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david_howellBefore coming aboard McEnearney Associates in 1996, David Howell was the owner and principal broker of his own real estate company for 12 years—though his path to the industry was a little unconventional.

“My wife and I acquired a real estate company owned by friends of my in-laws, although that wasn’t our intention,” he says. “We were looking to get involved as agents, but they told us they were retiring, and shortly thereafter, we ended up buying their company and became licensed as agents at about the same time.”

Today, as executive vice president and CIO of McEnearney Associates, Howell is one of the busiest players in the Washington Metro Area.

“D.C. remains remarkably hot, but the suburbs are cooler. Overall, we’ve got a good balance between supply and demand, and we’re perking along,” he says. “I would call this a ‘normal’ market. There are some hot spots and cold spots and some disconnects and demographic shifts causing people to gravitate closer in. Traffic is driving more people to want to live in walkable communities and live/work/play environments.”

He admits he’s a bit surprised at the “normal” tag, because with interest rates still relatively low, from a historical perspective, he would have thought more people would be flocking to buy homes.

“There’s something still fundamentally unsettled about the market that demand isn’t higher with rates this low,” he says. “There’s still some uncertainty in the economy, and some of that is due to the fact that the national median household income is still below what it was in 1999. We still have a ways to go before we see a real recovery in the housing market. Normal is good, but it should be better for where we are.”

The McLean, Va.-based firm is always looking to grow, and recently opened an office on 14th St. in D.C.

The firm has a mantra to provide great customer service, aiming to hire strong agents and support staff who “play well with others” in order to maintain a top-notch level of service and support.

“This is an extraordinarily competitive area with many wonderful existing firms. If there’s a way to divide the commission dollar, it exists in this marketplace,” Howell says. “From our perspective, what sets us apart is our culture, training and support, and the way we try to execute that. When our founder opened the doors in 1980, his philosophy was doing the right thing by the client the first time, every time, and if you do that, everything else follows.”

McEnearney Associates offers a robust education program for people coming into the firm as brand-new agents, and is always on the lookout for quality agents who fit in well with the company culture.

“We try extremely hard to maintain a quality reputation in the marketplace, and we know we’re not going to get every agent, but we find those high-quality agents that can make the transaction go smoothly,” Howell says. “It’s what’s kept us strong all these years.”

Vitals: McEnearney Associates
Years in Business:
Size: 8 offices, 350 agents
Region Served: Metro Washington, D.C.
2015 Sales Volume: $1.96 billion
2015 Transactions: 2,950

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