Living In Southern Oregon

DeAnna Sickler & Dyan Lane – John L. Scott Real Estate

For the past 20 years, DeAnna and Dyan have worked to grow and support their real estate business here in Southern Oregon. This year the dynamic duo surpassed $51 million in closed sales. We follow along with their monthly columns and learn much about their lives and adventures in real estate. In today’s interview, I catch up with DeAnna and Dyan to review the highlights of 2019 and the upcoming season for 2020.

DeAnna and Dyan, hello and welcome. I am excited to catch up with you two in our annual interview.

Thank you, Shields. It’s always a pleasure to chat with you.

What was the overall trend of the past year and how do you see us moving forward into 2020?

Much of last year it felt like people were still holding their breath, wondering if the smoke was going to roll in as it had for several years prior. We saw inventory levels increase early on in the year, with many sellers either trying to get a jump on the air quality or reacting to having missed their opportunity to sell the season prior. We saw healthy market activity in every price range and zip code. The higher end market (over $1 million) also saw a fair amount of sales in 2019 despite there being a lot of inventory in that price range.

What are the top qualities to look at when choosing a real estate team?

There are so many real estate brokers in our valley, buyers and sellers are really in a great position to find the perfect fit. Interviewing brokers to see who you feel most comfortable with is a good starting point but also going a little deeper is important. As a buyer, it will cost you nothing for representation so find someone who has experience in the type of property and area you are interested in. Using the Zillow website to search for properties is not a good replacement for years of experience. It’s not a bad place to start for getting acquainted with inventory but relying on it to establish value is a huge disservice. Zillow doesn’t factor in anything other than data so finding someone who knows the market inside and out really is in your best interest.

As a seller, it’s critical to know exactly what you are getting for your money. Read reviews, check out testimonials, look at their current and past inventory. For the most part, the fee being paid for having your property listed is going to be about the same so be sure you are hiring someone with a proven track record. Ask for data on a their production, their company’s performance, etc. We personally have more than 30 years combined experience in real estate and literally thousands of transactions under our belts. We are well rounded, representing nearly equal numbers of sellers as buyers, and we work as real estate brokers full time. We have a well-oiled machine that has proven results year after year. We are continually evaluating what is working in the current market conditions and what is not.

Time and time again we discuss tips and strategy. What do you find yourselves continually repeating and sharing with your customers both as sellers and buyers?

The market is always talking and it is imperative to listen. Having someone in your corner as a professional advisor to help you interpret the market is so important. As a seller, you have to stay up to date on which properties are selling, at what price, and how long they are taking to sell. This snapshot of the market helps explain the current demands and what we can expect when a new property hits the market. When representing a buyer it is equally important to keep an eye on current inventory, be aware of places that may be coming up for sale, and also know which price points are in the highest demand. Being readily available to show property is also important, particularly in the more competitive price points. The systems we have in place provides great coverage seven days a week. There is nothing more frustrating to a buyer than missing out on a property because it went pending before they were able to see it.

Let’s talk about the power of the social and marketing network that you two have built over the past 20 years. What are the benefits of working with you?

Over the years, we have been able to fine tune what works in our market but also what doesn’t.

Obviously, the internet changed the industry and while we are all so grateful for the ease of accessing information, we think it’s important to remember that a computer doesn’t replace years of experience or practical knowledge that’s in the present. For example, we have “lost” out on listings in the past because prospective sellers have decided to go with another group who has all the flashy marketing. They have been wowed by all things digital and just felt like that was the best possible exposure for their property. We are aligned with the number one company in Jackson County and hands down, our in-house marketing department has cast our “digital footprint net” in all the important places.

As for our own business, we are in the fortunate position of putting our own spin on things and over the years we feel we have really been able to pinpoint what is most effective. Those with all the flashy marketing platforms aren’t necessarily selling the real estate they are promoting. They may be capturing attention but is it working to actually sell the properties? It’s easy to see why sellers are seduced by all the glamorous “stuff” but if they never actually sell their home – or it sits on the market for months and months – was that really the best approach? Don’t misunderstand – we aren’t saying there aren’t some incredible benefits from having a strong digital footprint and/or media presence, be it social, digital or print, but if it’s not appropriate for your market, who is really benefiting from all that promotion?

Hands down, our presence in the LocalsGuide is our number one lead generator for our business and it’s because people genuinely love it. The content is rich and consistent and even though some would say print advertising is “old-school,” it’s an absolute no brainer for our business. And when that changes for our market we will be the first to switch it up. But for now, why would we fix something that isn’t broken? We are the first to try out new ideas to promote our listings. We have placed ads in the Wall Street Journal, airline magazines, Wine and Country, etc. And after each adventure we are dissecting which worked and which didn’t. We have found that in our local market, promoting our properties to the local brokers is just as important if not more so than to the general public. We want all the agents out there to know about our listings and to be excited to sell our properties. We try to achieve this by being easy to work with and open to answering any questions they might have, even if it isn’t on a property we currently have listed. We want to be their first phone call so in turn our properties are the first they want to sell.

Can you share more about what your clients gain from the standpoint of knowledge and experience?

We are known for our candor and people have come to appreciate that. We feel convicted to provide valuable information to those seeking our expertise. After all, it won’t do any of us any good if we just tell you what you want to hear.

The days of asking a seller what they want for their home and then pricing it accordingly are over. If the value isn’t justifiable, you will be revisiting it once the appraisal is done. There is literally nothing worse than establishing an unrealistic expectation; the property will either sit on the market and never sell or it will sell for an unrealistic price to later be scrutinized and likely renegotiated. Yearly statistics show the longer a property sits on the market, the less the seller receives in the end. Don’t get us wrong; we do price our listings with the sellers but we all go into the relationship understanding the pros and cons of different pricing strategies, and then form a game plan to change if the property doesn’t sell. We enjoy learning from our clients what their ultimate goal is and supporting their journey. We also feel it important to share our knowledge and experience with them so they can make a decision that best serves them.

Sometimes you are entering new territory and this is where teamwork and connections with other experts come into play. Please say more.

Because we average about 100 transactions per year, we are exposed to different scenarios. Last year alone, we navigated several positive arsenic well samples – all which were remedied in a different way. We overcame failed septic systems, homes plagued with mold and the list goes on. Through each, we put on our thinking caps and hunger for knowledge and jumped in feet first. Some would say we are too stubborn to fail and I guess that is partly true. We just feel like every party to the transaction has the same goal and if we can be the conduit that brings it all together – then that’s a win-win for all of us. We aren’t afraid to admit when we come up on a situation we aren’t familiar with and we also aren’t afraid to go the extra mile to get the information we need for the experts we rely on in their respective fields. We have strong relationships with our colleagues and feel our open-minded approach of collaboration has served our clients best interest time and time again. We are solution oriented and will turn over every stone in an effort to get the outcome our clients are hoping for.

DeAnna and Dyan, how do you continue to maintain your friendship and enjoyment of work after so many years?

Our initial response is to say we have cocktails…. And we definitely do, but it’s so much deeper than that. Over the course of our twenty years of friendship we have been witness to a lot of life but also a lot of death.

By death – we don’t necessarily mean literally. We have seen relationships “die” for every reason under the sun and in many cases, for reasons that feel avoidable. In this day and age, fewer and fewer people want to have tough conversations. We see it among spouses, among business partners – even among parents with their children. There is so much more to be experienced in a relationship when you can have authentic conversations, and a lot of people in today’s world are really hungry for that exact thing. We consider each other an accountability partner so when things feel insurmountable, we provide support to one another. It doesn’t mean it’s always pretty. We encourage and support each other in the relationships we have at home but also within our business. At times, one of us just doesn’t have it in them to take on the tough stuff and the other takes the reins. The level of trust and transparency between us is layered so deeply. It really is the most incredible blessing that we get to do life together; living side by side with our families while also nurturing a successful real estate business.

What are some trends we might expect to see this coming spring in 2020?

Man, if we had a crystal ball we would both be retired! But what we do have is 30 years of combined real estate experience so we can at least make an educated guess about what is in store for the real estate market. We believe we will see inventory levels remain lower than what the buyer appetite can handle. We imagine this year, sellers will be worried about identifying their replacement property and being able to move when their current property sells. This is another reason why it is so important to have a professional in your corner. There are a handful of avenues we can go down to ensure a seller feels protected, having time to find their replacement property.

When do we need to be ready to sell our home?

Yesterday. Just kidding. The best answer to this question would be “it depends on what you are selling.” If we had to summarize and have one specific rule that would apply to the many it would be, “be sure to hit the market BEFORE all the spring inventory hits.”  Historically this is end of March and into April. As we mentioned, early 2019 saw the spring inventory hit about 3 weeks sooner than anyone expected and in that case there were clients we were advising to wait a few weeks before hitting the open market.

There is plenty of marketing we can do behind the scenes but it’s equally important to keep in mind that it may not be in your best interest to go live on MLS when there are 10 other properties that are very similar.

When do we need to be ready to buy our home?

We highly encourage buyers to establish a relationship with a broker early on in their search. Even if a client is a few months out from purchasing a home there are several steps we encourage clients to complete during the “waiting” phase. Often times we can help line our clients up with a lender that will best suit their needs and provide them with direction on getting all their ducks in a row prior to finding the property.

A reputable lender can run a borrower through a couple of different scenarios and establish which loan program is best, their down payment, and what their mortgage payment is going to look like. We have had a few situations where lenders we don’t have a business relationship with have informed clients they aren’t able to obtain financing but after we gather more information about a client’s past and future plans it’s clear they would qualify for a loan. In one instance, a client was very close to losing out on their dream home, which we had been searching for several years.

As a team, you both have developed certain key skills. What do you see as some of your key skills?

One thing we both love about the way our team is set up is that we are each capable of doing what the other does. So as one partner is showing property the other can be catching up at the office on “all the things.” Obviously, there are some tasks that each of us gravitate towards, but nothing is getting neglected when one of us takes a rare ‘extra’ day off. Each of us can create a solid marketing plan, compare properties to come up with a value, connect with a client, show property in any part of Jackson County and the list goes on. (Dyan) tends to be a numbers hound. She likes to know the current market statistics, what properties are sitting and which are selling. She enjoys diving into why a listing is just sitting there (spoiler alert: it usually has to do with price and all that is needed is a slight re-positioning). DeAnna is the queen of guiding clients to out-of-the-box thinking. She can help clients focus their efforts on where to put in a little sweat equity to pull off a larger profit. She is well versed on how to ask the right questions to get the entire story so she can guide you based on the full picture vs. not just the ones on the surface.

You have both been participants with a monthly business column now going on 10+ years. What have been some of the highlights from the past years and specifically this past year?

A few issues back we received the most incredible voicemail from a reader named Teresa.

She had read our column and took the time to let us know what it meant to her. She wished us joy and prosperity and complimented us on our bravery for really being authentic. Little did she know, her timing was impeccable. We had just closed about a dozen transactions that month and a couple of them were real doozies. We were feeling tired and a bit defeated because let’s be honest, real estate transactions can bring out some of the not so warm and fuzzy attributes of people. We saved that message for weeks and listened to it again and again. It was just the watering our roots needed to continue our work which is to be loving. Without this column we wholeheartedly believe that phone call would not have occurred. We both strive to really make a difference in our community.

For a complete stranger to verbally bless us, confirmed we are in the right business.

We are exactly where we have been called.

Having a good sense of humor is an important part of your job. Can you share any recent laughs or tears with us?

I so wish that the things that came to mind were appropriate to share. Oh the laughing and tinkling we have done. Most probably wouldn’t even understand it as we have a tendency to communicate with each other and sometimes we don’t even say words. We are very in tune with one another so it’s not unusual for one of us to “feel” what the other is thinking. Fortunately, Dyan has a filter that is far more refined than DeAnna’s so she can usually interject with something way more appropriate than the uncut version DeAnna is thinking and prior to it being blurted out.

Family update, how is everyone doing? Are the kids driving yet?

Dyan: The days are long but the years are oh so short. We were just looking back on photos of all the kids. We were blessed to each be at the birthing of the other’s children and have REALLY watched them grow. They each have entirely different strengths and weaknesses. I think that is why we enjoy each one so differently. My oldest, Alyse, started middle school this year and despite my gut feeling that she wasn’t ready, she has knocked it out of the park. I feel like this has been the year when all the hard work has paid off. Tiny redirection is all that has been needed. My son, Landon, started the 1st grade and I thoroughly enjoy his joyous and carefree personality – nothing like his mama (laughing). He is just starting to participate in sports and I am loving watching him come out of his shell. He is one of the kindest, loving and caring ‘boys’ I have met and I hope my future daughter-in-law agrees.  Man, talk about pressure. Raising a boy to be a man. YIKES.

DeAnna: Raising two boys, ages 8 and 11, sometimes feels like the most impossible task on the planet but finding ways to carve out dedicated time exclusive to them has been instrumental in really connecting with them. Our oldest, Grady, is a pistol and while we know he will be a leader in his community some day, plenty of moments arise when I wonder if either of us will survive to see that day. Griffin and I share our passion for fishing and spend as much time as we can with a line in the water. It’s fun to be able to experience one of my greatest passions with someone who thinks I hung the moon.

What are some plans and hopes you each have for this coming year?

We enter this year with hearts full of gratitude. We love to run our business on the foundation that we are walking into people’s lives not only to help facilitate a new journey but also to provide shelter from the harsh world. We received the sweetest text not all that long ago from some clients saying how each morning when they drink their coffee they thank the Lord for us.

They reminisced how they started a new chapter because we guided them on their sale as well as on their purchase. They mentioned how we intently listened to their goals and what they were after and help guide them to a bigger dream than they had realized. Sometimes we can forget this is often the largest purchase a person will make in their entire life. We want every moment to be memorable and full of care and kindness. On a weekly basis, we have to have tough conversations with clients. Who wants to call and tell someone their home didn’t make appraisal? Or the buyer is backing out based on the inspection? At the same time, we want to be there to guide our clients on how to move past the ‘unpleasant’ news and towards the end goal. And sometimes that end goal doesn’t financially benefit us one penny. We have met with clients and encouraged them to continue living in their home vs. selling. We have worked with buyers for long periods of time only to eventually learn that buying a home during a particular season in their life wasn’t in THEIR best interest so we encouraged them to wait.

Finally, are there any last words or comments you would like to share with our readers?

We are so very grateful to live and work in such an amazing community. One that supports not only our successful business but us as women, friends, mothers, and wives. We love seeing you around town and receiving notes of how your first Christmas went in your new home. We keep these momentos to remind our soul that this is our calling and exactly where we are supposed to be. We genuinely like our co-workers and are thankful for the ones that put in the extra effort to keep those ‘tough deals’ together. We often say “a trained monkey can open a door” but the true professional will work hard for their commission. They will do everything in their power to make things right even if that means cleaning a home that another agent’s clients left an absolute mess. At the end of the day, we are so blessed. And the blessed are called to bless others.

Please remember no matter what your real estate needs or price point, we would love an opportunity to meet with you and help guide you towards your home/investment dreams. We don’t choose our clients based on their budget so big or small, let us know if we can help you. Time and time again, statistics show people who own real estate achieve more wealth in a shorter period of time than those who don’t, so if you don’t already own real estate you should consider it. We would love the opportunity to assist you in reaching your goals so in return you can use your calling to bless others!

There is no doubt, 2019 was an incredible year for both us personally and professionally. We really made it a priority to find balance in our lives and with 2019 ending in a record breaking year with regard to real estate sales, it seems we may have found the recipe for success. As we touched upon, the year wasn’t without its challenges but we kept our heads down, our hearts pure and our focus in all the right places. We found victory on the other side of our tenacious work ethic and on many occasions our stubborn, won’t-give-up attitude reward both our clients as well as ourselves. We appreciate the support we have received over the years and look forward to the new challenges of 2020. Thank you for trusting us with one of the most intricate yet intimate processes. We are thankful for you the opportunity to be part of this chapter in your story.

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DeAnna Sickler & Dyan Lane

DeAnna and Dyan represent a wide variety of properties and understand the intricacies involved with selling them. They have great working relationships with their fellow Realtors and will negotiate fairly on your behalf. They consider themselves savvy negotiators and will put their experience to work for you. They will thoroughly review all offers with you and offer their advice on how to proceed. You can rest assured they will always be honest with you, providing candor and diplomacy at all times. They really enjoy what they do and love the process of getting homes sold for their clients.

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