David Alexander, who contributes
organizational skills to the firm established by his wife, Sonnie
Alexander, in the mid-1980s, noted that the prints integrate well
with the view of Scully Park from their first-floor facility at 303
S. Kickapoo. The 17 prints displayed throughout the office depict
varying activities and seasons in a public park. Acquired years ago
from a business that was closing, they offer a pleasant "walk in the
park" that helps create a comfortable atmosphere in the new
Space is the reason the firm relocated.
Sonnie Alexander said the number of people and amount of activity
grew beyond the confines of their former site at 410 Pulaski St. The
new quarters provide approximately three times more space. In
addition, the firm has access to the conference room on the second
floor of the bank building.
The larger size has made possible a
division into three functional areas. Like the bank the Alexander &
Company office has two front doors, one at the corner of Clinton and
Kickapoo, the other off the parking lot. Immediately inside the door
from the parking lot is the client interaction area. Before, the
firm lacked reception space, so most of the new furnishings are
here. "You see how clean and nice this is," quipped David Alexander,
meaning that any mess created by agents while doing their work is
elsewhere. Screened off, on the side toward Scully Park, is the area
where agents make calls, do certified market analyses and pull data
from the Multiple Listing Service database. Finally, to the left of
the parking-lot entrance is a private conferencing area. Equipped
with a few toys and a TV, this room is a good place for working with
families with young children.
David Alexander said they were lucky in
how well furniture already owned and pieces purchased from the bank
work together within the new space. The office was created last year
when an area formerly included in the bank was walled off.
Alexander & Company moved the weekend
of May 11. Interestingly, business did not come to a standstill to
facilitate the transfer. In fact, Sonnie Alexander said, agents
wrote several contracts while furniture was being carried in.
She described the current real estate
market in Lincoln as "Great! Fantastic!" For the first four months
of this year, her husband stated, each month has been the firm's
historically best month. Many houses are moving immediately,
although higher-priced homes may take longer.
The couple attributed the sound market
partly to the excellent financing available, to the point that many
people are buying houses with no money down. A lot of clients can
afford payments but do not have money for a down payment, David
Alexander said, and the current business climate enables them to
Sonnie Alexander, who has worked in
real estate for 30 years, said she has never seen a time when the
market was truly bad. The whole society is never in a slump at one
time, she explained: "When some need to sell, others need to buy."
She sees her job as creating solutions tailored to her clients'
Besides the two Alexanders, six
associates currently work at the firm -- John Ford of Atlanta and
Randy Squire, Greg Shook, Carla Anderson, Leanna Culp and Keith
Knutilla, all of Lincoln. They are independent contractors, not
employees, and set their own hours. In addition, two prospective
agents will take their state exam next week and another two have
begun studying for it.
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The business provides in-house training
and coaching, which David Alexander oversees. Sonnie Alexander
attributes the firm's growth to his organizational ability. Educated
at the University of Illinois-Urbana with a degree in architecture,
he has been with the firm two years.
The staff also includes a closing
officer, Ally Roeder, whose position may be unique in Lincoln. Her
task is to gather information needed for the closing, beginning as
soon as listings or sales are secured. Sonnie Alexander said agents
benefit from the presence of a closing officer because they have
more time to work with prospects.
"It's easier to solve problems if they
are discovered early," she continued. So she believes in collecting
information as soon as possible. At the other end of the process,
the day before closing, the agent goes over everything on the
standardized closing statement, called the HUD, so clients are
comfortable with all the numbers.
Two interesting problems were a person
who sold a piece of property actually owned by another member of the
family and parents who deeded property to their underage children,
then tried to sell it. In Illinois, David Alexander explained,
underage children can own property but cannot sell it except with a
court-appointed guardian ad litem. Sonnie Alexander said this is the
kind of situation in which it is important to gather information
early so as not to be surprised.
She described real estate as "the only
industry where competitors agree to agree... and work together...
and do so effectively." The Logan County Board of Realtors and
Multiple Listing Service cooperate locally and have established
reciprocity with surrounding cities. Sonnie Alexander explained one
reason for the positive relationship: "Our competition are our sales
force. We appreciate their showing our listings."
Alexander said her agents see
themselves as an education company, teaching clients about such
topics as financing, credit and marketing. She believes real estate
transactions are more fun and comfortable when clients understand
the background and elements of each step.
She also sees her business as
family-friendly and relational. "When people feel comfortable with
you, when they have a real estate need, they trust you to take care
of it." David Alexander said one associate established Wednesday as
her day off but found herself coming to the office every Wednesday
anyway. What she eventually realized was that her leisure activities
brought her into comfortable contact with people she knew, and they
then responded by requesting her help with real estate transactions.
Sonnie Alexander said one reason the
business is family-oriented is that the Alexanders themselves have a
large family. That includes four children -- Michelle Squire, Greg
Shook, Edie Doehring and Katie Alexander -- and 13 grandchildren.
there is still some searching for needed items in the new office,
the move has already proved to be a benefit. Sonnie Alexander
expressed elation: "We just feel so blessed. It's hard not to feel
kind of giddy."