Real Deal

The Sentinel-Record - HER - Hot Springs - - From The Editor -

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.

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