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Plan For A ‘Better’ Home 

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate President and CEO Sherry Chris, center, cuts the ribbon to welcome Huntington franchisees Tony Vitale, left, and Jerry Gucciardo, right.

The partners at a new real estate firm in Huntington are promising to not only help you buy a house, but also to give you all the tools you need to make it feel like home.

Tony Vitale, of Huntington, and Jerry Gucciardo, of Northport, are the duo behind Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – Atlantic Shores, a franchise of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate that opened last week on East Main Street. They are hoping their combined 50-plus years of past experience will help them pioneer the future of real estate brokerage.

The pair has vowed to elevate the real estate experience in two main ways: first, by helping their clients before, during and after a transaction, and second, by connecting them with a network of reputable home professionals, from construction and landscape professionals to interior designers.

In short, this is not your typical firm.

“I have created an alliance with all groups like that,” Vitale said. “We’ll be there before, during and after they buy a home.”

Before a home is on the market, for example, the agency consults with sellers on how to enhance curb appeal, and will do the work without payment upfront.

“People selling their home usually decide they don’t want to put a penny more into it,” Vitale said. “We do the changes, which raises the value of the sale price, and do not collect until the closing.”

While the home on the market, the firm offers buyers advice on renovations or additions that can be made to houses they are considering. A program that wraps the renovation cost into the mortgage, Vitale said, helps buyers afford the work and gives sellers the benefit of an expanded buyer pool.

After the sale, the new owners can attend education-oriented seminars on home design and improvement at the Huntington office.

Vitale and Gucciardo’s multi-pronged approach complements Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s approach to selling a lifestyle and not just brick and mortar. The franchise company licenses its name from the publisher of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, which reaches 40 million consumers and has 97-percent brand awareness among women in the United States, according to the company’s website.

Despite having enough experience to start a new firm from scratch, buying into the Better Homes brand was a faster way to materialize the pair’s vision, Vitale said.

“You can spend a lot of money and try to build on your own reputation, or buy their package and mold it,” he said.

And mold it, they have. Vitale and Gucciardo have wasted no time putting their own spin on things, starting with the office itself. Four weeks have turned a former Prudential building into what Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, called a “next-generation office” at last week’s ribbon-cutting.

There is no lobby and no waiting room; no cubicles or offices. When you enter 156 East Main St., it’s as if you’re entering the main floor of a bright, beautifully decorated modern home. Clients can chat with their agents at a dining room table, on a plush couch, or in front of a fireplace.

“If I was a real estate agent today, I would want to work right here,” Chris said.

Vitale and Gucciardo each brings a different part of the business to the table. Vitale has more than 30 years in the business as an agent, having owned his own firm and having served as a top officer at other notable Long Island firms. Gucciardo has headed his family-owned-and-operated firm Atlantic Shores Builders & Developers for years, accumulating more than 20 years in the industry.

“We thought he and I were a perfect combination. I think we can really start to make a change,” Gucciardo said.

It is a good time to be able to distinguish oneself in the real estate industry.

“The market’s coming back. Now we’re offering something different that appeals to buyers and sellers,” Vitale said.

The firm will take things to a new level, literally, when the renovation to the building’s lower level is complete, which is where the educational seminars will be held. There are also plans to work with local businesses on discounts for the firm’s clients – a modern “welcome wagon.”

“We just want to show everyone what our vision of real estate is,” Gucciardo said.

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – Atlantic Shores
156 East Main St., Huntington

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