In her 10 years in the real estate industry, Katie Ducharme has seen the business from several vantage points—from the homebuilder perspective when she worked with KB Homes to the leasing side when she worked for a property management company, and finally, from the agent’s point of view in her current role as a successful sales associate with Christie’s International affiliate Coastal Properties Group in Pinellas County, Fla.
In her two years with Coastal Properties, Ducharme has closed more than $20 million in sales, gaining entry into the firm’s President’s Club in her first year. According to Ducharme, her success is a combination of hard work and advantageous market conditions.
“There are a lot of homeowners who are seeing that it’s a great time to sell a home,” she explains. “A lot of people have recovered from the downturn—they were nervous that house values wouldn’t come up. But most have and now they can sell at great prices and move up. Rates are low and there are a lot of great programs for first-time homebuyers, and lots of opportunities for investors.”
Maximizing such great market opportunities requires facilitating an efficient and effective transaction. A critical part of Ducharme’s success formula is working with HomeTeam Inspection Service of Tampa Bay, in business for more than 22 years and performing over 35,000 home inspections. The firm is an affiliate of the Ohio-based national provider HomeTeam Inspection Service.
When it came to choosing a home inspection service provider, Ducharme learned the hard way.
“I was on my very first home inspection and I’ll never forget it,” she relates. “The inspector took four hours and was so negative—everything was wrong. I thought to myself, ‘This is how home inspections go?’”
Ducharme started asking around. Her team leader at the time recommended HomeTeam—she hasn’t looked back since.
“HomeTeam brings a group of three or four inspectors and they are really thorough because you have multiple people looking at the situation,” Ducharme explains. “They’re detailed and efficient, but at the same time, they don’t want the buyer to lose excitement about the house. They’re always early, always professional and always positive, even in a bad situation.”
The team approach pays off not only for Ducharme, but also for her clients, who can enjoy peace of mind that the home has been thoroughly inspected. The inspection team includes an air conditioning specialist and at least two other inspectors. Working as a team allows them to check each other’s work and bounce things off one another.
Ducharme also relies on the speed in which inspections are scheduled—within the same day or the next day, at the latest. HomeTeam’s responsiveness is also a huge plus.
“Mitch, the owner, is always available if you ever have a question,” she says. “He bends over backwards when you need something. One time when one of his inspectors wasn’t feeling well, I saw Mitch out in the field with his inspection clothes on, ready to get the job done.”
HomeTeam’s technology helps streamline the inspection process even further, using text and email reminders, and electronic reports with photos.
“You always get a reminder call and text and HomeTeam also lets the listing agent know—that’s one less thing I have to do,” says Ducharme. “They are very organized and they send the report as a link to a PDF. That way you’re not getting a giant attachment, which often wouldn’t go through.”
Ducharme sees the partnership as a long-term component of her success. “HomeTeam is my chosen inspection company,” she says. “They’re the only ones I ever recommend.”
By Maria Patterson, Real Estate Magazine