Helen Sosso isn’t your typical real estate agent.
She doesn’t spend her days touring homes with potential buyers or meeting with sellers to discuss their needs. In fact, it’s been quite some time since the president and CEO of Prudential Palms Realty actually sold a home.
Rather, Sosso and the rest of the Prudential Palms Realty management staff leave that job to their agents. But that doesn’t mean Sosso isn’t busy closing deals of her own.
“I still sell every day of my life — I just sell to agents,” Sosso says. “A lot of what we do is driven by the thoughts of our agents based on what the buyers and sellers are looking for today.
“None of the managers are selling managers,” she says. “I think of us as being very agent (driven). Every position is of equal importance whether from the janitor to the owners and from the managers to the agents. We’re focused very much on working together as a team.”
Sosso’s philosophy is one that stems from more than 30 years of experience in the real estate business, and it’s that philosophy, which earned Prudential Palms Realty this year’s QE Award for Quality Service.
“We all have the same product, so it’s how we treat our customers that separates us,” Sosso says. “There’s nothing more important than quality service to the customer.”
Labor of love
A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Sosso started selling real estate more than 30 years ago. She began buying properties in her hometown before deciding to try her hand at real estate.
But rather than following in the footsteps of her family or fulfilling a childhood dream, Sosso, the first one in her family to break into the industry, entered the real estate business for one simple reason: to furnish her dining room. However, Sosso will be the first one to say she couldn’t have chosen a better career path.
“I got into the real estate business to buy a dining room set, and now I don’t have time to sit in the dining room,” Sosso says, smiling. “I loved this business the minute I got into it. You’re fortunate in life when you can find a career that you’re passionate about, and I’m lucky enough to have found a career that excites me.
“The thing I love the most about real estate is that every day is different,” she says. “Everything changes. You never get bored because you’re always learning new things.”
Sosso obtained her real estate license and quickly began selling properties. She gradually worked her way up to a management position before purchasing Prudential Preferred Realty in 1991 with her partner Ron Croushore.
In 2002, Sosso decided to bring her real estate expertise to Florida — a market she had become all too familiar with, having traveled to the Sunshine State every year as a child.
“I’ve been coming to Sarasota all my life,” Sosso says. “I’ve seen most of Siesta Key be built and a lot of Longboat Key be built. I’m as close to being a native as you can get without being born here.”
In 2006, Sosso merged with Prudential Cascade in Sarasota. Since then, Prudential Palms Realty has acquired three more companies, including Rooks Morris, a high end real estate company in Sarasota, and most recently Lakewood Ranch Realty.
Sosso began talking with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch about a year ago about the possibility of purchasing the company after noticing several of Lakewood Ranch Realty’s agents were leaving the company and joining the Prudential Palms Realty team.
Sosso discovered their reason for leaving had to do with Lakewood Ranch Realty’s lack of tools and systems for doing business. At that point, Sosso decided that by purchasing Lakewood Ranch Realty, she not only would be providing its agents with more resources but also would be able to establish a presence in Lakewood Ranch.
“It’s a phenomenal developer’s story,” Sosso says. “They had a master plan for the whole development (before it was built). It’s phenomenal. It’s the type of product that every developer and builder wants to be a part of.”
While Prudential Palms Realty will continue to sell across Manatee and Sarasota counties, Sosso says Lakewood Ranch Realty would continue to remain a separate entity, focusing predominately on the Lakewood Ranch market.
Aside from expanding its real estate presence, Prudential Palms Realty also added a number of people to its staff, added property management and international divisions, opened a title company and introduced a mortgage company, among other endeavors.
In the coming year, Sosso is looking for Prudential Palms Realty to continue to grow in the marketplace by adding quality sales associates and continuing to grow its presence on the Internet through professional Internet marketing.
Additionally, Sosso hopes to further establish Prudential Palms Realty’s presence in Manatee County, particularly in the Lakewood Ranch market, while encouraging her agents in Pittsburgh and Sarasota to reach out to one another and focus on bringing northern homebuyers back to Florida.
“I think it’s important right now for agents to solicit their contacts up north and (encourage) them to buy in the South,” Sosso says. “Prices and interest rates are at historic lows right now. It’s really important to try solicit their contacts wherever they came from.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].