Area Realtors Talk Sales

by Chris Watson

Owning a home is the bedrock of what most of us consider “success.”  We work for the privilege, save for the purchase, research the process, and then celebrate the final payment. Property ownership is something most of us want and value and while being a homeowner may be desirable, the process of buying and selling can be daunting.

Real estate transactions can seem complex.  Entire companies are established to make certain that all of the documents necessary to transfer property are proper, legal, and accurate. For those who deal with these transactions infrequently, they can be stressful. According to, of the five major life stressors, three relate to the transfer of property (divorce, death of a loved one, and moving).

Despite the stress or complexity related to the process, homes are bought and sold all the time. According to the Toledo Chapter of the Regional Association of Realtors, total aggregate sales for area homes in the third quarter of 2015 were over $232 million, up 11% from the same time period in 2014, with over 2300 new listings. That is a lot of property to move from “listed” to “sold.”

Realtors are the professional players dealing with the seemingly endless details of real estate transactions.  We asked five of the top area realtors – based on their 2015 sales numbers about their job, the market, why they got into the profession and why they stay.

“There are many ways to buy or sell a house in today’s market, including ‘by owner’ sales and the internet.  Why use a realtor?  What value do you add to the process?

Daryl Smith: On the surface the idea of selling or purchasing a home seems simple, which is why many people will try it without the assistance of a real estate professional. In the end many discover that each component of the process has obstacles and, not knowing how to remove these obstacles, keeps buyer and seller from the ultimate goal, the closing table. By being an expert in my field my team is a tremendous resource, which is our primary value. Our job is to keep the process as seamless and stress-free for all parties as possible.

Michelle Nieman:Professional, full time realtors have lots of inside information. We know, understand, and cultivate relationships with other professionals in the process, including inspectors and lenders. We understand how to market a house including things as simple as sign placement, proper responses to web inquiries, and good phone messaging and response.  Realtors are also the primary resource used by out of town buyers, broadening your potential buyer base.

Jody Zink: A competent realtor can help with problems during the process.  A great realtor cuts through the problems and obstacles before they even occur.  There are many moving parts in a property transaction. Scheduling showings, inspections, appraisals, repairs, utilities, title company requirements, lenders, underwriters, attorneys, and price negotiations just to name a few.  All of these items requires time and communications skill. There is also a personal security and comfort issue.  Are the people coming for a showing a qualified buyer? Have they had all of the necessary conversations with a lender to proceed? Or, is the house you are viewing ready for market?  Has the seller passed the necessary  requirements to go to market? A good realtor has safeguards in place to ensure this before something as simple as a walk through.

Craig Rush: This business changes everyday. Finance rules and rates, inspection priorities, and appraisal regulations are just a few of the many things that are constantly influx. There is also the art and skill of negotiation.  I sell 60-70 houses a year. That is a lot of time practicing negotiating. I bring that to the table with every transaction.  There is also due diligence and disclosure. There are issues that a professional, full time, and competent realtor brings to buying or selling a home.

Rick Prokup: The internet is a great resource.  It opens up a wide variety of properties in a convenient way to look at, complete with a tremendous amount of information to the consumer.  However, in is my job to help my buyers digest and understand that information.  I sell homes every day.  It is my job to know more than what a fact sheet can tell us. I take great pride in finding homes for my clients that not only are perfect for their needs and lifestyles but also have the most potential for holding and increasing their value.

“A list of realtors seems too long to contemplate. When looking for a realtor, what should a buyer or a seller look for?”

Daryl Smith, RE/MAX Central Group: A real estate agent is someone who is an expert in their field. Buyers and sellers need to look for a full time agent that has a concrete performance record; an agent that has solid references and communicates well. Look for agents that have a team supporting their daily activities to help keep the process on track and running smoothly.

Michelle Nieman, The Danberry Co.: You are hiring a person to do a job. Find a person who will do what you need them to do. Remember this is a relationship. You should like the person who you are working with. Things should mesh. Although many of my clients are repeat clients I get referrals all the time. With each deal things have to start over. We need to get along and match each other’s expectations.

Craig Rush, Loss Realty Group: I would always look for years of experience both with the person and inside of the office  Simple things like number of transactions in a year, how they are networked throughout the community, and do they do corporate relocations. There are 1600 plus licensed realtors in the area. Ask around and get referrals and above all, feel free to talk to several agents before you choose one you are comfortable with.

Jody Zink, RE/MAX Preferred: reviews can be a great way to start looking for homes and realtors. Studies have shown that 90% of all buyers will either start their search or exclusively conduct their search for a new home on the internet. Besides looking for a full time, well referenced person make sure your realtor has a strong web knowledge, usage skill, and presence.

Rick Prokup, The Danberry Co.: In addition to great negotiating skills, an understanding of architecture, marketing, design, and finance is beneficial. Fostering positive relationships with fellow agents goes a long way toward making transactions work smoothly.

The Past, The Present and the Future “How did you get started and why do you stay?”

Daryl Smith: My initial start began as a teenager and being around a family friend that was in the business of selling real estate at a high level. After completing my MBA I knew I wanted to take real estate sales to a different level that other agents were implementing. I have created and executed a strategy to do that and continue to refine my process today. I stay because I love working with people. It is an honor to help people buy and sell one of the largest assets in their life–I take this responsibility very seriously. It shows as well. The gross majority of my clients are either repeat business or trusted and enthusiastic referrals. That alone keeps me coming to work every day.

Michelle Nieman: I am actually a trained biochemist and don’t originally have a business or sales background. However, when I was 21 I wanted to buy a house. I gave my realtor a specific condition on what I wanted and couldn’t get my realtor to find me a house that met that condition. As my husband and I moved the same problem kept occurring. After those negative experiences I thought that it didn’t have to be that way. That buying or selling a house should be fun. I stay because it is still fun. I love negotiating and putting deals together. It is that attitude that I put to work every day for my clients.

Craig Rush: I had a great, steady job with Ohio Bell in sales and marketing right out of college.  I didn’t really like the corporate environment. What I wanted to do was work for myself and be rewarded directly for my hard work. Real estate was a perfect fit. That was 38 years ago and I have enjoyed the business. There is something very fulfilling when people successful find or sell a house. The goal is and should always be a win-win at the end of a sale.

Jody Zink: I was a TV news reporter with WTOL. I started in the business as a leasing agent for a local real estate company and thought it was kind of fun. The next step was to get a licence and I haven’t looked back. Doing property transactions brings back some of the adrenaline I would get as a news reporter covering a break story  You might have one shot at getting the deal right and everything is on the line. It can be a rollercoaster. I thrive on that atmosphere.

Rick Prokup: Even when I was young I had an interest in houses. I studied architecture in college and obtained degrees in finance and marketing. It was my dad who suggested real estate and it has been a great fit for me. It was the perfect way to combine my interests. I stay because I love the product and the people. I have a strong appreciation for the vast inventory of homes we have in the area, from the charm of old houses to the modern and sleek lines of today’s new homes. Between the people and the product there is no reason to leave.

Closing the Sale

Whether buying or selling, agent or lender, nobody wins without a finalized deal.  Put that benchmark – completing the sale – at the top of the priority list.

Although there are many reasons to enlist the services of a real estate professional, there is one ultimate goal: closing the sale.

Referral Sources:

Toledo Board of Realtors | 419-535-3322

Toledo Bar Association | 419 242-9363

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