Making Its Way Forward: Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

May 5, 2018 by

Daniel_Gale_Cvr_300x420_300dpiSince its founding almost 100 years ago in Huntington, N.Y., Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty has grown to become one of the Long Island region’s most significant residential real estate organizations. Much of the credit for its continued success through many decades of economic growth, industry changes, demographic shifts and the more recent technological revolution rests squarely with Patricia J. Petersen and her extraordinary management team. While many real estate organizations that began as a family business—much like Daniel Gale Sotheby’s—have either closed their doors or folded into a much bigger company, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty has forged its own path, opening or acquiring offices in desirable markets and developing strategic relationships enabling it to persevere and flourish, regardless of market conditions.

Following the organization’s most successful year in its history, Pat Petersen stepped aside as chief executive, naming her second-in-command, Deirdre O’Connell, as her successor.

“While it was difficult to step away from a role that has given me so much, knowing that I could turn to an executive as exceptional as Deirdre, and on the heels of our best year ever…well, that felt pretty good.”

The transition in the CEO role was announced at the annual company-wide meeting in front of an audience of close to 1,000 agents, associates, friends and family.

The transition in the CEO role was announced at the annual company-wide meeting in front of an audience of close to 1,000 agents, associates, friends and family.

Petersen announced O’Connell’s assumption of the CEO role at the organization’s annual company-wide meeting in February, along with a few other announcements that more than demonstrated that Petersen’s last year as chief executive was a busy one. In 2017, the Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty organization achieved $ 3.3 billion in sales volume, closed 3,590 units and maintained an average sales price across the organization of $ 912,000—almost twice the MLS average on Long Island. As further proof of its leadership in the luxury market, Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty closed more than double the number of transactions above $ 3 million than its nearest competitor.

As if the announcement of a new chief executive was not enough of a change for the future, Petersen also unveiled a powerful new branding campaign for the venerable organization: Your Way Forward (#yourwayforward).

“While our traditions of integrity, professionalism and always doing the right thing will forever be at the heart of our organization, with our company’s 100th birthday approaching, we wanted to demonstrate to today’s market that we are 100 years young, and reflective of today’s homebuyer. We know how they get their information, how they communicate, and what they want in a home. In three words, ‘Your Way Forward’ communicates what we can do for our buyers and sellers. ‘Your’ places the emphasis directly on our audience; ‘Way’ signifies the direction, purpose and the path people follow to be successful; and ‘Forward’ serves as a metaphor for moving forward in life. This campaign is more about where we’re going than where we’ve been.”

Patricia Petersen outside Daniel Gale Sotheby's Cold Spring Harbor office circa 1980.

Patricia Petersen outside Daniel Gale Sotheby’s Cold Spring Harbor office circa 1980.

While Petersen has handed over the day-to-day oversight of the organization she helped build, she will still play a major role in the strategic direction of the organization as president and chairman of the board. Recently named to the SP200 (Swanepoel Power 200), Petersen joined Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty as a sales associate in 1974, and right from the start was a success story, growing her own business as well as that of the firm. Working with real estate icon D. Kent Gale, the two visionaries plotted a course for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty that grew the company from two sales offices to a half-dozen, and launched a relocation department when no other agency had one—followed by a new construction division and an agent training program that was among the most comprehensive and highly regarded in the industry.

The pair formed alliances and recruited top agents, allowing them to venture into new territories and ultimately acquire competitors that shared the same high standards of professionalism and integrity. Over the years, Petersen assumed managerial roles of increasing responsibility, leading to her elevation to president and CEO in 1990. Like O’Connell, Petersen was hand-picked by the executive she would succeed—in her case the late Kent Gale, whose leadership of the organization spanned 40 years.

“Kent Gale and I worked side by side to build Daniel Gale, much as Deirdre and I have over the past decade,” says Petersen. “We owe a significant part of our success to always doing what was right, valuing integrity and upholding the highest standards of professionalism. Our adherence to those basic tenets always paid off in the long run, and helped to set us apart from other companies.”

In a career defined by a keen vision and market savvy, perhaps Petersen’s boldest and most rewarding move took place in 2005 when she reaffirmed and renegotiated a decades-long association with Sotheby’s International Realty (SIR), which at that time was changing its affiliate model. Petersen saw the long-term value in the affiliation—certainly for its formidable brand, but also early on recognized the growing value in, and need for, increased exposure to a national and global audience through the extensive worldwide marketing, referrals and networking that only Sotheby’s International Realty could offer its affiliates. Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty has been a Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate since 1976, and finished 2017 in SIR’s Top 5 based on closed sales volume.


The firm services a region spanning 108 miles from NY Harbor to Shelter Island.

Today, as O’Connell takes the reins at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, its marketing prominence is visibly demonstrated by the prevalence of its iconic whale logo on For Sale signs across Long Island and Queens. Its brand is backed by a powerful team of some of the best real estate professionals in the industry delivering incomparable service to their clients and customers, both at home and abroad. Close to 1,000 people in 27 offices carry a Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty business card, serving the real estate needs and investments of hundreds of different communities spanning 108 miles throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Queens, the North Fork and Westhampton Beach.

While Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty has grown tremendously in the past two decades, it continues to embrace the supportive family feeling that has long defined its culture. In selecting O’Connell for the CEO role, Petersen looked to someone who was widely respected both within the organization and throughout the industry as a hands-on, approachable and visionary professional.

When asked how it feels to be hand-picked as the successor to a woman who was just named among the top 200 most powerful leaders in the industry, O’Connell says, “It’s actually humbling. You work really hard and want to achieve your goals; everyone feels that way. When Pat proposed that I take on the CEO role I felt a little overwhelmed, but with excitement, honor and joy.”

A highly successful salesperson and gifted sales and regional manager, O’Connell came to Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in 2007 after having built a successful start-up real estate agency in one of the most competitive markets on Long Island: Manhasset.

“You don’t just walk into success—it takes time to build. We worked hard to build Manhasset. My husband even pitched in by running our five children around on weekends, although he was working full-time at a stressful job.”

As that office gained traction and grew increasingly successful, O’Connell opened a second office in Cutchogue on the North Fork of Long Island, which was just beginning to emerge as the next big thing in Long Island real estate. Her success did not go unnoticed by the management team at Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, which had its own Manhasset office and was looking to expand to the North Fork.

When O’Connell sold her agency to Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty and joined its senior management team, she did it so that she and her agents could continue to succeed in a rapidly changing landscape.

“I was feeling the pressure to increase the resources available to my agents and clients as the real estate industry was undergoing tremendous change. When I met Pat, I instantly knew what to do. Daniel Gale Sotheby’s had the culture I was trying to build and the technology that was revolutionizing real estate—everything my agents had been begging for.”

As part of the management team, O’Connell accepted the challenge to help regional manager Carol Tintle build Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty’s presence on the North Fork of Long Island and other important markets, while taking charge of the organization’s Manhasset office. There were additional challenges as well, such as building allegiance to a new company and instituting a culture of collaboration. Under her leadership, the Manhasset office has grown in size and production, ranking as the No. 1 office in the organization for the last four years. A North Fork native, O’Connell was integral to Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty’s East End expansion, which today includes offices in Mattituck, Cutchogue, Greenport, Shelter Island and the Hamptons.

In her most recent executive position as general sales manager, O’Connell has been instrumental in the expansion of the organization west to Queens, south to Rockville Centre and east to Westhampton Beach.

“Becoming part of the Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty family 11 years ago certainly more than exceeded my expectations, and it is a great privilege to continue to build upon Pat’s many significant contributions to Long Island and the industry, both locally and globally.”

A number of changes occurred in the organization over the past few years to position it on solid ground for what would be an important succession plan—even if it wasn’t apparent at the time. According to Petersen, “Although the company still does have a family feeling to it, we’ve grown so much. I knew it was time to bring in some outside resources to help define who we were, and, more importantly, where we’re going. This included a comprehensive coaching program at the senior management level, in addition to elevating some of our key staff and sales managers. We also began annual surveys to not only secure feedback from sales associates and employees, but make changes accordingly.”

O’Connell is now spearheading monthly senior management meetings, as well as the monthly sales managers’ meetings. There is also a weekly teleconference for the senior management team.

“The reality is that Pat, Deb Hauser, Tom Calabrese, Jim Retz and I speak just about every day,” she explains. “That way it feels more like a conversation than a formal meeting, and we can respond quickly to the needs of our customers and clients, sales associates and staff without it feeling like an event.

“Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty is exceedingly proud of its strong roots and professional history,” says O’Connell. As we look to the future in this ever-changing industry and world, we’re confident that Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty will always be a leader, setting an example for the profession by living and acting in accordance with our ideals and morals.”

For more information, please visit

Tepping_Paige_color_60x60Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Making the Next Play: With Instant Offers, Zillow to Begin Buying and Selling

Apr 15, 2018 by

Zillow announced on Thursday it is becoming a buyer and seller through its Instant Offers platform, beginning in Las Vegas and Phoenix with Premier Agents this spring. Arik Prawer, formerly chief integration officer at Invitation Homes, has been appointed chief business development officer to oversee the participation of Zillow on the platform.

On Instant Offers, Zillow is going to be represented by a Premier agent in the area, and make improvements to properties, if needed, to swiftly turn around transactions. Zillow has chosen to enlist help in the process—a distinction from Opendoor and Offerpad—to “enable agents to earn commissions,” according to the announcement from the company.

In a CNBC interview on Friday, CEO Spencer Rascoff discussed the motivation to participate, noting he expects to have held between 300 and 1,000 homes for sale by year-end.

“We’re ready to be investors in our own marketplace, because what we know is that home sellers welcome a hassle-free experience,” explained Rascoff. “We think we have huge advantages because we have access to this huge audience of sellers [and] huge audience of buyers…that’s why we’re doing this.

“We’ve done this a very industry-friendly way, and that’s why the reaction so far in the industry has been welcoming,” Rascoff said.

WHITE PAPER: The Disruption of the Real Estate Industry: A Survival Guide for Brokers and Agents

Instant Offers was introduced in May 2017 in Las Vegas and Orlando; with the announcement on Thursday, it has expanded to Phoenix. For its foray into Las Vegas and Phoenix, Zillow has partnered with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Arizona and Nevada Properties, Coldwell Banker Premier Realty and West USA Realty.

“Even in today’s hot market, many sellers are stressed and searching for a more seamless way to sell their homes,” said Jeremy Wacksman, chief marketing officer at Zillow, in a statement. “They want help, and while most prefer to sell their home on the open market with an agent, some value convenience and time over price. This expansion of Instant Offers, and Zillow’s entrance into the marketplace, will help us better serve both types of consumers, as well as provide an opportunity for Premier Agents to connect with sellers.

“This is expected to be a vibrant line of business for us and for our partners in the real estate industry, while providing homeowners with more choices and information,” Wacksman said.

“We are tremendously honored to have been selected by Zillow as a primary partner in their expanded Instant Offers program,” said Robert Hamrick, chairman and CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty, in a statement. “Coldwell Banker Premier Realty has a decades-long legacy of combining high-touch client engagement with high-tech innovations for fully-serviced home-selling and -buying experiences. Our agents are competing with investor buyers. As Zillow’s partner in the Instant Offers program, we are able to stay in front of changing consumer demands and provide clients an additional option when selling their home. Our brokerage is passionate about empowering our agents to best meet their clients’ needs. We are excited to be a part of Zillow’s program.”

With Instant Offers, homeowners enter information about their property, and, within two business days, get investor offers and a comparative market analysis (CMA) by a Premier Agent. For agents, the benefit is that they can earn listings of presumably ready-to-act sellers.

Eighty-seven percent of agents and brokers in a June 2017 RISMedia survey believed Instant Offers is “a shift by Zillow toward becoming a brokerage.”

“We have always felt, and will continue to maintain, that agents are a crucial part of the real estate transaction and our goal is to find ways to continue to integrate them in the transaction process, even as the process continues to grow and evolve,” said Zillow in a statement to RISMedia at the time.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Chord of Confidence: Making Real Estate Agents Look Like Rock Stars

Jan 7, 2018 by

Editor’s Note: What follows is the cover story in the January issue of RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine.

Real estate moves fast, and how quickly you respond to prospective clients can make or break your chances of getting their business. Mortgage lenders, on the Quicken_Cover_Jan18_300x420_article_pageother hand, have a captive audience and don’t always feel the same urgency.

At Quicken Loans, though, that’s not the case.

Emails and phone calls are answered quickly, typically within minutes. And it’s not just borrowers who are viewed as clients; real estate agents also play an integral part in the online lender’s mortgage process.

On one hand, it’s no secret that the mortgage industry has been slow to adopt technology into its rigid systems and underwriting processes. On the other hand, Quicken Loans has continually broken new ground and riffed on its own successes by building consumer- and agent-friendly portals and services that remove guesswork from the equation.

Today, Quicken Loans is the largest online mortgage lender and the second-largest retail mortgage lender in the United States, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. And while the company has racked up an enviable collection of accolades for consumer satisfaction over the years, real estate agents also have rave reviews about the company—and for good reason.

Putting Agents at the Center of the Transaction
To make the mortgage process better for consumers, Quicken Loans executives turned their attention to working hand-in-hand with real estate agents, their most powerful ally, says Tom Dempsey, divisional vice president of Business Development with Quicken Loans.

Real estate agents aren’t usually included in the [mortgage] experience, but they’re our clients, too,” says Dempsey, adding that homebuyers (especially first-time buyers) turn to agents to be their trusted guide in a sometimes complex process. “We knew we needed to communicate with the agent at the same high level that we communicate with the client throughout the process.”

Quicken_Fast_Facts_735wThe centerpiece of this effort: MyQL Agent Insight, a custom back-end platform that increases loan visibility by letting agents see exactly where their client stands in the loan approval process.

From a smartphone or desktop, agents can see what documents might be missing, when an appraisal comes in, and when a loan is cleared to close or even denied.

It’s worth noting that Quicken Loans’ mortgage clients must give consent for their agents to see updates on their loan file and, if they do, personal or financial information is never revealed to agents, Dempsey adds.

The accessibility and transparency MyQL Agent Insight brings to the process reduces a lot of the uncertainty agents experience in most transactions, Dempsey points out.

“It always comes back to connectedness in our industry,” Dempsey says. “The ability for a lender and a real estate agent to deepen relationships and create a higher level of trust, in turn, helps all of us to better educate and serve consumers.

“This is sometimes a hand-to-hand combat sport that requires commitment to shared business goals, relationships and top-level client service. When those three things line up, we have a recipe for success.”

Service, Technology Part of a Broader Culture
What exactly makes Quicken Loans different from its competitors? It starts with the company’s culture of service and the many “ISMs,” or ideals, the company strives to work and live by, Dempsey says.

“The ISMs are less about what we do and more about who we are,” adds Dempsey.Quicken_Power_Trio_735w

Some of the standout ISMs include “Do the right thing,” “Every second counts,” and “Simplicity is genius.”

Then there’s the technology and support, which together are icing on the cake. Aside from MyQL Agent Insight, Quicken Loans also provides agents these services:

A texting service that allows agents to receive text updates on the status of their clients’ loans, keeping agents up-to-date on each step in the process while they’re on-the-go. (Let’s be honest: Most agents live on their mobile devices and do most of their work on the road.)

Agent Relations Team
In addition to the mortgage banker and other professionals handling loans, there’s a dedicated team of Quicken Loans team members who focus solely on providing end-to-end communications support to agents. Real estate professionals can get answers to any and all questions they have about loan options, business partnerships, transaction processes, and more.

Market Managers
Quicken Loans’ market managers allow the online lender to be visible in agents’ communities. The in-person education, support and insights these team members provide help localize its efforts, Dempsey says.

Leveraging technology for a number of tasks helps Quicken Loans’ mortgage bankers and other team members focus on what they do best: setting (and exceeding) expectations, says Max Wegner, vice president of Communications and Client Experience with Quicken Loans.

Quicken_Moe_Quote_735wIn fact, setting expectations at the beginning of each transaction is another key competitive advantage Quicken Loans is proud of.

“If everyone—lender, borrower and agent—is on the same page regarding who’s doing what and when, we all win together,” Wegner says.

Elevating the Consumer Experience
Quicken Loans has evolved in its 33-year history as a direct lender. Today, the company services virtually all of the loans it originates, Wegner says.

That’s a departure from other lenders that often sell servicing rights for closed loans to other companies. It’s a process that confuses consumers and agents alike, Wegner adds. “Many agents don’t realize we service our own loans, and knowing that, I think, should give them more confidence in working with us.”

But becoming a “lender for life” required Quicken Loans’ leadership to take a hard look at its loan application process. Homebuyers know that the process comes with a lengthy documentation pile and deep digging into their financial background. With recent regulations, application requirements are more rigorous than ever before.

To ease that pain for consumers, Quicken Loans launched Rocket Mortgage, the first fully online, on-demand loan application process. It allows borrowers to get fully approved, underwritten and closed—all without ever speaking to a mortgage banker, unless they want to, Wegner says.

In its first full year of operation, Rocket Mortgage funded more than $ 7 billion of the record $ 96 billion in total closed loan volume in 2016 for Quicken Loans.

Rocket Mortgage clients have gone from application to closing in as little as eight days on refinance loans, and 16 days on the purchase side, according to internal Quicken_Stevie_Quote_735wdata. In contrast, the industry’s average closing time on new purchase loans is about 45 days.

Rocket Mortgage, both the app and its web counterpart, is used to manage a client’s loan from application all the way through to making payments. This includes viewing the application status, making one-time or recurring payments, asking questions about the loan, checking out how payments are broken down into principal, interest and escrow, and more, giving clients full transparency into their loan.

Agents: ‘Quicken Loans Makes Us Look Good’
Jason Mitchell is a superstar agent with sales numbers that other real estate agents dream about.

President of the Jason Mitchell Group at My Home Group Real Estate in Scottsdale, Ariz., Mitchell has closed more than 900 transactions and over $ 215 million in sales volume since 2012. More than 65 percent of that business came from clients who used Quicken Loans, Mitchell says.

He credits the company’s fast closing times and constant communication with enabling him to make good on his promises to clients.

“When I call anyone at Quicken Loans, I get a call back within the hour; they don’t drop the ball on accountability,” Mitchell says. “Your typical independent loan officer or broker operates their own business their way.

“My clients want things done quickly and instantaneously, and no one wants to wait around for a lender to play telephone to get things done.”

For real estate agent Moe Bzeih, accountability is just one of the ways Quicken Loans makes him look like a rock star to his clients. In his diverse Dearborn, Mich., market, Bzeih works with clients who speak English, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Portuguese. He was floored to learn that Quicken Loans had more than a few mortgage bankers who speak these languages—and others, too.

“It makes my market that much bigger for referrals,” says Bzeih. “You can work with banks who’ll hire translators, but to have this established relationship makes it easier to find workable solutions and give my clients advice straight from the source.”

Bzeih, an agent at CENTURY 21 Curran and Christie, has only been in real estate for three years and says his business really took off this past year thanks to Quicken Loans referrals. Roughly a quarter of the 75 total transactions he expected to close in 2017 were with buyers getting a mortgage through Quicken Loans, he says.

But his commissions are secondary to his main mission: making clients happy.

In one instance, Bzeih says he had a client who woke him up, eager to get a jump on a property that hit the market late at night. By the next morning, the client made an offer and her loan approval got underway with Quicken Loans.

However, the property appraisal came in much lower than expected, and the client didn’t have the extra $ 3,500 to cover the difference, Bzeih recalls. So, he offered to take it out of his commission, viewing the move as an investment in future business—and in his client’s satisfaction.

What happened next stunned Bzeih.

“Quicken Loans took on that positivity and energy, and they waived a huge portion of her closing costs,” he recalls. “You see, it’s not always about business or the commission check; it’s about relationships. That client is going to refer everyone she knows to us.”

Above all, Bzeih says that Quicken Loans’ mortgage bankers bring an unexpected—and welcome—human element to an otherwise automated process, setting them apart from other lenders in the space.

“They make me look good in front of my clients because they always set expectations up front and meet every single one.”

More Than an Online Lender
Ownership of the communications with agents is just one of the many things Stevie Spargo loves about the lender.

But Spargo, a broker with Crye-Leike Real Estate Services in Hot Springs, Ark., wasn’t immediately sold on doing business with an online-only lender. Frankly, she was downright skeptical of the idea.

But when a Quicken Loans representative came to her brokerage to talk about the company’s loan options and technology, she decided to give it a shot. She’s glad she did.

In 2017, she closed 10 transactions with clients who used Quicken Loans. The positive experience has changed her perception of online lenders for the better, she says.

“The communication has been the best, and the speed of the closings is second to none,” Spargo says.

“What I love most is that what they tell me matches up exactly to what they’re telling my clients.”

Spargo says her clients rave about the transparency of their Rocket Mortgage accounts and being able to check on the status of their loan, day or night, and track its progress. Also, many of her clients received a $ 500 cash-back offer after closing, plus a $ 750 closing credit from Quicken Loans as part of a special “Mortgage Insiders” program.

Innovating an Industry
With 2018 underway, Quicken Loans isn’t resting on its laurels.

In fact, the lender is looking to enhance its relationships with real estate professionals even more by integrating other aspects of a transaction into its cutting-edge technology, Wegner says.

For example, the company is looking at several ways to incorporate services, such as online document signing and transaction-management systems into its mortgage experience.

Another area of focus for Quicken Loans this year? Allowing agents to upload addendums to purchase contracts into the MyQL Agent Insight self-service portal. This functionality will streamline paperwork when changes need to be made to a contract after an inspection or appraisal, Dempsey says.

Quicken Loans will continue to fine-tune its mortgage process this year in an effort to “help consumers mortgage confidently.” But what the lender really wants is for more agents to see and experience what both the Rocket Mortgage process and account can do, Wegner says.

Helping borrowers navigate one of life’s largest financial transactions is a great responsibility, and it’s a service the mortgage bankers take seriously, Dempsey says. It all comes back to building relationships.

“A seasoned homebuyer may require a different level of connectedness versus a first-time buyer,” Dempsey says. “We believe that setting expectations with clients at the beginning is key, and we invite clients to be as much a part of the lending process as they want to be.

“You won’t find another lender that has poured its heart and soul into creating the kind of mortgage experience we have. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect, but there’s a genuine level of commitment within our company to being the best we can be.”

Seal of Approval
J.D. Power has ranked Quicken Loans “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Primary Mortgage Origination, Eight Years in a Row, and Mortgage Servicing, Four Years in a Row.”*

Bad Credit? There’s QL Credit for That
Have clients who don’t have pristine credit? Quicken Loans offers QL Credit, a free counseling service for clients who are denied a mortgage pre-approval because of credit issues. A dedicated credit repair expert will work with clients for 12 – 24 months to help fix credit issues—and help them increase their chances of acing their next mortgage application.

For more information, please visit

*For J.D. Power award information, visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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Making Real Estate Personal Again: LaVerne Pike, Windermere Real Estate

Dec 16, 2017 by

In a business where technology can easily take center stage, LaVerne Pike, an award-winning veteran agent with Seattle’s Windermere Real Estate, stands apart by focusing on the person-to-person connection and a level of service that puts him—not the internet—at the center of the relationship. In this interview, Pike explains how his detailed knowledge of the market, along with his genuine desire to help people, combine to guide clients through the highly competitive Seattle real estate scene.

Maria Patterson: Please briefly describe your career path in real estate and how you got to where you are today.
LaVerne Pike:
I was a chef in the restaurant business in Seattle for quite some time. A real estate managing broker, who I had gone to school with, kept coming into the restaurant and would say, “Gosh, for as hard as you work, you should be in real estate. You’re great with people and service-oriented—in real estate, you’d realize more impact and a better lifestyle for others, as well as yourself.” I really liked the service end of the restaurant business and the energy. After four years, he finally convinced me into it, and now I’ve been in real estate with Windermere for more than 20 years.

MP: What regions do you currently serve?
I serve all of King County. Being a Seattle native, I understand the nooks and crannies of the Puget Sound area, and I’ve been able to create relationships, connections and family all the way from Graham to Island County. If someone needs service, I will take care of them to ensure they’re making a solid and successful decision.

MP: How would you describe current market conditions?
Inventory is the lowest it’s ever been—and there are 15 percent more buyers than the previous year. Part of the issue is that we’ve had a lot of buyers coming into the area for jobs with the tech industry—Google, Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft, to name a few. In addition, cash buyers are changing the way we do business. I’ve seen 89 offers on a particular home and I’ve seen prices go from $ 10,000 above asking price to $ 350,000 above asking price. Cash offers that need no appraisal and waive many contingencies are common, and properties are closing in two weeks. This has been going on for 14 months now, and I don’t see any end in sight. The median price for a single-family residence in Seattle/Bellevue is above $ 800,000.

MP: What’s the current status of new construction?
It’s not keeping up with demand. The municipalities are granting permits at a slower or downsized pace, cautiously to prevent overbuilding. Currently there are a few zoning authorities in the process of creating a moratorium on permits for new construction community start-ups for 90 days or more, with well permits also being held back. That keeps our market inventory low, with pricing pushed to the top of the scale, leaving the market unbalanced.

MP: What are you doing to work with first-time homebuyers then? Are there any options for that group?
I’ve connected with a couple of lenders offering a few programs where buyers can put 0-1 percent down on a first-time home purchase. There are some requirements and certifications needed. You have to go a little bit out of the area to find this price range, but I can find them. I’m in three transactions right now (at press time) under $ 300,000. It’s considerably more work than working on a high-end home sale, but it motivates me when someone is renting a 600-square-foot, $ 1,500-per-month apartment in downtown Seattle…and that’s considered a bargain. Ask yourself, “Why not buy a house and get the tax benefits and invest in yourself?” When you’re renting, there’s no benefit—plus, the landlord can raise the rent. When you buy a home, you regain control. It’s important to me to educate folks to take control of their lives and invest in themselves.

MP: Tell us about some of the highlights of your more than two decades in the business.
In 1997, I was voted one of Windermere’s best agents, which was voted on by my peers who represent the top drawer of the area’s REALTORS®. Their work ethic, standards and practices are very high. In multiple-offer situations, people typically go with the offer that is strong, comprehensive and credible over most others. Windermere will get it done. When people list houses with us, they know having the Windermere sign in their yard represents the quality of the real estate professional they’re working with. The proven stability, reputation and marketshare performance of Windermere has been, and still is, the highlight of my real estate business. That’s why I’ve been here for more than 20 years.

I’ve also been recognized as a Five-Star professional by Seattle magazine for the past 10 years.

MP: How do you differentiate yourself in today’s competitive market?
It can be tough because the internet takes all the personality out of everything. You lose 55 percent of a person when you’re reading the written word because you’re losing eye contact and body language. That’s why I always suggest to people who come in as internet leads, if you’re serious, contact me; text, call or email…I’ll respond with a call.

I believe in having a quality experience over having a quantity of experiences. As a Seattle native, I know the area, and that keeps me abreast of what’s going on in different communities. I know that you can drive three blocks in one direction and be in a completely different type of atmosphere. And people need to know the distinctions among neighborhoods. If you’re putting your money in a house and the values have gone down, or you don’t feel safe going out at night, then you’ve made a bad investment. I want to safeguard my clients, so my approach is to adopt all my clients. I have a really good time with them and I don’t pressure them. I don’t mind being silent in the car when we’re driving around because they have a lot to think through. I’m open if there are questions, concerns or input. There’s truly no need for constant chatter. I’m here for my clients, and, as a team, we will realize their goals.

MP: What have been the keys to growing your business and becoming a successful real estate professional?
Being personal and authentic. I don’t like to be insincere. It’s all about the client. This is their biggest investment. They don’t need to hear about me. If I can help fulfill any part of their dream, I’m more than happy to do that—in fact, I get joy out of that. My daughter used to tell me I was too giving of myself, but I told her that’s okay—it will all come back around.

MP: What are some of the biggest challenges you are facing, and how are you tackling them?
Currently, I would have to say the lack of inventory. When we went into the downturn, people didn’t want to buy or sell because their house wasn’t as valuable. People were having to short sell, and I felt terrible. One short sale cost me $ 2,500 and took me two-and-a-half years to sell. But the upswing can be almost as severe, with multiple and cash offers, which makes us work two to three times as hard trying to put accurate numbers together. Forty-three percent of the houses here sold over full price and 20 percent were under full price and had to do multiple price changes. If the house is priced correctly, it will sell quickly. If not, it can languish for some time.

MP: How do you stay educated and equipped to best serve clients and prospects?
I do my research every day. I stay on top of what’s new and exciting. In the past 20 years, real estate professionals have gone from being the only access to knowledge to now having the internet. Now everyone knows everything about everything. The Information Age has created as many challenges as benefits, so I focus on continued education, classes and constant upgrading of my knowledge and understanding. I ask myself daily, “How can I best be a benefit?”

MP: How do you generate new business and cultivate relationships with today’s consumers?
I dive deep on the personal and emotional level and focus on being of service. I build business by being authentic and sincere and being there for people.

Most people perceive a real estate agent as sitting there with his feet up on the desk, waiting for the phone to ring. Everything I do is an education, and it’s not all rote or standard. Whether it’s a good handshake or a good hug, a good conversation or silence in the car, it’s all about whatever deepens that connection with people. You’re garnering leads off the internet, so you have to create credibility with people and build trust. They’ve eaten pancakes and ramen for a year to save up enough money to buy a home—so that’s a lot of responsibility on my part. Listing a home is extremely emotional given the emotional ties and changes.

MP: How do you stay involved in your community?
Through Windermere, we’re involved with several activities. For example, every Christmas, Windermere teams up with Target for what we call, “Windermere for Kids.” On a Saturday morning prior to Christmas, we have an underprivileged boy or girl shop for their family members. We wrap all the gifts and they get to take them home in a big bag. Little do they know we’ve already bought gifts for the little shopper, as well.

We also work with a variety of non-profit programs. Being a Windermere agent, with every transaction, there’s a contribution made to our non-profit (Windermere Foundation) to give back to our community. Since 1989, we have contributed more than $ 34 million, all of which goes right back into the community. There’s a particular day where we go out into the community and do whatever is needed for a particular organization—landscaping, maintenance, painting. Every Windermere office has a charity or place they go that day—an army of agents out there doing community service, donating the time, doing the labor, giving back to the community. Our title, escrow companies and lenders participate, too, as assorted vendors contribute and/or donate materials.

MP: What are the biggest concerns for today’s real estate consumers, and how do you help guide them through these concerns?
I understand why some people appear to be a little gun-shy thinking that there will be another bubble. With the influx of 1.2 million people coming into King County alone in the next six years, it doesn’t appear that there will be a downturn. If anything, it will flatten out.

You have to pay to live somewhere no matter what, so why not invest in yourself and safeguard yourself with today’s market? Even if the market levels off, you’ll still have equity and a level of stability. What do you have with an apartment, with your depreciating car or your clothes that are wearing out? The longer you wait, the less your money will be worth. The appreciation in Seattle/Bellevue is 1.3 percent a month. Will you get that kind of raise at your job?

MP: What do you see as the biggest opportunities in the year ahead?
Making more people’s dreams come true. That’s where my heart is. Finding success for more people, gaining trust from more people. Getting out there and making things happen. As for myself, taking all those challenges and getting smarter and wiser. Part of my vision statement says, “I wake up to the future every day.” Be the change you want to see in the world. That’s where the rewards come in. Strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. Let’s get serious and get results…it’s your move!

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Maria Patterson is RISMedia’s executive editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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The post Making Real Estate Personal Again: LaVerne Pike, Windermere Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia.


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Making a Year-Round Commitment to REALTOR® Safety

Sep 9, 2017 by

Each September, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) observes REALTOR® Safety Month. This is an excellent opportunity for all REALTORS® to reflect on the importance of staying safe on the job, while embracing a commitment to follow good safety practices throughout the year. Sadly, incidents involving the personal safety of real estate professionals continue to occur every day.

As a broker, you’re in a unique position to provide safety leadership for your agents—a role that can make a notable difference in the knowledge, awareness, and ultimately, the safety of every person in your office, as well as your clients. NAR has a number of resources to simplify and support your efforts.

Several of NAR’s newest and most popular safety tools include:

REALTOR® Safety Webinars – Each April and September, NAR hosts a free webinar for members. This September, in conjunction with REALTOR® Safety Month, the commitment to spread the word on safety has been expanded to include two programs with safety experts exploring timely topics:

Safety: Do This Now
Presented by: Andy Tolbert
When: Wednesday, September 20 at 1:00 p.m. CST

Stay Safe by Building Better Business Relationships
Presented by: Tamara Suminski
When: Wednesday, September 27 at 1:00 p.m. CST

These important topics are in addition to nearly 20 other safety webinars archived online, covering a wide variety of issues related to data security and cyber safety; open houses, foreclosures, vacant homes; and personal safety. Visit

2017 Member Safety Report – Each year, NAR surveys members on professional or work-related situations that prompted fear, their use of self-defense weapons and safety apps, and proactive safety procedures in their brokerage. The goal of the report is to measure and understand the safety risks REALTORS® might face, while helping brokerages benchmark their efforts and identify resources, as well as areas for improvement in their safety protocols. To view the latest survey findings, visit

NEW! NAR Safety Reimbursement Grant Program – Introduced this year, the grants provide funding assistance, up to $ 2,500, to state and local REALTOR® Associations to help implement a Safety Program or initiative for their members, and to encourage ongoing awareness of REALTOR® Safety.

Although grant recipients for 2017 have been selected, the 2018 grant application process will open in the first quarter of 2018. Make sure your state and local associations are aware of the program and apply next year. Visit

Social Media Safety Tips – Each week, NAR’s official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages post a new safety tip in the form of a shareable visual graphic. Follow NAR (@nardotrealtor), or search for #RealtorSafety, to capture and share these tips for your agents.

Does Your Office Have a Safety Plan?

According to NAR’s 2016 Member Safety Report, less than half of NAR members said their office has standard procedures for agent safety, and another 28 percent responded, “I don’t know.” If your office hasn’t instituted safety procedures, start now. Even if you do have procedures in place, now is the time to make sure everyone is informed and following them. The time to prepare is before someone becomes a victim.

NAR has also developed several office safety forms, which can be downloaded and customized. You will find them at under “Resources for Associations and Brokerages.”

Additional Safety Resources
The resources mentioned here reflect a fraction of the tools developed by NAR to support your efforts. To access all of NAR’s safety resources, visit

For more information, please visit

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark

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