Being a successful real estate salesperson in New York City is not for sissies. Fierce competition on all sides means you have to be personable, knowledgeable, and strategic—having a flair for interior design doesn’t hurt, either. But even if you’ve got all those bases covered, it can’t hurt to have a little something extra, some secret sauce that helps you stand out from the crowd.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Stella, CORE real estate agents Lisa and Steve Snider’s three-year-old, 150-pound Great Dane, who not only serves as an effective marketing tool for the married couple’s business, but is a celebrity in her own right thank you very much. (Instagram followers: 21,500 and counting.)
While Stella was not acquired with the intention of making her into a mascot, she almost instantly became part of the couple’s work., in part because they take her wherever the go. “She’s just really become part of our life,” says Steve. “We take her on showings, we bring her to open houses. We use her in almost all of our listing photos as long as the seller and building is OK with it.”
We caught up with the couple (and Stella, adopted as a puppy three years ago from Columbus, Ohio) to find out the history of this working arrangement, how big their apartment is, and more.
How did you decide on a Great Dane?
Steve: Lisa and I talked about getting a dog. I kind of said, in a joking way, “Fine, the only dog I want is a Great Dane,” because I had one as a kid…and they’re just really special dogs…We ran into one in our neighborhood about four years ago and then I began to wake up in the middle of the night and see Lisa on her computer Googling Great Dane stuff.
She wasn’t purchased to be part of a business at all. But as we live in the West Village and just walk her from home to work [in Chelsea] and all over the city…She just starts every conversation imaginable and we’ve done tens of millions of dollars worth of listings just literally because people have met us on the street and talked to us about our dog.
Lisa: When we first started walking her everyone would stop us…People didn’t care what we were talking about, they just wanted to stick around as long as they could to be with her. One conversation would lead to another and then we started using her in our marketing and it just took off.
How do people react to her at open houses?
Steve: They love it. They love it so much. Every once in a while people are a little caught off guard, and then after about four seconds she just goes and lays on the couch or lays on the rug and that’s the end of that.
We have buyers that come to open houses [after] they notice this huge dog as they’re flipping through StreetEasy. That’s something we let our sellers know: The goal of all of these things is to make your home memorable, and we make it pretty memorable. We have something that not a lot of people do.
Lisa: If someone is going to four open houses on a Sunday and she’s at one of them, when they leave and tell their friends or spouse about their day, which apartment are they remembering? They’re remembering the one with the big dog.
Do you attribute any business leads to Stella?
Lisa: Two of our biggest listings came from her. We were walking down the street and on two separate occasions, people jumped out of their cabs before their destination just so that they could say ‘hi’ to her.
For the first, we had a listing pitched the next night after we met. The other one, we listed their apartment and sold it and now we have their mom’s apartment on the market for $4.6 million. One hundred percent because they jumped out of the cab to say ‘hi’ to the dog.
Steve: We sometimes joke by the way…[that] when we get asked to list an an apartment or sell someone an apartment, the criteria literally is, ‘We really like your dog. You must love your dog. You must be nice people therefore…’
Lisa: Dog people are very loyal to each other. It’s true. A tremendous portion of our business does come from her—whether it’s walking down street in our neighborhood or in Chelsea where the company is or just having her sit in the office—people stop and come in and say, ‘Oh it’s that real estate dog.’
Steve: She sits on our couch in the office like a human. We have tourist paparazzi outside of our window taking pictures of a dog that they’ve never seen sit like this.
Would you recommend this to other real estate professionals?
Lisa: If this did not grow organically, if it was forced or pushed or anything like that, I don’t think it would work out as well in our marketing. Part of it is the authenticity of it. It’s very real. It’s not staged or put on or anything like that. She’s just part of our lives. She comes with us to the open houses and she gets photographed when we do the photos and it just happened to work that with word of mouth, [people] seeing her over and over again, it just snowballed itself into, ‘Oh, they’re the brokers with that dog.’
How big is your apartment?
Steve: We live in a 1,200 square-foot, two-bedroom, two bath apartment in the West Village. Stella is a bed hog and a couch hog.
She sleeps with you? Do you have a king-size bed?
Steve: Yes, but it doesn’t matter. Where else is she supposed to sleep? On the floor? We’re not savages.