Began in 1981
Joe Sundgren started Sundgren Realty in 1981, and last year marked the company's 35th anniversary.
"I just thought it was a type of business that would interest me, and that's mainly it" Joe, broker of the company, said.
Before he started Sundgren Realty, Joe graduated from Kansas State University in 1977 with a degree in Animal Science and Industry. After college, Joe became increasingly more familiar with realty-related environments.
"I was interested in auctions – doing auctions – but then the business led me into residential real estate and farm and ranch, personal property auctions, land auctions .... But I did a lot of appraisal work back then too," Joe said.
Thirty-five years later, the company is firing on all cylinders.
"We have 11 full-time real estate agents right now that cover a variety of different areas. We have people who focus on residential sales in and around El Dorado. We have people who specialize in farm and ranch, and we also have members of our crew that specialize in the auction portion of the business. In the last two years, we've sold real estate in 15 surrounding counties – but our focus remains on El Dorado and Butler County and the surrounding towns in Butler County," Associate Broker Jeremy Sundgren said.
A lot has changed for Sundgren Realty since 1981.
"Back when I started out the business, the Internet was fairly well unheard of," Joe said.
The commercial emergence of the Internet was one of the significant factors in learning how to successfully operate a realty business across three decades.
"You know, instead of putting a sign in the yard and running newspaper ads and printing up brochures to distribute – which we do all of that still anyway ... over 90 percent of people now search for a new home online prior to actually going and looking at the house. So, that's changed the way you do everything," Jeremy said.
In addition to changing processes within the company, the Internet allowed for a wider potential market range.
"Same with farm and ranch sales. You know, I mean, we can reach people in China now through the Internet and our advertising – versus just a five-state area," Joe said.
Last year, the Sundgren Web site averaged over 1,000 unique IP addresses visiting the site per day. Jeremy credits this diverse traffic to the multiple areas of focus within Sundgren Realty.
Since the company wants to have good relationships within the Butler County community, they also give back in the form of charity auctions. Including Joe, four of the staff at Sundgren Realty are auctioneers.
"Another thing that Joe has focused on since he started the business was giving back to the community. He's done a lot of charity auctions that we continue to do today. You know, benefit auctions for anything from the local college to the local middle schools, grade schools, high schools, churches [and] hospital. The auction business has allowed us a unique skill to be able to give back to the community through those benefit auctions," Jeremy said.
Joe gives the people he works with a majority of the credit for making the company what it is today.
"You know, a big thing with business is hiring or working with quality people within your office too. And we have the best," Joe said.
In addition to having a variety of skill sets amongst themselves, the staff at Sundgren Realty is intergenerational – ranging in age from being in their 20s to their 80s. Joe has recognized how different people can bring effective diversity to the company, and he knows who to rely on for certain tasks.
Moving forward, the company wants to be prepared for the future.
"The main thing we want to do is continue to evolve and serve our clients the best we can in any way we can. You know, we need to continue to evolve. And as the industry changes, stay up to date on technology and provide our buyers and sellers with the best service possible .... And we've been at the forefront of leading that technology charge in the future. So I don't anticipate that changing," Jeremy said.
Sundgren Realty is currently selling residential property – as they are always doing. They will also have two personal property auctions this week, four land auctions scheduled in February and they're already scheduling land auctions and personal property auctions into March and April.
According to Jeremy, now is a good time to sell.
"There is low inventory on the market right now. It is a good time to list a house. If someone's looking to downsize, upsize, change locations, it is a good time to sell a home. And we predict that 2017 will be a good market to sell a home as well – as has been the past couple of years," Jeremy said.