In the world of New York real estate, strong client relationships are critical to success. With 15 years in the business, it’s safe to say broker Sophie Ravet knows plenty about developing these career-defining relationships…and the industry expertise to keep those client relationships strong. She shared her perspective on both with us. We included a few of her recent listing photos for your viewing pleasure.
Finding clients and cultivating relationships is key to thriving in the real estate business, but it can be easier said than done. How did you find the clients you now have long-standing relationships with?
Sophie: I have to say I don’t find my clients, I think my clients find me. I am organically connected to my client database and I work hard to keep relationships that go beyond the one-time sale and stretch far into the future. Many become my friends and I stay connected to each of them on that level first and foremost. My very first client was a former Wall Street colleague and over the past 15 years, we have gone through 4 real estate transactions. But my advice to anyone who is starting a new business venture is that they need to develop a system for routinely checking in with their contacts. Whatever method works for you—you just need to be doing it.
How do you cultivate client loyalty?
Sophie: Buying or selling a home is a big deal and one of my big jobs is showing clients that I have their back and their best interest at heart every time. Clients become and remain loyal once they understand the key role I play in their real estate experience. I never try to sell them. I never try to push them. There has been several times when I have told a client to walk away from a property, or not accept an offer that I could tell wasn’t right for them. They need to trust that you are not just looking for the sale.
You personally oversee the staging and visual presentation of each property you sell. Would you say this personalized, hands-on approach is important to your success with client retention?
Sophie: Overseeing the visual presentation is one of my favorite parts of selling real estate. Being creative with staging, directing photography, and choosing the right marketing solutions play a big role in how quickly and well a property sells. I recently staged a property in a luxury tower in Tribeca with a lot of competition. The seller was so thrilled with the result that it almost made him hold on to it! In that instance, staging was key to the sale. It elevated that property above the competition and it sold at a record price.
How do you help your clients determine which properties are the right fit?
Sophie: I listen and take time to understand my clients’ needs. Then I start digging into the research to find only the best options. Anyone can go on-line and find listings, but I know a listing’s dirty laundry and I also know the diamonds in the rough. I see my initial job as a curator of properties. I want them to walk away from buying a home feeling like they had a transparent and efficient experience.
At what points in the buying or selling process do you find the most joy in your work?
Sophie: To be honest, the entire transaction is interesting but I get most gratification during the negotiation phase. Getting my clients the best deal possible, better than they expected, is extremely rewarding.
What is your best advice for mamas getting into fields, like real estate, in which relationship building is critically important?
Sophie: Know your product and know it fast. Nobody wants to deal with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. Especially when dealing with luxury products. Secondly, your existing network is going to be your initial source of business. Accept that and know how to network them effectively yet genuinely. I feel that effective networkers are always reaching out to give information and make connections between people rather than asking for something. You do that and people will remember and it will come back to you.
About what percentage of your business comes through referrals? How do you encourage your clients to refer you?
Sophie: I would say about 80%. I always show my appreciation when I get a referral. If I do well, my referring network does well. It’s a win-win situation.
How do you stay current on market trends?
Sophie: It is important to always be working with buyers and sellers to have a true sense of the market pulse. I have been fortunate enough to remain busy with both my entire career.
I also have access to great resources to keep track of property inventory, pricing adjustments, closing prices and I have a good network of colleagues in the industry with whom I connect regularly.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell every mama currently in the market for a new home?
Sophie: Let’s grab coffee, my treat! Seriously, now is an excellent time to buy. Market conditions are very favorable for buyers and there’s good inventory and even greater opportunities with some of the off-market listings I know about.
We hear so much about “balance” but everyone seems to define it differently. How do you balance motherhood and your business life?
Sophie: I think balance is achievable through good time management skills.
What challenges do you face in finding that balance?
Sophie: The challenge of sacrifice. Knowing my priorities and understanding they come with sacrifices is something I had to come to terms with. I can’t be everywhere, fulfilling everyone’s needs, at all times. So I trained my husband to be a good cook and I’m trying to figure out how to get my toddler to do laundry.
Perfection is a myth.
You can do it on your own.
Have sit down dinners with your kids as often as possible.