Today’s Denver-area housing market reminds 8z Real Estate broker Stephanie Prather of the 1991 to 1992 market.
Then, the market had been suffering from several years of a housing black hole. Overbuilding and a collapse in energy prices, which had been fueling the economy, crushed home values. There were so many foreclosures that HUD became Denver’s largest landlords. For many, the only light at the end of the tunnel appeared to be from a speeding train. Many believed the worst was yet to come.
Instead of a train wreck, the market quickly was back on track, with the Denver market experiencing 15 years of mostly improving home prices.
“The market has changed dramatically since December,” said Prather, a 20-year veteran of selling real estate, who specializes in the Lakewood area at 8z.
“Inventory is down, buyers are out there in droves because of the low-interest rates and ever-increasing rental rates,” Prather said. “Homes are going under contract in one to three days if they are priced right for condition and location. If all is right, sellers are receiving multiple offers.”
That has led to a sense of urgency among serious buyers, she said.
“Actually, I have had a few buyers drop out of the market they became so frustrated. Buyers have to adjust to a new paradigm, when they see something they like, they have to pay full price or close to it. No more beating up sellers with low-ball offers.”
Prather said that prospective buyers need to be prepared.
“My advice is to be fully pre-approved with your lender and only look at homes of the most interest to you.” She said. “Be prepared to make an offer immediately if the home meets at least 85 percent or more of your housing needs. Buyers have to be financially ready in every way and they can win the deal.”
To illustrate the reality of today’s market, she told of a case where her buyer was in a back-up position on a purchase.
“We stayed in the game hoping the first offer would fall,” Prather said. “In the meantime, new listings were coming up on the MLS and being sent to my buyer. They called to see a new listing in the neighborhood of the back-up offer home. We saw the home within 12 hours of it going on the market; they liked it and wanted to submit an offer. I called the listing agent immediately upon exiting the home. He had received an offer that morning but the seller had not accepted it. The listing agent told me that the offer was at full price and non-contingent.”
Prather wrote a contact for $337,000, $2,000 above the asking price of $335,000. Her client also provided an extended closing, allowing the seller to find the a replacement house.
“The other agent with the offer was notified of the competing offer and for their buyer to offer their best and final,” she said. “Well, I don’t know what their best and final was, but my client won. Yeh! The buyers were thrilled.”
“My clients close”
The listing agent also was thrilled with Prather’s professionalism.
“When the listing agent received the offer he called me to thank me,” Prather recalled. “He commented to me about the years I had in the business and how it was always a pleasure to work with me. Frankly, I have heard that a lot over the years and I know it impacts deals for my clients when we are in a competitive situation. People like to work with known entities. My clients close. I take the time to set that up before we begin to shop.”
During the past two decades, Partners has sold single-family detached homes, condos and duplexes priced from $85,000 to $1.3 million.
“However, my sweet spot is the price range from $250,00 to $500,000,” she said.
The area that she “farms” at 8z is Westgate in South Lakewood. Westgate is bordered by Hoyt Street on the west, Yale Avenue on the south, Wadsworth Boulevard on the eat and Morrison Road on the north.
Prather gets much joy out of finding the right home for a buyer.
“Over the past 20 years I have provided services for some absolutely wonderful people,” she said. “That is what I enjoy the most, helping people find that perfect home for them. This is the biggest purchase most people make in their lifetime and they put their trust in you. I accept that huge responsibility and enjoy going to the closing table seeing them smiling and happy.”
Prather grew up in Billings, Mt. She and her first husband moved to Denver in 1969. At first, she was a teacher.
While attending Eastern Montana College in Billings, “It became clear in order to have the opportunities to move forward it was going to require a move to Seattle, Minneapolis/St Paul or Denver. I was engaged in 1969 and my husband-to-be had accepted a position with the Colorado Education Association resulting in a move to Denver.”
Initially, they rented an apartment South Clarkson Street, just north of Hampen Avenue and after six months moved into a bigger apartment in the area.
“Frankly, I don’t remember ever having a conversation about buying a home during that time,” she said.
Her husband took a job with the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. While back East, she completed her education at the University of Maryland and later accepted a job in Winchester, Va., in the mid-1970s.
Left teaching for sales
Later, she returned to Denver, and she switched from teaching to sales.
“In my humble opinion, I felt that I had to better myself every year that I taught,” Prather said. “I did just that, pushed myself harder and harder to become what I would call a “master teacher.” You know one when you see one. After six years of teaching several different levels of elementary school, I realized my effort was not financially rewarded or ever going to be rewarded based upon performance. Knowing that I was extremely motivated to advance not only in position but income, I seriously looked at a selling opportunity. You get paid for your efforts in sales.”
Before getting her real estate license, she was a sales person for the Bureau of National Affairs, selling compliance information to attorneys, safety managers, accountants, environmental specialists and others.
“These professionals need daily, weekly and monthly regulatory updates to perform their daily responsibilities,” she said. Besides Colorado, her sales territory included Kansas, Utah and Arizona.
She remarried and she and her new husband, Stuart, also were buying, updating and selling homes, typically after living with them for a period.
“After 10 years with BNA, I was at a subsidiary that was about to fail,” she said. The stress of waiting for a pink slip became too much and she quit and reassess her professional career.
“Deciding what to do next seemed clear: I no longer wanted to travel, board another plane or answer to someone else.”
A lightbulb went off in her head.
“Real estate sales came to me out of the blue — Wow, this is the perfect sales job for me. It kept me in sales with no out-of-state travel and I understood homes from the bottom up after rebuilding all the homes in years prior.”
She enrolled in the accelerated real estate program at Emily Griffith, took the real estate exam and hit the streets as a Realtor.
“I joined the real estate company of the broker who has been our Realtor over the years prior. It was absolutely right from the very beginning. I closed my first sale in 30 days. The home was in south Aurora around Chambers and Iliff. I can’t remember the exact address, but I could likely drive right up to it. It was July 1992 and the sale was a HUD property. The buyer won the bid at $87,500. This home today would likely be priced in the $175,000 to $190,000 range.”
When not selling real estate, she likes to ride on the back of her husband’s Hog.
Her husband owned a Harley in his 20s, before she was in the picture. He sold his bike as he focused on other aspects of his life.
Prather learned that her hubby wanted to buy another Harley for a couple of years, but did not know how to broach the subject.
“One morning over breakfast, 17 years ago, he says to me, “You know Stephanie, I was thinking it might be fun to own a Harley again. How would you feel about that?” Her response took 10 seconds or less.
“That sounds really awesome! I think Harley’s are sexy!”
His eyes lit up and he was the proud owner of a new Harley Sportser in less than two weeks.
“Of course the Sportster was too small for the two of us, but he wanted to break me in,” she said. “Little did he know, I was “all in.”
Her husband bought a Low Roader and now they have an Electra Glide.
“I never wanted to ride my own, have thoroughly enjoyed being the smiling passenger on the back,” she said. He then bought a Low Rider and concluded with an Electra-Glide. Of course that Electra Glide is for the maturing adult who needs a comfortable ride and has been souped-up. It is all about speed, sound and looks.”
She said her clients are “mostly shocked,” when they learn about her love for Harleys, but they quickly get on board with it.
“Younger clients think it is really awesome,” Prather said. “Most everyone thinks it is cool. I have been able to convince a few clients in my past to buy bikes and we have ridden together.”
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