Whether you are a serious buyer/seller, or if you are just checking out my website, I would be happy to help you find what you are looking for or find a buyer for your present home. I have been a licensed Realtor® covering the Twin Cities area, joining buyers with sellers since 1965, and I love helping people find a home. I can access details and history on 40,000+ homes for sale in Minnesota and even take you on personal walk through of anything on our market. If we find what you are looking for, I can help negotiate the price and make sure all of the paperwork is done correctly. Best of all these are not services you have to pay for. Realtors are paid on the final sale of the home by a fee charged to the seller.
The following article appeared in a Realtor Magazine in 2003. I include it in my website because it’s a history of my years in real estate sales. Since this article my wife and I moved to a town home and our son, Steve, wife, Linda, and our grandson Nicholas moved to Minnesota.
There have been some very dramatic changes in both the Minnesota landscape and the world of real estate over the last 38 years but one constant has been Jerry Otto of Coldwell Banker Burnet.
Jerry who was born and raised in South Minneapolis decided as a young man to join the Navy to “see the world”. Stationed at NAS Minneapolis as a TEC Training Instructor and DI limited his scope of adventure, but it did lead to his ultimate destiny. While still in the Navy Jerry got married to his wife Marcy and they began looking for their first home. Unable to find exactly what they were looking for the two decided to build.
Jerry and Marcy’s home sat among five empty lots. The builder informed them that if they found someone interested in buying one of his homes, he would sod their front yard. “Sure enough,” says Jerry with a grin, “pretty soon a car slows down, we told them about the houses and they bought the one next door.” Friends of theirs also bought two more of the four available and not only did the Ottos get their entire yard soded, they made life long friends.
After graduating from the University of Minnesota and continuing his career in the Navy, Jerry’s first real money making real estate position came when their builder asked him to “help out” on Sundays. So, after completing his teaching each Sunday at the Navy base, Jerry would host an Open House.
“When I sold ten homes in a row and received a hundred dollars a house, something told me I should do this for a living,” explains Jerry. “So I started real estate and appraisal classes at the University of Minnesota.”
After getting his license in May of 1965, Jerry joined the Spring Company, which later became Coldwell Banker. Jerry smiles wistfully recalling the earlier days, “Everyone told me at 25 I was to young to be in real estate, back then it seems there were primarily two types of Realtors in this area: a few women and retired older men. The men, for the most part used it as a hobby between golf games and the women were the ones who were really serious.”
Never slowing down, Jerry jokes about his workdays. “Yep, I work half-days, from nine to nine,” and he laughs. Not only was Jerry kept busy with his real estate career, being always the team player with many interests, Jerry became a member of the church choir, secretary of the barber shop quartet group and Toastmaster International. The friendships he made in all of these activities were also the beginning of his large referral business.
During his 38 years of real estate Jerry has built a reputation for thoughtful, professional, and compassionate customer service and has built him a strong reserve for referrals and repeat business. Other agents enjoy working with him not only because of his thoroughness and professional demeanor, but also for his genuine warmth and friendliness. Jerry has received almost too many designations and awards to name. Some of the highlights include Salesman of the Year 1969; Graduate of the first Minnesota GRI (Graduate Realtor Institute) class in 1969; Charter member of the CRS (Certified Residential Specialist); Licensed certified real property Appraiser; Certified Residential Broker Designation; CRB and consistent member of Coldwell Banker International Elite and the recipient of a Coldwell Banker Sharon Putt Memorial Award for having “positive impact on those around you”. “That’s the nicest award I’ve ever received,” says Jerry of the latter.
Also very active over the years on the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR), Minnesota State Association (MAR) and the Southern Twin Cities Board of Realtors(STCAR). He has been a member of both MAAR and MAR since 1966 and STCAR since 1978. He has served as Director on all three of the Boards numerous times and is presently serving as secretary for STCAR.
He also holds the distinction of being one of the very first Salesman Director of the local Boards. “Prior to 1971,” says Jerry, “nearly all the Directors were all Brokers. There was little representation for the sales person. I’m proud to say I was among the first to serve the Board in this capacity.”
Obviously kept very busy during these years with his business and many designations Jerry became the proud father of two children, Sue and Steve. In 1978 while his sales career was steaming it came to his attention that his “half days” were interfering with his family time. When his son called to schedule an appointment with him, Jerry decided it was time to leave sales and go into management.
It turned out Jerry was as good in management as he was in sales! Over the next few years, he was to open many offices that quickly became the top-selling offices for the company. It was a pattern he repeated over and over, from Apple Valley to Burnsville to Prior Lake. During this time Jerry once again found his passion for teaching. Along with managing an office Jerry found teaching real estate courses a fulfilling past time. He enjoyed sharing his wealth of experiences with yet another generation of young entrepreneurs. “I love teaching almost as much as selling,” he says, “and a lot of its for the same reasons. I really enjoy meeting new people and as a teacher I like watching the ‘new crop” and figuring out who will be the next superstars.”
Another past time Jerry and his associates took up during the 1980’s was the Coldwell Banker “Precision Briefcase Drill Team”. Jerry along with many of the realtors at this time were having to be creative to reach out for more business, interest rates were high and sales were few. By reaching out into the communities during parades not only did they create exposure for themselves, they had a lot of fun! “We did all kinds of movements like ‘present case’ and stopping at one point, putting it on the ground and marching around it. We did that for quite a few years, and the people loved it.”
“The funny thing was,” Jerry continues, “we only would get together maybe fifteen minutes or so before the parade and work out the routine. Those were definitely challenging but very fun times.” Typically winning first place though they could never decide what category.
Though maintaining the top selling offices throughout the troubled 80’s was an impressive record, Jerry missed sales and longed to get back into that aspect of the business. “It’s what I really, truly enjoy,” he says.
Jerry moved up to sales and his old routine. “Marcy, my bride of 40 years has coped with my “half days” all these years,” says Jerry, with obvious affection. “My dinner moves from the table to the microwave to the refrigerator-depending on how late I am.”
Since returning to sales 15 years ago Jerry has built a strong sales business once again. His referral business has continued to grow for the entire 38 years. With his business growing so rapidly, Jerry made the decision to add an assistant to his business so that he could continue to provide his clients with the personal touch they look for.
Jerry has added Joyce Wold, a longtime friend, as an assistant and buyer representative. She is a licensed Realtor®. Jerry’s motto of keeping the one on one personal touch available for all of his clients holds true for his entire group. It is important to note that Jerry still provides that one on one service for all of his clients.
After more than three decades in the real estate industry you won’t find much in the way of “Jerry Otto Advertising.” Of course, for many years now, there really hasn’t been a need for marketing the Jerry Otto name.
This is a man who enjoys what he’s doing and it’s very obvious. Jerry has another passion – cars! From a small boy he has had a love of cars, purchasing his first car at the age of 15! (Yes, prior to getting his driver’s license!) Through out these years Jerry’s passion for cars led him to quite the collection of antique cars. Though he now only collects the small antique toy cars. Jerry and Marcy have a new interest they recently purchased a lake home and spend there free time enjoying the quite serenity of the lake. Their family has grown and now includes two grandchildren, Olivia and Ethan, the children of his daughter Sue and son in law Jim. She is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus, and now a pre-school teacher for District 191- Burnsville. Their son, Steve, is a graduate of Embry Riddle, Arizona, and currently resides with his wife Linda in California and he is the “computer guru” for Bax Global corporate office. “He is the one I call with my computer questions” says Jerry.
For almost four decades, Jerry Otto has worked in and for real estate. He’s worked long hours and then donated even more by serving on various boards and committees. There’s no doubt that his charm and wit have been a big part of his success. He still has quips, such as “I wake up every morning unemployed and hope I’m employed by the end of the day.”
There’s no fear of that. “I found a home just the other day for a couple who it turns out, came to me because I sold both their parents and grandparents homes,” Jerry pauses and then adds with a laugh “boy that makes me sound old!”
Jerry may have spent 38 years in real estate but has continually grown with the changes that have occurred over this time. He has seen buyers come from as far away as Spain! “I had a gentleman email me from Spain,” Jerry explains. “He saw on my bio that I had been in the Navy and he was a Navy man himself. So he took the virtual tour of a home and decided that was the one he wanted to buy!”
But in typical Jerry Otto fashion he couldn’t in good conscience sell him a house sight unseen without showing him both some options and some idea of what the market looked like. “When he got here I wanted to show him other houses, but he was definite about the one on the Internet,” says Jerry. “He told me that if his truck fit in the garage then it was a deal.”
When asked his thoughts on the current real estate business, Jerry said it is more and more common for real estate to be a second or third career for some people, and that certain careers tend to make better sales agents. “I think it’s wonderful that all these people are getting into the business,” he says enthusiastically. “We are getting great people who are educated, skilled, bringing the experience they’ve gained from other careers.”
He’s proud of the many new realtors he has trained. “Some of the people I’ve trained as manager are consistently among the top people in the industry,” he says.
As for advice for newcomers to the business, Jerry makes it very simple. “Get out and do it,” he implores. “There’s plenty of opportunity for education now but be careful not to get too wrapped up in technology. Remember, regardless of how much technical gadgetry you have it still comes down to people dealing with people. You are still going to have to take people through ‘x’ number of houses before they find ‘the one’.”
“Also”, he adds, “everyone seems overly concerned about using certain techniques they learned in school. Don’t be so worried about how you say things, just be honest and be yourself.”
For all his success, awards, designations and years of experience, Jerry Otto, remains a very modest man who sincerely feels joyous at the prospect of working in real estate. After all these years, its not age that you see or hear when you talk to Jerry Otto. You see a kindness that’s refreshing in today’s harsher world and wisdom that comes only from experience. You hear the sincerity and the knowledge born of 38 years of working in and helping to build what is today’s real estate community in Minnesota.
You may wonder about retirement in Jerry’s future? At the age of 63 Jerry says he does not see this anywhere in his future. He loves what he does, his business is as strong and vital as it has ever been, continuing to place in the top 4% ranking at Coldwell Banker and a member of International Presidents Elite. With over 58 years of experience between himself, Toni and Joyce, their business continues to grow and change with the current real estate market.
Jerry Otto is still very much a part of the Minnesota real estate, and is certain to remain so for a long time to come!
Jerry can be reached at: Coldwell Banker Burnet Realty, 14420 Glenda Drive, Apple Valley, MN 55124, by telephone at 952-431-9845 or at jerryotto.com.