In an industry that is consistently fluctuating, real estate agents must harness the ability to live in the now while also planning for the future. In the following interview, Steven Domber of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties talks about how he keeps his team on their toes.
Region served: Mid-Hudson Valley, N.Y.
Years in real estate: 32
Number of offices: 7
Number of agents: 225
Who has had the biggest influence on your success? My parents who taught me the value of hard work and entrepreneurship, especially in dealing with different personality types and how to conduct myself as a businessman.
Best way to gather industry/local market news: I scour a variety of sources on a daily basis, scanning everything that comes across my desk, constantly reading newspapers and industry publications.
Please describe the current trends in your market.
Our local market has stabilized but remains sluggish due to lackluster job growth. Although prices have held their own year-over-year, there are little signs of appreciation due to uncertainty over new job creation. We are a bedroom community to the northern suburbs of New York City and have a very strong first-time buyer market driven by affordability and low interest rates. We are in the early stages of recovery and expect continued improvement along with the national economy.
How are you reaching out to buyers and letting them know that it’s a good time to buy?
The old-fashioned way. We teach our agents to interact with the communities they service and talk to customers, clients and prospects about the affordability and the benefits of homeownership. Of course, we are able to reach a wider customer base through electronic and social media and Internet marketing, and our advertising has been more creative and targeted. But our well-educated agents remain our best resource in reaching out to buyers. Our conversion to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand has also provided us with a great deal of market focus, so we capitalized on the ‘now is a great time to buy’ message: the marketing is changing, and so is our name.
How does your company make its agents’ jobs easier?
We are a full-service company that is proud of the value proposition we present to our agents. We provide our agents with an extensive marketing and technology platform that is easy to work with, so they have powerful marketing materials at their fingertips. Along with a full-time support team, our in-house marketing department works with our agents to personalize their marketing campaigns. We also install and remove yard signs for our agents on their listings, so our new cabernet and cream yard arm signs are displayed prominently throughout the region.
How are you preparing the firm and your agents for the future of real estate?
Our affiliation with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is one way we’re laying the foundation for the future. The brand is new and brings a great name to the mix. HSF Affiliates LLC, which operates Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, is also very progressive with their technology platform and how they’re reaching out and providing us with tools and marketing, lead generation and a national website. Not only are they on the cutting-edge, they’re focused on the real estate business and spending money where it needs to be spent.
What does the real estate office of the future look like?
As agents continue to spend less time in the office, the concept of hoteling is where the industry is headed. While the concept seems simple in its explanation, it requires that agents recognize the change in how they work and communicate with their clients, and how they work and interact in their office. Although a minority of agents still utilize an office the traditional way and require their own space, we have found that 75 percent of our agents are in the office less than 10 hours a week. Our challenge is to both downsize and expand into new neighborhoods. We can do this through changing the way offices are staffed and utilizing the technology available to us.