KINGMAN - With the economy slowing at the fastest pace in decades and home prices continuing to fall at breakneck speeds, optimism seems to be in short supply these days. But not for Dwayne Patterson and Vince Holton.
Patterson is the owner and Holton is the property manager for RE/MAX Prestige Properties, a realty office located at 2331 Hualapai Mountain Road. The office hasn't been around very long, opening only four years ago, but in that time the small startup has grown by leaps and bounds, even as the surrounding market has succumbed to the ongoing recession.
"When I opened it up, there were just two of us to start out with, and within 13 months, we were the No. 1 sellers in town," Patterson said. "We've been the No. 1 in sales in Kingman for three years running."
Patterson attributes the office's success to an open, almost familial working relationship among its realty team, with each member striving for the good of the branch, rather than their own sales record.
"What I've really tried to do ... is to push the RE/MAX name to help us all out," Patterson said. "Everybody works together as a team toward one common goal, and everyone is very trusting and acceptable of business."
Holton, meanwhile, said much of the business' growth has also come from dedication to honesty and meeting clients' needs.
Simply answering the phone every time it rings, he said, is a big part of it.
"The reason we've got such a big growth here is because we do what we say we're going to do," Holton said. "If someone comes to me and they need help, I help."
Holton said he became certified in property management in mid-2007 after observing the beginning of the end of the 2000's housing bubble.
"I saw the handwriting on the wall coming out of 2006 and 2007 that the market was coming down," he said. "I started this in August '07. On the first of January 2008, I had 12 houses."
Now, only a year later, Holton manages more than 200, having added 60 new properties in November alone when he purchased International Realty Management from its owner, Nancy Jo Towry.
Patterson said before Holton gained his certification, Prestige Properties was forced to refer prospective renters to other agents. Now, however, many renters whose properties have lain vacant for months at a time have been able to find tenants through Holton, who boasts a vacancy rate of 8 to 10 percent.
"It's a very low average for a brand-new startup company," Holton said. "I've had people call to say, 'I've had a vacancy for a year, can you rent it?' and I'll have it rented within a week."
Holton said he's managed this with virtually no advertising, apart from the "For Rent" signs on his clients' properties around town. Aside from that, his renters and tenants have come almost entirely from word of mouth referrals, which he believes are a result of the philosophy he takes toward property management.
"It all boils down to one simple thing: Take care of the owner's investment, take care of the tenant," he said. "It's a buyers' market, and when it's a buyers' market, it's a renters' market."
As Holton's market has expanded, so has Patterson's. Prestige Properties recently merged with another RE/MAX office in Lake Havasu, and Patterson said he's hoping to have a third office open in Fort Mohave as early as June.
"I figure it's a good chance to take advantage of the slow economy, to be in a good position when things do turn around," he said. "What we're gearing towards is becoming more of a one-stop center (for realty and property management). I'm not going to sit back and wait to see if things turn around; I'm going to get out there for when they do turn around."
Holton agrees that, by the time the Fort Mohave office opens, RE/MAX Prestige Properties will have one of the largest footprints in the county among competing Realtors. It may be a bit of a gamble, given the enduring condition of the current market, but Holton shares Patterson's belief that the turnaround will come in months - not years - and he wants to be ready for it.
"I don't do anything short-term, and I don't do anything in a small way," he said. "We're going to get ourselves positioned to where we'll be in the No. 1 slot, and we're here to stay.
"We're probably the most optimistic bunch in town," he concluded.