Mark Despain, 31, has been involved in real estate for about half his life.
Despain, who grew up in Windsor in Northern Colorado and is now an 8z Real Estate broker in Greeley, started fixing houses when he was a teenager.
“I think I had just turned 16 because I had just gotten my driver’s license,” recalled Despain, about his introduction to real estate.
“I was employed to fix up houses. I did everything.”
He said a local operation hired him as a handyman for about 30 units it owned and managed.
“If anything went wrong, I would help fix it. It might have been a leaking toilet or it might have been a sprinkler system. If they needed a major remodel, they would hire someone, but I did do a little bit of framing. I think I just learned how to fix things by doing it. I still like doing that stuff. I always liked learning how things worked and how to fix it when they don’t.”
When Despain turned 19, he left Northern Colorado for Honduras, where he spent two years doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I learned Spanish and lived with the people and talked about the church. Nineteen is the typical age when Mormons go on a mission.”
Despain returned to Colorado and enrolled in a community college in Greeley and then transferred to the University of Northern Colorado where he received his degree in business and marketing. He also got married and quickly started a family.
“After I graduated, I started a MBA program at CSU,” Despain said. “I tell people I finished my MBA in two weeks. After a moment of astonishment, I let them know I had four kids (two of them twins) and I had to focus on work and start earning a living.”
Real estate was the natural choice when it came to launching a career.
He received his real estate license in 2005 and went to work for RE/MAX in Greeley. “After about three years, I split off and formed by own company, Invest Realty.” He ran his own company until 2010.
Soon after, he became a broker/owner at 8z Real Estate in Greeley.
“I was connected to 8z when Lane (Hornung) first started COhomefinder (a dominant real estate search engine.) I think I actually met Shelby Gray (Business Development Manager for 8z) before I even met Lane.” Hornung is the co-founder, president and CEO of 8z Real Estate and COhomefinder.
Despain described the appeal of joining 8z this way on his website:
“8z Real Estate harnesses the power of new technologies with state-of-the-art innovation, an always-available team behind the scenes, and the most highly-trafficked Colorado real estate website, COhomefinder.com. I am very excited to be part of a company that is changing the face of the entire industry. Pairing with 8z Real Estate allows me to put my clients in control of the home buying and selling process, yet ensures that the support, counsel, and expertise of experienced brokers are available at all times.”
As a Realtor in Greeley, Despain deals with demographics and home prices that are much different in much of the Boulder-Denver area.
For example, the median family income in Greeley is $41,845, compared with $56,456 for all of Colorado, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The median-priced home in Greeley is $172,200, compared with $236,600 for the entire state.
Sea change in Greeley
“I have never seen a booming real estate market in Greeley,” Despain said. “When I started as a real estate agent in 2003, we kind of plateaued in Greeley and then we had this huge drop off.”
Although maybe not exactly a boom, Greeley’s real estate market is much different from when he started.
“We are now seeing this huge change,” Despain said. “The biggest change for me is when I entered the market there were a huge number of bank-owned properties for sale. There were still a lot of bank-owned properties a year ago, and now they are just about gone.”
Prices also are up.
“A year ago, if you wanted a home under $50,000, at any given time I could probably find at least 20. Today, you would be lucky to find one, if any. And if you found one, it probably would have multiple offers. It’s the same thing finding a home under $75,000 or even $100,000. Homes that were at $100,000, now are probably selling for $5,000 to $10,000 more.”
He said in the past, 50 percent or more of the homes that he listed or sold were bank-owned, but no longer.
“I’ve got one bank-owned property that is under contract right now and another one I am going to sell.”
Much like the Denver area, Greeley’s inventory of unsold homes has dwindled. Despain said it is kind of scary having so little inventory.
“As the inventory keeps plummeting, I’m kind of worried that if we have a lot of demand from buyers we are going to have nothing to sell them. I am a little concerned about that. The market is improving. Sellers are starting to step out of the woods a bit, as homes are appreciating a bit, especially at the low-end.”
He said that an increase in oil-and-gas industry is driving much of the demand for housing in Greeley.
“What I think is going to happen, is that they are going to have to start building again,” Despain said. “Our inventory is so low that they are only going to be able to meet demand with new construction. The good thing is that a number of builders bought lots when the market was depressed. The lots only cost them $10,000 or $12,000, so they are going to have a little more room to bring affordable housing to the market.”
One Greeley market that Despain has yet to pursue aggressively is the Hispanic population, even though he is bilingual and Hispanics account for 36 percent of the population in Greeley, compared to 20.7 percent of Colorado’s population.
“I haven’t really marketed myself to the Spanish-speaking market too much,” he said. “Buying a home is a complicated process. It takes a lot of time, so it is tough. I want to spend as much time with my family, and it is very time-consuming to sell homes to people who Spanish is their first language and do not speak very much English. But maybe when I have more time, I will focus more on marketing myself to the Spanish-speaking market. I do love the culture and the people after living in Honduras.”
Indeed, from time-to-time, speaking Spanish does come in handy.
“Typically, there is a child in the family who speaks English and sometimes when the family is driving around, they will hand to the phone to him and he will say they want to buy the “green house.” I ask if there are numbers on the house and he gives me the address to narrow things down a bit. Then, I will tell him that I speak Spanish and he can give the phone to his parents. It makes it a little easier.”
But for now, with a young family at home and housing demand out-stripping supply, his hands are full.
“With four boys and me, my poor wife is out-numbered,” he joked.
8z Real Estate is a sponsor of InsideRealEstateNews.com. An Insider’s Guide, a look at an area from the perspective of an 8z Real Estate broker, is a regular feature of InsideRealEstateNews. Mark Despain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-978-1905. To learn more about Mark and Greeley, please visit markdespain.8z.com or
this 8z.com link.