hch Real Estate Continues Without Former Sotheby’s Affiliation

Feb 14, 2018
Photo by: Maria Scandale

The name is hch Real Estate again – the nearly 90-year-old company in Harvey Cedars has chosen not to renew its decade-long affiliation with Sotheby’s International Realty.

“We’re going back to our roots,” said Broker/Owner Gail P. Cook in an interview for The SandPaper’s business page. She said the agency’s homebuyers are not necessarily those that the Sotheby’s firm attracts in its marketing globally.

“Ten years ago, Sotheby’s had come to us looking for a location on the Island,” said Cook. “At that point in time, we saw advantages to that, reaching out beyond our Island a bit more – and we developed a great relationship that we’ll hang onto. They’re happy with how we do work with their customers and clients, and we feel the same way. But Long Beach Island is very unique; it’s just a very different spit of sand here.”

It’s more what family-friendly LBI is not, she went on to explain, that attracts the particular brand of clients who may be affluent, but come here to shed the busy world and kick back.

“It doesn’t have boardwalks; it doesn’t have casinos; it doesn’t have gracious mansions with rolling lawns out to the ocean, and surf clubs. It just didn’t relate to the Sotheby’s clientele, unless they were looking for this.”

Cook concluded, “Sotheby’s International Realty got so caught up in going global that we aren’t part of that. There is no one coming from Norway and China investing here.

“Our affiliation was up for renewal, and we looked at it and said, ‘You know, we’re going back to our roots; that’s what we are.”

Company literature for Sotheby’s International Realty says the offshoot of the 270-year-old Sotheby’s Auction House was designed to “connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world.”

When the affiliation with hch Real Estate was announced on Feb. 4, 2008, the chief operating officer himself traveled to the Island to celebrate with owners Tom and Gail Cook. “What we gain is a company that has a long and rich history serving all the great markets here on Long Beach Island for many years. They have a very well respected company,” said Philip White, COO of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, LLC.

The hch client foundation was built on personal attention, along with diligent service and integrity, points out the website. Company owner Cook has been with hch since 1980 and became a partner in 1995 in the team that was then in ownership. In September 2007 the Cooks became the sole owners of Hardenbergh, Canetti & Hill, Inc., trading as hch Real Estate. They attributed the company’s success to the long-term relationships the team has fostered with clients through several generations.

The services to customers will be the same as they always were, Gail Cook said this week.

“We know our business, know the Island. We have lived here all this time; we have watched the changes. It’s all generated by the agents, their knowledge, their incredible capability to be patient and help clients through the process, and they love it.”

As for rentals, Presidents Day traditionally used to be a big weekend for prospects to come to the Island and peruse in person, no matter which rental agency they chose. Now, areawide, many bookings are done online. hch does take advantage of the digital age, but still encourages folks to do it the personal way.

“This is part of what we do,” Cook said. “You have to come see. You have to know where you are, and we can help make the fit so you’re not walking in the door and saying, ‘This is awful; it looked so good online.’

“That’s a service we give, and they don’t forget that. They come back, and they buy a house, and they rent that house out and buy another house and have overflow for family.”

The family generations, the friends, the friends of friends, that’s how many of the lovers of LBI came to be homeowners, Cook has seen.

“They’re looking for that type of ‘kick back and relax’ place. You get dressed up for dinner here in sandals and a sundress ... the office has been here for almost 90 years; it was built on that precept.”

The company was founded in the 1930s (”we haven’t been able to document how early in the ’30s,” Cook said) focusing on the premise that those who enjoyed vacationing here would want to own a piece of Long Beach Island.

Listening to each person, then “matching their needs and desires with the present market, and then introducing them to their best options” is key, as the company website says.

“Resort real estate must resonate personally with the investor. These aren’t stock and bonds that get parked in an e-file. These are touchstones for personal enjoyment and financial rewards,” Cook elaborated.

Spring 2018 presents a good time to buy, the market shows. Prices on re-sales in the region are still adjusting downward. Living the beach house dream can be a reality for families who used to rent from hch.

At the same time, developers are buying property and building on speculation. They’re banking on the proven case that an LBI sand-castle retreat is appealing to an ever-growing metropolitan market.

“People are developing; there are speculators down here now. They’re hoping that this will continue for a while,” Cook said. “A lot of the millennials who are in New York City working and want to come to the beach would like a nice house here. They look at the houses that are for resale and then they look at the new construction that they know they don’t have to do anything with for 10 years ... so they found a niche with that, and it’s going solidly.”

The company’s summer rentals center on the north end of LBI, but sales extend to the mainland as well.

“For sales we cover the whole Island and the mainland; not everybody can afford to be on the Island,” Cook acknowledged. “I’ve got a great little center-hall colonial in Barnegat on East Bay Avenue.” Located in the historic downtown, “it’s a dream, with a huge lot; it’s got a pool and everything. If you want to come to the Island you’re only minutes away, and you’ve got Barnegat Bay right down the street.”

The hch Real Estate office is located at 8103 Long Beach Blvd. For more information, the office is open seven days a week throughout the year; phone 609-494-3311.

“We’re excited,” concluded Cook of the transition back to the company’s long-established roots. “When we’ve been telling clients, they say, ‘Fantastic, that’s wonderful; you’ve got your feet in the sand!’”

— Maria Scandale









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