What started as a six-month work commitment for Geoff Gifkins’s family turned into decades of love for the East End. Gifkins keeps Nest Seekers International nimble and prepared for anything and is rocking his Hamptons real estate brokerage’s business — even during a global pandemic. After trying to speak with him for some time, we finally caught up with him to get his unique insights on the current market.
Geoff, you’re originally from New Zealand?
We actually only planned to stay for six months for work commitments and then return to New Zealand. Life evolved and six months turned into 25 years. Friends introduced us to the Hamptons and we relocated out here shortly after. Coming from New Zealand, it was the best fit for us. I love New Zealand and try to go back there every year.
You had your own brokerage. When did you sell it to Nest Seekers and why?
I started as an agent working under a local lawyer in Southampton, eventually getting my broker’s license and forming my own brokerage in Water Mill. At the time, I was not looking to sell, but took the initial meeting to simply learn about this rapidly growing firm, Nest Seekers International. Within seven days, my sign was down and theirs was up.
It was a great move on many levels. It gave our listings exposure in many markets, and the technology they have in place really supports and helps the agents grow their business and brand. The company has no debt and responded to growth and changes in the market very quickly, always adapting, improving, and getting better.
Things have been ramping up on the East End since the coronavirus pandemic, especially with rentals. How do you think the market will play out for 2020?
This year we have seen an increase in rentals of over 40 percent, with an unusual level of activity over the last six weeks, with people looking to extend their summer rentals already in place and those looking to rent for a few months. The face of real estate as we know has changed and it is unlikely we will see business as usual for a while. Real estate transactions will continue; however, the way in which these deals are brought together has changed dramatically, with social distancing and the latest guidelines set to transact business safely and responsibly.
This global pandemic has affected everyone, and even though New York state has included real estate as an essential business, all agents and brokers need to do their part and act responsibly and in accordance with the guidelines set by our government.
Are there any homes you’re particularly proud of selling for your clients?
Nest Seekers International has been in this market now for eight years and we have had phenomenal growth during that period. Also, over that time, we have increased in depth and reach in the market. Last year we sold two of the highest priced listings in the market place, 950 Meadow Lane and 263 Surfside drive, sold by James Giugliano.
What advice would you give today’s sellers so that their home sells quickly and efficiently?
You can no longer rely on the traditional model to get your home sold, especially in this current environment. Price the home to meet the market, interview many agents, not just one, to get a good understanding of the market and where your house be positioned and how it compares to the competition. Prepare the house for sale, declutter, make any repairs necessary, and make sure it is clean in every room of the house.
The Hamptons is primarily a second home market, so ensure your listing is seen globally and on all major sites. Target your buyers in NYC, NJ, LA, and Florida, as your buyer will generally not be local. Focus on results and actions, not promises.
What about buyers?
Last year I would have told you we are definitely in a buyers’ market. However, with the latest events this may evolve differently as more buyers look to settle here during this time. Buyers need to study the market and compare homes with the criteria they are seeking. Your agent will guide you with best showing practice legally allowed currently, but it is important to see the property at least virtually in its entirety and its surroundings in person.
Listings generally highlight the best of properties and many photos have been so enhanced the reality is very different. It is also important to see the neighboring areas, and the proximity to villages, beaches, and transportation. Lastly, remember the best deal may not be the best house to build your new life in.
Are there any up-and-coming neighborhoods we should know about?
Shinnecock Hills, North Sea, and Noyac are rapidly emerging with many new construction projects coming to market. They also have many great properties under $1 million, attracting first-home buyers and investors.
What channels are you using to market your exclusives and to attract sellers?
We distribute to over 110 real estate sites globally, with most of our leads being generated from the Nest Seekers site, which has over one million unique views monthly. Whether we like it or not, Zillow still has a major influence and it is one of the biggest platforms in our industry.
Some brokers are concerned about the competition, but competition in our industry makes us better, and everyone has to evolve and take service and customer experience to the next level. Zillow, Opendoor, Knock, Offerpad, Redfin, and many more are the most impactful platforms — that is the reality. We welcome the competition. Change is a good thing.
What do you do for fun?
Generally, gym workouts, indoor cycling, and yoga. During the lockdown, Noë and I have dusted off the road bikes, and we have started walking the many trails in our community. Our dogs are normally really excited to go for walks but lately not so much, I think their limit is once a day.
Any parting thoughts?
Just stay safe. Stay home. Stay healthy. Check on family, friends, and community more often. Catch up on unfinished projects. Learn something new. Life will never be the way it was, so might as well get more creative and resourceful.
To reach Gifkins or inquire about his properties, call 516-429-6927, or visit www.nestseekers.com/agent/geoff-gifkins.