It’s been a rough several years in real estate, but Sandy Burkhamer’s business has increased every year in one segment actually helped by the bad housing market: property management.
“The recession was a benefit to my business, because so many people were going to rentals because they were losing their homes, they had to find a place to live,” Burkhamer said.
Last year was her best yet since she started Burkhamer Property Services in Montesano 12 years ago. She had owned real estate business before the housing market crash in the ’80s.
She went to work in Olympia, then came back the the Harbor working for Aberdeen Realty.
It was there she first got into property management, eventually going back into business for herself.
Her business has diversified into some real estate listings and brokerage, as well as general contracting. The work itself rewards Burkhamer every day.
“It definitely impacts the people where they live,” she said. “We don’t rent out anything we wouldn’t live in ourselves. We’re pretty strict with owners and tenants, but I’m fair.”
Despite opportunities in other areas, including coastal communities, Burkhamer won’t work with properties farther than the western side of Hoquiam or the eastern side of McCleary.
“I can’t keep an eye on them if it takes me all day to get there,” she explained.
Burkhamer first got into real estate in 1974, when the father of a checker she worked with at the Aberdeen Thriftway talked about his work as a broker.
“For a woman in a grocery store back then — I was the first night manager that Thriftway ever had there — but you didn’t have a lot where you could go up from that. But with real estate, I could do whatever I wanted to do, I could go wherever I wanted to go,” she said.
To get into property management today, Burkhamer advises getting a real estate license first, then finding the best property management firm possible to get experience and joining the National Association of Residential Property Managers.
“It takes quite a bit of commitment,” she said.