''New Hampshire doesn't have any sales/income tax, so their entire tax base is based on real estate taxes.''
An Interview with Jennifer Walker
Broker/Owner, 207 Prime Properties
We sit down with JENNIFER WALKER, Broker-Owner at 207 Prime Properties, to discuss real estate in New England, particularly highlighting Seacoast Maine and New Hampshire markets in an exclusive interview with the founder of a productive brokerage firm, specialising in luxury homes, waterfront and investment properties for affluent buyers.
Executive Global: How did you first get into real estate and when was the moment that you realised you were going to be successful in this industry?
Jennifer Walker: I started in real estate as a buyer- I purchased a condo in NYC, and then became the coop manager, then I flipped that into a full brownstone, which I fixed up and flipped, and I repeated that twice more. After the crash of 2008, I moved back to Maine, and realised that I should help other people with their real estate dreams, so I became a licensed agent. After a few years, I started to build a reputation as a smart, strategic broker, and so I started my own firm, to enable me to work with other like-minded individuals to help our clients with their real estate needs.
EG: What is it about the appeal of New Hampshire in particular, that attracts celebrities from Jimmy Fallon, to Dwayne Wade and Drew Barrymore?
JBW: New Hampshire is all about being free- the motto is live free or die, so people love that you can come to the state and enjoy its natural beauty without any interference. NH has so many distinct areas to love, there's the beaches, the mountains, the lakes and the north country. There are so many great attributes to each area, depending on how you want to spend your time. Celebrities swarm to areas that are different from their "normal lives" of NYC or LA, so they're looking for wide open space and the ability to enjoy small town life.
EG: Tell us about some of the innovative technologies that you use to effectively market properties and how does this set you apart?
JBW: We use technology in just about every aspect of our job, from a great website that captures user data, so we can know what our clients want, to prospecting tools to help identify prospective sellers, to electronic signature tools, so that our clients can do everything remotely. We also offer video tours and drone shoots of all of our listings, so that our clients can get a realistic sense of what a house is like, before ever stepping foot in the door.
EG: And what are some of the ways that homeowners can add value to their properties to ensure maximum profit when selling?
JBW: The easiest way to add value is by upgrading your yard- curb appeal is still important, even in a seller's market. Also, fresh paint goes a long way to making a home look better, and it's a cost-effective way of enhancing your home. There are larger projects that sellers can take on, but in general, I advise against doing too much renovation- the next people are going to want to put their personal stamp on the house, so it's usually a waste of money to renovate- except for life/safety items- those should always be addressed.
EG: As a company, you have grown from strength to strength. What would you say has been the most productive activity in the successful expansion of your business?
JBW: Making sure our brokers have time off- it's so easy in this business to get very involved in the lives of our clients, to the detriment of our own. I feel that we are better brokers, when we make sure we're taking care of ourselves and each other. We try and do fun activities as a group, paddle boarding, vacations, spa days, etc. I feel that those kinds of measures help my brokers give 110% the rest of the time. We really want to reduce burnout, and make sure that everyone stays happy and productive.
EG: For people who may not be familiar with the areas, how would you compare and contrast the real estate markets within the communities of Seacoast Maine, with that of New Hampshire?
JBW: New Hampshire doesn't have any sales/income tax, so their entire tax base is based on real estate taxes. That makes their homes a little more challenging for most people, but the prices are slightly lower to make up for some of the tax increase. Maine has much more coastline, so much more opportunity for waterfront/waterview homes, so that gives most buyers a little more choice in towns, and price points. Both states are lovely, and there are options at all price points in both, so I would say, it's worth checking them both out and seeing which feels more like home.
EG: In this low interest rate environment, which communities may prove a lucrative proposition to real estate investors?
JBW: We have many investors coming to our area, looking for properties with great ROI. We have found all sorts of options for them- single family homes used as weekly rentals, multi units, and commercial properties either as landlords or operators. We have a wide variety of investors, and we can usually find a solution for all of them, if given a little time and latitude.
EG: How important is the 'quality over quantity' approach when serving the needs of Ultra High Net Worth buyers and sellers as a luxury homes, waterfront and investment property specialist?
JBW: I actually think both are important- if you have a limited amount of quality homes, the prices get pushed up to astronomical heights; but if you have a bunch of lower quality homes, that's not a great scenario either. I think you need both- You need the high-end quality homes for the Ultra High Net Worth buyers and the quantity of home options available to keep the prices somewhat stable. EG