Steamboat Springs Bill Starkey received unexpected confirmation of the wisdom of his recent investment in a Steamboat Springs real estate agency when he returned home from Dallas from a business strip.
“There was a big picture of the Steamboat gondola in the middle of the first baggage carousel,” Starkey said.
The promotional poster for Steamboat’s direct airline flights from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to the Yampa Valley made Starkey more determined to leverage what he sees as existing business links between Texas and Steamboat, and in particular, the Keller Williams Realty brand.
Starkey and his partner, W.C. White, of Evergreen, have just become the majority partners in longstanding Steamboat real estate agency Old Town Realty, which is poised to become a Keller Williams Realty franchise as soon as they can get the banner up over the office in Central Park Plaza. Keller Williams, based in Austin, Texas, reports that it has more than 78,000 real estate agents.
Jim Hansen, Old Town Realty’s managing broker for 15 years, said the company has been courting suitors this year and thinks it has found the right fit because of the collaboration Keller Williams fosters among its Realtors spread among 681 offices across the U.S. and Canada.
“We were in talks with Colorado Group Realty, ReMax and Coldwell Banker,” Hansen said. “But it just seemed to work with Keller Williams. In addition to Dallas, they’re very strong in Atlanta and Chicago, which matches up with our winter airline program.”
Broker/associate Sue Weber said she always has enjoyed the ability to rely on her fellow brokers at Old Town Realty for guidance and support without fearing they will swoop on her clients. Her research shows Keller Williams shares that corporate culture.
White confirmed that Keller Williams publishes a guide, or white paper, describing all of the brokers in its vast network so they can individually arrange to refer clients among one another and make the financial arrangements without interference at the corporate level.
White said he came back to Steamboat for a spring break ski vacation this year and found himself wondering why Steamboat, which counts Texas among its top three markets, doesn’t have an office affiliated with Keller Williams.
Starkey said Old Town Realty provided the platform for growth he and White were looking for.
“What made Old Town Realty attractive to us is the experience of its brokers and its integrity,” he said. “You use that foundation to grow.”
White was the developer in the late 1990s of the Silver Spur subdivision on 110 acres just west of the Steamboat city limits. He said he pursued a purchase of the Brown property, which ultimately became the Steamboat 700 project, which voters rejected the annexation of in March. White said last week that he dropped out of the running when the prices being offered went beyond what his business model would have supported.
“I’ve always kept my eyes on Steamboat,” White said.
Starkey is a longtime Texas banker and the chairman of Highland Residential Mortgage. He thought he had retired in 1999 when he sold AccuBanc, a company that originated billions of dollars in home mortgages in the late 1990s. Today, Highlands Residential has 14 offices in Texas and expects to announce a Colorado office within 60 days, Starkey said. Company information is at www.highlandsloans.com/info/about.rad.
Starkey confirmed that part of his involvement in Keller Williams of Steamboat would be to arrange for financing for the agency’s clients, and in particular, those seeking to purchase condominiums labeled as condo-tels, as well as for timeshare products.
Although it may not be Highlands Residential that extends the loans, he is working with banks that have shown an interest in portfolio lending: establishing a pool of money for lending in specific markets and projects.
“You see a lot of that in Texas with ranch and lake properties,” Starkey said, and it translates to mountain resorts.
“We’re committed to finding the necessary product to allow Keller Williams Steamboat to become a major player in the real estate community in this market,” Starkey added.
Hansen said that under the new business model, the company’s corporate identity would continue to be Old Town Realty LLC. He and fellow broker/owners Joe Pete LoRusso, Sue Weber and Loui Antonucci and current broker associate Joan Connelly would become partners in the new Keller Williams of Steamboat.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org