News from Tulsa

I just got back yesterday from meeting with The Leadership Council, a group of large independent brokers from around the country.  This time we met at Chenowth & Cohen in Tulsa, where growth is high and unemployment is low.  Tulsa turns out to be almost in the exact center of the country geographically, both north to south and east to west, so it is home to a lot of company distribution and service centers, as well as energy companies and others.  It is just approaching the million mark in population. People are moving from all different parts of the US, and many that I met had come from Texas. Boy, does it seem different from New Haven in those regards!

Tulsa has about two and a half months of housing inventory.  Prices are rising, and units are growing.  Like us, they have problems with mortgages and closing times, and sales are not easy.  However, it's really about jobs.  If people have jobs, and employees are moving into the region to work, then it's obviously easier to sell your home and buy another one, because there is a steady supply of buyers being created.  In addtion, the West has ranches and open land all around, making it much simpler and cheaper for builders to add new product. 

The real estate business has some characteristics in common all over, but there are some differences.  They have centralized showing, so agents make one call to arrange all the properties for a buyer to see.  They also have lots of listings where contact is through the owner, which seems odd to us.  States with title companies owned by real estate companies are more real estate agent driven than lawyer driven.  Towns and cities are farther apart, and many agents I met worked an hour or more from home.  There seemed to be more concentration--one agent I met with had 159 listings!  Advertising has left newspapers in many places, and you don't see the big Sunday ad sections.  Everything is done on line, or directly by real estate companies. 

Other practices were similar to ours, including the work ethic of agents, the changes brought by technology, and the complications of lending and governmental regulations.  It's always refreshing to see both the old and the new, and to step out of the regular daily grind and view it from a distance.