There’s a host of adjectives one could use to describe Michelle Genovesi however, we think the word maven is particularly fitting. It’s also got a vaguely heroic ring to it, “Michelle the Real Estate Maven”. Perhaps we’ll pitch the concept to Marvel Comics. But we digress.
Over the course of her 26-year tenure in the industry, Michelle has become known as a vanguard, pioneering unique methods in real estate marketing. Some media outlets that have recognized Michelle as an innovator include Forbes Magazine and The NY Times.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down for a brief discussion with Michelle. We had the time of our lives. We hope you’ll find it as fun and enlightening as we did.
PO: “Michelle, thanks for taking time to sit down with us, we’re honored.”
MG: “It’s my pleasure Kori!”
PO: “So clearly, there are a lot of folks out there who’d like to know how you do it. $975M in sales puts you in the category: Legendary. Let’s start with the basics. Where do you focus?”
MG: “Well Kori, that’s a broad question because actually, everything I do is guided by a strict focus. In terms of market segment, I typically operate within a niche of what Raveis calls “Exceptional Properties”, generally properties listed for more than $1M. In terms of operations, I’m a firm believer in specialization, or as you say, focus. I deal primarily with listing and marketing. Each member of our team has an area of specialization.”
PO: “We’ve talked a lot about your success, and I’m sure you’d agree that you’ve built your brand consistently over the course of the last 26 years; it wasn’t overnight. What advice would you have for the young or new agents out there just getting started and looking to build a book of business?”
MG: “You hit on it in your question Kori. It’s all about consistency. A new agent needs to evaluate his or her market and find a niche they can conceivably own. Then go after it consistently. The niche may be geographic, it may be a demographic, or it may be experiential. That’s what I’ve focused on – the experience. Once you’ve found a niche, you’ve got to own it. It’s all about consistency. I’m very fortunate to be where I am in my career. I’ve built a recognized and trusted brand here in Westport Connecticut. We don’t sell houses. We sell service; an experience.”
PO: “It sounds like you’ve perfected the art.”
MG: “It’s never perfect, but I’ll share this with you – it’s the closest I’ve found to the secret sauce – Sell it three times – once to agents, once to the buyer, and once to the banks. You’ve got to market to all three categories, you’ve got to demonstrate value to all three categories. If you demonstrate value to the agent, you’ll get more showings. If you demonstrate value to potential buyers, you’ll get more offers. If you demonstrate value to the lender, you’ll get more closings. It’s pretty intuitive, but it all comes down to how much hard work you’re willing to put in.”
PO: “Wow. That’s a serious strategy.”
MG: “It’s a proven method I follow on a daily basis.”
PO: “For sure. Switching gears, let’s talk about the economy. We’d be ‘whistling past the graveyard’ if we didn’t say we were concerned about the numbers we’ve been seeing in the press. How is the market treating your business?”
MG: “’You can’t change the wind, you can only adjust your sails.’ We’ve adjusted to the market and the first two quarters of 2010 have been incredible. 2009 however, we were like a deer in the headlights. Buyers have started to recognize the values currently available in the market; they’ve moved from focusing on their concerns to being consciously conservative. I think sellers are realistic in pricing, which has really helped. All time low interest rates haven’t hurt either.”
PO: “That’s refreshing. It’s reassuring.”
MG: “It’s definitely been comforting to see things come around.”
PO: “Do you think the first-time home buyer’s tax credit played a role?”
MG: “It was a shot in the arm for the lower end of the market. It moved some properties priced for those wanted to enter the market. It really didn’t have a significant impact on our business, on high end homes.”
PO: “What, you don’t see first time home buyers purchasing $2M + homes frequently?”
MG: “Not too often.”
PO: “In What areas of the market are you seeing the most success?”
MG: “I wouldn’t say it’s one price segment. It’s more of a value segment. It really comes down to Business 101 – Price + Product. If there’s a good value, the product is moving; that may be a high price point or a more moderately priced home. It all comes down to value for the price. It’s not a specific geographic area either; it’s all about the home. The value.”
PO: “Back to the basics, huh?”
MG: “For sure.”
PO: “Looking forward, do you have any predictions for the rest of 2010 and ’11?”
MG: “I’m very optimistic. 2010 will be my best year ever on record. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked for every dollar and we’ve redoubled our marketing efforts to make that happen. That being said, I do very well in this type of market. I’ve built a brand that sellers believe in; they know I’ll do what it takes to market the listing. It also helps that sellers are being realistic in terms of positioning.”
PO: “Any long term trends you’d like to speak to?”
MG: “Less is more. Buyers are much more aware of quality than quantity. I’ve seen buyers begin to actually prefer less square footage for higher quality and more attractive locations. Home offices are still a huge factor for many buyers. Many people commute to cities here in Connecticut, but technology has made it possible for folks to telecommute or work from home. People are looking at how they’re living. The quality of life.”
PO: “So enhanced amenities? Things like really elegant interior trim work? Things of that nature?”
PO: “People have called you an innovator. Have you recently found any new developments in technology or other channels that have increased your success? What are your thoughts on social media?”
MG: “In terms of social media, you’ve got to be there, but I don’t think it’s the end-all be-all. I think it’s interesting that social media has been the buzz as long as it has. Social media is great to help drive people to a website or a blog, but it doesn’t sell the listing. For my team, selling the listing is all about getting back to the basics. Get out there and network face-to-face. Social media can’t replace in-person interaction. I’m not a Facebook user. I think technology is at its finest when it comes to servicing clients.”
PO: “So what channels do you use to actually market listings? What effectively sells listings?”
MG: “I’m moving toward more video; lot’s of interactivity, anything I can do to get agents and buyers to interact with my listings. It’s really a mix that depends on the area and the listing. In some areas, I’m going back to direct mail – it’s a solution that’s got a proven track record for specific types of listings. I use a broad range of channels. On of the things I really try to focus on is selling the lifestyle, not the house.”
PO: Michelle, we appreciate you taking time to talk with us today. We’ve just got one last question for you. If you were a superhero, who would you be and what would your superhero power be?”
MG: “Ha! I don’t know. I might be Buddha Babe. I’m a very spiritual creature. I suppose as Buddha Babe, I’d spread love throughout the world…very John [sic] Lennonish.
PO: “Awesome. Thanks again for your time.”
MG: “My pleasure.”
We hope you enjoyed our discussion with Michelle Genovesi as much as we did. Below is one of Michelle’s recent tours. Take a peek. You can learn more about Michelle and Company at http://www.michelleandcompany.com. This is the first edition of PlanOmatic’s new Agent Showcase. Stay tuned each week as PlanOmatic’s Chief Executive Kori Covrigaru speaks with some of America’s top agents.