When Kimberly Evans first tried her hand at real estate in 1985, it was in Texas, where, she says, “We had more foreclosures than new sales and mortgage rates were 18 percent.”
Perhaps that’s why she’s undaunted by the current economic climate. In fact, the Asheville Board of Realtor’s new president holds fast to her optimism and works hard to spread it around. “I’m excited to be leading [the board] during such a time,” says Evans, 43.
She exudes energy and confidence, qualities that made her a top earner in her rookie year, a co-owner of a large real-estate firm soon after moving to Asheville, and savvy enough to switch gears a few years ago by selling that company and getting into property management. “I wish I could say I saw the market drop coming,” Evans jokes as she explains the career move.
Of course, such energy sometimes meets resistance. When Evans first came to town, she pushed to get the Multiple Listing Service computerized and was also a supporter of making it more accessible to the public. While some real estate agents hesitated to “give away the data, and I caught a lot of flack for that,” she says, she thought there were potential benefits. “Even though all that data is out there, most people are still not buying directly from the Internet. They still need Realtors.” The Internet makes the legwork of property searches much easier for both agents and customers, she says.
But the Internet can’t change the current market. Evans acknowledges the challenges: “The market has slowed, and [home] values have dropped here, but not as far as [in] some areas.” Times are tough, and there may likely be a reduction in the number of real-estate agents working the market. It’s time, she argues, to adapt and prosper, whether you’re a Realtor or not.
“It’s a great time to buy, not just because home values have dropped, but because there’s a good selection of inventory and interest rates are low,” Evans continues. “My outlook is this: All real estate is local. Just because it’s raining in Oregon doesn’t mean it’s raining in Asheville.” She encourages her colleagues to focus on the job at hand, focus on the customers, and stick to the basics.
Evans adds that there’s a lot of assistance out there for homeowners in trouble. “This is a time when we need to have a little more compassion and a little more leniency,” she concludes.
Evans is working at adapting, too. One of the twists in today’s market is that more rental properties are available simply because some homeowners find they can’t sell, and renting is an income-producing option. The market for high-end rentals, in particular, has exploded. “It’s one of Asheville’s best-kept secrets,” she says.