ENGEL & VÖLKERS is a premium lifestyle real estate company with 800 shops in international markets including Beverly Hills, New York, Atlanta, Dubai, London, New Orleans and Toronto. Just one year ago, this global company chose Hilton Head Island for their first shop in the South Eastern United States and are already flourishing. Part of that success is attributed to the strength of the Engel & Völkers global referral network.
It is because of this connected network that local Broker-in-Charge, Rick Tuner, was able to reach out to his colleagues in New Orleans for learning and recommendations about the possible impact of Hurricane Matthew on the real estate market in this area. This is a summary of the learning and advice shared by Engel & Völkers New Orleans Broker, Marty Brantley, and Rick Turner, President and Broker-in-Charge of Engel & Völkers Hilton Head – Bluffton.
HHM: Start with the good news, were there any positive outcomes after Hurricane Katrina that we may expect?
MARTY BRANTLEY: There were actually a few ‘silver linings’ that we did not anticipate but are now thankful for. First is the stronger community that emerged and endured. Katrina redefined New Orleans. Following Katrina, the entire city rallied together to help each other. Neighbors met for the first time. People volunteered, donated and shared with strangers. This spirit didn’t dissipate – 12 years later we have a much more caring city that is proud, compassionate and stronger than it ever was. Secondly, there was a renewal and gentrification of some ‘older’ neighborhoods. New Orleans did have some older homes, buildings and infrastructure. In renovating and rebuilding some areas that were ‘less desirable’, many of these have become some of the most desirable in the city.
RICK TURNER: I was so reassured to hear that from Marty, who lived through such enormous and widespread devastation. We see now that Hilton Head Island and Bluffton residents are coming together to help each other in ways that we never imagined. Our community has always been generous in giving time and money to many deserving organizations. Now we are extending giving that to our neighbors, strangers, first responders and colleagues – the outpouring has been overwhelming and I know this will make us closer and stronger than ever. I know, like New Orleans, our communities and pride will remain strong and redefine us.
HHM: As leaders in the real estate industry, what advice would you give to home owners to help them maintain their home value?
MARTY BRANTLEY: Based on our experience in New Orleans, the most important thing I can advise homeowners to do is when doing any renovation or reconstruction, protect themselves for down the road when they may want to sell.
Yes, homeowners need to be cautious now of price gougers, which unfortunately happens. But the quality of work is so important. There will be a temptation to rush to rebuild damaged homes and during this time of distress, people may not do the due diligence they normally would in sourcing good trades and getting the right documentation. When work is done by out of town, or unlicensed trades, and there is trouble down the road, home owners may not have any recourse – there is no place to turn if something goes wrong. When they want to sell their home, it may not be as desirable had the quality been better, done by a local, reputable company with the correct documentation.
RICK TURNER: We are sharing that advice with our clients. We are also telling them to try not to worry about their home value crashing due to Hurricane Matthew. While there may be some exceptions in some communities, 2016 was one of the strongest real estate markets in this area in history. I by no means want to diminish the pain and loss that Matthew caused, but there is no reason for a home seller to panic and sell off at a price that is too low. People move to this area for the lifestyle, beaches, activities and location. None of those have changed. People from our strong feeder markets will always want to move here, so I am advising clients to not undervalue their home.
With the help of our global network, we have produced a whitepaper called “The Matthew Effect” with advice and projections for home owners. We are sending it to our clients and people can get a copy by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HHM: We visited your beautiful shop on Main Street and saw that you are opening soon at 7 New Orleans Road. Can you give us an update on your progress – Did Matthew set your openings back?
RICK TURNER: Our shop at 800 Main Street only had minor damage and was open the week after the storm. We always welcome anyone to our shop, but after the storm we were able to offer the use of our building, internet and international VoiP phones to anyone who needed those services and comforts. Unfortunately, Matthew set us back a bit at 7 New Orleans. We were completely ready to open the shop and a tree came through the roof, so we are now repairing that. Our shop opening at The Promenade may be delayed, as we want the trades to focus on residents who need them more. We expect to have it up and running before Christmas.
HHM: Finally, Engel & Völkers Hilton Head – Bluffton opened its doors here one year ago. How do you feel about your first year in business?
RICK TURNER: I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished. When we opened one year ago, I counted 143 brokers in our MLS, so when we opened, we were number 143 out of 143. Just one year later, the last time I looked, we were number 22 and very close to number 20. That is incredible success in just a year. What excites me the most is the success of our Advisors and clients. We have many clients who sold their home much quicker than the average days on market and for top dollar.