Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.
Rookie Diary: William Pecora Decides to Pursue a New Construction Niche
In the second month of the series, the rookies face challenges as they try to increase sales and develop a niche.
March 1, 2004
William Pecora, 25
RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd.
I’ve decided new construction is something I very much want to pursue. For one thing, there’s a lot of it going on in my marketing area. Also, if you establish a connection with a reputable builder, it’s a steady source of new listings.
The problem, of course, is making the connection. I’ve tried opening the yellow pages and just calling builders but that doesn’t seem to get me anywhere.
One of the things I’ve been doing recently is going to a lot of town zoning and planning commission meetings. I think I’m on to something.
There are always a lot of builders in the audience. They come when they need permits, variances, or zoning changes for their projects. It’s interesting for a couple of reasons. First, I learn what projects are being planned and who’s doing them.
Second, it gives me the chance to meet the builders face-to-face and give them my card. That way, when I call them afterwards, they remember me.
Over the last few months of going to these meetings, I’ve identified three builders with whom I think I would like to work.
I have not yet been successful in getting their listings, but they know who I am, they take my calls, and we’re friendly. Let’s say I’m hopeful.
Another development that’s pushing me towards new construction is an odd turn in my business. Right now, I have six listings and four of them are vacant land. Two are commercial parcels and two are residential.
The largest is a 29-acre commercial parcel. What’s odd, though, is that while it may be the largest in acreage, it’s the smallest in terms of price. The reason is that all but about one acre is wetlands. For that reason, it’s priced at $300,000.
Meanwhile, the highest priced is a 10-acre residential parcel that has been divided into lots. The price is $1.2 million.
I got that from a guy who called in to inquire about the 29-acre commercial parcel. We started talking and he mentioned that he had some land of his own he was trying to sell.
He lives in the southern part of the state in an area without a lot of major builders. In the past, he’s worked mainly with salespeople in the neighborhood.
I told him that the price of the land called for a builder with substantial resources and that I could help in that area. He thought it over and two days later gave me the listing.
Land deals take longer and it’s a different clientele. With residential, to some degree, the buyer finds you. With land, it’s the opposite. You have to know who’s building what and in what part of town and then you have to make sure they know you have a property in which they might be interested. It’s a lot more focused.
Maybe it’s because of my retail background, but I really enjoy the whole marketing and strategizing part of the business. I like the process of researching a buyer and putting together a plan of attack. I think I’m good at it. And I definitely see opportunity there.
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