With new property continuously being developed, and new businesses seemingly cropping up daily throughout Owensboro, it may come as no surprise that 2019 is poised to be a record-breaking year for the local real estate and housing market.
The Greater Owensboro REALTOR Association (GORA) general membership meeting was held in the form of a Taco Tuesday-style luncheon at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum on May 21, to celebrate the positive trend in the real estate market and inform local realtors of recent updates in the profession.
The president, CEO, government affairs director and director of communications & marketing from Kentucky Realtors (KYR) were all in attendance to present and discuss the latest developments and upward trends.
Jim DeMaio, executive officer for GORA, provided the annual update, that not only included the positive trend in the market, but several firsts for the organization.
“In 2018-2019, we were in really great shape and will be in the black,” DeMaio said. “We just finished up a budget for 2019-2020, which is not only conservative but positive.”
Demaio also introduced those in attendance to the new Owensboro MLS public-facing website, adding that the old site, although outdated, was still generating 200,000 hits a month. DeMaio said the new site will also be directly linked to the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce page, hoping to draw more viewers.
While the lack of real estate inventory in the state of Kentucky was mentioned as a possible concern for growth, DeMaio said the amount of new construction in the Owensboro area could only benefit the market.
“It’s interesting to watch sales continue to hit records when inventory is so low,” DeMaio said. “The local realtors have really strong connections with the builders in this community. I can barely think of a builder that doesn’t reach out to the realtors.”
Realtor Devin Taylor said he believed one of the things that attributed to the increase in inventory in the Owensboro area was the amount of new development.
“There’s a lot of new construction going on in Owensboro with new homes and with building different infrastructures,” Taylor said. “Some of those sales that you see are new construction homes and that helps to increase our inventory.”
Director of Communications, Marketing & Member Programs, Paul Del Rio agreed that recent property developments had a positive impact on the local housing market.
“I also think one of the things that benefits this community is the revitalization that’s been happening here,” Del Rio said. “Now that the market and the robustness in the Kentucky economy is catching up, you guys were already riding that wave a little bit — now you’re just riding a bigger one. I think Owensboro’s really going to take advantage of this economy and the boom that’s been happening — it’s seems like it’s just going to continue and more people will come in because there’s that opportunity.”
GORA hopes to continue in a positive direction by increasing their visibility in the community as well.
Not only will they be presenting Home Ownership Matters this year at Friday After 5 on June 14, but the organization will also sponsor Friday After 5 on August 23 for the first time. Other firsts include a Leadership Luncheon on June 19 with representatives from the City, County, Chamber of Commerce and GOEDC, as well as sponsoring the Rooster Booster breakfast on August 1.
“We are extremely excited to announce this,” DeMaio said of sponsoring the breakfast. “This is a huge opportunity for us. There will be about 350 people at this breakfast. We want as many realtors and housing industry members there as possible. This is something we haven’t done before that is really going to bring our organization into the limelight in this community.”
After announcing the date for the Aid the Homeless Prom, the organization’s main fundraiser, on September 28 at 7 p.m. at the Bluegrass Museum, DeMaio gave the audience of realtors a sneak peek of the new “Who’s Your REALTOR?” video marketing campaign, which is set to go live on social media in June. The campaign highlights several “local celebrity” and non-profit leaders in the community advocating for the positive impact realtors can have.
While the majority of the information shared at Tuesday’s meeting was positive, several current issues were brought to light that impacted the lives and careers of realtors. One growing concern that was addressed in the age of home surveillance, was that of home buyers being aware that anything they said while touring or viewing a home with their Realtor could be recorded.
Health insurance coverage was also discussed, as Realtors, like many other professions, are private contractors that often have to turn to state coverage for their medical care.
“If you want to become a realtor, insurance should not be the thing holding you back,” said KYR President Rip Phillips.
The event capped off with the presentation of the prestigious Heritage Award which recognizes a member of the public for their personal contribution to the enhancement of civic pride and improved spirit of living in communities that make up the Greater Owensboro REALTOR Association area. The Heritage Award is the highest honor given to a member of the public by the Greater Owensboro REALTOR Association.
The crowd rose to their feet as this year’s award was presented to retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. and optometrist Dr. H. Andrew Ward for his selfless service in the Owensboro community and beyond. According to Taylor, Dr. Ward completed over 20 mission trips and provided outstanding service to those in need of eyeglasses in the community.
“I want to thank the association for this achievement award,” Ward said, joking that it had been his “pleasure to service and to take care of those in need in Owensboro, and overseas, with youth eyeglasses and good suitcases.”