Some tasks in life are achievable as do-it-yourself projects. When it comes to selling or buying your home in the Koontz Lake area, it’s best to call on a real estate professional who knows the area well, such as Rhonda Hurford.
“I started working in the real estate business in 2010 as an unlicensed assistant and office manager for Pat & Associates,” Hurford says. “In 2012 I decided to get my real estate license, and in 2013 I added the managing broker eligibility to it.”
You could say Hurford grew up in the real estate business. Her mother, Flora Tibbetts, had been in real estate for 28 years, most recently affiliated with Pat & Associates Realty. In 2014, Collins & Company, a regional firm with five offices in Plymouth, Koontz Lake, Culver, Bremen and Lakeville, acquired her mother’s firm. Hurford continued in the business with Collins & Company.
That decision was a successful one for her. The Koontz Lake area native is the number-one broker in the Koontz Lake office, in both dollar value as well as number of properties handled by Hurford on behalf of the firm.
“I have increased my total sales each year since I started with Collins, and have been one of the top three selling brokers in our firm for the last three years, and in the top 10 agents in the North Central Indiana Association of Realtors for the last five years,” Hurford says.
Every agent has a specialty, and today Hurford’s approach is to focus on lake homes, first-time buyers and residential listings.
“Homes are continuing to sell at higher-than-average numbers, and in record number of days,” she explains. “If you have a well-maintained home and it is priced appropriately you can expect to see offers immediately.”
Hurford offers her home-selling clients a comparative market analysis to help them determine whether selling their home is the right move. If a client agrees, she also offers some tips to make sure they get the best possible price for their home.
Sellers should consider curb appeal and declutter the interior of their house. Repainting the walls to a neutral color and making sure the home is move-in ready are also good tips to try. Make sure the home is also priced accurately.
“Walk through your home as if you are a buyer,” Hurford says.
For buyers, Hurford says pre-qualification for financing is key. It makes the difference in being able to get the home they want quickly. Calling an agent like Hurford is a good first step for potential buyers who don’t know how to start the pre-qualification process.
“It is a tough market right now for buyers,” she says. “Our inventory is low so most new listings receive an offer very quickly, and buyers need to be in a position to move quickly if the home is a good fit for them.”
Whether it is a buyer’s market or a seller’s market, having a professional agent on your side makes navigating the real estate market easier to do. The client gains the services of an experienced professional who has knowledge of the area and the inventory of homes available.
“I always keep my clients’ best interests at heart,” Hurford says. “I do everything I can to make their buying and selling experience as easy as possible. It is rewarding to see the smile of a first-time home buyer when you hand them the key to their new home, or the seller that finally got an offer and gets to move forward, whatever that might look like.”
Outside of her real-estate experience, Hurford worked at Proctor & Gamble in Plymouth for about nine years until the plant closed in 2001. She then opened a small business in Plymouth, the Memory Zone Scrapbook Store, which she ran until 2009.
“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do from there, but I love working with people and my mother was looking for someone to manage the office, so I started as an unlicensed agent managing accounts payable, filing and anything else I could do as an unlicensed agent,” Hurford recalls.
Tibbetts is among the people Hurford considers her professional mentors. Others important in her career include other agents, and her Managing Broker Chris Collins.
“When I first got my license, the market was still trying to rebound from the fallout in 2008 and there were several people that were upside down on their mortgage, creating many short sales in the area,” Hurford explains. “I focused on foreclosures and short sales then. We don’t see as many short sales today. Although I do not specialize in commercial real estate, I have done some and Collins & Company is a big name when it comes to commercial in this area. I continue to learn more about this part of the business.”
Balancing a successful career with family is one of the challenges Hurford faces. Being a wife and mother of three adult children, with four grandchildren and what she describes as “two very spoiled cats,” requires time management and a commitment to her job. Real estate is an industry in which agents are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she says.
“We work around our clients’ schedules,” Hurford says.