by RENEE PATRICK Cascade Business News Feature Writer
Recognizing Opportunities Leads to New Businesses
The Central Oregon real estate market has had its share of growth and struggles in recent years, but through creative thinking and an eye for opportunity, the Birtola Garmyn team has taken the challenges in stride and reinvented themselves, several times over.
“The market turned around in mid 2006…we had a lot of clients that were asking for property management, said Ruben Garmyn, principal broker/owner at Birtola Garmyn High Desert Realty. “And we didn’t have the time to do it until the market turned down.
“We found out a lot of the sellers were upside down; they were distressed homeowners and only had two choices, a short sale or foreclosure, and the other option was to rent, so we started a property management company.”
The partners found many of the distressed home owners didn’t want to sell their properties, but liked the idea of renting until the market turned around. “Now for a lot of those home owners, the property values are going up and are to the point that they are selling again. That gives us access to a book of business.”
Garmyn went on to explain that the market is showing remarkable changes from even a year ago. With a tight buyer’s market, the rental market is booming, and their property management business is currently renting 500 units. “Inventory is really low and rentals are going up, we can’t keep rental inventory more than a week or two. In fact we give a guarantee that we will rent it in three weeks or less or it’s free. That’s how sure we are that we can rent it out,” he said.
Between Garmyn and co/owner and business partner Jim Birtola, the pair have many years of experience in Central Oregon real estate, however after opening their property management company, All Options Property Management, the next opportunity arose. “All those rental properties we were now managing had to be cleaned and painted, they needed new carpet and repairs, so a year later we decided to add a handy man home repair service so we could do all the repairs ourselves,” Garmyn said.
All Options Home Repair Service was created, and later the third prong to the booming businesses…Your Shed for Less, a shed building business. “People were asking for sheds, so now we are building storage sheds, green houses and chicken coops,” Garmyn explained.
The partners have not only started three new businesses, but have formed an independent real estate company in January of this year: Birtola Garmyn High Desert Realty. Both had been brokers at the same company but determined with availability of technology and years of experience, the time was right to strike out on their own.
“We have a kind of unique concept here,” Garmyn explained, “we have only two independent agents, all the other members are specialists. It’s kind of a different concept, but it’s the way the industry is going, even on the national level.
“We will see more and more specialized people, that is what we have, a team with specialists in escrow, marketing and sales. It’s all specialized and it streams systems,” he said.
Between the four companies, Birtola and Garmyn employ just shy of 40 people, a significant number for a time when unemployment numbers remain high. The company is also a family operated business with Birtola’s wife managing the real estate office and Garmyn’s wife as head of the escrow department.
With the success of their real estate business, the partners have a goal of further expansion. “We wouldn’t mind doing this in other locations; we might expand to the valley within the next year,” Garmyn said. “It will all be virtual, and with the technology available today, we can have our agents work virtually out of the valley.” High Desert Realty’s paperless system is ideal for this type of expansion as contracts and paperwork can all be accessed via laptops and tablets.
Birtola Garmyn High Desert Realty, 101 NE Greenwood Ave, Suite 100, Bend, 541-312-9449, www.bendoregonrealestate.com. All options property management, 541-330-8373, www.today4rent.com. All Options Home Repair Services, 541-647-1584, www.handyman4rent.com. Your Shed 4 Less, 541- 647-1584, www.yourshed4less.com.