Our Marketing Manager, Joseph A. Federico, recently dropped by Realty Executives and had a casual chat with Charlie Fischer and her business partner, Cynthia Chase. They currently run At Home With Charlie and Co in Sparta, New Jersey. The team focuses on treating clients as if they were their own family members, which allow the sales aspect of their business to flow more naturally and organically.
Continue reading below for an exclusive interview on what makes the team at At Home With Charlie and Co tick and keep them a cut above the rest in the Real Estate business.
Van Express: First and foremost, tell us about your path to becoming an agent. Did either of you have an “a-ha!” moment?
Charlie: My first thought in becoming a realtor was to help my husband retire from law enforcement when he was ten years away from that point in his life. I had previously homeschooled five children and was down to my last two, so that enabled me to give time to something else. I’m now five years into that ten-year plan, hoping that in five years, my income will be able to balance us out.
Cynthia: My background is in non-profit administration, and after a little over a decade, my husband’s business was starting to take off and he looked at me and said, “Please. I need you. Please come work with me.” So, I did for a couple of years, and now he’s gotten to a point where his business is exactly where he wants it to be, and he’s been able to bring on outside sources for help.
His work is very individual and I’m a people person… I need to be communicating and helping and talking! So with that, real estate has always been an interest. For me, it’s about being around people and being able to do something I really love. Becoming an agent was a natural progression for me.
Van Express: How did your team form?
Charlie: In January 2018, I decided to revamp my business. I found myself being spread thin and not really being able to grow my income or client base beyond where it was, because I just couldn’t do it all. So, I hired a business coach and she helped me develop my logo and team name. I just started at the bottom with a vision, and then accidentally met Cynthia.
We met at a seminar one day in March. And you know how you feel somebody’s energy? It was as if a spotlight was on her. I had to talk to her and share with her what my vision was.
Now, a lot of people ask her, “Well, why is the logo and tagline, ‘At Home With Charlie and Co?’” The simple reason is that it was developed before I developed a team. I LOVE the logo, I love the branding and the colors… it’s just that feeling of being at home. All of my past clients always said to me, “Charlie, I feel like I’m your family! I feel so at home with you.” I wanted to encapsulate that feeling within a logo and my messaging; and when I met Cynthia, and heard about her advocacy for animals and non-profit experience and just her transparency and “realness,” I fell in love with her. I knew we’d work well together.
We’re growing and evolving, and by this time next year, we hope to have two buyers agents with us as well.
Cynthia: And what I like, that although, “At Home with Charlie and Co” is very personal to Charlie, I think it has a generic quality about it that’s genuinely appealing. It’s really, “At Home With Us!” Even though there’s a name attached to it, it doesn’t bother me. This feels like home to me, too.
Van Express: Do you feel realtors work better alone or with a team? Furthermore, does it depend upon how large the company is?
Cynthia: That’s certainly going to be our approach. There are different philosophies depending which real estate brokerage one chooses to go with. Different personalities are going to be better off in different locations. Realty Executives in particular is wonderful, because they recognize that we are independent contractors or entrepreneurs; they allow us to develop a business plan that fits us and encourage it. They’re also there to support us with a team, should we require it.
You can call the owner tomorrow and ask questions. They’d be here if we asked them to be here! A larger group has a different business model, which isn’t a dig on them, but like I said, it’s just different.
We are not taught here to rely upon the label of Realty Executives as a means of selling ourselves. We are our business; you’re buying our service and our knowledge. You’re meeting with me, not a corporate team.
Charlie: Realty Executives is competing with the big name brokerages because of the way they developed their companies. They’re a force to be reckoned with. They’re small enough to be personal but large enough to be a threat because of the way they developed their company.
Our broker wants to build entrepreneurs and celebrate them. They treat us like we have value.
Van Express: And how many corporate offices for Realty Executives are there?
Charlie: We started off in Arizona and now we have offices all over! There are seventeen offices in New Jersey, as well as offices out of state and international offices. All of our marketing is international, and so is the strong referral partnership as well.
Van Express: How do you feel the real estate profession is different in New Jersey than in other states?
Cynthia: First and foremost, especially in Northern New Jersey, is that you must get an attorney. In many states throughout the country, things are a little less formal. There’s also less litigation in other states.
If you’re navigating through the Northern New Jersey real estate market, you’ll need a competent real estate agent and a competent attorney, as well as a team surrounding you in many respects. Which, is not to say it’s far more difficult anyplace else, it’s just the better prepared those around you are, the easier and less stressful things are going to be.
Charlie: I would have to say, though, that in Northeastern New Jersey – because we’re such a high litigation state – it is probably the most difficult place to execute a contract. So, the people we work with, and the “and Co” part of “At Home With Charlie and Co,” are our contractors, attorneys, title professionals… they have a relationship with us. We can help a seller or buyer get from an offer to the closing table with much more ease, than dealing with people we don’t know or have experience with.
Van Express: When working with referrals, namely moving companies, what are agents looking for? How do long-lasting referral partnerships get created?
Charlie: For us, we want quality. I would never want to refer a company and then hear that somebody’s personal belongings were damaged.; it will always come back to us. We’re very careful as to who we partner with, because with one negative experience, our reputation could be tarnished.
Cynthia: Offer my clients a great service and unbeatable pricing. Offer a value cost and be competitive in this particular market. And have a stellar presentation: be considerate of floors, be respectful of the environment and be presentable.
If I recommend you, it’s a reflection on me.
For more information on or how to connect with At Home With Charlie and Co, head to www.AtHomeWithCharlieandCo.com or call them directly at (973) 729-7141.
Interested in participating in the Van Express Realtor Interview Series? Send a request to Marketing@VanExpressNJ.com.