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The real estate industry is a notoriously competitive environment, but Challenger Brokers breaks that stereotype. Instead of competing with each other, Challenger’s team-oriented agents support each other’s successes and work together to provide clients with a level of customer service experience that is so extraordinary, it is all but extinct.
Challenger Brokers gained its flawless reputation by specializing in residential properties, ranging from luxury one-family dwellings to multi-family buildings. The company’s commercial division is young, but growing fast, and Challenger Brokers is on track to become a trusted franchise name on the national level.
Helen Challenger, founder, and owner prides herself on her honesty, integrity, and work ethic, and she instills those values in her agents. Not only is she the “mama bear” who keeps her team motivated, but she’s also the mother of nine-year-old twins. When she first started out in the real estate business six years ago, she had nobody willing to help or look out for her. She had to learn everything on her own, the hard way. However, she doesn’t regret that experience. She says, “I wouldn’t be here today unless I went through it — and I wouldn’t know how to help people properly unless I personally experienced it and been through it myself.”
Now, Helen is in a position to share her real estate knowledge with others, and as she grows her company, she is passionate about nurturing new agents. She wants to give them the helping hand that she never had. She says, “There’s a statistic that 87% of agents leave the business within the first year or year and a half. I think the reason behind that is they’re neglected and not guided properly from the beginning.”
Giovanni Nocella, an agent who has worked with Helen Challenger for four years, was impressed from the beginning with her vision for expanding the business into every aspect of real estate and her dedication to bringing that plan to fruition. “Even in the early days, we were focused on having the most luxurious, functioning, agent-friendly office in NYC. Today, our office is a true testament to Helen’s passion and determination to succeed as a team.”
Challenger Brokers’ new office in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, provides Helen Challenger plenty of room to expand her team, and her new hires will have one of the most impressive, inspiring, and possibly the most beautiful real estate workplace in New York City. The company’s home base is a stunning 7,500 square-foot space with luxury décor and a rooftop deck overlooking the iconic Verrazano bridge. Its upscale atmosphere attracts attention — visitors often gasp as they step out of the elevator — but inside, Challenger’s down-to-earth agents are hard at work supporting clients in both the residential and commercial world.
As she interviews potential new additions to her close-knit team, Helen Challenger is looking for people who share her mentality that working in real estate is about more than making money. She says, “Everybody who works here is not just focused on money. They’re handpicked by me as somebody who wants to help, somebody who wants to do better for the client and understands that money is a byproduct of always doing the right thing.”
For new agents, the Challenger journey starts with a proprietary training and mentorship program, “Challenger University”, which includes an intense 30-day boot camp. It builds a solid foundation of basics and introduces the Challenger system so that agents can start prospecting for business on their own. Each new agent is mentored in every aspect of the business by a “seasoned” agent until they become self-sufficient. Graduates of the program consistently sign their first transaction within 30 to 60 days.
Helen Challenger personally holds training sessions with new agents every Monday and Friday, and as they work alongside her in the Challenger Brokers office, they also learn by example. She says, “I’m basically taking an agent and walking them hand in hand until they’re ready to let go. And even when they let go, I still monitor them. The goal is to make them better and to keep them accountable.”
In exchange for all the hands-on training and practical experience, Challenger Brokers expects each of their agents to pay it forward by helping the newer agents — and each other — once they become successful.
The program works. All of the newly licensed agents who have participated have grossed over $100K in their first 12 months, and they credit their accomplishments to the support they received along the way. Frank Bergen, an agent who joined Challenger Brokers two years ago, says, “I will be forever grateful that the Challenger team was my first experience in the real estate world. Without Helens’ guidance, I would not be in the position I am today, let alone in the business at all.”
The team at Challenger understands the importance of technology and staying up-to-date with the latest trends to help make the process and transactions easier for both clients and agents. With a full-time marketing team, our agents are able to emphasize the best selling points and present their listings in the most efficient way possible for the right audience.
Challenger’s clients rave about her, too, and it’s easy to see why. She understands that it’s easiest to find solutions when you’re calm, strategic, and logical, and she embodies those characteristics. She tells clients, “When you’re selling your home, you’re emotionally attached to the property. Let me handle it, and I’ll be your logic.”
She does everything in her power to eliminate her clients’ stress and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. One client, a man in his nineties, was a hoarder who needed help cleaning out his home. Challenger handled it for him.
She says, “I always tell my clients, ‘Whatever problem arises, I don’t want you to worry about resolving it. Whatever it is, we’ll resolve it. There are always title issues, violations, open permits… we take care of all of that.’” She doesn’t take control; she simply presents options and lets the client decide how they want to proceed.
Nicole, a Challenger Brokers client, was nervous about selling her first home because she was overseas for the entire process. She says, “Helen walked me through it step by step, made sure I knew what to expect, and offered expert advice that helped me through the negotiations.”
Other companies may claim to go above and beyond for their clients, but Challenger Brokers follows through. Helen Challenger says, “I have an old-school mentality — my word is everything, so if I say I’m going to do something, I never go back on my word.” That emphasis on customer service applies not only to the Challenger Brokers team but to every vendor they recommend, all of whom have been carefully vetted.
The Challenger team also places special emphasis on client confidentiality. Every agent signs a confidentiality agreement confirming that they will never share information about Challenger clients or the clients’ properties. Helen Challenger said, “This is a service and a commitment that we make to our high-profile clients because we respect their interest in keeping their business private.”
A couple who worked with Helen Challenger during their move to Bensonhurst recalls that after reading her Zillow reviews, they had high expectations. To their surprise, she surpassed them. They note, “She gave us great recommendations through the whole process, from lenders to lawyers, to inspectors, and so forth. We took every suggestion she made and never regretted one.”
Positive feedback like that reminds Helen Challenger why she got into the industry in the first place: “I have always helped everybody, and I’m going to continue doing it, because seeing positive changes in people’s lives gives me satisfaction.”