Coffee with Corey: The challenges and rewards of real estate

Janice Bolton

By Corey Poole

She’s remodeled two houses in the last two years, saw her daughters married six weeks apart (not recommended) and more recently, she moved her office across town.

Chatting over a cup of coffee with Janice Bolton at her new Bolton Realty location on South Drive, it became clear that it’s her optimistic attitude and passion that keeps her going. It’s her fourth office in 16.5 years as a realtor and Janice said she’s not doing it again.

But, being a realtor is like walking a tightrope. 

“I’m one of the lucky ones that gets to do something they really enjoy and I get to help people,” she added with a smile.

Of course, there have been challenges along the way, but Janice shared that it’s important to understand the power of positive thinking and to never give up on your dreams, even though the road to them is never straight.

“It’s been a fun ride,” she shared. “It’s not over, but I feel like I’m at my best right now.”

Janice graduated from LSU in 1982 in marketing with the intention of becoming a realtor, but it wasn’t a good time to be one. What seems like a lifetime later, in 2006, she decided to jump into real estate. 

Since then she’s seen lots of changes in the industry. The use of technology increases exponentially and more recently there’s been a shift in buyer behavior. The need for a brick and mortar office has decreased as clients are less apt to seek advice. From listings to closings, more is being done digitally and the process has become expedited.

So the plan to move to a new office was a way for Janice to focus her time on becoming more efficient and more available for her clients. However, she warns of the downside to the home buying process relying so heavily on technology. The convenience is great, but you’re trading it out for the experience and knowledge a real estate agent has to offer. For example, a two page purchase agreement is now 10 pages plus addendums, plus disclosures.

“This is when it becomes even more important to have someone who’s on your side that can explain it to you,” said Janice. There’s so much information available online and a lot of websites are inaccurate. Sometimes I have to stop and challenge what my clients believe, but I think that’s my strength. Buying a house is a massive process and I’m there to offer them advice.”

In this sense, Janice sees herself more as an advisor than a salesman, which is a rare thing.

“Stop chasing the commission and it will change the way you work,” she explained. “I’m just as likely to talk you out of buying a house, as I am to sell you one.”

In her 12th consecutive year as one of 16,000 members in the Louisiana Realtors Association, Janice is also a member of the National Realtors Association and the Greater Central Louisiana Realtors Association. She’s currently serving as Member-at-Large at the state level and serves on the Forms Committee that reviews hundreds of pre-filed bills in order to make sure landowners are protected. She’s served as a trustee for the Political Action Committee, for which she’s a major donor. She was also named the Louisiana Realtor of the Year in 2019.

She’s also the secretary for Elevate Louisiana, a new women’s organization committed to data driven, non-partisan solutions that’s 180 members strong. These women leaders from throughout the state focus on many areas including education, infrastructure, and healthcare.

“It’s such a cool organization and I still can’t believe they asked me to join,” Janice shared.

So why do so much? Janice said she has learned more from her involvement in organizations and boards than she ever has from the required continuing education for her real estate license renewal.

“I encourage everyone to get involved in their industry,” she said. “Put yourself in the rooms with the leaders at the local, state and national levels and learn from them.”

On the local level, Janice is the treasurer (member since 1999) for her PEO Chapter, which brings her much joy. She served on the Natchitoches Chamber board (one year as its chair) where she saw the creation of the Natchitoches Community Alliance and the A+ Coalition during her tenure. She was also appointed to the Airport Commission last year, which is a great resource for economic development for the City (with benefits of nearly $3.5 million. 

Janice is a member of the Ben D Johnson board, which is expanding its focus from culinary to construction, reducing its program from 16 weeks to 4 weeks, and opening its services up to a broader age group.

“I believe it’s important to teach people how to fish rather than give them the fish because then they’re sustained,” she explained.

She also supports the Natchitoches Northwestern Symphony Society, the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, the Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches, and Northwestern State University Athletics (particularly the Lady Demons Basketball Team). She has three children, six grandchildren (with one on the way), and four great grandchildren. 

She and her husband Kevin will celebrate 20 years of marriage in April. “I couldn’t do it without his support,” Janice shared. “He’s my foundation.”

Ask Janice what’s kept her in Natchitoches through the years and she quickly answers: the people.

“If you travel, you’ll come back home and realize how much hospitality we have and how friendly people are,” she explained. “My favorite thing is that everyone speaks. You don’t find that in other places.”

When asked to pick a favorite memory of Natchitoches, which she feels is impossible, Janice said it’d have to be the fireworks, which just make her heart explode with pride.

As busy as she stays, Janice has learned to manage stress very well. Staying organized helps. It’s important to set up systems that improve your workflow, use them and stay consistent. She has a running joke with her husband that all plans are soft until 20 minutes prior just in case someone needs to see a house. So how does someone with so much going on relax? Janice loves going on cruises. Her favorite destination was to Barcelona and the Amalfi Coast.

So what does the future hold? Janice said Bolton Realty will continue to adapt to an ever changing industry. While she doesn’t plan on keeping her real estate license until she’s 91, like her mother did, Janice said she still has many more years for networking, building relationships and finding ways to work better together. 

Janice Bolton & Corey Poole