NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Like many first-time home buyers, Alison Bernstein made some rookie mistakes.
But as she tells Joe Connolly in this week's WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by BNB Bank -- "Community Banking from Montauk to Manhattan," she learned from it and created a business to help other young buyers going through the process.
Suburban Jungle specializes in helping buyers transition from the city to the burbs.
Fresh out of business school and expecting her first child, Bernstein got the idea to start Suburban Jungle as she and her family were trying to decide whether to move out of the city.
"When we decided to potentially explore the suburbs, we realized that there was no truly objective advice out there and there was no real strategy for us," Bernstein said. "We kind of heard about a few places, went out, found some agents, but nobody really could provide us with the true understanding of would our family fit in? Would we be raising our family the way we wanted to in these communities? And, ultimately, are we asking the right questions and are we in fact looking in the right places?"
Bernstein launched the company in New York and the business has since expanded to other big cities, including Chicago and Los Angeles.
"The industry demanded it because even to this day there's really not a product out there that really focuses on the buyer. All of the big companies in real estate focus on sale side," Bernstein said. "We actually don't employ brokers, we're not transacting business as a broker because we want to maintain true objectivity. Our goal is we don't want listings, we don't work on the sales side, we don't represent the buyers as brokers, we represent them as truly objective strategists and consultants and that's the key to our success."
Suburban Jungle strategists know every detail about the commute, taxes and school system and also truly understand who lives in these towns and why. They can help buyers ask the right questions and decide whether a location is right for their family.
"The biggest mistake that people make is that they're very house-centric in their search," Bernstein said. "These are all the wrong things to think about because you're ultimately making a huge decision on how you're going to raise your family and that can vary dramatically based on where your home is located. Your family grows up in a town, not necessarily a house. They spend more time in that community than they do within the confines of your own home."