EDMOND — If you thought the only thing the rest of the world noticed about Oklahoma was tornadoes, touchdowns and the Oklahoma City Thunder, think again.
Joe Pryor, 2013 president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, is taking calls from investors who've got their eyes on the roofs over our heads — and they're willing betting that Oklahoma homes are sound places to invest.
Pryor, team leader of TheVirtuaRealEstateTeam.com and an associate with Edmond's Redbud Realty & Associates, guided both local and out-of-state investors through the late four-year downturn.
Finally, he said, he can show them that bluer skies are not just on the horizon, they're overhead right now.
Of course, it took a few years of pain to get here, Pryor said.
“In 2009, the market stopped,” he said. For three years “it's been a lot of short sales” and foreclosures, with a slow recovery “driven by investors absorbing distressed inventory.”
In Oklahoma, total closings, 40,765, and the average price of a home sold, $160,385, increased from 2011 — as well as 2009 and 2010 — according to 2012 year-end statistics from the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.
Pryor started out as a Realtor in the late 1980s.
“That was a repo market,” he recalled.
It was a lean time for anyone with real estate holdings, but it taught Pryor firsthand how to survive in a struggling market. His success selling foreclosures in those years drove him to ask questions.
“I could show my clients what made a property a good buy, but not what made a good investment,” he said, and that realization that led Pryor down a path of education.
Today, Pryor holds numerous professional certifications and distinctions, including Certified Distressed Property Expert, Certified Investment Analysis Specialist and Residential Financial Consultant. He is also pursuing the Certified Commercial Investment Member designation.
“I learned to define where real estate fits for an investor, in terms of (return on investment) and risk,” Pryor said.
His goal is to show “in black and white” how to make real estate part of an investment portfolio and how to keep risk to a minimum “if you do it right.”
“I'm like anybody else, I hate to be embarrassed,” Pryor said. “I want my investor clients to be able to sell it later.”
Pryor started sharing his Oklahoma real estate expertise a decade ago by launching a website. In 2004, he was contacted by a San Francisco-based investor who wanted to know more about the state's economic fundamentals and the values to be found here.
“I flew to San Francisco” to speak to investors there, Pryor said, and “I showed Oklahoma City to them.”
Out-of-state investors were sold on Oklahoma's low unemployment, and the quality of single-family homes available as investments.
Also, “They couldn't believe traffic was so easy,” he said.
Pryor's Web presence — a YouTube channel, blog and SEO (search engine optimization) strategies — continued capturing out-of-state interest even through the recession and housing slump.
For investors from the West Coast, London, Tel Aviv and elsewhere, it's Oklahoma's economic fundamentals that have kept interest alive, he said.
“Investors look for opportunity, especially in a volatile market,” he explained.
As president of the Oklahoma Association of Realtors, Pryor said he is proud to have “a seat at the table for change.”
With well over 100 bills before the state Legislature that bear on the real estate business, Pryor said legislative advocacy is a major focus. Another is “to change the way we educate Realtors” through online initiatives the association plans to roll out in 2013 and beyond.
Pryor surveyed the real estate landscape for the rest of 2013 confident in continued recovery, although work remains to be done.
“In the past three years I've done lots of short sales,” he said, and they're not worked through the market yet, Pryor said.
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