Top real estate professionals Kasia and Mark, Team Kaprelian at Watson Realty, discuss new construction
A little background on Team Kaprelian.
Kasia and Mark (Team Kaprelian) are real estate professionals and Broker Associates at Watson Realty Corp. with 35 years of combined experience. They specialize in new construction and marketing existing homes in St Johns county. While helping buyers and sellers find their dream home is the main focus, Team Kaprelian also incorporates a dynamic background in land development and home flipping to complement their knowledge and best serve their customers.
It's been a few years since our community has caught up with you. What has changed since then?
Other than getting a few years older, not much. We have slowed down our home flips and land development, focusing almost exclusively now on selling existing homes.
Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
As real estate broker license holders and entrepreneurs, we are always looking for ways to grow and be creative with our business. We’ve always been attracted to the idea of opening up our own real estate office. Watson Realty has proven to be a quality real estate brokerage firm allowing us the ability to focus solely on our customers and not worrying about running an office at the same time. You can be sure that if we see a new real estate project that interests/grabs us, but will not take up too much of our free time, we will not shy from taking it on, it’s in our blood.
As a small team you have a unique approach to helping people buy and sell homes - What are some of the ways you best serve your clients?
We have been working successfully side by side for almost 2 decades now and more importantly, we still enjoy it! Our skill sets and expertise have very little overlap. There are so many moving parts in real estate that we do not know how we would be able to properly serve our customers without the two of us. We often laugh with our customers that by hiring us they get 2 for the price of 1.
Why are you passionate about Real Estate?
We have asked ourselves why we are so passionate about real estate. We have touched almost every aspect of it, yet we still can’t get enough, from home flipping, to home and commercial investing, to being property landlords, to developing lots and of course to working with our customers buying and selling homes. We haven’t lost one bit of our passion. Just think about the ability to share in the emotion of a home buyer closing on their home for the first time, what do they say, “priceless.”
You have developed a strong partnership with Lennar Homes. Can you tell us a little about this?
We do have good relationships with many of the local home builders including DR Horton, Emerald Homes, Mattamy Homes, KB Home, David Weekley Homes, ICI Homes, Providence Homes, CalAtlantic Homes (now part of Lennar), Cottage Home Company, Arthur Rutenberg Homes, CornerStone Homes and Lennar.
Each and every home builder brings something positive to the table. There will always be areas each builder could still improve on, the same could be said about all of us I guess. It is important to fully understand each and every home builder’s strengths and weaknesses. The best outcome in any real estate transaction is one that benefits all parties, so working closely with each builder and especially their site agents is critical.
Now back to your question, why do we like working with Lennar, the short answer is it all starts at the top.
We not only show our customers Lennar homes, but we also make purchasing decisions for a property investment firm which has recently chosen Lennar as its preferred new construction builder. We took the time to meet Matt Devereaux, Division President for Lennar. First he readily accepted our invitation to meet with him. As you can imagine, someone who hand signs every thank you letter to his customers would be the type of person to openly meet and discuss Lennar products, strategy, and personal philosophy. We also fully realize that if you have a quality person with the proper level of knowledge and experience to lead, then it is likely the rest of the company will follow suit, which in our experience is the case with the Lennar team.
Lennar is a value builder, but we want to be very careful how we state that. In some people’s eyes “value” can mean cheap. That is exactly opposite of what we think value is. To us value means you get a very well built, very well upgraded home at an affordable price. The new construction industry is infamous for advertising low pricing and then showing you model homes with a lot of upgrades, so you end up spending tens of thousands of dollars more than you originally intended to. Lennar has greatly minimized the bait and switch feel of new construction home buying with its Everything Included (EI) philosophy. Basically what that means is in communities like Palencia our customers do not pay extra for crown molding, quartz counters, 5 inch base boards, screened lanais, paved driveways, paved lanais, led lighting, high tech controls, appliances and the list goes on. We think it’s a better way of doing business. Plus Lennar also completes many homes before they are sold (known as spec homes), which lets our customers see exactly what they are buying. We do like working with other builders as well when it comes to spec homes: our customers know what they are purchasing upfront, no surprises. But we definitely have to go the extra mile with other builders when it comes to “to-be-built homes” to ensure our customers get what they think they are buying. This extra effort is especially important not only inside the house on a to-be-built home but it’s also critical with the lot. We never stop saying: you can always remodel a home but you can never change a lot. What Lennar is not is a custom builder, for that need we would have to bring our customer to another builder. Custom builders have their niche of course, we couldn’t really classify any custom builder as a value builder, but we do work with buyers who want everything to be exactly as they want it, personalized, that takes a custom builder and that does drive up the homes cost significantly.
Lennar’s philosophy embraces the team approach, customer care specialists, warranty staff, preferred lending personnel and title companies, site agents (sales people who are the customer’s first contact and remain so throughout the process), sales managers working in tandem with site agents and a director of sales and marketing like Matt Figlesthaler ( see photo) who we know we can count on if we need assistance in any way as he has gained our trust.
Every time one of our customers signs on the dotted line with a builder, we put our own reputation on the line, so we need to know we have support at the top of the organization should things not turn out perfectly. All builders will make some mistakes, the more homes you build the more likely something may go wrong, it is how it's fixed that really matters. Homes can be the biggest investment some people ever make, something that important has to be done right.
What are your goals for the upcoming year in Real Estate?
We want to keep expanding our real estate businesses throughout St Johns county, focusing primarily on residential real estate as Broker Associates with Watson Realty Corp. at this time.
We always like to ask our featured businesses this question: What is your favorite thing to do in St. Johns in your free time?
We enjoy riding our bikes together and love dining out with the kids downtown in St Augustine. Kasia really enjoys outdoor trails and Mark loves to play golf (whenever Kasia lets him): Palencia, King & Bear and the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass are his favorite three.
Having moved from Cape Cod to Florida 10 years ago now, we find St Augustine, where we live, to be uniquely different than the Cape yet remarkably the same, so it feels like we have never left our roots, it feels like home.
Anything else you would like our readers to know about Team Kaprelian?
We love reading St Johns Magazine!
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