Taking Success To A New Level
There has really never been any doubt that Diana Bryan-Smith would be successful. Diana was the very first Greater Kansas City cover story for Real Estate Executive in January 2003. Even then, her vision and acute sense of strategy was evident. First licensed in 1997, Diana quickly joined the ranks of the top 10 of all Reece and Nichols agents, and was among the top 25 agents throughout Kansas City. As early as 2001, she was selling more than $20 million in real estate each year.
Diana is still in the 1% of all real estate agents in the KC Metro area, with special emphasize on marketing both Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties, two of the fastest growing areas in both metropolitan Kansas City and the state of Kansas. "It's the hot spot in KC," she agreed. "You go to dinner on Friday or Saturday and it's an hour wait. It's amazing - and it's nowhere near finished." Area attractions include Schlitterbahn Water Park, Kansas Speedway, Cerner, The Legends Outlet Mall, KC Sporting, T-Bones Baseball, Cabela's and Nebraska Furniture Mart. Large business complexes such as Cerner have also settled into the area.
A native of Basehor in Leavenworth County, Diana has a first-hand knowledge of the area and its growth. At the surprisingly young age of 21, she illustrated her initiative by buying acreage and building her own home, the first of several projects that quickly set her apart in both her personal and professional life.
Despite the obvious drama of those early steps, both Diana and her market areas are even more remarkable today. Basehor is one of the five fastest growing cities in Kansas. Not even incorporated until 1969, Basehor has effectively balanced some of the area's most dynamic growth with a quiet "country" lifestyle - features that both Diana and her home buyers readily appreciate."It's an outstanding area," she said. "You've got the highway access, the amenities and other features of the big city with a quiet lifestyle. It really is the best of both worlds."
Not surprisingly, one of Diana's most successful areas today involves her work and the work of the Diana Bryan-Smith team that successfully markets subdivisions in and around Basehor, and in the nearby Wyandotte County communities of Piper and Bonner Springs. One of the most unusual developments is found in the Pines of Pinehurst neighborhood. This Basehor subdivision is located in a former Christmas tree farm. The homes, mostly ranch style, are surrounded by healthy, growing Christmas trees - pines - giving the area its name. Pines of Pinehurst homes range from the low $200,000s to $275,000.
Similar quality can be found in the Lei Valley development in Bonner Springs. With 285 homes starting in the $190's, this affordable community nevertheless features amenities such as fishing ponds, trails, a clubhouse and pool. Lei Valley will soon open its fourth phase. Diana is also currently marketing: The Estates of Connor Creek, Timbers Edge of Creek Ridge,Honey Creek Farms, The Meadows of Honey Creek and Saddlecreek Estates.
Diana's new construction career started almost 20 years ago with the creation of "Piper Estates" in Kansas City, KS. First of it's kind in Wyandotte County, she sold 62 homesites in less than a year. "We offered large lot sizes 1-5 acres with homes starting in the $250's. It was a wonderful experience!"
Other successfullymarketed developments included:
- Prairie Lake Estates
- Windhill Estates
- Parkway Village
- Hazelwood Villas
- Pinehurst South
- Townhomes of Cedar Springs
- And more
The growth of these areas is ample evidence of the attractiveness that is bringing increasing numbers of home buyers to both Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties. Although a number of features benefit these areas, the greatest single factor may be the emergence of western Wyandotte County as a regional tourism and retail center.
The story actually began with the now famous Kansas Speedway, which was used as a springboard to develop the nearby Legends and Village West shopping, dining and entertainment mecca. Currently under construction is the Schlitterbahn Vacation Village, a 300-acre family destination resort complex comprised of multiple entertainment venues. Not surprisingly, these unprecedented developments and the attention they generate are spurring plans for even more quality growth nearby.
"It's simply become an amazing area," Diana explained. "You've got I-70 and I-435, which provide the ability to get anywhere in the metro area in minutes. You've got schools and shopping equal to anything in the region, and you have the ability to find affordable homes in some of the most beautiful land in the region. It's a combination that's hard to beat."
But if anything, Diana may be able to top that. Always alert to opportunity for home buyers, she and her team are quick to take advantage of programs that offer her buyers significant advantage.
For example, she notes that in the Lei Valley development, they are offering a five-year rebate and up to 75% back a year on real estate taxes to attract buyers young and old.
"Things like that can help buyers, especially young families," she noted. "We make a point of staying abreast of things like that and helping our clients take advantage of them.
That high level of service is the result of Diana's management abilities, as well as her real estate savvy. Formed in 2001, the Diana Bryan-Smith team utilizes contemporary techniques to maximize customer care, but most of all focuses on traditional service that emphasizes people-to-people contact. Diana also sees the team concept as an example of a team being stronger than individuals. "The team concept is wonderful, because it brings a whole new network together. And let's face it,a team can do more than just one. Our customers are getting the expertise of more than one person." This team also allows each member to focus their efforts on areas where their individual strengths and talents lie. This allows for a synergy to be formed, which presents the greatest return to their customers, their No. 1 priority.
"I think that's been a major factor in my being No. 1 in Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties," she noted. "You really can't measure your success with numbers alone, but our team has definitely succeeded."
Diana starts by ensuring that qualified agents are located in each subdivision, to facilitate buyer contact and to take care of the day-to-day operation of the communities. She also feels strongly about the team's success in keeping her on track by providing the support, additional expertise and overall abilities to serve the team's growing customer base. "One person can only do so much and be so many places," she said. "But even more importantly, you do have people with different skills that add to your team abilities. That's very important."
Looking Up"I think we're going to have a great year, primarily because we're in the path of a lot of growth opportunity," she explained. "Plus, interest rates are still at an all-time low. I'm expecting a solid, banner year." Other factors include overall demand. The aging baby boomer generation is seeing their children leave home, approaching retirement and many are looking for home changes, such as more convenient homes requiring less upkeep. At the same time, a relatively large, young family market is also arriving to look for affordable homes. "Everything cycles," Diana noted. "Unless people stop living in houses, there will be home sales. The key is how you approach it."
Steady ValuesThis refreshing blend of common sense and sophisticated savvy has always been one of Diana's most remarkable traits. More than just buying 12 acres and building her home at the age of 21, she served as general contractor on the project, utilizing other tradesmen for most of the initial work, but finishing a large part of the home herself. While it has been remodeled since then, the home still stands.
"I built it in stages," she laughs today. "But it's been a great house."
One of the reasons she sought the wide-open spaces around Basehor was her love of animals, a collection of horses, dogs and other pets that have since led her to farms in the area and even breed a few longhorn cattle. She currently owns two quarter, as well aGerman shepherd, a PresaCanario (Spanish mastiff) and a Chihuahua."I've always loved animals," she noted. "I had a pony growing up and the idea of having them stayed with me."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Diana is that real estate was not her first career choice. Although she's obviously a natural for the profession, with a rare combination of business and people skills, Diana first studied and worked as a graphic artist. A native of Kansas City and growing up in Basehor, she worked at the age of 17 as a graphic artist for the Command General College at Fort Leavenworth. She earned a degree in commercial art and worked in that field for 15 years, first for Dymon, Inc. and Hallmark Cards. Finally, in a move that foreshadowed her entrepreneurial talents in real estate, she put out her own shingle as a freelance artist. She also created and published an equine magazine and a national automotive newspaper, building a reputation both regionally and nationally.
Marketing To Real Estate…Despite her successes, by 1997 Diana was beginning to look for new challenges. Significantly, she had learned a great deal from her parents by watching them build a successful recreational vehicle sales business over the course of 20 years. She also had deep roots in the area. Not only was she in love with the Leavenworth County lifestyle, but also her grandfather Ralph Bryan had been Basehor's first mayor.
"And I was just tired of working behind a computer all day long," she recalled. "I needed more interaction with people. I thought there just had to be something that would meet all of those requirements."
That's when Diana's husband, Tracy, made the suggestion that she try real estate. "He had watched me work with clients in my graphic design business and thought I would be a natural," she recalled. "I was already used to working seven days a week and all hours of the day. I enjoy being my own motivator. And I like the fact that every day in real estate is different. It's a new possibility and a new opportunity."
Although "instant success" might be a slight exaggeration, Diana's talent, insight and, perhaps most of all, willingness to work hard did lead to rapid achievement. She also knew - and loved - the areas where she spent most of her time. Her passion for Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties remains contagious even today. Almost overnight, Diana began to break records and before long, she rose to become the top real estate agent for Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties.
Her next big step came in 2001 when she realized that "going to the next level" meant creation of a team, although the concept was still relatively new to this area. "We were the first to create a selling team in Wyandotte and Leavenworth counties," she recalled. "But it made sense. Six people can do a lot more than one person. Our clients receive both the expertise of more people, they also benefit from a more diverse set of skills. And real estate today is complex, so a larger group helps ensure that you cover all of the bases. The bottom line is that you are more efficient and effective, and the client benefits."
In 2003, Diana and her team moved to Realty Executives Classic, an organization she describes as excellent. The Diana Bryan-Smith team quickly rose to the top in 2006 and was ranked No. 3 internationally with Realty Executives out of 15,000 agents worldwide. She went on to win the Pinnacle & Bronze Award as well.
Speedway Realty, LLC was officially launched in the Fall of 2007. Owner/Broker is Diana's new title which gives her the full flexibility to run her Real Estate Brokerage. We are able to give a full range of services from new construction, residential resale, land/acreage and commercial. "We do it all!"
Built It And They Came
As part of the last evolution of Diana and Speedway Realty, the increased emphasis on the area's construction market is one of the latest steps. Her savvy analysis of market trends, such as the move of baby boomers into smaller homes, is a typical example. "The baby boomers are the largest market right now and many are looking to downsize," she said. "In the next two years, I see a large turnover of home sales because this market is aging. They are looking for handicapped accessible, maintenance-free homes all on one level. That may involve patio homes, duplexes or single-family homes. But the baby boomers are the largest buying group ever, and they are reaching their earning peak."
The Diana team adapted to such trends by shifting from pure sales to a combination of home construction/development and resale, quickly achieving a nearly 50-50 blend. The group is actively marketing the select group of subdivisions and is aggressively looking for new opportunities. To say this blend has been successful is another understatement. Diana, today, handles transactions of more than $80 million in property. In addition to achieving top agent for Realty Executives in 2006 in four states including Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado, she is the buyers' agent for the incredible Schlitterbahn Waterpark. "We're a real estate team," she said, obviously proud of her group's achievements. "But I think the best is yet to come!"