Rock 'n' roll and real estate [Lewiston Tribune, Idaho :: ]
(Lewiston Morning Tribune (ID) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 20--Wendy Price doesn't excel at limiting her passions.
This time of year, the owner and designated broker of Century 21 Price Right spends almost all her spare time coordinating Rockin' on the River, an annual concert at Gateway Golf Center in Clarkston that draws thousands.
Her role in that event is the most visible of her volunteer efforts that include serving on three other boards. In her spare time, she sneaks away to drive her Jeep or hit the river in her boat.
Business Profile talked with Price about what's happening in the real estate market and how Rockin' on the River has grown from a side note of the now-defunct Sunflower Days to one of the area's largest yearly musical events.
Q. What is happening in the real estate market right now?
A. There are more buyers out there than inventory. It's a great time to sell. We will take your listing right now. Last year was a great year, a big step up. At the end of June, we've actually sold more units than we did the previous year. Our average price is down, but the reason is we're selling more land, which means people are building more. We're seeing more new construction. That means more jobs. The economy is getting a little better. People are able to make a mortgage payment. That's exciting.
Right now we're going through more short sales than we did back during the recession. The recession was the start of people not paying or not being able to pay and so we see more of the foreclosures and short sales, where homes sell for less than what the owners owe the bank. It finally caught up. Last year and into this year was the worst time that we've seen. I think it hit its peak, is starting to slow and will decelerate even more as the year progresses.
Q. Any particular kind of home that is more popular?
A. It does not matter. They're selling all over the board right now. It's the typical categories that sell the best -- everything under $150,000 or over $300,000. But it's selling all over the board. We are seeing more higher-end properties selling. That's been kind of nice. It's a good sign. People have jobs. They can afford them. They're able to move.
We have sold an unbelievable amount of for-sale-by-owners this year. Sometimes it's because the for-sale-by-owner may not know what to do once they find a buyer so they contact us. But mostly it's because we're not afraid to contact that for-sale-by-owner because we have low inventory and say, 'I have a buyer who fits this criteria of your home. Is there any way we that we can show it?' We have to look elsewhere because the inventory is not in our multiple listing.
We started a property management service last year. We have a huge shortage of housing in the rental area. Everything we have is rented out. We can't keep it. That's a good sign for a buyer who wants to buy or build that kind of property.
Q. What explains the trends you are seeing?
A. Interest rates are still down. National media put a little fear of the rates rising, so people want to do it now. A lot of people have gone back to work so they have the finances to purchase a home. One thing about our area -- and maybe it's a comfort zone in being here -- is that there's always that small family that's getting larger and needs to move up and there's always
that family that's empty nesting and wanting to move down. They don't want to leave the area so they just keep switching around.
Q. What could drag the market?
A. I don't have any great concerns right now because everything is happening at a slow pace. When there's drastic changes that's what really worries me. We're seeing a few more Realtors come into the market. So that could be a little concerning. Are they going to make it when inventory is so low? Is it time for them to start yet? I'm not quite sure. We'll see.
Q. Real estate was one of the hardest-hit industries in the recession. What did you do to survive?
A. We just kept pushing forward. We have office meetings every Wednesday. We say, 'What is going on out there? What can we do to combat that and help people buy and sell?' We do a roundtable and everybody talks about listings. The Realtors say things like, 'You know what? I have this listing and these particular people are buried in this home. What do you guys think?' We will all go to that home together and collectively make a decision -- 'OK. If we did this, this and this to the house, then it would be saleable at this price. Or, you know what? This is never going to happen. Let's see if we can talk to the bank and see if we can work with them?' We help the selling time by talking and networking together. Right across our conference table the Realtors sell houses. Today, one Realtor talked about a new listing and another Realtor right away said, 'Where is that? I think I have a buyer for that.'
Q. You have been involved in Rockin' on the River for more than 10 years. How did you originally get involved and why have you continued?
A. My husband, John, took care of the beer for the beer garden. Coming from Sandpoint and the big Sandpoint festival we had some ideas. When you have ideas, you get put on committees. John was made co-president with (Tom) Ledgerwood, a Clarkston attorney, the second year of his involvement and he's been president ever since. When we started, there was maybe 400 people coming to the event. It was under a different name at that time. The committee became more rock 'n' rollish and Rockin' on the River just made sense. Through our community involvements, we got people who wanted to back the event so we created sponsorship packages. We average more than $10,000 a year in charitable donations and usually have in excess of 2,000 attend the concert. We are a tax-exempt, not-for-profit that's 100 percent volunteer based.
Q. How do you decide what groups get the money?
A. We have donated to as many as 24 organizations in the last couple years. The people who volunteer their members to help with the event get the money first. Our funding comes from the ticket sales and the beer garden. It takes a lot of people to run those. We ask big organizations like Jackson's Pay It Forward Foundation, the Willow Center or Gina Quesenberry Foundation. As long as they keep coming back each year, we keep them on because they know what they're doing. We have a committee who takes a look at who's in need that year. Sometimes it's been Backpacks for Kids or Interlink.
I like it because it's a way I can give back to a lot of different organizations at one time. It's so hard to choose sometimes in a financial way. Owning a business, you get a lot of people asking you for money and that's not always available. This is a way to do it all at once.
Q. How difficult are the musicians to work with?
A. We've been really lucky with them. You hear horror stories and you always cross your fingers at every event. But honestly every year we've had pretty good luck. It's the volunteers who work with them. We're very structured with the way things run backstage. We're held to contracts. Structure makes things run smoothly. My husband is incredible about organizing everything. He arranges donations -- all the stuff that runs the whole thing, power, scissor lifts, generators and other equipment.
Williams may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2261.
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