From its beaches to the dine-out scene to its elegant homes with an average selling price in the millions, northern California’s Marin County is a hot destination for those who can afford the lifestyle–and a highly competitive market for real estate agents.
But Compass Realty team leader Bernard Link ([email protected]), who 20 years ago left Levi Strauss to follow his wife into the Manhattan real estate arena–is no stranger to competition.
“The high-end market is a joy and a challenge,” said Link, a long-term Marin resident whose team of four is never happier than when handing over the keys to a gracious new home on the California coast. “Our buyers and sellers expect white-glove service, and it’s our pleasure and commitment to be sure that’s what they get.”
Closing 33 sales in the last 12 months is a fair indication the Link Group is succeeding in that goal.
Barbara Pronin: What drew you to teaming in the first place, Bernard, and why do prefer it over working alone?
Bernard Link: There’s a lot of emotion involved in real estate–the ups and downs, the deals you make and the ones you don’t. Being part of a team means someone’s always got your back. There’s a lot of sharing, networking, problem-solving and support. It makes the job more fun, frankly–and our clients have a team behind them every step of the way.
BP: As individuals, your team members all have comprehensive real estate backgrounds.
BL: They do. Denise Halloran is a global marketing veteran with great project management skills and an insider’s knowledge of the region. Amy Reed is a 20-year Bay Area resident with a background in financial technology and a keen eye for design–and Ashley Peterson, who was raised in a real estate family, has spent much of her career designing and developing properties in Marin, Sonoma and San Francisco counties. Julie Fenton, who has deep real estate family roots, blends her background with commitment to her clients. Together, we’ve closed over 200 transactions here over the years, and there’s not much we don’t know intimately about the communities we live in and serve. Those are valuable assets when you’re working with buyers and sellers in a high-end market like this.
BP: What do you see as your greatest strengths?
BL: We have deep roots here, long years of experience, and we are well-respected in all the communities we serve–and we have real-time, firsthand knowledge of the market. Our clients tell us we excel at staging a home pre-market, at bringing together a good fit of buyers and sellers, and negotiating win-win transactions. In general, I think they appreciate our professionalism, our creative marketing skills, and our responsiveness to their questions and concerns.
BP: How do you operate as a team to ensure you’re all on the same page?
BL: We meet weekly, sometimes in person and sometimes via Zoom, but any one of us can call an impromptu meeting as needed. We like taking the time to share information and focus in on our marketing, because branding is important to all of us. We have a great transition coordinator who helps keep our deals on track, and we’re all readily available when an opportunity comes up or an issue needs to be resolved.
BP: That’s one advantage of a smaller team, isn’t it–the relative ease of getting your heads together when you need to?
BL: It is. For a while, I teamed with my daughter, Logan just the two of us, so we had great communication. We still do business together from time to time, and it was a great training ground for both of us in terms of developing good team strategies.
BP: What’s the general price range in your market today?
BL: It’s been running from about $1.5 million on the low end, I would say, to well over $2.5 million on the high end.
BP: What do you see happening in your area now, in today’s shifting market?
BL: Buyers are stepping back a bit as interest rates rise, so prices are a little more volatile. But affordability isn’t an issue for most of our buyers, and inventory is still very tight. Some 30 percent of our available listings are already in contract.
BP: How is that impacting your business and your strategy?
BL: We don’t see this as a major setback. It’s more like the market pre-pandemic, and certainly something we can deal with. At the same time, we are staying in contact with past clients, with all of our SOIs, in fact. That’s a good thing to do in any market, and the little bit of a slowdown is giving us more time to develop new marketing strategies that will serve us well going forward.