What does telling stories have to do with selling homes? A lot, it turns out.
With her Southern twang and warm personality, high-end area Realtor Kim Ogilvie embraces her small-town upbringing.
But in business, Ogilvie is competitive, tough but fair and, above all else, fiercely determined. “I love negotiating,” says Ogilvie. “I love putting a deal together. It's adrenaline for me.”
Ogilvie, in tandem with her husband, Michael Ogilvie, has turned a passion for the deal into a lucrative career. Agents with Sarasota-based Michael Saunders & Co., the couple has sold at least $435 million worth of homes since 2003. In addition, they have ranked first for total annual sales volume in Sarasota County six times since 2003, according to Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee data.
The current year, says Michael Ogilvie, 68, is a top-three year all-time for the duo dating back to 1996, when they first teamed up. Recent deals they have closed include a property on Hillview Drive, south of downtown Sarasota, for $5 million, and another home in the same area for $900,000. “It's a real healthy market,” Michael Ogilvie says.
Beyond a rejuvenated real estate market, their success, the couple says, starts from a mission to sell more than the home. “It sounds corny, but you have to be able to weave a narrative about the property,” Michael Ogilvie says. “You're not just selling a home, but you're selling a lifestyle.”
Adds Kim Ogilvie: “It's all about the experience.”
The next element to success is a keen understanding of pricing properties. The couple shares multiple stories of clients coming into a potential listing with an asking price in mind well over area comparables. Kim Ogilvie, 57, says coming to an agreement is art over science, with a heavy dose of negotiations. She's actually become so good at pricing in many of Sarasota's high-end neighborhoods, that Realtors call her for advice on what price to list a property.
Another key to the Ogilvies' approach, particularly in selling high-end homes, is a comprehensive staging system, from setup to pictures to online marketing strategies. Success in selling a home, says Michael Ogilvie, comes “from doing a lot of different things really well.”
Kim Ogilvie got into real estate a few years after college, in 1983. But her entrepreneurial nature and knack for sales goes back to growing up in Oakdale, Tenn., population 200. Her mom ran a Laundromat in town, and other relatives sold stuff: Her grandfather sold cattle, her uncle sold melons from the back of a truck and her brother is a coal broker.
Michael Ogilvie, born in London, comes to real estate after a vastly different life. He taught school in Spain and waited tables in Denmark, among other stops, before he came to Sarasota and met his now wife.
Kim Ogilvie had already been in real estate for 13 years when she started working with her husband. She built her career on advice from her mentor, Century 21 Allstate Realty owner Alan Honnessy. The wisdom: Listers last, and buyers are liars.
In other words, says Kim Ogilvie, “if you own the listing inventory, you own the market.”
The Ogilvies hold true to that mantra today.
“My passion for my profession has grown over the years,” says Kim Ogilvie. “I have a natural drive to succeed. I can't imagine doing anything else. Every day is different and I feel very accomplished when I successfully negotiate a contract and have happy clients.”
Get help. Kim Ogilvie says having an assistant to delegate tasks to is a big part of her success. “Hire one as soon as you can,” says Ogilvie, “even if you think you can't afford it.”
Kim and Michael Ogilvie now have two full-time assistants. They handle a range of tasks, from appointments to follow-up calls, but mostly take on paperwork that can either clog a deal or help it run smoothly.
Get rest. Kim and Michael Ogilvie, like many others, are constantly connected to work. But Kim Ogilvie aims to turn off her phone by 9 p.m. every night, to decompress and get recharged for the next day.
Follow Mark Gordon on Twitter @markigordon