Some folks call them the Charlie’s Angels of real estate. They may not take on crime-fighting tasks via speakerphone, but they did work as a team to double their volume in the first year of business, and are on pace to double it again this year. The Elizabeth Stablewski group of Nothnagle Realtors in Orchard Park was formed two years ago to offer home buyers and sellers a team approach to sales and service.
“I was selling on my own for a while. As I started to get busier, I hired additional people to help the business grow. I made every effort to clone myself as much as possible,” joked Elizabeth Stablewski, who founded the team in her name.
Indeed this gang of five — all in their mid 20s to late 30s — share the same taste in stylish haircuts and attire and the same commitment to providing top service to their clients. With past experience in pharmaceutical sales and real estate, Stablewski thought the team approach — populated with like-minded and motivated colleagues — would meet two key objectives: help people find the homes they love and provide exceptional customer service.
Team real estate sales is still relatively new in Western New York, but is growing in popularity. “It’s common in a lot of states to sell in the team dynamic. We tend to follow the ‘tried and true’ in Western New York. Team selling is the way of the future,” said Stablewski.
There’s a method to this strategy. The group doesn’t swoop in en masse: Stablewski brings one colleague to meet with clients initially. “We try to structure it so I’m representing the seller,” said Stablewski. With a team member as co-lister, that Realtor also becomes familiar with the property. If this turns into a buyer lead, the buyer now has independent representation. The strategy leaves Stablewski free to market the seller’s property. Commissions are shared between the lister and co-lister.
Stablewski’s first hire was Kim Clancy. Clancy handles all the administrative tasks from contract to closing, and is the only salaried member of the team. She’s licensed to sell real estate, too, if that bug ever bites.
With the back office functions secure, Stablewski began building her sales team. “I was Beth’s esthetician,” said Kelly Waples. “Real estate was always something I thought about, and one day I asked her how to get into the industry and if I could be successful.” Waples trained, passed the state exam, and became part of the team.
Wendy Januchowski was a school counselor who developed a strong interest in real estate as a consumer. “She had some bad experiences and when she came to us a client, she had been burned and she asked some really tough questions,” said Stablewski.
“I see real estate from the humanistic side,” said Januchowksi. “There are people behind every piece of property. I want to be the difference and not be ‘that’ realtor. Treating people like people to me is very important.” Stablewski added, “Real estate is an easy industry to get into: it’s a lot of work to be successful. There are fewer realtors who give clients the service they deserve.”
The group also learns and grows from working with Stablewski, a successful and seasoned agent. “Beth is a mentor who wants you to do well,” said Waples. It invites more opportunity for personal and professional growth, too. Before Mariah Hoeber joined the team, she was selling real estate on her own for 18 months.
This group doesn’t operate like the backbiting Realtors in stories like “Glengary Glen Ross,” but any office can have its moments. Celebrating successes, sharing birthday lunches, laughing at each other’s foibles (almost everyone has locked herself out of a property and has had to call a team member for the spare key), participating in community events like the Corporate Challenge, and the occasional structured communications exercise keeps the group focused. Stablewski said, “It’s very important that we all click. There’s no room for cattiness or gossip. Open communication is important.”
There’s team spirit outside the office and inside, as well. The team recently had a guest shot on WBBZ’s quiz show “Bragging Rights” and was pitted against another team of Realtors to answer questions about local history and trivia.
Time management is another key factor in a field that is not your typical 9 to 5 gig. “It’s a big struggle in this business to learn how to schedule yourself,” said Hoeber. Here’s where the team model shines: when another team member is the co-lister and is familiar with the property and all its details, there’s almost always someone available to answer client questions.
Stablewski also places a value on her team’s downtime, however, in a field where it’s often difficult to “get away” from work. “When you work non-traditional hours, you need to bring the same level of commitment to your family that you bring to your clients.” Family for this team means children for four members and a pet for another. “Recently I attended one of my daughter’s school events. I could leave for an hour. A lot of working moms can’t do that,” said Stablewski. “The flipside of that is not knowing how to turn off the clock.”
If the team goal is to have a united front, serve their clients, and be successful, each member has her own motivation. New member Januchowski wants to be the one who helps. Stablewski strives to make the most of her teaching skills. Hoeber wants to ease the stress that’s part of the buying and selling process. Waples aspires to use her new skills and learn all that she can.
“When a client says ‘thank you,’ it’s worth it,” said Clancy.
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