Harcourts Waterfront & Fine Properties is a full-service brokerage serving buyers and sellers throughout the state of Maine. Led by Charlene Hamiwka, the firm is affiliated with Harcourts International, the oldest and 6th largest real estate company in the world. Their slogan, "Rethink Real Estate," perfectly embodies their company ethos as they provide innovative services to sell unique properties, including a luxury non-distressed auction platform. Global exposure combined with local expertise and a focus on customer satisfaction makes Harcourts Waterfront & Fine Properties the brokerage to choose for your Maine real estate needs.
Here, East Coast leader Charlene shares with Haute Residence her real estate journey and why she loves Maine.
Why did you choose Real Estate?
Real estate is actually my second career, but it has always been an area in which I have had a high interest – as early as my high school days! I considered getting licensed years ago, but instead followed a career in high tech. After leaving high tech, I decided to take the leap into the real estate industry and haven’t looked back.
What was your journey to where you are today?
As I mentioned, I considered getting a license early on, but my path led me to a career in high tech, where I held executive positions, both on the east coast and in Silicon Valley. My job required a lot of travel, and everywhere I went, I found I would look at real estate to understand the local market conditions and pricing. During that time, I also bought and sold several properties, as well as handled renovations on those properties. When the market crashed in 2008, I lost my job. I decided to take my interest in real estate and see if I could turn it into a new career – one that would let me spend more time at home instead of being a road warrior. I started out with a local firm, and then was recruited by Sotheby’s, and then finally by Harcourts to open their first East Coast office.
What is your biggest success story to date?
I started out with very few local connections because I had traveled out of state for much of my prior career. After taking time to understand the real estate market in Maine, I made a decision to focus on the higher-end/luxury market, and using the skills I had acquired from being in corporations, built my business plan around that goal. Starting with essentially no sphere of influence, I quickly became one of the top-producing agents in Maine, with one of the highest average listing and selling prices. Now with Harcourts, I have the opportunity to run my own internationally associated company, applying technology and management skills that I think give us an edge over more traditional real estate firms.
What makes your market unique?
Maine is unique in that it is very rural - just barely 1.3 million people in the entire state! Instead of focusing on neighborhoods, we focus on the high-end and distinctive properties that are found scattered all over the state. In Maine, you can have a $1 million property next to a $100k property, so pricing properties with such disparate local conditions takes a knowledge of the state as a whole, regardless of whether you are working for buyers or sellers.
Many of these homes are second homes, which makes understanding the lifestyle of the different areas critical when helping buyers choose the right property. For sellers, you have to understand how to market and present their homes to the right buyers – and that takes more than just putting up a sign! Most of our clients are executives themselves, so they have a high expectation of dealing with a professional agent who understands business AND real estate. Finally, because of the distances involved, you get used to doing a LOT of driving! But that’s all part of the job when you focus on this market in Maine and it’s a great way to really get to know the various localities and appreciate the beauty of the state.
Charlene M. Hamiwka is one of the exclusive agents representing the Maine real estate market as a member of the Haute Residence Real Estate Network. View all of her listings here.