For 35 years, family business has helped to grow Liberty Hill

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From left, Clyde and Janette Davis, their daughter Paige and her husband Shane White. The family business, RE/MAX Town & Country, celebrates its 35th anniversary this week. (INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO)

From left, Clyde and Janette Davis, their daughter Paige and her husband Shane White. The family business, RE/MAX Town & Country, celebrates its 35th anniversary this week. (INDEPENDENT FILE PHOTO)

By SHELLY WILKISON

In the past 35 years, one local real estate business has helped as many as 3,500 families find homes in the Liberty Hill area.

Next week, RE/MAX Town & Country celebrates its 35th anniversary and owner Shane T. White couldn’t be more pleased with the family business.

Shane and his wife, Paige, daughter of Clyde and Janette Davis, bought the family real estate business in 2003 after working three years with Davis.

Before moving to Liberty Hill in 2000, Shane was selling real estate and building homes in Houston. He and his wife, who also had a real estate license, moved to Liberty Hill after the birth of their first daughter excited about the opportunity to be nearer to family and be part of a growing business.

“Clyde approached Paige and I to see if we were interested in buying the company. He wanted to step back from the day-to-day work of running the agency,” White said.

The Whites worked side by side four years with Paige working the buyer side. Together they developed a “team structure” for the agency whereby agents worked to follow all the leads that were generated from the business’ local marketing efforts.

“The leads we were generating were too much to keep up with,” White recalled.

Davis started the business in 1981 at a time when Liberty Hill was “tiny, and super rural,” White said. In fact, Liberty Hill was such a small place that there wasn’t enough happening in the real estate market.

“A lot of transactions he was involved in were in north Austin. There were too few transactions that happened out here, so he had to supplement in the Austin market,” White said.

White said at that time Austin area agents didn’t understand how to sell farms and ranches and it was common for them to refer business to Town & Country as recently as 2000.

“It was a long way (to Liberty Hill) and they didn’t understand rural properties,” White said.

Since taking over the family business, the Whites’ “team” structure has served the business and the community well.

“It differs from a traditional brokerage in that agents work for us and follow all the leads we generate from our marketing. That means less exposure for them and less expense for advertising,” White said. “We built the infrastructure to help it run more efficiently.”

While still an owner of the business, Paige left the daily activity of the business in 2005 accepting a specialty position in pharmaceutical sales. He said his wife is still very much a part of the major decision making.

“One of the things that I love the most about this is that we have been able to continue the family business that Clyde started,” White said.

From an industry perspective, he said most real estate agents close up shop when they’re ready to end their careers.

“Most get to the end of their career and quit. That’s a mistake I see most agents make,” he said. “We’ve been able to build on a good reputation of taking care of our clients as well as supporting our community.

“Clyde’s was probably the first actual brokerage out here, and I’d like to see it continue here as the leading brokerage in the area,” White said. “My goal is to put the right kind of systems in place so the company can continue to grow and RE/MAX is here to stay in Liberty Hill.”

White said when Davis first started in the real estate business in 1981, all the listings were contained in a printed book. Real estate agents were essential to buying and selling property as the keepers of the knowledge.

Today, technology has changed much of that as properties can be found on various websites within seconds of being listed for sale. The curious can see homes and land online prior to contacting an agent.

“The real estate industry is changing so drastically because of technology. The consumer has access to so much information, and they assume it’s all good if they can find it online,” he said.

While some believe technology has reduced the need for real estate agents and businesses like Town & Country, White disagrees.

He said websites like the popular Zillow.com don’t have access to actual sales information because Texas is still a non-disclosure state. He explained that when someone in Texas buys property, the actual sale price isn’t disclosed, making estimates posted on websites inaccurate.

“The consumer doesn’t know that estimate is not based on true sales,” he said. “And the consumer needs to know whether property is priced right, and needs access to the ins and outs of what is happening with neighborhoods and the developments that might be coming up,” he said, adding that it’s access to this essential information that an agent can provide.

An experienced agent also has access to stagers who prepare property to sell. Agents also bring to the table negotiation skills and knowledge of lending guidelines, which change frequently.

Today, RE/MAX Town & Country has five agents including Davis, who continues to work on commercial transactions.

White, a graduate of Texas A&M University, said he has seen changes in the local real estate market since buying the company in 2003, but never has the growth in Liberty Hill been as evident as it is today.

Sixteen years ago, the agency was selling large lots in Sundance Ranch where custom homes were being built.

White said today, land prices are so high that developers are choosing high density subdivisions where they can provide infrastructure and loads of amenities. Larger lots are cost prohibitive, he said.

He said homes priced $300,000 or less in Liberty Hill ISD may sell within 30 days. Years ago, it might have taken six to eight months for a home to sell.

White predicted that with population growth, Liberty Hill will begin to see more commercial activity. However, much of that may occur in the Ronald Reagan/State Highway 29 area where residential developments are growing.

Involvement in the community has been a key a to the company’s success, White said. Annually, Town & Country contributes thousands of dollars to charitable organizations, including those that benefit youth. The Shane White Team considers multiple requests at the start of each budget year and makes decisions based on the impact the organization and its contributions will have on the community.

“I’m proud that the success of the business allows us to be involved and help support our community,” he said.

As an agency, White said the challenge for RE/MAX Town & Country is to stay in front of the neighborhoods where they want to do business. With time and community growth, the names of Shane White and Clyde Davis may not mean as much as they do today, but building on successful business models and continued active involvement in the community will sustain the business another 30 years.

“We’ve looked at growth projections for a long time, and growth is always exciting,” White said. “But Liberty Hill has always been a small rural town and that is going away. There is some sadness in that, and being absorbed into Austin.

“My hope is that Liberty Hill will still be able to maintain the small-town atmosphere even though growth is going to come,” he said.

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