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Debra Johnston, a prominent real estate agent in the Atlanta market, has rejoined the prestigious Haute Living Real Estate Network. This exclusive circle of leading real estate agents is invited to bring opulent estates and luxury properties to Haute Living readers. Haute Living Magazine will feature Debra as an exclusive Haute Living Real Estate professional.
About Haute Living Real Estate Network
Haute Living Real Estate Network specializes in selecting top real estate professionals, creating the most prominent directory for exclusive listings. The network website is an online destination for all things real estate-related and features daily blog posts providing up-to-date news on affluent markets and real estate developments. Access all of this information and more by visiting http://www.hauteliving.com/hlrn
About Debra Johnston
After a successful career as a corporate executive, Debra Johnston entered the real estate industry with 25 years of sales and marketing experience. In a very short time, she became one of Atlanta’s major real estate agents honored among the top 5% of agents in the Atlanta Board of Realtors and conducting the city’s 2nd largest sale in 2011. Last year, Debra had a sales volume of over $6M and a listing portfolio in excess of $30M, representing some of Buckhead’s most distinguished properties.
Hiring Debra Johnston provides you and your luxury home with the greatest exposure among consumers and the local real estate industry alike. Whether it is featuring your home as the Estate of the Month for her legendary broker open houses or leveraging the powerful marketing arm of the Sotheby’s International Realty brand, each and every client is given special consideration and provided a bespoke marketing/buying plan . To Learn More: Visit Debra Johnston’s Haute Living Real Estate Profile
Luxury Real Estate member Debbi DiMaggio of Highland Partners – Better Homes & Gardens Mason McDuffie explains the process of developing her new book:
“This is my story as to how Contained Beauty came to be…
As you know, my name is Debbi DiMaggio. I am Midge and Vince’s daughter, Michael’s sister, Adam’s wife, a mother of two amazing children, Bianca and Chase, a Realtor, an avid volunteer and now an author.
The first question I am asked most frequently is just how Contained Beauty came to be and what does the title mean. Contained Beauty: Photographs, Reflections & Swimming Pools.
In my book, the word “Reflections” refers to both, the reflections in a swimming pool and the reflections in my life.
Swimming Pools are Contained. For me, they are a place of beauty and comfort. Throughout the journey and putting this book together, I realized that I was like a swimming pool. I was living contained trying to keep a tight hold on my life and everything in it.
If you know me well, then you will know that when I get an idea I have to follow through with it or it will stay with me, keep me up at night and will occupy my mind until I do something about it.
A coffee table book about swimming pools was one of those ideas that kept repeating. I could picture my coffee-table book in hotels and resorts around the world and in people’s homes and in all of my real estate listings.
It wasn’t until Bianca’s junior year in high school, when she was busy considering colleges, and Chase was becoming more independent with friends, sports and school when things started to change… I felt a void, similar to that, of an empty swimming pool.”
Courtesy of Nest Seekers International
Luxury Real Estate member Ryan Serhant of Nest Seekers International recently took the stage during the Nolcha Fashion Week:
“New York City real estate brokers are used to pounding the city streets in search of their latest deal, but today two of Manhattan’s best-known dealmakers strutted their stuff in a more official capacity.”
When I travel around the country I am struck by the fact that most of our cities have turned into donuts. This is not an original thought. Many urban planners have noted the way downtowns are dying as cities are increasingly ringed by malls and big box stores where, more and more, everyone shops. Fortunately this fate has not befallen New York. Our downtowns and shopping thoroughfares remain vibrant and engaging in innumerable neighborhoods throughout the city. So how do we make sure they stay that way?
The excitement of New York reflects a mix of old and new. We have wonderful old neighborhoods filled with late19th century brownstones, we have iconic mid-century masterpieces like Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building, and we have new luxury residential towers from Costas Kandylis, Jean Nouvel, Richard Meier, and Frank Gehry, not to mention the ubiquitous Robert A. M. Stern. This dynamic between old and new energizes our skyline and creates the complex poem of our urban life.
Preservationists and developers are often seen as antithetical groups. Actually every city needs both. On the one hand we ARE our history. No urban area can be at peace with itself unless its history is cherished. The designation by the Landmarks Commission of such iconic areas as the Central Park West skyline and the homes on Hamilton Heights and in Ditmas Park remind us of our city's cultural heritage as well as the sweeping changes in how we live over the past 150 years. By the same token, cities either change or they die. Without new buildings, especially those by significant architects, a neighborhood can become a mausoleum, a tribute only to its past and not an open door to its future.
So we as citizens need to support the need for appropriate landmarking while at the same time recognizing that age alone does not create value. Not every item in a junk store is an "antique", and not every building built in the 1890s or 1920s should be preserved. Cities, like businesses, or people, have to change or get left behind. We need buildings and businesses, old and new, which create a vibrant street life and keep pedestrians interacting with their environment and each other. We need innovative ideas like the High Line and the wonderful Hudson River greenway stretching up Manhattan's West Side. We need support for business, small and large, since these businesses are the engines driving New York into the future.
And most of all we need to remember that the ecosystem of cities is fragile. They can die from the center out as so many have across the United States. My job, and that of every urban citizen, is to make sure that doesn't happen. I shop and dine locally, often in small owner operated stores and restaurants; as a small business owner myself, I strongly believe in the job and buzz creating power of small businesses. I support preserving the historic legacy of New York while at the same time making way for transformational change. There is no either/or choice between the past and the future. To keep the hole in the donut full we need both!
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
I have spent the last 25 years working on how to be an effective leader. I always knew that integrity and honesty mattered to me more than anything, but I wasn’t sure how to build those into a corporate culture based on collaboration rather than fear. An inspiring recent interview in the Times helped me crystallize some of my thoughts and got me thinking more proactively about what I believe. The article can be read at http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/business/bill-flemming-of-skanska-usa-building-on-leadership.html.
Here’s what the years have taught me:
There is, as Bill Flemming notes in his interview, a great distinction between being a leader and a boss: a leader helps people figure out what to do while a boss tells them what to do. This resonates strongly for me. People will often come to my desk looking for solutions. Increasingly, I am out of the solution business. I try to ask “What do you think is the best way out of this situation?” I am a guy with a lot of opinions, but these days I try to bite my tongue. More often than not I find that people already know the best solution. They are looking more for affirmation than problem solving.
An important corollary of this is the discovery that people solve problems in different ways. My agents and managers often arrive at solutions I wouldn’t have thought of. Sometimes I think my solution would be better but usually I find that this interaction can be a significant learning experience for me. I often don’t have the best answer. My job, I increasingly understand, is to bring out the best in those around me.
This brings me to another great statement of Flemming’s: “I work for the people below me.” I think this notion lies at the heart of the management philosophy of any successful leader. As the president of Warburg, I am only as successful as the agents and staff working for the company. And their success, in turn, depends on my leadership. How well do I empower them to make good decisions? How well have I communicated my vision for the company? How good am I at listening to suggestions and complaints? Do I facilitate teamwork?
I did not set out to be a business owner; as I have noted before in this blog I began my adult life as a musician. I never went to business school. I am pretty bad with Excel and PowerPoint and my main arithmetical skill is a lightning-fast ability to compute 6% of any sales price! But over the two plus decades during which I have led Warburg Realty, I have learned that this business, probably like every business, is a people business. I strive every day to NOT be the leader who feels entitled because my name (or my middle name, actually) is on the door. I know today that respect may or may not accompany a title; if it does it is only because it is earned. And I know that while I may be impatient, if I lose my ability to listen and really HEAR what my colleagues are telling me, my organization suffers. I may not agree, I may not do what is suggested, but I need to pay attention to it.
I don’t much like being criticized or having people disagree with me. I can get my back up. But it is my obligation, and that of every leader in my firm and every firm, to get over it. We work for our agents, and they often know more than we do. We cannot continue to do what we do because we have always done it. I trust my team: staff, agents, and managers alike. With their guidance, I know Warburg will move confidently into the future.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Courtesy of: Claire Adams, Surterre Publications & Events Director
Luxury real estate firm Surterre Properties® is teaming up with American Red Cross (www.redcross.org) to host their semi-annual Life Saving Blood Drive on Monday, July 23, 2012. The event will take place at the company’s Newport Beach Headquarters from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to the public.
Someone needs blood every two seconds in the United States. In fact, Southern California alone requires more than 400,000 blood donations per year. Giving blood is easy -- if you have a photo ID, weigh 110 pounds or more, are at least 17 years old and in good health, you can participate in Surterre’s upcoming drive. Simply visit www.givelife.org and enter “Surterre” as the sponsor code to schedule your appointment.
“Our agents take a tremendous amount of pride not only in their work, but in their commitment to the community as well,” remarked Surterre’s President and co-founder Gary Legrand. “Organizing this blood drive is just one of many ways in which they authenticate that commitment.”
Surterre Properties is a leading, full-service real estate firm in Southern California designed to bring an unprecedented level of quality service to the coastal real estate marketplace while preserving the abundant natural beauty that’s shaped the area into one of the world’s most desirable destinations. For more information about Surterre Properties, please call 949.717.7100 or visit www.surterreproperties.com.
Courtesy of: Meagan Griesel, Fuller Properties
There’s nothing quite like a summer stroll. Especially when it’s a 115 mile trek, from Denver to Vail, eight years in a row.
For Fred Wolfe, a member of the Fuller Sotheby’s International Realty team since it opened in 2008, walking from Denver to Vail has become an annual tradition that began in 2005, and for good reason. Fred undertook this journey as a personal tribute to his father who passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Through donations from his friends and family, clients and associates he has raised more than $327,000 to support the Alzheimer’s Association. In recognition of his fundraising walks, he has personally received the 2010 Helen Ginsburg Visionary Award from AWARE, the Alzheimer’s Women’s Association for Research and Education.
Fred will begin this year’s walk on June 30 at 6:00 a.m., from Alzheimer’s Association’s office building at 455 Sherman Street in Denver.
“Along the way, I get the chance to stop and talk with people, and help raise awareness,” Wolfe notes. “Most everyone I meet has a family member, friend or loved one who has somehow been affected by Alzheimer’s, which shows how vast and far-reaching this disease actually is. I hope that my walk can help in the fight against it.”
If you’re interested in supporting this important cause, you can make a donation at www.alzco.org/fredswalk, or by sending a check payable to Alzheimer’s Association Colorado Chapter 455 Sherman Street, Suite 500, Denver, CO 80203 (please note “Fred Wolfe’s Walk” in the memo portion of your check).
Some important facts to know about Alzheimer’s disease:
- Every 69 seconds someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease.
- Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and more people are diagnosed with this disease than prostate and breast cancer combined.
- One out of eight people in the U.S. over 65 will develop the disease.
- 10 million baby boomers will develop Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime.
- 72,000 people in Colorado have the disease and 70% are cared for at home.
- There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
With the help of so many generous friends and supporters, the Alzheimer’s Association continues to push forward in its efforts to transform how to detect, treat and eventually prevent this disease.
Courtesy of: Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty Partnership
This afternoon, while listening to the beautiful Tchaikovsky E-flat minor quartet in a converted barn in Falls Village, CT, my mind wandered to the question of why I want to run a residential real estate company. There are of course a number of reasons: the money isn’t bad (especially when we are on top of our market), the satisfaction is considerable. But considering that I work much of every day all week all year (and yes, I am writing this blog post on Sunday night, now listening to Schubert piano sonatas on CD) there has to be something more to it than that. And what I came up with, in addition to the pleasure I have written about before in this column, advising people regarding such an important life decision, is my acute desire to rehabilitate our reputation. The best agents combine the many skills of a trained therapist, a top notch investment banker, and a financial planner/accountant. So why aren’t we perceived that way?
The media rarely portray us respectfully. At the nadir, there is Sylvia Miles in “Wall Street,” clothed in leopard, salivating over her commission, just another facet of the Gordon Gekko universe of greed and cynicism. The same face, although better disguised, is presented by the broker Sally Rawthroat in Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities.” These agents, indifferent to the plight of their clients as long as their “high commission” got paid, exemplify what much of the public believes we are about.
Part of the problem we have in New York State is that the barrier for entry into the real estate business is too low. The state test is extremely easy. The continuing education courses tend to be unchallenging. A more difficult test, a more rigorous course of study, would certainly be appropriate for a job in which what is at stake is often a client’s largest asset. My colleagues at The Real Estate Board of New York and I have devoted years to trying to make certain that all members of the Board, at least, get solid ethics and skills training. And while the bar for entry is low, the success bar is very, very high. Very few residential agents make it to the top.
So let’s look at this in another way. Of course we are interested in getting paid. Who isn’t? And unlike most professionals, we can work for months or even a year and end up with nothing, depending on the property, the seller, and the economic environment. Agents at the top of their game have a complex and nuanced skill set: they are marriage counselors, mind readers, negotiators, persuaders, crafters of letters, furniture arrangers, balancers, winnowers, and organizers of financial information. We have to walk a thin line in every transaction – on the one hand, providing emotional support during a complex and often anxious moment in the lives of those we serve, while at the same time remaining objective about value and realistic outcomes. And when things go wrong, the board says no, a higher offer comes in and knocks us out of the box. the property doesn’t sell – we are the ones on the firing line.
So the reason I write a blog every Sunday night, the reason I speak at meetings to my own agents and in public to consumers is that I want to make sure we are taken seriously. I know how smart and creative most agents are, how committed to doing the right thing, how tireless in fitting all the pieces of the residential puzzle together. I know they are up at 6 AM looking for listings, and they are up at midnight responding to e-mails. And I want everyone reading this to know that, too.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
Courtesy of Amat Immobiliaris
Following the events of this last month the whole country, or nearly everybody, should be feeling indignant. Not a day passes without some bad news! The matter of Bankia tops it all, and yet is at the same time paradigmatic. We are speaking of figures so immense that we cannot reckon their true value, and yet nobody is accepting any responsibility. The rating agencies are continually lowering our rating, and that includes Catalonia, which has been doing its homework more and more. Central government has cut subsidies and aid for the handicapped by half, and we must ask whether that was really necessary. Obviously not! Why don’t they shed civil servants in those ministries that have for years been devoid of content? There are many, many reasons to feel indignant. If we added them up, each of us would have a sackload.
I read by chance in a magazine that during the Second World War the British government printed some posters with the phrase “Keep calm and carry on”. They didn’t actually use the posters, but taking up that phrase again, that is exactly what we have to do: “keep calm and carry on”.
That is just the spirit the General Manager of the Clínic Hospital, Josep M. Piqué, conveyed to us a few days ago at a dinner — to carry right on at a time that is so difficult for the health sector.
And Carles Sumarroca too, at a Chamber of Commerce lunch, spoke about eight strategic ideas for mobilising companies.
Again, Josep M. Galí, at the presentation of a study by Fundació Creafutur, suggested that we reflect on the consumer of the future, in another way of looking ahead.
And today they are broadcasting TV-3 television channel’s Marathon against Poverty. We might view this in a number of ways. One’s initial feeling is of deep concern. It took me back to when I was young, many years ago, when they broadcast charity programmes on the radio conducted by Mr Dalmau and Mr Vinyes. That was the Spain of the 1960s, so where are we now? The second reaction is that we are in a situation of emergency and that we must carry on.
One last reflection: just as well, then, that — albeit with shoving and tumbling — civil society is carrying right on.
Courtesy of Frederick Peters, President of Warburg Realty
At 10 PM on Sunday night in Sharon, CT the world is completely still. Other than the crickets and the peepers singing their songs, no noise penetrates the darkness. The stars blaze overhead; the few constellations I have learned to recognize, city boy that I am-Orion, the Big Dipper-prominent in the spring sky. The beavers we have been watching all weekend as they laboriously build a second lodge in our pond seem quiescent; even they, the great and indefatigable architects of the animal world, working without tax abatements or a union shop, have to rest sometime. In the quiet, I can think. Think about what is best for my agents, our business, my clients, my employees, think about what to write in this blog: if I can allow myself a little time in a quiet space, it's remarkable what bubbles to the surface.
Tomorrow morning early we will load up the car with suitcases, food, an armload of peonies, and head back to New York. Every week end it feels like we are the Joad family cramming our earthly possessions into the truck to head for California. But what a gift this ritual is! I have made my life in the city, and life in the city is what I sell. The city is always vibrant, always exciting, always filled with possibility. But it is not an easy place for contemplation. In addition to shelter, that is what a home can provide. A quiet room, a serene color scheme, an hour or two with few distractions-then there is the opportunity to feel yourself outside the hustle of the urban experience and let the external noise dwindle.
One way or another, in one place or another, we all need time and space to reflect. Our customers need it to make sure they are buying what they really want; our sellers to make sure they are not walking away from offers they should actually accept. My agents need it to assure that they can come to their jobs each day clear-headed and committed. As high achieving, adrenaline surging New Yorkers, we go go go, we manage stress, we always need another hour in the day. But when my clients reach a negotiating impasse, I always urge them to take a day off. Walk in the Shakespeare or the Conservatory Garden. Look for migrating warblers in the trees in Riverside or Battery Park (this is the time for that). Or just retreat to that spot in your home where the world drops away. When we sit still and let go, we tend to make the right decision.
You can read more on www.warburgrealty.com/blog.
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