SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – It has been almost 20 years since brothers Donald and Paul Lamastra – both long-time residents of Scotch Plains – took over the reins of the family business, ERA Suburb Realty Agency, from their father in 1997, but they are just as passionate about real estate now as they’ve ever been. Their father, Sal previously ran the company successfully for more than four decades.
“I’ve always had a burning desire for real estate; I’m very motivated by nature,” said Paul Lamastra, who first got into real estate part-time working summers since 1983 and full-time in June 1985 right after graduating Kean University. “I love to help people find a place that they call home. It’s a challenge, every client is a different client that has different needs so it never gets monotonous like some jobs do. After 33 years in the business, I’m still learning every day and still very passionate about it because I enjoy that excitement of new challenges.”
One of those challenges that the brothers have encountered since taking over the family-run business has been the element of expansion. Their vision was to substantially grow its sales team to accommodate the increasing demand in the industry during the real estate boom in the 2000s. As its sales team grew, so did the need for more office space. The Lamastra's expanded their office size by three times its initial size by purchasing vacant office space in the same building.
Some of the qualities their father instilled in them decades ago still apply today with their clients. They are principals to how the Lamastras run their business at ERA Suburb, which consistently ranks in the Top 2 in the State of New Jersey and in the Top 60 in the whole country among the thousands of other ERA Suburb Realties.
“Sal treated people with such a great deal of respect. He treated clients the way that people want to be treated,” Paul said. “That’s really the whole philosophy of ERA Suburb in a nutshell.”
“The other thing he brought to this business was the incredible enthusiasm he had for people,” Donald added. “My father was enthusiastic and had a passion that was off the charts.”
ERA Suburb Realty now features a team of more than 30 real estate agents. Many of their agents focus on sales of homes in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood communities as well as many other towns in Union, Middlesex and Somerset Counties. “We’ve got a great group of people working with us,” Donald. “I’m very happy with how the business has developed over the years.”
“Scotch Plains and Fanwood are both exceptional neighborhoods to live in and it’s the community that we like to sell in the most,” said Donald, who enjoys helping people find a great place to live the most about his job in real estate. “I like getting people into nice houses and nice towns and there’s lots of them around here.”
Among the best qualities of Scotch Plains and Fanwood include the strong school system, proximity to a train station, and the “downtown feel” of both communities.
“The thing I like most about our school system is that they excel in every type of student from special needs children to the children in accelerated learning programs, there’s something for everybody,” added Donald, who put all four of his children through the SP-F school system. “In my experience, that’s one of the biggest reasons that people move to Scotch Plains. There’s great school systems everywhere, but Scotch Plains-Fanwood has the means that’s beneficial for all students.”
Inventory levels in the town are low for this time of year, and the Spring of 2016 was much lower than usual, which is why there has been so much recent competition in the industry, according to Donald. This year, it was typical for each listing in town to receive several bids at the same time. Currently, there are approximately 120 houses on the market in Scotch Plains and 30 in Fanwood.
Buyers want houses that are ‘move-in ready’ and that starts with having updated bathrooms and kitchens in these homes, most of which were built from the 1950s to the 70s in Scotch Plains and Fanwood. The ones with the most up-to-date bathrooms and kitchens tend to sell better, but there are other low-cost alternatives to improving the timeline of selling your home.
“A more cost-effective way of preparing your house for sale is to paint the interior walls, it makes the house look good,” said Paul, who has more than three decades of experience. “Decluttering, making it look neat and tidy are some of the inexpensive alternatives to getting your house ready for the sale.”
Both Paul and Donald agree that the industry has evolved, especially in recent years.
“Technology has changed our business tremendously for the better,” said Donald. “The agents can do more and do it faster. The idea of doing everything online is a big advantage to us and our clients.”
“I just think that technology is going to take us to a different level,” added Paul. “Not all of the houses are staged right now, but I feel the number of houses being staged is going to climb.”
ERA Suburb Realty is exploring expansion opportunities in neighboring towns, including a very strong presence in South Plainfield, the site of Paul’s first-ever sale back in 1983.
ERA Suburb Realty is located at 1773 E. 2nd Street, Scotch Plains. Visit erasuburb.com to view local listings or call (908) 322-4434.