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  • Real-estate teacher lands in Southern Oregon

    Q&A with Kim Northrop, new CEO of Rogue Valley Association of Realtors and Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service
  • Q: What piqued your interest in the Rogue Valley? A: I was born and raised in Rochester in upstate New York, and at 44 I've had enough snow for a lifetime. All the jobs I looked at had to be in places that had a better climate. Another thing was that it was a smaller community than I was used to. In Rochester, Kodak was in my backyard. Back in the day, if you lived in Rochester and didn't work for Kodak, you were no one.
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  • Q: What piqued your interest in the Rogue Valley?
    A: I was born and raised in Rochester in upstate New York, and at 44 I've had enough snow for a lifetime. All the jobs I looked at had to be in places that had a better climate. Another thing was that it was a smaller community than I was used to. In Rochester, Kodak was in my backyard. Back in the day, if you lived in Rochester and didn't work for Kodak, you were no one.
    Q: What attracted you to the real-estate industry?
    A: They had a job opening at the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors, and I was there for 11 years. I started in the membership department, processing applications and medical benefits, as well as working with government affairs. I was a jack-of-all-trades. Then I ran their education department for nine years, handling continuing education and prelicensing. I ran their school for licensing agents. The closest ones to us were in Buffalo and Syracuse, an hour away on either side of me.
    Q: Have you ever sold real estate?
    A: I didn't sell real estate in New York because if you are running a school there, you can't hold a license to sell real estate.
    Q: What did you do before you entered the real-estate field?
    A: I worked in a bank five years and as a pest-control operator when I was a kid in my 20s.
    Q: When you were interviewed for your job, what did they tell you the challenge was going to be?
    A: Their biggest thing was, "How are you going to grow membership?" They want to have a bigger and better real-estate school. New York has very strict licensing requirements, and I think that was on the search committee's radar.
    Q: Based on your New York experience, will there be fewer people entering the real-estate field?
    A: I think it's just going to be a learning process and a matter of enlightening people. I don't think it's anything that's going to deter people. If they want to sell real estate, they will do it; they just have to be enthusiastic. Prelicensing hasn't changed and to actually become a broker hasn't changed. But what will take longer will be becoming a principal broker. There is an additional, 40-hour course they didn't have to take before — that, and they will have to be in the business longer.
    Q: What is different between New York and Oregon real estate?
    A: New York uses attorneys to close deals. Oregon uses title companies. I think deals close a lot sooner here, too. In New York, it's at least 90 days.
    Q: What did you find attractive about Southern Oregon other than the weather?
    A: I think the community is wonderful. You have a very strong sense of family. People come here and start their families. I don't want to downplay New York and say they are all rude there, but they can be rude. There is a lot of pride here. People are very proud to live in Medford, it's a home-grown feel. I'm a huge supporter of that, and you can imagine how much money I've spent at Harry & David since I've been here. I like the mom-and-pop places, I'm not big into the chains.
    Q: Which direction do you want to take Rogue Valley Association of Realtors and Southern Oregon Multiple Listing Service?
    A: My goal is to work a lot closer with the appraisal industry. I want to be on top of the education game with members, and I don't want them to be out of compliance. We are working with other boards in Klamath Falls and Grants Pass. We're having meetings with them, and the doors are opening, as well. We have a great relationship, which I've heard wasn't there a few years back.
    Q: What does a healthy real-estate industry look like?
    A: You have an inventory with more sellers, and where houses aren't on the market as long. When you see homes turn over quicker and see membership growing because there are so many sellers and buyers that you need more agents, to me that's a perfect world. I don't see that as far-fetched. I'm really optimistic. The unemployment rate all over the country is pretty high. I think the jobs are mismatched with the people. There are people in this community with so much experience, but the jobs aren't here. How do get there if can't sell your house? We've got to figure that out. I don't think there are houses that are not sell-able. I joined SOREDI and am excited to be part of a group that can entertain companies and draw them here.
    Reach Mail Tribune business editor Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.
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