After a banner year for our Residential Rental Department, recently ranked among the nation's best in the RealTrends + RentSpree 2022 Power Rankings, we caught up with the man behind the curtain: our Rentals Manager, Van French. Read on to discover Van's take on the Boston rental market, his history in the industry, and how his leadership drives success in our Residential Rental Department year after year.
How did you get into the industry? Did you always have an interest in rentals specifically?
I previously worked at industry leaders like Fidelity Investments and Pfizer before deciding to make the jump into real estate. I loved the sales aspect as well as the relationship building of both jobs, and wanted to focus those skills on something I was more passionate about. I made a short list of leading real estate brokerages that interested me and visited with each of them. I loved the fact that Gibson Sotheby's was a locally owned and operated business. It felt like the right culture fit for me and I agreed to join the company by starting in the Rental Department. I initially planned to use my time there learning as much as possible about the industry and develop a client base. As time passed, I developed a passion for rentals and really enjoyed the fast paced energy connected to it. I began to shift my focus to learning anything and everything rentals-related and it's lead me to where I am today.
What makes the Boston rental market unique? What are some challenges and benefits of working here?
The Boston rental market is definitely different from other major American cities because it's very cyclical. For most big cities throughout the United States, you're able to move there any time of year, and have a good chance of finding an apartment. In Boston, it's not that way. Well over 70% of all leases in Boston expire on August 31st every year, making September 1st the largest moving day of the year by far. June 1st is the second busiest moving day so because of this, the spring and summer months in Boston are extremely busy with tons of apartments available, and massive turnover. Conversely, it can be challenging to find an apartment outside the typical Boston rental cycle. There simply isn't much inventory available November through March.
Congratulations on your team’s recent recognition in the 2022 RealTrends + RentSpree Power Rankings! What do you think has led to your success this year?
We have an extremely hardworking, dedicated, and resilient team of agents. After a very challenging year in 2020 and early 2021, due to COVID-19, our Team was eager for a big bounce back year. Coming out of the pandemic we knew there was a huge opportunity to benefit from all the renters moving back into Boston. Our agents stayed in constant contact with their landlords and clients and were ready to jump into action when new listings became available. Also, the Sotheby's name is so well known world-wide as a high quality brand which provides exceptional service. To this point, our agents take a white-glove service approach with every client they come into contact with no matter what their budget may be. Our goal is to treat clients so well that they want to work with us again. This has led to a huge amount of return business which also factored into our success over the past year or so.
We’re so pleased about the move of the Rental office location to 548 Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. What does this new start mean for your team and their clients?
We're extremely excited about our new office! The space is significantly larger which will enable us to grow our Rental Team while providing more work space for our current agents. There are multiple conference rooms which will provide privacy for our clients during meetings with their agents and/or lease signings. And the location is ideal! It's situated just a few doors down from our South End Sales office (556 Tremont Street) and this close proximity will create a nice synergy between the two offices.
What advice would you give to agents who are new to the industry and just starting out?
The beginning of any sales career always has its challenges, and real estate is no different. It takes time to learn the business, get familiar with best practices, and build a client base. One of the biggest obstacles new agents face is getting word out that they're beginning a real estate career. So they should come up with a strategy in advance for how they're going to get this news out to the world. They should begin this process by focusing on their own sphere of influence through social media, emails, phone calls, etc. The first year is always the most difficult, so be prepared mentally (and financially) for a potentially bumpy ride at first. But every year gets better as clients you've worked with refer friends/family to you, and you develop more relationships with clients and landlords. Be hungry but humble and be willing to learn. Treat all clients you encounter with respect and professionalism and you'll be off to a good start.
If you are interested in renting a home in the greater Boston area, get in touch with Van at:
548 Tremont Street | Boston, MA 02116