The Sun Shines on Saunders

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When Andrew Saunders joined Sotheby’s International Realty as a sales agent in 2001, the firm’s manager shook his hand and said, “Congratulations and welcome to the seduction business.” Her point was that to be successful in the highly competitive world of Hamptons real estate, you have to provide a compelling narrative about why a customer should purchase a particular property or a client should select you as his or her listing agent. In a way, Saunders says, she was right: “It is essential to provide a constructive framework for all of your constituencies if you’re going to be successful as an agent or a brokerage firm.” That idea has come to define Saunders & Associates, a firm built to empower agents to better serve their clients and customers. “Our model is, ultimately, about the brokers,” explains Saunders. “We mobilize our resources behind our agents and treat the firm like a profit center, not a cost center.”

Saunders & Associates was established in October 2008, in the midst of the global financial crisis. In eight years, Saunders & Associates has grown from one agent with one office in Bridgehampton to 180 agents with three offices in Bridgehampton, East Hampton, and Southampton Village. To foster a sense of teamwork, agents convene weekly to connect as a company and discuss the market, share information, and strategize. The company is fully staffed with an in-house marketing and administrative team that is educated and equipped with extensive research and data, and state-of-the-art equipment, to serve their clients and customers.

Their efforts are paying off. 2015 was another significant year for the firm. They transacted $1.4 billion in Hamptons properties and were involved in five of the top 15 sales, including the highest priced transaction: a $57.3M oceanfront property in East Hampton Village. The firm also opened an elegant 5,200-square-foot East Hampton office and was involved in 40 percent of all transactions from Southampton to Montauk. Through the first six months of 2016, Hamptons real estate sales were down 21 percent, but sales for Saunders & Associates were up 7.1 percent. “We’re capturing market share in a down market,” explains Saunders. “The reason why is that we continue to innovate our strategies for getting properties seen and sold.”

Saunders has identified three current trends: First, there are historic homes that have been renovated with care. (Saunders & Associates represents the two best examples in the Hamptons: a Southampton Village home by Marco Roberts and a Sag Harbor home by famed designer Steven Gambrel.) Saunders says, “I admire the passion required and the skill to execute projects where you take an older historic home and update it and create a perfect vision. That doesn’t happen by accident. That’s not a formula. It’s not an unemotional endeavor, but the product of passion and risktaking. It takes tremendous skill, determination and capital.”

Second, there are new condominiums, which are resonating with aging baby boomers who are downsizing—including Harbor’s Edge in Sag Harbor. Saunders says, “These are well-imagined condos on the waterfront with luxury amenities. They’re very appealing for folks who are looking to simplify their lives. Ten years ago, condos were almost a punch line out here, but today there’s a substantial new inventory of condos and they’ve been quite well received out here and embraced by people.”

Third, there is new with a capital N. Saunders says, “The real, defined trend at this point is new, which is trumping location as the primary criterion of purchasers in many cases. Homes that are five years old are now considered older homes. People want new with the latest amenities and latest technology.”

When asked about the key to his success, Saunders replies, “It’s about collaborating on a daily basis with like-minded and passionate people to serve our agents, clients and customers.”

For more information, contact Andrew Saunders (president of Saunders & Associates) at 631.537.9482 or as@saunders.com.