Project Description

Connecticut boutique builds an online community in a time of need

Harriman Real Estate overcame the recession aftermath and a major hurricane to thrive as a small relationship-focused brokerage.

At A Glance

Location: Wallingford/Central Connecticut |  Launched: 2010  |  Number of agents: 38

Connecticut boutique builds an online community in a time of need

Sometimes the best businesses and communities are built during the hardest times. That’s part of the story of Harriman Real Estate, based in Wallingford, Conn., whose founders saw a need in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and created an online community for residents that today still thrives and continues to forge lasting relationships for them.

Pat Harriman never planned to work in the real estate industry. She had spent most of her career working in customer service roles but in 2001, a former manager recruited her for a job at Prudential. “He said I’d make a great Realtor,” she said.

The first thing she did to build her business as an agent was build a personal website. “Back then, real estate agents didn’t have an online presence,” she said.

Pat’s sales volume climbed so high in her first three years that by 2004, she convinced her husband, Wayne, to quit his job working as a local call center manager to join her.

Pat and Wayne opened Harriman Real Estate in Wallingford, Conn., in 2010, just after the recession. “A lot of people called us crazy—the real estate market was the worst it had been in decades,” Wayne said.

In the beginning, the Harrimans worked from home to save money on overhead. Today, Harriman Real Estate employs 38 agents, and just earned recognition as a top workplace in the state of Connecticut, as well as many other local awards.

Building trust

Then Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast in the fall of 2012.

“We were stuck at home thinking there’s nowhere we can go to find out about emergency procedures,” said Wayne.

So they started a Facebook group, which immediately created a place for discourse. Community members shared everything from news updates about weather damage to where you could go to wash your hair if you had lost water service during the storm.

The Facebook group today has over 16,000 members. “The group has become a very active community forum,” Pat said.

They’re both still active in managing the group today and are often lauded by members for their upkeep of the group, and for the different forms of generosity they offer the community. They’re tagged with thank you notes, such as…

          A big thank you to Wayne and Pat Harriman…for keeping this group strong and well.

          I would personally like to extend my thanks to Wayne Harriman for the time and effort he makes for this group.

Since the Harrimans opened their physical office downtown in 2013, they often get people from the Facebook group stopping in to introduce themselves. “We’ve built trust in the community,” said Wayne.

Support from every angle

The couple focus their business on providing the highest level of care for their clients. Agents are hired based not only on their local knowledge and real estate experience, but also on their desire to help others. Once they’re part of the team, Pat provides one-on-one mentoring with new agents to help them grow their business. Pat said, “It’s a rewarding experience to watch agents develop their skills and at same time enjoy their work”.

On the technology side, Wayne shares the latest tools with agents to keep them up-to-date on industry standards, with a focus on streamlining their workflow and offering clients the best marketing available. “We work as a team to provide a pleasant environment for our agents and clients,” Pat said.

Plans for the future

While they aren’t pushing growth at the moment, Pat and Wayne say that it’s happening in the right way. They plan to continue growing organically, one agent at a time, while always being there for the community.

Pat & Wayne Harriman