Dominic appears in the Top 100
People in Real Estate Magazine
You won’t find seasoned realtor, Dominic Fonte, coasting down the streets of his native Northeastern Ohio in a flashy car or see him in a cheesy television commercial, or even on a billboard. While his popularity is long etched in hundreds of five-star ratings for his namesake firm, Dominic Fonte & Associates, and their reputation for exceeding expectations, he shuns the spotlight and shines it squarely on those who matter most—his clients. Dominic worked his way up from virtual anonymity in the real estate industry one client, one referral, and one success at a time. Now, with 30 years and 2,300 transactions, he is as unassuming as he was on his first inauspicious day in the field, when he tirelessly combed through a phone book, trying to make that first connection. He is in effect a “humble ninja” who has earned his stripes without ever sacrificing his integrity—and his clients absolutely adore him for it.
More than beloved, Dominic is a true professional in every sense of the word. He’s made it his mission not merely to serve home buyers and sellers as a commission-focused agent might, but to be a faithful guide and enable them to make informed decisions. As he, himself, will tell you, “An informed decision maker is a happy decision maker.” And Dominic can do this so adeptly because he studies the market meticulously and knows exactly what’s going on in it. In what he refers to as “perception versus reality,” he interprets how emotions can impact people’s choices, and patiently examines, then articulates the specifics of a given scenario with each client. He also understands the vital importance of communication—and not just because “it’s what you’re supposed to do.” He enjoys people, and he and his team go above and beyond to keep their clients informed every step of the way through videos, phone calls, and emails. Because of this, and for so many other reasons, Dominic’s clients find him relatable—a rare quality in the real estate sector. Rarer still is his infectious energy, which can light up half of Ohio.
Dominic’s journey has not been without challenge, but it has never veered from a path of merit. It began in 1988, when, as a frustrated retail store employee, he set his sights on a career in real estate and fearlessly pursued it. As a newly licensed Realtor®, he quit his job on a Friday, and started with real estate on Monday. “I had no experience, no clients, and I was scared to death,” he shares. “I was tasked with cold-calling, and didn’t go well. I was hung up on, and frankly, I felt a little embarrassed in front of the other agents.” Determined, and not one to give up, Dominic started making calls from his basement, and when that didn’t work, he started leaving his card on doorsteps, then knocking on doors. “One time, a man threw my card on the lawn and told me to get lost. That really discouraged me, but the next day, I was back at it.” Finally, his fortitude paid off and Dominic found his first client—and made his first sale. It was just the confidence boost he needed to continue, and in his first year, when other agents were selling an average of 10 homes, Dominic sold 40. And that was the catalyst for Dominic Fonte & Associates.
We spoke with Dominic about his commitment to a whole new definition of “personal service,” and how he’s helping people achieve their dreams in one of the hottest—meaningful—housing booms in a generation.
Your company is known for a personal touch that’s far and above that of others. Tell us about this.
We communicate with our customers in a manner they are comfortable with, and unlike many in this industry, we take whatever time is needed to make sure they feel calm and confident throughout the process. To us, communication is vital at every stage—before, during, and after a transaction takes place. We never want a client to ask, “What’s next?” I’m analytical by nature, so I create a detailed outline of what a client can expect, from the contract to the closing table, and I answer any questions in between. I send short video and email updates as we progress through the various stages, and our clients love that. They return to us and refer us, which is why the majority of my business comes from word-of-mouth.
How does your insight as a native of the area benefit your clients?
I was born and raised in Northeastern Ohio—I grew up in Stark County and planted my roots in North Canton. I have five children who have been through the school system here, and I’m very involved in the community. I am an Eagle Scout, an active member of my church, and served on the city council for nearly eight years. I’ve built many long-term relationships with both real estate professionals and residents, but the greatest benefit is knowing the area and what’s going on in the local markets.
How is your understanding of market dynamics helping people during this time when houses are often sold the day they’re listed?
To succeed in real estate, you must understand supply and demand dynamics, including the psychology behind them. There’s always a public concern about interest rates, housing prices, etc. My focus is on what is happening, not what might be happening. The perception is that only 38% of buyers think it’s a good time to buy when in reality, interest rates are historically low right now, and even if rates go up, they’d still be uncommonly low. Understanding the market—its trends, predictors, and changes—is key, and knowing how to apply that knowledge is even more important. I recognize the reality, not the perception flaunted by social media and the news. I’ve always looked ahead, especially in the face of major events—the Gulf War, 9/11, the 2008 crash, and now COVID—and instead of panicking, I just adjusted the sail. My clients are counting on a trusted advisor to guide them, and that’s what I give them.
Realtor and Founder, Dominic Fonte & Associates