Dee Southerland, broker associate at Williams & Stuart Real Estate, recently received Rhode Island Housing’s Realtor of the Quarter Award for the third time since she became a Realtor in 2004. Southerland is a Providence native whose specialty is assisting first-time homebuyers. She is driven by being able to facilitate individuals with the both exciting and daunting experience of settling into a home for the first time. Southerland is a graduate of LaSalle Academy. She is currently pursuing a CRS certification.
PBN: How do you cater to the needs of first-time homebuyers? Do you go through a different process than someone who has previously owned a home and why does this clientele appeal to you?
SOUTHERLAND: Catering to the first-time homebuyer takes a certain level of dedication that is specific and unique to every transaction. There is a tremendous amount of guidance involved from the first point of contact all the way to the closing table. This is a brand new experience for the buyer who is full of excitement, anxiety and fear of the unknown. There needs to be a level of trust that is gained by your ability, knowledge, experience and actions. I personally embrace the opportunity to be part of such a life changing experience, and that is what draws me to my first timers. It is very intense and there is an overwhelming responsibility to represent these buyers with everything I have in the arsenal. I enjoy educating my buyers at every corner so by the end of the experience they are ready for homeownership when they get the keys to the front door.
PBN: How do you use social media and other online outlets to help your business? Have you found success using these sites?
SOUTHERLAND: Social media and online sites have definitely impacted the real estate industry, especially in this first-time homebuyer generation. Almost all potential buyers begin their searches online, most often before they have even been preapproved. They have more access to information, are aware of the inventory and have been known for compulsively checking the real estate apps on their phones as they are driving by the sign on the lawn.
PBN: How do you work with Rhode Island Housing’s Loan Center to provide clients with an ideal home that is within their means? Could you describe the process?
SOUTHERLAND: My alliance with Rhode Island Housing has been crucial to my 10 years in the business. I was fortunate enough to join forces with one of the Loan Center’s finest, Margy Thurber. My collaboration with Margy is a key element to my success working with first-time homebuyers. We are known as “The Dream Team” to our clients as we guide them together from application to closing. Recently I received Rhode Island Housing’s Realtor of the Quarter Award for a third time, a true testament to our amazing partnership and our dedication to specializing in first-time homebuyers. •