Mary and Bill O’Neal, who have been in the real estate business for 25 to 30 years, said it is interesting to work with different people and different personalities.
The couple, both of whom are Realtors and have worked as a team for Trademark Real Estate Inc. for about 11 years, and Century 21 Real Estate for 11 years prior to that, said they migrated to Hot Springs from Little Rock about 22 years ago.
“We were ‘empty-nesters’ over there and have always enjoyed Hot Springs. We owned a condo here and would come over to the lake in the summer, and you always have to come watch the horses run, so we decided to try to move over. We were going to retire, but 22 years later, we’re still working, but we enjoy it,” Mary O’Neal said.
Mary O’Neal said that over the years in their profession, many of their clients have become good friends.
“We maintain a friendship with them and do business with them. It’s nice to please people and to find what they need,” she said.
“There is satisfaction when we help them find it and it works out real good for them. We listen to them and they tell us what they want and we help locate it. It’s part of putting the puzzle together for them,” Bill O’Neal said.
Both said one attribute a good Realtor needs is to like working with the public.
“We have no problem with people,” Bill O’Neal said. “We can talk to them, communicate with them, listen to them, and we know our inventory very well. We know the city, we know our products. They can tell us what they want and we can sort of zoom in on that particular product, the particular part of the city where they want to go and show them several properties in that area in their price range, which makes it easier on them to make a decision.”
He said it is still too early to tell how the new banking regulations that took effect in January will affect the real estate business.
“We won’t know until it’s been in effect for about six months or so. That’s coming down the pike, but I don’t know how the banks will do it,” he said.
He said banks will not provide financing for people who are not qualified to buy a particular house, but Hot Springs has not had a problem with a lot of inflated values.
“We stayed pretty well even. When the nation went bust on overpricing, we didn’t really have that here. It’s not going to really effect us too much here because the banks were pretty conservative.”
“We stayed pretty stable,” Mary O’Neal said. “Prices went down a little bit, but they stayed pretty stable and our market is stable right now with affordable prices.”
She also said the local housing market is beginning to improve following the nationwide 20072008 downturn.
“It’s on the rise right now. It is coming back. We had a great 2013 and the fourth quarter (of 2013) was amazingly busy. We’re continuing to be busy right now in January. It just hasn’t stopped and it seems to keep going up,” she said.
While Hot Springs offers a diverse housing market, Bill O’Neal said there seems to be more housing opportunities in the county.
“Most of the lake homes are in the county, but it’s like living in the city. In the county, there is also acreage, so if you want five or 10 acres, you can get that, or if you want to live in a neighborhood, you can have that, too. We have a lot of choices in a lot of areas,” he said.
Another indication that 2014 will be a good year in the real estate business is the amount of new construction taking place.
“And it’s not just custom homes, but spec homes, which is really good. The market is coming around real good and we think 2014 is going to be a really good year. We feel comfortable about it,” he said.
While sales of single-family homes are still outpacing condos, Mary O’Neal said they are beginning to see some indications that banks are making more financing available to those who want to buy a condominium.
The couple, which has sold and closed on more than $100 million in sales during their tenure with Trademark, has three grown children, two grandchildren, and attend the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist.