​​When I caught up with Benjamin Smail ’12, he had just finished an hour-long phone call with some first-time buyers. After putting a house under contract, they were feeling a bit nervous. “They texted me a list of questions and fears they were having,” said Ben, who is in his fifth year as a real estate agent in the Omaha area. “We had to talk through the emotions. Purchasing a house is a big deal. I thanked them for sharing their concerns with me and we chatted until they felt assured about their decision.” His voice is soothing and cheerful. Though we are talking as he zips across the city on a tight schedule, he sounds like he has all the time in the world for me. 

This is his gift—a knack for seeing people, understanding their needs, and making them feel heard and valued.
His care for his clients goes way beyond guiding them through their real estate transaction. Ben’s mission is to shower the love of Christ on all of the people that are a part of his life. “Many realtors get into this business because they like houses. I do it because I like people,” he said.
Facilitating the sale of houses is only one small piece of his day. The vast majority of Ben’s work is educating, advising, encouraging and delighting his clients, even well after a sale. “I like doing the unexpected extras for my clients,” he said. “For some realtors, the relationship is over once the check is cashed. I want to be valuable years beyond that.”
It appears to be a winning strategy. The average realtor in Omaha sells six houses a year.
Last year, Ben sold 59. 

That puts him at Emerald Elite status, the top two percent of salespeople within Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate nationally. This spring, he was recognized with their Excellence in Marketing award, given annually to one agent out of more than 11,000 nationwide.

In June, he was one of four in the nation recognized with the NextPAIGE Award from Better Homes and Gardens for his committment to the company's core values: passion, authenticity, inclusion, growth, and excellence. This award recognizes industry professionals under 30 who live by these core values in their personal and professional lives. 

Ben's favorite activity is "pop-bys"-- visiting the homes of his clients with gifts, from move-in day survival kits, to clothes for a new baby, to doggy gift boxes, to batteries for their smoke detectors. When cold weather hit this past winter, he delivered 160 gallons of de-icing wiper fluid.

“The days are full, but worthwhile,” says Ben, who admits he is rarely
 not working. “When clients need me, they need me...and often it’s at night and during the weekends.” No matter when they call, Ben patiently answers questions and shows the same regard for every client. “Everyone deserves sincere and skillful care totally independent from what I stand to gain. Everyone gets the best treatment,” he says, whether it’s someone with a $13,000 house to sell or someone buying a home worth 30 times that. “They’re all important to me.”
Benjamin studied special education and coaching at YC. After a few years of teaching, he left the classroom but he still sees himself as a teacher. “In every situation, I want to have the heart of a teacher. I educate instead of sell and do as much hand-holding as my clients need.” Ben is committed to guiding and educating his clients with the type of care that he formerly employed in the classroom.
Hard work and dedication are lessons Ben learned young. In the summers
 of his high school years he worked as a coal miner alongside his father. In York Ben worked for Mosaic, providing care for adults with developmental disabilities while earning his degree. He took every opportunity for overtime, occasionally working as many as 90 hours per week, while juggling a full class load. He purchased a used bicycle and rode it to class
 and work each day to cut expenses.
 “I likely won’t take up wintertime bike riding ever again but for those few years that silly bike was an important part of graduating with as little debt as possible,” he said.
“One of the things that impressed me most about Ben during those years was that every week he would drive a vanload of Mosaic clients to church at East Hill on Sunday mornings,” said YC President Steve Eckman. “They had a variety of special needs. He made sure they felt welcomed and cared for. Some of them continued to attend East Hill even after Ben moved away.”
During his final semesters, Ben moved in with Mike ‘84 and Janet (Reno ‘83) Rush and saw first hand what it meant to love and live generously. “I learned an incredible amount about giving while living in their home. They exhibited a level of generosity I have never seen before and I’ll always be grateful to them for teaching me so much. Their example of giving inspires me and I’ll forever be more generous because of the kindness they, and many others at York College, showed to me.”

Ben doesn’t regret missing some of the fun on campus in exchange for more work and studies. Much of his motivation came from reading Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. “I was inspired by the idea that if I lived like no one else then, I could live (and give) like no one else later.” Ben’s commitment to good financial management paired with his proven track record of sales has allowed him to be an Endorsed Local Provider for Dave Ramsey’s organization. The endorsement means he’s committed to guiding clients in alignment with Ramsey’s principals. “I want my clients to be in a house they can comfortably afford and eventually pay off. Debt interferes with many wonderful things that could be done for others,” he said.

​His approach is related to the guiding philosophy of his life: Live for someone other than yourself, work with the goal of giving to others, and be generous beyond what is reasonable. “My life has been blessed far beyond what I ever imagined it could be. I want to give the same measure as what’s been given to me. I want to bless others however and whenever I can.”

Despite the fight against debt, Ben admits he owes much: He met his wife Megan (Grimes ’10) and obeyed the Gospel as a student at York College. “I owe an incredible amount to York College,” he said. “I know I’ll never be able to fully repay that debt, but it doesn’t mean I won’t spend years trying.”