Jennings prepares for real estate transition

sylvia_jenningsLongtime Colorado Springs-area residents might remember Sylvia Jennings from her news-delivering days, when she and her husband Wayne worked as KKTV 11 News anchors. But now, many newcomers to the Springs who are looking for a home might know her in her Realtor role, as co-owner of Prudential Rocky Mountain at 216 N. Tejon St.

Sylvia and Wayne Jennings opened their real estate office as Peak Dream Realtors, but recently signed up to do business under the Prudential name, to benefit from its connection to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Jennings took some time this week to talk to the Business Journal about herself, her business and the residential real estate market in general.

 

Tell us how you came to open your own business and about your new affiliation with Prudential Rocky Mountain. What prompted the change?

My husband, Wayne, and I were both raised in families of independent people who value community and service to others. Growing up, we never imagined we would become public figures. And while our previous careers as newscasters did put us in the spotlight, we became very invested in the future of Colorado Springs and focused on community service. When we announced our retirement from broadcasting 16 years ago to start our real estate business, the decision surprised a lot of people. But we were ready for private life. Other than deciding to have kids, this has been our best decision. We love our work.

The new affiliation with Prudential Rocky Mountain is all about aligning ourselves with the best names in the business. We launched our brand, Peakdream.com, to show our focus on helping our clients in the Pikes Peak region achieve their dreams. We know that earning their trust has been the key to our success. In business, your reputation is the only thing that matters. So when we learned that Berkshire Hathaway was launching a network with Prudential this fall, we jumped at the chance to partner with them.

We launched our brand, Peakdream.com, to show our focus on helping our clients in the Pikes Peak region achieve their dreams.”

The merger brings Warren Buffett’s company into the forefront of nationwide real estate services. We believe that when one of the world’s most admired companies puts its name on a real estate sign, it’s a sign that buyers and sellers will want to see. And affiliating with a company known for straight talk and common sense is a perfect fit for us. Look for our new sign, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, very soon.

What’s happening in the local real estate market? All indicators point to a strengthening market. What are you seeing?

Overall, this is probably the best market to sell a home in more than a decade. July’s home sales in Colorado Springs topped 1,200. That’s up more than 20 percent from last July, and home sales year-to-date are above 2007 levels, due to pent-up demand and low prices. The recent uptick in mortgage interest rates has given buyers a reason to act now, rather than wait. In recent months, the demand for homes has exceeded supply, creating a seller’s market. We’re seeing competing offers for attractive properties in the lower price ranges, with many sellers getting full price. The median home price of $225,000 is higher than July of 2006 — a boom year. And although about 90 percent of the sales activity is in the $400,000 and below price range, the higher price ranges are also recovering.

Home prices have been inching up every month for a year and a half. As a result, we’re seeing a big increase in move-up buyers. Many homeowners who bought several years ago have seen the value of their properties increase to the point that they can sell and buy a larger, more expensive home. This trend has been great for home builders, with new home sales showing a similar increase of 30 percent or more over last year.

For some time, we’ve been watching the Denver metro area housing market heat up. Now it’s our turn.

What effect has the fire and flood season had on the local market?

Clearly, we’re not seeing a slowdown in home sales. But in some cases, the cost and availability of home insurance is being affected. The trades, such as roofing contractors, are really busy now, so it can take longer for a homeowner to get work done.

What has been the most rewarding thing about owning your business? What’s been the most challenging?

As small-business owners, it’s very rewarding to be part of the fabric of the community. As real estate professionals, we also have worked side by side with many homeowners who have experienced financial hardship during the recession. The foreclosure crisis may be ending, but for many, the emotional scars remain. A lot of good people were hurt, through no fault of their own.

Why do you prefer to have your office downtown?

We always wanted to work downtown. So when the Hathaway’s building was for sale in 2006, we jumped at the chance, along with our business partners, to buy the 112-year-old building and move here. It’s been great for all aspects of our business, because our clients love the location and so do our associates. Frankly, we expected more competition. It’s been seven years, and we’re still the only storefront real estate office in the heart of downtown.