Spotlight on … Frank Conturso

Frank Conturso has certainly earned his place in our spotlight, as Century 21 Cedarcrest’s top producing real estate agent in 2016 and 2015 (he was warming up by being our second highest producer the previous two years).

A native of Nutley, Frank joined our agency eight years ago after an interesting and winding career path that in hindsight led him straight to our door. His professional life began in finance on Wall Street and then as a client rep for a financial software company in California, where he got a taste of customer service.

After returning to New Jersey, Frank experienced firsthand what it takes to build a quality home, when he went to work with his brother in the latter’s construction company. Although he was a project manager, he had ample opportunities to get his hands dirty and see how to build a house from the ground up, to see a raw piece of land become someone’s dream home. The experience also taught him the value that remodels and additions bring to an existing home. This got the wheels turning about his next career move into real estate. The time was right to make the transition when the construction business slowed down in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

“I saw a career as a real estate agent as an opportunity to do things the way I wanted to—to look out for my clients’ needs and interests first and foremost,” says Frank. “I believed that the income would flow naturally if I did things the right way.”

As part of his research into a real estate career, Frank turned to his uncle, who is in the business locally. Frank told his uncle that it was important for him to get into an office where he’d receive good training. He originally thought he’d go work with his uncle but the advice he got was a game changer. “If I had to start over, I’d go work for John Sass,” his uncle told him. “He believes in ongoing education and does excellent training.”

Frank agrees 100 percent. “John is a great person to learn with. I really liked that training is a priority for him. He truly wants to see his agents succeed.”
Although he got started in the field during a very difficult time (2009), with many distressed properties and short sales in the New Jersey market, Frank understood that the tough times offered an excellent opportunity to learn the business the right way. “Learning in a difficult time like that prepares you for just about anything,” notes Frank.

He seems to have learned quite a bit, given his rising sales production over the years. In addition to being our agency’s top producer, he has won the following Century 21 honors: Quality Service Pinnacle Producer Award (2011-2016), Masters Diamond Level and Emerald Level Awards (2012-2016), and a President’s Award (having achieved both CENTURION® level production and the Quality Service Pinnacle Award in the same year, 2015). Frank is also #79 in our entire NJ/Delaware region and a recipient of the New Jersey Association of REALTORS® (NJAR) Silver Level Circle of Excellence Sales Award (2012-2016).

“I have a good team around me with strong support, with John being first and foremost in that role. My mentor there (who has since left) was also a big part of my success as is believing in what we stand for at Century 21 Cedarcrest,” he says. Frank is quick to point out that all agents, new and seasoned, really look out for each other.

“Being here feels like family to me and family has always been important to me in personal life. To have it in professional life is a blessing.”

Spotlight on … Joe Scotto

From the day Joe Scotto first came to our office, it was apparent that he’d take to real estate like a duck takes to water. He was a natural and quickly became a rising star who is loved by everyone on our team.

“Joe’s an incredibly fast learner, and his enthusiasm for the industry is infectious,” says John Sass, broker/owner of Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty.

Joe had a burgeoning career in the restaurant industry when he joined Century 21 on March 21, 2016. The term “meteoric rise” may be a cliché, but in his case it’s perfectly apt. Within the space of about one month, he studied for the New Jersey real estate exam, passed, and became a licensed real estate agent—an exceptional feat for anyone, let alone someone with absolutely no prior experience in real estate.

His motivation? His fiancé.

“I’d been working in restaurants since I was 15,” says Joe. “By 18, I was managing a small place in Passaic County. I loved the industry and decided to take it to the next level.” By age 21, he had worked his way into management in a Wendy’s franchise. But while training as a district manager, he realized that the long hours and intense responsibilities that lay ahead were incompatible with the next chapter of his life: marriage and family.

He started to feel that a career change was due. “We had friends who were mortgage representatives. My ears would always perk up when the talk turned to real estate.”

His future wife, meanwhile, was also thinking about switching tracks. An interior designer, she was intrigued by the idea of selling the kinds of homes she’d been busy decorating. She met with Susan Mazzetta, our Director of Career Development. Joey’s name came up before long. “And that’s how I wound up in John’s office,” he recalls.

Recognizing Joe’s raw talent, John Sass took him under his wing without hesitation. “His drive, his eagerness to help people, his ability to engage and listen … it was clear that Joey had all the hallmarks of a successful real estate agent.”

Joe jumped at the opportunity to join Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty. “It was like ripping the Band Aid off,” he says. “I quit my job, worked odd jobs on the side, lived on my savings, and just went for it.” He would soon prove to be everything John predicted and more.

“In terms of learning and gaining traction in the real estate market, it’s been a successful year,” Joe says. “I’m still learning, but I’ve had two sales closings and 10 or 11 rentals in the past year, including some of my own listings.”

A team player to the core, Joe refuses to accept all the credit for his successful first year. “I feel very fortunate about getting into John’s office. The way he runs his business is top notch. Everyone is so willing to help—John, our sales manager, Dennis DiSabato, Susan, and all the other agents. There’s always someone to go to for advice or for help with a particular transaction. You never feel like you’re alone. From what I’ve heard, a lot of offices are not like that.”

In addition to his track record of working with others and managing employees and restaurants, Joe is also a volunteer fire fighter in Little Falls. His desire to help others comes through with every customer he works with. That, according to John Sass, says everything you need to know about his protégé’s service-oriented character.

But what really drives Joe Scotto is his passion for helping people. “I love the fact that I get to do this on a daily basis. People come to you with a need and you can help them fulfill it. You’re there to help buyers make the biggest purchase of their lives or to help sellers reap the benefits of their investment.

“Every dollar you make is really earned. When it’s about being able to help someone and earn money at the same time, that’s very satisfying.”

The Business of Being a Commercial Real Estate Agent

Working in commercial real estate is quite different from helping home buyers and sellers—you’re working with business owners and investors with a very different inventory.

A commercial transaction might deal with multi-family, mixed-use, retail, or office space. Therefore, successful commercial real estate agents must know about sales and leasing in a broad array of property types. There are different kinds of tenant negotiations that occur, and different types of marketing strategies. And a transaction could be for an owner occupied property or as a commercial real estate investment, adding additional factors to the transaction.

What do investors, buyers and tenants want from a commercial real estate professional

First off, commercial is a specialty, so it’s best that an agent gain experience and knowledge in this specific sector of the real estate field. Know (or learn) how to deal with commercial transactions—there are no uniform contracts or cookie cutter leases. That means sharpening your negotiation skills as well as understanding the leasing or commercial buying process.

Of course, just as with residential sales professionals, being proactive is important. Aside from canvassing the local market for properties and leads, research is key to commercial transactions.

  • Use your office’s systems and tools to research market rates for rentals
  • Become conversant in investment packages
  • Gain a full understanding of the different areas in your market. Do properties in certain areas attract certain kinds of businesses? Do the listing prices make sense for sale properties?
  • Can you provide a detailed and accurate financial analysis for commercial investors?

Aside from research, developing good relationships with area business owners can help create strong database and referral network. When that investor calls the office looking for help finding the right property, you’ll not only have the listings services as a resource, you’ll have local people to contact and potential space to visit because you’ve done your homework.

Speaking of referrals—remember that commercial real estate transactions often involve build outs and other improvements as part of the lease negotiations. Therefore, good power partners are architects, general contractors, and others involved in lease improvements.

More complicated investment deals may require partnering with others to make a successful transaction, so it’s important to know the players in your area or your office to create a winning team.

If you are working with tenants, it’s important that you show them you understand their businesses and that you are showing them space that makes sense for their needs. Whether it’s a restaurant, retailer, healthcare facility or law practice, every client has different needs in terms of square footage, utilities, parking and leasehold improvements.

When working with building owners, these clients want to know that you have a good performance record when it comes to finding strong tenants or solid buyers; your experience will speak for itself. They will also count on you to represent their interests to potential buyers or tenants, and that you can negotiate a strong deal on their behalf. Like the buyer or tenant, the seller or landlord will want to know that you have his/her best interests in mind throughout the transaction.

From any side of the transaction, building trust builds relationships that will in turn build business.

Build your book of business at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

Our office is growing—and we’re always looking for savvy commercial real estate agents to join our team. When you join our northern New Jersey office, you become part of one of the country’s most well-respected real estate organizations, with business-building tools and apps designed for commercial real estate agents. You can take advantage of commercial investment training that will position you for a broader range of transactions. Plus, you’ll benefit from our ongoing in-office training and development for agents at all stages of their careers—an important way we support our team, and why Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty consistently wins industry awards for sales volume and customer service—and accolades and awards from consumers as well.

Interested in learning more? Contact Susan Mazzetta at (973) 228-1050, ext. 126 for a confidential interview.

Are you an Experienced NJ Real Estate Sales Professional with a Career that’s Stuck in Neutral?

Experienced real estate agents know that a career in real estate has many rewards. To a large extent, you make your own hours and the earning potential is high—especially when you’ve nurtured great leads and have closed many successful transactions with happy customers.

However, as with many other careers, sometimes you need to make a change. Over time, motivation can lag and that spark can start to sputter when you’ve been in the same office for a very long time.

If you’re feeling like your real estate sales career has gotten stagnant, it might be time to change offices. And, if you’re working in northern New Jersey on residential sales and rentals, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty in Caldwell, NJ has a place for you.

Our office is all about excitement and opportunity, working in an upscale market in northern New Jersey. In fact, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty is a designated Fine Homes & Estates office; wouldn’t like a piece of that action?

Five great reasons to join Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

  1. As one of our agents, you’ll be part of the vast Century 21 network, with opportunities to work with buyers and sellers from just about anywhere across the country—and around the world.
  2. We’re all about career development, and provide ongoing training in our own training center. Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty offers weekly training classes and provides guidance whenever you need it to help you keep your sales and marketing skills sharp and your customer relationships positive.
  3. No-fee leads – unlike other offices, Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty covers the cost of the lead management system to help maximize your earnings.
  4. Senior management that’s there and that cares. We’re not behind closed doors—we’re available every day for hands-on interactions with our sales associates, always ready to help you build your book of business.

Come rejuvenate your real estate career at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty. Contact Susan Mazzetta at (973) 225-1050, ext. 126 for a confidential conversation about opportunities for seasoned real estate sales associates … and a future with Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty.

Are you Thinking of Getting into Real Estate? Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty is Hiring New Real Estate Agents!

Becoming a real estate sales professional can be an exciting and lucrative career for the right person – energetic, people-oriented, and with a passion for sales. At Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty, we’re looking for people who are interested in starting a new career in real estate. Experience is not required but a willingness to learn and work hard are definitely traits anyone must have to gain a foothold in this industry.

Benefits of working at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty

  • You become part of a great team and an international network of real estate offices. Yes, our agents may work with buyers and sellers from just about anywhere.
  • Our corporate culture here is all about support, mentorship, and ongoing professional development.
  • Century 21 is a brand with powerful advertising and high consumer respect.
  • You’ll have access to industry-leading technology for maximum exposure and increased qualified leads.
  • Although we are specialists in Essex County real estate, our busy office represents buyers and sellers from throughout Northern New Jersey.
  • Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty was named 2015 “Best Realtor” by readers of Suburban Essex magazine in its Best of Essex Readers’ Choice Awards—and we’ve been nominated again for the 2016 honor.

We invest in your future with us

Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty also believes investing in the future success of our sales associates. One way we do that is to offer you a $100 discount off the mandatory state pre-licensing course, which prepares you to sit for the New Jersey real estate exam, in order to become a licensed real estate agent.

Then, after you’ve passed the exam and received your license, we provide ongoing expert training, led by seasoned real estate pros who’ve seen and done it all. They’ll teach you our winning sales and customer service techniques that get your foot in more doors with home buyers and sellers.

Upon your first closing with us, we then reimburse new agents for the out-of-pocket expense of the pre-licensing course, up to $275.

All our agents have access to Century 21’s superior real estate marketing, automation and communications systems as well as C21 University, an online resource that offers continuing education programs and a library of valuable assets to help you grow your book of business and refine your customer service skills.

About that training …

We offer weekly in-house training and professional development courses in our nicely appointed training room. These programs are managed by Susan Mazzetta, Century 21 Cedarcrest’s director of career development. Our agents also receive valuable mentorship about marketing their listings, customer relations, and sales techniques from Susan and Dennis DiSabato, our agency’s sales manager.

We have an open-door policy with senior management so that everyone at every level of experience can share challenges and gain valuable support and ideas; this extends not only to Susan, Dennis and broker owner, John Sass but to other team members as well.

Are you our next hire?

We’re looking for people with enthusiasm and motivation, strong interpersonal skills, and a passion for sales, to talk to us about their real estate career. The North Jersey market is hot right now and it’s a great time to get into the business (or build up an existing real estate career).
Prospective agents may upload a resume and get more information at http://century21cedarcrest.com/careers/. For a confidential interview, call Susan Mazzetta, director of career development at (973) 228-1050, ext. 126. We look forward to meeting you and bringing you into the world of real estate in Northern New Jersey!

Spotlight on … Dennis DiSabato

When we say real estate is in his blood, we really mean it! Dennis DiSabato is a third-generation REALTOR ® and real estate professional, having grown up in the business and learning a lot from his grandfather and father. In fact, his grandfather was a REALTOR before the National Association of Realtors ® even existed!

“I joke that when I was born, instead of a birth certificate they gave me a real estate license,” says Dennis, who is a broker, sales person and sales manager at Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty. As such, he uses his years of real estate experience to help our agents conduct the smoothest transactions possible and avoid hitting any bumps in the road to successful closings. Dennis joined Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty in 2010 after many years at the Terry Perko Agency in Little Falls.

Dennis has been very active in the local real estate community and its professional organizations, having first served in several leadership positions for the Arlington Kearny Board of Realtors (which later merged with the Meadowlands association), and as president of the Passaic County Board of REALTORS.

He considers himself a regional REALTOR, given his extensive experience that has truly spanned across northern New Jersey, from Netcong to Jersey City. Because he has represented so many sellers and buyers across the region over the years, Dennis is always ready to help our agents hone in on an area to better serve their customers.

“I can help someone zero in on the right towns and the homes within customers’ budgets before anyone has a chance to use the technology tools we have to find the information,” says Dennis. As his company bio states, in today’s fast paced, ever-changing market, there is no substitute for experience.

Here’s another thing Dennis stands by in today’s high-tech, low-touch world: personal communication and in-person service. He notes that working in such a time-sensitive industry, a phone call is more targeted and that verbal communication will help rectify a misunderstanding quickly as well as soothe jittery buyers or sellers—something a text or email cannot always do.

Of his managerial capacity at the agency, Dennis says that anything the sales people are encountering, he’s likely already dealt with, and has plenty of tips to share throughout the course of the transaction to ensure contracts make it to closing.

He also helps our sales people differentiate themselves from the thousands of others out there, when it comes to signing a listing and working with customers throughout the life of the transaction. He says it’s all about providing the personal touch, such as fully vetting buyers and presenting offers in person rather than electronically (a little old-school touch that goes far when it comes to customer service!). He also says a good real estate agent must be the best listener around, which is part of Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty’s consultative approach to real estate sales.

As testament to his sales ability, Dennis is a long-time member of the New Jersey Association of REALTORS’ distinguished Million Dollar Sales Club and a recipient of its Circle of Excellence award. He stays at the top of his game by attending continuing education seminars on a regular basis, picking up tips to refresh his presentation of offers or ways to communicate with buyers.

“Knowledge doesn’t make the sale, it’s the emotion,” says Dennis. “The real estate agent needs to find out their personal motivation behind the move and hone in on their hot spots; they might not even know what they want or don’t like. A real estate professional determines what’s really important to buyers, through listening and experiencing various homes with the customer. You can show them something they didn’t think they wanted, and then they realize it’s the perfect home for them because you listened.”

Spotlight on … Susan Mazzetta, Director of Career Development

Legions of New Jersey real estate agents owe their success to the training and expertise they received from Susan Mazzetta, Century 21 Cedarcrest’s director of career development. Susan puts her 30+ years of experience as a real estate executive (management, sales, training, and recruiting) into every training seminar and career development program we hold for our agents, both new and seasoned. A nationally certified trainer, Susan has also attended Century 21 corporate training classes and incorporates some of the techniques and insights into our office’s training and career development.

Among the key aspects of real estate that Susan teaches are how to create listings that get noticed, developing sales strategies, phone techniques, how to handle expired listings and specialty listings such as for sale by owner (FSBO), and negotiating. In fact, negotiating is a key area of Susan’s expertise.

“There are four skills that agents bring to the transaction: the ability to merchandise and stage the property, marketing to reach the right buyer, networking, and negotiating. This final stage is so important to achieve a smooth outcome; the agents learn how to not only negotiate with buyers or sellers but also to understand the entire contract process, which I also teach them.”

Regarding her training on listing and marketing strategies, Susan says that “I coach the agents to find the essence of the house and discover the potential buyer for that. Then, we design a program to appeal to a specific target buyer.” She helps Century 21 Cedarcrest’s agents develop marketing strategies that appeal to both the public as well as other real estate agents, and says it’s important to present alternative ways to draw prospective buyers, such as twilight or progressive open houses for people who work during the day or have flexible schedules. Exceeding the expectations of the people they serve is a mantra she drives home to every new agent in the office.

“Susan motivates and builds our team with great skill,” said John Sass, broker/owner of Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty. “The results of her trainings are seen in the increase of our agents’ production levels year after year by teaching them to be better salespeople.”

Susan believes that in order to work well with clients—whether home sellers or home buyers, even builders and developers—a real estate agent needs to adapt to who they are working with and gauge clients where they are in order to develop a strong working relationship. “There is something great in everyone if you look for it. Find what makes them shine and build up those special aspects, whether it’s a client or another real estate agent you are working with on a transaction.”

She also recruits agents to join the Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty team. In order to succeed, she says agents must have a passion for this career, be highly motivated and attentive to details, and provide outstanding customer service. Of the many people she meets at career seminars, she notes that people who enjoyed service- and sales-related careers in the past make great real estate agents. “They are organized and caring, a great combination for a successful agent.”

To stay at her peak, Susan continues her own real estate education in order to incorporate new technologies and techniques into her training. She has been recognized with many industry awards for her numerous sales achievements and has served as director for a variety of new home communities throughout the state. Before Susan joined Century 21 Cedarcrest, she was an agent, manager, and corporate trainer for several nationally known real estate brands. She also ran the sales offices for five distinctive condominium developments in northern New Jersey and worked with an exclusive clientele while at Sotheby’s and Previews’ high-end divisions.

In addition to training and professional development, Susan is a certified fine homes and estates specialist and a broker/associate in Century 21 Cedarcrest Realty’s Fine Homes & Estates division. However, she says that, “Recruiting and training are where I am most comfortable and feel I can make the biggest impact. I enjoy helping agents succeed, so when I was offered the opportunity here, I knew this was a great fit.”

When asked about her favorite part of her job, she responds that, “If I can inspire someone to reach the next level, if I had any effect on them to build their career, that’s my reward. Being a part of the Century 21 Cedarcrest team and seeing the combination of energy and spirit in our office as agents reach for the highest level of real estate service—that’s what inspires me in return.”

Why You Shouldn’t Try a For-Sale-By-Owner Sale

Why You Shouldn’t Try a For-Sale-By-Owner Sale

On the one hand, selling your home “for sale by owner” can save you a ton of money when it comes to the percentage a real estate agent might take in commission. While you’d still have to pay the buyer’s agent a fee, you stand to walk away a few thousand dollars better off than if you had hired a professional. But is it really worth it?

You Have a Job

A real job. A job other than selling your own home. Selling homes is a full-time job and you may not really have the time in each day to dedicate to showing your home (during hours that work for buyers), marketing your home, or dealing with all of the legalities associated with making a final sale. Unless you are a real estate agent already, selling your own home may end up translating to hours and hours of unpaid work.

A Weak Internet Strategy

People used to be able to put a listing in the paper and a sign on the lawn and people would find and be interested in their homes. It’s not the same anymore. Even if you spend time listing your home on real estate listing services, you won’t have as much luck spreading the word about the house you have for sale. Why? Because real estate agents have a network of contacts – other industry professionals and clients looking for homes. They can email them, direct them to listings, and make more efficient use of every listing put up on the web.

Protecting Your Interests

Most of the people looking at your home will have an agent and that agent only has the buyer’s interests at heart. For-sale-by-owner (FSOB) sellers do have a bit of a negative reputation within the industry, too – as people who are difficult or who will not be realistic when it comes to making a sale. Because of this, some buyer’s agents won’t even attempt to show your home.

Your own agent, on the other hand, is interested in protecting you and selling your home. She’ll make sure you’ve staged properly, set a realistic price point, and don’t seem over-eager in negotiations.

You Probably Won’t Save Money

We started out by saying you might save money on your own, but is that really true? Even if you don’t have to pay commission to a real estate agent, will your home sell for the same amount as it would have if an agent were involved? Will you accept an offer that is too low or end up spending more on other fees? Studies show that FSBO sales typically work out better in markets with lower price points, but you may end up hurting yourself if you live in a more affluent area where competition is hotter.

Selling your own home seems like it makes sense, but there is a lot more to it than many might realize. Hiring a real estate agent may not only net a greater selling price, but will prevent you from legal liability if the process doesn’t go smoothly.