Real estate professional Jennie Heal puts her skills as an auctioneer to work for good causes.
By Roger Grody
Supreme Auctions provides an alternative marketing strategy for sellers of luxury real estate. The Scottsdale, Arizona-based firm’s President, Jennie Heal, explains, “We saw an opportunity to provide owners the ability to sell their property in a more expedited manner and many times for far more money than traditional real estate can bring.” She reports the process has been embraced by sellers, listing agents and buyers.
Since its founding 15 years ago, Supreme Auctions has achieved a 94-percent success rate while selling in 70 different countries. “We’re very selective about the properties we auction, accepting only about 10 percent that come to us,” says Heal, a veteran broker with extensive experience in international marketing. She joined the company more than 12 years ago as director of marketing before ascending to the position of president. The auction process is familiar to Heal, as this is a prevailing means of selling luxury manors and estates in her native England.
Growing up in rural Somerset, Heal frequently attended auctions with her father, a farmer who enjoyed bidding on cattle and antiques. “I was bitten by the bug at an early age, but remember him saying, ‘Keep your hands in your pocket,’” says Heal of those childhood experiences. Even after joining a real estate auction company, the seasoned professional’s development as an actual auctioneer occurred very much by accident.
“I was attending an event to raise money for my son’s school, and the auctioneer never showed up,” recounts Heal. “One of the parents said, ‘You work for an auction company … why don’t you do it?’ and I found myself on stage.” After her reluctant debut, another parent commented, “You’re really good at this!” When she decided to get serious about auctioneering, Heal attended the Texas Auction Academy and additionally the Professional Ringmen’s Institute.
Heal now serves as a charity benefit auctioneer at approximately 50 events per year, but spends a considerable amount of time before each auction with representatives of the nonprofit organization. “I want to thoroughly understand their missions so I can be as effective as possible in raising money for them,” says Heal, who views herself equal parts salesperson and auctioneer. “I see myself as a conduit from the nonprofit to the audience and frequently conduct additional pledge donations at the conclusion of the live auction,” she explains.
“I was attending an event to raise money for my son’s school, and the auctioneer never showed up,” recounts Heal. “One of the parents said, ‘You work for an auction company … why don’t you do it?’ and I found myself on stage.”
Bringing the spirit of Sotheby’s or Christie’s to those nonprofit galas, Heal’s work has benefitted a diverse array of charities, including Ronald McDonald House Charities, YWCA, Phoenix Zoo, Arizona Foundation for Women, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Legendary for covering all costs of a child’s care, as well as the family’s travel, housing and food expenses, St. Jude is a particularly personal passion of Heal’s, whose brother is a brain tumor survivor. The non-profit has selected her to conduct auctions across the country and Heal never declines an opportunity to raise money for its world-class treatment and research.
Back at her day job with Supreme Auctions, Heal is creating a culture in which giving back to the community is strongly encouraged.
Last year, she and her staff participated as a team, cleaning facilities for Family Promise, an organization that rescues homeless families from the streets. This year, they are planning to work together on a Habitat for Humanity house.
Heal, who lives in Scottsdale with her husband and two children, loves the outdoors. “Any day I am not sat behind a desk is a great day,” she quips.