Tag Archive | "Prudential Douglas Elliman"

Rebranding in the Digital Age

Tags: ,

Gioia diPaoloweb

By Emily J Weitz

Prudential Douglas Elliman has undergone a facelift, both on the global and local levels. The real estate giant is the fourth largest in the country, and as they launch a rebranding campaign, the local office has also taken a big step forward. Gioia DiPaolo, who has been with the company since 2008, is the new Managing Director.

In October of last year, a rebranding effort shifted the attention from the name Prudential to the name Elliman. Still the same company, the shift signaled a desire to create something fresh.

“The Prudential franchise was bought by a Canadian company,” says DiPaolo. “So Prudential will ultimately be phased out. The rebranding had a lot to do with that.”

By emphasizing the Douglas Elliman name, the company hopes to attract people to a brand that New Yorkers have respected in the real estate industry for a long time.

“There’s been great buzz,” says DiPaolo. “The AskElliman campaign has been created solely around the needs of today’s consumers.”

AskElliman utilizes the most up-to-date technology to bring customers a more thorough, simple experience as they navigate the confusing terrain of home-buying in the Internet age.

“Through our web site,” says DiPaolo, “you can send us your real estate question and a team of top experts will provide a timely answer. Whether it’s buying, selling, renting, financing, credit or legal, we are here to guide you through the process to make sure that you make the most informed real estate decision.”

In addition to the massive changes of overhauling a web site and changing the company name, there have been a lot of little changes that make a big difference. Staying on the cusp of new technologies is integral for a real estate business to thrive. Online property search engines and mapping technologies are always evolving. And then there are the apps.

“I just got the Sun Seekers app,” says DiPaolo. “When you’re showing a house, people want to know where the sun will be. With this app, you can click on it and it shows the location where you are and where the sun is at every time of the day.”

These technological advances are important because they help the customer be as informed as possible. “Because real estate is one of the most important financial decisions one can make in a lifetime, having the right information is absolutely crucial,” says DiPaolo. “Every manager brings their own style and particular interests to the workplace,” she says. “I’ve been told one of my biggest strengths is the ability to bring out the best in people. I think our agents will benefit from the support I’ll bring to their efforts. We’re prepared to take advantage of the uptick in business we’re experiencing in our marketplace right now.”

Though the housing slump is still at the front of people’s minds and a top issue at the ballots, DiPaolo believes the market here on the East End is showing signs of life.

“A cursory search of homes sold and homes that went in to contract since January 1,” she says, “shows 20 sold and 13 in contract in our area…We’re now really busy with people who want to be in by summer.”

She attributes the uptick to the fact that “Prices have come down, and interest rates are still really low. At this time of year, people who want to be in the Hamptons for summer know they have to buy now.”

One of the things that the company prides itself on most is that it has the resources of a giant company, but it’s still deeply involved in the community.

“We’re neighbors,” says DiPaolo. “We don’t just sell people a house. I’ve taken people over to the morning program at Sag Harbor Elementary to give them a feel for how great [this town] is. People rely on their agents for a lot more than finding the right house. There are a lot of things they want to know, and we’re local. We tell them.”

For more information call the Sag Harbor office at  725-2125 or visit www.elliman.com.

Helping Design the Place Where Business and Life Collide

Tags: , ,

web terry

By Andrew Rudansky

The audience in the Bay Street Theatre sat enthralled, watching every move and hanging onto every word of motivational speaker Tom Ferry. With notepads and iPads in hand, the audience members, all Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate agents, were taking notes throughout what Ferry calls just “a little talk.”

Ferry, author of the new book Life by Design, published in 2010 by Ballantine Books, calls himself a real estate business coach and life strategist who leads more than two hundred business motivation seminars a year across the country. This free seminar, exclusively for Prudential real estate agents, provided them with advice how to run both their business and lives.

In his new book and at the free lecture, Ferry describes what he calls the two ways of living life, either by “default” or by “design.” The main difference between these two, according to Ferry, is knowing what you want and attempting to achieve those goals.

According to his book, one in three Americans are depressed because of their relationships, health, or career, and this depression can be chalked up to Ferry’s “four addictions.” These addictions are to the opinions of other people, drama, the past and worry.

Ferry said that addiction to the past is the one that is “really affecting the real estate business.” People need to let go of their past and instead focus on the real estate reality of the present, he said.

“The addiction to the past will hold you to the poor economic market of the past,” he said.

“All people, high school seniors and CEOs they are all the same,” said Ferry to the crowd, “they are all addicted.” He said that these addictions prevent people from living life to its fullest.

These messages of self-determination and positive thinking have made Ferry extremely popular. Life by Design is currently number four on the New York Times Best Sellers: Advice, How To and Miscellaneous list, right above actor Michael J. Fox’s new book A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Future. The real estate agents in attendance shared this enthusiasm for Ferry’s message.  

Patrick McLaughlin, Manager of Prudential’s Sag Harbor office, said, “Every time I hear [Tom Ferry] speak I gain something new for my business and for my life.” He added, “I know when I follow what he teaches, my business gets more successful.”

Real estate agent Suzette Reiss, from Prudential’s Mattituck office, said that listening to Ferry got her thinking about “producing more as an agent,” adding that his speech was “inspiration to me.” Real estate agent Karla Dennehy agreed, she said the speech was “absolutely fantastic.”

Ferry’s own success was very much “by design.” He said that he practices everything he has preached, and his success speaks for itself.

“I feel like I’m on track,” said Ferry, “but I don’t get overexcited about it because I still have five more steps [to achieve my original goals].”

The secret to Ferry’s message is the presentation.

“I touch on the three things people don’t want to talk about,” he said, referring to poor relationships, health and business. To broach these subjects, Ferry uses his ultra sharp sense of humor. Throughout the seminar, Ferry had the audience laughing with topical and genuinely hilarious jokes.

His comedic delivery allows him to confront the audience, challenging, questioning and daring them to live a more rewarding life.

“I have a choice every single day to be powerful or a little wimpy,” said Ferry to the audience, telling them that life is a series of choices. He said the first and possibly most important choice is to admit that you aren’t living up to your potential, or as he said “living in a coma.”

Ferry urged the audience to “just start attempting simple, doable goals.”

“The changes can be unbelievable,” he continued, “but awareness is the first step.”

Real Estate in the Palm of Your Hand

Tags: ,

web I-Phone Real Estate App_2356

By Marianna Levine

“I can get and send information from anywhere in the world now. I was able to work from the Palace in Jordan,” enthuses Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Sag Harbor office manager, Patrick McLaughlin, as he points to a picture of him shaking the Jordanian King’s hand. He is happily describing how the real estate agency is being positively affected by the latest telecommunications technology.

McLaughlin is specifically talking about Prudential’s decision to train its employees in the use of smart phone applications such as MobileMe and StreetEasy in order to insure the most efficient costumer service.

As a matter a fact, while walking through the Sag Harbor office several employees where asking each other about how to download certain apps, or discussed what they learned from Prudential’s Technology and Marketing Director, Matt Austin’s most recent workshop on using social networking sites for your business.

Austin explains “Prudential was the first company to partner with StreetEasy out here in the Hamptons. We started using it well over a year ago. We found that other agencies that had developed their own app were in the end just confusing consumers as they listed only their own properties. Because StreetEasy was the number one property search engine in New York City we thought it made sense to use it here as it’s basically the same clientele.”

Broker Richard Kudlak likes how his new iphone and its numerous apps give him and his customers instant visual information.

“You can show people pictures right away,” he said. “It provides instant data while you’re out in the field.”

Broker Helen Atkinson-Barnes agrees, “Every day I’m discovering new things I can do with my iphone.”

This mobile technology is particularly helpful in a profession where the employees are often away from their desks. For example the MobileMe application McLaughlin mentioned allows brokers to sync their emails, calendars, and contacts to their Macs or PCs back at the office. The StreetEasy application allows them to find information and photographs of houses in any area and represented by all agencies on their phones to show clients instantaneously.

McLaughlin further explains, that although the aps tend to work best with iphones they can still be used on other smart phones such as Blackberries, which several brokers such as Gioia Di Paolo still uses. He says it is just personal preference, which dictates which smart phone a broker uses, although several have just switched over to the iphone because of its better visuals and ease of use.

“With my iphone, I can send video, photographs, and files from wherever I am. This ensures all the information I have and give is totally accurate,” McLaughlin details.

He pulls out his iphone to demonstrate how it works. Through picking an area or street, he is able to instantly find all brokerages listings and show pictures, and details including size and price to a client.

McLaughlin continues to clarify that Prudential made a corporate decision not to create their own app at the moment, because they preferred taking a more inclusive approach to listings, giving clients as much information and choice as possible.

 “We (Prudential) could have created a vanity app that would only show our listings, but we decided to work with StreetEasy instead so that we could combine with all other company listings. It doesn’t mean we won’t do our own at some point, but whenever we do one it will be inclusive.”

Austin mentions that Prudential will be launching a new website in the spring.

“We are building a whole new website from the ground up,” he said. “I think it will be something really cutting edge that will really change the way our business works.”

When asked how these applications have impacted Prudential’s business, McLaughlin says, “I think our brokers feel more empowered by it, and it gives our customers the type of service and instantaneous information they want and expect now. The use of this technology is very service driven, as is everything we do.” 

Robert Evjen

Tags: , ,

The Prudential Douglas Elliman real estate agent and President of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce who talks about the downturn in the economy and the effect on the real estate market and Main Street businesses.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Given your unique perspective with the chamber and as a real estate agent, what do you see as the current climate of Main Street in the face of the economic downturn?

I can say that Main Street has been okay so far. In fact sales have been at the least as good as last year. The fall has been steady – with the Sidewalk Sale promotion there was a huge jump in sales, which we are very happy about. Going forward, the shopkeepers have ordered their holiday merchandise and are expecting a steady holiday shopping season, which is interesting when you listen to the news about the rest of the United States. I still believe we are a little insulated [from the downturn in the economy] out here. We are not hit as hard and we rebound quicker if there is a slight decline, so I think the merchants looking forward towards the holidays see it as business as usual. It’s not going to be that bad.

One industry I was curious about is construction and landscaping. Do you have any sense how those industries are fairing in this economy?

I think the contractors and builders who are not already building spec homes have taken a “wait and see” attitude. Of course financing is critical to that end of the business, and has become difficult. The ones who are already in the process are just going forward. There is business on the horizon, I’ve talked to some contractors who say there is business through February – they are seeing jobs lining up. It is not how it used to be, of course, but it is not as bad as some have projected.

Why do you think we are insulated out here?

I think it’s the proximity to New York. I think it is the type of people who have second homes out here. I think it might be a stronger middle class, a little bit wealthier of homeowner. I think they are less affected. I think the people who are hardest hit are people who were struggling to begin with – those living paycheck to paycheck, but I think we do have an upscale shopper that other communities don’t have, which has helped Main Street along.

Is that something we see across the East End?

I can say what has saved Sag Harbor is we have affordable rents on Main Street. I can say that East Hampton rents are very high and it is difficult to maintain any business especially mom and pop businesses.

From a real estate perspective are we seeing the same buoyancy that we are on Main Street or is it taking a hit?

 There are still sales going on although it is much harder [to buy] with what is going on in the credit markets. The type of buyer [agents] are looking for has to be extremely credit worthy, with a good credit rating or an all cash buyer. But there are still deals going on. I would say that what people are looking for now is on the lower end of the market, and there are also a lot of land sales going on, which is a great barometer for where the real estate market is. You might have some builders seeing a good value, good purchase in land – it’s an investment in the future. And the prices haven’t come down too far. That is encouraging as far as I am concerned, because I think we could be at the bottom, and if that is the case I think we will bounce back after a couple of difficult quarters. I know that [Federal Reserve Chairman Ben] Bernacke was on television this morning saying we are going to be weak for a couple of quarters, and I do agree.

So do you think by this summer we will start to see an economic turn around?

Hopefully by next summer we will see a patient that is up and walking, as they say.

Do you think we will ever return to the highs we saw [in the real estate market] in 2006?

We will. I really think so. Many people in the real estate industry have varying comments about that, that it will be anywhere from five to eight years, eight and 10 years and 10 to 12 years, but all are optimistic we will get back to those levels, but it will be a slower incline.

A big problem with the economy as a whole is a lot of people were spending beyond their means. Do you think people looking to buy homes will need more in the way of credit and up front payments in order to get their foot in the door?

Yes. The big question on everyone’s mind is, once we have put this cash into the credit markets, how is this all going to work? How are the banks going to be regulated? How do they get back on their feet after the housing crisis? But I think going forward it will be much more difficult to purchase as a first time homebuyer unless your credit is very, very good … Let’s remember the American dream is to own a home and I don’t think you can cut a segment of the population out of being able to accomplish the American dream.

Earlier you mentioned houses on the lower end of the spectrum were selling. Do you ever think we will see houses dip back into the $400,000 and $300,000 range, creating more affordable options for first time homebuyers?

Right now there are a few in the $400,000 range, but I think once people have determined a bottom has hit, I don’t think they will go lower. Again, it is the seller that will help the first time homebuyer as to whether they are willing to negotiate a price. The sellers are coming down in their prices now, but they are not giving away product, which tells me you don’t need to sell right now unless you really need to sell. I think the prices will stay the same for now, and once we hit the bottom we will start to see them come back up.

What does an agent need to do in this economic climate to survive?

An agent needs to work very, very hard in this market. One, an agent has to get that listing that is in front of every other agent. Secondly, agents need to get themselves out there and differentiate themselves from other agents to be able to help sell that home or help buyers buy that home. Agents really need to look at ways to market homes differently, and the internet is probably the best way to do that. You have to know how to use the internet, market on the internet. You have to do more than traditionally has been done.

So what is the future in real estate?

I see the market returning to where we are, although maybe not so grandiose in how it climbs upwards. I see inventory that is larger now, but that will whittle down to something manageable. I see a real estate market – a market that is essentially our economy out here – coming back.

And Main Street?

 Main Street’s future will be telling in coming months. This is how I think the Chamber of Commerce can help Main Street businesses, in events like the Sidewalk Sale, which helped tremendously. We have just started planning our holiday season. I think for the holiday season we will start to do more advertising, probably in print, and we are going to start earlier. Some of the bigger stores have decided to put out their holiday merchandise now because a lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and doing planned buying. So we are going to start our holiday season earlier than normal and will probably expand our holiday events to attract larger shopping crowds.

What kind of events are you talking about?

Well we already have Santa’s arrival, which is great for the kids. We have our Christmas light-up, which we might want to add some entertainment to this year. We have our Halloween parade coming up.

What do you do in January and February?

Good question. January and February are the toughest months of the year out here. Our businesses still have to pay their winter rents. If possible, we have had some discussion, about having a winter carnival or something to bring people out. Sag Harbor is great year round and I think a lot of people don’t realize how incredibly beautiful it is here in the winter, especially when the snow starts falling.


A Wary Main Street Waits On Congress Bailout Vote

Tags: , , , , ,

As the nation waits with bated breath while the United States Congress takes another stab at a $700 billion bank rescue plan some government officials say is aimed at protecting the economy from virtual collapse, communities across the country are wondering how the mistakes made on Wall Street will change their way of life on Main Street in the coming year.

According to Congressman Tim Bishop, if the government sits idly by as credit and loan markets continue to shrink, and banks and investment houses fold, Main Street will undoubtedly feel the effects of the shaky economy in a major way and in some cases Main Street already is.

Last night, on Wednesday, October 1 the United States Senate was scheduled to vote on a new $700 billion economic bailout plan, and early reports showed strong expectations across party lines that the measure would pass. According to Congressman Bishop, the House of Representatives would then consider the bill today, Thursday, or Friday.

The expectations surrounding Wednesday’s vote echoed similar hopes on Capital Hill last weekend, prior to a defeated bailout bill in the House on Monday, 228-205 – a bill Congressman Bishop voted in favor of. On its face, the bill would have provided $350 billion to financial institutions, with another $350 billion available under Congress review. Following the House’s defeat of the bill the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 700 points, a historic decrease. Although the markets rallied on Tuesday with the news that Congress would take another stab at the economic recovery bill, Bishop said on Wednesday if something is not done to help stabilize the economy, Wall Street will not be the only ones affected by what follows, but our local Main Streets as well.

“I think the risk to Main Street is enormous if we do not fix this,” said Bishop. “People talk about this plan as a ‘Wall Street bailout,’ and what we are really trying to do is protect Main Street. Whether we like it or not, our economy is rooted in the credit markets.”

 Bishop said the East End of Long Island was not immune to the downturn in the economy, noting on Wednesday morning he had already received news that he viewed as a possible harbinger of things to come.

“I was just told this morning that one of the largest builders on the East End has laid off 40 workers,” he said. “That is on Main Street, not Wall Street.”

 “So I do believe we have to move aggressively to fix this and doing so is much less about bailing out a reckless and greedy Wall Street and more about protecting our neighbors,” said Bishop.

According to Greg Ferraris, mayor and resident in Sag Harbor, in his professional opinion as a certified public accountant who represents a number of East End businesses, there very well could be ramifications locally as a result of the fiscal crisis if action is not taken.

“Certain industries have already been affected by the slow down and the housing crisis that has turned into a complete economic crisis,” he said.

Ferraris added he believed under the right circumstances the storm could be weathered, and blamed the media for painting a far gloomier portrait of the economic climate to come, which has in turn affected the market. He did acknowledge without the right plan in place, and without people beginning to take more responsibility for spending practices, things could get worse and easily trickle down to Main Street businesses.

One industry that has seen a downturn is real estate on the East End, an economic bastion for many as prices soared over decades.

On Wednesday, Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce President and real estate agent with Prudential Douglas Elliman Robert Evjen said one of the biggest challenges facing a slowing real estate market today was tightening loan and credit markets.

According to Evjen, many felt the tightening of the credit, loan, and real estate markets as early as last spring. But regardless, said Evjen, he does not believe the market locally will be impacted as dramatically as the rest of the country.

“I still feel to this day that we are insulated compared to the rest of the country,” said Evjen. “I don’t think any other real estate market is as closely tied to Wall Street as a secondary home market in the Hamptons.”

And while Wall Street may be suffering as of late, Evjen said from a real estate perspective there are two ways to look at the current economy – it can bode badly as Wall Street won’t see the kind of bonuses that led to record breaking sales or it could benefit the housing market as brokers look to invest in, and cash in on, a slowing market.

“I would still look for value in real estate like this before putting my money in the markets, where it is more likely to take a dive,” said Evjen. “Now is the time to buy.”

As for Main Street’s economy, as Chamber president, Evjen said he did believe shoppers would be more cautious in their purchases, avoiding big ticket items, but nonetheless shopping.

“I think Main Street here is insulated in the type of guests we have – visitors that have discretionary incomes, whereas other communities will have a much tougher go of things,” said Evjen. “I think we will be okay.”

What was of particular interest to Evjen was what effect the credit crunch and fiscal crisis would have on local lending institutions, which he said roughly 80 percent of Sag Harbor businesses relied on for revolving loans to cover large, seasonal purchases.

“It’s amazing how we are all tied into this,” he said.

According to Douglas Shaw, senior vice president at Suffolk County National Bank and Kevin O’Connor, President and CEO of Bridgehampton National Bank, businesses should not be worried, as both banks reported their conservative lending practices have protected the institutions from the same catastrophe facing banks that took on risky loans.

Shaw and O’Connor noted what these banks failed to do, and what Suffolk County National and BNB did not overlook, was to assess one’s capacity for paying back a loan in the first place.

 “We’ve been in business for 118 years and while we have evolved the fundamental requirements we have had have not changed that much,” said Shaw “Running our business this way is good for the bank, good for the borrower, good for the employees of the bank and good for the community.”

“We are still making loans and local business can still come to us,” said O’Connor. “We are open for business …We have been asked if we have tightened our credit standards, and our response is we never loosened them.”

Shaw added he believes a number of community banks have maintained these types of conservative standards, which will help weather the storm ahead.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.