MILLBURN, NJ – When Towne Realty Group opened its doors in 2006, the real estate market was booming. But within a few short years, the market had taken a severe turn and brokers everywhere were scrambling to keep up and even survive.
But the owners of Towne Realty, Karen Bigos and Daniel Cannizzo, know their business. And they know their towns. And this year’s celebration of their sixth anniversary is testament to that.
“Every year, we’ve made a profit,” Bigos said. “Every year, we’ve grown in the number of listings we have and the number of agents who work for us.”
The agency currently has 25 agents, and all with at least three years of experience, many with 10-20 years in the trenches.
Bigos admits the past few years have been challenging, far more so than when the seeds for Towne Realty were first planted in 2005. Not only has the housing market changed, but the way people do business has changed.
“I call us a glocal agency,” she said. “We’re focused locally, but with an eye toward the global.”
The agency has recently developed a free mobile app that works on an Android, Blackberry, iPhone and iPad. They also have a blog for the company called NJHomeExpert.com, where they write about local area market stats, inspection issues, negotiating tips and local community events and features.
Towne Realty handles sales and rentals of homes & condos, and is part of the Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate Network, from whom they received an Outstanding Social Media Savvy Award in 2010. They’re experts not only on the properties they sell, but on the towns in which they sell.
Bigos and Cannizzo both grew up in Millburn and graduated from Millburn High School. Bigos’ father was a haberdasher downtown, and Cannizzo’s family owned a butcher shop and his uncle owned Towne Pharmacy. Bigos formerly worked at Weichert Realtors and at Burgdorff Realtors and before his real estate career began in 2000, Cannizzo was a restaurateur at 40 Main and Café Main (now Martini’s) and is a former township committeeman. They know Millburn inside and out, and locals know who to call when they are ready to sell or buy a home.
Although based in Short Hills, Towne Realty serves many towns throughout the Essex, Morris and Union Counties, and all its agents are very involved in the neighborhoods in which they live and sell homes.
“We’re very community-minded,” Bigos said. “Our business is an extension of the lives we lead in our respective communities.”
Despite its small size, Towne Realty has proven itself a force to be reckoned with in the real estate world. One attorney compared their organized, efficient way of doing business, much the same way a Navy SEAL unit would be called in to handle a military task, rather than a large army.
“We have a huge focus on quality over quantity, except when it comes to exposure, then it’s all about quantity,” Bigos said. We expose our listings on over 100 website channels with a big emphasis on social media, where we have thousands of fans, friends and followers.
Agents at Towne Realty are encouraged build their own business and develop a personal brand.
“Each person is a part of the town where they do business,” Bigos explained. “It was our hope that it would give clients a better option if they wanted to work with a boutique agency that is small enough to really know them, rather than being overcrowded in a class of thousands.”
It’s that personal touch that makes Towne Realty so successful.
“It’s a really personal thing when you are inside someone’s home,” Bigos said. “You’re in their living room, their kitchen, their bathroom… People need to know they can trust their agent, and the way to build that trust is by building long-lasting relationships with people. For us, it’s never been about the money, it’s about the people. Dan and I enjoy helping people, whether they’re downsizing, relocating, or buying a dream home. These days we are busy helping to advance the careers of our agents. It’s about the people.”
For more information about Towne Realty, visit www.trghome.com or call 973-376-8300.