Business Profile

A Family Affair

By Bob Tagert

A Family Affair

With all of the interest about Amazon moving into Crystal City we thought it a good time to talk to some real estate people about the ins and outs of this booming market. There is no better place to start than talking to Lori Windsor, local Alexandrian and real estate professional for Craftmark Homes. Lori’s husband, Eric Yakuchev, and her son, Matthew McGinley, who also sell for Craftmark, joined us in the discussion. Growing up in Springfield, Lori has spent most of her life in Alexandria so she knows the area well. She has sold over 60 communities in her career in Northern Virginia with 37 being in Springfield, Arlington and Alexandria. Before Craftmark, she sold for Pulte at the Potomac Yard project. Eric has sold for Syntax before joining Craftmark, and they both met at Potomac Yards. Matt naturally went into real estate sales and is currently a pre-sales expert for the Craftmark projects. Together, these professionals have a lot of knowledge and skill. As is the case with these new home sales, when one project is nearly completed, like The Crest community, the sales managers are relocated to a new property. Lori is now the sales manager of Towns of South Alex, which is where we met for this meeting.

The name Craftmark is relatively new to me so Eric explained, “Craftmark is a 25 year old privately held company. They have built over 8,000 homes and numerous communities throughout the Northern Virginia area. Their claim to fame was luxury and estate single family homes so they were definitely upper end but lately have become more diversified.”

During the conversation, they all agreed that the Northern Virginia area is one of the top five housing markets in the United States. “I think that we can share with you that inventory is scarce in the marketplace now,” says Lori. Eric added, “Values of property is already escalating and people are thinking about how much more valuable their property will be in the near future.”

As far as an investment is concerned, Lori points out that “with interest rates as ridiculously low as they are that real estate is still one of the best investments that you can make today and that Northern Virginia is one of the strongest real estate markets in the nation.” “I bought my first house at 18 1/2 percent interest but when lenders are quoting 3 1/4 percent 30 year fixed on a VA you might want to buy two homes – it is such a great value,” says Lori.

As it turns out, the Old Town Crier has been connected with these three individuals for quite a while, but didn’t know it. “I sold at Potomac Yard,” Lori tells me, and both Mathew and Eric have both sold in this market place in six to ten communities each.” For five years Pulte advertised on the back cover of the Old Town Crier during the selling of Potomac Yard. “That is how I knew about the Crier, and when the ad contract was up I knew that I wanted Craftmark to be in that spot,” Lori tells me. Eric remembers, “I told Lori that you need to get that back page for Craftmark.” The timing couldn’t have been better.” “I still get calls from people for The Crest from those ads, they must have an old copy, and that is great,” Lori says. “It still has shelf life,” Eric chimes in, “Like…if it goes two, three, four months and someone was not in the market that day, then all of a sudden it keeps pulling people in and you wish you had another 20 copies because of the shelf life and all the people coming in.”

It is clear to see that this trio of professionals love what they do, and are very good at it. As the conversation turned to all of the people we knew in common, it began to feel like I was visiting old friends. One interesting point came up. I asked if they ever compete for the same contract and a round of laughter broke out. “Well we try not to,” says Lori, “One time Eric and I were working on the same client and he came to me and said that they are ready to sign, but they want to sign the contract with me. I told him I needed the contract to help with my quota and that I would buy him whatever he wanted for his birthday. Well, the 58-inch TV and the platform and set up cost me more than my commission.”

My take on these guys is that they will do what is best for their client and will do what it takes working together. Although they do manage different properties and Matthew specializes in pre-sales, they are still there to help each other if necessary in the interest of the customer.

Alexandria has changed a lot over the last 15 years and the continued growth is going to have to be carefully managed. The communities, like Towns at South Alex with residential, shopping and located near Metro are going to be essential to this continued smart growth.

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