The old adage of the three most important things in real estate being location, location, location could have been written above Lindsey & Associates’ door. The company, which turned 50 this year, was founded in Fayetteville at a time far removed from the current boom northwest Arkansas currently enjoys.


Being located in that corner of the state, and only there, for that long has come with some perks. In 2023, the firm has grown to include offices in Bentonville and Rogers and boasts a headcount of about 250 agents, making it one of the largest and most successful companies in one of the fastest-growing areas in the country. Not bad for a company that started out in a little house on U.S. 71.


“Northwest Arkansas has been our home and our base all these years, and the Lindsey family is closely tied into the community here,” said Suzett Sparks, senior vice president and managing broker, who heads the Rogers location. “I suppose if an opportunity presented itself to open an office elsewhere, we’d take a look at it. But there are currently no plans that I am aware of to branch out from this part of the state. We’re very proud to have been doing business as a local company all of these years.”


A long tenure shows its advantages in several ways, from decades-long relationships with builders and developers to seeing the community under all manner of economic conditions. Sparks said such market wisdom has been particularly helpful in navigating the current residential market.


“It’s a very strange, very unusual market right now,” she said. “Properties in the lower end of the price range are still very much in demand, and certain properties still see multiple offers. At the same time, we are starting to see a little bit of a flip from the hot seller’s market in 2021 and 2022 to a more balanced market. Things are much more in line with what we saw in 2019 across the board, and with that comes a little bit of a learning curve for both agents and sellers. We’re figuring out how to get properties sold that maybe last year we would’ve had 27 offers on.”


Interest rates, inflation and available inventory have all complicated the residential real estate market, Sparks said, but economic factors are not all that is at play. Consumer preferences are also changing, forcing real estate companies to stay nimble.

Suzett Sparks

“What’s been surprising is the number of what I’ll call ‘urban purchasers,’” Sparks said. “These are people who want to buy a home where they’ll be able to walk to work or ride their bike to work. Smaller properties are also very popular right now, which is a real change from the more traditional three-bedroom, two-bathroom house with the fenced yard.


“We see more millennials and other younger people not necessarily wanting what we’d call a traditional house. They want to put more effort into their quality of life and doing the things they want to do instead of having a big yard to mow on a Saturday.”


Whatever the challenges of the real estate market may be, they have not done anything to affect the growth of the real estate industry as measured by new agents setting up shop in northwest Arkansas. Sparks, who also currently chairs the Arkansas Real Estate Commission, said the boom in people looking to become agents is a trend that has happening statewide, but especially in Lindsey & Associates’ backyard.


“Other industries talk about the tight labor market and not being able to find good people, but that’s not the case in real estate,” she said. “We’re going against national trends. The National Association of Realtors has been predicting for a couple of years now that the number of [real estate] licenses would decline in the U.S., but that’s just not something that we’ve seen here in Arkansas, which tells you something. We had a meeting of the Real Estate Commission recently, and they reported they’re processing 15 license applications a day in the state. We granted 363 licenses in the month of July alone. A large majority of those were for people operating in northwest Arkansas.”


Even before this modern-day land rush, Lindsey & Associates was having no trouble attracting quality personnel. Sparks said the company’s longstanding reputation in the community and its large pool of employees afforded it the luxury of hiring exclusively by referral. This helped promulgate the company’s already considerable talent pool.


“We have been very fortunate in that a lot of the new agents that we have hired are either friends or somehow know somebody who’s already at Lindsey,” she said. “A lot of the new agents that I hire are usually recommended to me or somebody will reach out to me because my listing agent or staff suggested that they do so. “


This hiring practice allows new hires to get off to a running start, while the company’s culture of supporting each other helps maintain morale and provide assistance where needed.


“We don’t do a boot camp per se, but we do a lot of training,” Sparks said. “We’ve done three training classes just this week plus sales meetings here in the office. My IT manager is going to hold another class tomorrow. Training is something we have every day of the week.


“Beyond that, we just have a wonderful group of people working here. It’s very much a family atmosphere where everyone wants to see everybody do well.”


Another successful strategy the company employs is providing support services that help agents stay focused on their primary work responsibilities.


“What sets us apart from our competitors is we have support staff,” Sparks said. “I’m not competing with my agents by listing and selling, I’m here to train and manage my people and help them to be successful. We have an office manager and someone to put out signs and a relocation department and two full-time marketing people in the office. We provide a lot of help to agents so they can be out doing the things they need to do to generate business and help our clients.”


Technology also plays a role in making an agent more productive these days. Once utilized only sparingly, online resources and apps have steadily become an indispensable tool for successful real estate agents.


“Everybody knows the biggest difference between 2023 and 2013 or 2003, of course, is technology,” Sparks said. “I remember in 2000 we barely used email. Multiple listing services might have just been coming online, but I think we still used books until 2005 or somewhere in there.”


The technological tools themselves have not only evolved, so have the number and demographic of agents using them.


“I would say every single agent here is comfortable with tech and texting to do all the things that we do every day,” Sparks said. “In the past that might have been true for the younger agents, but these days it’s the newer ones and the more seasoned ones alike. It’s so important because things change so quickly you can easily get left behind. Clients are also demanding that agents are more accessible than they once were, and technology helps them be reachable at any time, which is a good thing and can also be a bad thing.”


One constant among top producers Sparks has seen throughout her 30-year real estate career is how well they formulate and leverage relationships. She said a solid relational network will always be the single most effective weapon in a real estate professional’s arsenal.


“I had an agent who was one of the top agents in the state for years and years,” she said. “He would consistently do millions in volume each year, yet he was not tech savvy at all. He was just very, very good at building relationships.


“Now, could he have done a few more transactions if he had been able to use technology to his advantage? I don’t know. At some point, there’s a limit to what one person can do, but I can say that if there’s one constant in this business, it’s that you still have to build those relationships in order to be successful.”


Relationships have been the name of the game since Jim Lindsey launched the company in 1973 in Fayetteville, in conjunction with J. W. Gabel. The original office operated out of a small house with a handful of people but soon expanded to include a Rogers office. Over time Lindsey & Associates would branch into multiple sectors, including residential, commercial, land and rentals.


In 1996, John David Lindsey joined the agency as general manager. Sparks, who has been with Lindsey & Associates for 25 years, developed the company’s formal relocation department in 2006. She moved into her current role in 2009. Continued growth across all business sectors, paced by residential sales which topped $675 million in 2020, led the company to open its third office last year in Bentonville.


Sparks said it has been a fun ride watching the company grow and develop over the years. She added the best part of her job is building a team of successful individuals who care about their customers and deliver extra-mile service on their behalf. That may sound old-fashioned in an era of digital documents and remote transactions, but it’s the secret ingredient to Lindsey & Associates’ sustained success.


“Everyone who works here is invested in the same thing, taking care of our clients,” she said. “Agents know they can call on me at any time. I’ve answered questions in the middle of the night. I’ve e-signed documents in the middle of the night. I never want to be a reason that a client doesn’t get the property they want or misses out on an offer.”


As for the future, Sparks has been in the business long enough to know better than to hazard any predictions, but just going strictly by the numbers, she said interest in the industry is at near-record levels which bodes well over the long term.


“Everybody wants to live the American Dream, and selling real estate is a wonderful way to do it,” she said. “This business is so fun and exciting, and no two days are alike.


“There are some people who don’t know what they’re getting into and who aren’t really informed about how demanding this career can be. This is a business that’s just so easy to get into, they don’t always have somebody to train them properly, but for every person who goes in with rose-colored glasses, there’s one that comes in with the sheer determination to be successful. That’s the type of people we attract, and that’s a big part of why we’ve been successful for so many years.”


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