Realtor has No Regrets
Clay Wilson, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker who's been in the business seven years, says he picked a bad time to jump into real estate sales, but doesn't regret the decision. “I started in January 2008 and couldn't have picked a worse time to start since World War II. The market started downhill in 2007,” he said, referring to the economic downturn that hit this region in 2007 and 2008.
Wilson said he had worked as a Mac Tools distributor for 15 years and was putting in 60 to 65 hours a week.
“In 2006, I noticed that Realtors were doing pretty good and my accountant, who knew how many hours I was working a week, told me he thought I should switch over and start selling real estate.
“So, in 2006, I made that decision, and it took me all of 2007 to collect a bunch of money I had on the books for Mac Tools. Then I got my real estate license in 2008, but we didn't know I couldn't have timed it worse,” he said.
Wilson said that until 2013 he watched the number of housing sales decline at a rate of 10 percent to 12 percent a year for five years.
“In 2013, it turned the corner and the number of houses sold started going up again. When I got my license in 2008, there were more than 500 Realtors in town. As of January 2015, there are 314. I don't know how I made it, but I hung on and managed to survive,” he said.
While the real estate industry is slowly improving, Wilson said an economist with the company said Hot Springs will be one of the last towns in Arkansas to recover because of the number of second homes, weekenders that people buy here, and the number of retirees in the area. Wilson noted that when the economy is hot, sales are good in Hot Springs, but when the economy is down, “Hot Springs is one of the coldest markets in the state.”
“Little Rock and Benton have turned the corner and are on an upswing, but Hot Springs is lagging behind,” he said.
Wilson said he enjoys being outdoors showing houses to people, as opposed to “being stuck in an office with all the paperwork.”
“Showing houses to people is the most fun part of it. There is a new adventure with every door we open, and seeing what people think about a home, and trying to find them the perfect match, are things I like about the business,” he said.
Although working the odd hours that Realtors put in can be aggravating, Wilson said getting through all the red tape in processing a file to get to a closing is a problem.
“One of the worst problems now is getting sellers in line with what the home will sell for. For 10 years, we've had nearly zero real estate appreciation. … It's grievous for sellers to come to the closing table with no appreciation for the last 10 years, and it's hard to explain that to them,” he said.
Wilson said he and his wife, Becky, are active members of Hot Springs Baptist Church, and he is a member of the Hot Springs Board of Realtors where he also serves on the board of directors.
In addition, he said he has two stepchildren and six grandchildren.
“That was one of the deciding factors in getting out of the 60- to 65-hour-a-week tool business. When we started having grandchildren, those hours weren't going to work. I had to have some extra time,” he said.
Above, Realtor Clay Wilson at his home.