The Saratoga Sun -

Realtor relationship leads to ownership transfer

Terry takes over real estate office from friend, mentor Speers

 

Carolyn Terry

Carolyn Terry, left, and Susan Speers cut the ribbon during the opening of the Century 21 office in Rawlins.

"I'm a very positive person and I don't like the word 'risk,'" Carolyn Terry, the new owner agent at Century 21 real estate in Rawlins, says when asked if she thought buying a real estate agency at a time when Wyoming's economy is on the skids and home sales in other parts of the state are sliding.

"To describe the real estate market in this area, it's like a roller coaster," she says. "This area is so transitional and we're always going to have something going; There's no risk involved."

The former owner of Terry's agency, her former boss and a mentor, Susan Speer, said she agrees with Terry, and sees a bright future ahead not only for the real estate market in Carbon County, but for Terry, whom she says has the kind of drive and work ethic to make a success of the agency.

"She's (Terry is) a real go-getter," Speer says. "She knows the business well, has been the top agent in the county for many years, and she knows how to do it."

Terry, who worked for Speer and her late husband since 2008, took over the Century 21 office in mid-October after the unexpected death of Speer's husband in July. "I was planning on retiring at the end of this year," Speer said. Considering her plans and the unexpected death of her husband, Speer says she was ready to move on and hand over the reins to a new person.

"He (her husband, Will) was grooming her (Terry) for a while to take over," Speer said.

Selling a real estate agency affiliated with a major brokerage firm like Century 21 isn't as straightforward as just signing some papers, handing over the keys and depositing a check, Speer said. Century 21 enters a contract with brokerage owners, and if a broker owner decides to sell, Century 21 must agree to extend the contract to the new owner; if it does not, that owner cannot use the Century 21 logo or take advantage of any of the other marketing or support programs run by the corporation.

Getting corporate to sign off can take a while, Speer said, and she was worried that it might not be possible to get corporate on board in enough time.

"I thought I might have to renew my license and keep going for another three years (to fulfill her contract to Century 21)," Speer said.

But it turned out the timing was perfect for Terry to take over the business, Speer said. Century 21 corporate approved Terry to finish out the contract with the company, and Speer was ready to retire, she said.

Terry, who moved to the Valley in 1994 from Cincinnati, Ohio, said she immediately fell in love with the area and the community. She became involved in the community and the school board, and was one of the people who established the Rawlins Raptors hockey club.

"I was the mom who didn't know how to say 'no' to volunteering," Terry says.

As for her and her family's move to Carbon County, that was because her husband had always dreamed of living in the West.

"I just wanted to get somewhere to put down roots and have my children go to the same school their whole life, which we did," Terry says.

Eventually, Terry was the owner and operator of Art Master, a custom framing shop, before earning her real estate license in 2002. Terry worked for another Carbon County real estate agency for several years before contacting the Speers at Century 21 in Saratoga and asking for a job.

Not only did the Speers hire Terry, they opened a second office in Rawlins which Terry ran, Speers said. The Speers and Terry discussed the possibility of Terry taking over the business about a year ago, Speers said. In December 2015, the Speers closed the Saratoga office, leaving the Rawlins office the only location for the business.

It was then when the Speers became serious about selling. "I'd say it was about a year ago, and my husband was sort of grooming her to do that (buy the business) because we wanted to retire," She said. So, when we closed (the Saratoga) office and kept the one in Rawlins, it became more apparent that we needed to retire."

"Will and I had visited in the past about the possibility of my buying it, but nothing was decided upon until Will's sudden death, when Susan approached me," Terry says. "I've always been really dedicated and ambitious in the real estate business and that's why I believe Will and Susan approached me about opening the office in Rawlins."

Tragedy struck when Will Speers died unexpectedly in July. Between her husband's death and the fact they had been planning to retire at the end of 2016, Speers said she and Terry were spurred on to make the move and transfer ownership of the agency. After Will Speers' death, the two women began the process of transferring ownership of the business to Terry, Speers said.

Terry became owner-broker at the firm on Oct. 15. "It's a been a bittersweet experience," Terry says. "Bitter because of Will's passing and Susan's retirement, but sweet because I'm excited about the profession."

That excitement for the job comes through in her work, Terry says, but a part of the equation is still the reputation of the firm that was fostered for years by the Speers.

"Will and Susan have put down a great reputation for Century 21 in Carbon County, and I value the strong relationships they have had through the years," Terry says.

Those strong relationships between broker and buyer are a part of the reason why she is so optimistic about the future, Terry says. While the internet has changed the way in which people in larger markets buy real estate and eventually will change the way home buyers and sellers here in Carbon County will buy real estate, Terry believes that it is the small town way of doing business that wins out.

Century 21, she says, provides endless support for online sales, and she looks forward to deploying new technologies and delivering more value to her clients, but not at the expense of personal relationships with clients.

"It's much more personal here. You get to know clients, and sometimes, you become friends with them after they've moved here," She says. "I think someone moving here is already going to be open to the idea that we are more 'hometown' than other places."

As technology makes some changes to the way business is conducted in the Valley, Terry retains the optimism she made apparent when she said she didn't like the word "risk."

The Valley, she says, is going to be an exciting place to live and work for a long while to come, even if more and more sales are done online. "It's (the Valley and Carbon County) growing, everything is growing, the Valley is going to stay the Valley; a special place to come whether you're visiting or living.

"It's still going to have that excitement that comes with the appreciation of living in this special place."

 

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