FRANKLIN - When it comes to owning up to his age, Noah Kurz is proud to.
Kurz, a Franklin resident who just turned 19, has proudly called himself Wisconsin's youngest Realtor since he received his real estate license the day he turned 18, the youngest someone can obtain a license.
Now that he has turned 19, he still remains one of the youngest in the state.
Being the youngest person in the business hasn't always been easy, though.
"In the beginning, it was extremely intimidating," Kurz said. "It felt like everyone looked at me like I was 12, because it kind of looks like I'm 12."
At the beginning of his career, Kurz said he tried to hide his age, since he was worried people wouldn't take the state's youngest Realtor seriously. It wasn't until he had a discussion with a good friend that he began to see his age as something to advertise, rather than something to hide.
"He asked me, 'Are you using that to your advantage at all?' And I said 'No, I cover it up'," Kurz recounted. "He said, 'Be vulnerable, show who you really are, be open. People are going to respect how young you are trying to make a difference in your community.' "
Since then, Kurz has tried to make his mark on Franklin by helping people find homes.
"If it weren't for Franklin and the support systems they had, I would not be where I am today," Kurz said, who graduated last year from Franklin High School, finishing up a semester early so he could jump into his career in time for his 18th birthday that April.
Of course, being a Realtor wasn't always his plan. He said he started to find his motivation after being inspired by one of his high school teachers, John Jewell, an auto mechanics teacher who died in 2013, during Kurz's sophomore year.
"He really kind of mentored me and showed me what it's like to be a man, rather than to just goof around all day," Kurz said.
Kurz also acknowledged others at FHS, including the school counselors, who helped him find the path he's now on.
However, Kurz's biggest inspiration has been his mom.
"The reason I really pursued going into business right away versus going into school (is because) I saw how hard my mom was working," Kurz said.
Kurz's mother, Lisa Bart, was once the nurse of Kayla Runte, the girl who inspired Kayla's Playground in Franklin. After Kayla died, Kurz explained, his mom was left to find a different job, and ended up going back to school for her master's degree so she could work where she does now, as a special education teacher at Southwood Glen Elementary.
"She loves her job. I've never seen anybody work that hard out of pure choice," Kurz said. "She's so passionate; it's really admirable to me. Growing up seeing that, I want to kind of mirror that in every way that I can."
A house for mom
In fact, his mother has been so much of an inspiration that Kurz said he, appropriately enough, wants to buy her a house.
At first, Kurz said his mother was a bit "apprehensive" at the plan.
"She told me to live my own life, but I think she's accepted that I won't give it up," Kurz said.
"I am proud of how hard-working he is, but I wish he wouldn’t put so much pressure on himself," said Bart. "As long as I can see that he really loves what he is doing, I fully support him, though."
And Kurz says he does love the job, and he is working non-stop to achieve his goal.
On a journey
From the very beginning, his career has been a journey of learning and wholeheartedly jumping into the business, starting with his first step: taking the test to get his real estate license.
Wanting to do his best, Kurz began studying for the test right after graduating, putting in long hours each day to make sure he passed on the first try.
However, when the day came to sign up for the test, Kurz saw there were only two upcoming dates: the very next day, or a date in May, a month after his birthday, which was his target date to officially become a Realtor.
"I was like, OK, I guess it's tomorrow," Kurz said. "I was so nervous going into the exam, but luckily I passed it on the first time."
After starting his career at Shorewest Realtors in Greenfield, Kurz said the job has had its challenges. However, in the past year he has sold several houses, learned a lot, and moved to help people find houses in his hometown of Franklin at Realty Executives Integrity.
Now, Kurz wakes up every morning bright and early – sometimes as early as 4 a.m. – to get a head start on the day and to work toward the goal of helping people find the perfect house.
And then, someday, find the perfect house for his mom.
"It really drives me, and I can't wait for the day that I give her the keys and say, 'It's yours,' " Kurz said. "It's going to be an awesome day."