For this week’s Agent Beat™, we chatted with Ken Carpenter, of RE/MAX Results in Plymouth. Truly one of the good guys on the local real estate scene, Ken and his 3-person team (filled out by a full time assistant and a buyers agent, Svitlana Pashko) sold 62 homes in and around Plymouth and the Western suburbs in 2010.
That’s good for the top 25 at RE/MAX locally, by the way, and with just ten years in the business puts him in rock-star territory, though he’d probably disavow that characterization and is the opposite of what we call the “Ego Agent.”
Whatever you choose to call him, after even a short conversation, you quickly pick up that Ken is a very good guy and even better real estate agent. Plus he spends his non-real estate time putting in 10,000 miles a year touring on his motorcycle, which is very cool.
Business Ken:Ken sells homes in Plymouth
Personal Ken: Ken lives in Plymouth with his
7 Quick Questions with Ken Carpenter
A: It has been a bit of an odd year – the first half was a little slower to pick up than we expected, but things are happening in a pretty big way now. I’ll give you an example: In June of this year (usually among the busiest months) we sold about half of what we’d normally see. In August, we have four times my average business on the books. This business can be like that – always is in some ways, but I don’t think the never winter helped the spring market get off to is normal start.
Q: Let’s shift over to the big picture for a minute. We are something like 4 years into the real estate downturn – where do things go from here?
A: Hard to know with any certainty, but we could see another 15-20% decline in home values before all is said and done – in my market, we are still seeing price reductions, and it is incredibly competitive price-wise. I will mention some of the recent press about rising prices: It is very hard to take much stock in that – the traditional measures like median price don’t tell the whole story, and are highly subject to the mix of homes sold. Last year the market was heavily influenced by tax credits, and that skewed median prices lower. This year, the mix is a little more “in balance,” so in some areas the median price has come up. This is not the same as broadly rising prices – we are not there yet.
Q: With that in mind, what are you telling your home sellers?
A: More than a few sellers (by that I mean those that have a legitimate need to sell) are tempted to wait until the market bottoms and starts to improve to make up for past losses. But we need to understand exactly what that entails. Even if we knew that prices would only drop another 10%, appreciation rates after the bottom will be 1 or maybe 2%. That means we are looking at a 7-10 year wait, just to get back to today’s price, much less a price from 2006 or 2007.
For most it is better to sell now, and get into a home that works for them.
We’ve also had a lot of success renting out homes, so the owner can move-on and buy another – to the point that we now have 20 properties under rental management. There are many advantages with this option – more people should consider it.
The point is that a home is a sacred thing. We need a home that fits our life, our family needs, our goals and our aspirations. No matter what people think, read, or hear, there are many, many, options. To suffer through a housing situation that does not fit your needs does not make any sense. The market we are in is the “new” normal.
Q: What about home buyers, any advice for them?
A: You can’t time this market. If your job is stable, your family needs fit and you feel good about your prospects, then jump right in. Prices are good and rates are ridiculously low – they will both go up eventually, which is going to take a big bite out of affordability and purchasing power.
You’ll look back on this market, 10, 20 years from now and say ‘Holy Cow’ that was a good time to be a buyer.
Q: Best real estate story you can tell from this year?
A: You know, I sold the least expensive home of my career this year. A $34,000 rambler townhome. It was also probably one of the most rewarding sales. This was a woman, over 60, who works at Wal-Mart. She’d been paying rent living in her brothers basement for years. When she came to us with no idea whether owning a home was even possible.
She now owns a home, pays about half what she was paying in rent, could not be happier, and is one of our most loyal referrers of business.
For us it is not about the $700 commission – it is about helping people achieve something they never thought they could do.
Q: What is the one thing that would convince you that the real estate market has turned for good?
A: When we see price reductions stop, and when we see the really bad markets like Arizona, and Florida start to rise – then I know we will not be far behind.
Q: Last question – what sets you and your team apart, really, from other agents?
The first thing is the team. Without one, it is very hard to provide the level of service that this business demands today. Between myself, my assistant, and my buyers agent, our clients needs are always met promptly and professionally. This is not possible with an organization that is one person deep.
For example, Svitlana Pashko has been a buyers agent & more in the team and just loves the business and helping people. The deals she finds for our buyers and the way she makes sure all the details are handled for a smooth closing is just outstanding! Our clients just love her!
I’d also add that my background as an engineer and in executive management really informs my approach as a real estate professional – I am a detail guy, and understand the importance of communication, attention to detail, negotiation, and problem solving. We are very pro-active, and as a result see very few small problems turn into large ones.
Lastly, and it might sound pat, but we really live the principal of doing right by the customer and the transaction rather than focusing on commission. When you do that, the business takes care of itself.
Like what Ken has to say? Ken and his team can be found online here [www.hennepinproperties.com] or just pick up the phone and give them a call 763-591-6016