February 16, 2007 in Business

Coldwell Banker service comes in handy

By The Spokesman-Review
 

It has been 10 months since Coldwell Banker Northwest Group started offering its minor home repair service to residential real estate customers and they’ve gotten some interesting results.

The program, which provides enhanced services in exchange for a higher commission, has been applied to buyers and sellers of 700 to 800 homes in Spokane County, says Neil Johnson, who owns the three Coldwell Banker Northwest Group branches with his brother Eric Johnson and his sister, Melinda Denton.

Initial drawbacks included a significant cash outlay for a logo-clad van, tools, staffing and advertising, along with finding a system for managing an in-house home repair service and selling Realtors on the idea, but the company now gets calls from people asking for the service, Johnson said.

“It has appeal for every segment of the market to some degree,” he said, adding there’s one exception.

“It didn’t appeal to any fixer-upper guys.”

Clients who’ve embraced the concept include military families facing a spouse’s deployment, households with two full-time breadwinners, elderly homebuyers, single women and younger people, he said.

Homebuyers get the service — which provides a handyman to fix minor plumbing problems and do repairs such as caulking, fixing holes in walls and replacing some lock sets — for as long as they own the house. Those selling homes get the services for as long as the home is on the market and listed with Coldwell Banker.

Because a portion of the commission covers the cost, handyman visits are provided at no additional charge.

Johnson said offering a package of enhanced services, including lifetime home repair, additional marketing and free one-day moving van rental, is a means to differentiate the brokerage from others.

While some companies have reduced their commissions, they thought there was room to offer a higher-level of service for a slightly higher price.

New boat dealership being built in Liberty Lake

Liberty Lake — which is becoming a mecca for high-end toys — is ushering in a MasterCraft boat dealership.

Utah Water Sports, a small company based in South Jordan, Utah, will own the facility, valued at $1.2 million.

Garco Construction is designing and building the 10,830-square foot building, which will feature a trendy design similar to the nearby Porsche dealership, said Catherine Rider, project manager for Garco Construction.

Grading and earth work is being done, with the goal of finishing the building, 19651 E. Cataldo, by July, Rider said.

The business is the latest of a slew of dealerships catering to affluent people who like to play. Others include Freedom RV, Allsport Polaris/Honda, R & R RV and George Gee’s Porsche and Hummer dealership.

Otis Hotel getting upgrades

A low-income apartment complex that became the impetus for a showdown between the operator of a non-profit and the building’s previous owners, John and Min Ha, is receiving necessary updates after being sold last fall.

Although the building was sold to Pete and Helen Sikov, the Has were issued a permit in early January for construction work there.

David Wells, president of Wells Construction, confirmed that his company was hired to create egress corridors that allow for emergency exits out the hotel. Emergency exiting was previously accessed through an adjacent building that is under other ownership, Wells said.

The work will eliminate some apartment units and create access through the Otis Hotel itself.

Wells isn’t sure what future plans are for building, saying, “Right now they’re planning just to get the egress situation taken care of and then make plans down the road.”

The Has previously owned the hotel, which was leased by Otis Housing Association, a non-profit operated by Jim Delegans, who run the low-income apartment complex.

When the Has were considering selling the building, Delegans sued, saying he exercised an option to buy.

A year ago, Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza ruled in favor of the Has,saying that the non-profit owed substantial back rent and had never produced any money to solidify the agreement.

This fall, the building was deeded to the Sikovs, in an IRS Section 1031 Exchange, a like-kind property transfer, First American Title records show.

The Sikovs immediately transferred the five-story downtown apartment complex at First Avenue and Madison Street into their LLC, Two by Four Associates, in a transaction finalized in King County.

A call placed to a phone number listed to Pete Sikov was unreturned.


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