Real Deal

Realtor has No Re­grets

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Don Thoma­son, pho­tog­ra­phy by Richard Ras­mussen

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.

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