We are thrilled to have the esteemed Stephanie Biello on our newest podcast. Stephanie is the newly appointed Director of Sales & Agent Success at Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty.
Join us as we delve into the world of luxury real estate and explore what sets the Sotheby’s brand apart from the rest!
Read the transcript of the full interview.
Ryan: Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Running Real Estate Podcast. Today, we are staying in-house with our guest, and I am excited to introduce our entire database—our clients, our friends, the world—to somebody new who has joined our team. Somebody we’ve been talking to for quite some time, and somebody who was one of the first people I met within the Sotheby’s International Realty brand when we first launched a few years ago.
So today, I am excited to introduce the world to Stephanie Biello, who is our new Director of Sales and Agent Success with Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty. Thank you, Stephanie.
Stephanie: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Yeah, on a podcast, on a podcast.
Ryan: Thank you for coming over here. For our listeners, I’m going to give a little bit of an intro and then let you kind of just elaborate on it. But, you know, for Kristy and I, we’ve kind of gotten this business to a level where, you know, maybe we feel like we wanted to branch out and grow it a little bit more. And, you know, we’ve been trying to find the right partner to do that with, somebody that could help on the agent success side, help us grow the company, help our agents grow their business, and then help us bring in some more agents to the company.
And, you know, we were, maybe I could say, being honest, we were struggling to find the right fit. I kind of had in my mind the avatar of what this partner could look like, and I never thought that we would find somebody who has as much experience and is as true to the brand as you. And with that, just so our audience knows, here, Stephanie comes from the brand. I mean, you led Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty for over a decade in the Greater Philadelphia area. And I just could never have imagined that we’d find somebody who had that much experience with Sotheby’s International Realty that we could bring in and have with us. So, hopefully, that’s a little bit of an introduction. I’ll let you kind of take it from there. So, who is Stephanie?
Stephanie: Well, thank you for that introduction. That was very kind. I started in real estate in 2002. I got my license, then, worked in resale, and moved my way into new construction. So, I worked with builders, developers, found myself in Center City Philadelphia working on some larger projects. And once those projects were finished, it was like, what was next? And so I got my broker’s license, and I found myself at Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty and managed three of their offices for like, you said, for about 10 years. And just really fell in love with the brand and what it offered. It was a nice compliment to some of the work that I had been doing previously in resale and new construction, which was some of the high-end luxury properties in Philadelphia. So they really understood, you know, coming from new construction and going into resale, the brand really knew how to market high-end luxury. So it was a nice partnership.
Ryan: Felt aligned with their mission in the marketing to be able to service your clients.
Stephanie: Yeah, takes it to a whole other level, you know, the understanding the market, the buyer, the seller, what their expectations are, and the caliber.
Ryan: Right. So, you got your start as an agent, and you said, you know, working on some of these condo projects in Philadelphia, like high-end luxury, high-rise buildings, right? In dealing with the marketing and servicing of those of those clients. That’s where you started? Yeah, that’s a great start.
Stephanie: I didn’t start there. You have to work your way to get up.
Ryan: Okay, so but yeah, that’s, that’s where you came from. So, that’s exciting. What made you want to go from the sales side to the management side? How did that transition?
Stephanie: I think it was in new construction. I worked on developments on, you know, prior to the buildings up in the suburbs where you were doing a development. So there was planning. It was very strategic, marketing, pricing, that sort of thing. So, going from sales, you know, I mean, like, that’s more management. You’re doing sales and you’re managing, so it’s a little bit of both. So then going into the resale side of it, I really felt there was a void with the marketing of, you know, resale properties. So when I took the position of manager, it was kind of like I brought some of that experience into the resale.
okay. And, and with the management role, I mean, how many, how many agents were you working with there?
Stephanie: I think all in all, between the three, it was about 50 agents. So we had more of a boutique feel, more specialized. You know, in the higher end, we had a lot of, Philadelphia is very historic. So we had a lot of historic properties, but yeah, it was a great office, still is,
Ryan: Right, and so, not only, you know, did you obviously have experience there with with running a real estate brokerage, specifically Sotheby’s International Realty brokerage, but then you’ve also and still are involved, I guess, at the state level, in the state and in city level. Maybe talk about that a little bit.
Stephanie: Yeah, so, my other life, it’s more volunteer. So I’m very involved in the Realtor Association on the local and state level in Philadelphia. I was a board member, and then moved up to president, and I was the president for the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors for 2020 and 2021. So, pandemic, back-to-back terms.
And then, now I am the District One Vice President representing Philadelphia on the state level. Also involved in legislative committees, the forums committees, so I really enjoy it. I think, my recommendation for anybody in the industry is to get involved at some level in the association, whether it’s a committee or a position on the board of directors. I think it just takes your career to the next level. You learn things about the industry, you kind of know about some of the threats that might be affecting our industry as a whole, some opportunities that might be out there, and I think you build confidence knowing more about your industry, and you speak more confidently about it, right,
Ryan: Right. So I think some of our, I mean, listeners might be wondering, all right, so you obviously have a great track record in Pennsylvania, what was it, and how did you get here? Like, what, how did this even become a possibility?
Stephanie: So I was one of those buyers that came down and vacationed, and, we found ourselves empty nesters at some points, so we bought a condo, and we found ourselves spending more and more time here. And then when you had opened it up, I, you know, of course, popped in, and that’s another beauty of the brand and why I love it so much is the networking, and you can go into any Sotheby’s International Realty anywhere in the world and you feel like you’re with family or friends. So, walked in, said hello, and, yeah, found ourselves coming down here more often. My time freed up a little bit, so and then we started talking,
Ryan: Right. Which was a surprise, and then all of a sudden, like a kind of the light bulb went off, and I was like, wow, this, this could be interesting here, and, so obviously that was a number of months ago, and, now you are, now you are here.
Stephanie: I’m here
Ryan: And living here, and, you know, you’ve been with us for just under a month thus far. tell me about what some of the initiatives you’re doing, like what is the new, new Director of Sales and Agent Success look for? I mean, what, what are you trying to do right now
Stephanie: Obviously, we are always looking for opportunity? And I think the market here is greatly, you know, coming from Philadelphia, you know, a lot of people tend to go to the Jersey Shore, and, I find that they’re getting priced out of that market, and this is kind of untapped. There’s a great market, great opportunity, and I think the brand can really, take some of these properties and really tell the story. I mean, some of these properties have great stories. I love some of the listings that we have. So I take a look at the listings that we have, see how we can tell their story and get it out. The vineyard, I love the vineyard. great story there. We have another coming soon, another wonderful story there, so on the ocean. So we look for opportunities there. And with the agents, just introducing them to the whole world of tools that Sotheby’s International Realty has, there’s a lot to unpack. So, you know, getting to know some of the agents and where they’re at in their journey and helping them apply some of the tools and techniques and tips and tricks,
Ryan: Right. So I’m going to touch on this, and this is a testament to, our testimonial to Sotheby’s International Realty, but you ran Kurfiss Sotheby’s International Realty for almost a decade, and then, you decided to kind of go a different direction for a little bit, and now you’re back to Sotheby’s International Realty. So what was it that brought you back?
Stephanie: I think it was… I missed it, you know, it was my home. It was my family for over a decade. I enjoyed the networking, you know. You don’t find that outside of, I don’t know, any other brokerage, you know, people that I speak to, the camaraderie and knowing that if I have a referral that I’m going to send somewhere else, that that person that’s going to pick up the phone is going to treat my client the same way I would. So, missing that and the energy. I think the energy is great.
Ryan: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s one thing I could, I could say with being involved in the brand, I do believe that once an agent is exposed to the brand and in gets in the brand, there’s this magnetism that’s stickiness that it’s almost like a culture type of thing that draws agents in, and they don’t want to leave because they know nothing compares, literally. And, like you mentioned, you know, Kristy and I, we love to travel. Every town that we go to on vacation, we’re stopping in the Sotheby’s International Realty office there, and it’s the power of uniformity and whether it’s a entry-level price point or a upper-level price point or, you know, it doesn’t matter. The level of service is the same, you know, the sign looks exactly the same, the power of the brand truly, same colors, same font. Any market you go into, it’s the same. And in the, the people, I think, was probably what is the most important thing. The people that make up Sotheby’s International Realty are some of the greatest, and they’re so open to having conversations with you wherever you go, which totally helps that referral piece.
Stephanie: Yeah. And they want to know about your market, right? And, coming from Philadelphia, we always say this, like, wherever I go, whatever event I go to, somebody finds out I’m from Philadelphia. There’s always, like, a connection to Philadelphia, but if you don’t speak up and say where you’re from, you know, it’s kind of like, what you, what you focus on expands, right? and so, you know, you start attracting or, I don’t know, you start honing in on people that are from your area, and then the referrals, they just keep coming back, and it’s not just the referrals, but it’s the friendship, and, you know, I can say, oh, I have friends in California or I have friends in Colorado, and they truly are friends, but you’re doing business, which is, you know, I think everybody wants to love what they do and love where they work, and having that connection with people outside of your network, you know, your immediate network, is really cool,
Ryan: So, as you’re in the role here for a few weeks, obviously, you know some of the things we’ve been working through is just looking at our systems. We’ve got great support already, you know, built-in. We’ve got, you know, looking at our lead flow systems, opportunities coming in. looking at some of our trainings, you know, obviously with Ninja selling that you’ve instilled or starting to instill into our company. What are you most excited about? I’ll ask you that, first, with where we are and where you see our future.
Stephanie: Right, so I’m really excited. I mean, I think there’s a lot of potential there. I think there’s a lot of untapped potential there, and I think, you know, like you talked about, you know, with the leads and the systems and the processes, they’re all right there and, you know, we were having this conversation earlier. I think the structure, everything, you know, everybody’s all in line, the leads, the referrals, the, agents are getting busy again, so you can you feel like the market is turning a little bit, maybe or, and I don’t want to say the whole market, but things are starting to change, so everything’s all there, and it’s just, you know, helping everybody get motivated, get moving, and you know, look here, look there, look there. So, yeah, I’m really excited about that. It’s like, it’s something new, it’s kind of like a new development or a new, you know, project that’s coming on board, and it’s like, okay, here’s all the components and here’s where you know, look here, look there. This is where the market’s going, take a look here, take a look there. So that’s really exciting.
And this market, the beach market Ocean City is, is so much different than, you know, a large metropolitan city, so our summers are very quiet up there because everybody’s going down to the beach, and then everybody here at the beach, they’re loving the beach, and they might want to buy a beach house or a condo. So it’s a fun market to be in, so I’m really excited about that.
Ryan: Yeah. So, from an agent, perspective, what would you say, or some, like, some agent that we have is already in the company, or an agent that, you know, may be there with a different company, they’ve had some success, they would like to, kind of, you know, tap into a little bit different price point, possibly increase their price point. which Sotheby’s has a track record of doing. What are some of those tools and/or the things that you think are most attractive to a potential agent who might be thinking about changing gears? What’s the draw with Sotheby’s International team?
Stephanie: I think, well, there are two things, you know, we talked a little bit about the networking and the referrals that go back and forth. I mean, that’s number one. I think an agent needs to know their why, like, why do you want to break into this, and what have you done in the past that’s working, and how were you going to apply that to get yourself into another niche? And I think the brand can help those agents who may have hit the ceiling with their current brokerage or company where they’re at, and they just want to take it to the next level. Maybe their clientele wants them to go to the next level. We see a lot of that, and with the brand, it’s kind of, you know, they’re always on the forefront of marketing the ideas, you know, their platforms, you know, when a listing goes in with Sotheby’s International Realty, it gets plugged into a network that is just so far superior than everybody else, and it’s all over, it’s just kind of like it spreads all over, you know, it’s, it’s Wall Street Journal, New York Times, global, you know, and it’s our level where we enter other agencies have to pay to get to where we’re at, so it’s automatic when you have a listing and gets plugged into that network.
Ryan: You made me think of something here, and this is what I see a lot of agents trying to do. You know, brand is interesting across anything we buy, you know, like everybody has a thought when they think of Coca-Cola or Ford or, obviously Chevrolet, but Fiat, you know, Porsche, Tiffany’s, right. Everybody thinks of certain things. One of the things that I see a lot is, with people’s marketing, you know, with some of these other companies, you know, they mention the name of the company, and then they have to add “luxury,” right. And, and that’s just one of the unique things with brand, and one of the reasons I was attracted to Sotheby’s International Realty from the beginning is with International Realty, you don’t have to say luxury. It’s just implied. You know, and I think you said this in the past, but, I mean, a lot of that goes back to the auction house and the ties there, correct?
Stephanie: So it comes from, you know, if you think about art, art tells a story. Sotheby’s International Realty, we’re all about storytelling and marketing that way. We talked about properties that have a story and telling the story, so any opportunity there is to enhance that story, whether it’s social media, print, video, they’re at the forefront of it, and, you know, it takes it to that next level. So it’s consistent, like you said, the fonts all the same, the colors all the same, the way we present our material, it’s all the same. Well, the brochures are the same. So, it’s important that an agent understands, you know, that brand is behind them. It’s, you know, people do business with people, and, you know, they’re doing business with people they know, like, and trust, but you do have to project it, get it out there, and the brand behind you is just a great way to tell that story, the agent’s story.
Ryan: So you got the connections, you know, the referrals, but then but some of the tools exclusive to Sotheby’s International Realty. I think one of the biggest tools that we have internally is the ability for an agent to kind of become a marketer themselves and tap into those tools that are offered by just being a part of the brand, and really, you know, very easily be able to create materials that will make their listings just stand completely apart from the rest with just a couple clicks. I mean, these are just some of the tools that are offered that I find fast.
Stephanie: Yeah, my favorite is the Lookbooks, and I’ve shared that with you, right? With the Property Lookbook, and again, it goes back to the whole storytelling. So it’s the magazine; it can be digital, or you could print it, and they make it so easy for the agent to become, you know, a media, graphic designer, marketer, or whoever. But, you know, you get to plug this in, and I mean, the client loves it, you know? It’s all over; you know, it’s a link, it’s on social media, and it flips like a magazine, and it’s just beautiful pictures. And that’s another thing is the beautiful photography that’s across the brand too, yeah, absolutely.
Ryan: So, something that we also offer as a company, you know, in-house, that can help an agent grow their business. I mean, we were talking earlier today that, you know, one of the things that, I think, a lot of agents want, I believe they want, is the ability to have a partner, have the support, have the marketing to be able to go do what they do best, which is communicating with their clients, building these relationships, getting the business essentially, and then being able to, kind of, hand it off, get everything taken care of, and then they move on to the next client that they can help.
Stephanie: And that’s what I love. I mean, you asked, you know, what excites me, and, you know, taking a look at Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty, you have everything in place. It’s right there. You have the support, you have the systems, you have, you know, anything an agent could need, it’s there at their fingertips. And I think just the morale and the culture, I mean, you and Kristy are great, and you’re positive, and, you know, it’s just, it’s always, you know. It’s intense work, but it’s also very fun, so, I’m excited about that. But yeah, I think it’s great, you know, the support, you know, here, locally, right?
Ryan: Yeah, right. And, you mentioned Kristy, and Kristy and I, in our vision, you know, one thing that we, I think we, we’ve, we’ve thought about over the years, and one of our evolutions over the years is, you know, we truly feel that the client, the consumer, whether buyer or seller, deserves a better experience. So, we’re always striving to make sure that we can give them the best experience. I mean, that’s everything from, you know, gathering the right information from your client to be able to best serve their needs, to making sure that nothing slips through the cracks, that communication is fantastic, that they’re partnered with great agents who know the market, who can guide them. And then, you know, whether it’s on the listing side, making sure that their property is presented in the absolute best light, and that we follow up and care.
The piece with Sotheby’s, which was a huge piece for us, was the fact that we did all this for years, you know, we had this system in place, but we wanted to make sure that we could put our clients on an even bigger stage. And that’s what Sotheby’s International Realty has really allowed us to do is the international stage, the reaching the masses because, I mean, sometimes we know there are properties that deserve and require a greater audience. And in Sotheby’s International Realty, with their partnerships with media, with the number one percentage of voice when it comes to PR, the number one most visited luxury real estate website in the world, the number one most visited luxury real estate section on YouTube, I mean, all these things have just really allowed us to put our properties and our clients in a great position.
Stephanie: Yeah. And we have an app on Apple TV too, right? You can sit at home, and, you know, you’re on Apple TV, you can look at some beautiful pictures of some beautiful homes across the area. Yeah, it’s that concierge service, you know, that the clients want, plugging into that network. And I think it’s, you know, your prime right here in Ocean City, Maryland, because it’s, people are coming from all over. You know, they’re coming from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Baltimore, DC, you know, fill it out even up in the Poconos. They’re coming down. So, you know, there’s those places that I just named, there’s affiliates that we could pick up and say, “Hey, you know what? We just showed a couple of properties to somebody who’s from your area, you know? They may need to sell their home, or, you know,” and it’s just that back and forth, right? You know, and the clients love to hear, you know, when you go on a listing appointment, or you’re with a buyer, and they say, “Oh, yeah, we have a home that we may need to sell back in so-and-so.” I have a friend, I know somebody, we have an affiliate there. We can take care of that for you. And it’s that next level of service that clients really like, that concierge.
Ryan: And they can expect the same level of service in whoever you’re referring them to within the brand because it’s very uniform. Very uniform, but then a little bit different too. I mean, we are all individually owned and operated franchises of Sotheby’s International Realty. And I will say, I’ll be the first to admit that we put a little different twist on it, the way we do things. And, you know, and I think a lot of that comes down to the benefit to the agent. You know, having some more opportunities that, that are presented to them, you know, to go work than maybe some of the, you know, some of the other affiliates have, which we’re proud of, and we’re continuing to grow, you know, every day.
Stephanie: Yeah. And I think the foundation is we want the agents to service their clients, so, you know, all the paperwork, all the transactional stuff is just like a byproduct of our business. And we have people for that. So, drop it off, move on to the next one, you know? We’ll take care of that with that same concierge service to your clients as you would to them.
Ryan: Right. So, as we move forward here, I’m gonna put you on a spot a little bit, you know? When we, when we look at the real estate market here, what are you seeing? What are you predicting here for the second half? I mean, just, in general, when it comes to real estate.
Stephanie: So, I’m, I’m learning the market here. It’s not a spring-fall type thing, like what I guess it kind of is, and it quiets down in the winter time. But I do see, just in the short amount of time that I’ve been here in the office, just to hear the activity. It’s one thing to be an observer from the outside and look at markets and look at numbers, you know, but when you’re in the office and you’re hearing the conversations that the agents are having, I mean, there’s still an issue with inventory. it’s all over, which is affecting sales and pendings. So, you know, even though they’re down, it’s because of an inventory. So I do see more stuff coming on, but it goes very quickly. So I think if you’re poised and, you know, when markets get tight, you just have to take a look at, you know, as an agent, take a look at what’s working, what’s not working. You might have to shift your strategies a little bit. But I do see the market here. I mean, prices are, I mean, they’re stabilizing somewhere in some places. They still are competitive, there are still, you know, competitive offers, so a little different than what’s going on in the city right where there’s more inventory in the city, a little bit
Ryan: Definitely. Pockets, obviously, real estate’s a localized thing, right? I mean, all in all, I think we’re up about six percent, you know, an appreciation here locally, but our number of sales are down over 30 percent. And I think, you know, one of, we talk to buyers and sellers every day, and they’re always asking, “How’s the market? What’s going on?” And, you know, we try to be the best advisors that we possibly can, but I truly believe that if, you know, some people say, “Alright, we’re going to see more inventory, that’s going to put pressure on price, downward pressure on prices.” I don’t believe that to be true. I think more inventory is going to mean more sales. It’s only going to make things heat up because there’s been a lot of people who’ve just been sitting back, and they’re like, you know, “I haven’t quite seen it, but if they find something that’s compelling that comes on, and I think they’re going to make moves, and I think that will cause more activity in our marketplace.
Stephanie: I mean, we were in the market when it was, when it was in the buyers were on the market, and we were, like, trying to pad the inventory, so this is a different buyer on the sideline waiting. They’re waiting for inventory, so yeah, I think it’s just, you know, they’re waiting for the right, right property. And I think it’s the same here as it is anywhere. If the house is in great shape,it’s going to sell quickly. If you’re going to position your home on the market and, not be aware of what buyers are looking for, and you think, “Oh, the market’s hot, and you’re just going to put the price on it, it will sit there.” So, you know, I think agents, too, have to have honest conversations with their clients and really know the market. Yeah, the market’s hot, but to get top dollar, this is what they’re looking for and really understand what the buyers’ needs are. Yeah, and it’s a sub-market too, you know, you have markets and then, you know, in every city, it could be different, you know, Oceanfront could go quicker than bayfront or, you know, Inland, you know, are you on the island, are you off the island, so it’s it really depends on, you know, that sub-market,
Ryan: Absolutely, you know, and agents have a tendency to say, “Well, the market’s hot, the market’s so hot.” Well, who’s it hot for?
Stephanie: Yeah, for sellers, be careful saying that.
Ryan: Yeah, but that means all the buyers is not hot for, yeah, I mean, you got to be careful, absolutely as to who it’s hot for or not, so even if things slow down a little bit, then that becomes more of a buyer opportunity, and what I will say is, though, that I mean, I think they’re right now is truly, what I’m seeing is it’s a that inventory, supply-demand issue is very real. That’s keeping things competitive, but I am seeing a little bit of, a little bit of bump in inventory in a few spots, which buyers who want to buy really should be keeping a close eye out there,
Stephanie: Yeah, they should be ready,
Ryan: Alright, so lots of good things to come. Well, my thought here is I want to get you on here today to introduce you to our audience, as you’re going to be a key part in our growth here in the future, but I want to get you back from time to time too, to kind of let us know, what we’re seeing and and what your, what your vision is. So next 90 days, what’s, what’s your, what’s the most, what’s highest on your list of what you want to accomplish?
Stephanie: So next 90 days is, I really want to take the marketing to the next level, so the branding and the messaging, so really shine, and you know, I just think the, the brand is so great, and there’s so much opportunity there, so the messaging, you know, our agents being completely successful in anything that they, you know, venture into, whatever markets they’re going into, so yeah, it excites me to see agents grow and be successful in their own right.
Ryan: So, before we go, any agents that are thinking about possibly making a move or maybe feel like they have hit that ceiling, or things that we’re working for a while and maybe now aren’t working and they want a different perspective, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
Stephanie: You can go on the website, my cell number, my email address, I’m always around, I can give my number out or put it in.
Stephanie: Cell number 267.322.9814. I hope I don’t regret doing that.
Ryan: No, no, they’re lining up, they should be. You should be lining up.
Stephanie: But I, you know what, like agents, every agent is kind of like homeowners and homes. Every home is different, and needs different things. So agents have different needs and wants. But all in all, I think the brand just is, you have that power behind you, and you know whatever you want to succeed in, you’ll be very successful with it behind you.
Ryan: And you’re there to help support. I’m there to help support. We are excited about the future with Atlantic Shores Sotheby’s International Realty. I’ve said this before, but I feel like we’re only scratching the surface, you know? We are completely growth-oriented, and at this stage in our game, we want to help more agents build their business. You know, build their business with the Ninja Selling, with their sphere of influence, with the opportunities we provide them. And, or they get to a point where they want to build their own team. Well, I’ve done it, and I’d be happy to help you through that process too.
Stephanie: So, you’re the master?
Ryan: Well, we’ll see. We’ll see. You’re the master, that’s why we brought you in here, so appreciate it. Thank you so much for your time, Stephanie. I’m looking forward to big things here. and thank you to everybody for tuning in to another episode of the Running Real Estate Podcast. If you like this information, please subscribe, like, share with your friends, and we look forward to seeing you back here next time on the Running Real Estate Podcast.