October 8, 2018 – Cathy Dobson, The Sarnia Journal
Thirty years into Steve Park’s real estate career and eight years into Rob Longo’s, the two longtime friends decided the time was right for a new brokerage in Sarnia-Lambton.
They opened Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty in early September. Three weeks later, seven more agents joined the company, including specialists in commercial realty.
These are boom days for realtors as out-of-towners discover Sarnia-Lambton’s relatively low-cost lifestyle. Retirees from the GTA appreciate the beaches and other amenities of a mid-size community, and the bang for the buck they can get in the housing market.
As Park puts it, “There’s a lot of outside confidence in Sarnia.”
That has added up to several years of market growth, said Park, who is president of the Sarnia-Lambton Real Estate Board.
“This kind of stability can be expected for at least another 10 to 15 years,” Longo added.
After working long-term for Magic Realty, Park and Longo said their high sales volume made them consider their own brokerage firm.
“We found we were so busy that we looked at hiring full-time assistants,” said Park. “Once we recognized that, it started to feel like we had an office unto ourselves, so that’s when we did some soul searching.”
Both are second-generation realtors and Longo’s father, Lou, built their new Coldwell Banker offices at 780 Exmouth St.
The 3,700 square feet of office space was custom built to accommodate modern real estate needs, including new technology, 11 private offices, a boardroom, and a central hub where as many as 10 more agents can set up shop.
High ceilings and lots of interior glass provide an open-concept feel in a building where privacy is a priority, said Longo.
Coldwell Banker currently occupies about half the new building just east of Northgate plaza.
Lou Longo is one of Coldwell Banker’s new agents, along with Jim Pumple, Brendan Kelly, Scott Westman, Brian Dennis, Patrick Coutu and Bob Leaper.
It was significant investment made because the two owners believe the market will remain strong, said Park.
Sarnia-Lambton’s most recent real estate stats for September indicate the average home price was $310,406 and sales volume was up 10% over September 2017.
Longo and Park say they were attracted to buy into both the Coldwell Banker and Coldwell Banker Commercial franchises because of the company’s size and international presence.
“Coldwell Banker is the most involved, the most organized and has very aggressive training programs,” Park said.
Just as the office equipment was being installed in his new real estate office, Rob Longo learned he was recognized by the Real Estate Professional’s Young Guns report on 50 up-and-coming professionals poised to become leaders in Canada’s real estate industry. Sales reps on the list were required to be 35 and younger and considered to be “on the path to stardom,” according to the announcement.
Sarnia’s newest real estate brokerage, Coldwell Banker Southwest Realty, is located at 780 Exmouth St.
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