Attorney Van Smith: I want to encourage some of you out there to consider the entrepreneurial path. Below is a story of a mother of two who enjoys time with her children, while growing a business that fits her lifestyle. Be encouraged, and inspired. I asked the following questions to get the conversation going.
1. So describe your current situation. How many children do you have? Are you married? And where you are currently residing.
I live in Williamsburg with my husband, who is active duty in the Navy, our two kids, and two dogs.
2. And so when you're not with your family what keeps you busy professionally these days?
I’m a Realtor with Liz Moore & Associates. I love what I do! Most of the time it barely even feels like work but it certainly keeps me busy.
3. Was it difficult getting started as a realtor in the midst of a recession and in a town that was relatively new to you?
(I’ve been a part time resident of Williamsburg since 1993 and I’ve generally been in the area since 2001 though we just moved back to Williamsburg from Norfolk a few years ago.)
It certainly wasn’t easy starting up a real estate business just as the news was reporting home prices had reached new lows but I was determined! I picked a great brokerage and I worked basically all the time until I had a descent book of business. The market wasn’t great but it stabilized shortly after I entered the business and we’ve been seeing increasing activity and slightly increasing prices since then. I believe there are people interested in discretionary moves and are holding back until their current home values come it a bit more but we’re still very busy with necessary moves (from job relocations, needing more space, downsizing, divorce, etc. ) as well as some discretionary moves
4. What questions does your ideal client ask as they are entering and looking at a home for the first time?
My ideal client will ask about whatever is most important to them! What I am really looking for is honest feedback (tell me what you didn’t like and what you did – I promise I’ll never get offended!) That feedback is invaluable when I’m looking to find the perfect home for a client.
5. How would you describe the Williamsburg community now as far as its cultural demographic? I would say for many people they think of Williamsburg as a retirement destination but I've noticed with my clients that many of them are transplants from somewhere else whether it's New York or Michigan or Ohio or even North Carolina. What are your thoughts on the shifting demographics of Williamsburg in the last five to ten years?
Some people assume that Williamsburg is a retirement community and I’m not sure how that came to be other than the fact that we’re consistently listed as a great place to retire, which I think is simply because we are a wonderful place for anyone to live! We do have a good number of empty nesters and retirees and that population continues to grow – both from Virginia and out of the area (including my home state of New York). But we also have a growing population of families. We fill nine elementary, three (soon to be four) middle schools, and three high schools just in Williamsbug/James City County – all providing top notch educations. We’re much more diverse as a community than many non-residents seem to believe.
Overall, we’re very lucky to live in such a quaint, quiet town that is also home to Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Busch Gardens and Water Country, amazing restaurants, William & Mary, numerous golf courses, stunning parks, and hosts art shows, concerts, and a weekly farmers market! I can’t imagine a better place to live!
6. As the population grows are we seeing in Williamsburg and James City County and York County a shift towards smart growth, higher density growth and more walkability and pedestrian friendly growth or is that still just spoken about in academic circles in the Tidewater area?
In Williamsburg we’ll always have people who want at least a little piece of land so I think we’ll continue to add and expand traditional subdivisions but we are starting to see a shift toward higher density/mixed use housing. New Town was our first large development using this model and we saw great interest across many different buyer demographics and I believe will continue to see expansion in this type of housing. I’m on a team that is about to release the first stage of a mixed use/walkable community in the City of Williamsburg called Quarterpath. I’m very hopeful it will be a huge success!
7. I've read recent studies that suggest that millennials and those 18 to 34 are increasingly not buying homes and preferring to rent. Are you finding that to be true and if so does this mean a greater interest amongst older folks in becoming landlords? How is that trend shaping your business and your clientele?
Millennials had a front row seat for the “housing bubble burst” and I’m sure that has generally affected the demographic. However, purchasing a home can still be an excellent investment and is the most significant way in which the average American family builds wealth. Locally, I’ve found most millennials seem to be purchasing homes as long as they have an expectation that they won’t be forced to move within the next few years. And some who do know they will be moving purchase anyway with the intent to eventually turn it into a rental once the relocate (since we don’t have too many rentals in this area).
8. So if someone wanted to get in touch with you about selling or buying a home in the Williamsburg area what's the best way to get in touch with you?
The best way to get in touch with me is either via phone 757.869.6142 or email [email protected]. I’d love to help!