Hitting the Streets

Even though the winning streak in the Las Vegas real estate market is over, Bob and Molly Hamrick are betting on their new Neighborhood Awareness Campaign.

November 1, 2011


A Partner is Made

We’ve been in the real estate business in Las Vegas our entire adult lives. Bob got his license right out of high school. Molly got hers after graduating from college with a degree in business marketing and interning for a new-home sales and marketing group. We met in 1990 when Molly attended a career night for the company where Bob had worked his way up to managing broker. We married in 1994 and a year later moved to Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. In 1998 the owner suggested we buy his three Las Vegas offices so that he could focus on other markets, and we did.

Changing Numbers

We enjoyed significant growth in agent numbers and market share, ultimately reaching 375 agents and $1.22 billion in sales. But in 2007 we were right there with the rest of Southern Nevada, experiencing serious declines. Each year got progressively worse. Our average property value has gone from $400,000 to $150,000. Nearly 75 percent of home owners who have mortgages in our market owe more than their homes are worth.

Moving into Short Sales

The news hasn’t been all bad. As prices deteriorated and the number of REO properties increased, investors started coming into the marketplace. We saw the opportunity to take a leadership role in that arena. We brought NAR’s Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource class to our company, and about 100 associates earned the SFR certification. We aligned ourselves with a short-sale negotiator and created a short-sale listing presentation and marketing materials. We also had name badges imprinted with “Ask Me About a Short Sale.”

The next step was reaching out to struggling home owners. There’s so much fear and shame and guilt out there. Mostly, these are well-meaning people who got caught up in bad timing, and they don’t know what to do. We want them to know their options. Lenders have told us they’d rather do a short sale than a foreclosure because they retain 15 percent more dollars. It’s better for sellers, too: They can take a few years to rebuild their credit and then re-enter the market at $150,000.

Hitting the Sidewalks

We developed what we call our Neighborhood Awareness Campaign. This year, our agents have been going door-to-door to talk to home owners, even when the temperatures are in triple digits. Once a week, groups head out to a neighborhood and pair up. Two agents take one side of the street and two take another. They knock on doors and start conversations. We have the ability to get very granular home owner and property data, but we really don’t need it. You can take almost any neighborhood built since 2004 and the only ones with any equity are those who own free and clear.

For the most part, people are happy and relieved to talk to us. The hotter it is, the more they seem to appreciate us. We give them hope. Every time we go out, we find five, 10, 15 people who need to sell their homes. Once the agents see how well they are received and how much business they generate, many go out knocking on doors on their own. Everybody knows somebody who needs help. And there’s no better referral than one from a satisfied owner we helped to short-sell. They are so thankful.

The Long Haul

We see the Neighborhood Awareness Campaign continuing for five years or more. You can’t work through 75 percent of the leveraged home owners in Las Vegas in a few months. We do presentations for corporations, home owner associations, and municipal leaders, but it’s really one home owner at a time. We’re starting to work with buyers who did short sales two, three, four years ago and now are able to get back into the market. It’s a new world out there. If we’re unwilling to focus on what we need to do to change, we’ll never win. 

What’s Your Story?
Do you have a brokerage success story to share? Send an e-mail to wcole@realtors.org.