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TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE NETWORK, February 2010—Michael Carucci
Boston Real Estate Group

Years in real estate: 26 years
Region Served: Boston
Average sales price in your market: $800,000
Average number of days a home spends on the market: 80 to 100 days.

Please describe your “best of class management practices” and how they help you serve an urban market:

We are working with highly educated, very astute consumers here so I focus on presenting excellent information and letting them make their own decisions.

What is the number one thing that has to happen to get the urban market moving again?

Banks need to lend money for one thing, but I think the biggest problem is jobs. The issue that no one wants to talk about is the unemployment rate. If you look at today’s market there are two things that create urgency: the cost of money and the value of money. And, in today’s market there is no urgency. When there is job uncertainty, there is a natural tendency to say, “let me wait until things turn around and I will rent until then.” Buyers can no longer get in with 5% down and they may be worried about getting laid off. They don’t want to go into their cash reserves. So, when we have a better jobs picture and people aren’t worried about getting laid off, they will start getting back into the housing market.

How do you market yourself to this clientele?

My business is half commercial and half residential. On the commercial side I deal with some of the most prominent people in the area. My value to them is finding properties first and letting them know about those properties. It’s about making sure I know when properties first hit MLS and, to a very large degree, it’s about networking. On the residential side, it’s about providing consumers with current information so they can make the very best decisions. The biggest mistake you can make is being too pushy with this clientele.

Are distressed properties, foreclosures, short sales etc. a factor in your market?

No. I could count on one hand the number of short sales that I have seen in this market. I have never done a short sale.

Has your marketing changed in the last three or so years?

My marketing has changed to reflect how buyers are looking for houses today. Print media doesn’t work for buyers—it’s for sellers and brokers. Also, open houses are not as popular as they once were. Virtual tours are what works for today’s consumers. Virtual tours make it so that today’s consumer can really tour a house, open-house style, 24/7 via the Internet.

To that end, we have the strongest Internet presence in the market. We got into Internet marketing early and have developed an excellent web site. That said, the necessary skill set is still the same: it’s all about networking and how you connect with the customer. In the early days of the Internet, the capture rate was very high if a consumer registered. Approximately 50% of the time, if someone registered on your website, they went on to close. Now the capture rate is closer to 1%, with a high of about 6%. When you are working on so low of a closing rate, you may think it’s a waste of time. But we don’t take the point of view. Our job is to filter through Internet leads and be the agency that gets them. It is a whole different world out there.

How are you/will you utilize the Top 5 program to help build your business? I use the written material, the blog, the e-mails etc. for my marketing.

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

Passion. If you love what you do it comes easier. Also, I have a very strong belief that you have to respect the commodity. You have to always have in the back of your mind the great importance of what we are selling. A house is the largest and most emotional purchase most of us will ever make and as a Realtor, you have to respect that.