Metro Detroit Realtor extraordinaire Kathy Broock knows a few things about real estate — after all, she’s worked in the industry since she was in elementary school. She talks to SEEN about everything from her family’s real-estate legacy to her ‘bohemian and conservative’ style
By Rachel Schostak
Photography by Allison Farrand
Kathy Broock got her real-estate license more than 30 years ago, but she’s been in the business far longer than that. “I’ve worked in the industry since I was in elementary school,” says Broock, who used to answer phones at the Birmingham office that her great-grandfather, Max Broock, founded in 1895 (and that her grandfather and father subsequently ran). “My father taught me the importance [of the] proper tone and professionalism.”
Those lessons have served her well: Broock, the mother of three grown girls, now oversees a team of real-estate agents at the same office where she got her start. With more than $108 million in sales last year, she’s also Michigan’s top-selling agent, an honor she’s held for 10 consecutive years. SEEN talks to her about everything from carrying on her family’s legacy to her rock-inspired style.
1. Can you share your professional and personal bio? I have worked in the [real-estate] industry since I was in elementary school. My father taught me the importance of how to answer the phone with proper tone and professionalism. This was how I learned that servicing the client begins with a proper “Hello!” This foundation has influenced my understanding of the importance in exceptional branding and creative growth.
Personally, my love for music filters throughout every aspect of my life. In college, I was the lead singer of a band at Michigan State University. This was one of the greatest times in my life. I am married and have raised three dynamic women. My family is most important to me. If I am not working, my time is spent with them. I love my friends too. As time is limited with this career, my friends are true-blue! They understand the demands and respect the expectations. When we play, though…we play! My philosophy is work hard, play hard. Yes, maybe cliché, but when it comes to me, it’s true!
2. Can you share a bit about your family legacy and how it led you into real estate? Growing up, I never thought about the legacy aspect of the business until I acquired my license. At that time, I embraced that I was the “woman” of the family about to embark on a real estate career and I loved the idea that I might work with my father. As it turned out, I did not work for my father initially. After a few years, I began my Max Broock career at the Bloomfield Hills office. There was an innate interest in wanting to carry the baton because of my passion for what our brand symbolized.
3. You are fourth generation in the business — how have you evolved the company? As a fourth generation realtor, I began selling at a competitor’s company. My father did not believe in nepotism. My first job in the business was answering phones and filing listing tickets back in the early 1970’s. I continued working the front desk and assisting agents throughout my college career. This early involvement allows me to appreciate how far we have come as an industry and embedded the old-fashioned work ethic that I carry with me today. I have not personally evolved the company; however, I have enjoyed contributing to our office, being the leading office in the state. I am thrilled that my personal brand has been number one in the state of Michigan for 10 consecutive years.
4. Of all the houses you’ve sold, do you have any favorites? There are a few transactions that were especially meaningful. My first sale was a mid-century modern home in Beverly Hills back in 1989. I will never forget that transaction. Selling [local architect] Norm Ziegelman’s personal residence was a highlight of my career, and I recently sold a landmark home on Orchard Lake that has been a family favorite for over 80 years, which was very significant to me.
5. What do you love most about real estate and your job? I love working with people. I meet someone new every day. I tell my children, “Every day starts at zero”…and it does. With a lifetime of knowledge, being the veteran seems surreal to me and sharing my knowledge, whether buying or selling a home, is a gift!
6. Describe your dream house? It’s funny — I have been in so many houses that it is hard to define the house of my dreams. This is why I never built a home. Making the decision on what I wanted would have been a grueling process. I love the sunset! That being said, my house is windward facing and where I have enjoyed my sunsets with friends and family. My home is the ultimate dream.
7. Can you share a few “home trends” you are seeing for 2020? Color is making a comeback! We’re seeing shades from the 1970s-era (my favorite decade): avocado green, orange, mustard yellow, tans and browns are gaining traction in the home right now.
8. Who inspires you in the business world? There is not just one person that has inspired me. I can say that my father is the person that taught me my work ethic, my mother, grandmother and aunt always expressed that I should be independent and self-sufficient and it is my husband and children that encourage and support me to be the best that I can be. So, I guess it is family that inspired me.
Your local love list…
9. What do you love most about Detroit? I feel a special connection with the city, not only because I’ve watched areas from my childhood transform firsthand, but my family played a significant role in the development and growth of Detroit and its suburbs since 1895. I feel an overwhelming sense of pride when I show homes in the neighborhoods built by my great-uncle and I’m able to share the depth of our community when I tour transferees because of my legacy and intimate perspective.
10. Your go to for breakfast, lunch and dinner? Because of my career, sitting down to eat is a rare occasion, except at night. For breakfast I drink a protein drink, I eat lunch at my desk or in my car, dinner is my favorite meal. Eating at my dining room table with a placemat, silverware and napkin, together with my family, is my go-to. However, having the choice to eat out, I love Try it Raw in Birmingham for lunch. For dinner, I am a Roberts Restaurant fan. Bill’s in Bloomfield Hills is intimate, consistent and has an amazing wine list!
11. When not working – where can we find you? I love hanging at home with my family. I chose to live on Orchard Lake. The water is where I find peace and quiet.
12. You sang in a band during college at Michigan State. What’s your favorite album of all time? Toys in the Attic [Aerosmith’s 1975 LP]. It’s is one of the best rock and roll albums of our lifetime and it didn’t get enough notoriety. Steven Tyler is one of the best writers ever. I also love Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
13. What’s one of the best places you’ve ever been on your boat? The Grenadines, St. Lucia. My second favorite place would be the Exumas [in the Bahamas]. We are so blessed to have the Bahamas right on our coastal waters – the most beautiful water in the world.
14. How do you find balance to do it all and be a mom? I didn’t have balance at first. It was a lot when the kids were younger. But I’m so lucky to have a very supportive husband and very supportive daughters as well.
15. How are things different than when you started? When I started I was the youngest kid in the industry and a woman. I was the first person to wear a leather jacket and jeans. It was unheard of in the real estate world and taboo. If you look at my ads from 15 years ago, I’m in a yoga squat, because I couldn’t stand the formal poses. I took off my suit and threw on a leather jacket with hoop earrings and my David Yurman chain and that was my ad campaign forever. It kind of rocked the industry fashion-wise.
Nowadays, times are definitely different. Everyone is getting their real estate license and wanting to sell million-dollar homes. Young kids think it’s going to be easy but in reality it takes hard work, all day every day.
Now onto style…
16. Describe your style in a few words? Structured bohemian with a rock-and-roll flare.
17. You’re never fully dressed without? My wedding band.
18. Your current “must have” item? A smashing black leather jacket.
19. What’s your most cherished item in your wardrobe/closet? My leather chain black pearls. I have strands of them, and I take them everywhere!
20, Do you have a style icon? Who? I loved Halston. He created a style that was feminine yet functional. I also love Ralph Lauren…jeans, t-shirt, cowboy boots, turquoise and silver!
21. Who or what inspires your style? I love the 1970’s. I love the music and the free-spirited, hippie era of fashion. To this day, I dress with my own style. I mix bohemian and conservative. It works!
22. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Every day starts at zero.” This is my mantra and I have shared this with my children and team members. It means don’t let the past or negativity get to you, you have the chance to start fresh every day. Make a change in your life, and the lives of others by doing the best “today.”
Head to toe outfit details from the photo shoot: Balmain leather jacket (shop similar), Gucci pants, Chanel boots (shop similar) all from Saks Fifth Avenue, 14K Gold hoops, Tappers and necklace is a signature piece from Nantucket.