BY TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
Trish Sterling, owner of Sterling Real Estate and a licensed real estate broker with the state of Indiana, founded her company during challenging times. In the mid-2000s, not only was the housing market tough but, Sterling says, “I had to reinvent myself after a divorce when I was 50.”
Previously a stay-at-home mother of two boys and an active community volunteer, Sterling interviewed for jobs with franchise real estate firms but felt they couldn’t give her the flexibility she needed as a single parent, so she decided to start her own business. “I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” she says. “I didn’t know the risks involved.”
Now 60, Sterling is one of the area’s top real estate sellers and the proud parent of two Indiana University graduates. She was voted Realtor of the Year by her Bloomington Board of Realtors colleagues in 2017 and Sterling Real Estate was voted Small Business of the Year by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce in 2016.
Sterling says part of her success may be due to the consideration she gives her clients. “I like to treat people the way I would want to be treated when making a huge investment,” she says. “It’s not just about getting to the sale. I like to help them get into the right house.”
Born and raised in Arizona, Sterling earned her bachelor’s degree and M.B.A. in California and was a commercial real estate agent in San Francisco. She says Bloomington felt like home when she arrived 24 years ago. “It’s like a mini-San Francisco in terms of the culture, the arts, and the quality of life,” Sterling says. The seventh of nine children, she campaigned for her siblings to move to her new hometown, successfully recruiting three of her sisters, one of whom is as well-known around town as Sterling herself—Ivy Tech Community College–Bloomington Chancellor Jennie Vaughan.
Sterling remains an active community volunteer, working with Stone Belt and Bloomington Parks Foundation. She is also an avid supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington and the Foundation for Monroe County Community Schools. Of her service to the community, Sterling says, “It’s been an ongoing thing for me, and an important part of being in and appreciating this community. It’s a pretty easy town to appreciate.”