Natalie Clayton, realtor
Natalie Clayton, 32, is an Indianapolis real estate agent and head of the The Clayton Team at Plat Collective. But her career path actually began in the worlds of government and nonprofits. We chatted with her about the ever-evolving local real estate market, her favorite spots to hang out, and what makes her a success.
Servant leadership. I am a problem-solver and connector. I love that friends, clients, and colleagues turn to me when they need advice, a vendor, or even a lead on a job. I thrive on helping others, and I do anything I can to move mountains for people.
What do you love about your neighborhood?
I love that my neighborhood, Community Heights, is the perfect blend of brick and limestone houses built in the 1940s through the 1960s. The neighbors are kind and diverse. Location-wise, we are neighbors to Irvington and just 5 miles east of downtown Indy. It is truly quaint.
Both personally and professionally, what do you think makes Indianapolis such an appealing place to live?
Personally, I love the arts, culture, food, and experiences. It is hard to be bored in this city; I can find something to fulfill my life during any given week. My favorite places include the IRT, all of our art galleries, and Mass Ave for food and beverage hopping. Professionally, Indy makes connecting easy. Our big city with small town connections means that you can get in front of decision-makers easily. But then you have to prove yourself.
How did you end up in real estate? Was it something you always wanted to do?
I was always interested in real estate. I bought my first home when I was 22 years old. I bought my first rental when I was 28 years old. After having gone to school for public affairs, I felt that I needed to work and put my education to use. I spent a decade working in government and nonprofits doing projects, marketing, strategy, and fundraising.
During that decade, I continued to meet with people in real estate—both commercial and residential. I finally took the plunge and started real estate classes while working full-time. I was Rookie of the Year at Plat Collective for sales volume during my first year (while maintaining full-time employment elsewhere). It took me two and a half years to quit working full-time—once I felt I could no longer best serve my clients and my bosses. I am so thrilled that today I am a full-time agent with a team of seven. Our goal is to do $35 million in sales volume this year. And as the saying goes, “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life.” Well, I’ve arrived.
“It is hard to be bored in this city; I can find something to fulfill my life during any given week.”
How has the Indy real estate market evolved during your career? Are there any neighborhoods we should be paying attention to these days?
The real estate market was “good” when I got licensed. But wow—the current market is better than any this city has seen in decades. I am lucky to have started when I did! When it comes to neighborhoods, I don’t love to talk about “up and coming.” All neighborhoods in Indy have a history. And they all have long-time residents that call them home. I want to be as respectful as possible to the legacies and residents of these neighborhoods—especially those that have been around far longer than I’ve been alive. Every single one of our neighborhoods in Indy has something to offer. You just have to look for it. And get to know the people there.
I’d think you discover lots of hidden gems in your work. What are some of your favorite places to eat, shop, and hang?
Absolutely! Some of my favorite places in Indy include the IRT (I’d see a play over a concert any day), the Shi-Kay (Eastside dive bar that hosts Friday night karaoke), Bluebeard (if I am feeling fancy for dinner) and Strange Bird (Irvington tiki-inspired bar). I don’t shop a ton, but I do love getting my clients gifts from places like Homespun and from local artists like Kyle Ragsdale. I think one of the best things you can do to love and enjoy Indy is to hit the streets in a neighborhood. Grab a cup of coffee (hot in the fall and iced in the summer) and stroll by the houses. Take in the architecture and meet some residents. Bonus: You can do this ALL over Indy!
Do you have a philosophy that you use in working with your clients? What do you think makes for a successful real estate agent? A team leader?
My philosophy in working with clients is to be the most strategic, thoughtful servant leader I can be. Real estate is absolutely a customer-service job. Every single sale can make or break your reputation. I am incredibly proud that all of my real estate business is word of mouth/referrals, based on what we do for our clients. The fact that I never stop learning, and never stop coming up with ways to be more strategic and thoughtful for my clients is the reason this business is thriving. As a team leader, I want to do everything I can to instill the same sense of seriousness, work ethic, and compassion for our clients. People will easily notice when you are anything else.
When you’re not working, how do you like to relax and unwind?
I am spending time with family: my husband Blake, our two pups, my parents, and my grandmother. We all live on the Eastside (and my parents are across the street, but I was there first). We enjoy working on our rental projects, exploring Indy’s cultural offerings, and hanging out with friends. Many Friday nights in the summer you can find us at the Shi-Kay for karaoke and at the Steer-In for a Sunday breakfast. And to be honest, my slightly introverted self craves some alone time at home, which is the coziest place I know.
Abby Gardner is the executive editor of Indy Maven who has spent her entire adult life living in rental apartments.