by Buz Wolfe
On January 2nd, 1986 I opened a real estate office in Carlisle. I was twenty five years old, less than four years removed from Dickinson College, and had just obtained my Broker’s License a few weeks before.
I borrowed $7,500, rented a small portion of the office building that I now own and fully occupy, and hired my own mother for her “free secretarial services.” We had one salesperson – – just out of Millersville University and with no experience whatsoever.
Last week, Wolfe & Company Realtors celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Several people have asked me what has changed and what has not. I reflected on this for a bit and felt like I was in a good position to answer that question.
In 1986, we had a Carlisle Association of Realtors. It consisted of about 200 members. We also had our own Carlisle Multi-List, owned by all of the local Brokers. These days, of course, we belong to the Greater Harrisburg Association of Realtors and participate in its Bright Multiple Listing Service. Now, there are about 400 agents or so who are actively engaged in the real estate business within the Carlisle Area.
Thirty years ago, real estate “agents” legally and technically represented the Seller in every transaction. There was no Buyer Agency. There was also no Consumer Notice and no Seller’s Property Disclosure. We could list your house with a one page form and probably sell it with a two page Agreement. Settlements were almost always conducted by local attorneys – not title companies and settlement agents. The local custom was that closing was always held in the office of the Seller’s attorney.
Most Real Estate offices in the area were independent firms owned by local Brokers. While we still have at least two strong, independently owned real estate offices, most of the companies doing business within the Carlisle market are now franchise firms or branch offices for much larger real estate brokerage conglomerates. They have little real attachment to the community.
I would have to say professionalism within the industry has improved over the thirty plus years that I have been in the business. When I started there were no continuing education requirements. Having said that, not nearly as many salespeople today seem to pursue their Broker’s license.
Without a doubt, technology has been the biggest change. We have gone from “onion skin” typing paper and MLS books to an industry where up to 98% of consumers get on-line and view real estate and property from their computer or phone long before ever calling a Broker’s office. While this was a change greatly feared by the “old timers” in the industry, I believe it has been an extremely positive change inasmuch as an educated consumer is a far more attractive client for an experienced Realtor. Still, “high tech” will never replace “high touch” and I continue to be convinced that Wolfe & Company Realtors provides the highest level of professional and individual real estate attention and knowledge available anywhere within the Greater Carlisle Area.
What has not changed is that very few of the people who get in to the real estate business are actually successful. They just do not make it. Several years back, I participated in a National Association of Realtors survey that determined 7% of the licensed practitioners in the country make 93% of the commission income. When I look at the list of the 468 Realtors doing business in Carlisle, I can identify about twenty who actually make a very good living at the practice of real estate. I am pleased to know that about a third of them work right here in my office.
On our 25th Anniversary, we began promoting the mantra “EXPERIENCE MATTERS.” On our 30th Anniversary, it continues to be more true than ever. We look forward to putting our experience to work for our clients and customers again in 2016 and beyond.
*Ray L. “Buz” Wolfe, CRS has been Broker/Owner of his own firm since 1986. In 2014, he was again the Carlisle Area’s Top Producing Broker with $10,000,000 in settled transactions.
**All information believed to be accurate but not guaranteed.