Dania Perry, who has been recognized as Century 21’s number one agent in the world for five years in a row, began her real estate career just before the market started its downward spiral in 2007. Though it was a less than ideal time to launch her business, Perry, a sales associate with Century 21 Jim White & Associates in Treasure Island, Fla., thrived even through the hardest of times. She attributes her success to her analytical, data-driven approach to customer care.
Perry, who also has been named Century 21’s top agent in the United States for six consecutive years, says her impressive recognition did not come without time and effort. “This isn’t luck or a magic pill,” she cautions. “This is long, hard work.”
Perry says much of that work is in the customized, research-heavy spreadsheets she provides to each client. Thanks to a background in engineering, analyzing data and synthesizing the information into a user-friendly format comes naturally to her. “My spreadsheet is a powerful tool,” Perry says. Each spreadsheet takes her about four hours to create. “I include a ton of information so a buyer or a seller can get a complete picture of a property’s worth.”
From researching public records and assessing land value to comparing comps and evaluating the permit history of each property, Perry looks at every angle to provide her clients with a holistic understanding of not only the value of an individual home but also its surrounding area. On each spreadsheet, Perry includes pertinent information from MLS records, such as lot size and total square footage, but also includes data such as whether the home has central air conditioning or was renovated.
Her goal is to make clients aware of elements other agents might overlook. “Many real estate professionals do not include unheated square footage during property assessment, but these elements can add tremendous value—especially if the home is a waterfront property,” Perry says.
She includes even the minutest details. “The price per square foot [of every home isn’t] created equal,” she says. “It’s my job to determine the accuracy of the figures provided.” When researching comps, Perry doesn’t just look at active listings; she also examines pending sales and previously sold properties. “Pending sales give me a good look at what was attractive enough to garner a contract, while active listings provide me a look at the competition so I know how to position myself.”
Perry finds her spreadsheets to be useful at intervals throughout an entire transaction. When negotiating with a seller, for example, she uses the spreadsheet to show research supporting her client’s offer amount. When it comes to appraisals, Perry uses her spreadsheet to convey the information she finds about permits, renovations, and other details.
Clients find the information Perry provides especially useful, whether they’re buying or selling. Buyers can trust in the soundness of a data-driven offer. Sellers are comfortable knowing their asking price is fair and reflects not only market value but also the work they have personally put into their home. Perry has even used her spreadsheets to help a builder who was seeking information about the value of the area where he planned to build several beachfront properties. Perry recalls the conversation fondly: “I told him, ‘You have to stay under $4 million.’” After the developer sought Perry’s advice, all the homes in the development were sold within a week of the public release of plan renderings.
“This is a professional way to help someone make a decision when buying or selling a home,” Perry says, referring to her spreadsheets. “Everything is right there in black and white.”
Her success in the business is a testament to putting in a little upfront effort. In the past year, Perry closed 20 sales worth more than $3 million apiece, and more than half were luxury waterfront properties. That’s impressive for someone working in a small market. “We’re Florida’s best-kept secret,” she says.
“Data moves people,” Perry attests. She recalls a client who wanted to purchase quickly and was willing to pay the full ask of $3.2 million on one luxury waterfront property. Perry convinced the client to give her some time to work up one of her spreadsheets and ensure the price was fair.
Her research showed homes in the same area sold for quite a bit less, and she was able to help her client make an educated bid on the home. In the end, the client bought the home for $400,000 less than the asking price. “Buying the right home is an emotional process, and I was able to use data to provide my client with clarity and confidence,” she says.