DeAnna Sickler & Dyan Lane The Highest Caliber of Service 2024

In today’s interview I sat down with local real estate experts DeAnna Sickler and Dyan Lane to dive deep into the Southern Oregon Real Estate market. With gross sales exceeding more than $34 million in 2023, the real estate team of DeAnna and Dyan are once again staying at the top of their game. Together they are joined by Linda Haxton and Britney Anding, creating an extraordinary team that goes above and beyond to meet all your real estate needs. It’s no surprise that their team motto is “The Highest Caliber of Service.”

Come with me now as I ask the hard and often forgotten questions that you must certainly ask your own realtor or call DeAnna and Dyan for the answer.

DeAnna and Dyan, welcome back and thanks for taking the time to do this special interview with me today. How are you both?

Dyan: We are doing great! It feels like the year of 2024 has started off on the right foot and honestly seems to be like a breath of fresh air. The real estate market has been jamming and I would venture to say we saw one of the busiest January and February in the past 15 years! Our team continues to adapt to the changing market conditions and pride ourselves on never forgetting to grow and to learn.

DeAnna: I am really looking forward to 2024. The energy in and outside the office feels different… and in a good way. I think we have all settled into what a miracle it was to have weathered the storms of 2023 and people are focused on all things positive.

To begin with, how was 2023 for you both professionally and personally?

Dyan: 2023 reminded me of when I first got my real estate license over 15 years ago. No longer do you just stick a sign in the ground and expect the property to sell. All the systems our team put into place so many years ago really benefited our clients in 2023. We had to think outside the box, be team players with all the agents and guide clients on if they should sell, hold or fold. Nationwide over 49% of agents didn’t sell more than one home and a lot of agents didn’t reactivate their license. It was definitely a year of shift and change, even in the local market and the agents that really did make real estate their career choice stuck it out and adapted as needed.

Personally, our daughter turned 16 on January 1st and we see less and less of her as we let out the “freedom” rope. I am just absolutely shocked at how fast the last 16 years have gone by.

She is turning into the most amazing woman and is starting to run circles around me, with her straight A’s, being a three-sport athlete and has big dreams of going into the Air Force Academy.

Our son is 11 and is the quickest person to make me laugh. He is nothing like me and that is one of the main reasons I love spending so much time with him. He is just starting to get his feet wet in all things “sports” and continues to push himself academically. My favorite thing about him is he isn’t afraid to ask tough questions and has a real desire to understand another person’s point of view.

DeAnna: Professionally, 2023 was one for the books. It wasn’t unlike the last “recession” we lived through and even in turbulent times, it made me grateful for having been through one of these cycles. I was able to guide my team, but also help other brokers in our industry who were in uncharted waters. Having past experience in a market considered less than favorable for just about everyone, we were able to tap into our experience, our tenacity and grit and have an incredibly successful and rewarding year.

On a personal level, I feel like I may be on the homestretch with my 15-year-old son…. and have found myself actually enjoying my time with him. I am less annoying to him, get fewer grunts and eye rolls and he actually doesn’t consider me the “so annoying” as many years past. We got his driver’s permit a few weeks ago and while I have seen my life flash before my eyes on a couple of occasions, I do think he will be a heck of a driver. Grady got some action as a freshman on his varsity football team and built a whole lot of character getting tossed around by upperclassmen. Griffin, age 12, traded in his fishing rods for golf clubs and while it broke my heart just a smidge to not have him as my angling buddy, it has been nice to see him find a new passion and one he shares with his dad. We are getting into the swing of things with baseball and I can’t wait!

What then presents the biggest obstacles for the two of you in being able to work with and best guide your clients?

DeAnna: Not having the “whole story” can be challenging. There are just so many moving parts and each tie in with the next so really understanding the intricacies is critical. Another challenging aspect is when there are more decision makers in the mix than what is being revealed. For example, if there is a family member whose opinion carries a lot of weight, we would rather have them be part of the discussions from start to finish. Trying to guide a client through pricing, repair or contract negotiations, etc. can be close to impossible if all the parties aren’t accessible for the discussion.

Knowing you have an Aunt Sally in Kansas who is a Realtor and whose opinion is valued greatly is key… let’s conference call with her from the start so she can hear from our perspective the things to take into consideration that are local to our market…. and then we can have an active discussion on how best to move forward.

Right now you are encouraging both buyers and sellers to come in and speak with you even if they might have plans that are still three to six months out. Please say more.

Dyan: Time and time again we have had clients come to us after they have made big investments into their home, with the plan of selling in the next several years. Sometimes these improvements pay off in dividends and sometimes, we have to break the news that your home isn’t worth more just because you did x.

I am a huge advocate of not always making your personal home decisions just based around increasing its value. I, personally, believe your primary residence should be a place of joy, rest and peace. Clients should seriously consider upgrading or making changes that will help their home support those qualities of life. I also want to give sound advice and a greater picture that not every improvement or change will increase the value dollar of dollar. I just met with a client a few months ago because she was thinking about remodeling her bathrooms. She called and said, “I really don’t want to bother you as I am not going to sell anytime soon but I don’t know what to do about changing out these bathrooms.” We were able to spend some time together to help her game plan not only on return of investment but more importantly what was going to bring her JOY and comfort. Sometimes, that isn’t considered enough.

DeAnna, what do you enjoy most in meeting and working with new clients?

Hearing “their story” is what we enjoy most about meeting and working with new clients. Learning about their goals, dreams and aspirations is really what keeps us showing up day in and day out. Helping people to build wealth but also realize the “American Dream” is so fulfilling. Our entire team is competitive by nature so the challenges that come with low inventory, high interest rate markets keep things exciting not to mention the thrill of matching people up with the perfect house and finding it before anyone else does… that’s really exciting.

Dyan, you and DeAnna have an amazing partnership of working together both as friends and business partners. What qualities do you appreciate the most about the level of work and standard you hold for each other?

Dyan: DeAnna’s level of service and downright grit is something I have rarely experienced elsewhere in my entire life. One client used to call us the bulldogs with lipstick and it is so true! I have known DeAnna (I call her Dee) since I was 18 years old. My parents demonstrated and demanded a high level of work ethic as a child and young adult so naturally I was in awe and drawn to Dee when we met. She was like the sister I never had. As DeAnna grew her business over the years, she needed someone with drive, respect and “fall on your sword” loyalty and sought me out from another career. I remember being so excited for the opportunity but even more excited to spend time with my best friend. At the time, I would have to schedule “meetings with her” to just get some one-on-one time with her.

There is no doubt about it, we have built a great business and one that we both fully enjoy and although everyone told us not to go into business together because of our friendship, I guarantee it is the reason we continue to be business partners today.

DeAnna: We often joke that our partnership is like a marriage. In fact, we often have laughed that the chances of us divorcing our husbands before each other is probably greater. Being in an intense industry such as real estate, coupled with challenges of raising tenacious humans while also being married to highly successful husbands mean we need to keep a level of honesty and transparency like no other. Sure, we have our off days, but we know the other one will fill in the gaps as needed. We also firmly believe iron sharpens iron so when it’s warranted, we can count on each other to deliver a needed attitude adjustment. Next to my husband, Dyan is the most loyal person I know, and she will always have my back.

DeAnna, what tips right now would you offer to prospective buyers here in the Rogue Valley?

DeAnna: Get prepared so you are the most attractive home shopper there is. Align with a solid lender and broker and then let them do what they do. Brokers who are in this market day in and day out are in the know of upcoming listings, strategies to improve your chance of successfully negotiating the offer, repairs and closing terms. So many transactions have come together from weekly networking meetings so if you are relying on the internet to learn about the housing inventory, you are missing out in a huge way.

Should we continue to wait until rates come down?

DeAnna: To keep a long story short, NO! Many sellers are still open to offering closing cost credits and other incentives to help offset the higher rates. Many of our buyers have been able to utilize those credits in order to get into a home and rely on knowing they can refinance their property in the future, once the rates are lower. If they were to wait it out and not buy until the rates come down, not only are they wasting their money on rent, they are also missing out on the property appreciation that will take place once they own the home. They also miss out on tax advantages that come with home ownership so while they feel it’s going to cost them more and/or they’ll be “wasting” money at the higher rate, the actual expense of waiting will be even more costly.

Many lenders are offering no cost refinances to home buyers purchasing now, creating a win-win. Buy now, utilize the incentives being offered by the seller to buy down your rate and then when the rates drop more, refinance into a 30-year fixed rate all the while you are paying down principal, gaining appreciation and improving your tax return.

What about tips to sellers? What are the most important things they should be doing right now?

Dyan: Planning, dreaming and confirming that your house/property is still serving the needs of you and your family. I think sometimes it is hard for sellers to give themselves permission to close a chapter and move on to another one. Set up a time to meet with a real estate agent so they can help guide you on what steps to take to meet your real estate goals. If you are thinking of selling in the next two years, we recommend connecting with someone now. We personally help guide our clients on what improvements to make within that two-year span, what ones won’t be the best return on investment. We also will most likely ask you questions you may not have asked yourself. Depending on clients’ goals and circumstances it may be better to sell sooner than they thought, to hold onto the property as a rental or to pull equity out for a few projects that then meet the sellers’ needs and they no longer need/want to sell.

DeAnna, what is a question that myself as a customer may not know to ask a buyer that you would ask?

I think it’s important to ask a buyer about their experience (or lack thereof) with the home buying process. It’s important for us to meet people “where they are” so we can be of the best assistance to them. Knowing their level of comfort, their goals, their communication and learning style… we can be most effective for them in helping their purchase process be successful but also enjoyable.

Dyan, please give an example of a very honest and candid conversation that you have had with either a seller or buyer that perhaps might not ordinarily happen.

Dyan: We had a previous client call us to strategize about their future real estate plans and which assets to keep and which assets to sell. As we spoke about their future plans and where they think they will end up over the next 10 years it became clear to me that they were considering selling the wrong property. From a commission perspective, the property they were going to list was three times as valuable than the property they were thinking about keeping, so they were so surprised to hear us guiding them to sell the other property. By selling option #2 they protected capital gains, freed up an asset to buy something where they were moving to AND kept a property here locally that would allow them to move back if the move didn’t go as planned. It allows us to strategize in the future about selling option #1, once we know if they are not moving back or if it gets close to them no longer having capital gains protection.

What’s the best part of being at the top of your games here in the Southern Oregon real estate market?

I think the best part of being top of our game is having the freedom and flexibility to choose the clients we want to work with. Some might think the value of their home or their spending budget is a factor in our decision when in reality it really isn’t. We pour our hearts and souls into our clients, taking time away from our families and friends so finding people who we enjoy being around is crucial.

We want to be of service and to know there is mutual trust and respect. If any one of us doesn’t get a good feeling from a situation, we honor that and make a group decision to not work with that person. Life is too short to be surrounded with people where mutual respect isn’t present. We probably aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s totally fine. Fortunately for everyone, there is a wide variety of real estate professionals in this community so it’s safe to say there is someone for everyone. Chances are, if we aren’t the right fit, we will have a couple of names to offer up that may be just what that prospective client needs and/or wants. We feel so strongly it’s important to have the right fit and if we determine we aren’t the right ones, we would gladly put the client in touch with someone who can help them.

Best piece of advice to someone buying a multi-family home?

Dyan: This is a great question Shields. I think in our experience, residents sharing the home really need to have their own separation of space. This can be an overflow bedroom that serves as a second living space, a workshop or hobby room that allows people to have moments of time away from the rest of the family. Multi-family homes became all the rage during Covid, and we still do see a lot of people wanting this option. I often guide clients to sit down together (all adults who are going on this adventure together). It’s important to ask how the other ‘family’ lives. Are they night owls? Early risers? Noise sensitive? Work from home? How will chores be divided up? If there are kids in the home, how will expectations and boundaries be set with them?

Best piece of advice to an out-of-state/out-of-town buyer?

1. Work with a local real estate agent. Because we are on the California border and surrounded by other cities outside the Rogue Valley, we do see our share of buyers being represented by out-of-town real estate agents. Our team are very much “team players” and will meet these agents at our listings so they can show it to their clients. But if we are being honest, it often is not in the client’s best interest to be represented by an agent that doesn’t know our local real estate market trends, demands, neighborhoods, value etc. I (Dyan) stand so firmly on this, that when my in-laws sold their property in Merlin (on acreage), I referred them to a local expert in Josephine County. Yes, I knew it would be a quick sale, yes, I had a great relationship with my in-laws so it would be a seamless transaction, but I also knew I didn’t know what current buyers were looking for in that rural area or if supply and demand were in our favor and I could push their value higher than I could justify on paper.

2. If at all possible, rent before you buy. Southern Oregon communities are so close together that a lot of buyers think they must “all be the same.” Us locals know this isn’t exactly true. Depending on what you’re hoping to get from your community, you will naturally gravitate towards certain areas. This is a huge investment and if you’re not familiar with Southern Oregon this simple step of renting first can ease a lot of stress.

3. Be sure you share with your agent what you’re looking for not only in a home, but in your lifestyle and your dreams/plans for the next 3-5 years. That way they are not only guiding you for today but also protecting your asset in your planning on moving or upgrading in the next five years. Big life changes such as retirement, job movement, marriage, babies or future commitments to take care of a loved one can be big life changes that typically also impact the needs of a client’s housing demands.

Best piece of advice for a first-time home buyer?

Dyan: Don’t think you can’t do it. I think sometimes the younger generation forgets to dream and even don’t give themselves enough credit that they can start building real estate wealth. For the record, real estate investments have been one of, if not the, quickest way to build wealth. If the payment is making you scared, think about getting a roommate, or reducing other debt which in turn makes your overhead the same. Don’t think you are going to buy your dream house right out of the gate, and that is okay. More than likely, you will sell your first home within the first five years of owning it. Or better yet, keep it as a rental instead of selling it. Another idea is to look at a duplex investment; live on one side and rent out the other. First-time buyers are always some of our favorite clients. We love being part of their team as they walk through some of the most foundational years of their life and start to separate themselves from the pack.

DeAnna, if you were in the market looking to buy or sell a home right now, what would you absolutely do and what would you absolutely not do?

Don’t try to be an expert in a field you aren’t an expert in. Just as you would lean on your CPA for tax advice, your attorney for legal advice and your financial advisor for investment advice, lean on your real estate broker for real estate advice. If you don’t wholeheartedly believe what they are saying and also that they have your best interests at heart… they aren’t your people and you need to find someone else. This last year we had two different occasions when past clients notified us they were stipulated in their wills that they wanted us to sell their homes for them, upon their passing.

The first time it happened we were a bit taken aback but after more discussion they felt so passionate about us being of service to their surviving family members they didn’t want to leave it to chance. Is there any greater honor? It still makes me emotional thinking about it.

All in all how did 2023 turn out and what are your predictions for 2024?

All things considered, 2023 turned out pretty darn good. For our 13th consecutive year, we received the Top 1% award from John L Scott, reinforcing that while it wasn’t our highest volume of closed sales as compared to years past, we still did really well and helped 54 families with their real estate needs. We anticipate 2024 will be even stronger. Our industry isn’t for the weak, laws are ever-changing, education requirements aren’t loosening up and for good reason, many brokers are deciding it’s time to hang it up.

We are grateful we remain passionate about the service we provide and still enjoy the challenges we face in an ever-changing market.

Finally, do you have any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Dyan: It is so strongly placed on my heart to say thank you. Thank you for watching me grow as a real estate agent, as a mother and personally. The notes I have received in the mail, saying a column encouraged you or that you too were struggling with the same problems, have encouraged me more than you know. We absolutely love our community. I can’t imagine living or doing business somewhere else besides Southern Oregon. Thanks for helping our new community members adapt and find their place. If we didn’t have an amazing town, people wouldn’t move here and they wouldn’t stay. You all make our jobs so much easier.

DeAnna: I really appreciate being “seen” by this community. When Shields first suggested we start writing the monthly column we were hesitant to share about our lives outside of the real estate world. However, in doing so, we have found ways to connect with this community that would have never been possible without that transparency or vulnerability. Just earlier today, Dyan and I went on a listing appointment and as we drove away, we both remarked about how much we liked the house but also how much we liked the owners of the home. It’s always a little nerve wracking to interview for a position and leave without really knowing if they felt as comfortable with us as we did with them. Shortly after leaving their home, they sent a text asking for a brief call. With bated breath, I phoned them right away to be greeted with “We just wanted you to know we really enjoyed our meeting with you and we want you to represent us in the sale.” Turns out they intended to interview a few brokers (but hadn’t yet done so) and after meeting us decided there was no need and they really wanted to work with us. They went on to say they felt they had really gotten to know us over the years due to our presence in the LocalsGuide and they fully trusted us. We have yet to come up with a price for their home but they wanted us to know that was secondary to their priority of finding someone they were comfortable with. I will never lose my excitement to receive calls like this. To be valued for who we are and what we stand for as well as the business model we have created and our track record of success is really the greatest accomplishment.

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DeAnna Sickler + Dyan Lane

Real Estate Team

(541) 414-4663

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DeAnna Sickler & Dyan Lane

DeAnna Sickler and Dyan Lane, Brokers 320 E. Main St. Ashland OR 97520 541-414-4663

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