Chuck Harris got out of the real estate business — so that he could get into the real estate business.
In 2003, Harris sold the Enid agency he built with his wife, Trisha, and moved to Oklahoma City to join Century 21 All Pro Realty.
Last December, not quite 10 years after what Harris calls “one of the best decisions I ever made,” his career was honored by the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors, which named him 2012 Realtor of the Year. Harris is managing broker of Century 21 All Pro, 8524 S Western Ave., No. 102. The agency's broker owner, Mary Berry, was Realtor of the Year in 2011.
While the association chooses its Realtor of the Year based on service to Realtor organizations — Harris is a board member for both the Oklahoma Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors — local Realtors President Keith Taggert said that on top of it all, “Chuck is just an awfully good man.”
Harris said he was “ready to trade” agency ownership for sales management and for a decade has continued to build on his expertise not only in traditional sales and service to his homeowner clients, but also in sales of lender-owned homes.
Although the rate of foreclosures in recent months has been decreasing in Oklahoma, as in the rest of the country, Harris said “about half” of his business remains in the sale of bank-owned houses.
There is always buyer interest in the lender-owned sector of the market, Harris said, because “depending on the property,” there's always a chance for savings in foreclosures.
“There's no emotion involved,” Harris said. Rather, banks holding foreclosed properties are “just looking for the return” of what they've lent on a home.
The Harrises purchased a bank-owned home for themselves when they sold their Enid agency and moved to the metro area.
Harris was happy for the opportunity to continue working in real estate sales, which he started as a student at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He has made a life of it. After 43 years in the business, he recently was awarded Emeritus Status by the National Association of Realtors.
But he also had an eye on the grandparenting business.
“My grandkids are what really motivated me” to move to the city, Harris said.
Now he has the best of both worlds, with “great things happening” in home sales, as well as a full schedule of soccer, dance and band performances with his grandchildren, Kayley, 14, Emily, 10, and Austin, 6.
Describing the metro-area housing market as “fortunate” — stable during the downturn of the past several years — Harris said sellers are now seeing an average 3.5-percent gain over a year ago.
Harris said clients from outside the region consistently find amenities offered in metro-area homes “very attractive” compared to homes in the same price range in other cities.
That goes for foreclosures as well as traditional sales.
Among Harris' current bank-owned listings is 8012 NE 140, a 3,367-square foot, five-bedroom, brick home on a leafy 1-acre lot a short walk from the south shore of Arcadia Lake, for sale for $330,000.
It is not what many people think of when they think “foreclosure.”
Entering via the hardwood-floored foyer, the home's construction quality and detail are immediately apparent. Plantation shutters accent the windows in the spacious living room, with custom built-in cabinetry a highlight in the study.
The kitchen and family room flow together, a cathedral ceiling and windows to the rolling back lawn making the center of the home open and bright.
The downstairs master bedroom is a roomy retreat, the adjacent master bath offering separate bath and shower, custom tile, and a deep walk-in closet.
Family space upstairs was the designer's obvious goal. Two ample bedrooms connect via a multipurpose room ready for art projects, homework or Lego compounds.
Two additional bedrooms are just a few steps down the hall — one of which could easily be configured as a media room.
Harris said the $330,000 price tag on the foreclosed property is not unheard of.
“We see a lot of lower-price investor properties,” he said, “but also seven-figure foreclosures.”