|Wetherington buys Gibson & Associates|
by Kurt Johnson
by Kurt Johnson
An open house Friday will mark both a change of ownership and new location for a downtown real estate company.
Hoot Gibson, who has been involved with local real estate sales off and on since 1975, has sold his interest in Gibson & Associates to Julie Wetherington.
The St. Paul native has lived in the community for eight years, developing various properties, including a 5th Street commercial/residential housing subdivision that bears her name.
"I went into Hoot’s office to list my lots so he could assist me in selling them and he encouraged me to get a real estate license," she recalled. "Then once I came on board he talked me into being a brokerage owner, not that I’m easily talked into things. It was a very good plan for me."
That plan became a reality on May 15, when Wetherington bought the business. Six weeks later she relocated the downtown office from the south to the west side of the square. Friday’s open house, set for 4 to 8 p.m., will showcase the new offices at 1115 12th St.
"I’ve seen nothing but growth in the eight years since I’ve lived here," Wetherington said of her decision to buy the business. "It’s all about location, location, location, just like when you’re buying a house, and I think Aurora is located in a perfect spot."
Noting easy access to Interstate 80 and close proximity to several larger communities, Wetherington said she believes Aurora is poised to grow.
"There are so many people who want to live in Aurora coming from Grand Island because they want to have their kids go to Aurora schools," she said. "I’m happy for all the growth in Aurora, however I don’t want it to grow so much that we lose that smalltown feel," she said. "That’s what draws people here. It’s just a nice place to live."
Wetherington and her husband, Keith, an employee at the Procter & Gamble pet food company, have two sons; J.T. and Cole, ages 14 and 10.
Though he no longer owns the business, Gibson will remain as the broker until Wetherington gets her own broker’s license. Ron Elge and Valta Ross will also remain as sales associates.
Gibson is a veteran on the local real estate scene, having started Gibson Real Estate in 1975. He bought a Century 21 franchise five years later and sold that business in 1985, when he went to work for the cellular division of a large national corporation.
A decade later he retired from the corporate world, returning to Aurora, where he sold real estate for Terry Rieke and Ken Carnes. He went into business for himself, again, in 2007.
Though things have changed dramatically since 1975, Gibson said the local housing market has remained strong. Gibson & Associates has a number of local listings and is involved in marketing 30 lots in the new Greenway Subdivision on Poco Creek Golf Course.
"It’s been one of the most active years in the real estate business in this area in the last 10 years," he noted. "That doesn’t mean we’re selling more $300,000-plus houses, but this $8,000 tax credit has stimulated a lot of people to try to get out in this market, and ultimately they do get into the market. I think the market has recovered well, though we’ve had less of a decline to begin with here."
Another factor in the local housing economy is the continued demand for rental properties.
"One of the strongest indicators is the rental market and that has stayed strong," Gibson said. "If you had 20 houses right now, you’d have them all rented immediately."
Gibson is ready to pass the reigns of the business and sees brokerage ownership as the next logical step for Wetherington.
"I can’t think of anybody I could possibly be happier with because it’s important to me that Gibson & Associates succeed," he said. "Toward that end, I was happy Julie came along with her level of enthusiasm."