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Accidental Realtor Thrives on Change

Al Filippone's real estate career began almost by accident. "I wanted to be a writer," he said, "but I got waylaid." He became a school counselor and then Dean of Academics at Laurelton Hall, a girls' school in Milford. He got his real estate license on a whim and decided to give the business a try while he looked for another job. A couple of quick sales got him hooked. Twenty-three years later, he's running his own company, Al Filippone Associates, which operates under the banner of William Raveis Real Estate.  Al has offices in Fairfield and Darien.

One of Al Filippone Associates' secret weapons is their in house staging company, Stage-2 Sell Home Preparation. "Staging" means prepping a home for eye appeal -- clearing up clutter, re-arranging furniture, bringing in accessories or re-purposing a room. For vacant homes, especially new construction, the groups performs virtual staging. With the use of digital artwork, the stagers, in dramatic fashion, are able to help buyers envision the potential of each room. "Research shows that staged homes sell for 3 percent more and are on the market 40 days less than unstaged homes," he says. All AFA listings are given a thorough going-over by Al's in-house professionals before they go on the market.

Two new services – Stage-2 Outdoors and Stage-2 Live have just been introduced. The Outdoors service ensures that new listings have curb appeal by fixing up the yard. Stage-2 Live grew from the success of Stage-2 Sell. Homeowners were so thrilled by the way their houses looked after the stagers were finished that they asked if the stagers would come and fix up their new houses.

AFA agents have lots of running room. They're each expected to close $5 million in sales each year. To help them do that, Al staffs his offices with enough support personnel to handle the mountains of paperwork the business requires. He also backs his agents with a full-time social media person, who keeps the AFA web site buzzing and syndicates all of their listings on numerous other websites and social media venues..

Al isn't afraid to try new approaches in order to make his business more successful. In the mid '90s, for example, he hired buyer specialists to help service the droves of buyers who were calling about his healthy supply of inventory. This was a trend that was growing throughout the country but Al took it to another lever. The buyer specialists morphed into full time agents and consequently the group became recognized by the Wall Street Journal as one of the Top 20 teams in the country.

In 2002, he headed Raveis' Exceptional Properties Division in Greenwich. But he preferred to run a business of his own, and Al Filippone Associates was born. What are Al's latest plans? "To move into Greenwich," he says. Back to his old stomping grounds.

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