WHO: Mary Catherine Bourke, Realtor, Long & Foster Old Town Historic District
WHERE: Bourke and Shane Canny, her partner, recently sold the $8 million Bellapais, in what may be one of the most expensive real estate transactions of 2007. Bellapais is a 25-acre estate fronting the Potomac River on River Farm. The 18-room house near Mount Vernon sits on land once owned by George Washington.
WHEN: Bourke has exposed herself to varied types of people through her background and sectors of employment. Born in Ireland, Bourke grew up in South Bend, Indiana and found herself assisting Eric Pisani, coach of the Notre Dame University football team. She moved to the area in 1968 and started a political career working for Ron Nessen, Press Secretary to President Gerald Ford. After working on Capitol Hill for with the Republican Congressional Committee, she moved back to the executive branch, serving the Reagan administration at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Energy. After the Reagan administration ended, Bourke pursued real estate in another career change. My background was perfect for real estate in the sense that I dealt with different people and situations, Bourke said. Her background also brought her in contact with people such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, to whom she sold a house 10 years ago in McLean.
WHY: Bourke said that clients who have known her in her different capacities come equipped with confidence in her because she is already a known entity.Ive learned since then, in real estate, you dont need a degree in marketing, you need a degree in psychology, Bourke said. Understanding people and their needs is the key to this business. Understanding people came in handy when one of Bourkes purchasers, who had a truck packed with furniture and were getting ready to move in seven days, found that a fence-line on their property actually extended several feet on to city property. Because of her experience with real estate and understanding what the purchasers were facing, Bourke was able to facilitate a resolution.If youre empathetic, you take on the problems of the buyers and sellers, Bourke said. I think thats what makes a good agent.
Despite being a Life Member of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors Top Producers and Million Dollar Sales Club, Bourke said she is most proud of being able to meet peoples needs. Everyone is looking for their castle, no matter the price-point. If you come of a $500,000 house, hopefully I will be as caring as if its an $8 million house, Bourke said. This is a business of repeat clients.
WHAT: Bourke has eight nieces and nephews in Ireland, whom she adores. When shes not at the office, she can be found hiking the trails, canoeing or kayaking in the Shenandoah mountains and Great Falls to clear her head. Kayaking, she said, gives you a true break.