Cassie and Bruno Vanoudenhove sell homes quickly. Very quickly.
Out of the homes they’ve represented, 42 percent have sold in the first week, and 66% within the first three weeks. How do they do it? They combine a unique skill set based in client services, home renovation, photography, and technology.
Cassie worked as a restaurant manager for 15 years, where she cultivated an attitude of excellent customer service and extreme efficiency. Next, she worked for 10 years as an office manager for Keller Williams Success Realty in Barrington, where she grew the office from 25 agents to 160 and helped the agency receive the honor of BACC Chamber Best Small Business Award for helping seller clients move houses, and buyers find great houses, despite declining values during the recession.
Meanwhile, Bruno was working in his family business as a furniture maker in Belgium, where he’s from. He later worked in marketing for 17 years at a top Belgian chocolate company, building out new stores and expanding the brand. Little did they know that they would meet at the Doges Ball in Venice, fall in love, and go into business together. After moving to the United States, Bruno took up photography and real estate investing, then started flipping homes after watching property shows during the recession and found great success.
“Then, we started to wonder how we could use that skill to help homeowners get the most for their property,” Cassie says. “We wanted to help people get back on their feet and on with their lives and dreams.”
She remembers one of their first clients, had they sold “as is” they would have had to bring $30,000 to the closing. Instead, the client found $15,000 she could use for upgrades and repairs, and sold her property for $30,000 over the mortgage amount, making four times her investment and walking away with money to buy a RV and travel around the United States. So how do they do it?
“I bring current looks from magazines into homes, but without spending a lot of money,” Bruno says. “Sometimes all it takes is a few pillows, lamps, or rugs to make a home look completely different.”
He notes that often people think they need to remodel, but they don’t always get a good return on their investment that way. Sometimes the less expensive option is better, and clients can get a much higher return.
“We’ve helped a lot of people out of sticky situations, and they can now use that extra money to restart their lives. Often their home has been on the market for a long time, and we come in and transform it and next thing you know it sells quickly.”
Professional photography is also important, as it’s the first thing potential buyers will see, and if they don’t see a stunning photo right away, they won’t take a second glance. Hence, twilight photos have become a signature piece of their selling package and a key ingredient in preparing the home for the market.
Moving away from the creative side and into the more technical, they use Bruno’s past marketing experience to target very specific markets using social media and other platforms. Because of the meta tags they use, combined with other elements, they are able to sell much more quickly than the average realtor.
“An artistic eye, project management, and timely execution is what it takes to get a home sold,” Cassie says. “We take on every project as if it were our own home and try to render the highest price possible, and sell in very short time frames. By hiring us, clients basically get their own HGTV experience.”
What it boils down to, Cassie says, is a seven-step approach. Listening to client needs, light renovations or redecorating to increase the home value to the highest price, professional grade staging to enhance appeal, professional grade photography to attract buyers, expert value analysis to garner optimal offers and sell quickly, a multi-faceted promotional campaign to cast the net to a highly targeted market using the latest technology platforms, and effective negotiating skills to close the deal.
“Bruno is rock solid,” Cassie says of that last point. “When he negotiates, clients know he has their back. He’s very effective.” Though real estate isn’t where they started, Bruno and Cassie love that it’s where they ended up, and they can’t imagine doing anything else. “We love helping people realize their dreams via selling their home at the highest price, or finding the ideal home to raise a family, or finding their ideal location,” Cassie says. “The absolute best part though, is being able to quickly sell a house for way more than our clients expected, because of our seven-step process and what we’ve done to their home. It’s an exciting feeling every time.”
Cassie & Bruno is located at 600 Hart Road, 312-259-9055.