Drew Ludlow, Realtor® and Broker in Charge of Ludlow Real Estate Group, talks about current real estate trends in southwest Wake County.
Drew began his professional career in real estate by buying, rehabbing, renting, and selling investment properties. His interest in real estate quickly grew, and before long, he had begun his career as a Wake County Realtor® with one of the national real estate franchises. Now Drew heads his own real estate firm and is a multi-million dollar producer in residential and investment real estate sales. He is considered to be a top producer among Realtors nationwide.
Drew, thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. We understand that in addition to having one of the more successful independent real estate firms in southeastern Wake County you have several other notable pursuits as well. But let’s begin with the story of your success in the residential real estate market.
Can you tell us how and why you began your career in real estate and what you learned that helped you later when you first became a Realtor?
My first foray into real estate was as a first time homebuyer. It was an easy and smooth process, so I began thinking of how I could make money doing it. I spent hours reading everything I could about real estate investing. One thing led to another, and soon I had 7 investment properties. I thought getting a real estate license would help me so I got it.
I understand you joined a local office of a national real estate firm instead of a smaller independent firm. What was the reason for this decision?
I took the pre-licensing course offered by one of the larger firms – something that is often done for recruitment purposes. Once I graduated, they offered an ‘interview’, and I was in!
What were the important things that you learned at the larger real estate firm that you joined when you first became a broker?
I joined a large firm because I wanted to learn all about the forms they use and how they operate knowing I would take this knowledge with me when I left. The most important thing I took with me was the experience of having done many transactions at this firm.
Why did you decide to specialize in residential real estate sales as opposed to things like commercial sales or real estate investments?
Selling residential real estate is simpler and faster than commercial. The typical escrow period once a home is under contract is between 30 and 60 days. With commercial real estate, it can take the better part of a year (or more). Many commercial agents come from a background of development and construction. It seems to be a ‘next step’, rather than a ‘first step’.
As far as for real estate investments, this was my specialty. With my prior experience in purchasing, rehabbing and flipping or holding properties, I felt uniquely qualified to help other investors.
What do see as having been the biggest changes and trends in our local real estate sector in let’s say the last 10 years?
Increasing taxes and a lower quality of living in other regions has greatly increased growth in the Triangle. We have gained much national attention lately and have been ‘on the map’ for a few years now, making our area popular for job seekers and retirees. People are flocking here because of our economy, our schools and the proximity to the mountains and the beaches.
And what about the additional infrastructure that will be needed as the number of seemingly endless new home developments and apartment complexes continues to put pressures on our roads and utilities, especially when it comes to things like drinking water, waste-water treatment facilities, and even schools?
We are behind in construction of new schools, and we have increased traffic congestion in many areas. Some new schools have resorted to modular classrooms and some have had to stagger their drop off and pick up times. This makes carpools difficult for families who have children in different schools or grades. As for new construction, the Town of Apex has almost doubled their building inspection staff in order to keep up with the growing number of new construction inspection requests.
How do you ever manage to keep up with all of the new residential developments that seem to be going up all over our end of Wake County?
I can’t. All I can do is drive around as much as possible, ask questions, attend Realtor luncheons and keep my eyes peeled. Even then, new neighborhoods always seem to pop up when I am not looking.
Drew, can you tell us where you see real estate prices for existing homes going in the next 5 years?
It is hard to fathom that prices will continue to increase when the starting price for a new, detached home in Apex is already over $400,000! Some say this can’t go on forever, and others just ignore this. I think we are due for a levelling, not a recession, more like a slowdown, and that is a good thing. This growth can’t be sustained. If there were no mitigating factors, prices might continue to rise and affordability would suffer. Once that becomes overly pervasive, prices will drop sharply.
I understand it is a Seller’s market out there right now. How does that affect buying a home?
Indeed it is a Seller’s market but eventually, the tide will turn. Right now, it is important that buyers be 110% prepared to make an offer if they are serious about buying a home. That means having a full-proof pre-approval letter, a grasp on your financial ability, an understanding of the timeline, and an advocate to help you through the process. If you don’t have all of that, your experience may be frustrating, and you may exit the market because it seems impossible to ‘win’ a bid on a home.
You mentioned that having a strong advocate is essential. What kind of advocate do you mean?
Someone who looks out for your best interests. A good and honest Realtor, with a ton of local experience! If you are looking at homes with a friend who just got their license, they may not be the best advocate for you.
An experienced Realtor will navigate the waters, protect your investments and minimize potential losses. They can spot pitfalls before they become an issue.
Drew, we understand that you and the other brokers in your firm work very hard to serve their clients and this is often more than a full-time job, But in spite of all these demands, we understand you have other interests and accomplishments as well. What can you tell us about these?
Before I got into real estate, I was a partner in a mobile DJ company. But the long hours and demands became overbearing, so I later transitioned out of the business. I still DJ 6-10 times per year.
Before becoming a DJ, I was always into music. I still write, record, and produce electronic music. Over the years, I have been in a few bands, I also wrote and recorded a soundtrack for a client, and I still upload new tracks to Soundcloud.
About 7 years ago, I also ventured into product manufacturing. I came up with the idea of a waterproof notepad that could be used in the shower, or any wet environment, so that you could keep your thoughts handy whenever inspiration strikes. My team eventually produced a product that was manufactured in Taiwan, which we sold through Bed Bath & Beyond and other online outlets. My “Droodle”, was featured on the Today Show during a Father’s day gift idea segments. This left me with a lot of experience in manufacturing and business startups.
Drew, you are obviously well-diversified, and your expertise extends well past real estate. But before we leave, tell us about your 'Why' in real estate. In other words, 'why' do you do what you do?
I've been in this business for close to 20 years. I started young and hungry just like most agents. I made it through the recession unscathed, and I am thriving in this unprecedented Seller's market. I am one of the lucky ones! Because of my good fortune, part of my mission in life is to give back whenever and wherever I can. So, while I help Buyers and Sellers with their real estate needs through my own firm, I also act as a consultant for Giving Tree Realty. I remember how it was when I was a fresh face, so I enjoy the personal satisfaction of mentoring newer agents just entering into the fray. And since Giving Tree Realty agents give a portion of their earned commission to charity, it completes the circle of 'giving back'.
Ludlow Real Estate Group is located at 121-B N Salem St, Apex NC 27502. If you have any questions, or if you want to learn how Drew can help with your residential real estate needs, please visit www.DrewLudlow.com, call 919-818-8998, or email him at email@example.com.