DEVELOPING STORY- Des Moines Police, “We think that it’s a Realtor”:
Shocking news of a murder in a model home
Investigators have been at the crime scene and have been canvassing the neighborhood since Friday afternoon after Ashley Okland, a 27 year old Realtor with Iowa Realty was fatally shot in the chest and head. Sadly, there are no new leads, no suspects and a police spokesperson said they believe it to be an isolated incident. An autopsy will be performed Monday.
Ashley was highly active in the community, was on the board of the Young Professionals Club of Des Moines and a respected Realtor. This death has shaken the community.
Iowa Realty President & CEO R. Michael Knapp released this message to his employees Friday on Facebook: “To all Iowa Realty and Prudential First Realty Agents, I am asking that all of you immediately cancel any open houses you have scheduled this weekend. A few of you may be aware of a tragic incident, beyond comprehension, has occurred at a model home in West Des Moines this afternoon involving one of our Iowa Realty agents. I ask that you keep her in your prayers. Your safety is our chief concern here, and if the situation changes we will notify you immediately via email and voice-mail on your office phone.”
“People are shocked. I mean she was so good at being friends with everyone she made everyone feel important. She was well respected and also very well liked and I think that has made it very hard on a lot of people,” Jason Wells, President of the YPC told local media.
There is a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest (Crime Stoppers can be reached at (515) 223-1400).
Reminder for the real estate community
Real estate is often a risky industry to be in. Agents travel alone and spend time away from people on a regular basis. Dealing with peoples’ housing is an emotional ordeal and can be dangerous (although we’re not saying this incident is such an ordeal). Agents, please be careful and take all the precautions possible and use the technologies at your fingertips as best you can.
We are saddened by this tragedy, and our prayers go out to Iowa Realty as well as Ashley’s friends and families.
April 12, 1:41am CST: According to Des Moines Channel 13, the reward has been increased to $11,500. Police are now releasing that a resident living next to the model where Ashley was killed reported hearing a commotion.
The Des Moines Register reports that an email from Iowa Realty to agents says “According to the email message sent to employees with Iowa Realty and Prudential First Realty, Okland was spotted in the neighborhood speaking with the man on two to three occasions in late February and early March. The resident who reported the tip described the individual as a younger man, “scruffy looking, (with) possible dark features.” On one occasion, the man – whose vehicle is said to resemble a Cadillac Escalade – spent 20 minutes parked in front of the show home where Okland was shot, according to the email. The witness said Okland then exited the model house and left the area in her own vehicle, followed by the SUV.”
Lt. Jim Barrett, West Des Moines’ public information officer said, “We think that it’s a Realtor and we want to verify that, so that’s something at this point that we need the public’s help on.”
Channel 5 reports, “A memorial fund has been established by Ashley Okland’s family. You can send donations to 30048 530th Avenue, Kelley, IA 50134, which is where she was from. Money sent will be distributed to Okland’s favorite charities.
There is a visitation planned for the Fjeldberg Lutheran Church in Huxley Tuesday from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines. Okland will be buried in Huxley.”
Further updates can be found by clicking here which we will keep current.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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