Agent Snapshot: James Riel, Broker-owner, JR Associates

What was your first job in the real estate industry? I worked as an admin under my mother who ran a private brokerage in central Massachusetts.

Where did you grow up? Sutton, MA (right outside of Worcester)

Growing up, what did you want to be? An architect. My father owns an architectural design/build firm in central Massachusetts. Growing up I was always in the field with my father. I would help measure buildings, draft as-built floor plans, and supervise various jobs from residential to commercial projects. I aspired to take over the family business.

What do you do to relax when you’re stressed? I like to walk or run to mitigate stress. I find it both relives stress and anxiety but also helps me form clear thoughts and think through deals I’m working on or to come up with creative marketing. Sometimes I need a 1,000-foot view of something that is going on in my life or stressing me out and I find that’s the best way to work through it.

If you could have lunch with a well-known figure (living or not), who would it be and why? This is a really hard question because there are so many people I have different and equally important questions for. I would have to reschedule this lunch until I could put more time into it.

Where is your favorite place to hang out? I really like walking around Boston’s neighborhoods. Specifically Beacon Hill, the North End and Seaport. Smoking a cigar while walking the dog and spending time with my fiancé is hard to beat. Alternatively, I love going out to dinner and seeing a movie at Capital Theatre in Arlington with my fiancé.

What do you love most about the industry? Well I’m a people person for sure, and I like that about myself, so this is a perfect industry to meet all types of people. I find a lot of my professional relationships become personal friendships a lot of the time. But what I really love are the different types of spaces I get to work with every day. Whether it’s a studio rental in the Seaport or a multi-family building I’ve listed for sale, I love seeing all the various buildings, their layouts and finishes, and the potential they have whether it be converted to condos or simply decorated and lived in.

How do you distinguish yourself from the crowd of agents? I’m very well rounded in the real estate industry as a whole. I have a deep understanding and connection with the architectural design and build side of the business but also how to market, sell, and negotiate a transaction whether it be on the sales side, as a buyer’s agent, or even merely a facilitator. The combination of being personable and highly knowledgeable in both fields gives me a competitive advantage against the growing number of agents in the industry.

What is the most difficult aspect of your job? Depending on the transaction and who I am representing, the most challenging part is usually making sure we’re as thorough as possible. We are all about the extra mile and to make sure we’re doing enough due diligence (or advising on the subject) to mitigate any surprises along the way. This business has a lot of variables in play in any transaction, and if you’re not organized, thorough, and diligent it’s a sure way to expose your client, yourself, your firm, and the deal to risk.

Where do you go to network and meet new clients? I’m a member of the East Cambridge Business Association which helps its members and their businesses constantly network and interact with the community. I also spend a lot of time virtually networking by putting time and effort into my web presence and making sure it’s easy for people to find my business and have access to the resources they need to vet my services.

What has been your greatest accomplishment? In the business? If we’re talking about my greatest accomplishment from a business perspective, it would have to be that I became a broker and opened my first boutique real estate and design/build brokerage East Cambridge this past year.

What was the last good movie you saw or book you read? The books I’ve been reading lately have been geared more to self-help, professional business books. The one I just finished was Pat Hiban’s “6 Steps to 7 Figures” which was a great read. Lots of highlighting! As for a movie, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but I am addicted to NBC’s “The Blacklist” on Netflix right now. It’s times like these I realize I need to work on self-discipline in areas of my life.

What is your favorite restaurant? My fiancé and I use to love this little place in Somerville called City Girl Cafe. The food was unbelievably good. They’ve stopped their dinner service as of March this past year and it’s a sad, sad thing.

Architecturally speaking, what is your favorite building in Boston? Hmm, probably the Boston Public Library. I know that’s probably not original at all but it’s just such a beautiful and historic building and it is so perfectly located. It really makes me appreciate the city.

What kind of car do you drive? Jeep Grand Cherokee

What is your favorite city after Boston? In the U.S.? Okay Venice, Italy or Edinburgh, Scotland. Two of the most magical places I’ve even been …

In 10 words or less, what is your advice for someone new to the industry? You’re on your own! Listen, learn, and stay in the game!

What’s your favorite real estate iPhone/Android app? It’s not really real estate specific but it’s probably Lightroom by Adobe. My secret weapon when it comes to any photos I take for work and need to edit. Game changer …

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