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TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE NETWORK, September 2009--Michelle Genovesi

Michelle & Company

William Raveis Real Estate

Years in real estate: 25

Region Served: Lower Fairfield County, CT.

Average sales price in your market: $3 million

Please describe your team.

My team works differently than other agent teams. I focus on exceptional properties and I am exclusively a marketing agent. On top of that, I have two full-time marketing people on my team as well as two full-time administrative workers so I am just focused on listing, prospecting and negotiating. Last year we did $100 million in sales in a down market.

How has the down market affected the luxury end of the business? I am dealing in a market that was very much affected by the financial crisis. Most of our clients are hedge fund managers, etc., and initially, the market froze. It literally came to a standstill out here. The financial crisis really affected people in Fairfield County because most of their jobs were personally affected.

How have luxury buyers changed? Like any other buyers today, they are more cautious and more conservative. They want to make sure they are getting the best deals. With buyers of exceptional houses, what they are buying is lifestyle…and value. The difference is that in 2005 they were more inclined to just go for it, whatever that lifestyle choice may have been. Now they are more cautious about how much they are willing to pay. They are also not as town specific as they were. They are going for value. They want to be close to the city. There is not a sense of urgency because there is more on the market. But they are all getting that this is the time to buy so there is pent-up demand and many buyers are now saying, “Why hold back any longer?” They get that there is great value and a lot of inventory to chose from.

Are their needs and wants different? No matter how much money you have, you buy into what you can get and want to feel as though you have gotten a good deal.

How do you negotiate pricing of luxury properties in today’s market? Positioning is still the answer. You want to list so that the buyer sees the best value. It really comes down to the buyer finding value in what we are offering for their lifestyle. You have to look at what they are actively competing with in their town and the surrounding towns, especially with the waterfront properties. They want the best value they can get on the water.

Why did you become a Member of Top 5? Networking opportunities. I was hoping to be able to work with other very top agents across the country and to learn and grow from them

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?

Balance. It is a business that can be 24/7. I have a great team and know that my clients are being well served even when I am not there. I was the first one to not allow my home number on my business card, because then you are inviting your business into your home. It is up to you to set boundaries. A doctor does not pick up the phone any time of the day. I don’t take calls after 8:00 PM but my voice mail says if it’s urgent, hit zero and then you get my cell phone. Last but not least, I have good systems in place.

– Lesley Geary