Top Performer: Dave D'Ausilio

Building a business

August 1, 2000

I’m like a bird dog when it comes to finding land,” says Dave D'Ausilio of RE/MAX Heritage Realty, Southport, Conn. “I know where to go, and I don’t give up easily.”

Where D'Ausilio goes is city hall to check the tax assessor’s maps for subdividable land. When he finds a suitable parcel--say a 15-acre site in an area with one-acre zoning--he picks up the phone.

“As these suburban bedroom communities grow, the tax burden goes up and puts pressure on the owners of large parcels,” he says. “The trick is to stay with them until they’re ready to sell.”

The payoff for his patience is the salesperson’s version of the Triple Crown--he sells the same piece of land three times and collects commissions for all three transactions.

Take one of his bigger successes last year, a 28-acre site that came on the market when the owner died.

“His family called me a week after he passed away, because they knew I was interested,” he says. “I sold it in a day for $1.75 million. The developer subdivided the land into 20 lots, and I sold them to various builders for $150,000 each. Then I found buyers for nine of the completed houses at an average price of $500,000 each. The total volume on the project was more than $9 million.”

Builders and developers now account for the largest piece--about 29 percent--of D'Ausilio's business. “If you want to increase your average sales price, focus on new construction,” he says. “Builders usually cater to the high end of the market.”

D'Ausilio did 100 transactions last year, for a total volume of $31 million. After developers and builders, his largest source of leads--23 percent—is call-ins from ads and signs. That’s followed by sphere of influence, 20 percent; expired listings, 14 percent; cold calls, 7 percent; FSBOs, 5 percent; and auctions, 2 percent.

This year D'Ausilio is projecting a 57 percent increase to almost $50 million because of a significant office expansion. After years of going it alone, he recently hired three buyer’s assistants as well as an office administrator.

“When you try to do it all--work with buyers and sellers and handle all your own files--your personal life disappears,” he says.

D'Ausilio turns down about one out of every three listings he’s offered. “I do so for two reasons,” he says. “No. 1 is price. If the seller wants 10 percent to 15 percent more than the market value, there’s no point in getting involved, because it’s not going to sell.

“The second reason is sellers’ demand for special treatment. For instance, I don’t do open houses. I think they’re a waste of time because there’s no way to qualify the people who walk through the door. If sellers absolutely demand them, I think they’re probably better off with another salesperson.”

The key to maximizing your sales performance, D'Ausilio adds, is prequalifying clients. “If buyers have 30 days to find a new house, they want to buy. It’s the customers who aren’t motivated who create problems.”

David D'Ausilio

RE/MAX Heritage Realty
Southport, Conn.; 203/261-8080

1999 gross production volume $31 million
Average sales price $315,000
Average number of listings 10–15
Hours per week I work 50

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.

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