For many in real estate, 2007 was a disappointing year at best. For Century 21 Shaw Realty, it was a year of growth and expansion as the company focused its efforts in three areas of the sluggish market.
"In 2007, we focused on short sales, corporate relocations and upper-end fine homes and estates," says owner Jeff Shaw. "Everyone knows what the housing market has been like, and we chose to pay extra attention to those areas to work through this downturn."
Short sales are an unfortunate by-product of a slow economy and housing market, he says. When homeowners can no longer afford mortgage payments, they are faced with foreclosure and a short sale can help them avoid that credit disaster.
"Because property values in our market have dropped, when homeowners can no longer afford their mortgage payments, it is hard for them to be able to sell their homes to pay off mortgages," Shaw says. "What we started doing was getting permission from the seller and then contacting the lender directly to negotiate a reduced amount for a mortgage payoff. It gets the seller out of the house without a foreclosure.
"Also, we try to get the deficiency judgment waived so that the mortgage company can't legally come back against the seller to recoup the difference."
Shaw says there are several reasons why homeowners lose the ability to make mortgage payments, including an increase in property taxes or having an adjustable rate mortgage rise, increasing payments.
Shorts sales can prove beneficial. The mortgage companies don't have to go through the arduous process of foreclosure and finding a new buyer, Shaw says. The sellers are out from under mortgages without the foreclosure on their records and buyers can get a good deal.
"Now is a really good time to buy a home, because there is a lot of inventory and with the short sales and other circumstances of the market, there are a lot of homes for sale at very good prices," Shaw says.
Century 21 Shaw Realty also has a full-time corporate relocation department. According to Shaw, the company receives 25 to 35 referrals for relocation each week.
"We do a huge amount of military business through our corporate relocation business," Shaw says. "Last year, we closed approximately $50 million of incoming corporate and military referrals."
The high-end home market is the third area of focus for Century 21 Shaw Realty and the company has 33 high-end homes and estates listed worth about $90 million. The highest priced home is in the Avila neighborhood, listed at $5.9 million, and the company has five listings in the $2.5 million range in Stone Lake Ranch.
"We have a good market share in terms of homes priced at $1 million and up," Shaw says. "We sold a lot of those homes in the last year and continue to get new listings."
The focus in those three areas helped Century 21 Shaw Realty weather the housing slowdown in 2007 and even expand its operations.
"Even in this market, we are growing," Shaw adds. "We purchased an office in South Tampa at the end of last year and that has really helped us because we were doing so much business in that area. That new office has 160 listings."
This year, Shaw says his seven offices and 260 sales agents will continue to focus on short sales, corporate relocations and luxury homes. The company also is seeking to expand the marketing of homes in the Tampa Bay area to potential buyers throughout the world.
"We're focused on growing our market share," he says.
For information, visit www.century21shaw.com or call (813) 689-2121.