PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY YOU SHOULD KNOW: Alistair Powell & Shelly Northern – The Brits
Who are you?
Alistair: I’m the male half of the dynamic real estate team called “The Brits” which stuck quite by accident. Every time we would go into a Sotheby’s meeting, everybody would shout “oh look it’s The Brits” and we thought yep, that works! We have between us sold almost $300,000,000 worth of property around the globe since we started selling real estate and have worked with celebrities, Fortune 500 company owners, global hotel groups, one off investors, vacation home owners and everything from bar staff to members of the royal family.
Shelly: I am Shelly Northern (actually Michelle Louise Northern, but here I NEVER get called Michelle!!) were you wanting a deep philosophical answer here..if so..oops!
Are you a couple?
Alistair: I’m sure in an alternative life we would be, but no, we’re sure our boyfriends would be out of a job if we were. We spend more time with each other than alone when we’re not sleeping and have started to take on some of each other’s mannerisms. Even the girls in the local Starbucks are still completely confused……
Shelly: When either one of us is getting unwanted attention..we are a couple!! Other than that, we are a Will & Grace type! Which means so NOT each others type!!!! haha
What do you do in real life?
Shelly: What do you do in real life? As oppose to in my fake life?!! I am a Broker Associate and Alistair is a realtor at One Sotheby’s International Realty, together we form the Brits.. (which means we are also designated drivers and therapists..)
You are from?
Alistair: We’re from completely opposite ends of the UK, I was born just north of Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s birthplace) and moved to Covent Garden in London via Sandbanks on the South Coast. I’m very much a “southerner” and not particularly into the strange British foods (except Fish and Chips of course!)
Shelly: Ok now usually I would just say England and the response I ALWAYS get is ‘London?’…easier to say yes..but actually I am from Yorkshire (three hours north east from London by car) and grew up in a Village (yes, I said VILLAGE!!) called Armthorpe in a town called Doncaster!! My family now live in Nottinghamshire, Robin Hood country!! Could I get more cliche English??
What do you like most about what you do?
Shelly: The unexpected! I have met the craziest, funniest people. From celebrities whose main requirement was a totally private pool as they need to tan totally butt naked, to the farmers who think calling me at 4 am is ‘when the day starts’.. (day starts after coffee..)
What drew you to Miami?
Shelly: Oh dear, here I should have some great answer..truth is, I had been living in Barbados for over a year and I was bored (barbados is great, but VERY small) and flights to Miami were not too expensive! I moved here having never been here before!
Alistair: The short version is that my parents moved to north-central Florida about 10 years ago and I came over here to help my mother when my father was ill. When he was better, I decided I liked the Floridian lifestyle but central-Florida was most definitely not the place I wanted to be. There’s no Starbucks and people don’t skateboard to work. I looked at the map of Florida and decided Miami Beach was where I wanted to live. With a car full of my belongings and a Sat Nav with a British accent, I headed south and haven’t regretted a second of it….
Where is the hottest place to buy on Miami Beach?
Alistair: With just short of a whopping 50% growth in number of closed transactions, inventory down and a 9% increase in price per square foot pricing – we believe the most coveted area of Miami Beach is still condominiums South of Fifth (SoFi). For Single Family Homes, although the amount of sales dropped by 27%, average sales prices have more than doubled in the North Bay Road and Pinetree Drive neighborhoods.
What are your predictions for market turn-around?
Alistair: Spurred by foreign buyers with cash offers, inventory of properties for sale had dropped to 5 year low by June 2011. Waterfront property sales led the way with price increases, bolstering an overall increase in the average sales price in both counties to a two year high point. Cash buyers continue to fuel the very high and very low end markets. Financing, although more available, is still slowing real recovery in the middle of the market. Will this last? Talk of the shadow inventory and the possibility of a future correction seem to be the caveat to all of the apparent, and now indisputable, good news about the market. We feel that there will be some increased inventory released by banks either through short sale or foreclosure sales coming in the next few months now that supply is low and prices are improved. While the inventory is needed, there is not enough shadow inventory to create any significant backsliding momentum in most of our market areas.
You are two Brits selling real estate in Miami right now, is that what sets you apart?
Shelly: I think what sets us apart is that we both used to have our own brokerages, we truly are a team and we have both lived in about five different countries each. Being so global really helps us work with all nationalities and I think out of town clients are one of our specialities, more so than most realtors, we really understand what it’s like to make a big move, as we have both done this many many times. We also try to make our marketing a little more fun and edgy, I have had people approach me saying they saw an ad we did and really liked how different it was. You have to take things out of the box to get noticed, real estate is no different.
Alistair: It’s not just the fact that we’re British that sets us apart, although our accents help, I believe it’s that we have between us lived/worked in UK, France, Italy, Spain, Barbados, Dubai, Hong Kong, East Asia, Panama and the USA. Whereas most people here have lived and worked in Miami most of their lives and claim to be “International” agents understanding the needs of international clientele, we’ve actually worked or lived in the countries our clients are from! We understand the mindset and culture of our clients more than just what we’ve read in a book/online. We also believe that the concept of “selling” a property is dead. It’s about marketing the property to the widest audience using the best tools to do so. We are marketing pioneers in the field of social media and online coverage for clients. After all 97% of buyers use the web as their primary tool for searching for an agent or a new home, so it is our belief that 97% of an agent’s time should be spent using new technologies that will drive these buyers to us. The days of “I’m the number one agent here and have lived here all my life” are gone… It’s about being innovative, creative, consistent, dynamic and technologically advanced that help clients buy/sell a home. That’s what The Brits do….
What do you do that others don’t?
Alistair: The main thing we do is answer our phones It drives us crazy when others don’t answer or respond to messages to us, so we can’t imagine how buyers/sellers feel! We take each and every buyer, renter, seller and landlord as VIPs and make sure that they get the best coverage they can and exposure to the maximum number of buyers or properties they can. We also don’t talk about doing things, we actually get on and do them…..!
Shelly: Aside from eat fish and chips out of newspaper?! Really the main thing we do that others don’t is totally work as a team. Clients get us BOTH not one or the other. We truly are a team..we are together every day, we meet all the clients together. All transactions involve us both. We discuss all the deals together, to reach the best decisions for our clients. Most teams are very separate. We have a great working relationship, but also a great friendship. We also have the same dry sense of humor and can go from all business to hysterical laughter quite easily!!!
What have you not done yet in Miami that you are dying to do?
Alistair: There are so many things I want to do but the top of my list is to scuba dive the ancient shipwrecks and reefs in the Biscayne National Park.
Where you’ll find me on a Friday night at 10pm?
Shelly: Usually Lincoln Rd! My friends and I rarely plan nights out, we usually just end up in places!!!
Alistair: At our favorite Miami Beach spot, Meat Market, on Lincoln Road. We’re treated like royalty and sometimes even The Brits need a cocktail (or five).
What inspires you?
Alistair: My other-half really inspires me as he is a tri-lingual interpreter (American Sign Language, English and Spanish). His relentless efforts to make the world a better place for other people, rather than himself, I find so unique in today’s world. His un-selfish approach to daily life I find really inspirational and can learn a lot from…
Shelly: My father’s memory. He was the most optimistic, funny and charming person you could ever meet. Everybody loved him, he never quit or felt sorry for himself.
If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be?
Shelly: If you could have lunch with anyone who is famous who would it be? Honestly, I have met quite a few famous people, people are people, some great and interesting, some not so fun! I would like to have lunch with Casey Anthony and throw my appetizer at her head.
Alistair: It would definitely be Richard Branson. I would love to learn where his never ending optimism comes from plus I’d love to learn what he plans to do after space tourism… There’s not much left!
What do you do now, that you did not do 5 years ago?
Shelly: Say ‘Have a nice day’ !! I always thought that sounded so funny and American and caught myself saying it the other day..I also don’t take things for granted or at least I try not to…
If not a Realtor, you would have been?
Alistair: Most definitely a Marine Biologist! I’m obsessed with all things underwater and the unfathomable fact that we’ve only explored 5% of the oceans which cover 70% of the planet!
Shelly: I actually got accepted into a program in England that paid for my masters in Clinical Psychology. I took a year out and lived in a few countries and never went back..I also love to paint and draw and have a bunch of half finished canvases in my place!!
Something new that you have just discovered about yourself?
Alistair: That I can accomplish anything I want to as long as I’m 100% committed to it and believe 100% that it will work…. Any personal doubt, don’t start it until you feel you can’t fail.
Shelly: I actually LOVE mushy peas! I had to move away from England, buy them here to realize this…!
What are your guilty pleasures?
Shelly: Baileys and Real Housewives..I just can’t imagine NOT working?? Those shows fascinate me! Don’t judge!!
Alistair: Sour Patch Kids and watching Drop Dead Diva in bed on a Sunday night with my two miniature Dachshunds….
One luxury that you cannot live without?
Shelly: I think I could honestly live without them all and have had to do that in the past!! Except..highlights!! A girl cannot have roots!
Alistair: My maid, Isabel… She’s my lifesaver!
Three Words to describe you?
Alistair: Charismatic, Passionate and Fun
Shelly: Tall, fun and hmmm…..optimistic