Vested Interest

How a local real estate agent built a $60 million client base from scratch.


Published:

The Westbrown, located a few streets west of downtown Birmingham, will open in 2019 and offer eight townhouses with prices starting at $2 million.

Dan Gutfreund started a commercial and residential mill working company at 19,  and over the course of 11 years his overall workforce reached 120 employees. The output: Custom cabinets for luxury homeowners and retail clients like Chanel, L’Oreal, and Louis Vuitton.

At the top of his game, Gutfreund got married, sold his Toronto-based company, moved to metro Detroit to be with his wife, and found himself back at the starting line. The proceeds from the sale of his business delivered a comfortable lifestyle, but he admits boredom set in, and his wife began to drop hints that he had greater potential than settling for a life of leisure.

“My New Year’s resolution in 2009 was to hit the reset button and get out in the business world,” says Gutfreund, principal of Dan Gutfreund Realty Group in Birmingham and a member of Signature Sotheby’s International Realty. “On the first day, I was brought to a cubicle — it was quite a change, given I used to have a large office.

“I made mention of that fact, and the gentleman who showed me to the cubicle said:  ‘Well, that’s where we all start.’ So I started working the phone. What was different (for me, compared to) other people starting out in the position, is that while I didn’t have any clients, I did have resources.”

To make himself known, Gutfreund, who last year sold more than $60 million in residential homes, took out full-page ads in media and trade publications. By listing luxury homes from other agents, he was able to represent interested buyers who weren’t represented by other agents.

From there, he steadily built up his own client base, and today his listings average around $1 million per sale. In recent years, when there have been fewer homes on the market, he expanded into residential development by working with architect Christopher J. Longe, principal of Christopher J. Longe — AIA Architecture and Interiors in Birmingham, and Chris Brocavich, president of Town Building Co. in Royal Oak, among others.

Their offerings include Park West Luxury Residences, a $5-million, 12-unit project near downtown Royal Oak, and The Westbrown, a $20-million, eight-unit townhouse development west of downtown Birmingham.

“Because I came from the building industry, I understand buyers and builders,” Gutfreund says. “Today, given busier lifestyles, buyers are looking for a turnkey home. Our product meets that need. (The units offer) luxury features, high-end appliances, private elevator access, and indoor garages.

“I think, more and more, you’ll see parcels of land and occupied property near downtown districts sold for residential development. People like being near an urban district — maybe not living within it, but near enough to walk there for dinner or a show. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Eyes Up

Avantius Group in Birmingham invests in proven health supplements.

Spread Order

Sign Up

Bringing content for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to a global audience.

Snow Much Fun

The spirit of the holidays is aglow at a Bloomfield Hills business all year long.

Green and Smart

NextEnergy in Detroit transforms its mission to drive new transit solutions.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Detroit Neighborhoods Receive $35M in Commitments for Improvements
    Detroit neighborhoods will get $35 million in commitments from seven companies, Mayor Mike Duggan...
  2. Bedrock Breaks Ground on Detroit’s Monroe Blocks Mixed-use Project
    Detroit’s Bedrock today broke ground on its 1.4-million-square-foot Monroe Blocks project,...
  3. DoubleTree by Hilton Opens New Luxury Hotel in Bloomfield Hills
    Metro Detroit’s newest luxury hotel, the DoubleTree by Hilton that was redeveloped from the...
  4. Report: Michigan Must Attract, Retain College-educated People to Create Broad Middle Class
    Michigan Future Inc. today released a report saying Michigan must create regions anchored by...
  5. Bloomfield Hills’ Agree Development to Acquire 100+ Sherwin-Williams Retail Properties
    Bloomfield Hills-based Agree Realty Corp. Tuesday announced that through its subsidiary,...
  6. Livonia’s Pet Supplies Plus Acquired by Sentinel Capital Partners
    Livonia’s Pet Supplies Plus, the third-largest pet store chain in the U.S., has been sold to...