By Donald Wittkowski
Some days can be particularly sweet for real estate agents working at the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach Realtors office in Sea Isle City. Especially PayDays.
Whenever an agent closes a deal, Carol Hopely Russo, the company vice president who heads the office, humorously rewards them with balloons and PayDay candy bars.
PayDays happen quite often at BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors, a major player in the national real estate industry that provides a hometown touch in Sea Isle through local affiliate Fox & Roach, a familiar name at the Jersey Shore.
“It’s a small-town office with the strength of corporate backing,” Hopely Russo noted.
The BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors office in Sea Isle embodies the old real estate mantra of “location, location, location.” Its high-profile location at the corner of Landis Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard overlooks the main entryway into town and is only a block from the beach.
In selecting a real estate company, Hopely Russo said anyone who is thinking of selling or buying a home should be aware of the array of services, marketing power and support staff offered by BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors throughout the Delaware Valley and Jersey Shore.
“It gives confidence to consumers,” she said.
Hopely Russo explained that this is the second year that Fox & Roach has been the No. 1 affiliate for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, the company’s real estate division.
“It’s that name recognition for buyers and sellers, because we’re No. 1 in the Delaware Valley,” she said. “People use BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors at the shore just like they do in the Delaware Valley.”
Real estate, of course, is a major industry at the shore, a prime location for vacation homes and rental properties as well as year-round residences.
“It’s the dream. It’s like living your dream or fulfilling your dream,” Hopely Russo said of having a place at the shore.
“In Sea Isle, you can stroll on the Promenade and relax on the beach,” she continued. “It is that solitude and comfort. That’s what the town is about. It’s all about the beach and the shore.”
The majority of sales handled by BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors in Sea Isle involve secondary or vacation homes. Summer rentals are another major aspect of its business. This year, summer rentals are up 11 percent compared to 2016, Hopely Russo said.
While some seashore communities are known for their multimillion-dollar mansions, Sea Isle’s housing market offers the advantage of oceanfront or bayfront locations at affordable prices, Hopely Russo pointed out.
“The uniqueness about Sea Isle is that it is small and manageable, but also has great restaurants, shopping and affordable housing,” she said. “That’s why we’ve been doing so well in the last few years.”
An oceanfront condo in Sea Isle can be purchased for about $450,000 to $500,000, while an oceanfront townhouse goes for around $1.5 million, she said. Bargain hunters looking for even less expensive seashore living can snap up an efficiency condo in the upper $180,000 range or low $200,000s.
“It’s a great place to start with an affordable shore property and work your way up to your dream,” Hopely Russo said.
Currently, inventory is low, so primarily it’s a seller’s market, she emphasized.
BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors, now in growth mode, is looking to hire three to five new agents at the Sea Isle office to expand its reach at the shore.
Hopely Russo, a 30-year veteran of the real estate industry, said the company’s size, brand recognition and marketing power provide agents with “every tool imaginable to enhance their business.” In the Delaware Valley, the company has about 4,800 agents and 62 offices.
Even retired agents benefit from the BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors “legacy program,” which recognizes the value of their career and allows them to continue to receive income from their former clients, Hopely Russo said.
But perhaps the most coveted incentive for the company’s agents, in Sea Isle at least, are those big PayDays.