Living Seaside Realty Group was formed in the fall of 2013 by Caroline Dugas and Gary Traflet, two of the area's most respected and successful agents. Living Seaside might seem new on the horizon, but the owners bring over 20 years of experience and local knowledge to the table, along with a dozen other brokers and an experienced managing broker.
We like being a small to mid-size company where the owners understand exactly what each agent faces every day. Caroline and Gary are open to new ideas and are able to make changes on the spot without seeking outside approval. That is one of the benefits of a boutique firm… small enough to be flexible and responsive, yet large enough to handle any challenge that comes our way.
The Living Seaside name was chosen because it reflects the comfortable lifestyle that attracts people to the coast and keeps them here. We get it … life at the beach is meant to be fun and so should the art of practicing real estate. Notice there are two orange Sea Stars on our logo … they are spirited, multi-tasking, and resilient creatures, just like us.
If you are curious as to what it is like to work at Living Seaside Realty Group, read the 10 revelations about the firm below, and then get in touch with our managing broker to schedule a confidential conversation where you can ask any other questions that are on your mind.
It's not just about the money, but let's begin there anyway. Our split for a trained, full-time agent begins at 70-30 and can be higher depending upon an agent's past 12 months' earnings. Because we are an independent firm, there is no 5%+ franchise fee. The most important benefit is the fact that when an agent earns $80,000 in total commission, the split advances to 85-15 for the remainder of that period.
We are "fee free", meaning the firm does not change any additional fees for technology, marketing, or any other purpose. You pay your monthly MLS fee, the entry key fee, your annual association dues, and your errors and omission insurance fee, which are standard agent expenses.
We believe in presentation. Most buyers begin their property search online looking at the landscape and interior photos, and we want ours images to be among the very best. That is why we encourage our agents to contract with a professional photographer. We also believe strongly in the power of organizing and staging to present a home in its best light.
Small is beautiful. It enables us to maintain a supportive culture for agents and an organization that is flexible and responsive. Our more experienced agents have always been willing to help our newer agents from marketing approaches to problem solving.
What about Technology and Marketing Support? We outsource our technology support to professionals who are familiar with real estate software and apps. The firm promotes the brand and generates leads through its website, signage and social media; while agents promote their listings and generate leads through online and sphere activities.
What about staff support? Our broker is non-competing and has a CRB designation. You always have 24/7 access to get the information you need to respond to your clients and co-broke agents. Gary Traflet is also managing broker certified, so there is always advice when needed.
Living Seaside practices "designated agency" so our clients always have an advocate to look after their interests, and the firm achieves a healthy balance of sales from our listings inventory and through buyer representation.
Our location is attractive, well equipped and conveniently located for you, your clients and co-operating agents. We are close to the Arboretum, Mayfaire Center, Wrightsville Beach, excellent restaurants, closing attorneys, banking facilities and accommodations for out of town buyers.
We encourage agents to expand their knowledge, sharpen their skills, and to support one another to develop professionally.
We keep our promises and provide attentive service that we will surpass our client's expectations. If we make mistakes, we say so, because our client trust and satisfaction is how we measure performance
A Career in Real Estate
What It Is Like To Have a Real Estate Career
The most expensive purchase a family is apt to make is when they buy a home. Because of the complexity and the infrequency of the event, most people decide to use an agent with the knowledge, skill and experience to handle the stress and the details, whether they are buying or selling.
Real estate agents must have a thorough knowledge of the real estate market in their communities and learn which neighborhoods will best fit their clients’ needs and budgets. They learn about local zoning regulations, construction materials, environmental hazards and other man-made risks and nuisances. They eventually become skilled in advising their clients in price and repair negotiations, and in solving just about any other problems that come up.
Initially agents spend time learning the practical applications of the business while they assemble a client base and spend time looking for buyers who want to see properties or property owners who want to sell their homes.
The process of convincing someone who might be interested is buying or selling property (a customer) into someone who is willing to sign an agreement for your services (a client) is called “Prospecting”.
Over time, the agent’s goal is to increase her skill, knowledge, experience, client base and reputation to the point where business is referred to her by others.
Most people prefer to list their properties with someone they know and trust which is why agents initially develop a “sphere of Influence” , a list of people they know who would likely help them launch their business. These 50 to 200 people will be targeted for business leads via direct mail, e-mail, social networking, warm calls and face to face encounters. Your first listing is most likely to come from this list because these are the people who know and have confidence in you from the past.
Agents usually find more buyer clients during the first few months because they are not as dependent on the agent’s real estate experience. They need you to help them locate suitable property, arrange the property tour, give them access, and prepare the paperwork.
While you are working with your first seller or buyer, your managing broker is there to guide you through the process of searching the MLS, selecting properties, making a presentation, putting together the paperwork and answering any questions you have along the way. Every other agent in the firm has been in your shoes and they are willing to help you along the way as long as they still have time to take care of their own clients.
Within six months to a year, most new agents develop the confidence to carry out a routine transaction that includes finding a client, explaining agency, navigating the MLS, doing a market analysis to determine a property’s value, preparing an offer, negotiating a contract, arranging inspections, and getting your client to closing.
If you represent the seller, you will learn to enter the listing into the MLS, prepare marketing materials, suggest ways to show the property in the best light, and adjust pricing according to market indicators. You will give and collect agent feedback, help sellers with negotiations and arrange for repairs before closing.
Agents may meet numerous times with prospective buyers to discuss and visit available properties. Agents identify and emphasize the most pertinent selling points. To a young family looking for a house, for example, they may emphasize the convenient floor plan, the area’s low crime rate, and the proximity to schools and shopping. To a potential investor, they may point out the tax advantages of owning a rental property and the ease of finding a renter. If bargaining over price becomes necessary, agents must follow their client’s instructions carefully and may have to present counteroffers to get the best possible price.
Once the buyer and seller have signed a contract, the real estate broker or agent must make sure that all special terms of the contract are met before the due diligence and closing dates. The agent must make sure that any legally mandated or agreed-upon inspections, such as termite and home inspections take place. In addition, if the seller agrees to any repairs, the broker ensures they are made. Increasingly, brokers are handling environmental problems as well, by making sure that the properties they sell meet environmental regulations. Loan officers, attorneys, or other people handle many details, but the broker makes sure they are carried out.
Advances in technology and the ability to retrieve data about properties via the Internet enables many real estate brokers to work out of their home as well as in a of real estate office. Even with this convenience, agents spend much of their time away from their desks—showing properties to customers, analyzing properties for sale, meeting with prospective clients, or researching the real estate market.
Agents often work more than a standard 40-hour week. They frequently have to work when it is convenient for their clients which means evenings and weekends. Although the hours are long and frequently irregular, most agents and brokers have the freedom to determine their own schedule. They can arrange their work so that they have time off when they want it.
In every State, real estate agents must be licensed. Prospective agents must be high school graduates, be at least 18 years old, and pass a written test. A large number of agents have college training. College courses in real estate, finance, business administration, statistics, economics, law, psychology and English are helpful. More than 1,000 universities, colleges, and community colleges offer courses in real estate.
Most offer an associate or bachelor’s degree in real estate; some offer graduate degrees. Many local real estate associations that are members of the National Association of Realtors sponsor courses covering the fundamentals and legal aspects of the field. Our firm offers formal training programs for both new and experienced agents.
Well-trained, ambitious people who enjoy helping others fulfill their dreams—particularly those with extensive social and business connections in their communities will have the best chance for success.
My father was a successful high school coach. His won-loss records in football and basketball was remarkable but he is better remembered for the impact he had on the young people he reached through example and actual encounters. Coaching was never my intended career. I dreamed of designing and overseeing the construction of buildings. In spite of graduating from Duke University, and then attending the University of Colorado and NC State University schools of architecture, I still wound up becoming a coach of sorts, because that is what a managing broker does in real estate.
I grew up in Greensboro, played football and basketball during college, served in the Navy's Supply Corps and remained calm as long as I could live close to water. For relaxation, I prefer to garden or explore the area by bike. Chris rides her horse Dolly at the farm or on a trail ride with friends for enjoyment. Together we love movies, dining out and taking day trips to nearby places like Southport, Bald Head and Swansboro. We also like to visit our children and grandchildren in Atlanta, Winston-Salem and Hendersonville… or when they come here … one of the most livable small cities in the world.
I am a recruiter, an educator, a problem solver and team builder. I don't sell real estate but have done so in the past with a boutique and large firms. I have also managed several real estate offices, two on the coast and one in the Triangle region. My focus and effort has always been on the success of agents, while their focus is on their clients and the properties they sell, as it should be. Living Seaside Realty Group is dedicated to providing every client with an exceptional experience measured by their expectations. If we accomplish that goal, good things will happen and we will remain successful as a company.
Bob Jamieson, CRB, CRS, ABR
Telephone: (910) 232-1893
Keys to Your Success
Are you suited for real estate?
Short of taking an aptitude test to see if you are suited for real estate sales, ask yourself whether your strengths or weaknesses will enable you to succeed in this industry.
Motivated: Motivation is the driving force that enables an associate to focus on the details, pursue solutions for problems, recover from rejection and achieve results for one’s clients. Do you have the staying power to remain on task until you achieve your goals? You can acquire knowledge and learn skills but no one can give you motivation. It must come from within.
Personable: While we sell products and lifestyle, this is first and foremost a people business that depends upon whether we genuinely care about someone else and their needs. We have to be a good listener, an effective communicator and demonstrate our competence through results in order for others to trust us to act on their behalf. Teachers, nurses, wait-staff and social workers usually have this make up.
Connected: Do you have roots in the community so you can quickly put together a sphere of influence to jump start your business? Growing up in your market area or having family or in-laws living nearby can give you a head start. If not, do you have interests and hobbies or belong to organizations that will enable you to put together such a network? If not, do you have the technical skills to generate internet leads.
Tech Savvy: There are still some agents who are successful with limited technical capability, but they are becoming a rarity. New associates must fully embrace technology if for no other reason than to keep pace with their customers.
New agents suddenly realize that even though they have earned their real estate license, they have acquired few practical skills for earning a living. The first few months at work you must concentrate on prospecting for business leads while learning the skills required to serve your clients. The next step is to create a business plan that will become the blueprint to keep your efforts on track. The business plan should include how you will prospect and network for new clients, retain clients for the long run, perfect your listing strategies, acquire the tools you will need, develop your marketing strategies, and improve your productivity and responsiveness.
How to grow your business.
New agents initially grow their businesses by prospecting for leads, then convert them to clients and into eventual sales. Prospecting can take many forms from open houses, working with unrepresented sellers, posting and advertising in social media, paying for internet leads, mailing to a sphere of influence, etc. Over time, experienced agents strive to transition their business that requires consistent prospecting to one that is self-sustaining by word of mouth referrals. Either of these approaches can be accelerated by the smart use of social media.
Another way to improve your business is to share your goals and initiatives with someone you trust to help you stay on course, or take a new direction. Coaching is based upon new or experienced agents becoming accountable to their own business plans. If you have been in the business for a year or more, coaching is one of the best ways to increase your productivity.
Attitude is Everything.
One’s frame of mind can make all the difference in the ultimate outcome of a task as well as in reducing stress upon relationships of everyone involved. We all prefer to work with an agent who responds promptly and who works to solve problems rather than obsessing over them. Accept obstacles or conditions that you cannot change, but own your responsibility for leading your clients through the process with skill and grace. Remember, the adage of “What goes around, comes around” certainly holds true.
Give and Receive
You do not have to be an expert in everything, but you should know where to find reliable experts when you need them. Surround yourself with positive and intelligent people who will help you grow and learn. Brokers with the support of colleagues of high integrity and a good work ethic will benefit from their positive influence. Avoid those who are not supportive of your dreams and goals. In turn, be willing to share your knowledge and talents with your colleagues when they need you.
Time and Resources
Most new agents are attracted to real estate by the low start-up costs, but fail to recognize the time it takes to generate a steady flow of income. We can predict that with proper training most licensees can acquire the knowledge and skills to work with buyers in three to six months. Unfortunately, the most critical factor affecting survival in this business is the time it takes someone to generate a reliable flow of clients and income. If you and your family have lived in the area for some time and you are actively connected within the community your time frame will generally be less than an experienced agent who has recently relocated here. The point is that must have enough time to cultivate relationships and build the trust to support your business.
- What kind of training & coaching is offered?
Look for offices that place a high value on education for both new and experienced agents. Ideally, one-on-one coaching will be available, but at the very least there should be some sort of ongoing training in the form of seminars, lectures or mentoring from knowledgeable managers or third party affiliations.
- What is the culture of the office?
Pay attention to your first impressions when you first walk inside. You want your prospective work place to be friendly and have good energy. Do people look like they are enjoying themselves? Is the atmosphere relaxed or more formal? Could you imagine yourself working happily there?
- What is the office image?
Get a feel for how the office is positioned in the marketplace and whether its name is respected in the community. Is the office capitalizing on a well-defined niche market or leveraging the power of its brand?
- What kind of technical support is available?
Ask about the availability of office computers, the bandwidth available for Internet access and what support is provided for troubleshooting problems. Is training available in company software, MLS software and programs commonly used by agents?
- What marketing & promotional support is available?
Examine the literature and handouts the office makes available to its agents. Also check out the web site. Are all of the pieces coordinated and do they convey a cohesive message? Is the web site up-to-date and professional looking? Find out what kind of advertising campaigns and technology the office uses to attract business, such as social networking, lead generating tools, print media, and signage etc.
- What referral networks does the office belong to?
National companies typically have a corporate referral network that passes leads to local offices. Smaller companies may have affiliations with an independent national network. Find out what kind of business you can expect from such referrals, and how leads are distributed in the office.
- What administrative support is available?
Find out what tasks the administrative staff will handle for you, such as processing listings, transactions, technology assistance or after-hours answering. Talk to the admin and technical staff and see if they are friendly, knowledgeable, accessible and professional?
- What can management offer?
A knowledgeable and supportive manager can make a big difference to your career. Does the manager offer business planning, training and coaching? Does the manager compete in sales or focused on the agents? If you know any other agents in the office, ask them about the strengths of the manager. Do you think your personalities and styles work well together?
- What are the office facilities like?
Since clients will be coming to your office, it’s important that the facilities be clean and welcoming. Look at the lighting, the layout and the overall aesthetics of the place. Is it well maintained? What kind of artwork is on the walls? What about the paint and carpet? Are there appropriate public spaces such as reception area, and conference rooms for private meetings?
- Compensation, are you comparing apples to apples?
Consider the commission split, AND the business expenses you are expected to cover. For example, in some offices you might be required to pay for certain services, and admin support on an ala carte basis, while other offices cover this as part of the overhead. There are many different models available, and each one has to attract and retain agents as well as support the staff, tools, brand and management of the company.
Hopefully, you will find these questions helpful when you begin seaching for an office that is the “right fit” for you.
The Moment Your Client Needs You Most
I'm a real estate trainer who travels the world teaching practitioners how to better their business. But when I played the role of the buyer this spring, I learned a few lessons.
JULY 2016 | BY VALERIE GARCIA
I'm either your dream client or your worst nightmare. As a real estate trainer and speaker, I've spent the last 18 years teaching practitioners how to build their businesses. So when I found myself in the role of the buyer, my first thought wasn't, “Which agent should I use?” Rather, it was, “Which agent is actually going to want to work with me?”
I didn't initially intend to buy a house. I did what everyone does: I stalked the MLS daily like it was an ex-boyfriend. (Everyone does that, right?) I had recently sold a house that I loved and was renting short-term, which is basically the real estate equivalent of casual dating. I wasn't even sure that I could love another house the way I loved my last one, figuring I needed to stay “house-single” for a while. And I certainly didn't want to end up in a rebound house. But then it happened: a daily notification in my email, a click on the “see photos” button, and there it was. The One.
When they find out I recently bought a house, most pros say to me, “How did you ever choose an agent?” I laugh the question off — and then they say, “No, seriously, who did you use?” It's par for the course, given that I know literally thousands of agents on a first-name basis. In this case, given the extreme seller's market that I live in, I chose based on one thing: I needed a friend who understood exactly how emotional this would be for me. I needed a bulldog who would negotiate without emotion and firmly keep me where I belonged — out of the negotiations.
In my opinion, choosing a real estate representative is an extremely personal decision for a buyer. You want someone who speaks for you — as you — at the offer table, during negotiations, through inspections, appraisals, and all of the stressful moments. If I can give buyer's agents one piece of advice, it's this: Find out how your client communicates and realize that you are their surrogate in the home buying process. They want to know that you get them and are acting as they would.
My experience wasn't all sunshine and roses. The listing agent lived a full 90 minutes away and didn't know or want to learn how to use digital signatures. The negotiations took days longer than necessary, as everything had to be faxed from the seller to the agent, then scanned and emailed to my agent. By the final signatures, the paperwork was illegible. (It's time to get with the times, people. This kind of behavior does you more harm than good.)
But in the end, I bought a house, and I love it more than I ever thought I would. I also learned a pretty big lesson along the way: Your job is not just to make the deal happen. It's to be there in the moments of impact. It's not just about the moment when the offer is accepted or at the closing table, when your client is the happiest. Those are the feel-good, slow-music, romantic moments. When I really want my agent is when the deal was tenuous and I was scared, or when the water heater isn't working on move-in day and I just needed to vent.
I'm going to let you in on a secret: The biggest moment of impact is moving day. It's that horrible, terrible day when everything I own is in boxes that have to be moved downstairs, across driveways, and back upstairs in a new house; when I am exhausted, broke, and would literally cut off my right arm for a pizza. That moment, my friends, is when you can shine. Show up. Text. Send a pizza. Be there. Because that moment is the absolute worst, and we always remember who was there for us in our worst moments.