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Young entrepreneur enters real estate world

Thu, Jan 26, 2012

One on One

Sumer Liebold, 28, moved to Colorado Springs from Gunnison to study business at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. She started a corporate housing business as soon as she finished school and then began working in real estate in 2008 at 8z Real Estate.

The transition to real estate seemed natural because many of her corporate housing clients were asking her for advice on home-buying in the area.

What interested you in the real estate business and how did you get into it?

I have always had an interest in the real estate business. I started to get into the business when I saw the parallel with my corporate housing company, Premier Furnished Housing. My corporate housing business provides short term furnished housing to people all over the country, but a good portion of my business is in Colorado Springs. Many of my clients were relocating and I decided that instead of passing them on to a real estate agent I could handle their real estate needs as well.

What inspired you to move into residential home sales from corporate housing, especially during one of the most depressed real estate markets in recent history?

I enjoy working with my clients and offering them real estate services makes it easy on them. Helping people relocate and finding them the right corporate rental is a lot like finding them the right home, although it is a “temporary home.”

My first few jobs out of college were with The Broadmoor, so I learned my customer service from the best. I built my business on exceptional customer service and once I had developed the trust with my clients they felt comfortable working with me on real estate as well.

The real estate market is depressed, but it’s not dead. It’s a challenging time, but that also means it’s that much more rewarding when you close a deal for your clients. The market today can be full of frustrating obstacles, but it has forced real estate agents to get better. Learning in this market hopefully means that we have nowhere to go but up. We have been very fortunate to have had an exceptional 2011 and we are very excited for 2012.

Why did you decide to go with a franchise rather than starting something on your own or joining an existing brokerage?

I put a lot of trust and respect in my partner Candice Graham. I was fairly new to the business, but she brought a lot of experience to the table. We really liked the forward thinking of 8z Real Estate and their vision of how home buyers were changing their home buying habits. We also valued what they are trying to do with the service standards. When we looked at the franchise it felt like the right move. They are a Colorado-based company with deep roots in the real estate industry; we really liked the small local aspect of 8z. They offer great support for our team, but also for our clients. They have used the Internet to empower clients with online tools and market data that helps them feel comfortable with their home purchase. The Internet is such a big part of our business world today, but 8z has created a website to make it less overwhelming to buyers and sellers. We both really enjoy being a part of a company where customer service is the top priority.

Straddling the corporate housing and home sales market, you have a unique perspective on job growth, the economy and the real estate market. Where do you see these things heading over the next year or two?

Corporate housing has been hit by the market for sure; companies are watching their bottom line now more than ever. This means finding less expensive housing for their temporary employees and lower than normal relocation packages. When construction picks back up so will corporate housing, I have not seen that increase quite yet but am holding on.

Everyone wants to know if we are at the bottom of the market, but the “bottom” is a dangerous term. The market changes constantly but we are seeing inventory levels in the $250k and below price range level out. We have been writing contracts on these homes where they are getting multiple offers. This shows growth and it is exciting.

What special advantages and challenges do you believe young professionals face in Colorado Springs?

That’s an interesting question. Colorado Springs is a great city and has been very welcoming to me and my family as young professionals. The key is getting out there and being part of the community and network. It is so easy to sit and hide behind your computer instead of finding the motivation to get out there and work. Colorado Springs offers a wonderful young professional business environment; I have taken advantage of the SBDC, and other great organizations to help small business owners along.

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