Our journey of connecting with Christie’s agents from around the country takes us to beautiful Savannah, Georgia in this week’s episode of the Carolina’s Luxury Real Estate Podcast- Christie’s Luxury Expert Series. Broadcast Audio Coordinator Sam Sparks is joined by Associate Broker Staci Donegan of Seabolt Real Estate | Christie’s International Real Estate. In this episode, they discuss the picturesque Savannah area, best social media practices, and the definition of luxury.
Staci Donegan is an Associate Broker at Seabolt Real Estate | Christie’s Real Estate in Savannah, Georgia. She is one of the area’s top-producing real estate professionals and the #1 residential agent for Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District.
Real estate is a second career for Staci. Staci met her husband at Clemson University and relocated to Savannah after they married. As a city girl, Staci wasn’t expecting to fall in love with the small-town feel of Savannah. “Anybody who moves to Savannah stays, it’s a magical city.” Staci has a background in accounting, finance, and account management at major corporations like Coca-Cola and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She also worked as a controller for the Savannah College of Art and Design. Staci later took a job in consulting, and after working alongside a real estate broker for six months, she fell in love with the field and quit her job to pursue a career in real estate. Staci worked at other firms in the area, before joining Seabolt Real Estate in 2019.
The current real estate market in Savannah is booming. Luxury home sales have shot through the roof, and have tripled, compared to past years. In the past, Chatham County would have an average of 4-9 home sales at over two million dollars. In 2021, there were 31. “The pandemic has truly changed the market here in the low country. Those are pretty extraordinary numbers.”
While luxury home sales are booming, inventory is low. Staci says that the Savannah market currently has less than a month of inventory. “Our inventory levels are so low that I really don’t see any dramatic, significant changes until we get our inventory levels back up to a balanced market. Staci’s advice for discouraged buyers and agents; “People are still listing their houses, we have new listings every day. Keep the faith.”
Like many other locations, the pandemic has been a significant driver in interest in the Savannah area. Many people started to evaluate their lives, and what’s important to them. This has caused many to decide to jump-start their retirement plans and make the moves they had been yearning for. “People are saying ‘I always knew I would move to Savannah, and if not now, when?’”
The new transplants in Savannah are coming from big cities all over the country in places like California, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Boston, and New York. With these new residents coming from bigger markets, they have a different perception of value and bring in additional income streams. There are not many major corporations in Savannah to support two-million-dollar homes. This is a perfect fit for buyers who no longer have to work in an office.
A big driver of this interest, especially for those in colder climates is the year-round beautiful weather. “You can’t beat Savannah when you’re showing a home on a 70-degree day in January when it’s 30 in their home market.”
Staci is a big believer in the power of social media. In fact, she said she would give up TV to keep social media. Especially in the pandemic, social media has been key to reaching people in a quick and easy way. “Social media is really important on a lot of levels. You get to share information, it’s easy, and you reach a lot of people.” Staci will post about upcoming listings, and will have appointments lined up long before the house hits the market, even houses still in the midst of renovations. “Just today, I posted about an upcoming house under renovation, they’re putting in countertops this week. I posted a coming soon and I have 3 appointments lined up as soon as we go active.”
The power of Christie’s is also felt on social media. “Christie’s posted one of my listings last week, and you’re providing value to your homeowner when other people share your properties.”
While social media is a key aspect of her marketing plan, Staci still believes in the tried-and-true methods of print marketing. “Print is very important, and I definitely take advantage of the Christie’s, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times. If agents aren’t taking advantage of these ads that we have exposure to, I think they should reconsider. I get a ton of phone calls off my New York Times ads.”
After working at a different luxury brokerage and wanting a change, Staci joined Seabolt Real Estate. “What a great move. The marketing team has been great, exposure has been great, the exposure has been great, Everyone is approachable.”
One of Staci’s first experiences with Christie’s network, came just after she joined. Staci attended our 2019 Southeast Regional Luxury Retreat in Asheville, North Carolina. “I had just joined and got a message from Reed Jackson inviting me to come attend, and I ended up being a speaker on the panel, and met so many connections.” Staci greatly appreciates the connections made during this and similar events and encourages fellow Christie’s agents to take the same advantages. “If you’re part of the Christie’s brand, you’re missing opportunities if you don’t attend these conferences, they’re so important, and they’re great at sharing information and getting best practices from all the different brokerages and regions.I couldn’t say enough good things about it.”
Christie’s International uses the phrase “luxury defined”, so we asked Staci to define what luxury means to her, and in her market. Staci believes that luxury means different things to different people, and no matter what your price point is- you can get luxury white-glove service with her. Offering the same level of luxury service at all price points is important to her. “I always say there’s luxury at every price point. You can get the luxury experience selling a $250,00 house. At the end of the day, that’s a quarter-million dollar purchase. I always make a point to let people know you’re gonna get the same marketing, treatment, and attention to detail that you would get in a $2m market as you would a $250,000 house.”
To hear more from Sam and Staci, click here to listen to the podcast, or watch the vlog.