The Roanoke Times Explores How Nest Realty Does It Different

I still don’t understand why articles in the Sunday New River Valley Current Real Estate section aren’t linked online, but I can write up the article here. ¬†Sarah Cox took the time to sit down and find out a little bit about what makes Nest Realty different from other real estate firms here in the area.

“An innovative approach to selling real estate”

Jonathan Kauffmann, who started Nest Realty in Charlottesville in August 2008 and hired his first agent in February of the following year, has opened a branch in Blacksburg, but is tightly holding onto the reins of fast growth. This is reflective of his business philosophy of doing what is best for the consumer, from the “For Sale” signs to the website.

“I have created a firm that does things a little differently,” he said.

Kauffmann talked about the signage being one of the top ways to attract attention, but not if the agent’s picture takes up most of the room.

“Is this the best way to use the sign? No,” he said.

Instead, Nest Realty focuses on the top objective: to get the house sold, said Kauffmann.

“We take pictures of the house, put it on the sign, and the sign becomes a billboard for the house,” he explained.

This is a similar approach to the one taken on the website. After being in business less than a year, Nest Realty was recognized by Inman News as the Most Innovative Brokerage for 2009.

“It was an amazing award for us to win. We were up against five other firms that have hundreds of offices and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales,” said Kauffman.

Another of the marked differences in Nest Realty is who and how many agents it employs. Currently, it has 20 full-time agents in Charlottesville and three in the New River Valley. They are Jeremy Hart, lately of Coldwell Banker Townside; Tina Merritt, with extensive investment real estate experience; and Aaron Harris, who has a property management and development background.

Sales last year in Charlottesville were about $45 million. This year, for Nest’s total sales, Kauffmann has set a goal of between $60 and $65 million.

Kauffman doesn’t advertise for agents. They come to him, he said.

“We go through a very strict training process. We require three years minimum of experience, references from past clients, multiple interviews, and make sure that they understand we have a customer-centric philosophy,” he explained.

Kauffman said that he looks for agents who understand the value of technology and how it can be used to provide service to clients. Hart, who has been in real estate for more than seven year, started his NRVLiving blog, which, he said, has developed a strong following.

“[Hart] is doing things the way that thousands of REALTORS across the country wish they could,” said Kauffmann. “He uses technology the right way.”

He described Merritt as “extremely dynamic” and pointed out the technology award she won in 2009 from the National Association of REALTORS, for which she has served on several committees.

Aaron Harris has a much different background in development and property management and is able to look at doing things from a different perspective, he said.

Kauffman said one of the major goals of his agency is to empower its clients. He posts monthly and quarterly market reports on the website because, he said, his clients tend to be knowledgeable and want to be involved in decisions. One of the reasons Inman awarded Nest Realty its award in 2009, said Kauffman, was that even though it is a small firm, its website has more than 50 high definition neighborhood videos.

Hart described Nest Realty as a “boutique real estate firm that specializes in residential and investment properties.” He found that it offers a different approach to sales, taking the spotlight off the agent and putting it on the client.

“We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the people who buy and sell every day,” said Hart.

Nest Realty will not allow its agents to represent both buyers and sellers in the same transaction, something Hart said he completely supports.

“My license allows me to do that, but it’s not the right fit for the consumer. That is one of the core tenants that Nest is built on,” he said.

Kauffman, who has entrepreneurial and sales experience, and is a 1999 graduate of the University of Virginia, said he became interested in expanding his firm to the New River Valley because it shares with Charlottesville a number of similarities; the mountains and views, the university atmosphere, the education level of residents and a stable economy, he said.

“The New River Valley is the perfect next step for us,” he said.

Nest Realty’s website, www.nestrealtygroup.com, features a blog, The Nest Report. According to the site, it “is a platform to educate the public about the changing Charlottesville real estate market, including community news, industry updates, market reports, and all of the great things Charlottesville, Albemarle County and Central Virginia have to offer.” The New River Valley website will be up and running sometime toward the end of August. Kauffmann describes his firm on its website as being “a new breed of broker. We’re changing the face of real estate by empowering and educating our clients so they can make an informed decision to liver where they love. With Nest, it’s not about the transaction; it’s all about serving our clients.

Thanks Sarah, for the article – we’re glad to be bringing Nest to the area! ¬†For those of you into the visual thing, here’s a video from our Charlottesville office detailing some of the ways we’re changing real estate … be on the lookout for many of those to be here in the New River Valley very, very soon!

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