By Maddy Vitale
With more than 600 real estate agents in Ocean City, you have to be really good to distinguish yourself in the crowd.
Realtors Pete Madden and Nicole Presnall, both of Ocean City, do just that and on Feb. 1, they received the New Jersey Realtors 2017 Gold Level Circle of Excellence Sales Award for each selling $15 million in properties.
The criteria for their achievement is that an agent must sell between $12 million and $20 million and at least 25 housing units. Other awards of bronze, silver and platinum are given to agents with the same requirements, but different monetary amounts and number of units.
Madden is a broker manager and sales associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, 421 Battersea Road. He oversees 50 real estate agents, including 30 full-time agents.
Presnall is a broker manager and sales associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors, 5501 West Ave. She oversees 25 real estate agents, 15 of whom are full time, at the office she shares with her husband Jack Presnall.
Madden and Presnall sat down for an interview with OCNJDAILY.com to discuss their sales awards, what makes a top agent and the current real estate market in and around Ocean City.
“A sign of a great agent is you go beyond the settlement table. You help people. It’s not just about one day,” Madden said. “Every time they need someone, they should be able to call you.”
Madden, 40, was raised in the Philadelphia area, and spent about five years in the corporate world at a recruiting and staffing company in Philadelphia, before becoming a real estate agent in Ocean City.
He spent his summers with his family vacationing in the resort. That is where he met his wife, Ashley, born and raised in Ocean City, whom he married in 2003. The two met when they worked at Johnson’s Popcorn on the Boardwalk. They lived in Pennsylvania for a year. But Madden said he loved Ocean City so much, and he loved his wife even more, that in 2004, they made Ocean City the place they would choose to raise their family.
At the same time, Madden earned his real estate license and quit his corporate job.
Madden, who is also president of Ocean City’s City Council, joked that he does a lot of juggling with a job that is never really done, Council duties and four, very active children, Riley, 13, Avery, 11, Brynn, 8, and Carter, 5.
What he loves about his job is the flexibility it gives him to spend time with his family. He also loves that just as he was able to make his family’s dream of living in Ocean City come true, he can offer that chance to other families.
“We sell houses to people who get to raise their families here,” Madden said. “I really like helping people do what I was able to do as a kid, come down here in the summer and enjoy my house, and then be able to move down here full time and raise my family.”
Presnall, 43, and her husband know a lot about busy work schedules since they are both in the same office. They also know the advantages of raising their family in Ocean City. They have two children, Madison, 15, and Nick, 18, in the school system.
Their love of the resort helps them when they are working with buyers and sellers.
“A lot of our customers have become our close friends, almost like family,” Presnall said.
Like Madden, Presnall has many ties to Ocean City.
“I grew up here and I am very passionate about the town,” Presnall said. “I absolutely love this job. It is my passion. I like to find people their perfect house. Every day is a challenge, and every day is different.”
Both Madden and Presnall predominantly sell properties in Ocean City, from commercial, to condos, to single-family homes and duplexes. But they also sell throughout Cape May and Atlantic counties.
Being good to clients really has an impact on the future of any real estate agent, Presnall said.
“Most of our business is repeat customers or referrals,” Presnall said. “We have gone above and beyond for our clients, so they go out of their way to tell their family and friends about us.”
She said it isn’t unusual for her to get a call from a client with a second home in Ocean City who needs a favor. That favor can be anything from checking on their house to bringing in lawn furniture ahead of an impending storm.
One of Presnall’s best customers has made her selling talents a family affair. Presnall sold 10 homes to one family and their friends. She was even invited to one of their daughter’s weddings.
“The fact is, the customers truly become family and friends,” Presnall said.
And it doesn’t end with the sale of the house.
When it comes to the fixer upper, new homeowners often look to their realtors for recommendations of the best, most trustworthy, contractors to do the work, Presnall said. That is an important way that real estate agents get referrals.
Developing lasting relationships with clients is key to becoming a top broker, manager or agent. Having a good relationship with your colleagues is also vital, Madden and Presnall emphasized.
Madden and Presnall met eight years ago, when Presnall was working for another real estate agency.
“We did a deal together in 2010, and got along really well, so when I decided to join BH (Berkshire Hathaway), I knew I wanted Pete to be my manager,” Presnall explained.
Presnall got her wish shortly after. She began to work for Madden, who quickly recognized her sales and leadership skills and sent her to management training, which allowed her to move up from agent to broker manager.
Both Madden and Presnall agree that not only heading an office but being out in the field working with buyers and sellers, helps them connect with their team of real estate agents.
“The agents see that we are doing the same thing as they are,” Presnall said, adding that it makes them more comfortable when seeking advice.
The real estate market continues to improve throughout the region for both the buyer and seller as the economy gets better.
It is a factor Madden and Presnall keep a close watch on.
“Consumer confidence is high. We are starting to move into a low supply, with demand still high,” Madden noted. “We have about 600 homes for sale and usually we are closer to 1,000.”
Something else realtors are seeing is a trend toward second-home buyers over people who rent, in part, because more and more people are working remotely.
The result is it is easier to get into a dream home in Ocean City or other communities because the commute to say, Philadelphia or Trenton, is taken out of the equation, Madden explained.
Realtors are also seeing properties purchased to transition from rental, to vacation home, to retirement and year-round residences.
For Madden and Presnall, the opportunity to sell homes is more than a profession, it is a lifestyle, that involves flexibility, a lot of competition and many rewards. And it is also a career, they agreed, that is worth all the hard work.
“I love seeing the families come down and the kids picking their bedrooms. And I love seeing the families growing up,” Presnall said. “It is the personal aspect that I love. You are selling more than a house, you are selling dreams and memories.”