By Emma Collins
Connecticut is a center of movement that is revitalizing marketing outside of New York City. The woman behind the mantras and marketing efforts, is Realtor® and President of the Higgins Group, (a Christie’s International real estate affiliate), Julie Vanderblue of Fairfield County. “My job is to market Connecticut at the highest level… this comes easy as I authentically believe that Connecticut is one of the best places to live in the world,” states Vanderblue. Her success as both a teacher and team leader untimely hinges on the collaborative efforts that fully integrate client relations into the selling process.
Team building is key: “You must align yourself with partners who bring strength and skill in different areas so the combined effort brings considerably more value to your clients,” Vanderblue says. Persona! and professional shortcomings will always be there, but Vanderblue uses these ostensible deficiencies as an opportunity to build a well-rounded platform of players: an agent may be weak in one area, but will possess expertise in another — the magic is in the alignment of these skill sets within a team.
When training for team building, Vanderblue asks her team the following question: “What do you bring to the table?” Their response dictates not only how they will contribute to the overall success of the company, but how they will organically connect with buyers and sellers. “Each one of us has a geographical expertise. But we also choose other areas that we commit to studying in order to bring more value to both our team and clients. For instance, we have a Waterfront Specialist who truly understands the details needed for buyers interested in coastal lifestyles… [other Realtors®] might say ‘I’m a waterfront expert, but [they can’t answer] when a buyer asks what the draft is for the boat or if a property is FEMA compliant. “The term expert is often thrown around too loosely without credibility, we take it seriously,” Vanderblue says. Each Vanderblue Division head must come with specific experiential knowledge and dedicated research. For instance, Vanderblue’s Urban to Suburban consultants guide buyers moving to Fairfield County from cities throughout the US because they have personally experienced moving from the city themselves. Familiarity brings comfort and confidence; what could have been daunting and stressful becomes enjoyable and exciting.
But once a Realtor® has found their niche, or expertise, the gaze then turns to the consumer — “We learn everything we can about the buyer to help find the right home for their family… it’s not about pointing out the obvious in homes (here is the kitchen) but uncovering their needs and wants, cross-marketing homes and even towns, and often looking outside of the norm to find that perfect match.” Creativity is one of Vanderblue’s strengths and one example is found in a successful niche called Exclusive Sneak Preview Division (www.espdivision.com). With the transparency of the market, most buyers are looking for opportunities that are not on multiple listing service while sellers are looking for buyers before they are ready to officially market. This unique matchmaking creates win – win scenarios and it brings significant benefits to buyers, sellers and Realtors®.” Effective sales starts with listening. No one wants to feel sold… but they always want to be heard,” says Vanderblue.
Creating an informed, tangible bridge between a client’s wants and needs is essential, and that’s built on trust. Normally we associate “trust” with those around us we consider friends or even family members. But when it comes to real estate, selecting the right Realtor® for your specific needs is paramount because of the huge financial considerations and risks involved. Many people feel obligated to use a friend or family member but that is often not the best choice. “I highly recommend that buyers take the proper time for due diligence when they choose a Realtor® (whether a friend or not), just as they would when choosing an attorney or a doctor. Trust, when it comes to real estate representation, is built and earned not inherited,” Vanderblue stated.
This consumer-centric business model built on trust modifies the traditional assumptions of salespeople, particularly in the realm of real estate. By listening to the client, rather than forcing the sale of a property, a Realtor® creates a synergistic experience based on mutual need and interdependence “The Real Estate industry is, in my opinion, somewhat broken,” says Vanderblue. “Our goal as a team is to elevate the professionalism offered by Realtors®.”
In an effort to raise the bar of real estate standards, Vanderblue has found that educating the buyer is one of the ultimate goals. By listening and watching body language, Vanderblue agents are able to grasp more deeply what their buyers are looking for in the perfect lifestyle for their family. Sometimes that means introducing clients to other towns that might be a better fit, more affordable or closer for commuting. This means knowing exactly what each location offers and all the nuances that go with it. “We tap into the skill of all of our teammates to broaden the options of buyers and to introduce and educate them to areas of CT they may not have even considered. As a team we work together for the best interest of the client and unlike most agents, we share the financial reward.” This synergistic approach is why Vanderblue’s Team was chosen to exclusively represent www. TownAdvisor.com for all of Fairfield County. Vanderblue’s www.townvideos.com gives people a glimpse of the many choices available within Fairfield County.
When it comes to sales, the collaborative efforts from an expert, coupled with a well-rounded team cannot be underestimated. What one member lacks, another makes up for, but they all should have one thing in common: authenticity and a dedication to excellence. Vanderblue sums her mantra up beautifully: “Authenticity sells… and nothing great comes without passion.”
Vanderblue’s latest venture, the All Inclusive Real Estate (AIRE) network, directly ties into the team’s core values of education and inclusivity. The platform, which seeks to connect buyers to a network of highly reputable attorneys, property inspectors, and contractors, among others, is built entirely on the team’s years of shared research and experience. Additionally, by allowing clients to create and amend content on the site, it will only continue to augment the niche client-driven experience.
One example is the The Vanderblue Design Center, which is soon opening on the water in downtown Rowayton, CT with the help of ourboathouse.com. “It’s a wonderful waterfront community retail shop with office space that will boast a lovely nautical designer showroom and serve as a potential meeting place for architects, homeowners, sellers, investors, agents, designers, and builders.”
Additional content By Julia Pressman