Top-selling Santa Fe real estate broker of 2018 says service is secret to her success

Darlene Streit, a Sotheby’s International real estate agent, visits a client’s home last month. Streit sold 189 homes last year at an average price of $748,000. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

Darlene Streit has cornered the market on high-dollar volume home sales in Santa Fe.

She was No. 1 in Santa Fe County for 2018, with all her homes sold adding up to $141 million. Second and third place were $47 million and $46 million, respectively, according to data compiled from Santa Fe Association of Realtors Multiple Listing Service statistics.

Streit also is in the top 10 among all U.S. Sotheby’s International agents, said her boss, Gregg Antonsen, the senior vice president at the company’s Santa Fe office.

Sure, there were multimillion dollar homes in the mix — the highest at $3.2 million. Streit, however, insists on representing homebuyers and home sellers across the spectrum, including the $250,000 to $350,000 range. That’s near the bottom end of the Santa Fe market, as “under $200,000 gets pretty slim,” she said.

“This job is about helping people,” Streit said. “Everybody needs help. If they want help [with a $250,000 house], I’ll help. It’s just part of serving the people. It’s a service to the community.”

Streit’s method to selling 189 homes looks something like this: Don’t go to the Bahamas, and curtail travels away from the Santa Fe market to a couple of short trips a year. Be on the phone into the late hours. Respond swiftly to clients. Know your clients and your market inside out. Occasionally sleep.

“It’s really being available almost 24/7 except for some sleeping time,” Streit said.

Steve Riemann, president of Santa Fe Title Co., knows all about the midnight oil, thanks to Streit.

“Sometimes she calls me at 11 p.m.,” Riemann said. “No one communicates more or more thoroughly than Darlene. You will never be the last call. You can never get in the last word. You can’t outcommunicate the woman.”

Minutes count in hot real estate markets, where dozens of offers can surface as soon as a listing goes online.

“You have to be responsive quickly,” Streit said. “One of my key trademarks is being very responsive. You can’t be off in the Bahamas when someone is spending a million dollars on a house. They don’t want to wait until midday tomorrow for a call back.”

But part of all that phone time is really listening to get a firm sense of what a buyer is looking for. Mary Stroupe, who just moved to Santa Fe full time a year ago, called on Streit to buy a home in Santa Fe, sell it soon thereafter and buy another home.

“First of all, she genuinely cares about the people she’s serving,” Stroupe said. “I always found her to be very creative, straightforward and interested with having a solution that both parties would be satisfied with.”

“Right now, I’m dealing with two people who want the same house,” she said. “I have to be creative to deal with that. [In other transactions], I have to figure out how realistic the seller is and how badly does the buyer want the house.”

Streit achieves high volume in a real estate minefield centered on lack of inventory — i.e., not enough homes on the market. Santa Fe has an acknowledged shortage of some 6,000 single-family homes.

“The problem is the inventory is low in all categories,” she said. “They go quickly. A lot of homes may need a new roof. Bigger inspection issues get in the way. The seller can’t afford to fix it and the buyer can’t afford it. Homes [on the market] are getting older. It’s very expensive to build.”

“She serves as my broker, by the way,” Riemann said. “She knows the property they are looking for and she knows where it is. She knows the inventory incredibly well. She has assembled a team of experts and she calls on them immediately. I talk to more of her clients than anybody else’s.”

Streit said the shortages is more complex than mere inventory.

“Even higher-end homebuyers are having trouble finding the home they want,” Streit said. “You have to move quickly and be realistic with what you want. Everybody has to be realistic. A lot of people are downsizing. We have a lot of people who want 3,000 square feet, but many of the homes available are much larger.”

Streit is a Toronto native who visited Santa Fe for an art workshop nearly 30 years ago and never left. She was living in London at the time, working at Sotheby’s art auction house.

“I really love Santa Fe, especially the way of life, the ease of life, but there is still a level of sophistication,” she said.

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