Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Building her own house from the ground up not only gave Susan Siemiontkowski her “home sweet home” — it sparked her passion for real estate.
At the time, the Toms River, New Jersey, native was working for a publishing company in Michigan profiling the top commercial construction projects across the country. While vacationing on the Coast in spring of 2005, she and her husband, Anthony, fell in love with the area and soon after put their Michigan property up for sale.
As it turned out, the company that built her family’s Gulfport home needed a sales and marketing manager to spearhead its expansion. Siemiontkowski, who’d been working in sales and marketing since the age of 17, was up for the challenge — but little did she know the position would affect the trajectory of her life and career.
“Working for a local builder helped me appreciate all that is involved from start to finish,” she says. “It also made me realize how important the new home journey is to every homebuyer.
“I was fortunate to be able to join many buyers on their journey while helping the company grow through marketing and coaching sales representatives. In other words, it was all my passions rolled into one.”
GUIDING FAMILIES THROUGH THE NEW HOME JOURNEY
The experience showed Siemiontkowski that nothing is more rewarding to her than helping a family in their search for a new home. Today, as a Realtor and new home specialist with Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty, she uses her sales and marketing expertise to match people with the right properties.
“I have a new perspective on houses now,” Siemiontkowski says, “and that is, ‘Every home is someone’s dream home.’”
While building her own home, she found that the process had many highs and lows, “most of which I wasn’t prepared for.”
There were months of decisions, delays and sometimes costly mistakes that needed correction …,” Siemiontkowski recalls. “The experience left me on a mission to provide understanding to those buying a home while being on hand from start to finish.”
GO-GETTER AND PERFECTIONIST
By Siemiontkowski’s definition, a Realtor is someone who learns about the location and current market conditions to give buyers and sellers the up-to-date information they need to make the best decisions. When hiring a Realtor, she advises, make sure they listen to your needs and those of your family.
To aspiring Realtors, she offers these words of wisdom: “Have fun and treat your clients like family, but never underestimate the amount of work involved in being a Realtor. It’s a huge responsibility, and I promise you, you’ll never know everything about real estate — so be open to learning every day.”
Having known Siemiontkowski for over three years, Karen Glass, managing broker with Coldwell Banker Alfonso, calls her a go-getter, hard worker and perfectionist who clearly loves what she does.
“She knows what buyers want,” Glass says. “She stays active out there; she hears what people are looking for, and she communicates that back to the builders.”
Praising her colleague’s vision and attention to detail, Glass says Siemiontkowski is also an effective communicator and marketer whom she’s enlisted to teach social media classes.
“She is shy but outgoing at the same time,” Glass adds. “She wants to please, and she’s disappointed in herself if she doesn’t think she’s satisfied somebody.”
‘YOU DID THIS’
Siemiontkowski’s conscientiousness has fostered long-lasting relationships with buyers, sellers, builders, contractors, suppliers and others. One memory she cherishes most is participating in the St. Jude Dream Home project and seeing so many join forces in the fight against cancer.
Another is a neighborhood Christmas party she attended in a community where she sold homes.
“I guess one of the homebuyers could see the emotion on my face as I sat and watched the friendships evolve; she turned to me and said, ‘You did this; you brought us all together,’” Siemiontkowski recalls. “I’ve since sold several of those homes, and the feeling of family has never waned.”
Quality of life is deeply important to Siemiontkowski, who delights in staying busy with her husband of 16 years and their two dogs, Rocky and Sophie. Her future goals are simple: To help families buy and sell real estate while helping businesses and individuals grow.
“It’s funny, I learn more from them than I could ever teach,” she admits, “but that will be our secret.”
SUSAN’S TOP 5 HOMEBUYER TIPS
- Get pre-approved and have it in writing – A pre-approval letter shows you have spoken with a lender, and based on your finances and credit, you’re ready to buy. Depending on the sellers, a quick closing may give you an advantage.
- Search homes under your budget to leave room to bid up – If you only look at homes at the top of your budget, you risk being outbid or going outside your desired price point.
- Look at value vs. price – When making an offer, have your Realtor determine a fair market value range. Lowballing in a seller’s market may cause you to lose your dream home by alienating the sellers.
- Don’t fall in love with just one house – Do what you can to buy the home, but have a backup if it falls through. Create a point system when viewing homes, and highlight the top three.
- Be prepared to leave a larger deposit – Not always advised, but it’s a great negotiating tool when you’re up against multiple offers.