Reaching the pinnacle of real estate success

Editor & Publisher

Although the Sarasota coastline appears flat from a geographical perspective, the industry of real estate is a mountain range of highs and lows. As any industry expert can relate, there is the almost clichéd ‘busy season’ when sales and volume surges. Then there is the capriciousness of Mother Nature – red tide, hurricanes as well as more favorable expressions such as idyllic beach weather. All of these affect the rise and fall of the real estate market.

And then there is another pinnacle, and that pinnacle year after year, has been climbed by realtor Roger Pettingell.

Not too long ago, selling $20 million to $30 million of real estate was a goal for many agents. That number would be a fraction of what Pettingell achieved last year. He was the number one agent in all of Sarasota and Manatee Counties with over $106 million in closed individual sales. And although there is a team of support aiding and abetting this achievement, Pettingell is not part of a group. He lists, shows and sells each and every property that he represents.

Longboat Key News sat down with Roger and talked about how he runs his business, the challenges of 2018 and what the market and trends look like as we head directly into the busy season of a new year.

Roger says that August and September often present challenges in and of themselves, but some years including 2018 were an exception.

“The BP oil spill, Hurricane Irma and last year red tide all came along during the end of the summer. It is hard to show a beachfront home with dead fish. But the fall more than made up for it. By October it looked like I might have $75 million in sales but then another $25 million to $30 million created a very strong finish for 2018,” said Pettingell.

Roger says that year over year prices have escalated and there were numerous high end sales with many more in the $4 million and $5 million range, and a $10 million transaction  on Lido Key penthouse. One trend Roger relates is that it is hard to be speculative in the market and people want new or newly renovated properties.

“Buyers want open floor plans, and what I would call ‘Coastal Contemporary.’ That’s what is called for,” said Pettingell.

One could cite the psychological impact of HGTV and design shows as drivers and informers of the market.

“Television sells an expectation of what people need to have. Sometimes it’s a blessing. You can speak to sellers and it can help quantify on how it helps to sell a house. Sometimes it pays to be ahead of a trend. If I were building a house, I would go to California or Naples, Fla. to see what they are doing,” said Pettingell.


Modeling success

Is it strategic pricing? Layers of marketing? Experience and force of personality?

How does one break the $100 million sales mark as an individual agent? Most realtors would celebrate less than half that number.

Roger and his support staff (from left front) Roger Pettingell; Saleemah Stanley, Listing/Marketing Assistant; Mary Kay Ryan, Director of Customer Care; Stephanie Ruzgis, Executive Assistant and Tom Briggle, Director of Internet Marketing.

“I think it is my model,” says Pettingell, “That model is to have a group of professionals who work for me and my sellers and buyers instead of simply having a team of realtors. I talk to sellers, come up with a strategy and then we implement it.”

Simply said, Roger knows that his strongest role is negotiating contracts, working with customers, and creating the strategy for pricing and marketing. He employs five full-time people who have each been with him for more than five years and each plays an integral role in implementing the marketing, the technology, the inspections and paperwork and all the other myriad of details needed to list, market and close luxury properties.

Anyone who knows Roger knows he employs technology and leans toward the future.

“I think anyone not doing video is way behind the times; static pictures are a thing of the past. We sold two properties this year through Facetime and through video. I love being able to show using that platform,” said Pettingell.


Looking forward

Roger says so far 2019 is sizing up to be the strongest year he’s ever seen in his career. He has more than $18 million in pending sales so far, and a large listing inventory. As for the market as a whole, he sees it as a balanced market with some particular buildings and communities extremely desirable. In particular, Sanctuary and L’Ambiance and Gulf front buildings that have been renovated are “hot” according to Pettingell.

Conversely, if the structure wreaks of the 1970’s or is a total gut job, it can be more challenging to sell.

The quality and quantity of beach is an obvious asset and helps any sale. Roger says it’s only a conversation when there isn’t a beach.

On the buyer’s side of the equation, Roger says success often amounts to intently listening and hearing clues to what they really want or at least what they think they want. He says they usually have a vision in mind and that can revolve around price, condition or views. He says the best skill that he has developed is simply listening.

“I love many things about real estate. I love bringing two parties together even if it’s simply a rental. In many ways, the closing is anti-climactic. But in the end, what really works in this business is listening and hearing what people want and what they have to say,” said Pettingell.

So does Roger put pressure on himself to go beyond $106 million in sales? Does it become like Roger Federer and Grand Slam titles?

Much like nature and markets, the realm of control is limited.

“I always want to outdo what I did, yet a bunch of things are out of my control. I cannot control closing dates and I can’t control when someone walks through the door,” said Pettingell.

One certainty is that Roger does stand fully in control of a process that has proven itself year after year and a model for many of his peers who all stand somewhere on the real estate pinnacle.

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