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Business Watch:

You’ve got home deals

Weekly e-mail from Surterre Properties rates homes on most bang for your buck, including competitors’ listings.

April 06, 2008|By Michael Miller

Someone in the real estate community wants to help Melissa Barnes sell a home, and it’s not a friend, a family member or even a colleague. In fact, it’s a competitor.

Barnes, a Realtor for Coldwell Banker Previews International in Newport Beach, recently got a boost from Surterre Properties, another Newport Beach firm that recently launched a new program to bring choice home listings to a wide audience. A month ago, Surterre began sending out an e-mail list of Best Buys — homes that are a bargain due to their price, location or other factors — and one of Barnes’ properties in Newport Heights got picked for the latest mailing.

The Coldwell agent, though, didn’t have to do anything for that endorsement. Surterre created the Best Buys list as a public service to home shoppers, which means spotlighting all the best deals in central Orange County — even ones from other firms for which Surterre won’t make a penny.

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“What I think it shows is that agents are grouping together, no matter what company they belong to, in order to facilitate sales,” Barnes said. “That’s what we all need.”

Surterre mailed out its first Best Buys list March 3 and has sent one every week since. According to Realtor Spyro Kemble, who conceived the project, more than 25,000 people get the mailings every week — and Surterre encourages the recipients to forward it to others. Kemble started the Best Buys project, he said, to counter what he considered excessively dour media coverage about the recent housing market.

“The media per se likes to sell newspapers, and they like to dwell on the negative rather than the positive,” Kemble said. “Across the U.S., we have a subprime mortgage mess, but you don’t have that as much in the Newport Beach area.”

Every week, a 15-member committee of Surterre agents meets to review their listings as well as ones from other firms; if the committee wants to include an outside listing, it calls the agent for permission. Only 17 of the first 32 houses on the Best Buys list were from Surterre, according to President Gary Legrand.

Already, the list has netted results. Legrand and Kemble said three properties from the Best Buys list have already been sold, while six more are in escrow and five written offers have come in.

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