Meet Your Merchant Plus: Point B Realty celebrates their fifth anniversary this...

Meet Your Merchant Plus: Point B Realty celebrates their fifth anniversary this summer

Point B team, left to right: Ezra Sherman, Guinevere Cramer, Valerie Hart, Kristin Buck, Wendy Harman, Win Baker, Cheri Mason.
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Point B Company History

It was a gutsy move, opening a new real estate company during the toughest economic crisis in decades.

Point B Realty Owner/Principal Broker, Wendy Harman.
Point B Realty Owner/Principal Broker, Wendy Harman.

In April 2009, Wendy Harman employed her passion for people, property and professionalism, creating Point B Realty.  Wendy’s faith in Martha’s Vineyard as a magical place, coupled with her commitment to bringing a new set of skills, values and technology to the marketplace paid off:  Today Point B is one of the Island’s top real estate services providers, proving that discerning clients appreciate people who love what they do and do it with unparalleled dedication.

“I thought I was so smart starting my own real estate company but the market crashed within the first thirty days.”

 

A Business Built on Dreams and Talent
Like most businesses conceived by individual entrepreneurs, Point B Realty is the product of Wendy Harman’s dreams and acumen.  A Seattle native, she spent many weekends as a child touring open houses with her mother, who was, as Wendy recalls, “a true real estate and home decorating addict.”  This fascination with all things architectural must have been genetic, as these early forays ultimately translated into Wendy’s own desire to explore every facet of the real estate industry.

“I liked to draw house plans and read decorating magazines as a kid,” she explains. “Real estate lets me pull together so many aspects I enjoy – architecture, history and design as well as the legal and finance aspects of the business.”

Earning a business degree in marketing, Wendy began her career in sales and was soon promoted into a position as a corporate marketing and branding specialist for a regional food company in Seattle.  Employing both her creativity and innovative spirit, she was named Creative Director, spearheading a total redesign of the company’s image and packaging.

“I can trace my entrepreneurial drive to my branding experience in Seattle,” Wendy observes.  “I was considered the maverick, re-gentrifying a brand that had remained almost untouched from the 1940s.”

Wendy brings this love for branding and her commitment to creating a satisfying experience for the consumer to Point B Realty.   And, like so many visitors who eventually become residents, Wendy’s 1992 vacation to Martha’s Vineyard resulted in a dramatic change of course.

“I chose the name Point B for two reasons:  Martha’s Vineyard represents a destination and real estate is also a process, getting from Point A to Point B.”

Vacation Destination to Cherished Home
It was the summer of 1992 when Wendy and a friend randomly chose the Vineyard as a vacation spot for recreational biking.  An inveterate traveler, she had long maintained a policy to never revisit the same destination twice.  “My motto was: The world is big place and there are so many exciting places to visit and experience. Why go back to the same place twice?”

“But I was smitten,” she recalls.  “So I came five summers in a row, made friends and developed a complete network on the Island.”

By June of 1997, Wendy had taken a sabbatical from her corporate job in Seattle and was able to spend a full month on the Vineyard, launching a consulting practice. It was then that she realized that the Island had become her new home.  So she bought a piece of land in Katama and built a house the following year.  In the meantime, she indulged her long simmering entrepreneurial spirit and spearheaded several new ventures, including a Vineyard lifestyle magazine and a travel guide and destination service.  As her publishing business became more Internet based, Wendy enthusiastically embraced new technologies.  And that house she had built in Katama? By the time she sold it in 2002, she had tripled her investment.

Re-bitten by the real estate bug, Wendy earned her real estate license in 2006 and went to work for an Edgartown brokerage.  Specializing in the vacation rental market, she singlehandedly quadrupled the number of properties the company represented.  She left in the fall of 2008 with ideas to open her own real estate brokerage.

“We want to stay small, independent, and focused on quality.”

Overcoming challenges with innovative strategies
If timing is everything then opening Point B Realty in the fall of 2008 should have been calamitous.  “I thought I was so smart starting my own company,” Wendy says, with a chuckle. “But the market crashed within the first thirty days.”

Despite the market downturn, she leased a retail storefront in downtown Edgartown in April of 2009 and filled it with furnishings and art, doing her best to replicate the real estate firms she had admired in metropolitan areas and envisioning a soothing, comfortable environment for the Island’s well-traveled clientele.

“It was a risky move,” she reflects.  “Almost no one in the business had any kind of storefront.  It was a big investment.”

While the recession posed hefty challenges for even the most stalwart of agencies, it proved to be what Wendy looks back on as the acid test for her business model.

“I was a one-person shop in the beginning,” she says.  “And starting in a down market, I had to be resourceful.”

Using her successful vacation rental business as a foundation, within five years Wendy has built Point B into a dynamic twelve-person operation, with six sales agents and six support professionals offering a unique team approach.  Backed by a staff of administrative and marketing specialists, all agents handle both rentals and sales, providing seamless service to clients, many of whom transition from vacation tenants to homeowners.  And each agent works as part of a team, combining complementary skills for every unique client situation.

“We’re one of the only firms in which agents are responsible for both rentals and sales,” Wendy explains.  “It allows everyone to prosper and encourages our clients to enjoy ongoing relationships with the same staff.  Having a team of corporate support staff who specialize in specific areas also gives Point B agents a sharper focus on clients and their individual needs.”

The company prides itself on providing clear representation to clients in every transaction as well.  As advocates of the designated agency model, Point B clarifies what has traditionally been a perplexing question to many consumers:  “Who is my agent really representing, the buyer or the seller?”  Point B agents never represent both buyers’ and sellers’ interests in a single transaction, ensuring that an individual’s needs are met ethically, confidentially and with transparent fiduciary responsibility.

“I read the Harvard Business Review, not novels.  It keeps me fresh, forward-thinking.”

Top-notch talent, today’s technology
Point B’s highly experienced staff puts cutting edge technology to work for every client.  Embracing the paperless office concept, the company offers the convenience of electronic document signing, expediting the signing, management and storage of contracts, moving all parties toward closing quickly and efficiently.

In-house state-of-the-art video and photography services help present listings in their best light possible.  Finally, armed with iPads in the field, agents can shoot photos, take notes, review listings of comparable properties and share information with clients almost instantaneously, a significant benefit to buyers and sellers, particularly those whose primary residences are off-Island.

But as invaluable as technology can be, real estate is, at heart, a people business.  As an independent boutique firm, Point B is committed to maintaining a small, highly expert staff that shares the core values of integrity, open communication and responsiveness.

“We’re not about being average,” Wendy states unequivocally.  “We’re about being awesome.”

“Point B is ahead of the curve with technology.”

Calculated choices are the best choices
Wendy has become a specialist in the financial analysis of real estate transactions.  Leading her company with a practiced eye toward the bottom line, she admits that perhaps her greatest strength is the least glamorous:  “I’m a numbers geek,” she says.  “I’m fascinated by the story that the numbers can tell and quite frankly, I analyze them to death.  I love finding answers to tough transactions by analyzing market and property data, and then using that information to help educate clients and bring together a successful transaction. Our job is to help the client understand the complexity of this multi-dimensional business.”

From identifying the best investment opportunities to ensuring that a rental property is priced properly for the market, Point B helps clients make sound financial decisions.

“The Island gives me a sense of being held.  It’s part of our corporate culture to give back.”

Commitment to the Island community

Wendy Harman at the Boys & Girls Club, donating a $10,000 Fundraiser check.
Wendy Harman at the Boys & Girls Club, donating a $10,000 Fundraiser check.

Living and working in a small Island community, Point B has become an enthusiastic proponent of giving back.  “There’s such a great heartbeat on Martha’s Vineyard,” Wendy explains.  “It’s the kind of place where you want to get involved.”

The company has embraced the concept of serving as a bridge between the year-round community and the newcomers who arrive, encouraging support from homeowners and vacationers alike. From simply making corporate donations to such organizations as the FARM Institute and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, to initiating their own annual holiday fundraiser, the “Teddy Bear Suite” at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, benefitting the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, Point B is making it a point to make a difference.

“We maintain a commitment to doing the right thing for the client.”

Looking ahead

“We’re always looking at improving the quality of service we provide to our clients,” Wendy says.  “This is, after all, a relationship business.  We demand more of our agents and keep trying to perfect what we’re doing.”

More communication.  More education.  More efficiency.  More expertise.  Because when it comes to results in real estate, it’s all about getting from point A to Point B.

“You learn a lot starting a business in a down market.  You have to be very resourceful.”

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