The East End has incredibly powerful women in real estate. Sotheby’s International Realty got lucky when they recruited Dana Trotter in 1997, who has secured over a half-billion dollars in sales for the brokerage.
Indy finally caught up with her to learn more about her method, lifestyle, and her relationship to the East End.
Dana, are you native to the East End?
Well, I wasn’t born here, but my family was fortunate to move to Amagansett when I was eight years old. Not only do I know the area very well having grown up here, but I also grew up around the business with my mother in real estate and my stepfather, who was a builder/developer, so I have been very well-versed in all aspects of the business from a young age.
You were ranked as one of the top 50 brokers in the country by the Wall Street Journal. You’ve secured over a half-billion dollars in sales for Sotheby’s. What does this mean to your clients?
My transaction record reflects a wide range of experience and client confidence. I have successfully negotiated countless deals in my time with Sotheby’s International Realty so there is not a lot I haven’t seen. This nuanced experience creates value for my clients and customers. Additionally, I value hard work, trustworthiness, and confidentiality, which leads to repeat business as well as referrals by clients to their friends and families.
The homes you have in your inventory are spectacular. Why did you choose Sotheby’s as your brokerage?
I was lucky enough start with at Sotheby’s in 1997. I was originally hired by Braverman Newbold Brennan when they were the most exclusive high-end boutique agency here. Sotheby’s International Realty bought them out six months after I started.
I have been recruited by just about every other agency out here since then, but when you start at the best company with a broad reach, agent support, and international brand, why would I leave?
Sotheby’s also fully appreciates the work I do and my track record, so I have close relationships and the full support of corporate and marketing leaders within the company both locally and in NYC. Together we find the best ways to represent properties in the Hamptons.
You also are part of a collaborative of 35 real estate professionals that market homes from Aspen to the South of France. Can you tell us more?
I am very proud to be one of the original members of the Sotheby’s Market Leaders Group, which is comprised of the most successful brokers in our key markets across the country. I have personal relationships with each of these brokers and we often collaborate on our listings, best practices, and generate new and innovative ideas. We also cross-market our listings, as many people in the luxury markets own homes in several locations.
This group provides me an amazing reach for my listings, provides me with trusted friends and brokers in other key markets, and gives me access to many great brokers and ideas, which adds to my own resources and knowledge. My customers appreciate that I can refer them to another trusted advisor in whatever location they desire. I can give them to key people that will help them every step of the way.
This group loves to represent the Sotheby’s brand at the very highest level.
You’ve sold some amazing homes! Can you note some of your favorites?
One of the many special properties that I sold was a farm in Wainscott South that consisted of 18 acres right off the beach. It was a place I grew up visiting because my childhood horse was boarded there, a truly magical place. It was somewhat bittersweet for both the family selling and I, but it went to another wonderful family that is now enjoying it with their children.
It’s been quite a soft market the last few years. How do you market yourself and your inventory during these downturns?
I have always been one to take quality listings in every price point and my team is also very successful with rentals (we did over $3 million just in rentals last year), so while the high-end market has slowed a little, we are still very active in the under-$3 million market.
We’re also not tied to any one way of doing business or any one segment of the market, so we can be innovative, nimble, and agile in our approach. We pride ourselves on working hard for our customers and clients at any price point.
Do you have any predictions about the market in 2020?
2020 is already off to a great start. We saw the busiest fourth quarter we’ve had in a long time, and, so far, the year is looking like it will be very strong. We are optimistic and putting our heads down to work hard. There’s often hesitation in the marketplace during an election year, but there are very compelling opportunities in this buyer’s market, especially in the high end.
We learned that you are a lover of the equestrian life. Can you tell us a little more about this aspect?
Yes. I grew up riding horses and competing on the East Coast. This has always been my passion and I am, by nature, a very competitive person, so it is a great outlet for me to enjoy nature, my horse, meet interesting people, get exercise, and do something I love. I am extending this passion this year having been invited to be on the board of the new School of Veterinary Medicine at Long Island University.
What is some advice you would give a buyer when looking for a home?
Trust one of the largest investments of your life to someone who knows the market and the local rules well and who can help you make good decisions. Trying to do it on your own can often lead to disaster. You need the advice of a well-seasoned and experienced broker who can guide you in your search and help you make one of the most important purchases you’ll make in life. I can also direct buyers to other local experts like lawyers, surveyors, architects, builders, engineers, etc.
What about sellers?
Studies within our company show that sellers have a tendency to overprice their property by 10 to 15 percent on average, and aspirational pricing is all too common in our market. To achieve a timely sale for the highest possible price, it’s crucial that a home is priced correctly at launch to best capitalize on the initial spike of attention received by new listings.
Sellers need to trust their broker and adapt to the current market conditions if they are serious about selling. Our standard line is “compelling properties, priced well, will sell.” Anyone can find property info and sold data online, of dubious accuracy, but I live and breathe in this market and I follow the deal flow before it’s even published.
Are there any up-and-coming neighborhoods or trends that we should know?
I think the waterfront neighborhoods in the Sag Harbor/Noyac area are becoming more sought after and had been undervalued. There is a wide variety of offerings across price points in our market but the homes that stand out usually offer a special feature that separates it from the pack and adds value. To that point, trends have shifted away from vanilla McMansions and spec builders have to be more creative with their designs and finishes to stand out and achieve a successful sale.
We know how busy you are, but how do you spend your downtime?
There isn’t a whole lot of downtime with three children and a full-time job, but we love nothing more than taking the dogs for a morning walk on the beach. Riding my horse is a form of therapy which I practice as often as possible. On Sundays, we spend family time on our boat waterskiing or going to Greenport for dinner. My husband is from New Zealand, so we love traveling there to visit family in addition to family vacations in other parts of the world.
To reach Trotter or inquire about her properties, visit www.danatrotter.com, call 631-379-3236 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.