It was 1981 and interest rates were over 20%! Recession and Inflation had joined forces as voices of gloom and doom seemed to prevail. Nationally, agents by the hundreds of thousands were fleeing real estate services, looking for “real jobs”.
Thousands of Real Estate brokerage firms were closing their doors. Never, it seemed, had the real estate industry looked so bleak.
My father, who had recently been displaced by a corporate reorganization and was recovering from a light stroke, did the unthinkable. He decided to open a full-service real estate company. In those days a new real estate broker could start his or her own firm. (Today there is a two-year minimum experience requirement.)
However, he needed the approval of local realtor-brokers in order to join the Board of Realtors.They could not imagine how he, a new broker, could possibly survive when seasoned brokers were folding. Nonetheless, permission was granted, even if it was permission to fail. Friends and family alike wondered if his judgement was impaired, but it didn’t matter.
Dad had hope, and he had a plan.
“In a few months, the real estate market will rebound.” he told us. “While so many agents are inactive, I will have just enough time to get a good start. And when the market improves, I will be ready.”
Working out of a one room home-office, dad set out to find creative ways to help anxious sellers and buyers. In the process he educated first time buyers, first time investors, and showed sellers how to “hold the paper” for seller-financing with a minimum of risk. Listing by listing, sale by sale, buyer by buyer, Richard L. Eppley Real Estate (there were no licensed associates at first) began to develop a reputation for customer care, client support, and high ethics in real estate transactions. By the time I joined the firm a few years later, dad’s insights were confirmed. Together we have seen many changes.
We were one of the first firms to to make computers available to our agents, even as MLS moved from being only “a big, thick book of houses” to a state of the art online electronic database.
We developed computerized qualification forms long before the MLS did. We were one of the first firms to “desktop publish” home marketing brochures.
We were associated with a national database of homes which used those “new-fangled fax machines.”
We have seen professional sports come to Charlotte, first basketball then football.
We have seen our business area explode in all directions. We have witnessed the emergence of two major banks headquartered in Charlotte, as our city became a chief banking center. We have witnessed the resurgence of the westside, which is now in the shadow of a transformed uptown.
Through all the booms and busts of nearly three decades, Richard L. Eppley & Associates has been a greatly valued constant on the horizon of change, helping thousands of our neighbors with their real estate needs. And now that the securities and real estate markets have undergone long overdue corrections, we are still here, ready to serve buyers and sellers and renters during some challenging times. We are still here with hope and a plan! It’s our legacy. It’s how we were born, and how we, as a company, live..