Haneen Hayder loves a challenge. “I do,” Haneen agrees. “My husband says, ‘the magic happens when you’re put in the corner.’” And the career of this Silicon-Valley-based realtor has been nothing short of magical.
Born in Kuwait, Haneen, the oldest of five children, moved to the United States, for college—to Boston, or as Haneen calls it, “Little Kuwait,” because the city has the highest Kuwaiti population in the US. As if moving to a new country for college wasn’t enough of a challenge, Haneen felt that chemical engineering wasn’t quite hard enough. “So, I decided to double-up chemical and biological engineering, and then I got my degree,” she says, with a shrug—like earning a double-engineering degree is as effortless as waving a magic wand and watching mortarboard and diploma fall from the sky.
In the years that followed, goal-driven Haneen moved to California, completed a master’s degree in chemical engineering, gave birth to a daughter, and started a high-earning job at an oil company. By anyone’s standard, she was on the path of success, exceeding each of her goals along the way. But Haneen, who has always listened to her gut feeling, felt like something was off. “I was making six-figures, but I just got to a point where I hated it. I just was lost. And for me to be lost, without a path is so hard,” says Haneen, who has always plotted her course very purposefully and intentionally. “I couldn’t fathom how I spent eight years going to school for something, and then just couldn’t relate to it.”
So Haneen did the most challenging thing she could do: she quit.
At this point Haneen, who was a single-mom to a three-year-old daughter, had no clear path ahead. “I only knew I was good with one thing, which is numbers. So I started a bookkeeping company,” she says of her first move after engineering. After struggling to find clients, she was presented with an opportunity: a friend introduced Hannen to someone who needed help with his books. The caveat: It will be a challenge.
“I thrive in adversity,” Haneen says, explaining her decision to take on this new project, without knowing anything about her client or his work. “So my first day at the job, I realized that this guy does real estate. And I know nothing about real estate, especially in the US. Nothing. So I treated the job as a regular bookkeeping job, and figured out his books. Within two days, his books were perfect. They were cleaned.” Her client’s disbelief quickly turned into sincere admiration, and he presented Haneen with another opportunity: a new job.
“He said, ‘this whole bookkeeping thing is great, but you’re not going to make a living,’” Haneen remembers. Instead, he wanted Haneen to help him raise money and flip houses. At the time, Haneen knew nothing about houses. She knew nothing about flipping. She knew nothing about raising money. “And it was the beginning of 2010. The market already went to hell, foreclosures were everywhere. It was just the beginning of the financial demise of the entire industry.”
“And I said, sure,” Haneen recalls. Challenge accepted. Again.
Still new to the San Francisco Bay peninsula, with no understanding of comps, Haneen found herself on a new path: the learning curve. She spent the next year learning everything she could about the market, spotting houses, buying foreclosures at the courthouse for cash, working with contractors to flip them, and then turning around and making a sale. In her first year, she did 30 houses, and even more the following year. The numbers spoke for themselves: though new to flipping, Haneen was a fast success.
“I pulled a bunny out of a hat. That’s my expression,” Haneen says of her ability to make something happen, even in the most difficult of circumstances. “Everything I’ve ever been proud of came as a result of me being uncomfortable,” she says, explaining her next step out of the comfort zone: getting her realtor’s license.
Haneen isn’t your typical realtor, it’s true. While we don’t usually think of realtors as the book-keeping, All-Bird- sneaker-wearing, chemical engineering-types, but Haneen couldn’t’ help feeling that outside her comfort zone there awaited an amazing opportunity to be a different kind of realtor.
In her first year, without having any real leads or network to build from, Haneen, then at Coldwell Bankers admits to not making any real money. “My first year was really awful, because I had to learn residential real estate. I did not do that part. I did it from a flipper perspective.” The difference, according to Haneen, was, well…people. With residential real estate, “you really have to deal with people. You have to be nice to people. I didn’t have to do that [as a flipper.]”
Here’s what she means by “nice”: Haneen relies on a data-driven approach, so she’s not going to sugar coat or spoon-feed information to her clients. She values honesty, analytics, and direct communication—and appreciates clients who value the same. Haneen wouldn’t dare waste anyone’s time by beating around the bush or trying to sell somebody something she’s not willing to buy herself.
It wasn’t until her second year as an agent, though that she realized this quality was her strength. She didn’t have to do ‘nice’. “I figured out to stop copying people. Because their path to success is not mine. People will hire me for a reason. I’m not for everybody.” Once Haneen realized that she needed to stay true to herself, that’s when her business really grew (and grew and grew). “People appreciate that I’m not sales driven,” Haneen says.
What does drive her? “Helping people to get from point A to point B. And while I do that, I seem to develop such a good relationship with them, that I end up getting their entire family’s business,” she says. She is passionate about helping her clients build wealth through real estate. During the pandemic she received a thank you text from one such client who worked with Haneen to buy three homes, upgrading each time.
“They said I was able to help them not only build a life, but build wealth. [They] never sold the house before [they] got the next one. I got them accepted contingent three times. That’s unheard of in the Bay Area. And they said, you pulled the bunny out of the hat three times. That is the story of all my clients. I am blessed. I don’t lose listings. I don’t lose buyers. I really don’t.”
Hearing Haneen, you can just tell: it’s part of her magic: she doesn’t lose clients. “Stay true to your gut feeling…You know, do what’s right for you. It always pays off,” she says of the decision to be her own kind of realtor. Now, true to her data-driven self, Haneen leverages her career experiences to help her clients buy and flip their very own fixer uppers—all with the goal of helping them build wealth.
Though she had tremendous success at Coldwell Banker—she was in the top 2% nation-wide— for someone who is driven by data and analytics, Haneen found her match in Compass, and their suite of real estate technology, and made the move three years ago.
“I moved because it’s a way for me to be uncomfortable,” Haneen says. “My husband said: You already built it at Coldwell Banker. You have the corner office. Everybody listens to you, everybody at corporate loves you. You’re on every panel that they have nationwide. You’re comfortable.” For Haneen, Compass was a risk, the unknown, “uncharted territory: nobody knew who they were. Nobody knew what they were going to do. It was my risk. I’ve never moved before. That was my very first move of my career,” Haneen says of taking the giant leap outside her comfort zone.
Working with the CSC coaches, Haneen has been challenged time, and time again. “I think growth and figuring out what I want comes from being uncomfortable,” she says. Haneen got so much from her experience as a CSC client, that most recently, Haneen has stepped outside her comfort zone to join the roster of CSC coaches—this time, it’s her fellow realtors that Haneen will help get from point A to point B. With this new challenge ahead, we’re certainly bound to see some magic. The bunnies are on their way.
Follow Haneen on Instagram at @HaneenRealtor and see the magic happen.
By working with Chirag Shah you can expect effective, results-driven coaching, or as one of his clients said, “you can learn more from three months with Chirag than you can in three years on your own.” Whether it’s creating systems, structures, and processes that help you grow your business; building out your team, or learning to enforce healthy work/life boundaries, Chirag wants to help you bring your vision for your future to life. As a life-long learner, people-person, and curious problem-solver, Chirag has been a student of real estate coaching since he got his realtor’s license in 2007.