An engineer’s approach to real estate
Our real estate practice is “data driven” to help clients make smart decisions about the values of properties, whether buying or selling. Bankers and techies especially appreciate our charts and spreadsheets. Having a digital MLS gives us great opportunities to be able to do market analysis on home sales and give some valuable insights on market resiliency.
Area experts vs “tiny market” experts
Since beginning our real estate practice almost 17 years ago, we felt that a specific opportunity that the “market experts” weren’t taking on with their clients was the chance to work with buyers to make an informed decision about *where* they should buy. Honestly, at that time, almost no experienced Boston agents viewed buyers as their clients at all. The culture of buyers’ agency was still quite foreign here.
As a buyer myself, I worked with a “Cambridge expert” in my home search 20 years ago, but she was unable and unwilling to help me understand neighboring towns. The same towns where my friends and colleagues lived and bought, but that I didn’t understand.
She was also reluctant to work with me in a gentrifying area of Cambridge where condo prices were starting to top $1m, but had historically not been a “desirable location”. I find that many “expert” agents are actually slow to notice the changing trends and attitudes in their hyperlocal markets and they express surprise at the reasoning that brings the new buyers paying higher prices.
This all was, and frequently still is, the experience that a buyer faces in Boston area real estate.
I think at that time that was due in large part to the historical reliance on “the book” for MLS listings, but also a real estate culture that has continued to steer agents to specialize in small portions of the market.
We’ve never been one to take the simple path, and we are driven by working to understand the client experience and provide a useful and valuable service to them.
People typically move to Boston or Cambridge for an education or a work opportunity, but they often do not choose to live in Boston or Cambridge. Or they would at least be well-served to consider other locations.
Their home search typically includes portions of Boston and Cambridge along with the surrounding towns and some commuter rail communities. When we work with clients we are continually addressing the search from their perspective….I need a certain commute, at a certain price, with certain amenities in the home and often a certain type of educational experience for my family.
This means that as brokers we are in a variety of markets, actively. We deeply understand the perspectives of the buyers, both the relocating buyer and the local buyers that we work with. We know the tradeoffs of different communities from their perspectives and how that affects pricing and demand across several markets.
We see the Boston area as one city with many different communities and not individual, unrelated markets.
We dedicate ourselves to intimately understanding a variety of markets and working with incoming clients to give them the pertinent information that they need.
Likewise, when listing properties, even in a variety of towns, we intimately understand the thinking of the buyers coming to the property. The choice they are making to purchase that property isn’t compared to the property around the corner, it is compared to a handful of properties in different towns. That sets the market price.
Having market expertise means more to our team that just being able to share a median price for a town, or how much a four bedroom home will typically cost. “The market” is the one that you care about, whether you are selling one home in one neighborhood, or looking at 20 neighborhoods for your new home.