Local Realtors Take On New Business Despite Economic Downturn

New owners of Prudential L - R, Tom Wilson, Beth Wilson, Becky Fields, Fred Hall

by Cheryl Hodges

Longtime area realtors Tom and Beth Wilson have the “familiar” feel that comes with years of having a strong presence in the area. Part of building clientele necessitates having their likeness on car magnets and various other advertising  venues over the years, with the result that now their faces are a bit of a fixture in the community landscape.

A few years back, it looked like perhaps Beth had hired her double when her sister, Becky Fields, who resembles Beth, moved to the area and joined the Wilson team, adding to their visibility.

The Wilsons, along with Fields, and business partner Fred Hall have recently stepped outside their comfort zone to purchase Prudential Real Estate Group, a franchise that came open in the area. With the economy and housing market both on shaky ground, coming out of an extended downturn, it is a step they did not take lightly. Tom Wilson said “opportunities don’t always come along at the best time—sometimes you’ve got to take a leap of faith.”

There was the requisite research done in advance of that “leap,” and Wilson believes the numbers are there to substantiate their decision as a sound one.  He says “the market will get better; 2011 will be better,” and he anticipates 2012 will best 2011.

Originally from Kentucky and married for almost 40 years, Wilson and wife Beth have lived in Southwest County for 26 years, so owning an office in that area seemed fitting.

He is a believer in the principle that our nation’s economy “is going to be turned around because of small businesses that bring it along.” In that vein, he sees this move in a broad sense as strengthening the area economically, as well as providing a pathway to create the work environment he desires.

On behalf of the owners, Wilson says we “felt like we wanted to develop a real estate company that is different – a high quality agent-centered company that emphasizes ethics — one that creates an atmosphere such that we will all want to work very hard for our customers.”

As the years have gone by, the idea that they could choose who to work with has become more appealing than it used to be, and owning a franchise will offer some flexibility with that. He says “we’re trying to do the right thing, to be able to provide great service and work with great people – people we trust and who work well together.”

Wilson remains optimistic things will improve. One of the reasons he believes 2011 will be a good year is that “there is a pent up demand in Roanoke. Retail numbers show that’s the case; people are getting confidence back.”

According to Wilson, things slowed up in the summer, and fall saw some mid-priced and some more expensive homes starting to move.  He describes this area as a “move-up market, not a transfer market; not that many people are moving in and out of Roanoke.”

Things tend to pick up across the board “usually when the first time home buyers come back out.” For those who may be thinking of putting their homes on the market, Wilson says the age-old advice still holds true: “Kitchens and bathrooms are where most of the money is.”

At the same time, he says “good agents will take the tack that, instead of telling people to ‘just replace’ cabinets for instance, how about what’s really needed, updates that will pay for themselves.” Landscaping is another thing people tend to over-look. If it is 20 years old, it may need to be replaced.” However, he reiterates that “we don’t advise the most expensive updates if it is not needed.”

With a New Year just beginning, his final piece of advice seems most timely: “the house needs to be sparkling clean and neat – not a lot of stuff.” With many of us taping up the last box of holiday decorations, and hauling our bags of “stuff” over to Goodwill and the Rescue Mission, it is advice that resonates, whether readying a house for market or not.

Wilson and his colleagues are looking forward to making this business work; he believes that all the resources they have, including years of experience, along with advances in technology that “allow us to add services like show customers who is looking at homes like theirs” will contribute to their success, and the success of their clients, which is their focus. After all, Wilson says, “we’re in the service business.”

For more information visit www.prudentialrealtors.com.

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