A trio of home experts creates a culture of kindness, and not just for the holiday season.
Ian Green and brokers Lynn Donahue and Donna Maley
The housing market in Boston’s tonier ’burbs has always been a cutthroat business. After all, big money is at stake. The median listing price of Wellesley homes is $1,495,000, or $500 per square foot (that’s twice the rate of Boston proper). This year, values are expected to rise 3.2 percent, after an increase of 12.3 percent last year. Ironically, a surprisingly effective strategy is emerging among realtors: Be nice. It’s that simple—at least according to Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. real estate brokers Donna Maley and Lynn Donahue and builder Ian C. Green of Wood & Clay Fine Homes.
Is there a philosophy you all embrace when initially approaching a client? Donna Maley: It starts with listening to everything clients want to tell us about what they need and how they live. They educate us first, and in turn we educate them about what the market’s doing.
What are the challenges of working in the luxury market? Ian Green: Wellesley’s a community where everyone works really well together. When you find a reliable person, you keep them in your network. Clients look to pair with people who are honest and fair. Lynn Donahue: Ian will meet us with our clients at a house and typically get them an estimate within 48 hours. That’s an invaluable service, because without a sense of what a project will cost, a buyer can’t make an offer.
How is that different than most other builders? IG: Creating a budget first thing out of the gate, based on a set of plans, sets the situation up for trust. I make budgets that are always broken down on a granular basis, and I code everything from beginning to end, so you can see exactly where money goes. There’s total transparency.
What are some of the biggest changes you’re witnessing in the market right now? LD: New construction is currently in heavy demand in the ’burbs. So the smarter value in our market is to consider buying [an older] property and then renovating it, which allows buyers to focus on location. That way they get a much better deal, and the end product is in a top neighborhood. IG: Instead of buying a new place, people are reshaping their homes to fit the changing ways they’re living. Families want to spend as much time as possible in one room, rather than be separated all over the house. People are forgoing a formal dining room, for example, and instead renovating their kitchens and living rooms to create one great room where they can all hang out. It’s as if people’s schedules have changed architecture, and the entire home industry.
What are the trickiest aspects of managing clients? LD: One of our more challenging situations is when the couple has different real estate goals. For instance, one person wants a new house but the other wants an older home. Or one wants land, the other doesn’t. Our solution is, listen to both and explore options that fit each of their goals. Listening well is always the biggest building block to trust. Donahue & Maley, 54 Central St., Wellesley, 781-264-5225, 508-254-9288. Ian C. Green, Wood & Clay Fine Homes, 64 Pine Plain Road, Wellesley, 781-898-8379