The birth of a business and a building that has served clients buying and selling homes in Delaware since 2010.
It was 2007 and the real estate industry was entering the great recession. My husband, Bill Bell, and I had decided we needed to open an independent real estate brokerage if we were going to remain in the business. People thought we were crazy!
I had been in real estate since 2001 and decided early on to focus on people like myself—an aging Baby Boomer who relocated to Delaware in my 50s. At that time, I was starting a new life where I did not know a soul.
Our Delaware Grassroots Began Here
As the internet and social media began to impact the practice of real estate, I created the first iteration of my website named ActiveAdultsDelaware.com and became active on social media. I learned about blogging and started creating content talking to my target audience—Baby Boomers planning for how and where they wanted to live when they had a choice. Again, people thought I was crazy for limiting my real estate business to just this group of people.
Location is Everything
The second thing we decided was that we had to own the building our brokerage would occupy in a good business location. During the recession, I saw too many businesses unable to pay their high commercial rent of $3,000 or more each month and shut down. Lucky for me, my husband Bill is a talented contractor who had been doing renovations and major remodeling for years. But first, we had to locate and purchase the property.
We found the property on Savannah Road, one of two main roads leading into the town of Lewes. Here is what the property looked like when we first saw it.
Holding Fast to Our Vision
It took vision and a lot more as we learned. Although Bill’s construction company, Gotcha Covered, had completed many successful local projects and had a stellar record with our local bank, they would not loan us the money we needed to purchase and renovate this building. Commercial lending was shut down. We walked away once, but the property remained available and we decided to try again. This time, we got creative and managed to obtain an FHA 203K loan as individuals, not as either our real estate corporation or as Gotcha Covered. It’s a long story, but we managed to obtain sufficient financing to at least get started. We finally closed on the property in March of 2010.
As Bill worked on the design, and our construction crew began the job, I obtained my Broker’s license. That screened porch came off but the old garage with a 7’ ceiling remains in the middle of the finished building, housing storage, and utilities while the new garage was built in front of the old one and the large main office and reception area was built to the left where the old porch was.
The little apartment upstairs was gutted and renovated into a charming one-bedroom apartment that we lived in for the first 5 years of building Active Adults Realty. During the first few years, the office consisted of one large room where Bill, Judy Robinson, our Operations Manager, and I all had our desks. Eventually, we were able to build on to the rear of the building to add an office, conference room, and a screened porch. We were still living in the apartment so the screen porch became our refuge!
When we outgrew the conference room, we converted the screened porch to larger meeting space and made the old conference room into another office. This wonderful building evolved into what it is today.
It Begins with a Strong Team
Looking back, there is no way we could have done this without each other. In the beginning, I always referred to Bill, Judy, and I as “the three-legged stool.” We each brought different skills to the business and we persevered through a long recession that only began to recover after we opened our door in December of 2010. Since then we have added 15 agents that all serve the market I defined as a new agent 19 years ago—Active Adults, or as I sometimes call us—Boomers & Beyond in Delaware.
Commemorating Our 10th Anniversary
This is our 10th Anniversary, officially, and my heartfelt thanks and appreciation goes out to all of our current and past clients who have put their trust in us. Since 2010, we have collectively helped almost 1,500 people buy or sell their homes in Delaware. What a journey it has been!
It’s our pleasure to assist you with buying or selling your home and introducing you to Delaware. Keep in touch by subscribing to the Boomers & Beyond newsletter. Don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready to list or buy a home. We’re committed to serving you.