The Group goes on broker hiring spree

Since November, The Group Inc. has hired 13 new brokers, 10 of whom are brand-new to the profession, quite an increase from the more typical one or two hires per quarter at the firm.

The Group serves communities all across Northern Colorado, and like other real estate brokerages in the area, is benefiting from slight upticks encountered as the overall economy continues on its crawl back.

It might be a good time to get back into real estate sales. All three of the areas tracked by Loveland-based Information and Real Estate Services have experienced an increase in the number of homes sold so far in 2012. Two of those regions, Loveland-Berthoud and Greeley-Evans, saw an increase in the dollar volume sold in both January and February, increasing by 17.2 percent and 40.9 percent respectively in February.

Fort Collins saw a 6.6 percent drop in dollar volume in February following an 8.1 percent increase in January.

Factors driving deals include continued low prices on homes and low interest rates. Consequently, inventories are falling across Northern Colorado, which would logically lead to an increase in prices, though bank-owned and distressed properties are still selling at prices that will suppress price gains for the time being.

In Northern Colorado, only the Loveland-Berthoud area saw an increase in median prices in February, by 3.6 percent.

Still, the glimmers of hope in the market are partially responsible for the increase in hiring, according to Nick Hansen, managing director at The Group.

The Group’s recruitment process focuses on finding good communicators dedicated to customer service, and recent months have led to the discovery of many new agents that fit the profile, Hansen said. Once these recruits are brought into the fold, they undergo a training process in which they learn the practice of “Ninja Selling,” developed by The Group in the 1990s.

“We really focus on building the agent and creating highly effective real estate agents,” Hansen said.

The improvements in the market and The Group’s hiring and training process may make it possible for more agents to be hired, but that does not mean that it is getting any easier to sell real estate, according to Hansen.

Rather, there is simply more business to go around, with total transactions in the areas covered by The Group increasing 11 percent over last year. He couldn’t speak for other firms in the area, but Hansen said that at The Group, an increase in transactions corresponds with an increase in hiring.

Like any brokerage, The Group is trying to increase its market share, and getting in on the increases in sales means hiring more brokers. In total, The Group employs approximately 180 brokers.

Hansen estimated that as many as 10 to 12 additional brokers could be hired before the end of 2012.

Bryan Construction working on Warren Air Force Base

Fort Collins-based construction company Bryan Construction, which last year finished renovations on the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, expects to begin work on the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo. in May.

The renovations are still in the design phase, according to Todd Blanks of Bryan Construction. The company is working with national firm DLR Architects to create plans for the renovation.

The building in question, called Building 284, was originally constructed in 1904 as a gymnasium, Blanks said, but will be renovated to include office space for administrative purposes.

The Wyoming State Historical Society has been involved with the design process to help decide which historical aspects of the building should be preserved. Much of this is still being decided, Blanks said, but existing masonry on the exterior of the building and brick and plaster on the interior will be restored.

The $5.2 million project is expected to be completed in March 2013 and is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.

Bryan Construction recently completed a 54,000-square-foot fitness center at Warren Air Force Base. The $8.9 million facility included a variety of exercise areas, as well as administrative offices and parking lots.

Construction employment slowly climbing up in Colorado

Construction employment, including construction, mining and logging, increased by 5 percent in Colorado year-over-year in January, according to the most recent report by the Associated General Contractors of America.

Colorado as a whole gained 6,200 construction jobs in that period, but Fort Collins-Loveland and Greeley each lost 100 jobs, a decline of 1 percent.

The Denver-Aurora-Broomfield area saw the biggest gain in construction jobs, increasing 8 percent year-over-year in January, while Boulder saw the biggest loss, decreasing by 5 percent in the same period.


Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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