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Market Snapshot: A Ray of Sunshine in the Northeast

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By Barbara Pronin, RISMedia Columnist

RISMedia, June 8, 2011—At a time when new home construction in the Northeastern region of the United States has dropped by more than half since 2007, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), there is at least one Connecticut builder/developer whose company remains well in the black—and whose innovative single-family homes and multi-family condos are attracting a new kind of consumer.

“I never had a crystal ball,” says Glenn Tatangelo, whose Connecticut Realty Investment Group, headquartered in Trumbull, Connecticut, sold more than $55 million in new homes and condos in 2010. “But we were raised to be fiscally responsible, and unlike some of our competitors, we were fortunate enough to meet this economy on solid financial footing. More than that, I think we were prepared not just for the shrinking demand for new homes in general over the past couple of years, but for the new kind of buyer who would emerge to become our customers.”

Granted, Fairfield County—where most of Tatangelo’s new construction is located—is among Connecticut’s wealthiest counties. Still, with single-family homes priced from $800,000 to $1 million, and condos from $350,000 to $700,000, the challenge to find buyers in today’s economy has not been inconsiderable.

“I would say the reason for our success has been two-fold,” Tatangelo explains. “In the first place, we appealed to what we anticipated would be a new wave of home buyers—cautious buyers seeking to balance price point and real quality.”

Tatangelo’s single-family homes and condos are more than simply beautiful, according to Denise Walsh, co-owner of Gigliotti and Walsh Fine Properties, Tatangelos’ real estate and marketing partners in Fairfield County.

“Glenn’s properties make the absolute most of space design and square-footage,” Walsh reports. “They are high-caliber construction packed with the kind of practical amenities often not found even in higher-priced homes.”

Today’s first-time home buyers and/or the recently divorced—who make up 80% of their customers—are less interested in the huge spaces and luxury lifestyle their parents once sought. They are less frivolous, Walsh notes—more interested in smaller, comfortable and well-appointed rooms with plenty of storage space, quality detail and cozy areas for living and entertaining.

“And that,” Walsh says, “is exactly what they get in Glenn’s properties.”

Tatangelo is quick to point out that the marketing skills developed by Walsh’s and Bette Gigliotti’s (co-owner, Gigliotti and Walsh Fine Properties) 30-plus years of real estate experience are the second reason his developments are meeting with such success.

“I met Denise and Bette last fall at an open house for another builder,” he says. “They understood immediately what I try to accomplish in my properties—and it was clear they had their fingers on the pulse of what’s important to today’s buyers.”

The marketing gurus sold four of his units in the first 30 days of their partnership with Tatangelo. More important, he reports, they continue to create and maintain interest and activity around his projects.

That’s important for the long-time developer who began his entrepreneurial career cutting up to 60 lawns a week at the ripe old age of 15.

“I can honestly say I’ve never worked for anyone but myself,” Tatangelo explains. “I studied landscape design in college, and did some work as a student on new construction. I quickly saw how many home buyers were unhappy with what they perceived as poor quality, and I began to wonder if I could do things better.”

He purchased a lot, subcontracted and oversaw the construction, and turned a healthy profit, gratified that the buyer recognized and appreciated the quality touches that became his hallmark. It made the move from landscaping to building development attractive, and Tatangelo was on his way.

Today, in addition to his Fairfield County developments, Tatangelo is the owner of Rincon Ocean Villas in Puerto Rico, a boutique beach resort development where singer Shania Twain was married last January. The property, which sleeps up to 26, is becoming a popular destination for weddings and family reunions, and Tatangelo is planning to build more detached luxury villas on nearby Puerto Rico beaches.

At the same time, he is trying to back off from the everyday concerns of building and selling. “I’m happiest when I’m going about my business with nothing but a pen and a phone.”

Three years ago, he brought his daughter, Danielle, into his Connecticut-based business. Danielle, who has a Master’s degree in education and a passion for technology, was quickly caught up in her father’s vision for buying and developing land, and for building more inventive homes and condos for a new and savvy brand of consumer. She quickly learned the business from the ground up—from zoning issues, to site selection, to the meaning of creating value—and has since become a go-to resource for her father as well as for his marketing partners, using her creativity, her gift for technology and her expertise with social networking to add a new layer of proficiency and planning expertise to the team.

“Danielle has the same innovative spirit, the same quest for quality, and the same engaging manner as her father,” says Gigliotti. “She’s a joy to work with, and our customers appreciate her foresight and her fine eye for detail.”

It’s that fine eye for detail that has differentiated Tatangelo’s properties from the competition over the years—and that continues to keep the company at the top of its game and its customers eager to buy into the lifestyle his innovative properties provide.

There are still challenging times ahead, Tatangelo admits. The job situation remains a concern, and home loans are often harder to come by despite banking relationships the builder has maintained over the past 25 years. But he is cautiously optimistic that the economy is improving and that the call for quality new construction will grow as demographics change.

“We are catering to the unique needs of young families, young single-home buyers and divorced men and women who want quality construction in the right place, of the right size and at the right price point. When you weigh those criteria, we are the last—maybe the only man standing—and we believe these smart, new consumers will continue to beat a path to our doors.”

Client-First Philosophy Is Key in Today’s Housing Market

There is no question the market has changed, note REALTORS® Denise Walsh (top) and Bette Gigliotti (bottom), partner/owners of Gigliotti and Walsh Fine Properties.

Career professionals with more than 30 years of experience in Connecticut’s Fairfield, Litchfield and New Haven counties, the partners have witnessed over the past few years a weakened economy, a contracting job market and changing priorities for today’s home buyers—even in the upscale communities they serve.

“That’s why,” says Walsh, “although we represent the builders and developers of our properties, it is even more important for us to adopt a client-first philosophy. It takes market knowledge, effective negotiation skills and a deep understanding of what the client wants to accomplish in order for us to be successful.”

On the other hand, notes Gigliotti, “We are proud to represent the single-family homes and condos developed by Glenn Tatangelo. Glenn understands the unique needs and wants of today’s changing consumer. We have a wonderful website presence and great networking with local, out-of-town and international buyers and brokers. Put that together with Glenn’s unique housing product and it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

For more information, please visit www.gigliottiwalsh.com.

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