“What I do every day is largely put out fires and make sure everybody’s happy,” says Ray Gernhart. “If it’s a dramatic settlement, I’ve failed. I want my settlements to be a glorified notary session. A bunch of kiss-kiss-bottle of champagne, look forward to the housewarming party, and everybody goes their own way.”
Gernhart, an associate broker for RE/MAX Allegiance licensed in D.C., Virginia and Maryland, is anything but solemn when dealing with real estate. Quick-witted, funny and full of joie de vivre, Gernhart brings with him a dramatic flair and larger-than-life stage presence that lends itself more to the Great White Way than Great Falls. But that’s not shocking, considering Gernhart holds a degree from the North Carolina School of the Arts.
It’s that creative persona that has allowed Gernhart to market himself to potential clients.
“When I became an agent, it was a time when younger people weren’t doing real estate,” says Gernhart. “I was 23. I had leather pants and Adam Lambert eyeshadow. I thought, ‘I can stand out from the blue-haired women in this business by driving a Jeep Cherokee and wearing wife-beater t-shirts, and hanging out at clubs, handing out matchbooks reading, For a good time and a great deal, talk to Ray,'” he says. “I used to put my picture in the newspaper upside down, and say, ‘For a unique perspective on real estate, talk to Ray.’ Just something different. And it got people’s attention.”
That attention garnered a lot of business for Gernhart, who became the top producer in the office his first year. Fast forward 30 years, and Gernhart has his own company, Ray Gernhart and Associates, and is currently ranked as RE/MAX’s number 1 agent in Virginia, number three in the Mid-Atlantic region, and among the top 25 in the country.
“There’s very few agents who have the experience I have,” he says. “I sell about 150 homes a year, so that’s two or three a week. There’s no problem that can come down in a deal that I have not experienced and taken care of, many times over in the past. I’m a good negotiator and my clients are happy.”
For Gernhart, an important part of the real estate business involves empathy — the ability to place himself in his client’s shoes, to understand their thoughts, their individual tastes and their reasons for buying.
“Usually, when I first meet with a buyer or seller, I’ll bring the forms, but I don’t make anybody sign anything,” he says. “My job is to do a needs assessment, seeing the world through their eyes. I want my clients to know what they’re getting into, what the deal is. And to think about their part of the real estate pie. And I want to entertain them, because they’re kind of stuck in my car and the spotlight’s on me for quite some time, and it relieves the stress.”
Ray Gernhart and Associates have offices at 911 U St NW in Washington, D.C. and at 5100 Leesburg Pike in Alexandria, Va. Call 703-824-4731 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit talktoray.com.
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