For Elizabeth Callaway, a new homes specialist for Advantage Pro Realty, being a REALTOR® in her small hometown of El Dorado, Ark., over the past five years has been a blessing and a wonderful challenge. Callaway has known most of the folks she sees and helps every day since her childhood. Then there are transplants from larger cities who depend on Callaway to help assimilate.
In El Dorado, the lack of new housing has long been an issue, as the town hasn't had any major new builds since the early 1980s. This ever-present condition got Callaway's office thinking about what the team could do to solve the issue and better the community. During a sales meeting, the team had what she calls a "lightbulb moment" to use empty lots near the reviving downtown area to build a community within a community.
Here, Callaway discusses how she's been working toward breaking ground on the project, and advice she'd give other real estate professionals on how to navigate the current pandemic.
RISMedia's Real Estate Newsmakers honors were created to recognize the people who are raising the standards of professionalism in the real estate industry. What does it mean to you to be named among this year's 300 honorees?
It was a great honor to be included in such an outstanding group of colleagues in the real estate industry. Reading all of the honoree's stories was quite humbling for me. With such hard hitters from larger markets and cities, it still blows my mind that I, an agent from a town of 19,000, was chosen.
You were selected as a Newsmaker within the Crusaders category, which is dedicated to the champions of a better way within our industry. Could you tell us a little bit about how you're using empty lots in your area to address a lack of new housing?
The plans are basically to make a community inside a community. There will be five properties, between 1,600 - 2,000 square feet, a green space and a common building, all built within a three lot area. There will also be walkways and beautiful landscaping.
When do you plan on breaking ground on the project?
The plan was to break ground this past spring, then COVID-19 hit and everyone's world changed...so to be honest, we're not sure when that will actually be. Maybe when the world is back up on its axis again!
Could you tell us a little bit about who your partners are in this project?
The partnership is between our brokerage, Advantage Pro Realty in El Dorado, Ark., a local architect and a local builder who is part of a local investment corporation. We are committed to El Dorado and want to make housing opportunities that fit with the other community investments being made.
What would your advice be to other agents about moving forward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has affected everyone in the world one way or another, and there's no way around that fact. As REALTORS®, our jobs became a bit more challenging and intense, with shutdowns, openings, showings, closings and day-to-day operations. Real estate is the last economic indicator of how the economy is going to pull out of the offset of the pandemic. My advice is to take precautions for yourself and your clients, while squirreling away money where you can, because the affect on our livelihood is far from over.