A native New Yorker, Craig Strong relocated to Los Angeles to become a property investor. He transitioned to the field of real estate more than 18 years ago and today he works as a Realtor with Compass. Craig has held positions on The Greater Toluca Lake Neighborhood Council, the Toluca Lake Homeowners Association and co-chaired the Toluca Lake Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Watch.
Why should clients place their trust in you?
“Experience is what sets me apart from other agents. As a buyer or seller, you want to work with an agent with knowledge and experience. Every real estate deal is different, and many issues arise that you never expect. You want to work with an agent who has firsthand experience in navigating every issue—no matter how big or small.
When you do a large volume of transactions, you aren’t relying on just one transaction to close. If a house doesn’t work for a buyer, it’s okay to move on to the next one and take your time to find your client something that really fits their needs. When working with sellers, we always disclose everything about the home and go the extra mile to find them the buyer that is best suited for their property.”
What did it feel like to open your office in Toluca Lake?
“It felt amazing! I moved to Toluca Lake 16 years ago and love living here. I eventually found our current office space, and I couldn’t be happier. I put all my time and energy into this community, and I am proud to do it.”
What has been the highlight of your career?
“When you do real estate for this long, you have the opportunity to sell some amazing properties. Every now and then an iconic property comes along, like the Bob Hope estate. I always thought it was cool that a legend like Bob Hope lived in my neighborhood, and I was incredibly moved to be selected as the listing agent to sell his estate. Closing the sale of that property this past year was such an extraordinary moment for me and will always be one of the most cherished of my career.”
How do you deal with client stress as the market is changing?
“As the market changes, you get pushback from both sellers and buyers. Many sellers are holding onto sales data from two or three years ago and unrealistically believe that their property can still sell at those prices. On the other hand, many buyers feel they may be overpaying when they hear about a potential downturn in the market. There is skill involved in bringing the two parties together and making them both feel comfortable with the deal in hand.
It is important to understand your client’s goals. Does a seller want to hold onto their property until there is a change in the market or adjust the game plan according to the current market? Does a buyer want to sell in the next year or live there for a long period of time? Once you know those answers, then you know the game plan/strategy.”
When you moved to California, did you think you would reach this level of success?
“I never dreamed of reaching my current level of success. When I first moved to Southern California, I had never even been here before. I packed up everything and drove cross-country from New York in an old Volkswagen Jetta. Fortunately everything worked out for the best. This is where I met my wife, had my kids and started my business. Everything fell into place, and I feel extremely grateful.”
What is it like having a team?
“Having a team is tricky. I have cycled through a few different team members in the past couple of years, and I finally feel like I have the right people by my side. It’s hard bringing personalities together and making it work because everybody needs to click in a small space. It is amazing when all the pieces come together and you find the perfect group.”
What are you looking forward to in 2019?
“Every year I look forward to the same thing: selling great homes, meeting new clients and new friends, and building my real estate family. You can’t control how many transactions you do in the new year, and that has never been my goal. My goal has always been to work my hardest for my clients, support my community, play as much golf as possible and be there for my own family.”