Thursday, January 02, 2014
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Seth Goodman: Young local businessman rapidly checking off bucket list

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[January 02, 2014]  Those who know local businessman Seth Goodman know that for the past several years, he has been checking items off his "bucket list."

The idea of a bucket list was popularized a few years ago by a movie of the same title. In the movie, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two old friends set out to accomplish a list of things they wanted to do before they "kicked the bucket."

But for Goodman, who is only 26 years old, the list has become more like a set of personal and career goals.

Goodman's list:

  • Get his real estate agent's license.  Check.

  • Be a hot air balloon pilot.  Check.

  • Own a hot air balloon.  Check.

  • Get his pilot's license.  Check.

  • Be involved in $20 million in real estate transactions in Logan County.  Check.

  • Be named in the "30 Under 30" in a national real estate magazine.  Check.

  • Be involved in $30 million in real estate transactions in Logan County.  Check.

  • And, own his own real estate agency.  Check.

The last two items checked off Goodman's list during 2013 actually put the icing on the cake in his career. He was involved in 273 "sides" of real estate transactions in Logan County, totaling just over $31 million. And effective Dec. 31, he became the official owner of ME Realty in Lincoln.

Goodman said this week that it was an exciting move for him in his career, but one thing he wants the people of Logan County to know is that he doesn't plan to change much at the agency, with the exception of the look of the offices on North McLean, across the street from Latham Park.

Those who have driven by the house-turned-office in the last couple of weeks have surely noticed there is a lot going on at the building. ME Realty has temporarily moved out of the offices and is currently located on North Kickapoo Street.

Goodman explained that the original offices are being redone inside and out, top to bottom.

"The location is great, but the place looked more like a house than offices, so I wanted to change that," Goodman said.

He said the walls inside are being removed and new ones erected to make the office area feel and look more like a business.

"The interior will be modern, and it will also be more accessible, with a wheelchair ramp and ADA-compliant restrooms," Goodman said.

There is also work going on outside with the move of the front door and the replacement of windows.

Goodman said he expects that the remodeling of the original offices will be completed in March or April.

As for the operational side of the business, Goodman said clients can expect to find many of the same people, doing the same things they have been doing for years now  effectively selling homes in the community.

Goodman said the business structure would include himself as owner and agent, and Diane Schriber will continue to be the managing broker and agent. Amy Butler, whom Goodman hired early last year as his assistant, will continue in that role and will be heavily involved in the day-to-day financial management of the agency, along with selling. The previous owner, Mike Simonson, will be staying on as an agent in addition to Colleen Riesselman, Glenda Allison and Mike Miller.

In addition, clients can expect to see LaVerne Robb and Paula Rutherford manning the front office as the secretarial staff.

Two agents are planning to leave the business. Goodman said that Stacy Bacon and Harley Mullens have decided to retire or at least take some time off from real estate sales.

Goodman said that when he decided to purchase ME Realty, there were those who worried that it might be a big challenge at this time, but he's optimistic. He noted that ME Realty was a good name in real estate in Logan County, and that the agency has always worked to give clients what they want. He said that would not change.

Goodman said the key to success as he sees it is to give good personal service. The ME agents are good at hearing what their clients want. The idea is to not spend time showing a buyer homes they are not interested in.

"When we take people out, we show them what they want to see, and we don't try to sell them on something that is out of their price range," he said.

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There are folks who have known for a while that Goodman was buying ME Realty. Some have speculated that he was going to move the business to the west side of town and start fresh. Goodman clarified this week that there was a time when he was considering going out on his own, and yes, he might have considered building a new office on the west side, but that was before ME Realty became available.

"I like the downtown location, and it is well known to the community," Goodman noted.

In addition, he has no plans to modify the name of the agency. He noted that ME Realty is a good name in the community and is well known as a top-producing agency in Logan County.

Talking about the housing market in Logan County, Goodman said he believes the market is very strong. He noted that while sitting at his desk just during the time of the interview with LDN, he received two emails of people looking to purchase a home in Lincoln. One in particular, he noted, was someone looking to move into the community.

He said Lincoln is attractive to those moving to the central Illinois area because it is a small community with a small-town feel, yet it sits between several large cities, such as Bloomington and Springfield.

He added that the biggest obstacle he faces as a real estate agent is the lack of new construction in Lincoln. He said many people are looking for new homes, and at the moment, Lincoln doesn't have enough to offer. He's optimistic that the Rolling Prairie development will help solve some of those issues.

Goodman was asked how he sees his own role changing in the business, and he said he really doesn't plan on making much of a change. He noted that when he hired Amy Butler, he did so knowing that she had the skills and knowledge to assist him with the financial aspects of the business.

In addition, he's pleased to have Diane Schriber as his managing broker. In Illinois every real estate agency must have a managing broker. Goodman noted that Schriber was one of the best, and even though he could obtain that license himself, as long as he has Schriber on his team, he sees it as not necessary.

Goodman said he also doesn't intend to change his availability to his clients. He plans to remain active in assisting his clients in finding their perfect home.

"The biggest thing I want people to know is that we will be serving them in the future just as we have served them in the past," he said, "and I will be just as available as I was before buying ME."

Goodman also intends to keep up his involvement in the community. He has been a member of the Main Street Lincoln board of directors for the past few years and spent two years as the board president. He said he did decide not to seek that position this year. Instead the new president of the board will be Tracy Welch. However, Goodman said Main Street is a good organization and he intends to stay active in it.

He also intends to continue to contribute to the downtown revitalization project and is interested in being active with the newest community group, We Are Lincoln.

In addition, he has in the past been an instructor for Junior Achievement and hopes to continue that as well. And of course, he says he plans to fly his beautiful balloon as much as possible.

So, what about the bucket list?

Goodman said he might need to start a new one before too long. Currently, there are three items left on the list, and he's thinking about scratching one off.

One goal yet on the list: He is hopeful that he will one day be the featured agent on an episode of HGTV's "House Hunters." He noted that he has been contacted by HGTV, but to date nothing is in the works.

Another item is to fly in the world-famous hot air festival in Albuquerque, N.M.

And lastly, Goodman said he has always thought it would be fun to go head-to-head with Donald Trump in the reality TV show "The Apprentice."

However, of late he has given thought to the fact that to be a part of the competition, he would have to leave Logan County for a period of time, and consequently would not be able to sell real estate in the area. He's come to the conclusion that is probably something he is not willing to do.

To take "The Apprentice" off his list might be a good thing for all concerned, as Logan County would surely miss Seth. Moreover, we're sure that Trump could never get the best of our guy. On the other hand, that would surely be fun to watch!


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