The Heart of Community Knowledge

Carla Edwards explains how what she knows and shares about what’s happening in Camas, Wash., can make her a better real estate professional—and neighbor.

June 16, 2014

Carla Edwards
BrokerRealty Pro, Inc.
Camas, Wash.

Tell me why it's important for you to know what’s happening in your area.

I like to be involved in the community. I want to know what’s going on and be able to track and be part of the huge amount of growth in this area. For instance, last year, there were almost 10 new businesses that came into downtown Camas. There’s a new community center that just had its grand opening in March. There’s been a lot of that kind of growth and development. There are a lot of businesses that are coming into the area. Fisher Investments has put a big stake in this area. They have three buildings that they are constructing, and a lot of people are coming from California. There’s a lot of technology. There’s Sharp Microelectronics, and WaferTech is here, as well as United Labs. So it’s like a mini tech center. We’ve got a lot of new-home production, too. Lennar Homes is new in the area, and there are some custom home builders coming in. You see things sprouting up everywhere. You see the land being cleared and buildings going up. I think it’s really important to know what’s going on.

You seem to have so much knowledge about what’s going on commercially. How does that help you in residential real estate?

Just having a good sense of who’s coming in and what the growth rate looks like is vital. When you have a lot of businesses coming in, you understand that there are going to be housing needs. People are going to want homes.

Your knowledge of this community is impressive. How long have you been in Camas?

I was born and raised in the Vancouver/Camas area. Then I moved to San Francisco and lived there for about 15 years, but we’ve been back here close to 10 years. I really do love the area, and I think it has so much to offer. I’ve had out-of-town buyers that were considering other areas. I just like to take them in the car and show them the downtown Camas area and take them to lunch at the downtown Nuestra Mesa Mexican restaurant. I love to show off the area—it’s beautiful. You have views of Mount Hood, views of Mount St. Helens. In some areas, you can see territorial views, and you can see downtown Portland with the pretty lights. It’s green, with a lot of parks and trails. You are also close to the freeway and the Portland airport. My husband is actually an airline pilot, and I can get him to the airport from our house in under 15 minutes.

Tell me what it takes to be a preferred REALTOR® with the Camas Washougal Chamber of Commerce. How has that impacted your business?

Essentially, you become a dues-paying member and then get involved with their organization. In terms of branding and name notoriety, it’s helped. I don’t know if there have been any direct results from that, but I think it’s certainly a great thing to be out and involved in the community, have your name be known, and be a reliable source of information. You’re known as somebody who’s taking that next step to become a member and to be involved in the community. You’re known to have local knowledge in that regard.  

Let’s talk a little bit about some of the many local events you’re involved in.  What is the First Friday event?

Those are so much fun! The First Friday thing is part of the Downtown Camas Association, which is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that promotes cultural and economic development for the historic downtown. It’s part of the Washington State Main Street Program. They work year-round to put on events to bring the community down to the businesses.

For instance, at the First Friday for June, there are street vendors, there’s music, and then the stores and restaurants offer specials for the evening. There’s also a sort of poker card game that people play where they go into each store and get a card. They can win prizes from the local businesses, and then at the end of the event, they bring their cards in and get a series of points. There are also different games for families—bingo is going to be on one side of the store. There’s a spin-and-win and a little toss game. I’ll be down there to help with games, interact with the community, and just kind of set up and help with the organization of the event.

But they do a lot of different events. They do car shows and the “Camas in White Dinner,” which is fantastic!  The goal is to attract people downtown to have fun, bring the community together, and support the local businesses. People can get familiar with the amenities that the downtown area has. It’s a super cute downtown with tree-lined streets and flower baskets everywhere—it’s really charming!

How is sponsoring an event different from marketing?

I think there are a lot of similarities, but the difference is that you’re actually supporting a cause. I was a marketing and business development executive for many years in Silicon Valley, so I guess I’m tuned into that sort of thing. But where this is different is that you’re running a banner, supporting a cause that’s in the community, and getting name recognition as well. It’s sort of a bonus, I guess!

Tell me about the new logo you’ve just developed.

I’ve had it printed on banners and T-shirts, and I just claimed the domain names and I’ve only had the new logo for about a year, so it’s kind of new. I’m starting a monthly lifestyle newsletter for to share my community knowledge. Summer is kicking off. People want to know if the new community center is opened. They want to know when there are live concerts, about the farmer’s market, and things like that.

It makes me think of one of the other Street Cred articles you did with Sharon Steele. I like how she really uses social media to get the word out about what’s going on in her community. That’s something I want to incorporate, just being really active in the community and then offering a newsletter with different events and one place where people can come and get information.

Can you tell our readers how having and spreading local knowledge has helped you operate as a real estate broker?

Yes, I think being involved in the community is a great thing. Not only do you have knowledge and understanding about the community, but also you have a sense of what’s going on. You know neighborhoods and you know people. It’s a great way to get your name out there, but it’s also benefited me personally. I like to be involved. I just did it because I really enjoy it, and I’ve made a lot of friends in the community. I like to know what’s going on, and I think that helps, especially if you have a client who’s new to the area.

In fact, I closed a house in Camas just about a week ago. The guy actually called me back yesterday and said, “Hey, we mentioned that we want to get together for lunch. We want to follow up. We would like to take you out. We’ve only been in our house for a few days, but it already feels like home.”  I said, “I can’t do that today, but First Friday is tomorrow. Why don’t you guys come on down; I’ll buy you a beer. You can check out the music on the streets and all kinds of events going on.”

So I think you just become the local expert. “Hey do you know where there’s a good restaurant? I saw a building going up. Do you happen to know what that is?” You have to answer those questions.

Being involved in my community is a natural thing for me. Doing volunteer work is a comfortable way of getting your branding out there. People tend to know who you are—they know you’re reputable and knowledgeable. I’m an active person. I like meeting new people and all of that. And overall, I think just bringing the community together is a nice thing.

Meg White

Meg White is the former managing editor of REALTOR® Magazine.