Nels Petersen followed his head to Oklahoma City — a smart professional opportunity in the mortgage industry — but he stayed because he found out his heart was here, too.
In 2007, when Petersen was ready to move on from “the mortgage side” — a loan processing company that he’d helped to establish — he knew he loved working with residential properties and home ownership, so he acquired two metro-area real estate franchises: RE/MAX Preferred Properties in Northwest Oklahoma City and RE/MAX Associates in Edmond.
In January, Petersen took over as president of the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors.
Working his way up through several service steps and board positions over the years has been “a fun progression” Petersen said.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to work closely with other Realtors,” he said.
To Petersen, the two most important facets of any Realtor’s business are training and networking, and he said it’s the association’s “challenge to provide that service” to nearly 2,800 member associates.
“It just makes business easier” when a Realtor is confident in his training and part of a network of sales professionals with the same goal in mind, Petersen said.
Petersen spent his early career in the U.S. Navy, stationed in California for 12 years before shifting to the Naval Reserve and taking a post in the Washington, D.C., area with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., known as Freddie Mac.
In 2001, Petersen and his wife Nancy, along with their then 9- and 5-year-old children, made the move to Oklahoma City.
Petersen’s son, Turner, is a recent graduate of Rice University and his daughter, Berkley, is a student at the University of Alabama.
Petersen takes over at the Realtors associaition at a time when the local real estate market is “finally moving back to a normal flow,” he said.
“We were happy that in 2013 the sales volume was up, as well as home values,” he said. “What we need now are listings. It’s a seller’s market.”
Serving as president won’t keep him from remaining active as a broker, he said while checking out a listing at 6219 Riviera Drive with lead agent Norma Cokeley of RE/MAX Preferred Properties.
The 7,793-square-foot home, swimming in light even on an overcast February morning, blends a traditional, European-inspired exterior with contemporary-feeling interior space.
Cokeley said that the house, which features four bedrooms, 4 1/2 bathrooms, a modern kitchen, extensive space for entertaining and an interior courtyard with a pool, is the residence of former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters.
Petersen, who graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., said that in his capacity as association president he plans to take an active role in promoting Realtors’ interests and initiatives in local policy making.
Recent Oklahoma City Council action on abandoned properties will be key among the issues under the association’s scrutiny in 2014, Petersen said.
He said that the association “agrees that property owners shouldn’t be allowed to hurt others’ property values by disregarding their properties,” but he is eager to work with the council to patch “holes” in an ordinance that at present is “vague” in its wording.
Petersen said he hopes that the issue’s prominence “brings more private interests” into neighborhood revitalization projects.
Citing recent success stories involving the Plaza District and NW 23, Petersen said the association “has a passion to revitalize areas that deserve attention, while being careful of owners’ rights.”
The association extends that passion to involvement with “Rebuilding Together,” a nonprofit organization that helps maintain the homes of those who otherwise would be unable to do so. Petersen said recent projects had Realtors volunteering to “scrape paint” and to educate homeowners about simple money-saving measures like adding weatherstripping to leaky windows.
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