Carolyn Sinnard recently started a new, one-woman real estate firm called Happy Dog Realty. She has been a realtor since 2006, specializing in residential and multi-family property sales, and owner with her husband of Dancing Dog Coffee House. She served as president of the board of directors of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce from 2007 to 2008.
She was asked a series of questions about starting her own real estate firm, as well as general questions about the business of selling houses. She had the following to say:
Q. Even though you’ve only been in the real estate business for five years, you must have seen a lot of changes over the past few years. Could you talk about the biggest changes you’ve seen?
A. I would say the biggest changes I have seen in the real estate industry would be the enhancement and use of technology. The Internet, social networks, blogs, virtual tours, texting and videos have allowed smaller independent brokerages to open and succeed.
The Internet and other technologies provide buyers and sellers instant access to current real estate information. Today’s real estate customer is much more savvy, intelligent and better informed about real estate than in the past.
Q. Someone mentioned to me recently that the bad housing market purged the real estate industry of the less-qualified realtors and brokers. Are you finding that true?
A. I have found most of the realtors and brokers that I’ve worked with are qualified and caring professionals. During the slower market in the past few years, I know some realtors who decided not to renew their licenses and try a different line of work, but that could be a natural progression of the real estate industry.
Q. What kind of buyers are purchasing homes right now – people taking advantage of the lower cost of homes, or of foreclosed homes, for instance? Essentially, what is your “average” client like?
A. I’m not sure I could describe an “average” client, as mine range from first-time home buyers, investment buyers, distressed sellers (short sales) and other sellers who want to upsize or downsize depending on their situation.
Currently, I am working with more buyers as interest rates continue to stay low and home prices are very affordable.
Additionally, this is a good time for people to venture into the ownership of rental property, so I am seeing a spike in that type of client, too.
Q. Are you mostly selling new homes, older homes or both?
A. Currently, I am selling more existing homes to investors. Although, in the last month I have acquired some new clients who are looking to re-locate to the Treasure Valley from out of state, plus a few first-time home buyers who are looking at both new and existing homes to purchase.
Q. Is it still difficult to get financing to buy homes, or is that easing a little?
A. There are a variety of financing programs available to borrowers depending on their credit scores, income and ability to pay back the loan. I work with a couple of different lenders who are terrific at helping my clients get financing. Lenders are scrutinizing borrowers more than (they were) five years ago, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I think the key for both realtors and lenders is to find the right home that accurately fits into a person’s budget.
Q. Was it a tough decision to start your own real estate business in the current market? And by the way, when did you open?
A. I opened the brokerage in January 2011 after being an agent for five years. I plan to work in real estate for a long time, so for me it was the right time to go to the next level and start a brokerage. The real estate business like any market system has highs and lows, so I decided not to let today’s market condition influence my long-term goals.
Q. How did you come up with the name Happy Dog Realty?
A. I have always been a huge animal lover and my husband and I own two very happy dogs. I wanted a name that people would remember and smile when they see our logo. Many of our clients are animal lovers and want to work with someone who shares the same passion and fondness for pets as we do.
Q. What is the best thing about the real estate industry right now?
A. The best part of being a realtor for me is the enjoyment of meeting new people and helping them find their perfect home.
Q. What is the worst thing?
A. That’s a hard question to answer as I love the real estate industry and being a realtor. It’s a job that requires hard work, good communication skills and perseverance, but that is true of most jobs. So I don’t really see any downside to the real estate industry.
Q. How do you intend to carve out your own niche in the industry?
A. To me it’s all about referrals and repeat clients. Over the last five years I have developed a good database of clients who send me referrals and recommend me to people. Many of my past and current clients are animal lovers, but most are people who want someone who will spend time helping them through the tough process of buying a home. I work hard and constantly communicate with my clients.