Organizations that have been part of the fold of real estate for several decades understand how the tides change, bringing everything from volatile economies and housing crashes to surprisingly resilient markets that can withstand even a worldwide health crisis. It’s no surprise, then, that Shorewest, REALTORS®, now celebrating its 75th year in business, is more prepared than most to withstand these fluctuations.
In fact, the brokerage navigated murky waters in the 80s, when sky-high interest rates slowed the markets down to a crawl. Out of that stumbling block, however, emerged an opportunity for growth.
“We decided to help our buyers by securing blocks of funds to use for mortgages to purchase homes,” Joe Horning, president of Shorewest, REALTORS®, tells RISMedia. “This is how we founded Wisconsin Mortgage in 1983.”
In today’s market, inventory poses the biggest challenge, according to Joe Horning. But again, the organization sees the opportunity before the obstacle. While there isn’t enough supply to satisfy the buyer pool, the brokerage can continue investing in agents that can then help educate potential buyers about how they can achieve their dream of homeownership regardless of the strained market.
“Our greatest opportunity is new agents. In the first nine months of 2021, we enrolled 600 students into our real estate school,” he says.
Part of being prepared for the unknown means providing agents and staff with the tools they’ll need in order to tackle all types of markets. According to Joe Horning, while the brokerage does provide the necessary tech they can leverage in all situations, the key has always been, and continues to be, relationships—and that’s what helps differentiate the firm.
“We continue to develop the tools and technologies that are most effective in supporting our team and their clients,” says Joe Horning. “However, in the end, real estate is still a relationship business. It fundamentally comes down to taking care of our clients and helping them achieve their goals. If we continue to focus on that core value, we will be successful for another 75 years.”
Looking back at the founding of the brokerage, the company notes that if John A. Horning were here today, he would not only be proud to see his dream continue for 75 years and three generations later, but he would also be humbled.
John A. Horning started Wauwatosa Realty in 1946 out of an office in his home with a simple vision and philosophy that set the foundation for the powerful culture Shorewest, REALTORS® lives and breathes today: provide clients with exemplary customer service that extends beyond the transaction, as well as innovative marketing and personal recognition. He looked to instill a familial relationship with each employee and customer, imparting Midwestern values of hard work and dedication.
After seven months, John A. Horning opened the first of many offices at 7602 Harwood Avenue in Wauwatosa, quickly outgrowing his initial space. During his first year in business, Horning sold $500,000 and served 40 families.
From there, the brokerage opened more offices and continued expanding the business, with second-generation John E. and Donald F. Horning, son and nephew of John A. Horning, opening Heritage Title Services, Wisconsin Mortgage Corporation, the Real Estate Institute, Home Closing and Relocation divisions.
The Wauwatosa name reached a crossroads in 1997, as leadership embraced the explosive growth, which eventually led to the founding of Shorewest, REALTORS®. In 2002, Joe and John P. Horning, sons of John E., became the third generation of leadership, following in their grandfather’s footsteps.
“Shorewest, REALTORS® is the only major company in our market that has been in business for 75 years and has remained independent,” says Joe Horning. “We credit this to attracting and growing the best people in the business along with our ability to innovate and lead over the years. In Wisconsin, we were the first company to develop a website, the first to open a real estate school, and the first to offer full service to our clients.”
Seventy-five years in, the celebrated brokerage and its family of companies— Wisconsin Mortgage Corporation, Heritage Title Services, Shorewest Insurance and My-Dwelling—now support over 1,400 team members who serve neighborhoods throughout Wisconsin to help people realize the American Dream of homeownership and give back to the community through a proprietary charity, Christmas Is for Kids.
“You don’t make it to 75 years without innovating and providing the best support for your team and their clients,” says Joe Horning.
Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.