MANAGING BROKER OF THE YEAR: CHRIS BALMES
PMAR's 2018 Managing Broker of the Year Chris Balmes was originally licensed to sell real estate in 1973 — the same year her daughter and now business partner, Lisa Balmes, was born.
Today, the mother-daughter duo work in tandem at Tualatin-based Chris Balmes Properties LLC and Pilot Property Management.
"I love mentoring new agents," says the broker, who has more than 45 years in the business. "Getting started in real estate is much harder and more expensive than most new agents know. It's fun to give them a leg up."
Going back a generation, Chris Balmes' mother, Fran Mikel, was a popular Portland residential realtor for years until her death in 1979. Long before fax machines, scans and e-signing offers made moving the paperwork more efficient, Chris and her mom would drive all over town looking at properties for sale and hand-delivering documents back and forth.
"My mom was always selling," Chris recalls, "and we moved every couple of years." Eventually, Chris went to work with her mom at Stan Wiley Realtors. "It was the best company back then, they had the very best training, and we went out and sold as a team. Then my mom got cancer at 47 and died."
Balmes' two aunts, Jeanne Kernan and Dorothy Kernan, were two of the first women commercial brokers in the Portland area at a time when it very much a male-dominated profession. "They were tough broads," Balmes laughs, "especially Jeanne. She dealt with all the boys downtown."
Chris's grandfather, Frank Kernan, was an early Portland real estate investor and the owner of Kernan Livestock Farms as well as many other real estate holdings in the early days of Portland.
In addition to the properties Chris and her daughter list in the Portland area today, they sell quite a few vacation cabins located in Southwest Washington near the Swift Reservoir, and manage vacation rentals in Oregon and Washington. Licensed in Oregon and Washington, Chris Balmes holds a Minority, Women & Emerging Small Business Certification from the State of Oregon. "Some agents work in one specific area. I work all over."
She has loved nearly every minute of it, she says. "I've loved my career in real estate and property management," says Balmes. "It's a feeling like none other to make someone happy in their purchase of a residence, vacation home or investment property."
One of the best parts of the job is how clients can become long-time friends, she says. "I'm now selling retirement homes in Washington to the very same clients/friends that bought their first or second homes or investment properties from me."
Chris Balmes said she was truly honored and surprised by this award. Her daughter learned of it first and cancelled a flight out of town in order to attend.
"My awards usually come on a daily basis when I'm visiting with and helping friends and clients," Balmes says. "This award was totally unexpected but hugely appreciated. My career in real estate has made my life so fun and so interesting."
Outside of real estate, Balmes is an avid supporter of the Oregon Humane Society; The Gentle Barn and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Portland. Her passion for animal rescue means she makes frequent trips to Costco for dog food and treats for dogs she or her friends are sheltering.