It's 9:30 p.m. … Do you know where your real estate agent is?

She's had a long day, showing you half a dozen houses or condos, writing up an offer, driving a hard bargain with the seller's agent. Now she's donned dark glasses, turned off her cell phone and taken the stage at a Minneapolis jazz club, crooning "Stormy Weather."

If there is such a thing as a "typical" real estate agent among the 24,000 plying the trade in Minnesota, Emily Green is probably not it. But since getting her real estate license as a teenager, she's built a successful career that gives her plenty to sing about.

Family business

"A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing, always be closing." - Advice from the 1992 movie portraying real estate as a profane and cutthroat business, "Glengarry Glen Ross"

Emily Green didn't become top producer at her real estate company by subscribing to the A-B-C rule. To her, it's not about numbers, but about a personal connection.

"I don't aim for closings," she said, struggling to estimate how many transactions she has in a typical month or year. "With each client, I just put myself in their shoes-what would I do if I had their needs, if I had their resources-and start coming up with ideas."

In "Glengarry Glen Ross," the top-producing real estate salesperson was rewarded with a Cadillac. Second prize was a set of steak knives, and whoever came in third got the sack. By contrast, if there's any competition in Green's office, it's extremely friendly: Emily Green's colleagues at Sandy Green Realty include her mother (company founder Sandy Loescher, formerly Sandy Green), her sister (Erin Green), and her mother's husband (Ralph Loescher).

Having grown up with a mom in the business, taking the real estate exam at 17 and getting her license the day she turned 18 seemed like a natural thing for Emily Green to do. "I got into it to help my mom out with her new company," Green, now 30, recalled.

At first, it was just the two of them, and Sandy was glad for the help-albeit surprised. "I never dreamed [my kids] would ever tell me they wanted to be in real estate," said Loescher, "because they'd grown up with it and had witnessed every frustrating thing that could happen."

Loescher figured Emily was drawn to the idea that a real estate agent can set her own schedule. "It sounds great to an 18-year-old: Hey, I can sleep until noon every day," Loescher said with a laugh. But her daughter "took off and got a client right away," she added, and has worked ever since.

So how did Emily Green convince people in their 30s and 40s to hire a teenager to handle the most important transaction of their lives?

"I don't think very many people knew [how old I was]," Green said. "I tried to dress and look the part. … I was an 18-year-old acting like a 30-year-old."

Passion for the city
It took a couple years to get a handle on the various aspects of the job, Green recalled, but she shared her mother's passion from the start.

"We both love the city, and we had a passion for housing in Minneapolis when it wasn't popular," Green said. That passion began serving them well when others began catching the city living bug.

Green knows Minneapolis well: She was born in Standish, grew up in Uptown, lived in north Minneapolis, and now resides in northeast. Early next year, she'll move into one of the new Midtown Exchange condos near Lake Street and Chicago Avenue.

Asked if anything surprised her about real estate after she got her license and began practicing, Green said it wasn't the hours or the hard work. She already knew from watching her mother that real estate "takes over your life," she said.

"But I wasn't prepared for how interesting it is," she continued. "You learn about legal issues, you learn about tax issues, you learn about people, … It's an amazing business."

Green takes pride in making buying or selling a smooth ride for her clients, even though people may not grasp everything that entails. "Some people say, 'That transaction was so smooth; wow, your job is easy,'" Green said with a laugh. "But they don't see what goes on behind the scenes to make it look so easy!"

Smooth deals, smooth jazz
Another passion of Green's dates back almost as far as her real estate license, but was on the back burner until recently: She's an accomplished singer who began voice lessons at age 16. Green is a member of the 80-voice Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, which was recently named best Gospel group at the Minnesota Music Awards, and also sings with the Choir's smaller Ensemble.

What's more, as a solo jazz singer, Green reached the semifinals at the Minnesota State Fair. Besides the Grandstand, she has performed at the Times and Sofia, and is scheduled to sing at Jitters in November. Like her real estate work, Emily Green's musical endeavors have a family link. About a year ago, she went on vacation with her brother, who is a pianist, and that's when she caught the bug again. In addition, Green's boyfriend is a jazz pianist and composer who plays at the Dakota, the Artists' Quarter and other venues.

As a real estate agent, Green works long and unpredictable hours, sometimes showing houses until 8 or 9 at night. So how does she find time to sing with the Gospel choir, as well as at jazz clubs?

"My secret is I don't have a television set," Green said with a laugh.

Green said she knows that singing, now that she's rediscovered it, "is something I will do for the rest of my life"-and so is real estate.

Yet, after she'd been an agent for about five years, Green thought about trying another line of work, and applied for a sales job unrelated to real estate. She interviewed with a businessman who, she recalled, told her: "I'd hire you in a minute, but if I were you, I would stay right where I am."

"Ever since then, I've really appreciated how much experience I have" in real estate at a relatively young age, she said. "The more experience you have, the lighter the blows are."

Staying power
Along with her 13 years as a real estate agent, Green has considerable experience as a real estate investor and landlord, both of which have been educational. "I have my own personal mistakes to draw on" when advising clients, she said with a laugh. She has also gained practical home-repair skills that have proven useful in her line of work.

Many of us would cringe at the idea of doing the job we had at age 18 for the rest of our lives, but it's a prospect Green looks forward to.

She's had her broker's license almost as long as her real estate sales license (10 years). Being a broker entails additional responsibility and liability; as a broker, she could have her own company and hire other agents. But Green sees no reason to start a new company: She's right where she wants to be.

"I couldn't imagine doing a better job than my mom, and I'm not going to compete with her," Green said. "We're partners-and we've developed a wonderful friendship."

The "Glengarry" sharks would definitely disapprove. But then, they would probably never hire a Gospel-singing jazz chanteuse to sell real estate either, and it would be their loss.

FFI
Emily Green recently created a MySpace page devoted to her singing: www.myspace.com/emilygreenjazz
Anne Hamre can often be found crooning alongside her guitar-playing spouse at a local coffeehouse.