Rick White garners another ROY award: North Pulaski Realtor/broker now in 23rd-year
August 7-13, 2023
By Jay Edwards
As my transition continues from what I thought was early retirement to being back in the saddle at this newspaper, there are, thankfully, some things I have found that haven’t changed. That’s what popped into my head a few weeks ago when I heard Rick White had been named Realtor of the Year, for the second time, by the organization he has served diligently so many years, the North Pulaski Board of Realtors (NPBOR). The first time that honor came to Rick was in 2011.
Much of my first stint at the paper was spent covering events of the four Realtor boards in Central Arkansas and whenever I was in attendance at a NPBOR function, it was a good bet I’d run into Rick. He served as the board’s president two terms, as well as president of the Joint Community Real Estate Council three times. He serves on three committees with the ARA: Risk Reduction, for over twenty years, which writes and changes all of the forms and contracts that are used in the state, in addition to working closely with the AREC (Arkansas Real Estate Commission) to minimize the risks that the Realtors face every day. He also serves on the Legislative Committee and Professional Standards Committee.
Every Realtor of the Year of their respective board is a candidate for the state ROY, to be announced at the ARA Convention in September. The one chosen moves on as a candidate for the NAR Realtor of the Year.
My copy editor (aka wife) Kathy and I met with Rick at his office in Jacksonville on TP White Drive, where he is the managing broker and office manager at RE/MAX Homefinders.
Before he got into real estate Rick worked for Gwatney Chevrolet in Jacksonville where he started as a salesman before later becoming a manager. He worked at Gwatney 21-years. But he had been familiar with the real estate business most of his life.
“My dad was a broker and owner in Blytheville, Rick said, “and I grew up changing out ceiling fans doing all sorts of things for him in real estate. I went to school in Conway. What now is UCA. Back then it was the State Teacher’s College. When I got out of there I went to Little Rock and got a job with a jet boat manufacturer in Cabot. That was a blast until they went out of business. After that I stopped in at Gwatney one day and they hired me.”
Rick’s dad didn’t understand why he chose the car business and kept pushing him to get his real estate license.
“I told him, ‘Are you kidding me. Do you know how much money I’m making!’ But as a car dealership manager you become married to the job. You have to be there to unlock it at 7:30 in the morning. They are open from 8 to 8. So, you also had to be there to lock it up. I was gone all day. One day I thought I was ready to do something where I could get out a little bit. So, I tried real estate.”
There are similar keys to success in the automobile and housing industries. Selling is selling.
“In both you write down all your friends and all the people you know,” Rick said. “Your friends, doctors, etcetera, and come up with your sphere of influence. Then you call on them and send them things. But in the car business you spend most of your time on the lot. Watching for “ups.” People who drive on to the lot. When I became a manager I began training new salespeople. You try and find out some of the things they are doing wrong. Let’s say there is a couple. They’re in a pickup truck, driving down the street and he says, “Hey they have a new truck I kinda like.” And she says, “You know you don’t need a new truck.”
“Oh, but it’s so neat looking,” he says.
So, he drives onto the lot to look at that truck and a salesman comes out and tries to sell him the truck. But you don’t need to sell him the truck. Instead you need to sell her on the idea that he needs a new truck. That’s one example and there are a lot of different things like that that you need to teach to them that they just don’t understand.”
Proper training is just as important in real estate, Rick feels. He carries that philosophy with him, not only in teaching his agents, but also as an educator with Midsouth Real Estate Academy.
“One of the things I talk to new students about is talking to several brokers before deciding which one to go to work for. Sure, you think you want to go to the broker who charges less in fees, but do you have the chance for success there? Every broker you talk to is going to say yes we have training.
It’s kind of a funny story but when I interviewed with Bart Gray I was told the same thing. They said they had training. So when I started I said, ‘OK Bart, I’m ready for my training.’ He took me in a little room where there was a TV. Then he told me to hook up the VCR and handed me a tape. The tape began and someone said, ‘We are going to talk to you about how to handle the telephone.’ But the first thing you notice is the hairstyles and that what they are wearing had to be from another era. Then they pick up a phone and it’s a rotary dial.
I looked at him and said, ‘Bart these people aren’t even living anymore!’ How are they going to teach me something!’ But he agreed with me and soon he began doing a lot of the training himself.
And I liked how he did it. He told me to find someone who was thinking of buying or selling and I’d get an appointment with them and he would go with me. He would do the presentations, and the paperwork. Then the second time we went he had me do the presentation, while he watched, ready to take over if I floundered somewhere. Then the third time I was ready and said, ‘Just get out of my way.’”
“Proper training is a big thing. What I tell these students, if someone tells them they have a training program, ask to see it. Ask to see the paperwork and the training schedule. You might be surprised.”
As the managing broker, Rick oversees the agents in the firm.
“Most of what I do for the agents happens between five in the afternoon and nine in the evening. That is when they are out writing offers and looking at properties. These days when a person finds a house they like, you better get an offer in quick. My wife and I were watching one of those property tv shows the other day and the agent says “That’s what I have to show you. Take some time and discuss it and get back with me and we will go from there.” I told Carol now days you say take all the time you need, discuss it and get back to me in two hours. That’s just the difference in the times.”
Other differences in the times Rick touched on involved contracts and the MLS.
“When I made an offer on a house back in 1979, the contract was one page,” he said. It had two blank spaces for how much you wanted to offer and when you wanted to move in. Today our contract has 15 pages and are used in real estate classes in many universities around the country.”
As for the MLS changes, some of the more experienced Realtors may recall a large, phone-book looking thing they used to have to carry around.
“By the time you got the book, it was a week behind,” Rick said. “We learned that anytime you went somewhere, whether to show a house or buy some food, you went one way and came back another way, just to see if there were any new for sale signs. The book had one picture and it was black and white. If I had a nickel for every house that was turned down because of that one little picture.”
Technology changed that.
“I have three buyers in California that buy houses here and put them in our property management,” Rick said. “The photos they see online are only the good things about the property, so I go out and look for the bad things they’d want to know about. I take pictures, which I send to them.
And just like that, through some photographs and an email, Rick’s clients over a thousand miles away get a good idea of what they’re investing in. It’s definitely one of the good changes in a business that seems to keep looking for ways to become better. Some of the old traditions are good as well, like honoring those people who keep working to improve their chosen profession. People like Rick White.
1. Rick White with his 2023 Realtor of the Year Award along with nominees Kristen Kennon (left) and Alicia Averitt Haley.
2. Rick in college (or perhaps a 60's themed Tabletop, we weren't quite sure)
3. Rick and his wife, Carol, at a Western themed Tabletop.
4. Rick helping out at a General Membership Meeting by drawing a door prize winner.