FIVE REAL ESTATE SELLERS FORM NEW BUSINESS

November 06, 2002 12:00 am
Re/Max team: From left, Don Keeling, Randy McKinnis, Becky Keeling, Holly Walker and Shawna McKinnis are working out of the building formerly occupied by Oregon Trail Realty.  (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
Re/Max team: From left, Don Keeling, Randy McKinnis, Becky Keeling, Holly Walker and Shawna McKinnis are working out of the building formerly occupied by Oregon Trail Realty. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Five people already in the real estate business in La Grande have opened a firm under a new banner. Under a red, white and blue balloon, to be correct.

Shawna and Randy McKinnis, Don and Becky Keeling and Holly Walker are now under the Re/Max logo.

Shawna McKinnis and Becky Keeling are the principal brokers. The other three are called brokers under a new Oregon law defining all certified real estate agents as brokers.

The McKinnises and Keelings are the owners of the venture, which is at 2106 Island Ave. The group has remodeled the building that was formerly occupied by Oregon Trail Realty, which relocated to 2713 Bearco Loop near Joe's Place.

All five of the Re/Max sellers came to the new business from ERA Driggers. The move included purchase of some of their listings held at ERA.

Randy McKinnis pointed out that any agent could sell anything on the multiple listing service. The five are all members of the Board of Realtors and subscribe to that group's standard of ethics.

As for why the five broke away from an established company, Randy McKinnis said, "We have no animosity toward them, but you reach a point in your career when you just want to break away and do your own thing. Starting this business was the next logical step for us."

All five emphasized it was a business decision and that there were no hard feelings toward their former company.

Becky Keeling said, "We are starting our own new inventory, but our clients have been incredibly loyal and supportive during the transition."

The new office opened Oct. 28 after the extensive remodeling.

Don Keeling said the majority of the listings would be residential but that the company would also list commercial and business properties for sale.

He has been in the real estate business since 1999. The others began in 1995.

Becky Keeling said that Re/Max, a company started in Denver in 1973 and featuring a red, white and blue hot-air balloon as its logo, is interested in being a part of the community.

"The company has always participated in community activities and supported events in the community. We will do that here."

All said they felt this was a good time to be in the real estate business.

Shawna McKinnis said, "Interest rates are very low now and it's a good time to buy. It's a good time to make an investment in real estate."

Randy McKinnis said, "This area is poised for some positive movement in the real estate business. There are going to be some changes that will help the real estate market. The

La Grande market should get better and better."

The company hopes, over time, to add more salespeople, he said.

"And the clients will see people more experienced than the average salesperson," Randy said.

The La Grande Re/Max group spent time in Denver for training. There are 75,000 agents worldwide under the Re/Max emblem, they said.

The local phone number is 963-1000. The Web site is re/max.com.

Oregon Trail Realty did not require as much space as previously, said Phyllis Saunders, who owns the business with her husband, Grant.

"We're a mom and pop operation and we're scaling down," she said. They are the only two working for Oregon Trail, she said.