"We're called "The Service Team" and our goal has always been to do more work for the same amount of money," says Larissa Benson, RE/MAX REALTOR® /Owner.
The Service Team's philosophy is simply stated: "Do a better job on every property." Because people have seen that they do a better job on each property, her business with only her and one assistant had grown based on reputation and word-of-mouth alone.
"We try and take it to a different level and offer a stream-lined process as a service. We make it easier for both buyers and sellers. My company may not seem as profitable as other REO companies, but it is because we get more volume by doing a better job for our clients", she says.
The Service Team also targets buyers who plan to occupy the homes. This is especially evident when viewers of their listings have access to more photos than they see on most other listings.
"It's also providing a benefit to the community, especially when we repair so many of the properties. They start to look good, they sell better and they sell for more," says Sarah, Office Manager for The Service Team. "It's a boost to the area's economy when neighborhoods don't deteriorate."
Making sure their REO listings show like regular homes is not what people expect of a team that specializes in Foreclosures. The Service Team, is working hard to remove the fear of REO properties and striving to make it easy for all
To that effort, Larissa has selected a team of professionals with proven abilities. Each contributes their particular strengths to a system designed by Larissa, which results in smooth, seamless transactions from start to finish.
Larissa has been in the business of selling REO properties for nine years, which may seem like a short amount of time, but her skills are based upon real-life experiences. During her first year in the business Larissa started under the tutelage of a mentor with twenty years of experience and possesses the wisdom of that endeavor. Closing more than a thousand properties with a thousand different experiences makes her a seasoned expert her clients rely upon and trust.
"Every single house you sell has something different. I don't care if you sell a hundred houses, you'll have a hundred different experiences. My first year I closed five properties per month, the second and third year it was ten to fifteen properties per month. Now, we sell one a day, and for every single property the team sells I am responsible for writing the contract and seeing them from contract to close," says Larissa.
Larissa built upon the previous experiences she had gained by adding additional technologies and a more efficient method of business. Graduating with distinction from the honors program at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, Larissa drew upon the marketing education she received in order to grow her business.
"What I like so much about REOs, and I?ve done both, is that it is in line with my corporate mindset," says Larissa when considering the differences between REOs and residential real estate. "I've always liked the corporate structure. I like the deadlines and the paperwork for some strange reason."
Larissa appreciates that REOs are a hybrid, consisting of the freedoms of being your own boss in real estate within a strong corporate structure.
Besides assisting her staff in any way she can, Larissa personally manages the broker price opinions (BPO) and types all the contracts to assure the highest level of professionalism.
Other than her time in Athens attending college and a short time living in Gainesville, Larissa has spent her entire life in Gwinnett County and has chosen to remain in the area to raise her family where she and her husband cherish every moment with their young daughter and son. Larissa stays active by running and recently participated in her second half marathon at her alma mater where she and her husband also enthusiastically support the Georgia Bulldogs football team as season ticket holders.
As the team member who has worked with Larissa the longest, Sarah has been called upon to do pretty much everything. Sarah's goal is simple: make sure each party has what they need to assure that everything runs smoothly, in her words, "get her done." From receiving a property's address to closing, Sarah tracks every intricate detail throughout the process.
"I like the day-to-day. There are a lot of things that are routine, but then I like that you get a monkey wrench. I like being a problem-solver," says Sarah.
Sarah's strength is the experiences she has gained following hundreds of transactions and the breadth of knowledge and understanding of the larger picture she offers while assisting other team members in their individual tasks.
"We're building a rapport with agents, too. They respect us and like the way we maintain our properties," she says.
Sarah understands the benefits of a team approach to selling real estate. Someone is always available at the office and a quick phone call offers immediate attention to any situation. Area realtors look forward to working with The Service Team and the attention-to-detail members like Sarah provide.
Sarah has lived in Gwinnett County since 1996. She delights in the adventures of her toddler son and loves cooking and coming together for big family dinners.
Team members lovingly refer to Shanta as the "Spreadsheet Queen." Her ability to streamline a task or organize a process with the creation of a spreadsheet is inspiring and she compliments the team's ability at providing a smooth transaction experience from start to finish. Shanta holds a B.A. in Business Management and has ten years of previous experience as a general manager in the retail industry. She started with The Service Team in March of 2010 and was the first in the team's most recent rapid expansion in employee growth.
"New challenges present themselves daily and that makes it exciting to come in to work and see what's new for the day," says Shanta.
The team relies on Shanta for her accuracy in accounts payable, accounts receivable and "keeping the lights on" in the various properties through her abilities in managing payments to utility companies and vendors, she's excelling at what she does best.
The world outside of work for Shanta is her young son, born in November of 2009. She also enjoys reading science fiction and fantasy novels, the outdoors and "roughin' it" type camping, where everything is thrown into a backpack and it's just her and nature.