Charley Ragonesi isn’t ready to play the head honcho real estate broker with his feet up on the desk just yet. But he is working toward that.
Ragonesi hails from New York where he was a Wall Street banker “when it was good to be one,” he said. From there he went on to work in the telecommunications industry for many years. During this time Ragonesi and his wife bought and sold real estate. Every transaction made them money, so obtaining a real estate license was a logical next step.
So, just how did a New York boy, selling New York real estate, end up in the North Georgia mountains? “We moved to Marietta 24 years ago, but finally settled here in Big Canoe, which is one of the premiere communities in the Appalachian chain.”
Ragonesi now holds his broker’s license. “I always said the next jerk I work for will be me,” he said. The transition from agent to owning his own brokerage wasn’t easy, especially during a recession. “I had to immediately ration funds and do things specifically related to ‘if I spend x amount of dollars, can I realize z dollars in return?’ In the beginning, marketing took a priority.”
One of the ways in which Ragonesi markets the business is through a weekly radio show. “I got a call one day from a gentleman in Florida who had a big radio show down there called “Getting Down to Business.”
He asked me if I wanted to be on his show. We built a great relationship and I continued to do shows with him in Florida. I got so used to doing the shows that it was only natural to continue doing them after we moved to the North Georgia mountains. WYYZ is now the home of my show and I’ve been on the station for close to four years now.” The show brings in clients so it’s been good for Ragonesi’s business.
He also does a lot of online marketing and uses QR codes to track his leads. “We do a lot with QR codes in magazines and in sponsorships. For instance, we’re sponsoring an event and provide bottled water, plastered with our name and QR codes. The analytics tell us where the leads come from so we can better target our marketing.”
While Charley has held a real estate license for well over 20 years, All Mountain Realty is but a baby – only 5 years old. Still, in that short amount of time he and his team have been able to build a 30 percent referral base.
Overall, Ragonesi likes working with first-time buyers, and if they bring a kid along, he’ll likely turn into mush. “There’s nothing nicer than having a child take my hand and say ‘when we buy this house, this will be my room.’ I just melt like an ice cube on a car hood in the middle of the summer.”
Ragonesi says that his buyers’ biggest misconception has to do with credit.
“It’s common in our rural areas, where people live in the mountains, to pay cash for everything. What they don’t realize is that they aren’t generating a credit score. So when they meet with me they’ll tell me that they have perfect credit, they pay their bills on time and don’t owe anybody anything. Then they get turned down for a mortgage, not because of bad credit, but because of a lack of credit history.”
When he’s not melting like an ice cube over a cute kid Ragonesi works as a volunteer firefighter in his town and tries to squeeze in as much tennis as possible.
If you happen to be in Charley’s neck of the woods on any Thursday, be sure to tune your am radio dial to 1490, WYYZ and catch “The Mountain Real Estate Report.” You can also listen to past shows on his website.