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The Key to Success

Staying On Top of a Constantly Changing Real Estate Market

Celebrating 25 years in business is a huge milestone, and Lakes Area Realty is enjoying its success. And Steve Havig, Realtor ®, broker and owner, shows no signs of slowing down. With his charismatic personality and experience in the industry, his leadership is invaluable to his team and their clients.

His wife Terri can also take a lot of the credit. After years of Steve’s successful career in the clothing industry, it was she who originally pointed out that with his people skills and background in business, being a real estate agent would be a great new career for him. At the time, he and Terri had started and were running Isles Bun & Coffee (now under different ownership, but remains a staple of Uptown).

“I like people,” says Havig. “I like to get people a good deal. I want to treat people the way that I want to be treated, and that’s always been our mantra at Lakes Area Realty.”

When hosting open houses, which he did every weekend as a new agent, he brought cinnamon buns from the bakery with him. The houses would smell delicious when people walked in, and clients in attendance would joke that they’d better buy a house from him soon before they gained too much weight!

Today, Lakes Area Realty has 105 agents throughout six offices in and around the Twin Cities. It services a wide area, from western Wisconsin to eastern Minnesota, but the majority of its business is done in Minneapolis.

“I market and do 90% of my business in a small area, so I’m well known in this community for how I market, stage and present my homes,” says Havig.” New clients are often referred to him by people who know him or were former clients. 

“It all boils down to trust,” he says. “A home is usually one of your largest assets, and you have to ask yourself, ‘Do you trust this person with your asset?’”

Some of his agents have been with him since the very beginning. “We have mostly seasoned agents and all of them have a passion for their clients,” says Havig. “It’s very important to have people in the industry who are respected among their peers. Our agents bring a lot of experience to the table as well as knowledge of the neighborhood and pricing.

Another mantra at Lakes Area Realty is collaboration, not competition. He and his agents often assist and exchange information with other outside Realtors. “We at Lakes Area Realty maintain our reputation and our relationships,” he says.

Of course, the real estate market has changed drastically during the last 25 years, and Havig and his team have stayed on top of it all. They offer their clients the latest technology and the most up-to-date knowledge in the industry.

“People’s expectations are higher today because there’s so much information and data out there,” says Havig. “They need a real estate agent to understand how the transaction works. When I first started out you could buy a house with a four-page purchase agreement; now it’s 38 pages. People also like to have an agent for their knowledge of the neighborhood and knowing what houses are worth - we do market analyses for both buyers and sellers to make sure that the pricing is correct.”

What has changed the most, he says, is the use of technology to buy and sell homes. “We used to stage houses and make color brochures,” he says. “Now, we’re marketing to the internet and social media. By embracing new real estate technology tools at our disposal, it has allowed us to remain competitive in the marketplace and better serve our clients.”

Staging has also evolved over time. When Havig first started, he would bring in a person to help the homeowner declutter and to rearrange some of the bigger pieces of furniture for a better flow and look. Today, they sometimes empty the entire house and have a stager bring in all new furniture and accessories.

In addition to running his real estate business, Havig also takes the time to give back not only to his community, but the broader world as well, which he feels is so important. “This industry has been extremely good to me and my family, and I feel it’s an obligation to give back. I do and will continue to do so.”

Along with numerous charities, causes and boards, he’s been a volunteer member and president of the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, where he was recognized in REALTOR® AE Magazine for his selfless leadership. He’s also been involved with a community service program with the United Way and Habitat for Humanity. A Vietnam Vet, he’s a major donor for Homes for Heroes, which assists homeless veterans.

“I’ve also built several houses in Vietnam for the non-profit, Kids Promise, which allows me to sponsor a home each year for a family in Vietnam,” says Havig.

All these years later, he still loves what he does. “It’s a people business. I enjoy people, building relationships, and the consultative approach. I enjoy the fact that we also get to be marriage counselors, financial counselors, and remodeling counselors.”

To find out more about Lakes Area Realty, and what Steve Havig and his team can do to help you with your real estate needs, go to 1428 W 28th Street Minneapolis. (612) 867-5624.