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Premier Estate Properties team on track for record year amid changes

Photo: Cindy O’Dare and Richard Boga.

The barrier island real estate community is both close-knit and fiercely competitive, and when news leaked out recently that Clark French, a high-profile island agent, had “suddenly” taken a job with Concierge Auctions, the rumors began to fly.

Along with his partner Cindy O’Dare and their associate Richard Boga, French has been a leader in luxury sales in Vero for a decade.

In 2015, the French & O’Dare team at Premier Estate Properties sold $168 million in real estate and ranked 79th among all teams in the country.  This year, the team is on pace for an even stronger year with $42 million in closed sales by mid-May and another $59 million under contract.

“This is the best year we have ever had – so far!” says O’Dare.

That level of success fueled the questions surrounding French’s acceptance of a job with Concierge.  What was behind the seemingly abrupt “departure”?

According to rumors, French was leaving town and moving to Austin, where Concierge has a center of operations. Some brokers, believing the team would be weaker, saw an opportunity to go after French & O’Dare clients; others thought O’Dare, a highly-regarded agent with more than 30 years’ experience and an extraordinary client list, might be ripe for poaching.

“Every office in town has asked me to join them,” O’Dare said.

As it turns out, the move was not abrupt and French is not leaving Premier or Vero, despite his new job as managing director of the private client group at Concierge.

“We are not moving to Austin,” French says. “I will be traveling more, but we are East Coast people and we are staying in Vero.”

“This was a planned strategic move,” says Joseph Liguori, co-owner/broker of Premier Estate Properties, which with offices in four South Florida markets as well as Vero, sold more $700 million in real estate last year. 

“I feel this move adds another layer to our ability to sell property. In his new role, Clark will be exposed to a whole other avenue of high-end buyers and serve as another important conduit of qualified buyers coming into Vero Beach that we would not otherwise have a chance to be in front of.”

The high-profile job at Concierge, the most successful luxury real estate auction company in the country with more than $1 billion in sales, is an extension of French’s recent involvement with home auctions.

Concierge has sold eight properties via auction in Vero in the past several years, including four of the five highest-dollar sales in the market in that timeframe, and French & O’Dare have been the listing agent in all those sales and brought some of the buyers as well.

But what is less known is that French was a key player in dozens of other Concierge auctions around the country during the same period.

“We have a large book of clients, many of whom own property in different places besides Vero,” French says. “The auction process has become increasingly attractive to many of them. Homes in the $8 million and up range often stay on the market for a year or more before selling in a traditional sale, but an auction provides a way to move them in six weeks.”

“Our first partnership with Clark was in August of 2014, when he referred a client to us in Rancho Santa Fe, California,” says Laura Brady, founder and president of Concierge. “That was our first entry into the Rancho Santa Fe market, which has since been a very successful market for us.”

Since that California sale, French has brought 15 sellers to Concierge, and has brought 43 buyers to successful Concierge auctions, according to Brady.

That track record is what led Brady to recruit French to oversee and develop the private client group, a growing coterie of high-net-worth people who track all of Concierge’s auctions, looking for desirable personal properties or money-making investments.

“We are honored he would want to come and join our team,” says Brady, whose company has been ranked as one of the fastest growing private businesses in the U.S. three years in a row, moving up steadily on the Inc. 500 list. “He clearly has enormous interest and expertise in what we do, and we have had a great relationship throughout the past several years and many deals.”

French says he will continue to work to spur new development and sell new construction in Vero, where he has been involved with most of the recent residential developments on the island, as well as handling auctions here, consulting with O’Dare and Boga on traditional sales and referring buyers to Premier.

In conjunction with French’s new role at Concierge, Boga has been promoted to full partner in the restyled O’Dare, Boga and French team.

A bit of real estate prodigy with an international background, Boga is highly regarded by his colleagues and others in the real estate community.

“Cindy had chosen a fabulous new partner in Richard!” says Charlotte Terry, a top agent with Alex MacWilliam Inc. Real Estate. “I think they will be a dynamite team and I look forward to working with them in the Vero Beach luxury real estate market.”

“We are thrilled to have Richard assume this new role. His market knowledge, negotiating skills and level of personal service are top tier in the industry,” says Liguori. “He has big shoes to fill, but I am optimistic he can fill them. We are fortunate to have such exceptional representation in our Vero office.”

Born in Sweden to an international businessman father and interior designer mother, Boga grew up in India, Germany, Malaysia and Singapore, arriving in the U.S. at age 10, after his parents split up and his mother married a general contractor and developer in South Florida who builds homes in the $2 million-to-$30 million range.

Boga started selling real estate for his stepfather while still attending Florida Atlantic University, where he earned a business degree.

“My first sale was a $2 million property in an equestrian community in Boynton Beach,” Boga says. “That gave me an appetite for real estate and I decided to make it my career.”

He joined French & O’Dare in late 2009 and has played an expanding role ever since.

“Probably because of his background, he has a way with international clients,” says O’Dare, noting that she and Boga are well-matched in terms of preferred schedules.

“Cindy is up at 5 a.m. sending emails,” says Boga, “but it takes me a while to get going in the morning.”

“But if you drive by our office at 7 p.m., Richard’s car is in the parking lot.” O’Dare says.

The pair have had to put in long combined days this year, when they say they have averaged 15 to 20 showings a week, all of properties valued at $1 million or more, Premier’s calling card.

“This is the first week it has slowed down at all and started to feel a little bit like summer,” Boga said last week.

O’Dare attributes the team’s success to fat rolodexes, consistent, tightly targeted marketing, and good relationships with other island brokers who bring buyers to the team’s listings.

“The secret of our success is that we market to the other realtors,” she says. “We make it so easy for them. Agents say all the time, ‘If I get a last minute buyer, I know I can call you and you will drop everything to help me get them in.’

“Every time I have a showing with an outside agent, I am encouraging and supportive and do everything I can to help them get a deal done,” O’Dare says.

“Cindy is very nice and easy to work with,” says Debbie Bell, a top producer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, “I look forward to continuing to work with her and Richard in the future.”

Boga says new development has been another key factor in their success.

“We are the island leader in new construction and the appetite for new construction is and has been high the past couple of years. A lot of our success is attributable to new construction.’

O’Dare, Boga and French are listing agents for more than $50 million in new construction at Sandy Lane Subdivision and the Surf Club and 21 Royal Club townhome projects, new developments where they have also brought many of the buyers. They co-list the two townhouse projects with fellow Premier broker associate Kay Brown and co-list the multi-million Sandy Lane homes with developer and Premier agent Dolf Kahle.

“Their sales have been extraordinary,” says Liguori, “and we fully expect that to continue with Richard as a partner and Clark continuing to make important contributions to the team.”