Above: Teddy Piper (left) and David Banks (right)
When you think of the state of Maine, you probably imagine incredible views, delicious seafood and a serene atmosphere. For the No. 1 real estate team in the state, their first thought is providing a superior experience and exceeding expectations for their buyers and sellers.
David Banks founded RE/MAX By The Bay in 1994 with that same goal, and over more than 20 years, he has partnered with trusted colleagues to create to build the David Banks Real Estate Team. The team is renowned for their extensive knowledge of the Greater Portland market, with a powerful approach to marketing, transaction expertise and client connections.
Broker Teddy Piper has been with the David Banks Real Estate Team for 10 years, and credits Banks and his experience for the team’s success.
“We’re fortunate that our broker/owner has been in the business a long time. He was sort of one of the first people to do the team approach,” says Piper. “Everyone who has been on the team thereafter has benefited from the success that he’s had, building that client base, and building our name and brand recognition in the market. There’s no one better to work for in the Maine real estate market than David Banks because he’s built such a great team for himself.”
Paige Brown: Maine is known for its natural beauty and charm. Can you tell us about some of your market’s unique selling points when it comes to luxury properties?
Teddy Piper: We’re so fortunate in Maine, and especially right around Greater Portland, to have beautiful properties. Geography does it for us. We don’t have to do anything to make these places exceptional other than build nice houses on these properties. The land, the coast, the lakes, the woods—it’s all just naturally beautiful. Maine, I think in the eyes of a lot of the nation and internationally, is a more casual, rustic and laid back place. A lot of the properties that we represent are more lifestyle properties than they are like the gleaming shiny luxury properties that you’d see in Miami Beach or Las Vegas. We’re a different kind of luxury, a luxury that lends itself towards a quality of life.
PB: What is your team’s approach to staging, high-quality listing photos and the importance of a strong listing description, especially for multi-million dollar properties?
TP: Putting out a quality product is extremely important to what we do. We focus on high-quality photography, both aerial and ground level, and putting out a strong product from the beginning. We know that within half an hour of being on the internet, people have made their decision, they’re going to come look at it or they’re going to pass, and if it doesn’t catch their attention and excite them on their first look, then they’re not likely to circle back to it. That’s really an emphasis point for us.
We also do a lot of our own staging. Even in the higher-end homes, we will sometimes go in as a team and move furniture around, and bring in our own furniture and accessories. We work with painters who will come in and do painting if we need it. We always tell people that their home is beautiful as it is, and though this is how they live here, this is how someone else might live there. But to get it right for the internet and for showings, we have to do it a different way.We have people on our team who are very visually perceptive and know how things are going to come across on a computer screen or in print. That has made a big difference for us.
PB: In today’s digital age, how important is online marketing and social media presence for your team and their listings?
TP: We emphasize strongly that our online presence is critical, and that’s why our website has been such a significant investment for us. Luxury Presence, which is who we do our website through, is a top-notch company that we got involved with six or seven years ago. In terms of design, SEO and maintaining a quality presence online, when you Google us, when you Google our properties, it always comes up and that’s where people land. We get a lot of high quality, good traffic through our website, and a lot of our best buyer leads come to us right through our website because it’s approachable.
PB: Your team handles a variety of properties, from waterfront estates to woodland retreats. How does your team stay knowledgeable about the diverse real estate options available in your market?
TP: This is one of the first things that we have to educate our buyers on. A lot of buyers come to Maine and ask for the price per square foot, which is probably one of the last metrics that we can point to from a value perspective. If you’re on a lot that has rocky coast with a northern exposure, where you might get a lot of wind or weather, or you might have an erosion issue out front, that’s a different waterfront buyer and a different waterfront value than something with a sandy beach out front that faces west, features sunset views and is a little bit more protected. We can come into Portland where it’s very urban with a lot of new condo development. That’s a place where price per square foot is a bit more relevant. But then you get up the coast in Falmouth and it’s much more of a boating-friendly area. The further you go up the coast, the more affordable real estate becomes.
Those are some of the nuances of being on our coast that you have to be local to understand. When it gets time to negotiate and buy, you have to have a broker who recognizes those differences or you’re going to end up paying more than the market is dictating, or you’re going to miss out on an opportunity if you’re not aggressive enough. Being in the market for long enough and knowing all the inventory, you can point to those little differences that ultimately make a huge difference in value. Knowing the different areas and markets is crucial to get our clients the best properties possible within their budget.
PB: When selling luxury homes, you need a specific clientele. How does your team approach identifying luxury clients and nurturing those relationships?
TP: We have our own database of clients who have inquired on past properties or maybe have bought past properties, and sometimes people are looking to upgrade. If they’ve bought a $3 million property, maybe they’ll want to upgrade to a $6 million property. We have a lot of people who have called us about listings over the years, and that listing has not been a perfect fit, but we keep them on our list.
Higher-end buyers will be very upfront with us, not looking to work with a buyer’s agent, but instead ask us to send properties we know they would want to see. It’s very cut and dry, businesslike, and we try to respect that. When we get these quality properties that we think they’re interested in, they’ll get a customized personal email with the information. That is a big part of our approach—it’s very personal. We try to be a little bit more exclusive and hands-on with these buyers so they know that we’re really out there trying to find them something great.
PB: Have there been any notable trends or shifts in the luxury real estate market? If so, how has your team adapted to them?
TP: I think this goes back to one of my earlier points about putting a quality product out there from the very beginning. It’s really important, especially now, because it’s hard to create a sense of urgency when the market has slowed a little bit. Throughout 2021 and 2022, we could put two listing photos out there and almost immediately get phone calls and have a bidding war. Now, we need to have something that’s really splashy and well done to get the showings and create that sense of urgency that if you don’t buy it, somebody else will.
We’ve definitely seen a continuation of people buying here from out-of-state and people within Maine, who during the pandemic, weren’t moving as much. They were already here and they didn’t feel like they had to participate in the craziness, but now we’re seeing more people moving within the market, people upgrading, people who built up equity. It’s nice to see that local churn within the market come back, as that is our bread and butter.
PB: What advice would you give to aspiring real estate teams looking to thrive in a luxury real estate market?
TP: Look the part, dress well, spend the money to buy, lease or even rent a nice vehicle. If you have a client coming in looking to spend $5 million, it’s important to make them feel comfortable and showcase your knowledge about the market. Let them know you have resources and work with other experts in the industry. This will help you differentiate yourself from a buyer agency perspective. From a selling perspective, it goes back to relying on the product that you put out on the internet, as that is really where people shop now.
When people talk to me about starting in real estate, I always recommend starting on a team. Our team structure is such that you are immediately exposed to these multi-million dollar properties, and though you might not be showing them from day one, you eventually will. We ask all of our agents to get to know properties inside and out, go to the photo shoots, know the property disclosure and know the property lines. If someone calls in and you’re on, you need to be able to call them back, describe those things and know everything about the property. For a new agent to immediately walk into this inventory and this database of buyers is like grad school for a real estate agent.
PB: Finally, please share a memorable success story your team has had while representing luxury properties.
TP: Sebago Lake is our largest lake in southern Maine. It is our most desired waterfront body, not on the ocean. Properties go from a million dollars to $10 million. We currently have a listing there for $9.95 million at 29 Mains Farm Road. Across the street, on Sunset Chimney Road, we took on a listing that had been on the market for a while with different brokers.
Back in 2016, our team started creating hardcover coffee table books for all of our luxury listings. When potential buyers visit the showings, they can take these home with them. They are fine, glossy hardcover books that feature all of the property’s photos and information, and also include information about the local Portland area, one of which we curated for our Sunset Chimney Road listing. A lot of people walk away from showings with paper and disclosures, the technical stuff. This is something that feels a bit more intimate and personal.
We had a client call us about a waterfront listing in Scarborough on the beach, and as we showed them that property, we learned more about what they were looking for and decided to show them the property on Sebago Lake. The client came to visit the lake and view this special estate property, and they fell in love. Their heads were spinning because they never expected to be buying a property on a lake they never heard of.
Over the next few weeks, we would check in to see if they were still interested. Finally, the wife wrote back to us, sharing that she looked at that book every night before she went to bed and wanted to make an offer. They ended up buying the property. and they even shared the book with family and friends. We hope that similar buyers come along and fall in love with Sebago Lake and these properties…and we’ll have a book for them when they do!
Check out the recent exclusive listing from The David Banks Team below:
29 Mains Farm Road
7 BR, 10 BTH
12,471 SQ. FT.