DeAnna Sickler & Dyan Lane – The Highest Caliber of Service

IT’S TIME to get a jump on the market and in today’s interview I speak with two of Ashland’s top real estate producers Dyan Lane and DeAnna Sickler. Over the past decade the dynamic duo have worked together to close well over $200 million in transaction all the while they have played an active role in the LocalsGuide showing up monthly in good times and in bad to share stories, tips, advice and wisdom. DeAnna and Dyan are both married, have children, and lead very active lives to say the least.

In this year’s interview we not only leap right into action for getting a jump on the market in 2018, but we also explore the question of quality of life. Many people can achieve great success but at what cost? How do you do it all and still maintain a quality of life? Sound interesting… Let’s go!

Hi DeAnna and Dyan, welcome back and thanks for taking the time to catch up with us here today. I hope you like the introduction and feel this is an appropriate topic to address.

What an honor it is for us to be here.  And yes, it’s the perfect introduction and interestingly was one of our primary goals for 2017.   For us personally, real estate has never been about the money. We appreciate the opportunity it provides for us to continually improve our business and ourselves. The best part is at the end of the day we still really love what we are doing. We also love our families and the quality of these relationships is always our number one priority.  In 2017 we were able to balance the two worlds with a little more grace and it has been life altering.

That’s great to hear. I know that many in Ashland will relate to the quality of life piece, after all that has to be one of the greatest parts of being able to live in Southern Oregon.

Yes! We have clients from all around the country moving here. Time and time again we hear them say how much they love Southern Oregon and look forward to an opportunity presenting itself for them to live here full-time. Dyan and I have always shared these values and over the past 9+ years of refining our business together we are making sure to keep this alive. Taking time to be with family, spending time with our kids and then making sure our time with clients is of the highest quality. It all counts, but you have to be very intentional about it or it can get taken away very quickly.

Over the past several years you have really been able to dial in not only attracting the clients who work with you but also clients who have shared values. Please tell us more about this.

We are so grateful for the clients that we have been able to serve and work right along side. It has always been our intention to be of service to our clients, vs. just opening a door and selling them a home.  The vast majority of the people we work with really value our time, our expertise and understand that we have families and a life outside of real estate. As we have committed to being more transparent, it’s been such a breath of fresh air to share the stories of our personal lives and find a deeper connection with our clients. The mutual respect that is present when we align ourselves with others who appreciate what we have to offer is difficult to articulate other than to say, to us it’s the pinnacle of success.

I think you both have had a tremendous impact in our community and that is why I wanted to explore this question of quality of life with you. As an entrepreneur I know it isn’t all easy, in fact it is quite frankly a lot of work. So how do you keep it in balance?

I think DeAnna and I have always wanted to achieve balance, but when you own your own business it can be a really difficult thing to accomplish. With a consistent track record of being among the top Brokers in our state, we have learned over the years that we really have to be intentional about how our time is spent and also mindful of what we want to achieve with our down time.  Through this last year, we were able to lean on a respected colleague to not only ensure balance in our own lives, but also more importantly continue with the same level of service people have come to expect. Linda Haxton (aka, “our Linda”) has been a priceless asset to our business and we couldn’t have survived 2017 without her. Our number one goal for our business has always been to be of service but after the hand 2017 dealt us in our personal lives; we quickly learned we couldn’t sacrifice ourselves in that pursuit. For those of you following our monthly columns, you shared in our immediate family’s sorrows and successes this past year. While navigating the ups and downs, it became abundantly clear we needed someone to lean on, and we are thrilled to have such a valuable member on our team. She is also the unofficial president of our fan club and we are as honored to have her as she is to have us.

On a simpler note, we’ve learned to set some boundaries -things such as not talking about real estate at the dinner table (or when we hang out as couples). For any business owner, leaving work behind when we go on family trips can be hard… but with proper systems in place we have peace of mind to really rejuvenate, dive into our families and also get a mental break. In addition to having “our Linda” we also rely on what we refer to as our invisible “Board of Directors” – the people we turn to for advice in the areas where we aren’t proficient. Tapping into their areas of expertise is a huge reason for our personal success and finding a solid team to rely on is really crucial.

I like this idea of an invisible board of directors. Please say more about this. I can see this as essential not just for entrepreneurs but everyone. We are all faced with a vast array of choices to make and no one can be an expert in all of them.

We really feel this is an invaluable way of thinking.  Don’t get us wrong – you shouldn’t pay everyone to do everything for you. It keeps you humble to pick up your dog poop, mow your yard, clean your own toilet, iron laundry etc.  But, there are some things in life that will pay for themselves over and over again.

Find the people that help guide you through life… your spiritual adviser, qualified health care professionals, an accountant, a financial adviser, a good insurance agent AND a real estate agent.  If you select the right members for your board they will grow with you as you navigate life and they will continue to earn your business every year.  They may not always tell you what you want to hear but they should always tell you the truth and help guide you down the right path at that particular time. In the end, the decision will still be yours.  However, with the right people you will have the correct information to make the decision that best suits you.  As we have said before, it’s so incredibly important to make those phone calls before the decision is made.  Call your real estate broker before you remodel, check with your CPA before you convert your primary residence into a rental etc.  At the end of the day sound advice is worth its weight in gold.

Authenticity has opened many doors for your business and in some cases, even closed the door.

Yes, that’s right and we are OK with that. I think at the end of the day we want to sleep soundly and with a clear head.  And for both of us, we aren’t truly fulfilled unless we are true to ourselves and what we stand for.  For example; when it’s all said and done, we actually prefer to price our listings with our clients vs. for our client. We want to take into consideration all aspects, including the aspirations of our Sellers while also being mindful that there is a reason they called us and we have a responsibility to provide sound information they can rely on. We know all too well the incredible value in explaining to people what we are seeing in today’s market.  We have an insider’s perspective that our clients are paying us for because we are local real estate experts. If we aren’t authentic and truthful what type of service are we really providing?

In a recent listing appointment with someone whom we think the world of, he recounted a conversation he had with a neighbor when asked who he was listing with. His neighbor had never met us and probed our client for details on why he chose us. “They have my trust and what more is there?” This simple and sincere comment will be one of the highlights of our careers. We have his trust and we deserve it… that’s truly enough.  I think what separates us is that we keep refining our business, ourselves and continually trying to improve. We have learned over the years that this does not necessarily mean selling more real estate but rather creating a better service. Money was never our goal… doing an excellent job was and will continue to be.  Should this ever change and no longer be the focus of our business you will see us close up shop.

What was the experience like in 2017?

2017 was an incredible year in the real estate market.  The interest rates remained low, a lot of local clients were upgrading because they once again had equity in their primary residence, and other clients were purchasing more rental properties.  We also were blessed to work with really wonderful clients who valued our opinions, relied on our role in the process and trusted us to partner with them in whatever transition they were going through in life. We found more balance, more fulfillment and greater opportunity to give back to this community, all while closing over $32 million in transactions. We were a bit more selective about whom we invested our time in and we knew that would ultimately impact our overall production. It was a conscious decision but very much an act of love to ourselves and certainly a risk we were willing to take. We literally learned moments ago that for the 6th straight year we are recipients of John L Scott’s distinguished 1% award. It wasn’t something we were sure we would earn this year given our new approach so as you can imagine, we are pretty darn excited and super proud of this accomplishment. It’s given by our corporate office and awarded to a select group of brokers who work for the company throughout Oregon and SW Washington. It’s an honor to be doing what we love, staying true to ourselves and still ranking among the elite.

What were some of the personal highlights you were able to celebrate and enjoy this past year?

Outside of the real estate world, we were actually able to spend some time together on a few mini get-a-ways. The four of us have wanted to float down the lower and scenic section of the Rogue River for years now…and in 2017 that actually happened. Quite honestly, we are both a lot alike and really enjoy the low key, anti-technology that comes with camping and being by water. To fully unplug for three days, enjoying each other and the quiet was just the recharge we all needed it. When you own a business together it can be really hard to get away together. Our husband’s jobs are also very demanding so an opportunity where the four of us can break away is few and far between. We are especially thankful for the memories and the laughs the four of us shared together. As you know it was a tough year with Dyan’s mother’s cancer treatment so having deep relationships like the Sickler and Lane families do really does make life more bearable.

You say this every year but you say it again. List early!

A large number of sellers in our local market seem to wait until the spring each year to list their properties for sale.

The issue with this is the real estate is largely driven by supply and demand.  Currently, we have three specific sellers who were going to wait until March or April to list their properties, but after meeting with us they each heeded our advice and listed the first two weeks of January. Each of those properties is already pending and a quite likely for a higher amount than if they had waited and listed in the spring.  Again, going by to the invisible board of directors, build a relationship with a professional that can guide you towards your ultimate goal.  Its like Dyan’s dad always says, “It’s not the questions you ask, it’s the questions you don’t ask.”  When you lean on a trusted professional they can answer the questions you didn’t even know you should have asked; such as “How much money will it costs to wait three months to list?”  Answer: “Between 5-10%… if not more.”

Any other advice or words of wisdom you might like to share real estate or life?

Real estate can be so much fun.  Make sure you are working with someone you enjoy and then be open and honest with that person about your ultimate real estate goals.  It is so difficult to guide someone when you only know half of the story. This level of intimacy requires an equally deep level of trust. If the person you are leaning on, whose advice you are relying, on isn’t someone you trust implicitly, then they are not the right fit.

Planning for 2018 what are your immediate recommendations for prospective buyers and sellers?

What a great question.  I think our best advice would be to find “your person” or in our case, “your people.”  Connect with a local real estate expert. There is a wide variety to choose from in this valley so be sure you find the right fit.  Look for a Broker who is actively working the market and can guide you on your real estate goals. Having a license for decades doesn’t qualify someone as an expert per se. This market is changing on a weekly basis and you’d be doing yourself a considerable disservice if you didn’t align with someone who is really immersed in this industry.

As we touched upon, it is a absolutely great time to list your home for sale and get a jump start on the market before Spring inventory hits. If you’re in the market to buy a property, have a thorough conversation with your agent about what you are looking for.  Hopefully they will have some other ideas you haven’t thought of yet.

We have said it before, “A trained monkey can open a door…”  So, it in your best interest to have a long time relationship with a real estate Broker. Find an expert that will really push to see your goals achieved and might even open you eyes up to ideas you never thought possible.

Are there any particular listings or clients who you are looking to connect or find?

I think we can often get pegged as agents who only work the high-end market.  We really want to get the message out that for us it isn’t as much about the property as it is about the people.  In 2017, the price ranges of properties we sold ranged from $85k to well over $1 million. When given an opportunity to work with someone we really want to know that they value the role we play and that there is a mutual respect between all parties. We are always up for a challenge and enjoy working hard. We are driven and focused and we pour our whole hearts into everything. If we are going to take time away from the ones we love to help someone with their real estate endeavor, we want to know we are making a difference. We love working with a variety of clients because it keeps us well rounded.  We represent as many buyers as we do sellers and it’s served both sets of clients immeasurably. When pricing a home to list, we have seen the competition first hand and know how our clients’ place compares. When showing homes to a buyer, we also know how a subject property compares with other places that have sold and we are confidently guide our client regarding value.

This interview wouldn’t be right with out me allowing you to thank everyone who has played a part of your lives this year. I would also like to thank you both for playing such a long-term role in LocalsGuide. Thank you for all that you share and contribute to our community, we are better for it!

We couldn’t do this without the support of our families, particularly our husbands. It takes a village and we have a great one. We are so grateful for our local community and just think the world of the Rogue Valley in general. And thank you Shields for your continued support. You had faith in us, as we did in you, and look where it’s taken all of us. We are honored to have you as part of our Board of Directors and invite you to lean on us if there is ever anything we can do for you and your loved ones.

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Shields Bialasik

Hi, I am Shields. I am the creator or LocalsGuide. The mission or my company is to provide a positive media platform for my community which in turn makes it stronger and more resilient. I hope you will enjoy and feel inspired to start your own LocalsGuide in your town or community.

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