Northwood Realty Services Seeks Edge with Technology

BOARDMAN, Ohio — Since entering Ohio markets five years ago, Northwood Realty Services has quickly increased its market share to become one of the more influential real estate companies in the Mahoning Valley.

It’s almost impossible to go into a neighborhood with residences for sale without seeing the Northwood’s deep red for-sale signs in a few front lawns.

“[Our growth] has been way above typical considering that we didn’t have much presence here four or five years ago,” says Northwood’s president and CEO, Tom Hosack. “We’ve been fortunate to hire some really good people and through that increase our market share and number of transactions.”

One factor that has spurred that growth, according to Ohio division general manager Marlin Palich, is technology. Hosack has kept Northwood on the front line of technology, he says, and the company has long worked to educate employees on trends in real estate and regulations governing sales.

But when it comes to working with buyers and sellers, Palich believes the fact that Northwood offers services in every aspect in buying and selling houses is what’s propelled the agency.

“They can get everything under one umbrella, making it an easier for them,” he says. “All the discussions are with one group and everybody can talk to each other.”

Being able to work entirely with one company provides clients with a better understanding of what goes on, Palich says, even if they aren’t involved in all aspects of paperwork that ensure all regulations are met.

“Not everyone buys a house for the same reason. Some people want the best price. Some want the house they want and some want to sell quickly,” Hosack says. “It’s our job to guide people through the process and an educated agent can make it all smoother.”

Northwood has made a considerable investment in the technology that allows everything to come together, seemingly with little effort, he adds.

“A few years ago, the company launched a smartphone app to allow users to see what homes are available near them,” Hosack says. “We’re always on the lookout for new software that could streamline home buying.”

The apps and software of today are a far cry from what was available when Palich entered the business 30 years ago.

Back then, he relates, agents had to drive to the site and take their own pictures of a building, write up a sheet of information and deliver it to the local real estate board so it could be added to the regional list. Now, almost everything can be done from an agent’s phone.

“It’s a good thing. People can better understand a transaction and get all the information quicker and more expediently,” Palich says. “With technology, we’re ahead of the game.”

Also benefiting the agency are its 40 offices spread from Stow to Pittsburgh, Palich says. Agents take clients into other territories of other Northwood offices to show properties the company lists. When an agent can’t make such a trip, he at least has a contact to work with.

“We have, on our border, markets like Hermitage or New Castle, customers who want to look [in Ohio]. They can come over and meet with the same company,” Palich explains. “It fits in with having everything under one umbrella and helps them with the transition.”

Even with a trained staff that has the newest technology at its disposal, outside influences often sway the success of Northwood. 2008, during the Great Recession, was one of the most challenging years at the agency, Hosack says.

Now, however, the company is seeing a rebound in both commercial and residential markets, a trend driven by small businesses starting up or expanding and the medical industry.

“Between people transferring in and building upgrades [for companies], it’s on both sides. They’re looking for office space and the employees want to buy [houses],” Palich explains.

On the residential side, Hosack adds, “It’s a great time to buy or sell a house, especially with interest rates rising toward the end of the year. If you’re going to do it, now’s the time.”

The market uptick has resulted in fewer houses and condominiums available for Northwood to sell and few houses remain listed more than 60 days, Palich notes.

One house that recently sold in Girard was on the market less than 24 hours, he continues.

“We got multiple offers,” he marvels. “There were a few showings and an offer before it even got into the [listing service],” he relates.

And even beyond quick turnarounds, Northwood has enjoyed working with some well-known names in Youngstown, such as the new head football coach at Youngstown State University.

“We sold Bo Pelini his house recently, which I’m proud of,” Palich says with a smile. “And our staff sold homes to many of his staff members.”

As the company opens more offices in Ohio, Palich and Hosack say the same ideas the have helped them so far will help continue success.

“It all comes back to having the right tools, technology and training,” Palich says.

Pictured: Northwood’s Ohio division manager, Marlin Palich, and the company’s president, Tom Hosack, say up-to-date software, mobile apps and regular employee training have helped the Pittsburgh company as it started expanding into Ohio five years ago.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.