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North Bend's Harry Buhler bids farewell, looks back on 40 years of real estate sales
Harry Buhler of John L. Scott has retired from real estate after 41 years, 18 of it affiliated with the North Bend office. Prior to that, he was associate broker and manager of North Bend’s Eastside Realty office for 23 years.
“How times have changed since I started selling real estate in 1973,” remembered Buhler. “Beginning that year, I would try to drum up business by going door-knocking in an attempt to obtain a listing. Back in those days, there was very little competition in real estate, as no agents would drive way up to North Bend or Snoqualmie. In meeting potential clients... I would ask if they were thinking about selling. Most were not. However, one neighbor down the street was thinking of selling. Sure enough, the neighbor was ready to sell. That was how I got my first real estate listing.
“In those days, almost everybody knew their neighbors, and nobody even thought of locking their doors. Today, most people have deadbolt locks on their houses.
“Most of my business clients were loggers in the 1970s. I would show two or three homes and they usually bought one. In that era, the average three-bedroom home sold for $20,000 to $24,000. The Farm Home Administration homes were priced much lower, starting at $16,000 for a three-bedroom, one-bath house with 960 square feet.
“A couple years later, the price increased to $21,000, which my clients thought was too high. The same house today would sell for $200,000.
“Building lots in the ‘60s and ‘70s sold for $2,500 to $4,500. Today, those lots would be valued at $75,000 or more.
“Most of the building lots were in Wilderness Rim or Riverbend. In 1979, I sold 85 lots to one builder, none over $4,500. Today, it is difficult to find even one affordable, building lot.
“Before the fax machine came into use, I would have to mail my purchase and sale agreements to clients, which would take days. By the time my buyers received their offer, they had buyer’s remorse, so no sale was finalized. Fax machines were of utmost importance in sales. Of course, today, we have the Internet and many other options. The high-tech era has taken over all phases of the real estate industry.
“When it came to home inspections, there were none in the 1970s. Today, buyers want an inspection on a two-bedroom shack!
“During the real estate bust in 2008, many people lost their homes or investment properties. Home prices fell dramatically. Due to the battered economy, many agents left the business. Today, though, many have returned with the improved business climate. It is predicted that new home construction will be at a five-year high in 2014. Therefore, sales will increase accordingly.
“Interest rates in the ‘80s were 16 percent, later falling to 12 percent which agents thought were reasonable. Today, home loan interest rates are 4.5 to 5 percent, and probably will increase to 5.5 to 6 percent in the coming year, but still very affordable, historically speaking.
“How times have changed over the years. Life in general was much simpler in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Some still like the good old days!”