Gunmit Jaspal decided to take a stand. She was going to turn things around. She wasn't a community organizer or a block club president. She didn't even live in the neighborhood. Jaspal was a sales associate for Ryness Co.'s Ambervale community in Perris, Calif. Facing these tough challenges head on in her first year of home sales and her determination to make the community safe and secure for her buyers helped her garner the title of Nationals' Rookie Sales Person of the Year.
Jaspal's previous experience would not have forecasted her future success as a crime fighter. She worked customer service at a beach resort in LaJolla, Calif., and moved into management. From there she became manager of a pilot program for Pet Smart called Petshotel, a boarding day care and day camp for pets.
"I was recruited to start the first one," Jaspal says. "There was a lot of marketing and advertising that we did for it."
Jaspal says starting in home sales when the market was already in decline contributed to her success because she had no idea what it was like to have buyers lined up to buy homes. She knew this would be a tough job, and she had a game plan for success.
"I knew I needed to be knowledgeable about the community, the homes, the competition, the area and the basic surroundings of the neighborhood," says Jaspal. "Being knowledgeable increases my creditability with the buyers and made me more confident in presenting the overall package."
Randazzo says Gunmit always volunteers for "homework" and special events. Jaspal certainly earned extra credit in addressing the challenges of Ambervale. The price point for the homes was moderate — in the $399,000 to $599,000 range — but they were nice homes built in a rough area.
"There was nothing we could have imagined until the first move-ins," Jaspal says. "The community started getting tagged with graffiti. We had some investors who bought and rented out; we think that contributed to the problem. Despite having 24-hour security guards, we had break-ins. They would break into homes in the middle of the day with women and children inside. It was really horrible."
This could have discouraged even a seasoned sales professional, but Jaspal fought back. When she saw graffiti, she promptly had it removed. She had the police drive through the neighborhood twice a day and also hired private security to patrol the neighborhood. She even organized a neighborhood watch program after hours at the sales office. It was tough for a while, but things eventually improved.
"When the neighborhood started to go downhill, Gunmit really had a genuine concern for the neighborhood and her homeowners," says one buyer in her testimonial letter submitted for Jaspal's nomination. "She was always honest and upfront about any issues that arose, but she always found a way to make it work and make everyone happy,"
Another home buyer, Beatriz Ascencio, says in her testimonial she was amazed that Jaspal was up for an award for Rookie of the Year.
"How could Gunmit be a rookie? She is absolutely amazing at what she does," says Ascencio. "No one could ever tell she was new to the business."
Ascencio goes on to note that she wasn't in the market for a home, could never see herself in one of those Ambervale "mansions" and had only stopped by the sales office because it was hot and her air conditioning at home wasn't working. Two hours later, Jaspal got Ascencio and her mother to sign a contract and found a financing plan that was comfortable for them.
"The main thing that was said over and over again by the buyers was that I made them feel comfortable," says Jaspal. "I was very patient with them and held their hand. I made the whole home buying process enjoyable and exciting ... and helped them get into their dream home."