Continuing to Market Connecticut Real Estate at the Highest Level
Jan. 1, 2011
The Higgins Group, founded in 1997 in Westport, soon will be opening a residential sales office in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich, the real estate firm’s first in the town’s market, along with an office in South Norwalk.
Higgins has 12 offices in Connecticut — in Bethel-Danbury, Bridgeport, two in Fairfield — one of which is in Greenfield Hill — Monroe, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Shelton-Huntington Center, Stamford, Trumbull, Westport, and one in Wilton. Higgins will be located in a storefront at 420 E. Putnam Ave. in Greenwich. The South Norwalk store will occupy space on the river opposite the Maritime Center.
The company was founded by Richard Higgins, a long-time attorney and real estate developer, with one agent in an office in Greenfield Hill in 1997. Now there will be 14 offices and a sales team of more than 350 members. Higgins, still an independent, family-owned firm, has sold more than $2 billion in real estate under their horse and buggy logo.
Higgins has been the exclusive representative of Christie’s International in Westport and Fairfield, but in Greenwich, the long-time exclusive representative will continue to be David Ogilvy & Associates.
To support its luxury listings, Higgins also has a unique properties division for equestrian, waterfront, vintage and distinctive properties. As well, the firm has a commercial division to provide real estate and leasing services to corporations and businesses.
Partners in the Cos Cob and South Norwalk offices are Jason Kinard and John Kavounas, both Greenwich residents, who also grew up here. “I already own the Stamford office with 35 agents,” Kinard said. “We plan to start with 10 agents in Greenwich and 10 in Norwalk, opening in early March.” Recently, color swatches in creams and rusts adorned one wall at 420 E. Putnam, and a carpenter was at work with a compound miter saw, crafting crown molding. “Despite the market, it’s as good a time as any to break into the market with our own unique brand of real estate,” Kinard said. “We’re going to be focusing on a couple of niches — buying and selling equestrian properties and being someone’s trusted real estate adviser — main home, vacation spot and pied-a-terre.
John has done a lot of work for Boutique Club, which sells properties all around world.”
Kinard, who began in sales for Microwarehouse, the former Norwalk company that sold computers and technology through catalogs and online, later went to Qwest Communications as a national account manager in telecommunications, and four years ago turned to real estate.
“I’m ecstatic to be in Greenwich where I grew up and where I live now,” Kinard said.
In 2007, Kinard was honored with the Fairfield County “40 under 40” award for business owners younger than 40 years old.
Kavounas, who holds a master’s of business administration degree from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, has been involved in real estate for 14 years. Starting as a sales assistant with Intrawest Real Estate Colorado Rockies, he became a salesman for IMI Resorts on such projects as the Hyatt Vacation Club in Beaver Creek, along with Three Peaks, a Raven Gold Course Golf Community, and the Hyatt Vacation Club in Breckenridge, all in Colorado.
Joining Playground Destination Properties, an Intrawest company, Kavounas was director of sales for The Cirque Quarter Ownership in Copper Resort, Colo., and managing broker of Intrawest and Vail Resort’s $1.2 billion real estate development at Keystone.
With LDW Resort and Hotel Development Co., a division of the Louis Dreyfus Group, as vice president of marketing and sales, Kavounas worked on the Residence Club and Managed Residences for the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo. At Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, he became vice president of residential marketing and sales for more than 50 projects. More recently, he was a consultant to New York-based Boutique Club International, involved in marketing and sales in North American and the Caribbean. For many years, Kavounas has been a Blue Flight Council member for the nonprofit Urban Land Institute, focused on research, education and land use.
Kinard and Kavounas, friends in middle school in Greenwich, bumped into each other outside a local movie theater not so long ago and a new business partnership was born.
“The branded experience I have had working with Starwood and the Four Seasons and Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit tend to complement one another,” Kavounas said. “We have similar styles as managers, and are like-minded about what a real estate office should be.”
“We hope to be trusted advisers for real estate locally as well as for featured resort properties,” Kavounas added. “We are customer-centric and want to assist them, or at least guide them in the right direction.”