BUSINESS

As demand for Oxford housing grows, so have some local real estate companies

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Keith working on list. Photo by McKenzie Darnell.

McKenzie Darnell
Oxford Stories
medarnel@go.olemiss.edu

Oxford is a hot town for buying property. That has led some area real estate companies to double in size over the last decade.

“As people began to see how good the Oxford market has done over the last four to six years, there has been a tremendous jump in agents in our market,” said Keith Kessinger, the owner and main broker of Kessinger Real Estate. “So, competition can be good, but if the dollars are staying the same and you have more people selling, it tends to be hard for certain people. They aren’t making the money they did before.”

While there’s a lot of real estate competition in Oxford, competitiveness runs in the Kessinger family. For Kessinger, a former professional baseball player and collegiate coach, life has always centered around baseball.

Known as the “Baseball Family of Ole Miss,” Don, Keith and Kevin Kessinger have played and coached for the Ole Miss Rebels and in the major leagues. Father, Don, and his two sons, Keith, 51, and Kevin, 48, all reside in Oxford with their families.

Kessinger Real Estate, a local and family-owned real estate company in Oxford, opened its doors in 1996. Although Keith officially took ownership in January of 2018, his mom, Carolyn, and brother, Kevin, were both previous owners. Sports have contributed to their drive to be successful.

The real estate market is competitive, especially in a place like Oxford where the cost of living is high and so is the demand for houses and condos. In the past five years, the number of agents in Oxford has significantly increased, which puts pressure on individual real estate companies. Kessinger Real Estate has 30 agents. It has grown 50 percent in the last decade.

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Photo of Keith’s baseball memorabilia. Photo by McKenzie Darnell.

Keith Kessinger said real estate competition in Oxford tops the charts compared to most Mississippi areas. To work in real estate, agents must be adaptable and accepting of their clients wants, needs, ideas and opinions. The agent must do anything in their power for the client.

“Anytime you’re dealing with a widely diverse group of people and dealing with their money and investments, you’re always going to have various personalities that you must deal with,” Kessinger said, “which is the case in any business, but it certainly is in the real estate business. I do enjoy the process of dealing with people and trying to find places for them to buy and, hopefully, working with them all the way through the process and helping them be happy in the end.”

A typical day at Kessinger Real Estate is never the same. From showing houses and meeting with clients, to catching up on paperwork. As the owner and company broker, Kessinger deals with 30 agents and more than 300 listings daily.

“A normal day, I would be in the office between 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and take care of as many paperwork issues or outstanding issues from things that do not involve my current clients in the morning,” Kessinger said. “Then hopefully free myself up in the afternoon where you, hopefully, have people who need to see things. Real estate is flexible. You don’t have to be here 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, which also makes Sundays and some Saturdays work days.”

Kessinger became interested in real estate because of his successful family business. When he moved his wife and kids to Oxford in the summer of 2008, Kessinger Real Estate was dealing with the worst two years in the real estate market due to the recession.

“Particularly since I entered the business in 2008 and 2009, which were two of the worst years nationally ever,” he said. “That ability to figure out how to get up the next day and try to get better helped me get through that early on in my career in real estate.”

With his drive for success, he wouldn’t let this bring the company down. Over the last decade, Kessinger has ran a successful business in a town where many set out to do the exact same thing.

“We were fortunate and blessed that Kessinger Real Estate is a good business in Oxford,” he said.

As of September 2018, Keith’s daughter, Anna Kathryn, 22, got her real estate license and joined the family business as an agent.

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Photo of Anna Kathryn working in the office. Photo by McKenzie Darnell.

“I’ve enjoyed learning from some of the top producing realtors in Oxford,” Anna Kathryn Kessinger said. “Being able to be around my family while I’m working has been a great experience.”

As for any company or business, issues arise as the business changes in size. Staying current is a must because it is the only way to keep up with the market. Since Keith Kessinger began working in 2008, the company has gained 10-15 more agents and continues to grow.

“Technology has certainly changed a good bit,” he said. “The internet continues to drive, I’m sure most business, but is for sure the major factor in real estate business. And apps, mobile applications, make sure your website is doing things. That would probably be the biggest change from the company standpoint . . . size and continuing to stay as close to the cutting edge on technology as we can.”

Over the last four or five years, Kessinger said the real estate market has been great. It has continued to grow and prices continue to rise.

“We have had limited inventory, particularly on the condo side,” he said. “That has changed more recently. It has become a little bit more the buyer’s market, especially on the condo side. There are more condos available than buyers right now.”

According to Keith Kessinger, there has been a slow down over the last six to eight months in the market.

“That appears from articles I have read that . . . is nationally,” he said, “not just an Oxford thing. I don’t think there’s any question that the competiveness of trying to get to the very top of the sports world, both as player and a coach, instilled some things in me that have certainly helped me in the real estate market. There are times you want to quit as a player and times you feel depressed as a coach, but you’ve got to figure out how to get up the next day and try to get better.”

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