United Country Auction Services Leads Industry

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New Approach Blends Auctions with Traditional Brokerage

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Although we market on a national scale, United Country has added value that cannot be found anywhere else in our industry. Web traffic of more than 1,000,000 visits per month, national advertising of listings, third party relationships and a database of more than 300,000 profiled buyers has added tools to our already powerful marketing campaigns that truly separate us from any of our competition

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United Country Real Estate is changing the way the industry does business by blending auctions and traditional methods for real estate sales. Just one year after the introduction of United Country Auction Services, the company's innovative approach to selling real estate has made them an industry leader.

"Through the addition of 52 auction-centric offices across the country, we auctioned $96 million in property in the first year, with our highest grossing single auction at $4.2 million," said Shawn Terrel, CAI, AARE, vice president, United Country Auction Services.

In December 2006, Auctioneer Mike Jones, CAI, GPPA, became president of the new division, joined by Terrel as vice president a month later. In the first 10 months, Jones and Terrel welcomed more than 50 veteran auctioneers as United Country franchisees across the country--almost triple the number anticipated. With real estate and auction services divisions combined, United Country is the largest fully integrated organization of auctioneers and real estate professionals in America.

Through this integration, United Country's brokers can offer their clients more options when it comes to the best approach to selling a particular property. If a broker identifies a listing that will be best served by the auction method, they can now work with one of United Country's veteran real estate auctioneers.

Before the introduction of United Country Auction Services, only 5-10 percent of United Country's 700 offices were using auctions, and auction education and marketing was not provided to them. Jones and Terrel are changing that by holding regional meetings to teach these traditional brokers about the benefits of auctions. Some brokers also are attending nationally ranked Texas Auction Academy, owned by Jones.

"We do not expect them to instantly become real estate auctioneers, but we want them to understand how auctioneers think, how to identify premier properties for sale and for auction, how to qualify buyers and sellers, and how to network with auctioneers," Jones said. "Brokers and agents are looking for a competitive advantage and new ways to sell property, so they are extremely open to learning about the auction method of marketing."

Additionally, United Country franchisees have been extremely open to the auction method because many are from rural areas where farm and livestock auctions have been a tradition, so adding real estate is a natural fit, according to Terrel.

"When you look at the sociodemographic profile of buyers and sellers that United Country has been dealing with for more than 82 years, it is perfectly in line with the same buyers and sellers we have been working with for years in the auction industry," he said. "That is what makes this company the perfect partner for auctioneers and auction marketing companies."

A number of new programs are planned for 2008, including a residential and land mortgage program offered to buyers. The idea, according to Terrel, is for buyers and sellers to have a one-stop shop in United Country, where all of their needs will be covered--including referrals to United Country auctioneers who can sell an estate's personal property, as well as the real estate. The United Country home warranty program has already been implemented for selling homes at auction, which can boost buyer confidence and increase the value of the property.

With more than 50 professional home office employees and 30 field staff, United Country has a competitive edge needed in today's ever-changing market place. United Country's infrastructure provides its franchisees with technology support, marketing solutions, business planning, training, education and consulting services.

Jones and Terrel continue educating their brokers through articles in United Country magazines and publications. A recent article explained the method and benefits of well executed multi-parcel auctions. The auction division also recently hired a new director of marketing, Kevin Oldham. Oldham's advertising background delivers cutting-edge marketing concepts combined with a wealth of experience and education.

Veteran auctioneers say they are finding great success with United Country. "Last summer I contacted the owners of a 7,000 acre ranch in Nebraska about selling their property. The sellers were aware of United Country and agreed to meet with me to further discuss the marketing and selling of the ranch," said Larry J. Theurer, CAI, GPPA of Wellington, Kan. "We were fortunate to be able to sell their ranch this past November for 25 percent more than appraised value. I feel confident our firm would not have been selected to sell the ranch had we not been associated with United Country."

Auctioneer Leroy Hendren, of Jay, Okla., also is glad he decided to affiliate with United Country.

"I have been in the real estate auction business for 15 years and joined United Country three years ago. I was apprehensive at first about paying a royalty fee to anyone, since we were enjoying a stable auction market in our area along with what I considered to be steady and normal growth," he said. "But over the past three years since joining United Country, our company has doubled its growth in numbers and in revenue. I attribute most of this growth to United Country Auction Services, a working national network, lead flow, access to buyers, professional advice, cutting-edge technology and technical support in the field."

Mike Fisher, president and CEO of United Country-The Redfield Group of Alabama and high-end real estate auction veteran since 1999, has looked at several programs that were attempting to build a national network of auction professionals. United Country has developed the best model to accomplish just that, according to Fisher.

"Although we market on a national scale, United Country has added value that cannot be found anywhere else in our industry. Web traffic of more than 1,000,000 visits per month, national advertising of listings, third party relationships and a database of more than 300,000 profiled buyers has added tools to our already powerful marketing campaigns that truly separate us from any of our competition," he said. "United Country is a strong organization that's positioned to take real estate auctions to the next level."

SIDEBAR

FFA Auction Conducted by United Country Sets Record

United Country Real Estate recently formed an important partnership with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) by conducting the FFA's annual alumni auction at the 2007 FFA Convention in November 2007. United Country auctioneers from across the United States conducted the live auction fundraising event sponsored by the FFA Alumni Association. The auction accomplished a fundraising record of more than $84,000, drawing in nearly 850 on-site bidders and more than 40 online bidders. For the first time, the FFA's live auction was broadcast around the world through a live Internet simulcast. Online buyers accounted for more than 20 percent of the auction's total sales.

"We registered Internet bidders from 22 states and three different countries--New Zealand, Brazil and Canada--and received more than 220 pre-bids on 57 lots prior to the auction. The high ticket item of the night was a 2008 Ford F-150 pickup that sold on site for $24,500, with the runner-up bidder being online," said Shawn Terrel, CAI, AARE, vice president, United Country Auction Services.

United Country Real Estate

United Country Real Estate is the only national real estate franchise system specializing in rural properties in and around the small cities and towns of America. Based in Kansas City, Mo., the company has been an innovator in rural real estate marketing since 1925. United Country supports more than 700 offices nationwide with a unique, comprehensive marketing program that includes the leading website in the rural real estate market (http://www.unitedcountry.com), proprietary real estate catalogs, an extensive buyer database and national advertising of properties to over 90 million homes a week. United Country has been named as a Top 25 Franchise by the Wall Street Journal and among Entrepreneur Magazine's Franchise 500®. In January 2007, the company introduced United Country Auction Services, becoming the nation's largest integrated network of traditional real estate agents and real estate auctioneers.

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS
2820 NW Barry Road, Kansas City, MO 64154
816-420-6200 http://www.unitedcountry.com
Source: Baska, Steve; "LEADING THE WAY - ONE YEAR AFTER STARTING NEW AUCTION DIVISION, UNITED COUNTRY LEADS INDUSTRY"; January 2008 - AUCTIONEER, BUSINESS NEWS

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