Last year, American Property Brokers, based in Billings, Mont., and Watford City, N.D., aligned themselves with ERA Real Estate, and the firm’s two offices began doing business as ERA American Real Estate.
The firm originally started operating in 2002 when broker/owner and 30-year real estate veteran Jim Huskey teamed with his son Brian and Jeff Reiter, and saw real estate opportunities afforded by the region’s growth in the oil, gas and mining industries.
“To me, real estate is sort of like treasure hunting. It helps people find their treasure—their home—and lets you help people sell their home and find another treasure,” Huskey says. “It’s a neat thing to see people’s expressions and the excitement that goes on when you help them find the perfect place.”
Throughout 2016, the North Dakota market has been stable both on the commercial and residential side, but at mid-year, people were waiting for oil prices to go back up. Still, in Billings, Huskey notes business hasn’t declined and has been relatively strong. It’s one of the reasons that the firm has been hiring and increasing its agent count and client list.
“When we started, there were just three of us, but now we have 10 agents because we are recruiting more all the time,” he says. “We do things like contacting For-Sale-by-Owners and those who have expired or withdrawn from other agents to give them the opportunity for us to help them sell their property.”
One change to the firm of late is its increased use of technology. For instance, ERA American Real Estate utilizes a program that allows agents to put in information about potential buyers, tracking their “movements” on the internet.
“There’s a transition from the old-school to modern technology, and we have to make sure we stay in contact with everyone, even those not on board with it all yet,” Huskey says. “We’re trying to merge the baby boomers with all of the new buyers, and take care of both markets.”
Keeping his staff up-to-date on the latest and greatest has been easier since coming aboard ERA, as it offers more than 2,000 training clips to agents. The firm also brings in investment people to talk with agents, and the leadership team is always there to work hands-on with anyone.
“We have a very competitive commission split and pride ourselves on our personal relationships, and people look to us for a better split, better office and better facilities,” Huskey says. “There’s a space right next door that we’re going to add another 6-7 offices to, increasing our space from 1,200 to 2,400 square feet. We plan on filling it with great agents.”
Vitals: ERA American Real Estate
Years in business: 14 (1 as ERA)
Size: 2 offices, 13 agents
Region served: Billings, Mont.; North Dakota