Partners might seal a deal with a kiss

Agents Marilou Young and Bob Lowe sometimes operate as partners, but this is no typical pairing. A successful transaction might be commemorated with a kiss.

They are a married couple — she a real estate veteran of 15 years, having worked for an estimated 10 companies; he a newcomer of two. They also attest to being best buds, with a rapport that can even out the natural highs and lows of their trade.

“What could be better than working every day with your best friend?” said Lowe, who joined Virtual Properties Realty in tandem with Young a year ago.

She recalled hearing another agent raving about VPR and found it to her liking, especially the commission split whereby the company keeps a maximum of 10 percent. It was quite a contrast to the 50-50 arrangement she once accepted while working for an outfit that dealt in high-end properties.

Another lure is the convivial atmosphere at VPR headquarters in Duluth. The home-office concept did not fly with Young, who exchanges hugs with colleagues during visits. “I love coming in here,” she said.

Lowe also has been affiliated with numerous businesses, though none previously in real estate. He has flitted from on-air radio and television personality and police officer to police academy instructor and advertising executive, most recently in health insurance.

Then there’s co-owner of a gourmet food shop and catering operation, plus the author of five cookbooks. He won a cooking competition at a shrimp festival in south Georgia last year, having honed a skill that has come in handy.

Q. Why do you choose to work for VPR rather than another real estate company?

A. (Lowe) Three c's sum it up. Competence — from ongoing training to 24/7 broker support, you can count on VPR to do what's right for all parties involved in what is one of the biggest transactions for most individuals. Caring — the brokers, office staff, and, yes, other agents want everyone to be successful. And commissions —the best in the industry.

A. (Young) Training, training. You can feel the positive energy of the agents, the staff is very pleasant and helpful, and brokers are always available for any questions. Also, state-of-the-art technology.

Q. Can you offer an example of how you might work together as a team?

A. (Young) I can give them that sense of urgency… . Most buyers do not have any sense of urgency or real understanding of today's volatile marketplace. Often times, I can interject my questions in a conversational way, where I can glean more information and begin a more serious conversation with buyers. Knowing when and how to step in is the key.

A. (Lowe) While our team approach is not a "good cop/bad cop" act, our varied backgrounds seem to complement each other. Marilou, being a Vermonter and Yankee, is a bit more direct, while I'm a bit more laid- back Southerner. Both of these can make people feel more comfortable when making such a big decision. Many times, Marilou's directness in sizing up the situation has helped our clients in their decision-making process.

Q. Marilou, while working with another firm, you once lost a commission that you were due. What happened?

A. When you have been in real estate for awhile, sooner or later you get burned, whether by a broker, another agent or a builder. It's happened a few times by each that I mentioned. I do not wish to get into any specifics [on the lost commission], but I believe karma always comes around. Though it was a turn-off, I realize that this happens in sales. This happened before I briefly left real estate and was one of the reasons I left. We all have war stories we can tell.

Q. Bob, do you carry your cooking skills to real estate work?

A. Yes, this is a great way to show our clients we appreciate them. We [recently] did another listing for long-time clients and took a pot roast with us. We all enjoyed the meal and got a $1.2 million listing.

Q. Marilou, can you illustrate the advantages of working for a large firm such as VPR?

A. When a client asked me to list his farm about 1 1/2 years ago, I told him I did not feel that I had the resources I needed, given the small firm I was with. When I went to VPR, where we have a land and commercial division, I called my client … and we went for a tour of the farm that only an owner can give. I felt confident having a land expert on board with us, and knowing we could tap into the expertise and knowledge was powerful.

Q. Bob, are there many other husband-wife “teams” in the business?

A. Absolutely. We have other husband-wife teams that are incredibly successful. You know, everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. That's why a team approach works so well.