let go.

Mahi: I think that’s a big reason for both of us that it worked out well. I would have struggled with that. Then I think he would have too because we do have different styles with certain things. A lot of the stuff is the same. We do work pretty similarly in terms of the business side of it. I don’t think it would have worked for long.

Lindsay: Nice. Is it still a place that you guys go to? Do they keep it running? Is it still there?

Mahi: It’s still there. They sold the business part of it. They’re friendly with them. I actually have only gone back a couple of times. It’s nice to see that someone else is running it and we can still go and grab a pizza if we want.

Lindsay: It’s someone else’s baby. I love that. That is so fun. Your early days getting started in the business. Not 2002 early days, but a couple of years ago, early days. What were you thinking? What were some of the struggles that you were having in that first year or so?

Mahi: A big part of my, I guess, beginning was fear. I think anyone that is dual-careered, it’s really scary to just stop one and full force go real estate. It’s not a consistent paycheck. I think most people know that. It’s really scary going from one brokerage to another where you almost have to relearn certain things. Because I had my license hung at a different brokerage, which was fine but I had no training. I had no support. I was really on my own, like most people, because we are independent. The difference that made me understand I needed to be here was, A, the people are just all friendly. I have a little crew.

Lindsay: You guys have quite the crew.

Mahi: We have quite the crew. I truly believe that without them, I don’t think I would even be here. The support, the pinging off each other for different topics, that’s huge. That’s how I work. I’m a people person. I’m not like a salesperson, so to speak. I need that in order to be successful. That’s a huge thing. The training here is, 20 years ago, we had zero. You get desk time. You maybe answer a phone and hope someone wants to talk to you about selling their house and there was nothing. I think here, that’s a huge thing because if you don’t know anything, you’re literally going into it blind. There’s no guidance.

Lindsay: You’re making all the mistakes that others have made that you could learn from. That’s the other thing, too, is that back in 2002, it was probably still such a cutthroat thing, too. Real estate I feel like back then, people were so hiding their secrets and stuff. Now it’s just such a much more collaborative– maybe it’s just us and I think certain brokerages, but-

Mahi: I think it is.

Lindsay: -at the same time, I think that the atmosphere is definitely a lot more collaborative than it used to be.

Mahi: Absolutely. Yes. It was definitely cutthroat. We used to have phone time. We would go in for our shift and sit at the phone and answer those calls. In a similar fashion, it was considered a lead that would go to you if you answered the phone, or if you had a listing and someone else answered the phone, it was supposed to go to you. One of the first sales I had or would have had rather got taken from me on phone time. I was a little confused. I thought I didn’t understand it right. My broker was like, “No, he pretty much stole that.” I was like, “Can you do something about that?” You didn’t. Back then, you just let it go.

Lindsay: It just makes it so much harder to trust and then to have that camaraderie within the office. You guys have built such a strong one. Shout out to the Braintree crew.

Mahi: Thank you.

Lindsay: I know they’re all listening because they’ll all be supporting you. You had such a strong community connection. I know I mentioned that in your intro, which is so important when it comes to real estate. How have you translated that from, “Hey, I’m the person that you knew that was working at the pizza shop,” to, “Now I want to get your business in a whole different realm”? How did you make that shift and get people comfortable with getting to know the new Mahi?

Mahi: It’s funny because there isn’t a new Mahi. There never was. I’m still me. I think that’s why a lot of people that I knew from the pizza shop or from my local places that I go to, my kids’ schools, I’m still the same person. I’m just doing a different job. I think growing up in a business where I learned the value of it without the sales part, it was a service business. Yes, we’re cooking food and we’re doing that, but we’re serving you because that’s what you need and that’s what you’re asking for. I think it’s really similar.

It translates into a similar type of position where you need to figure out your clients’ needs and you need to figure out what they really want and expect and try to cater to that without losing yourself. Most of the people already know me, so they know I’m going to be me. Take it or leave it.

Lindsay: If you already have that built-in rapport, too, where they’ve gotten to know you, it makes that part of it that much easier for sure.

Mahi: Yes, definitely.

Lindsay: Tell me about how you build that rapport now with new leads that you get. How do you make sure, because obviously you would have had this strong sphere that you could rely on, but now you get some new leads that come in, how do you make sure to establish those relationships? What kind of things do you do to get them to warm up to you quickly?

Mahi: I’m really low-key. We have a lot of training here, like I said, and some things we’re taught will help move us along with a stranger, so to speak. I often just meet people for coffee. We’ve gone to restaurants, thrown back a couple of beers, I’m not going to lie, and just get comfortable with them and get to their level in their world and then discuss what they want. I think talking to people and really understanding who they are before what they want because sometimes they don’t know what they want is huge.

Another thing too is I enjoy meeting them. I enjoy being a part of their world. I may then see their kids. Like yesterday, for example, I was in Plymouth all day, and we were with the daughter half of the time, we were with the mother half of the time, and then I had to drive her home, and it got a little crazy. “Come in for a drink.” I’m like, “No, it’s okay.”

Lindsay: Got to go home.

Mahi: Yes, I have to go. You become part of their life at some point in a certain way. I like that because I do value them, and I hope they value me. I can probably name every client I’ve ever had because of that. That’s really important to me. I’m a people person, so I need that to get better at what I do, and so I like it.

Lindsay: What about buyers and sellers? Obviously, you’ve had some listings, you’ve had buyers that you’ve worked with. Is there a particular group? Maybe it’s either buyers or sellers or first-time buyers or people that are trying to move up because they’ve extended their family or retirees. What is your ideal? If you were to pick the rest of your clients forever, would it be one type of group or would it be that you would want all of them because it’s different? What’s your bread and butter, if you will, and why?

Mahi: I think I do like a little bit of the variety but if I had to say what I’m most comfortable with, I do like working with people who relocate to Massachusetts. I get to show them more things. I get to explore different areas with them that they may not know but first-time buyers tend to be my favorite because I’m a nurturer in nature and I want to teach them, and I sometimes talk too fast, and I get excited. I want to give them all the information but then I feel like they need that.

If they do and I can provide it, I just feel like they’re going to actually grow themselves and they’re going to learn something instead of just go through the process, buy a house, put their money down, and the steps, they actually learn things, I hope. That’s the goal.

Lindsay: I’m sure that they do. That goes back to when we were talking in the very beginning about you getting your license. You probably see a little part of yourself, and it’s like you get to relive that all over again through them.

Mahi: Definitely, especially younger, maybe newly married people or young families, people that are getting out of apartments. It’s so hard to get out of a rental, but when they do, it’s so rewarding because they’re so happy, and I get to be a part of that, and that’s huge.

Lindsay: What is the most unusual request, I guess, you’ve gotten from a client? Do you have a story like that?

Mahi: I do, actually  ironically. I had a family that was coming here from Alabama, and they couldn’t get here often enough. I FaceTime them a lot through a lot of different properties. My favorite thing was the wife had asked me to always do a sniff test and I was like, “Okay, a sniff test is great.” I had an idea what she was talking about, but she was very sensitive to animals and that mildewy smell. This is when we were wearing masks still. I would go down to the basement and have her on FaceTime and pull my mask down and take a sniff. A couple of times I had to tell her, “I’m sorry, this isn’t great.”

Lindsay: This smells bad.

Mahi: There was definitely some animals here. Moisture, things like that. You can smell it. I thought that was interesting. Ironically, they actually purchased their house without ever seeing it. They didn’t even bother, and I talked about it with them. They didn’t even put in the contingency to see it first. They were like, “No, we’re ready. We love it. We trust you, and we trust your nose.”

Lindsay: I was going to say, they trust your sniff enough to know-

Mahi: They loved it.

Lindsay: -as far as they didn’t put a contingency in there. If it smells bad, we’re not going to go through with this deal. That is so funny.

Mahi: That was great.

Lindsay: That’s so cool.

Mahi: That was an interesting–

Lindsay: That is interesting, though. I think that they had a right to– it’s one thing that they can walk through on the phone and see pictures, and they can do all that kind of stuff but you’re right, there’s that kind of thing that is hard to come across on virtual stuff. Very cool. You are a family woman as well. How do you balance life, normal life, personal life, and also real estate world? Because anyone who’s out there knows, or they should know that it is not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. 

Mahi: It’s not a 9:00 to 5:00 job. Honestly, I don’t.  Most of the time, I don’t. Balance is my mantra for sure. It’s actually my Facebook profile picture right now. Find your balance. It’s hard. I do have some limits. I try to preemptively tell new clients, specifically my phone’s off at 8:30, which is still late, but my kids are older now, so I don’t have to tuck them in, 8:30 is the limit. Some still text me at 1:00 in the morning, but my ringer’s off, so I get to them when I get to them. It’s hard.

It is definitely a 24-hour job, but you have to set those boundaries upfront because people will push their limits. I really think setting up those boundaries is huge. Do I call it balance? Not quite yet because I think I’m in a position where I have the flexibility because my kids are older and my home runs itself now for the most part. I like to be home on certain nights, and those nights are off-limits. You just make it work.

Lindsay: You got to just figure out what works for you. Then it’s setting expectations with the clients for sure. That’s such a huge part of it but then also setting the expectations with your family. It’s like, “These are the days I have to, and I’m a 24-hour job, and I got to get it done.” Then they start to understand that that’s your work time, too.

Mahi: I think with phone calls, it’s a little easier because I can step away. If we’re watching a movie and I have to take something, that’s not a big deal. I don’t miss soccer games. I still try to get to everything. Am I on the phone there sometimes? Sure, but they don’t notice so much. For the most part, yes, I do try to separate some decent time just to at least be home and do some stuff with my family to participate as much as I can.

Lindsay: For sure. Talk to me about social media. Is it something that you rely on? Is it something that you’re scared of still? Is it something that you feel is necessary? Tell us the nitty-gritty. Remember, this audience is all realtors, so they want to hear from you just as much the struggles that maybe you have with it as they want to hear what successes you’ve seen from it. Tell us everything you feel about social media. I know that’s a very loaded question.

Mahi: So loaded. Social media, I definitely think is incredibly important. I really do. I’m not great at it. I don’t like it, to be honest, because I always have that fear that’s always been in the back of my mind like, “Oh, do I look salesy? Do I look like I’m pushy?” I don’t like that feeling. I don’t want to come across that way. I don’t think I do. I’ve gotten a little bit better about some posts and trying to incorporate work with life because if you’re all business, that gets old, or if you’re all family and no business, they’re not going to know you’re there.

I try to incorporate both and balance it out. I’ve been getting a little better. Videos is my nemesis. It’s always been, no one likes their voice, no one likes how they look, but I’m getting better about that. Our crew has planned a couple of events, and we’ve done a couple of videos, and I’m breaking out of that a little bit. It’s hard. It’s really hard.

Lindsay: It’s hard, but it’s a personal struggle, meaning no one else cares. If anything, they’re like, “We want to see you. We want to hear what’s going on. We want to hear your story.” They’re not doing what you’re doing, which is, “Oh, I don’t like the way I look,” or, “I don’t like the way I sound.” They’re not saying that at all. They’re like, “You look great. You sound wonderful.” The information is really what they’re seeking. Absolutely. Now that I know this, I’ll start pushing on you more for more videos, my friend. Here’s a start. Here’s a video right here that we’ll be giving for you to share and send out to all the people. You’re doing a wonderful job. There you go.

Mahi: Thank you. Appreciate that.

Lindsay: How do you handle the emotional aspects of real estate? It is very often, I’m sure for you, that you are, like you mentioned the first-time home buyers and people like that, this can be a very emotional transaction. How do you separate that? How do you make it so that you’re like a therapist, but you don’t let their emotions drag you down? Because that’s a really hard thing, I feel like in this business.

Mahi: It is really hard. I’m an empath by nature. Like I said before, I’m a nurturer, I care sometimes too much for people, in the sense that it can be distracting. With that being said, I think it’s really hard to focus on just business when people have stuff going on. When they’re like, they have a sick spouse, or they have to relocate or they have to go through an estate sale. There are situations where you have to put them first and not the transaction. I manage it okay. I do leave it at the door.

I have because everybody has stuff on their plate, but I don’t forget it. Because you have to make that extra phone call that says, “Hey, how did your appointment go?” Or not call about work, just know that you have to be in their lives in a different way too. Not all the time, you don’t want to be a thorn in their side. You’re not their best friend. I get it. You have to show some effort there because they will remember it. They absolutely will remember it. Or do something extra. I had one client who needed a specific type of medical care and they were coming in from far away, and they really weren’t sure where to go, where to start.

I didn’t really know, but I just did a quick little search for them and I was like, “Hey, I don’t know much about these places, but check them out. They’re close to where you’re going to land.” That goes a long way for a few minutes of extra time. That way you feel like you’re helping and hopefully you’re actually helping, but you’re not absorbing it into your own.

Lindsay: I can say, without going into any detail, that I had– and I’m not buying a house from you anytime. I’m not moving to South Shore, I’m a North Shore girl. Ypu know that. You went above and beyond and everybody in the Braintree office went above and beyond for me when I was going through a personal time. I know that that is a lot of that empath, having that feeling of wanting to help and just be there and help people like. You do a great job at that. I just wanted to make sure that I said that too.

Mahi: Thank you. I appreciate that. That’s a huge thing for me. I really do. I appreciate that.

Lindsay: You’re, talking the talk, but also walking the walk, and I can confirm that, so I appreciate that. Do you have mentors other than the office people that you guys all work together? Do you have mentors or are there people that train outside of Lamacchia Realty in your world that you lean into, either it being life advice or, certain people maybe that you follow on social that you’re trying to get better from? Who are those influences in your life?

Mahi: I don’t so much have like a training aspect or a specific life coach type thing, but I do follow a lot of, I don’t want to say influencers, I feel like that sounds weird, but networking people. I’m part of some groups that are women business networks where we try to support each other in any business. If it’s crafting or floral design, or real estate, we really support each other in those types of groups. I think those are really helpful because they balance their lives too. They maybe have kids or they’re single parents, and there’s a totally different perspective than just going into a real estate group. Those have really helped me and I follow them a lot.

They’re really supportive. We share each other’s things on social media. We network over coffee. We do little things like that just to get our life back to being grounded. I almost feel like I’d rather have that than constantly being in front of an influencer who’s like, “Try this trend.” It goes back to that balance. I’m a person first and my job obviously is up there, but it’s second. In terms of training, I stick to the basics of do things well, do things right. Do right by your clients, and they’re going to refer you to someone else. They’re going to push your name out there and be really supportive. That’s how I want to grow. I think that’s really the most basic part of it.

Lindsay: I love that. You’ve done a lot of events and things too. Talk to me about some of those events that you’ve done where you’ve brought people together so you can teach on a bigger scale. Then on top of that, you’re sharing audiences with other vendors and people that are in the industry. Tell me about that and why that’s been important for you.

Mahi: We’ve done some events. We actually have a few lined up. We do coffee on Tuesdays now. We’ve been picking a new coffee shop on the South Shore just to work from there. When we’re in the office, we’re working, but nobody sees us. It’s a different aspect to say, “Hey, we’re working. If you just want to pick our brains, there’s nothing formal about it. Just pull up a chair and we’ll have coffee and we’ll talk.”

Lindsay: I love that.

Mahi: It’s fun too. It’s fun to get out and try new places and support local businesses. That’s huge for us. We are going to start– this is top secret, but not anymore.

Lindsay: This will launch in a couple of weeks, so you’ve got time.

Mahi: We’re probably going to start in a couple of weeks. We’re doing a bar pizza tour. We’re going to hit a South Shore bar pizza place maybe once a month, I think is what we’re trying for. Just similar to coffee, we’re going to go, we’re going to grab lunch. First person to find us or first person to share our post will maybe get pizza on us. I don’t know. We haven’t worked it out. Just something different. There’s real people out there that they don’t want the formality of coming into the office and meeting with us. They just want to be in their own element and I feel like local businesses is the way to go and we can spotlight them too.

Lindsay: They potentially get a free meal out of it or a free snack. Then on top of that, you’re helping that business and bringing business to them. Then on top of that, you’re dropping the guard of having people come and just talk to you instead of you feeling like you have to chase them on the phone or they have to call or they have to be on your list or whatever those things are. It drops their guard a little bit. I love that and I want to know how it goes because that sounds so cool.

Mahi: That’ll be fun. I’m excited about it.

Lindsay: I love it. We’re getting close to the end. I want to close off by having you just give a piece of advice. Even though you’ve had your license for a long time, you really haven’t been in the business that long and you’re doing such a great job. You’ve been doing such a great job. I want to hear from you what your advice is for someone who maybe they’ve had their license for a little while and they haven’t gone full time or maybe they’ve been full time, but they’re just not getting the sales that they wanted to get. What kind of advice would you give to that person?

Mahi: There’s a couple of things, actually. One is, take things with a grain of salt. We often get people who are difficult to work with and it’s okay to not work with them. Just like they have a right to choose their own agent or a different product, we have a right to say, “This relationship may not work.” I think that’s okay. That took me a little while to get through my head. You have to sometimes. Your sanity is more important than serving every single person because you’re never going to be able to serve every single person.

Lindsay: Someone else might be better to serve them.

Mahi: Right.

Lindsay: That’s okay.

Mahi: I think that’s huge. People worry like, “I need to do it all,” and you don’t. Managing that is very important. I think the other thing is also just focus on growth. I do love setting goals. I love that we have annual goals and we have monthly goals and weekly goals and meetings and all this great stuff. I’m a slow and steady wins the race type of person. If I’m focusing on doing something better than I did it before, that’s good for me. Eventually, before you know it, that gets you to the goals that you set. Growth year after year, whether it’s in units or volume or whatever it is that your goal is, don’t keep your eye on the end necessarily.

Just work on doing better than you did before and eventually, it will pan out.

Lindsay: You’re only competing with yourself.

Mahi: Absolutely. Yes. I agree.

Lindsay: Everyone’s path is different. Mahi, this was pretty easy, wasn’t it?

Mahi: Yes. It wasn’t so bad.

Lindsay: I swear I make it pain-free. Everyone gets so nervous about it. Trust me. Every single person, even people that have been on a million podcasts or are very visible out there in the world, I get people on here and they’re like, “Oh my gosh.” I’m like, “It’s fine. It’s going to be just fine.” Just you and I chatting, although, hundreds of people listen to it, but don’t worry about it.

Mahi: It is what it is. I’m letting it go.

Lindsay: There is going to be a lot of people that are going to want to listen because you gave some great information today and I really appreciate you spending some time with us and sharing all of this with us, so thank you so much.

Mahi: Thank you so much for having me. This was so exciting from the get-go. We had cheerleaders in the office all the way to nerve-wracking, what do I do? It was so easy and I really appreciate it. This was an honor. It really was.

Lindsay: We want to give some credit to Gerard for the beautiful lighting in the background and the sound being so perfect today. Thanks, Gerard for helping her out.

Mahi: Definitely.

Lindsay: You guys really do take care of each other and I love that.

Mahi: We do.

Lindsay: Thank you so much and thank you to all of our listeners for being here today for this episode and we will see you on the next episode of the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate. Have a great day everybody. Thanks, Mahi.

Mahi: Bye. Thanks.

Thanks for joining us on the Agents Who Crush It In Real Estate podcast. We hope you’ve learned some valuable takeaways. Be sure to take action and grow your business. You can check out the Episode Notes and more content from the show at CrushitinRE.com/podcast. And if you’d like this episode, and you’d like to hear more stories, please share with others, post on social media or leave a rating or review. To catch all the latest from Anthony you can follow him on Instagram at Crush It In Real Estate on Facebook and YouTube. Thanks again and we’ll see you next time.