There are people who like to say they started in their line of business “from the ground up,” but for Saugerties-based real estate broker Steve Hubbard, that phrase could be applied literally. Prior to his 20 years of experience as a realtor, the Los Angeles-area native worked in New York City as a stockbroker. After moving to the village of Saugerties in 1975, Hubbard apprenticed himself to local builders and learned how to frame houses, working as a carpenter and home builder. He built his own eight-unit apartment building in Barclay Heights, and after securing tenants and managing that property, he went into property management for others and then finally into home rentals and sales. For years, Hubbard even wrote a regular column about real estate for Woodstock Times. With that background, “There’s really nothing about housing with which I’m not intimately familiar and comfortable with,” says Hubbard. “Real estate is really a passion for me. It’s my life, seven days a week.”
Hubbard was recently named Realtor of the Year for 2013 by the Ulster County Board of Realtors (UCBR). The award from his peers was presented at UCBR’s annual general membership meeting at Hillside Manor in Kingston by realtor Janet Marz, filling in for Mike Schneller, the previous year’s winner (who customarily bestows the honor on the next recipient).
The Realtor of the Year award is based primarily, Hubbard says, on his service to UCBR and the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service as well as to the community in general. Broker and owner of Steve Hubbard Real Estate Services, he is a director and former president of the Ulster County Multiple Listing Service, chairman of the Ulster County Board of Realtors Finance Committee and a member of the UCBR Community Services Committee. Hubbard has also been active in Saugerties civic affairs as a member of the Town of Saugerties Comprehensive Plan Committee and the Economic Development Committee.
The latter is something Hubbard is particularly interested in, he says, because the region needs more jobs. “Saugerties is such a terrific place, and tourism has increased beautifully. When I came here in ‘75, every other storefront was empty. Now Saugerties is economically and intellectually stimulating and enriched – the new businesses have enhanced its original character yet it’s remained consistent with its history as an old mill town. But we don’t have the jobs here that we once had, and that’s something that I think we could put some time and energy and effort into.”
And how has the real estate business evolved in Saugerties over the years? Hubbard says the single biggest change has to do with the availability of information about properties for sale. “It used to be people would call up and say, ‘What do you have?’ or ‘What can you show me?’ and now they call up and say, ‘I’d like to see these five properties on Saturday.’”
Information is so readily available on the Internet, Hubbard says, that buyers start the process already informed. But while prospective homeowners can look up the square footage of a property and find out how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, they need guidance in order to make the best decision, he says. “The role of the real estate broker today is really that of consultant. It’s about understanding the folks who come to you, and trying to give them every possible help that you can.”
Hubbard says that he favors a somewhat Socratic approach. “My method is to ask them a series of questions that I casually put to them over time, to help them develop their own understanding of what they’re trying to do; to help them crystallize their perspective and get a grasp on what will work for them and what doesn’t. You’re really counseling, and guiding and offering information.
“It’s a challenging business, and very rewarding personally,” he says. “Hardly a day goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a new person, and everybody has a story of one kind or another. In that way it’s very enriching.”