Steve Doty, the principal broker and owner of ERA Doty Real Estate, has been involved in real estate since his youth. He has 25 years of professional experience working with investors, builders and developers in the commercial and residential markets. Doty’s firm, which he bought in 2005, is the second-largest firm in Jonesboro, with 64 agents producing $102 million in sales volume.
Doty and his business partner, Tom DeWine, CEO of ERA Colonial Real Estate in Harker Heights, Texas, recently bought ERA Team Real Estate in Conway.
Can you tell us how the residential real estate market is faring in Jonesboro?
The Jonesboro and northeast Arkansas markets are strong. We are certainly not immune to the nationwide inventory shortage that has kept property values at an all-time high. Based on our MLS statistics, listings are down 8%, but numbers of residential units sold are up 3%. This indicates that the numbers of listed vs. sold properties have increased and expired listings have dropped. Companies have a pool of buyers who have a great need to buy now. Couple that with historically low interest rates and multiple-offer scenarios are commonplace.
You recently bought ERA Team Real Estate in Conway, and indicated plans for more purchases. Where are you looking to buy and why is this the right time?
The acquisition of ERA Team came during a time that many felt the market was uncertain. Our commitment to this acquisition should be a testament to our faith in the Arkansas real estate market as a whole.
ERA Team is a great company and a perfect fit for me and my partner, Tom DeWine. This was a great opportunity to align ourselves with like-minded people and gain a foothold in a very strong Conway and surrounding area market. With our success there, we are continuing to look into similar opportunities with strong companies interested in gaining share within their markets. Our main areas of focus are throughout central Arkansas and down the Interstate 30 corridor, but we are not limiting ourselves.
How has the pandemic affected the Jonesboro market?
Jonesboro is not different from much of the United States: COVID-19 has changed how we do business. It has changed something as simple as how we show properties and has dramatically changed the way listings are marketed. Responsibility has become increasingly important, to a level we never planned for. We have used practices such as social distancing and wearing masks and shoe covers. It is now common to tour with our clients in separate cars. We have pre-listing and buyer consultations via Zoom, present offers virtually at arm’s-length through technology like Dotloop with e-signatures, and do Facetime walk-through tours.
Prior to the pandemic an agent might go on tours with a client to see 10 to 15 houses that might meet their requirements. It has become common to significantly narrow down these numbers to homes we know meet the buyer’s wishes. Many of the homes buyers might have previously viewed will be eliminated by touring the homes online. This has greatly increased the need for professional photography, video, a strong online presence and cutting-edge tools and technology. Those who have access to these tools and tech have a great advantage. Agents must possess the ability to adjust, remain relevant and leverage technology.
This has been an unsettling time for many. What’s the most important thing you’ve learned during the pandemic, in real estate or beyond?
A crisis often provides opportunities to those willing to adjust and react to the changing times through strong leadership. To adequately react to the challenges of changing times, it is important to align yourself with the right business partners to grow. The alignment with strong business partners and a national brand has proven key to our successes in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021, I am sure.