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 July 1, 1999

Price of ruling condo market eternal vigilance for Fowler

BOULDER — Tom Fowler would never dream of taking his giant success for granted.

Because if you’re not careful, or start assuming people will call when they’re ready to sell, someone’s going to see another Realtor at a baseball game and — boom — just like that someone else gets the listing.

And Fowler “definitely noticed” when condos came on the market without him because the head of Boulder-based Fowler Real Estate/Better Homes & Gardens is also king of the Boulder County condominium market.

“It’s definitely a constant effort to stay established in the customer’s mind,” he says of lessons learned in 1998.

While Fowler could never be called complacent, he can celebrate a bit: With a total sales volume of almost $30 million and 162 sides closed, Fowler snagged the No. 2 spot in The Business Report’s ranking of the top “Heavy Hitters” teams — those residential Realtors based in Boulder County who have licensed assistants working under them.

Last year Fowler also came in at No. 2 in a combined ranking with 167 sides closed in 1997 and a total sales volume of more than $28.9 million.

He was beaten out both years by Karen Bernardi of Century 21 The Bernardi Group, who has 17 licensed assistants to Fowler’s five licensed assistants.

No. 3 on the team ranking with two licensed assistants, $20.5 million in sales and 85 sides closed, Scott Franklund of Coldwell Banker Colorado Landmark, Realtors, has known Fowler about a decade through associations such as the Boulder Area Board of Realtors and says he runs a tight ship. “He runs a good team,” Franklund says. “A good efficient marketing team.”

Fowler’s team is made up of four buyers agents and one who specializes in contracts — an increase over 1997. “There was a demand for it,” he says.

That’s because in 1998 everything was selling fairly fast, he says. Prices were moving up.

“This year’s been a little bit more that way,” he notes.

Fowler considers any owner of a condominium in Boulder County to be his customer and that there are about 10,000 such housing units in Louisville, Boulder and Lafayette, where he focuses most of his efforts and where he dominates the condo market as the listing agent on most new construction.

He went outside the Boulder County market for the first time this year by listing a new 190-unit condominium community, Saddle Ridge, in Fort Collins after a Denver-based developer who used Fowler as the listing agent for a condominium project in Superior tapped Fort Collins for a new project “and took us with them,” Fowler explains.

“We’ve wanted to branch out of Boulder with Boulder having such limited new construction and growth,” he says.

He adds that it has been a challenge to market from a distance but that it is going well — about 50 units have sold since the first of the year.

His biggest focus in the marketing arena is staying in constant touch, primarily through slick mailings. In a slow market, Realtors don’t have as much interest in condos, Fowler notes. In a great market, they want a piece of the market pie.

Fowler likes the condo niche simply because he likes to specialize and his track record is so strong that it is difficult for anyone to take business away from him — he has the competitive advantage in condos that it would be difficult to achieve were he spread out in all other segments.

He first became involved in the condo market because he listed Gold Run in Boulder for many years and was on-site.

“And like anything you do for a long period of time, you get better and better and better at it,” he says. “The track record is meaningful to people.”

Most of Fowler’s clients fall into the following categories: first-time home buyers, parents buying for students or people moving into smaller spaces because they’re downsizing. (The last group isn’t just reserved for empty nesters. It can include working couples — even those with children — who just don’t want the responsibility of a single-family home.)

The group of buyers Fowler has enjoyed especially and that has kept the game interesting more than anything has been the parents of students, who make up about 25 percent of his business. One parent was the president of Dairy Queen International; another’s grandfather was the 12th richest man in the United States at one time.

Most of them, by default, are fairly successful financially. It takes little time for them to grasp the benefits of owning a condo in Boulder as opposed to renting in Boulder.

“They get it quickly,” he says.

BOULDER — Tom Fowler would never dream of taking his giant success for granted.

Because if you’re not careful, or start assuming people will call when they’re ready to sell, someone’s going to see another Realtor at a baseball game and — boom — just like that someone else gets the listing.

And Fowler “definitely noticed” when condos came on the market without him because the head of Boulder-based Fowler Real Estate/Better Homes & Gardens is also king of the Boulder County condominium market.

“It’s definitely a constant…

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