The real estate business in the Centralia area is better than one might think.
Darren Adams, owner of Adams Realty and partner of Design Innovations, a Centralia-based construction company,
gave a speech to 13 Centralia Kiwanians, Aug. 2, at the Centralia Golf and Social Club.
Adams sold his first property, June 14, 1999.
Back then he was working with his father Randy Adams, a well-known figure in business and planning and zoning circles.
“My father taught me a lot about business and a lot about Centralia,” Adams said.
He also mentioned another major influence in his business life: Richard Prenger, patriarch of the Prenger grocery store, convenience store and oil and lube shop chains.
“He was kind of my extra grandfather,” Adams told his audience. “He started seeing something in me others did not and helped get started building houses in 1999, and supported me in my first three spec. projects. He has been a very integral part of my life.”
With that, he launched into a discussion of local business history and trends.
“I’ve been able to do a couple development projects, Adams said, “Emerald Pointe in 2003; Cobblestone Lake Estates and Mystic Ridge.:
Along the way, he said, Design Innovations grew alongside his developments.
“We do everything from turn-key designs and new construction to going in and cleaning somebody’s gutters.” He said he company has grown to four full-time employees and four part-time summer employees and has done $8 million worth of business in a given year.
He discussed some business statistics for Centralia.
“I think some of you will be surprised what Centralia has…Some people would be pretty amazed that in 2004 Centralia held one of the top five agents in the United States. That was Terry Crocker sold $19 million worth of property during 196 transactions.”
Adams said he was a little cross with his father during that time.
“We weren’t part of the Board of Realtors MLS, so you don’t get to quote-unquote track it. That year I sold $21 million worth of stuff and had 213 transactions. Believe it or not, in little Centralia where nobody thinks anything happens, in theory you had two people who were in the top five in sales in the United States.”
He said last year Centralia had 103 real estate transactions. Other factoids included:
• the average home sale price in the Centralia school district was $118,000
• so far, this year there has been 60 home-sale transactions at an average home sale price of $121,500
Centralia, Adams said, is a very unique market, situated in the middle of what he called a perfect triangle.
“Everybody talks about Hubbell, everybody talks about our schools, one of the major factors I think everybody forgets about is we’re in a perfect triangle. We’re 20 minutes from Moberly, 20 minutes from Mexico and 20 minutes from Columbia.” A Centralia location provides easy access to all three communities, he said.
He said the school district is the most common reason he hears from people considering moving to Centralia.
“I have people come in on a daily basis who say, ‘I don’t have any kids but I still want to be in the Centralia School District,’” he said. “Because they’ve watched property values here do nothing but increase. We don’t have the super hyper-inflation that some of these other communities have.”
He said 2010 might have been Centralia’s worst year for real estate since he started, 2001, the worst “I was her for 911, I had 35 contracts, but by the end of the day, I had five. People thought the world was coming to an end – 2010 was way worse than that.”
He said, from the real-estate aspect that nobody was buying or had confidence in the 2010 market.
In this market, Adams said, economic driving forces include:
• the location
• the school district
• “Hubbell plays a part, but I don’t think they are the major contributing factor they were in the 90s. I think our school district is the largest and most important factor.”
A shortage in home, to own or to rent has driven property values up. “Up until three years ago there always seemed to be around 70 homes on the market, now we can’t seem to get more than 30.” He said that lack of options has led to more new construction, which has helped his and other construction companies do well. “We need to do what we can to establish as much growth in residential housing as possible.”
Alluding to the chicken and egg saying he said: “In my opinion you have to have the number of rooftops. unfortunately, we just got a realization of that in the last couple of weeks with C&R leaving.” He said Centralia did not have enough families to support two grocery stores. “We need to increase, by city government or what not, to make it easier on developers to get more rooftops here, which will bring in more commercial business, which will eventually bring in more industrial.
He said he would like to see a few things done differently. They include reversing city policies regarding:
• developers having to pay for street improvements – such as curb and cutter
• pay to engineer the water system that goes into a development
• pay for sewer installation
• pay for electric installation
• and additionally, he would like to see the city add rental inspectors