Listen to your client.

That's a top priority for full-time New Milford Realtor Gary Passineau.

"Listen to your client," he said during a recent interview at his William Raveis' Bank Street office. "Don't be a know-it-all and don't make assumptions."

Passineau joined the industry 10 years ago this month, and has been with William Raveis since, after he left his national sales position with Pepperidge Farm.

"I was always interested (in real estate) and watched what (Realtors) did -- both good and bad" while moving from state to state for his corporate job, Passineau said.

Passineau, a member of the National Association of Realtors, cites one aspect of NAR's code of ethic as part of his everyday philosophy. The code says "Always place the interest of your client ahead of your own.

"And I'm always conscious of that," related Passineau, who noted he is focused on "honesty and integrity."

Passineau recalled a negative experience he once had with a Realtor before leaving his corporate America job after 25 years.

He cited the out-of-state Realtor's inability to listen to him, and her attempt to upsell him, even after he had given her his budget.

Today, Passineau has open ears and has a sincere interest in helping people buy or sell a home.

"I want people to buy from me. I don't want to sell to them," he said. "I want to work with you. We're partners. I'm here to facilitate. In the end, it's my client's decision."

Former New Milford resident Bill Longyear, who worked with Passineau to sell his home in 2010, praised the Realtor for his professionalism and work ethic.

"He's quite the professional and I'm positive he would treat other clients the way I was treated," he said.

"He's very thorough and has the tools" to make real estate transactions happen, Longyear said. "He's just a really good guy overall."

Passineau recently helped Suzanne Grant buy a home in New Milford.

"He is very genuine and honest," she said. "He had everyone's best interests in mind."

When it comes to looking for a home, Passineau said it is a "process of elimination" and will "evolve as you look."

He said the majority of clients have certain criteria in mind when they come to meet with him. A home's square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, acreage and condition tend to be at the top of the list.

The Realtor said often clients "think they know what they want" but along the way discover something different.

"You need to feel the home," Passineau emphasized.

He said sometimes a home with everything a client is looking for just isn't a match.

"You never know what the hot button is for someone," he said.

Passineau has advice for the seller, too.

"I always tell (them) it may be the most immaculate (house) but it might not have appeal to a client because it reminds them of a past experience," Passineau said. "Maybe it reminds them of Aunt Millie's house" and that's not what they want.

The Realtor said a recent statistic he read reported on average people buy or sell a home every eight years.

When it's time to sell, Passineau advises homeowners to declutter and depersonalize. "Less is more."

The market is always changing.

"The (single-family) home market today is not the buyer's market it was six months ago," Passineau said.

He cited as contributing factors the increase in the number of sales -- it's up 25-30 percent in terms of unit sales compared to last year at this time; the decrease in inventory -- it's down about 25 percent from last year at this time; and the small increase in interest rates.

To keep up with the market, Passineau is part of a caravan of local Realtors from various agencies who make weekly trips to view new homes on the market.

He said occasionally two or three Realtors on a caravan ride may comment that they may have an interested client in the house being viewed.

"You've got to know your inventory," he said in explanation of why he participates in the caravan.

Passineau also noted the importance of helping clients understand the process of buying and selling a home, and the steps that need to be taken along the way.

To that end, he recommends three attorneys, three lenders and three inspectors and advises clients to call everyone and find the right match.

Passineau said he looks forward to his job every day.

"Every day is different and that's what I love," he said.

For more information, call Gary Passineau at the New Milford William Raveis office on Bank Street at 860-354-3906, call his cell phone at 203-788-5115, or email gary.passineau@raveis.com.