Five Questions With: Crystal D’Agostino

Crystal D’Agostino, the broker-owner behind Start Realty, was recently installed as the new president of the Kent Washington Association of Realtors. Based in West Warwick, D’Agostino has been in the real estate industry for nearly 15 years, previously working at HomeSmart Professionals. She has served on the association’s board of directors since late 2013.

PBN: How did you become president of KWAOR, why did you want to do this and what are your hopes for the future of the organization?

D’AGOSTINO: In order to become president of KWAOR, I had to be nominated by the KWAOR Nominating Committee and then elected by the general membership at the annual meeting held last September. Prior to being nominated and elected as president, I served as a KWAOR committee member, then progressed to the position of chair, director, treasurer, etc.

Shortly after becoming a Realtor in 2008, I made a decision to become involved with the board because I wanted to effect change and growth, both personally and for the association. I quickly realized that my involvement helped me achieve so much more than I could do individually. I hope to help the association further its mission and support its members by promoting more collaboration, creativity, change, support and growth.

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PBN: What does KWAOR do for its members and why should real estate agents want to become a member of KWAOR?

D’AGOSTINO: KWAOR provides valuable benefits, resources and support to its Realtor members through education and technological enhancement. The education and technology provided are invaluable tools, helping agents in their day-to-day business activities to keep abreast of what is happening in the ever-changing real estate world. For example, KWAOR offers the SentriLock lockbox system to its Realtor members. SentriLock is the industry leader in lockboxes and real estate management, empowering brokers and agents with best-in-class technology. SentriLock provides agents and sellers with detailed reports on who entered the house and how long the showing lasted.

KWAOR provides its members with a newly renovated, state-of-the-art classroom. Members not only use it for their continuing education classes and Lunch & Learns, but also it can be used by members to host their own office meetings and classes. The office staff at KWAOR is second to none. They are always so professional and helpful by quickly responding to our members’ questions. We get a lot for our membership.

PBN: What is the current real estate market like for you and Start Realty, in terms of challenges of the present market and how you’re responding?  What’s it like out there right now?

D’AGOSTINO: We have seen rates jump up and the news media has started to scare everyone. However, this is not the whole picture. Yes, rates are high, but prices have dropped a little. There’s still low inventory. However, there also are fewer buyers. This decreased competition means the “crazy frenzy” is over and the market conditions are returning to normal.

Buyers are all having home inspections now. Whereas during the frenzy, they were in such a rush to close that they would waive the inspection and agree to purchase the property in “as is” condition. Sellers are making reasonable repairs.

Here at Start Realty, my agents are negotiating with sellers to pay closing costs, and some of that money is used to buy down buyers’ interest rates. We are also working closely with lenders to find the best programs that fit our buyers’ needs.

PBN: How do you think the Rhode Island real estate market might change heading into 2023?

D’AGOSTINO: Given the current economic conditions, we can continue to expect rates to increase and prices to drop throughout 2023. Many homeowners, who might otherwise be in a position to move, are tending to stay put to avoid going from a mortgage with a low rate to one with a higher rate. Supply will likely continue to be depressed as a result.

PBN: What’s one tip you can share with fellow Realtors and property owners about how to successfully sell a home right now in what is currently, from what I understand, a buyer’s market?

D’AGOSTINO: We are still very much in a seller’s market with low inventory; things are just not as crazy as six months ago with buyers waiving inspections and waiving appraisals. Instead of 30 offers, we are getting 10 offers. More-traditional negotiating tactics are returning.

Sellers are getting a little less money, but they are less stressed and still walking away with a profit. This is a healthier market. To all my sellers who are thinking of selling, make your home as clean and welcoming as possible. If it stands out as “move-in” ready and priced right, it will attract buyers’ attention and sell quickly.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer.

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