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The Greenwich Association of Realtors to Celebrate 100 years at the Bruce Museum

Greenwich Association of Realtors (GAR) Board Chairman Bryan Tunney arrives at the GAR offices in downtown Greenwich. Photo by Anne W. Semmes.

By Anne W. Semmes

On April 4, the Greenwich Association of Realtors (GAR), a community valued nonprofit in the Town will celebrate its 100-year anniversary at a festive gathering at the Bruce Museum. The fundraising evening also kicks off the Association’s Community Foundation to help it grow its ongoing philanthropic endeavors. Some 950 realtors are GAR members.

“We’ve had a hundred-year task force put together of GAR members, and all of them have done a fantastic job of putting the event together for a night that everyone will remember for a long time,” says Stacey Loh, GAR executive vice president and CEO. “When guests arrive they can browse the Museum galleries.” And they can peruse upon entering the extraordinary columns of GAR history displayed across decades created by Pam Cunconan, a Coldwell Banker realtor member chairing the task force. Such as the following graph taken from the 50’s decade.

In Greenwich, building was a big business. There was a push for public housing in the early ‘50s. Adam’s Garden, Armstrong Court and Wilbur Peck were built. Many new homes and neighborhoods were constructed, reflecting the post-war boom and the pursuit of the American Dream. The town population grew to 45,200 in 1955. There were over 400 homes sold in 1955 under $10,000, making the American Dream a possibility for all.”

The gala evening will also vibrate with live music, DJ entertainment, an open bar, food by Aux Delice, plus a tempting array of silent auction items: vacation destinations, a sailboat cruise on Long Island Sound, or how about a lunch with a realtor sharing 100 years of real estate experience in the Town of Greenwich? Perhaps that realtor could be Tom Gorin from Sotheby’s who’s been in Greenwich real estate for 51 years and was happy to share some of it.

Gorin, a town resident from age five, started his realtor career promisingly at then Cleveland, Duble & Arnold. Ten days on the job a newly married friend contacted him. “I showed him the house and he loved it.” Best to see other houses, Gorin prompted. But “He bought the house.” At a cost of $66,500. He now sees houses renting for that amount a month.

Looking back at the old ways

Tom Gorin, 51-year veteran realtor, is with Sotheby’s International Realty. Photo by Anne W. Semmes.

Gorin became the owner of Cleveland, Double & Arnold, then sold it to Sotheby’s where he’s been 11 years. He cites the sea change that began in the 1980’s when out of towners [larger firms] “took control away from local entrepreneurs who owned their businesses who worked in portions of the town.” There was that loss of personalities. “We had Old Greenwich brokers Bob Curtis…Bobbie Hopkins. We had people who ruled in Greenwich, Marge Rowe, and David Ogilvy and the great Bobbie Pickering…They robbed ideas from each other constantly. And Katie Favor out there in Glenville was 90 years old, in the only real estate office I think that’s ever been in Glenville…And Phil Monahan, a retired mailman, who worked for Sam Sammis at New England Land, was the authority on the new mega-development of Conyers Farm.”

Another major realtor change came with the arrival of computers Gorin describes. “So, you do not have to drive around looking for houses that you could show…And that’s how you got to know [your clients] them. You got to hear them. You got to figure out who is the decision maker in the family…who’s really in charge and all that’s gone. And these are all people skills that were so necessary. And now you need computer skills.”

Another mega-change was the arrival of MLS – the multiple listing service. “Jack Carrott,” says Gorin, “was a former partner at Cleveland, Duble & Arnold who worked in Belle Haven, who was a past president of the Greenwich Board of Realtors and the Connecticut Board of Realtors (both now ‘Associations’ not Boards) who brought MLS to Greenwich, and the GAR now owns it. And throughout the business now, everybody knows every listing instantly.”

The winning qualifications

“In the MLS we have approximately 1,200 members,” shares Bryan Tunney, GAR board president, and realtor with Brown Harris Stevens. That count includes he says 950 GAR realtors and 250 brokers from other towns. And “Why do people use our MLS?” he poses. “Because when you market your home to other real estate agents that have willing and able buyers who are pre-qualified, why do people choose to list on a listing service as opposed to listing on their own? Because historically, they’ve gotten between eight and 12 percent more for the same piece of property. That’s because you’re working with people who are working with active buyers. So that’s why we as brokers in Connecticut have a buyer broker…So, therefore, that’s why our system works, and it is the crown jewel of the world.”

Just how a realtor qualifies to be a member of the Greenwich Association of Realtors is spelled out by Pam Pagnani, Senior Vice President and Brokerage Manager ofSotheby’s International Realty, and GAR board vice-president. When Pagnini arrived at Sotheby’s 10 years ago it numbered 70, and today it has 127 agents and seven on staff. Her mentoring program with her agents has her equipped to chair the GAR education committee.

Stacey Loh explains, “So, part of maintaining your license, you have to complete 12 hours of continuing education every two years.” And “The code of ethics training can count towards continuing education requirements.” So, to support that, Pagnani says, “we will have an attorney panel that speaks to questions that agents have. We’ll have a guest speaker maybe on planning and zoning. We’ll have somebody from wetlands, we’ll have somebody from the building department, whatever the issues are at the time.” Add to that an in-person safety class at the police department.

A charitable history

And added to Pagnani’s duties, she heads a GAR community affairs committee started in 2023. “We did the Home Front – a one-day renovation of a home last September…So, we’ll do another one this spring and another one next fall.” What resounds with Pagnani is, “If you think of 1200 people, what’s so unique about our business is that we are not competitors. We are cooperators. They’re representing the buyer, I’m representing the seller. We want to make the deal come together. How rare is this, that you have all the realtors and this organization and then you’re into charity?”

Look to Stacey Loh for bringing on that 501c3 committee. “We’ve always allocated money to give to the community, all these hundred years,” says Loh. “But now we actually have a committee where we get involved. We did a walk against domestic abuse through the YWCA. We supported the cleaning up of the beach. So, in the past, we just gave it away. Now we have a charitable arm of our organization. So, the monies that we bring in, people will be able to get tax deductions.”

Pagnani sees this as GAR “building a culture in Greenwich.” “It’s probably more with the Tom Gorins and those people that have been around for a long time. But if you look back at some of the old Greenwich magazines, they’d have stories each year on the realtors. They’ve always been community minded. They’ve always been hardworking. And I think that they are an integral part of helping develop the community that we have.”

Pam Pagnani, Senior Vice President and Brokerage Manager of Sotheby’s International Realty. Photo by Anne W. Semmes.
Stacey Loh, Greenwich Association of Realtors executive vice president and CEO stands by a map of Greenwich in her offices. Photo by Anne W. Semmes.
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