In the cutthroat culture of real estate, a new brokerage based in Sea Cliff is branching out, offering a more customer-centric approach that connects with buyers on a personal level. Branch Real Estate Group, which opened its doors to the community on June 24, emphasizes a collaborative sales model over “transaction at all costs,” said partner Molly Deegan.
“It’s bigger than making a buck,” Deegan, of Sea Cliff, said. “We’re leading with a unique people-first mission. It’s not about sticking a person in a home but telling them about the things in and beyond their community.”
Deegan said this buyer-broker relationship is sought out within the business, which is typically insular in nature. Last year 75 percent of homeowners bought from “mom and pop” brokerages, she said. “People want that friendly approach without a corporate machine behind it.”
Making the experience better for buyers and sellers is at the core of Branch’s goals, said partner Stephen Buerger, of Manhasset. “We want to change the paradigm around the real estate business and get to know people beyond the type of house they want,” he said. “A home is more than just four walls and a roof.”
Deegan and Buerger are 30-year real estate veterans with added experience in branding and marketing. Christina Volz, of Sea Cliff, a former top-seller for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s, and John Breen, of Sea Cliff, a former corporate bond broker on Wall Street, round out the four-person partnership. “Each partner brings their own name recognition to the table,” Deegan said. “The type of business experience we have brings value to what we’re trying to do.”
Breen said that Branch intends to appeal to a varied demographic of clients. “The North Shore has become popular with young millennial parents who work in the city, but we want to appeal to everyone,” he said. “People who have raised families here already and are thinking about changing it up, or buyers like me who left and came back to raise a family after having grown up in the area.”
The partners are not only committed to their customers, but the greater community as well. A portion of each sale will be donated to a charity of the buyer or seller’s choice. Some of the organizations Branch will work with include Girls Rising, Island Harvest, the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, Ruff House Rescue and local fire departments.
“We’ve committed to giving two percent of every commission to a charity that serves everyone in the community,” Buerger said. “It’s important for us to be part of these organizations and help them to succeed and to thrive.”
For Deegan, who started as a receptionist in her mother’s brokerage, the opportunity to play real estate “matchmaker” in her hometown is exciting. “The relationship [with our clients] doesn’t end after the sale,” she said. “That’s our differentiator, and it’s leading our mission. Community support needs to happen.”
For now, Branch’s focus is on residential real estate across Nassau and Suffolk counties. The partners’ hope is to expand into commercial properties on Long Island and in New York City in the near future. The group is the premier sponsor of Girls Rising’s BeachFest this weekend.