|Volume 6, Issue 8||
He worked with several companies through the years, including working with Norman White and Cliff Kemp during the early 90s. About three years ago, he decided to start Cedar Mill Realty, and works out of his home off Burton Road.
Computers and the internet have changed the real estate business a lot since Stewart began. “The first thing you do when you start to work with a seller is to research the ‘comps,’ or comparable listings, to get a feel for the price. In the early days, we had to search through the RMLS (Regional Multiple Listing Service) books by hand. It was very time consuming. Now it can all be done by computer,” he says. This makes it a lot more feasible for a small company like Stewart’s to be competitive. And computers have made the paperwork involved in home sales a lot less tedious, he says.
Stewart prefers to be the “listing broker” on the properties he works on. That means that he’s the one who “owns” the sale, representing the home seller to put the house on the market. He gets a commission from the sale, as does the agent who works with the home buyer, if any. “With the RMLS system, 80-90% of homes are sold by someone other than the listing broker,” he says.
He enjoys working out the marketing strategy which usually includes a “virtual tour” of the property—he hires a company that comes in and shoots “3-D” photos of the home that can be viewed online. He also produces full-color flyers that are available on the colonial-style signs in front of the house. He also advertises in the Cedar Mill News and other local newspapers. However, he says most buyers come from the RMLS listings, and from the signs and flyers.
Because he works from home and keeps his costs down, he can offer what he calls an “adjustable rate commission structure” that lets the home-seller keep more of their money. He’s been so busy lately that his wife Debbie is planning to join him in the business, along with another broker, Jennifer McNair.
Stewart has been in the “Million Dollar Club” since the ‘70s. But now it takes two million dollars in annual sales to belong, he says. He has a lot of contacts in the area, people he knows through his participation with Cedar Mill Bible Church and simply from being in the neighborhood so long. Most of his clients come to him through friends and acquaintances.
As far as the condition of the real estate market in these “post-bubble” days, Stewart says that there has definitely been an effect, but that Cedar Mill is less affected than even other areas of Portland. “Sunset High School has a very good reputation among colleges, so people are anxious to have their kids there. This helps keep our market up,” he says. He notices that many people, when they want to get a bigger, nicer home, still want to stay in the area. But he says that the changes in the mortgage market, “have taken some buyers out of the mix.”
House prices have been holding steady, with a one-tenth percent up-or-down fluctuation recently. “They’re predicting that prices are going to start going up again by spring of ’09,” Stewart says. “Homes are taking longer to sell—in June of ’06 there was a 2.6 month inventory of houses, in ’07 it was 5 months, and now it’s about 9.5 months worth of inventory. All realtors are having to do more to sell houses, from staging (where experts come in and reorganize furniture to make the house more attractive) to cutting prices. Price is everything these days,” he says.
Stewart joined the Cedar Mill Business Association this year, and he says that he’s looking forward to the opportunities for public exposure, through events like the Farmers’ Market and Cedar Mill Park Concert booths. He suggests that some kind of “realtors roundtable” for agents in the area could be useful. We’ll look into that!
Published monthly by Cedar Mill Advertising & Design
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229