Sept. 8, 2004 - It didn't take author Bob Herd long to hit the bestseller lists. Unfortunately for Herd, manager of Coldwell Banker Success Southwest's new office at 11165 N. La Cañada Drive in Oro Valley, it wasn't the one the New York Times runs.
Herd's best-seller ranking came with the publication of his second of three books to date when it was pronounced a best seller at the National Association of Realtors 2003 convention in San Francisco. Only about 2,300 copies were sold, but in a very narrow market.
Herd refers to the book, "How To Become A Mega Producer Real Estate Agent in Five Years," as another in a series of "war stories."
That book and its two companions, "Real Estate Office Management: A Guide to Success," published in 2002, and "Become a Mega Producer Real Estate Agent: Hire A Licensed Assistant," published just a month ago, are compilations of Herd's experiences over more than 32 years as a real estate company owner and manager, including "those that weren't so good that people can learn from."
Initially, Herd said he just wanted to put his thoughts into words for his own review. "Then, as I did it, it occurred to me that this could help other people," he said.
Herd currently oversees 37 agents in the 4,600 square-foot office that opened July 8. Sixteen of those agents, representing annual sales of more than $45 million, followed him to Oro Valley from the company's Northwest office at 6970 N. Oracle Road. By Thanksgiving, he expects his office will have 50 agents to supplement the 95 currently working out of the Northwest office. By the time it's fully staffed, Herd expects sales out of his office will be running in the range of between $16 million and $18 million a month.
Coldwell Banker's Oro Valley office is the company's eighth in the Tucson area, including two branches in Green Valley, at Bear Canyon, the Foothills, the Northwest office, Canoa and the Williams Centre areas.
It was either fate or just good timing that brought Herd into the real estate business.
A native of Culver City, Calif., Herd had been a mechanic for United Airlines for seven years when, in November 1971, he became the last in a group of 67 mechanics out of 2700 nationwide to be laid off.
"You couldn't get a job anyplace," Herd said, recalling the impact those layoffs had on the California labor market. Adding to Herd's difficulty was the fact that he and his wife Eileen had just purchased a home.
It was the purchase of that home, however, that would change his life when the broker who sold him the home returned one day to find out how Herd was doing and ended up offering him a job as a new licensee in a branch office.
"The rest," said Herd, "is history." A year later, in 1973, Herd was managing a branch of his own. From 1974 to 1985 he ran his own Century 21 Real Estate franchise which became the top sales company in Northern California during his tenure. The company was sold in 1985 and Herd went on to managing office buildings for various real estate companies, including Fox & Carskaurn in San Francisco, for whom he managed 11 offices and more than 1,200 real estate agents. When that company was sold to National Realty Trust in 1995, Herd again wound up without a job.
Herd then returned to sales, meanwhile becoming more and more enamored with the prospect of moving to Arizona and being with his daughter.
"When we first moved to Scottsdale in 1999, I became involved with retail shopping centers, but my first love has always been management," Herd said.
The opportunity to return to management came when he saw an ad in the Arizona Republic for a management position with the flagship office of Tucson Realty & Trust and applied for the job. Herd, not really expecting to get the job, was hired over more than 300 applicants. In 2002 he transferred to Coldwell Banker.
Although his office, one of the northernmost among Tucson Association of Realtors members, deals primarily with Oro Valley, it also is heavily involved in Marana and Catalina and overlaps somewhat with the Northwest office in the sale of both residential and commercial properties.
With interest rates coming back down now to the 5 7/8 to 6 3/8 percent range, business remains strong, Herd said. "I don't see much change here because real estate is still the mainstay that's propping up the economy," he said.
Although impact fees and construction costs continue to climb, demand has been so outstripping supply that the increases have had little impact in terms of slowing the market, he said. Combined with shrinking land availability, they've only served to make property more expensive, he said.
One of Herd's concerns is what he perceives to be a trend of the Oro Valley Town Council against commercial development. "The problem is that it keeps very much desired goods and services away from the citizens who want them," while leading to higher taxes on residential properties and vacant land, he said.