Neumann Real Estate, a family affair since 1969
Originally opened in 1969, Neumann Real Estate was a courageous and timely business venture: Harry and Lorraine Neumann had six kids to provide for, and the town was short on real-estate agents. Hard-working Harry hoped at least one of his children would take over when he retired.
Today five of the Neumann siblings are co-owners of the business, housed at the corner of Main Street and Catoonah in the center of town: Chip, Russ, Jeff, Bob, and Shaylene—having purchased the business from their parents in 2005. “It wasn’t just given to us. We were driven to see the business succeed,” says Bob. All five handle transactions as well as own a piece of the business, which has thrived under the second-generation owners—becoming the leading agency in Ridgefield. “We have five of the top ten sellers in town and consistently command a large portion of the market share,” says Chip.
Siblings working together might not always be smooth sailing, but the Neumann clan figured it out. “The first year of the new partnership was challenging, but then things fell into place,” says Russ, who manages the Ridgefield office. The five Neumanns meet monthly to share what they’re each doing and how they can improve. “We all have our different strengths and bring certain skills to the table,” says Chip, who handles most of the marketing, which has become far more sophisticated over the last decade.
Real estate has come a long way since the days of toting around a three-ring MLS book—it’s faster, more sophisticated, and far more competitive than when the Neumanns first began selling houses 50 years ago. “We’re always striving to stay ahead in terms of technology to improve our services,” says Chip. New innovations include the use of drones and cinematography to enhance a listing. Of course, the Internet also changed the game as well, says Shaylene, who handles the finances. Listings instantly gain a global reach.
The growth in the business and the reach provided by marketing and technology has enabled Neumann Real Estate to expand to clients outside Ridgefield. “We’re definitely becoming a more regional player,” says Shaylene, who has a New York sales license in addition to Connecticut. Neumann Real Estate has a second office in New Fairfield.
Corporate relocations, common in a town like Ridgefield, usually result in a quick and impersonal sale. Russ, however, relishes the experience of the first-time home buyer—the excitement of making their dream of homeownership a reality. “We like to say: ‘Let our family help your family find a home,’” he says.
It’s not all business all the time; the Neumanns are also able to enjoy time together without letting work encroach. “Of course, we talk real estate a bit, but we’re able to relax and have fun together too,” says Jeff, who runs the New Fairfield office. The siblings recently all took a trip to South Carolina for a wedding.
While the owners might genetically be family, they also strive to treat their employees and 40 plus individuals agents as family too. Bob, who does most of the recruiting, stresses the importance of making sure that new agents fit in with the rest of the team. “We strive to create a warm environment, where everyone feels supported,” he says. All five emphasize the nurturing feeling within the company, something not always found in the business world. “It’s more about how can I help you rather than compete against you,” says Shaylene.
Obviously, Harry and Lorraine’s dream of passing along a family business came true and continues today. Three of his grandchildren have joined the ranks, ensuring a lasting legacy. “I think our parents would be proud of where we’ve taken the company,” says Jeff.