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Innovation Pays Off

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Coldwell Banker Whitbeck

By Ahren von Schnell • Photos by Jessica McCafferty

With five offices serving seven

counties throughout the North Country, the real estate firm of Coldwell Banker Whitbeck is well positioned to offer home buyers a wide array of options to choose from.

In 1991, Peter Whitbeck founded Whitbeck Associates following 20 years working for other real estate companies. A decade later he had assembled a team of 14 dedicated and knowledgeable agents.

Times were changing and Peter recognized the impact emerging technology could have on the housing market. He was quick to implement the use of virtual property tours on the company website. In 2005 he partnered with Coldwell Banker to give him him access to a variety of the new tools the franchise offered.

These days, Peter has passed the torch to his sons PJ and Adam, who are now the owners of Coldwell Banker Whitbeck. PJ graduated from Bryant University with a B.S. in Business Administration and spent time working as a Financial Analyst for Fidelity Investments in Boston and Rhode Island. He has become a leading Relocation Specialist in the North Country, is a recognized Luxury Property Specialist and has overseen the expansion of the business from one location to five. He is also the current President of the Northern Adirondack Board of Realtors and recently served as the President of the Adirondack Champlain Valley Multiple Listing Service.

Adam has been helping out since his college days, when he would fill in at the front desk during summer vacation. Graduating from SUNY Plattsburgh in 2004 with a B.S. in Business Administration, he now concentrates on property management, commercial sales and overseeing the company’s finances.

A wider geographic presence isn’t the only change Whitbeck Associates has experienced. New staff roles have been added to meet growing needs, including a marketing professional to help connect potential home buyers with the right home. Kelly Frady joined in 2017 as the Vice President of Marketing and Operations after several successful years at a full-service marketing firm in Lake Placid. At Coldwell Banker Whitbeck, she has become a dynamic resou

rce. Her portfolio includes managing the company’s graphic design, photography, videography, and editing and providing training to agents and staff on the technology tools offered through Coldwell Banker.

Kelly emphasized the importance of agents and staff marketing themselves at a professional level, which is supported with a solid foundation of regular coaching, continuing education classes and other services. She explained, “We offer a marketing and tech platform for agents, along with the support that goes with it. They have an entire catalog of marketing tools at their fingertips, along with a robust learning center. And when they have questions, we are here to assist them. If they prefer something custom made like a logo, vehicle graphics or direct mail piece, we are happy to design anything for them in-house at no cost. It boosts their local presence and helps them stand out a bit. They have a marketing department as part of their team, which goes a long way when speaking to potential sellers. They want to know their home is in good hands and will be marketed beyond a yard sign.”

This self-marketing is an important element in the success of the business, as client reviews are a critical driver that can make a difference in the volume of new business that the firm brings in. This is rounded out with traditional marketing methods like social media promotion and ad buys.

Currently, however, attracting potential homebuyers is not the primary challenge in the real estate industry, especially in the North Country. Rather, low property inventories represent the greatest obstacle for any agent, and in a competitive business like real estate sales, the more listings an agent has, the better.

Nevertheless, challenges like this are par for the course in the industry, and generally are of a cyclical nature. Over time, the market tends to undulate back in the other direction. For now, it’s a seller’s market. Due to the variability in supply and demand, PJ and Adam stress the importance of a robust ethic of building financial reserves with every sale, in order to mitigate risk when markets cool. That being said, they also believe in the importance of taking calculated risks to expand and grow businesses when opportunities are favorable.

Innovation is a term that describes a risk that pays off. Take, for instance, the Whitbecks’ decision to test a new office concept in Saranac Lake. Recognizing that real estate is fundamentally driven by the ability to form connections, they established a hybrid art gallery/office, centrally located in downtown. Opened in July of this year, its spacious, open floor plan and abundant natural light have created an ideal venue for displaying and viewing locally-produced works of art. As a community space, it provides free Wi-Fi and a place to relax, while simultaneously creating accessibility to Coldwell Banker Whitbeck’s real estate services.

These connections are important for home buyers and sellers, too. PJ advises that anyone looking to buy or sell should first examine the housing market to get an idea of typical sale prices. The next step is to rely on a knowledgeable realtor who can be invaluable for guiding one through the various requirements and regulations that accompany the process. In the case of sellers, he adds that many people mistakenly believe that they can save money by attempting to sell their home themselves, but the complexities of a real estate sale can mean this is not the case. For instance, the time of year can affect the sale price of a home, with spring and summer attracting the highest offers, and winter the lowest. Likewise, a knowledgeable agent can help a buyer to get the best price for a home that is ideal for their particular needs.

And while many buyers may see rising interest rates as reason to

delay purchasing a home, the Whitbecks remarked that, over time, those often represent mere oscillations that are outweighed by the equity that a home will accrue over time.

The accumulated knowledge and experience offered by a family real estate agency can be an important asset to both buyers and sellers. From a personal standpoint, the Whitbecks observed that, while working with family can have its challenges, the advantages are far greater. The value of having someone in the organization who can be relied on is an incomparable benefit in real estate sales. Conversely, refraining from work-related conversation during family gatherings can sometimes be difficult — or unavoidable.

Ultimately, partnering with family to cultivate the Coldwell Banker Whitbeck family is a winning combination. As PJ noted, “Our company stands out because it is founded on family and relationships which continue to connect our family and team to the communities we serve.”

Coldwell Banker Whitbeck

164 Boynton Avenue

Plattsburgh, NY 12901

518 562-9999

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