, the newest business to open its doors on Main Street, is a brokerage looking to distinguish itself from corporate real estate by offering extensive client and agent friendly services.
The company, at 49 Main St., promotes itself as Madison’s first boutique real estate office, according to Jeffrey Halpern, vice president and Madison branch manager.
“Coccia Realty is an alternative to corporate-type real estate where it’s more about turning out dollars in sales of mortgages, titles, and insurance versus concentrating on the marketing and sales of homes,” says owner Jan Kwapniewski. “Coccia provides a more personal feeling, but in a corporate way in terms of structure and the financial backing we have to promote the best interests of our clients.”
Halpern said he left a big-box company because he wanted to help his agents sell real estate. “We don’t profit or base our business on mortgages or title. We base our business strictly on real estate service,” he said.
Coccia Realty mentors its agents, all of whom are full-time, licensed, and live locally.
Their education is continuous, according to Halpern, because the market changes daily.
“We will go out with the agents on every appointment,” Halpern said. “They need to know the process, have the people skills and financial skills, know the area and have a good network of people to talk to.”
Kwapnienski added that Halpern gives the agents substantial support, to make sure they lead clients in the right direction.
“We have a reputation to uphold,” Kwapniewski said. “This company started in 1961. It’s the 50th anniversary of the original company. This is a growing company sticking to the traditions of having the right people working here. Right means right training, state of mind, honest, focused, and decent.”
Kwapniewski became equal partners in 1989 with the founder of the company, Joseph Coccia Jr. After Coccia retired in 1998, Kwapniewski kept the company name. He now owns all four in offices in Kearny, Lyndhurst, Rutherford and Madison. Kwapniewski said he decided to come to Madison for its quality of life and business opportunity. Coccia employs 70 agents, eight in Madison.
“I have always loved Madison,” Kwapniewski said.“It’s a terrific town to do business in [regarding] the homes, shops, proximity to other towns including New York City, the New York City train and bus transportation. I always thought it was a quaint, well-run town.
"We saw the number of transactions come out of here. We felt it was viable for another brokerage with our business model to come in and gain some market share.”
When buyers, sellers and renters come to the office in Madison they will find an attractive office with plush sofas and fresh-brewed coffee ready for them.
Buyers will sit with an agent who will assess their needs, help them with mortgage prequalification to assess their purchasing power and then make appointments to show homes.
“Our sole purpose is to broker residential/commercial and real estate transactions. If someone wants to go to their own lending institution, we don’t force them into any lending institution,” Kwapniewski said.
“We have every product available for buyers to find a home in the area they’re looking for,” Kwapniewski said. Coccia Realty has assisted buyers with relocation to other states and Canada.
When sellers come to Coccia Realty, they will be given a consultation on market trends.
“We are consultants first, salespeople second,” Halpern said.The sellers will learn about home staging, broker price opinions, making repairs and will receive a personalized marketing proposal including photos, YouTube videos, postings on 21 online sites and in print media.
“Every one of our listings goes on two online multiple listing services which exposes the home to double the amount of realtors that are out there," Halpern said.
"We are a member of the Garden State Multiple Listing Service and the New Jersey Listing Service. The more buyers see the home, the more offers come, the higher the price will be driven up, so that benefits sellers."
Kwapniewski said no one does more marketing promotion in this area to get their message out.
“The only thing we don’t do is put a searchlight in front of their house saying ‘For Sale,’” he said.
Trends in Madison are generally hopeful and healthy, according to Kwapniewski.
“People are getting loans. Banks are lending money today," Kwapniewski said. "The interest rates are very low. For a 30-year fixed mortgage, it’s 4.75 percent, so even people with not stellar credit are getting financing.
"There’s a program for everyone,” Kwapniewski said. "People can buy a home with as little as 3.5 percent down based on their income. Some people can put more money down if they have it. We have seen cash purchases and 50 percent down purchases.”
Amid a softer market, homes in Madison, Morristown and Chatham are selling because they are more affordable now, Halpern said.
“Being a buyer today is phenomenal. Depending on the mortgage program [rates] are between 3.75 percent and 4.75 percent. Sellers can take advantage of the buyer’s market. If they bought a house in 2000, that house is now worth 35 percent more. It may have been worth more three years ago, but they still make a profit,” Halpern said.
Coccia Realty hosts buyer and seller seminars for the public. The next one is tentatively scheduled for the fall.