RapidChat: Paul Marantette on the role of the realtor in GR's competitive housing market

After spending 20 years within hospitality industry, Paul Marantette dove head first into real estate back in 2017. "Buying or selling a home is a very emotional time for people. There can be a lot of unforeseen situations that require patience, listening, and quick-thinking problem resolution," says Marantette. "I feel my years in the other “industry” primed me for dealing with these situations calmly and effectively."
Rapid Growth: How many years have you been a real estate agent?

Paul Marantette: I am finishing my second year in real estate.

RG: What first attracted you to this profession?

PM: I have always had a passion and desire to serve others. This originally lead me to the restaurant and hospitality industry — [in] which I started my career and spent over 20 years refining my customer service skills. My father’s business has always kept him involved on the peripherals of real estate, which allowed me to see how personally and professionally fulfilling this was for him as he continued to positively impact others. I, myself, first went through the home buying process two and a half years ago; I was then able to see firsthand the service and dedication great Realtors have to their clients. The stars in my life just seemed to align at that time and making the switch to real estate was a no-brainer. 

RG: What do you think sets you apart from your competition as an agent?

PM: Well firstly, I think there are a lot of great agents out there right now. Grand Rapids is getting all of this national media about #1 in this, or #2 in that, but we are still a fairly small market; this is awesome because you get to know your colleagues really well, both professionally and personally. As I mentioned earlier, I spent over 20 years in the restaurant and hospitality industry. I feel my years in the other “industry” primed me for dealing with these situations calmly and effectively.

Of course, there is also my team. I have the good fortune of coming to work every day and being surrounded by fun, knowledgeable people who have a combined 20-plus years of real estate experience. If ever I encounter a situation I am unfamiliar [with] or cannot resolve, I can easily pick up the phone and call a member of our team for advice and guidance. 

RG: Subjectively speaking, what do you think makes Grand Rapids the 15th “best” housing market in the U.S.?

PM: Oh man, there are so many things I could discuss right now that makes Grand Rapids such an attractive city to live in. We have a growing economy, culture, diversity, a growing food and beverage scene, and all the breweries you could want. So many things.

Ultimately, the thing that has made GR home for me has boiled down to proximity to so many important pieces of my life. Being originally from the Detroit area, where the majority of my family still resides, I am a quick, two-hour drive to the house I grew up in. I also spent 13 years living in and loving the city of Chicago. Another three hours and I’m back to the city I called home for many years and honestly thought I would never leave. Take that same three hours and drive north of Grand Rapids and I can find one of my favorite places in the entire world, "Up North." People often ask, "where is "Up North?" To me, it is more of a mindset than a geographical location, but that is a conversation for another day (and a glass of whiskey).

Grand Rapids is and was a lifestyle choice when I moved here. The lakeshore is around the corner. My twin brother and his family live here. Despite the recent surge in housing prices, we are still a very affordable place to live. I think I went off on a bit of a tangent here, but I think you catch my drift. 

RG: Do you think the cost of living in Grand Rapids has reached a permanent high plateau?

PM: Yes, I think we are and still will continue to grow in terms of purchase price, as Grand Rapids is still below the national average. The average purchase price in Kent County is just over $249,000. You look at some of the other larger cities receiving national attention for best places to live and you are easily looking at average purchase prices into the $300-$500k mark.

RG: What is the best advice you’ve ever received as an agent?

PM: Never assume. Ask questions. Lots of questions. Also, be nice. This is a relationship business and you never know the bridge you may have burnt in the past that could ultimately negatively impact your now client. 

RG: What are your top three pieces of advice for first-time home buyers?

PM: 1. Be patient, this can be a tough market with a lot of emotional up’s and down’s. Talk openly to your Realtor during these trying times. We’re here to help guide you and believe me when I say, we understand your frustrations. 

2. Expect some sort of compromise. Sadly there are some TV shows out there that have distorted the perception of what a first house may look like — especially for the price in which most first-time buyers can afford. Not saying you can’t get what you want, but be prepared for a little give and take.

3. Call me! Just kidding. There are a lot of great agents out there, but make sure you don’t just settle for the first one you meet. Make sure you hire an agent that is going to sit down and take the time to explain the process and what to expect during each step of the way. A simple, direct conversation at the beginning of the process to set expectations can go a long way to ease stress down the line. 

RG: As we round out the year, what can we expect to see from the market?

PM: Expect to see the same traditional seasonality. Our market has somewhat predictable ebbs and flows, seasonality being one of them. We are already seeing houses sit on the market a little longer than in the spring. We’re seeing price drops and more buyer power allowing for easier negotiation. However, expect those super cute homes in the $150k-$225k mark to still draw multiple buyer situations that may result in over-asking price offers.

RG: What are some of your 2020 real estate predictions?

PM: Expect the year to start slow just like it did in 2019 and for people to say we’re hitting the bubble and things will drop. But baring any major, worldly catastrophes, it won’t. We’ll rebound come spring and things will level off just like they have in recent years. Expect another strong spring season and increased purchase prices. As has been the mantra the last number of years: expect inventory to be low and the market to be competitive. 

Jenna K. Morton is the RapidChat correspondent for Rapid Growth Media.
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