Steve Cupolo is like a chess master when it comes to sizing up the benefits and the challenges of a move, and making smart decisions.
Talking with the one-time rough and tumble hockey player out of Canada, who counts miscellaneous injuries from his glory days as badges of honor, it’s his gentle demeanor and easy going manner that have him feeling like a longtime friend rather than a savvy real estate mogul with a billion dollar benchmark in his sights.
Beginning modestly as an independent brokerage group in the St. Augustine and Jacksonville markets, years of hard work and strategic investments in the real estate industry have resulted in a true success story for Cupolo.
“I grew up in Niagara Falls, Canada and moved to Florida in 1989, started with a small company doing property management and a little bit of real estate and then ultimately got more into real estate where I realized that was where the easier money was.
“I’ve been here 32 years and basically have built a company into the Coldwell Banker franchise which I bought in 2010, and we are now 11 offices, covering 120 miles of the coast and even through COVID-19 we seem to be doing okay,” he said, summing it all up.
In truth, Cupolo has approached his investments meticulously, researching and studying before making an acquisition, which included the purchase of the Coldwell Banker offices in Palm Coast and Ormond Beach, and rebranding them as Coldwell Banker Premier Properties.
“It was an interesting time,” says Cupolo of taking that first leap on his own. “Back in the late 80s Florida was still growing but not as quickly as it’s growing now. I’d loved and dealt with real estate, so I enjoyed the work. The Coldwell Banker purchase in 2010 really launched us off to a pretty wonderful start with the way this turned out.”
He’s continued to grow his holdings while building rock solid relationships with both clients and his teams.
In 2020, after careful consideration, with more than 250 agents and 11 offices under his brand, Coldwell Banker Premier Properties became part of the Michigan-based brokerage firm, Schmidt Family of Companies, the second largest Coldwell Banker office in the world.
For Cupolo, an established member of the Chairman’s Circle, and part of the top 6% of sales producers in North America for Coldwell Banker franchises, merging with the full-service residential, luxury and commercial brand has enhanced the ability to market, recruit and serve clients in one of the most sought after real estate markets in the nation.
“The Coldwell Banker brand is the number one rated brand in the world, so to be part of the Coldwell Banker brand, and now the Schmidt Family of Companies, it has just given us unbelievable experience. It gives our customers the greatest potential possible, to attract the best agents, buy the best homes, list their homes, it’s been wonderful,” he said.
The merger took place around the same time COVID-19 became a household word, and even though Cupolo has more than 30 years of real estate experience, he watched the market with a keen eye.
“When COVID hit in February and March, I was a nervous wreck thinking we were going back to 2006, ’07, ’08, but frankly we have what will probably be our highest volume sales year yet, this year. If you’d have told me that was happening during a COVID crisis I would think we were all dreaming,” he says with relief.
Looking to escape traffic, congestion, taxes, and hurricanes, Cupolo and his agents are working with buyers coming not just from south Florida but from the New England area, driving up the demand for luxury homes in what has been a sluggish segment of the real estate market.
“What it’s also done for us, not only has our volume increased dramatically, but our high end sales volume sales has suddenly taken off, which for years was slow here in North Florida,” shares Cupolo. “Some are buying second vacation-type homes, some are buying their primary residences, and they have really surged our high end luxury market.”
Ensuring agents are equipped to provide exceptional service to their clients, training, support and accessibility are top priorities for each managing broker and his or her team, in the Coldwell Banker Premier Properties offices.
“We look for people that are family-oriented, that want to help our agents,” he said. “The market is strong, agents are doing very well, and just like everything else, if you work hard at it, you’ll be successful.”
In all the years of precision decisions, he’s never fallen out of love with the industry that captured his heart at a young age.
“It’s the look on people’s faces when they get the home they’ve always wanted or on the flip of the coin, when you get someone sold and you know they’re moving on to either a bigger home, nicer home or better location. It’s just a rewarding feeling to see that look of excitement.”