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Chee Laureanno
East Shore Properties

Years in real estate: Since 1981
Region served: Tiverton, Rhode Island
Average sales price in your market: The average sales price used to be in the $700,000 range. Today, the average is in the $600,000 range. Lot prices have dropped substantially as sellers try to liquidate.
Average listing time: 200 days or longer

How would you describe today’s new home market?

It is a very tough environment. Banks that are willing to work with the developer to get the project sold are the ones we work with. There are some banks that just look at their guidelines and are not willing to negotiate. In those cases, everyone loses. But banks and developers that work together—both giving and negotiating—allow both sides to come out ahead. I am working with developers who have good relationships with banks. The developers want their projects to succeed. Everyone is looking for a win-win situation. I have read the horror stories where the banks are not reasonable and cannot see the big picture and then everybody suffers.

What are your best strategies for working with developers in today’s market?

When I have a development to sell, I do everything to get the word out and bring the project to fruition, so, I am keeping my advertising up. A lot of agencies are cutting back but in this market I have to do more, not less, to get my properties looked at online. One thing that I find very helpful is Floor Plan Online. This service gives me floor plans for each home. The photographs are very professional and the floor plans are put to music. It’s expensive, more so than a typical tour. A typical virtual tour costs about $90. Floor Plan Online runs for probably double that, with the base price around $200, but it gives me the best exposure possible. Consumers can see exactly what each home contains and all its dimensions. This is very important.

How are you handling projects that were started before the market collapsed and remain on the market?

Developers are finding they have to cut prices to the bone. Once they do, my job is to keep at it. I have to be tenacious and not quit until the project is sold.

I like the building business. I love going to the wonderful conferences and conventions. I love helping people pick out the lots for the new homes they are buying. It gives me a lot of satisfaction. I don’t have the courage to be a builder and do the project, but I am a good person behind the builder. The project I am most involved with now has turned out to be a five-year project. I do open houses every Sunday. These are not cookie-cutter houses. Instead they are called “custom specs.” Buyers pick out the lot and the plan. It’s the builder’s house up to the day it’s sold, but it’s the homeowner’s as well.

What about new projects?

Not right now. The banks are not lending. Banks just want to get their existing projects off their books.

What are you doing differently to stand out?

I am the broker/owner of a boutique agency and have been since 1994. What sets us apart is that we stick with the project—you may run into problems, but we never give up. My slogan has been “service plus experience equals sold.” As a small boutique agency, I have the ability to be more flexible and more creative. I can also stick with a project longer than a giant agency would and I know what it takes to get something done. It takes finding out what the problem is and solving that problem. I think like the seller. I think, “What would you like this firm to do to sell your property?”

Why did you become a Member of Top 5?

I love the content. I would read the stories in RISMedia’s Real Estate magazine and I called to see how I could get the feeds on my website and was told about Top 5. Top 5 is very professional and the content is entertaining, well written and informative.

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

Enjoy what the day is going to bring—every day is different. I wouldn’t want to do the same thing day in and day out punching a clock. Working with developers, there is always something new going on. With new construction projects I find there is always something new. I am always learning. You get to go from conception to completion with the developer—the process is very creative.