Real estate agent Lauren Zurilla isn’t the person who sets a for sale sign in the ground and walks away, satisfied in securing a listing agreement with a homeowner. Although 65% to 75% of her business is as a listing agent for Charleston-area sellers, she says there is so much more effort that goes into the real estate sales and buying processes.
“I provide concierge-level services to my clients,” Zurilla says. “I like to do so much for them when they are moving because it’s at that stage homeowners need a lot of help. Whether they need staging, help selling furniture or setting up an estate sale, have insurance needs, or need to hire a contractor, I take care of all of these tasks as I work one-on-one with them.”
Representing Lowcountry coastal buyers and sellers for eight years and with a total of 18 years of experience working as a Realtor, Zurilla started her career in Maryland but Charleston “quickly captured her heart” when she first visited back in the early 1990s. “I love the coastal areas,” she says. “Realistically, a good agent knows her area. I really have to know Charleston and the surrounding islands well, especially when clients are relocating here from another state. They lean on me to translate their goals and budget into a house that is just right for them.”
Zurilla says she receives the most questions regarding the current market conditions; buyers think waiting to buy might be a good idea because interest rates or prices may fall. The fact is, Charleston is in demand. She says: “If interest rates fall, it will just increase demand, which in turn raises prices. We still don’t have a lot on the market so prices are holding steady, not dropping. On the other hand, sellers think they missed the market because houses aren’t getting 15 offers at a time; however, prices were up 17% this year over the same time period last year. Sellers haven’t missed the market, and if buyers want to buy, they shouldn’t wait because prices don’t seem to be coming down. We are still seeing houses sell within a few days, but on average, it’s taking about 39 days to sell a house in the Charleston County market.”
Although Zurilla serves homebuyers and sellers of all ages and stages of life, she thrives on helping clients who are juggling dual transactions, both selling their home while buying a new one. “Many baby boomers are buying their second homes or downsizing and buying two smaller homes, one here in Charleston and one elsewhere. Maneuvering through two transactions at the same time takes an experienced agent, especially in a booming market like Charleston,” she says. With a special emphasis on consultation, her meetings with clients are really strategy sessions. “It’s never about how to sell someone a house but understanding the client’s goals,” she adds. “I advise homebuyers and sellers to take great care in choosing a listing agent for their homes by interviewing potential agents and asking the right questions. A great agent can both make money and/or save money for you depending on what side of the transaction you are on. Who you choose to partner with in buying or selling a home is extremely important, and it’s not always the right choice to choose someone you know to help with this. It’s business and involves a lot of money, so do your due diligence in choosing an agent.”
The Lauren Zurilla & Associates team has been working together for many years. “I’m not the agent who will take a listing and shuffle clients off to another agent,” Zurilla says. “I work one-on-one with each of my clients. I’m in this business for the people part of it and enjoy navigating not only the emotional side of the process but the business and numbers side of the transaction, too. After all, people usually are moving due to an emotional or life circumstance, such as a death, divorce, pregnancy, marriage or related situation, so they need someone to balance that along with the analytical part of what needs to be done.”
When working with buyers, Zurilla says she is not selling them a house but instead selling them a lifestyle. “That’s what makes for happy clients,” she says. “I listen to their needs and desires and match that with their budget. It’s a winning combination and because of that I feel so confident I truly help people. Whether buyers or sellers, my clients are so important to me; making them feel taken care of and listened to is my top priority.” *
Dana W. Todd is a professional writer specializing in interior design, real estate, luxury homebuilding, landscape design, architecture and art.