Josh Sanderson is a real estate professional at Edina Realty in the Twin Cities.
Born and raised in the revered Los Angeles suburb of Orange County, Sanderson grew up with glowing sunshine and financial security a staple of his everyday life.
“Being in that type of environment wasn’t normal for most people, but I didn’t realize it at the time,” Sanderson says.
“My dad worked super hard, and we lived in a nice area, and I was thankful to live there because that’s where a lot of people went when they were going on vacation.”
When not basking in the balmy weather afforded by Southern California, Sanderson enjoyed playing basketball.
In high school, he played on the varsity team, but since there were several Division-I athletes already on the team, Sanderson’s court time was limited.
“I only started half the games my senior year. That’s how good we were,” he says.
“I also hadn’t matured as a player yet, which is another reason why I didn’t get as many minutes.”
Even though Sanderson was an excellent three-point shooter and playmaker, there wasn’t a university in California, or the country, that offered him a scholarship to play basketball.
Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego had expressed an interest in having Sanderson join their basketball team, but to become a member of the squad Sanderson was told he would have to be a walk-on, meaning he would have to personally subsidize his college education.
Sanderson accepted their terms, and that fall arrived on campus motivated to increase his standing on the team, but then further adversity struck.
“I went to the first basketball meeting and the coach told me that the meeting was only for people who were on the team. I was told I still had to go to the tryouts,” says Sanderson, who evidently had not yet secured a roster spot, even as a walk-on.
Many student-athletes in his position would have folded and left the game to pursue other ventures, perhaps content to focus on their degree and the next phase of life, but Sanderson took the opposite approach.
“Walking out of that meeting with the coaches sucked, but it lit a fire,” he says.
Well, it was actually more like an inferno had been created because soon into his freshman campaign Sanderson leapfrogged much of his teammates in the playing time hierarchy.
By the time he was a senior, the 6-1 guard had transformed himself into a Division-II stud, averaging 14.6 points and racking up countless awards that attracted the attention of professional clubs over in Europe.
Following his senior season, Sanderson packed his suitcases, and his relentless work ethic, and embarked on a journey to Germany.
“It was amazing,” the former Sea Lion says of his time in Germany, an experience that was enriched by his wife being able to live with him abroad.
That season in Europe, Sanderson showcased the same skills that netted him acclaim back in California, and his team ultimately won the league championship.
This on-court success led to multiple offers from clubs in Europe and Australia, but after several discussions with his wife, Sanderson opted to forgo further pursuing a professional basketball career.
“I had friends who played a number of years overseas, and that limited them and what they could do professionally when they were done playing,” Sanderson cites as his main reason for walking away from the game.
Sanderson concedes that part of him wishes he would have continued pursuing a basketball career, especially because he hadn’t yet reached his physical peak, but those thoughts were tabled when a few months after returning to California, Sanderson and his wife found out they would soon be having their first child.
“Things got very real at that point,” Sanderson says.
“I had to start making money.”
Within a few months, Sanderson got a job as a mortgage loan originator, a position that entailed Sanderson helping homeowners secure financing for a property, or helping current homeowners refinance their mortgage.
Working in loan origination was a fast-paced job, and the company Sanderson worked for processed a lot of loans and refinancing deals, but since Sanderson was being paid a small salary and was given leads by his employer, his commission structure wasn’t as lucrative as if he were an independent loan originator.
“The percentage that we got to keep on top of our base salary was so small because all the leads came from the company,” Sanderson says.
“I could write seven loans per month, but the commission was the same as if I had written one loan that I got on my own.”
Eventually, the 14-hour workdays began to erode Sanderson’s interest in the job, and since he and his wife had previously agreed that she would stay at home after their child was born, Sanderson began to look for work that would pay him more money and give him more flexibility with his schedule.
That’s how he ended up becoming an independent mortgage loan originator.
It was the same type of work as his old job, but the financial upside was much higher, provided Sanderson could consistently write loans for homeowners.
“At first the new job was scary because if I didn’t close any loans, I wasn’t going to make any money,” Sanderson says.
Sanderson found early success working only on commissions, but then his wife, a Minnesota native (the couple had met in college), wanted to move back to The Land of 10,000 Lakes in order to be closer to family.
Since the couple had previously discussed the possibility of moving north back when they were dating, Sanderson wasn’t shocked by his wife’s newfound desire, but now days at the beach would be replaced by the snowstorms and negative temperatures that Minnesotans routinely endure each winter.
“When I first got to Minnesota, there was an adjustment period,” Sanderson says with a laugh, but it wasn’t just the weather that had him on edge.
He also once again found himself searching for stable employment.
Fortunately, his father-in-law, Mike Hilbelink, was a respected real estate agent for Edina Realty, and Hilbelink encouraged Sanderson to attain his real estate license so they could go into business together.
“Mike is well-known and trusted in Minnesota, and he had been really busy at the time we moved, so the partnership made sense,” says Sanderson, who would soon learn invaluable lessons from one of the most seasoned real estate agents in the Twin Cities.
Since 2014, Sanderson and Hilbelink have helped Minnesotans with buying/selling homes, investment real estate, property management, and financing options.
Now armed with the requisite knowledge to assist clients, there are an array of traits that make Sanderson an equally trusted source for real estate, but some of the most important philosophies passed down by Hilbelink include prioritizing clients and ensuring they have a great homebuying experience.
“Showing up and making sure that we’re available, and then doing what is required, that’s essential to being a good realtor,” Sanderson says.
“Mike and I, we do the absolute best that we can for our clients because we’re more focused on long-term relationships than simply doing a large volume of transactions.”
With over 50 years of combined experience in real estate, Sanderson and Hilbelink know how important the homebuying process is for clients, especially first-time buyers, and unlike some realtors whose focus is on commissions instead of customer service, the duo thrives off developing trust with their clients.
“We don’t try to sell our clients on anything that they don’t need or want. We would never tell them to waive an inspection or to buy a house that doesn’t fit their vision,” Sanderson emphasizes.
“There have been times where our transparency has been detrimental, in the sense that we lose out on opportunities, but we take pride in the fact that we did right by the client, even if we didn’t benefit from doing things that way.”
As Sanderson and Hilbelink enter their ninth year in business together, their drive to provide an excellent customer service experience for their clients is still strong, but beyond the daily responsibilities both realtors share, Sanderson has also expanded into real estate development.
He currently co-owns a building in Long Lake that he and his business partner rent out to local business owners.
Sanderson also is involved in developing a 23-unit townhome complex in the Orono school district.
His goal with this project is to offer alternative housing solutions to people who want to live in the area or in the school district.
“We’re hoping to have that project fully completed in the spring or summer,” Sanderson mentions.
Yet, no matter where his real estate ventures may take him, Sanderson understands how essential putting others first and helping them accomplish their goals is.
If he can continue to do that, he will be happy.
“My focus isn’t on getting what I want. I want to help my clients get what they want, and in the process make their lives better.” QS
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