Dolly Lenz first got interested in real estate as a child when accompanying her father on home searches, since her father’s job required the family to move often. After college, she became an accountant but followed her love of real estate by working part time on weekends for a small real estate firm.

Her husband encouraged her to pursue real estate sales full time but getting started was challenging. “I couldn’t find a bank willing to finance a 19-year-old with an accountant’s salary,” she says, noting one bank did lend her the capital but “they forced me to pay an exorbitant interest rate.”

Getting passionate

Lenz, who’s sold over $10 billion in properties in her 25-year career, says her favorite sale, was also her most gratifying. The listing – 27 Christopher Street in New York City’s West Village – was owned by the New York Foundling, the oldest charity in New York. The charity provides critical services to tens orphaned and underprivileged children and families.

“...being emotional about a purchase ‘virtually guarantees’ you’ll overpay.”

“Since the proceeds of the sale would directly benefit these children, I felt a special obligation to maximize the proceeds from the sale,” says Lenz, noting the formal appraisal for the building as a commercial property or condo conversion was $18 million. Within three months, the property, marketed as a residential mansion, sold for a record price of $45 million. “While I have handled much larger transactions during my career, none have come close to the satisfaction I felt from this sale,” she says.

Staying cool

However passionate she may be, Lenz has serious advice for first time homebuyers: Don’t fall in love with a property. “As hard as it may be, you have to get the emotion out of buying a new home,” she says, explaining being emotional about a purchase “virtually guarantees” you’ll overpay.

“It’s critical to be guided by your head, not your heart,” says Lenz, who specializes in luxury real estate and has worked with many celebrities, advises buyers to see as many homes as possible and ask lots of questions. She also recommends sellers coolly appraise their own assets, positioning a property among its competition. It can help you identify and more affectively target your most likely buyers. To truly be passionate about real estate investment, you have to be logical.