The New Normal: Barrett Welles’ John Pickett On The Palm Beach Real Estate Market

Thinking of buying or selling property in Palm Beach and not sure what to expect? Fear not: recently spoke with John O. Pickett III, senior associate and principal of Barrett Welles, and asked for his analysis of the Palm Beach real estate market. From how sellers can stand out in a competitive market (hint: price realistically) to what buyers can expect (like the fact that the market has rebounded since its low), Pickett has the answers.

• • •

QM: What do you see for the real estate market going forward?

JP: After the disruption and bubble burst from 2007-2009, the market has done what markets do, which is readjust and settle in. We have had significant price stability over the last few years, and I think what we have now is the new normal. There has been pretty good velocity in this market over the last two years, which tells me buyers and sellers have adjusted. I think we will see these same conditions and similar prices going forward for a while.

QM: Are we still in a buyer’s market?

JP: Yes, in that the supply of available property is still higher than it has been traditionally. There are still good deals to be had out there, but the balance of power is slowly equaling itself out as it will often do in a more normal, healthy market. Buyers and sellers are adjusting as well to the “new normal,” but educating them is still an important part of the process. Sellers need to know and remember that prices are dramatically different and lower than they were in 2006, while buyers need to understand that things have improved dramatically and conditions have swayed significantly towards the seller’s side since 2008 and 2009.

QM: What is the most important thing sellers can do to make their house stand out in a competitive market?

JP: The most important thing is price. Sellers have to be competitive in the marketplace and be realistic as to their expectations. Trying to sell their property for 10 or 20% more than 5 other similar properties just won’t work. So they have to be practical. The biggest mistake sellers make, and I certainly understand the sentiment, is believing that the market readjustment hasn’t affected their property in the same way that it has affected all  others. Unfortunately, a house’s value doesn’t depend on how much you love it or how much you paid for it.

QM: What are your clients interested in, and what is their motivating factor in buying or selling?

JP: Our clients have a variety of interests concerning property and their decisions to purchase or sell are based on numerous factors. That is why it is so important that our agents really give each client the personal, above and beyond attention that they need. I personally believe you can learn a lot more by listening than by talking. With a rare exception, I go on all of our listing presentations with the prospective agent, and it is not uncommon to for us to spend 3 or 4 hours with a prospective new client at these appointments. We also spend a considerable amount of time with each of buyer before we start showing them properties. I love it when we finally take them out and they come back and say, “All of those properties were exactly what I was looking for.”  That’s pretty neat when that happens.

QM: Finally, what do you think sets Barrett Welles apart from other realtors?

JP: Several things: first, as a smaller, privately held company, we can be much more nimble responding to our client’s needs. That includes being able to use a multitude of different platforms for advertising each individual property, as opposed to using set and established corporation approved methods the bigger firms have to use. Every property and every seller or buyer is different and it is important to be able to respond and react to those differences and make decisions without having to cut through a lot of red tape. I can give an instantaneous green light to something important that may otherwise take a few days someplace else to run up the chain of command.

We also take great pride in giving each of our clients the white-glove treatment, and each individual agent uses a great deal of care and diligence with each of our clients. Not to say that other firms don’t, but we realize we need to be doing it better than everyone else, and that is an important thing I stress with our agents. To a great extent, I think we have been successful doing that.

Another thing that sets us apart is the culture we are developing here. We place a great deal of emphasis on teamwork here, and that starts with me. No one has a monopoly on all of the great ideas, so we encourage, and frankly insist, that our agents share ideas and support one another. We want agents to come here who will lend a hand to another agent who needs help without even coming close to thinking what’s then in it for them. One of my favorite moments since we started was a day when I walked in to the office and there were five of our agents sitting together trying to fix an issue that had developed with one agent’s client. My favorite saying about Barrett Welles is that we want to be competitive outside of the office, and not in it.

For more information, contact Barrett Welles at (561) 899-2400.