New head of the ship
The Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR) has pegged Coldwell Banker’s Rick Allamong to take over the top leadership spot for the coming year. Allamong was set for induction at SCAOR’s annual installation dinner (Thursday, Dec. 15) — he will serve as president in 2006.
Presently, Allamong lives in Rehoboth Beach but works locally. He acts as the broker-of-record for Coldwell Banker’s four locations in and around Bethany Beach, and for the office just west of Fenwick Island.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., and surrounding suburbs, he said he’d owned a place at the beach for some time and finally made the move in 1995.
Allamong majored in accounting at the University of Maryland, College Park, and worked for the Maryland National Bank from 1975 to 1981. He eventually transitioned to the Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae) in D.C., and worked there for 14 years before moving out to the coast.
Allamong said he’d taken an interest in real estate during the sale of his own property, as part of relocating toward the coast.
“The process was interesting to me —helping the public look at properties, working through the negotiations between the buyer and seller,” he remembered. “Watching my Realtor do these things, I found it all very interesting.”
And all real estate agents seemed to have their own distinctive styles, their own ways of marketing themselves, he added, which he considers another interesting aspect of the business. “Each agent’s different,” Allamong pointed out.
He signed up for classes at the Ed Smith Real Estate School, in Ocean City, Md., and sold real estate in that area for a few years, before moving to Coldwell Banker’s one and only Delaware office (in Bethany Beach) in 1999.
A lot’s changed since then — Coldwell Banker soon purchased the several Hickman Real Estate offices around town, and more recently, Moore, Warfield & Glick. Allamong downplayed his role in facilitating the transition, saying those kinds of mergers cause less disruption in the real estate business than they would in other business fields.
“In a corporate world, you’d have consolidation and layoffs,” Allamong noted. “But in the real estate world, it’s quite different.
“Some people are more successful than others,” he admitted. “You try to help people out if they’re having a hard time.” However, there are 13,000 agents working in Sussex County today, he added — a lot of careers to follow.
In his role as a manager, Allamong said he offers quite a bit of training for new agents, and training on company guidelines and policies even for the seasoned agents — but after that, it is up to individuals to determine how they are going to run their operations.
He said sellers’ listing agreements and agency agreements for buyers coordinate all that activity, and for the most part prevent agents from stepping on one another’s toes.
Conflicts within a company are rare, he said, and in those cases, agents typically work things out amongst themselves. As far as inter-agency conflicts, he said SCAOR has a role in hearing grievances and handling arbitration.
Other aspects of the SCAOR include oversight of education and professional standards for Sussex County real estate agents, rental affairs and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS, an electronic database of homes on the market). Allamong said MLS technology has come a long way in the last 10 years — as has agents’ ability to convey early impressions of a home’s interior via real-time, virtual tours.
“They can give you a sense of whether you’re going to like a home or not, and some people buy homes without ever visiting them,” he pointed out. “But that’s very rare. There’s no comparison to turning the doorknob, walking through the kitchen, opening cabinets, things like that. For most people, buying a home is a very emotional experience.”
In other SCAOR business, Allamong said affordable housing — or “adequate housing,” as it’s been termed at the state level — was a regular topic for discussion. Recent increases in property values had positioned many homes — especially near the ocean — out of reach for some people, he noted.
“Some people who’d set their sights on Ocean View, for instance, are finding there’s less opportunity to buy a home close to the beach,” he said. “We’re seeing a shift in sales occurring as there’s more opportunity going westward.”
And he said SCAOR is looking at how best to maintain the county as an attractive tourist destination, as well.
He recognized some of the long-time residents might view this as a negative — but local businesses are still looking for customers.
“Many of the people who live here don’t want more people in the summertime,” Allamong admitted. “But Delaware is a beautiful state, and we have a lot to offer. There’s a big feeling that we’d prefer people come visit us, shop in our stores, versus going down to North Carolina or whatever.”
Presently, he said, there did seem to be some softening in the rental market — rents weren’t as fully subsidizing people’s mortgage payments as they once had.
“The first people you see drift away from the market are the investors,” he noted. “But there are still plenty of primary and secondary homebuyers, and they’re looking at price and quality.”
Expressing confidence in the continued ability of the area’s coastline, open space and natural scenery to attract new homeowners, he predicted 2006 would be another great year.
“Not fantastic — we will see some softening here and there — but we’re still in a great real estate market,” Allamong said.
Reflecting on his career in real estate to date, Allamong noted a vast majority of real estate agents are dedicated to assisting their customers — a conscientious group.
“They’re fun, and at the same time, realistic people,” he said. “People with families, who enjoy what they’re doing.”
He said he plans to work closely with the rest of the SCAOR leadership to improve the association, and to provide better service to Sussex buyers and sellers. He noted the SCAOR Web site (www.scaor.com) as a good source for public information. There’s a MLS database on the site, plus links to consumer tips and reports on a host of topics, like recent and pending state legislation.