Kate Ewen on her love of the Central Oregon real estate market and how an experienced broker can make all the difference
Real Estate can be a tough and often fickle industry. As the demand for housing in Central Oregon rises, so do the number of real estate brokers. This resulted in over 1,800 active brokers in Central Oregon in 2017. As we often hear from members of our firm, everyone knows someone who works in real estate. This presents challenges and opportunities for seasoned brokers, like Kate Ewen, a Central Oregon broker since 2012.
Kate entered the real estate industry during an especially tough time, saying, “I wasn’t sure I wanted to get my license”. However, her background in the construction and design end of the business, as well as some close family friends who worked in in real estate, sparked a desire to be a broker. With six years under her belt, she has gained a lot of wisdom and insight into this ever-evolving line of work, and has sat down with us to share her experience, challenges and advice for real estate newcomers.
Kate’s journey into real estate:
Prior to moving to Bend, Kate lived in Portland where she worked in the human resources department at Nike and her husband Nate was an engineer. After experiencing two rounds of fierce layoffs, which left many of her co-workers and friends without a job, Kate decided she wanted to leave the corporate world and start a new chapter.
In 2003, Kate’s family moved to Bend, where Nate had a job in the new-construction field, and she was hired as an interior designer for the same company. This change sparked a deep-rooted love of new-construction and helping people get into their dream home, and ultimately led to Kate and Nate starting their own home building company. As with many building companies, the recession of 2008 had a crippling effect on their dream, and left the Ewens searching for what would come next. Naturally, they both landed on their feet in the industry they loved.
Today, Kate and Nate are both still in the real estate industry, Kate as a real estate broker, and Nate continues to work in new-construction with a prominent, local business.
What is your favorite thing about real estate in Central Oregon?
Referring to the diversity of product in the Central Oregon market, Kate stated, “You have condos, million dollar homes on golf courses, or ranches and land, all in proximity to one another. I feel like that keeps me energized and learning new things.” This, Kate goes on to say, keeps her on her toes, building new strategies to serve clients in this competitive market. “It’s always different, and I love meeting new people while making friends along the way.”
What do you love about being a realtor?
With a close-knit family, two kids and active involvement in the community, it’s no surprise, Kate pointed to the flexibility of the career, saying, “It’s awesome to still have a home life and be there for my children, husband, and my mom.”
What is a Stage of Life Broker, and why did you choose this as your area of specialty?
Kate explained that in her second or third year of real estate, she just naturally evolved into specializing in helping clients find homes that fit their stage of life. Describing a stage of life broker as a broker who works with clients experiencing major life changes, such as; new marriage, up-sizing for kids, starting over after a divorce, or down-sizing due to an empty nest, to name a few. Addressing the necessity of communication skills in this specialty, Kate said she loves the feeling of helping people, and the opportunity to work in diverse situations. Drawing on her six years experience as a residential real estate broker, Kate said the biggest advantage of working with an experienced broker during life transitions, especially those that call for buying or selling a home, is their ability to troubleshoot situations without panicking. She expressed, “My experience makes for a smoother transaction for clients. I’ve already been through many of the situations that will arise, and know how to detect them often before they happen. This means I can keep my clients from getting into a panic situation through the entire transaction because I know it will all work out in the end.”
There are over 200 real estate firms in Central Oregon, why did you choose to hang your license at Total?
“I knew I wanted to be at a small firm and not a national agency,” Kate said as she proceeded to explain how her friendship with Total’s Principal Broker Molly was a big factor in her considering the firm initially.
However, before signing, Kate was wooed by another local agency and signed with them instead. She describes this as a “What did I do?” moment, and called Molly to tell her the news. In Kate’s words, “Molly was surprised but very gracious.” After sleeping on it, Kate made the decision to move to Total, where she has stayed since.
She says, referring to the firm’s weekly meetings, where there is a roundtable discussion of haves and wants and Good of the Order, “It allows for the brokers at Total to work together and help each other out. I’m never concerned about being judged by my production numbers.”
On the culture of the firm, Kate went on to affirm, “We’re honest and fair people. Every negotiation is a give and take, and we go out of our way to make sure we never ask people to sign one-sided deals.” Spend one day at the Total office, or attend one of their weekly meetings (yes, guests are welcome!) and you will see the culture of fairness and honesty really is a deep-rooted value system. Principal Broker, Molly, is pretty notorious for asking the tough questions of her team, often telling them to consider how they would feel if they were on the other side of the deal.
Why do you think relationships in the industry are so important?
Kate’s 15 years of experience in the building and construction industry account for many of the relationships she draws on to assist her clients. She remarked these relationships are also the key to helping her stay up with current industry trends and that taking the time to build solid relationships serves as a resource for clients, stating, “I feel like my referrals are solid. You would be well taken care of. I have taken the time to get to know people personally, socially and professionally, and there is a lot of reciprocity in the connections I have, which make it very easy for clients.”
What advice would you offer a new broker?
“Do your homework on where you are going to hang your license. Get to know the ins and outs of the firm prior to signing.” Kate goes on to say, “A common misconception in newcomers to the real estate industry is that you make a lot of money with little effort” Following up with, “Always be yourself, and be patient. It takes years to build a successful business.”
Where do you see real estate in Central Oregon going in the next 2-3 years?
Affirming, “I don’t have a crystal ball”, Kate remarked that she sees the market holding steady with cautiously optimistic growth patterns. Acknowledging some people are worried a recession may happen again, she says things are coming back slowly and it’s still a great time to participate in real estate transactions.
What are your goals for 2018?
Not surprisingly, on the top of Kate’s list was continuing to help clients with real estate needs. She also wants to expand her connections in 2018 by getting into a local networking group and is looking to increase her online presence, something she spent some time dipping her toes into in 2017, beginning with the creation of her new website, KateEwen.com.
As we concluded our interview, we asked Kate what sets an experienced broker apart from someone who is new to the industry, and how this helps clients. She expressed that the biggest thing to look for is not necessarily the length of time someone has been working in real estate, but whether they were treating it as a career or a hobby. Finishing with, “Someone who is in it for the long haul will put in the work to be the expert on what’s what locally including the areas of town, schools, businesses and people. You’ll know it’s what they’re passionate about doing.”