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Selling & Buying Hamptons Real Estate: Bring Your Computer But Don't Leave Your Personal Skills Behind!

John A. Viteritti

Spectacular sunset water views on Georgica Pond and private dock. Listed with Sotheby's International Real Estate for $45M. (Courtesy Photo)

Over the past fifteen years or so I have had the opportunity to associate with many real estate professionals who ply their trade in the Hamptons real estate market. I recently spoke with several, each of whom has managerial responsibilities and experience with their respective firms. The question I posed was, how have you seen changes in the real estate market impact the skills required of agents and managers, especially since the market recession?

"For me, it's not as much a change related to pre- and post-recession, but more of an evolution in the required skill set, " says John Gicking, Vice President/Brokerage Manager, Sotheby's International Realty. "Competition is fierce, and everyone knows more than one agent on the East End. It requires dedication for full-time work, good sales skills, tech savvy, the ability to be a self-starter, social media proficiency, the ability to interact effectively with four different generations of clients - Millennial/Generation Y; Generation X; Baby Boomers: Traditional/Veterans. Most importantly, customer base/network and strength at maintaining and building relationships."

Gicking explained the four generations, "We train our agents to recognize that different generations react to technology in different ways. For instance, the Traditional are less likely to engage in social media. For them it's more personal contact and loyalty between them and their agents. "

When it comes to the Buyer Agency Gicking says, "I definitely seeing it as the way of doing business going forward more and more customers want it, and more and more brokers are doing it."

"The greatest change in the real estate business over the last ten years has been the impact of the internet, showcasing listings and delivering content and data to both buyers and sellers," explains Geoff Gifkins, Hamptons Regional Manager, Nest Seekers International. "In the past, when hiring agents, we looked for professionalism, presentation, qualifications, and communications and sales skills. All of these are very important today but now we are looking for tech-savvy agents that have the ability to use and embrace all the new and emerging technologies that have become essential to marketing real estate these days."

According to the National Association of Realtors, most buyers start their search for a property on the internet but work through a broker to show them properties. Gifkins says that, "Many buyers and sellers get their information from the internet, unfortunately, on some sites, it is not accurate or updated correctly. Therefore, it is imperative that the agent they are working with has access to and can deliver factual data."

Gicking agrees, "We often have to re-educate buyers and sellers because of the misinformation that appears on certain websites."

"Real estate can't all be done from a computer at home," says veteran real estate pro Paul Brennan, Regional Manager, Douglas Elliman Real Estate. "It takes personal communication out of the process. Getting on the telephone creates and emotional connection. It's like dating by email and texting. It leads to misunderstandings and problems that could have been avoided by talking on the phone or in person."

When it comes to buyers and sellers, the prevailing opinion that they more knowledgeable, but Brennan disagrees, "I think that's a fallacy. They think they know more but they don't appreciate all of the nuances of the market. They too often get misinformation from the Internet and then it becomes our job to re-educate them."

Brennan does not see a reason for the Buyer Agency, "If I represent a seller I find out everything I can about the property and what a buyer should want to know before I show it to them. That way I can anticipate a problem and address it before it becomes a problem. Real estate is a referral business and a repeat business. Buyers become sellers, sellers become buyers, and renters become buyers. I don't see why a buyer's agent can do more for the buyer than I would do as a seller's agent."

"I think they started out with good intentions but have become the gorilla in the room," says Brennan regarding MLS. "It has created its own bureaucracy. It has become more about reading MLS rules and regulations than about selling real estate."

Brennan, who it should be noted played professional basketball for two seasons in Australia with the Bankstown Bruins, does like the idea of teams in brokerages. "No one person can do everything or know everything. Real estate is a labor intensive business. It's like a basketball team. The members of the team working together can achieve a result they never could individually."

John is a St. John's University graduate, licensed Real Estate broker, lecturer, teaches real estate license classes at LIU, NYU, and Cook Maran Real Estate School, and is a well-respected consultant to the real estate industry. www.johnaviteritti.com

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