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Business is booming and John L. Scott is adding agents quickly to keep up with it

*This story has been corrected

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Brian Walker, office leader/business coach at John L. Scott Real Estate, shows off the lobby of his company's new office in St. Helens. The new office opened for business on June 10.The world of the coronavirus pandemic may seem dark and pessimistic.

But not to the proprietors of the new John L. Scott Real Estate office in St. Helens (1845 Columbia Blvd., 503-396-5668).

Open since June 10, the new location put an exclamation point on a process that began back in May 2019. After working through the approval process with St. Helens and Columbia County — as well as efforts by the John L. Scott corporate office — the new St. Helens location was initially scheduled to open in March 2020, then finally came to fruition in June after the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're really excited to be here now," said Office Leader/Business Coach Brian Walker. "In fact, we are experiencing record highs with sales volume right now. With the low interest rates and the kind of a backlog of buyers that we've had in the market that were already pre-approved, additional interest rate reductions have really brought people to the forefront. … There's just not enough inventory on the market right now."

"We are experiencing record highs with sales volume right now."

— Brian Walker, John L. Scott Real Estate

Walker — he's also a licensed broker — has worked in Columbia County since the start of 2019 when he joined John L. Scott's Scappoose office (51673 S. Columbia River Highway, 503-543-3751). During that short time, the roster of real estate agents at John L. Scott has grown from 21 to 37 — thus the need for the second office.

"My passion is recruiting, recruiting the right agents into the company. That's the part of my job that I enjoy doing very much."

And the need for those agents is real — regardless of the ongoing pandemic, the Columbia County housing market is hot.

"What we're seeing is a lot of the tri-county populace starting to move out into rural communities because people are wanting to get away from the density out there," Walker said. "(And) I think we're going to continue to see an influx of people coming out here from the ... metro area."

While the Columbia County housing market is going strong, prices remain considerably lower than in the tri-county area (including Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties). According to Zillow, the median home value in St. Helens is $319,198, while comparable prices in those other three counties are: Multnomah $432,920; Washington $439,613; and Clackamas $459,305.

The new John L. Scott office in St. Helens is, Walker believes, well-suited to serve both its agents and its clients during the pandemic era.

"(It's) very modern, very upscale for our agents. It's pretty much plug and play so they can drop in and have access on their laptops to USB ports, power sources and the Wi-Fi in order to be able to get that connectivity and streamline the business," he said, adding that agents can also access the office's three flat screen TVs to make presentations to their clients.

And his agents — they can work from either the St. Helens or Scappoose offices — are using all available resources to serve their clients, hosting virtual open houses, using 3D imaging, showing homes virtually, using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and doing even more through technology.

"People who were adverse to … some of these community platforms for meetings, like Zoom or Teams, everybody is embracing that now," Walker said. "Agents actually have catapulted years into the future because of COVID because they've had to adapt to that new era of video, of video everything. That's really advanced this industry, I would say, by at least a decade or two."

Coupled with the lower home prices, availability of buildable land and the chance for larger new lots than in the tri-county area, Walker expects the Columbia County market to remain strong.

"I think that's part of the reason why this area's really appealing more and more to people who live in the city," he said. "They want space, they want the expansiveness of their home (and) they don't necessarily want to live right next to their neighbor."

*The original version of this story incorrectly stated when John L. Scott began planning for its new office.


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