Are Your Ready For The Country?

After 24 years in advertising, former Bartle Bogle Hegarty executive creative director Kevin McKeon has shifted his focus to real estate, at least until March, when he will look to get back in the ad game. McKeon and his wife, Christine, a former art director and creative recruiter, have launched A Place in the Country, a real-estate scouting service for New Yorkers who have the money but not the time to find new homes outside the city.

Christine hatched the idea years ago, and the couple dusted off the business plan in 2004, after selling their place in Brooklyn and settling in their weekend farmhouse about 100 miles north, in Falls Village, Conn. A Place in the Country will interview home seekers and, based on their specifications, draw up a list of communities and properties north of the city, McKeon says. Working with each customer, the McKeons will help narrow the list by visiting properties and reporting back on their strengths and weaknesses. The final list will identify the real-estate broker for each home, giving people all they need to zero in on a deal, McKeon says. In other words, the McKeons see themselves as “country-home personal shoppers,” not brokers, and therefore, their fee won’t be tied to a sale.

With a shoestring budget, McKeon is using business cards, direct mail, a Web site (www.secondhomesearch. com) and word of mouth to get the word out. As for living in the country, McKeon, 47, who left BBH last March, seems to have adjusted well, though some city habits die hard. “We still want to go out to eat all the time,” he quips, “even though there are only two restaurants.”