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When you live in an area where the local economy is as tightly intertwined as it is between Los Alamos and the Los Alamos National Laboratory, being a small business owner can be
So, for RE/MAX of Los Alamos, located at 116 Central Park Square, to still be in business after 18 years is quite an accomplishment; the firm just celebrated its anniversary recently.
“Eighteen years in Los Alamos is a pretty good run,” said the firm’s current owner, Kendra Henning. Henning is the third owner since 1995. She became the owner in 2007, after working at the firm as a realtor since 2002.
According to Kelly Myers, a realtor with the firm since 2005, a big reason why they’re still around is because Henning has her finger on the pulse of everything real estate-related that goes on in town, and gets that information to her associates quickly.
“She spends a lot of time accumulating data, and that data has been so helpful when it comes to educating our clients, whether they’re a buyer or a seller,” Myers said. “I think that’s one of the reasons why we provide such excellent service.”
According to Myers, the information they get from the central office is invaluable, given the type of clients they are dealing with.
“Our clients are very, very bright,” Myers said. “That gives us a lot of motivation and opportunity as we serve them to be on top of our game. We need to know the facts, and we need to be able to educate them. The better the communication, the better the transaction is going to be for everyone.”
Of course, they also get asked many other questions that aren’t related to housing, but are just as important to the process, Henning said. Questions about schools, healthcare, shopping, restaurants and the cost of living are just some of the ones they are asked frequently.
“Our community is so analytical and data driven that we feel the level of information they expect is a lot higher than your average community. So we feel we really have to step up our game and become excellent data collectors and analysts to meet our customers’ expectations,” Henning said.
While technology and charts do play a role in all this, Henning and Myers said what it really comes down to is relationships.
“The service we provide is giving you accurate information, because not everything you find on Zillow or Trulia is accurate,” Myers said. “It’s about our relationship with the client and their family, learning about what their needs are.”
Henning said buying a house is probably the biggest investment one is ever going to make, so it’s important they really get to see their clients as more than just another customer.
“When you think about why people move, you find out they’ve moved for very personal reasons,” she said.
“They’ve either found a new job or they married or the family grew or perhaps they downsized. It’s all about people’s personal life situation when they move,” Henning said. “More often in Los Alamos, whether they are buying or selling, it’s a personal transaction.
“It’s really one of the joys of the job is to help people realize their goal in getting settled, comfortable and have that sense of home.”
According to Henning and Myers, the way RE/MAX is structured is another reason why the firm has been able to not only be successful, but thrive.
“The way RE/MAX is run fits me perfectly,” Myers said. “I’m an independent contractor, and that means I run my own business. That’s a little different than all the other real estate companies.”
However, with that autonomy comes more responsibility, but it’s probably the reason why RE/MAX Los Alamos has been so successful in a business climate like Los Alamos, Myers said.
At RE/MAX all the agents (the team currently consists of 14) have an actual office, and they are expected to chip in their share of rent, secretary wages, utilities, etc., just like any other person who owns a small business.
“That’s a big motivator to be a full-time realtor,” Myers said. “It really motivates you to get out there and work. With other realtors, if you don’t sell anything that’s a disappointment, because you don’t make anything. However, you don’t owe anything either. If I don’t sell anything, I still have to pay those bills.”
According to Henning, at the end of the day, RE/MAX realtors get to keep about 95 percent of what they make.
And of course being full-time is a big advantage for their clients. Being full-time means providing one-on-one service for their clients.
“None of us are part-time, none of us are part-retired, none of us have second and third jobs,” Henning said. “This is what we do, everyday, and that’s not necessarily the case with other real estate firms. I really feel strongly that this fact is a huge difference between us and them.”
Some of the services they provide include advertising, listing, marketing, and handling all the paperwork, something a person attempting to do this on their own probably wouldn’t have time for. Having an expert to help navigate the selling/buying process has become even more important these days, they said.
“Ever since the real estate bubble burst in early 2000s, banks and other types of lenders require much more information from borrowers,” Myers said.
Then there’s the advantages of being a realtor that has lived in the area for many years like most of the RE/MAX staff have.
Myers prides herself on the fact that she is very familiar with market as it relates to Los Alamos and White Rock.
“I can literally say to a client what their house is worth and what someone will pay for it. I’ve been in these houses, and I know their quality and what they’re actually worth,” she said.
RE/MAX is located at Central Park Square, just off of Central Avenue. The phone number is 662-6789, and their email for general information is firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also have a website at remaxoflosalamos.com.