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Featured Member – Weichert Realtors Platinum Group

John Lievense (l) and Ben Otis (r) prepare to cut the ribbon to mark the opening of their office in Downtown Allegan on June 30, 2016
John Lievense (l) and Ben Otis (r) prepare to cut the ribbon to mark the opening of their office in Downtown Allegan on June 30, 2016

Weichert Realtors bright yellow signs are a relatively new addition to the Allegan real estate landscape over the past two years, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that Weichertis some new, upstart real estate agency.  Weichert Realtors has been a major player on the East Coast of the United States since 1969.  Platinum Realty Group was started 13 years ago in Grandville, MI by Craig Van Assen, and his son Jason.  Remarkably, they grew from two agents to 70 in the first year.  Platinum Group became a Weichert agency in January 2015.  There are 13 independently-owned Weichert offices in Michigan, three of which are Platinum Group agencies.

So what brings Weichert to Allegan, you may ask.  Credit goes to Ben Otis and his passion for this community.  Otis, a real estate developer, found his way to becoming an agent when the broker he was working with suggested he, “may as well get licensed himself” and eliminate the middleman.  An agent now for 15 years, Otis joined with Platinum Group at their impetus 13 years ago, and at that same time, moved, with his wife, to the Allegan area.  The Allegan office, located at 237 Hubbard St., is an expression of Otis wanting to play a part in Allegan’s bright future.

Also working from the Allegan office is John Lievense.  Lievense, a sergeant for the Allegan County Sheriff’s Reserve for 13 years, came to know Otis through their families’ attendance at Allegan Wesleyan Church, as well as involvement with TRI Allegan – Lievense as a road patrol officer for the event, and Otis serving on the event committee for its first five years.When John heard that Ben was opening an office in town, he immediately wanted to be a part of it.  Coincidently, Ben was thinking along those same lines.

Lievense began selling real estate in the Zeeland area three years ago after retiring from his first career at a law office.  Stating, “I just like helping people,” his greatest satisfaction comes from getting a family into a house that never thought that home ownership was a possibility.

Both agents are excited to bring the Weichert system of tools and resources to the local real estate market.  Of note are targeted marketing, not only with geographic area as criteria, but also consideration such as a buyers interests; the Weichert Doors Presentation; and Weichert’s Call Center.  Through the call center, if a buyer requests additional information on a property, they will be connected with a local agent within three minutes.

Otis said, depending on the property, an agent could have 10 to 40 hours into a listing prior to it being put on the market.  The Doors Presentation is part of the initial listing process in which Ben and John sit down with the seller and explain all that they will do as the listing agent to sell their home, a sampling of which include staging considerations, online media, working with lenders, open houses, scheduling and meeting with inspectors, home valuation, Comparative Market Analysis, and Price Trend Analysis.  The Price Trend Analysis, unique to the Weichert system, plots price points to give a sense of what your home will be worth at future points along a timeline.

Of the Allegan real estate market, Otis and Lievense have a shared enthusiasm.  They believe that properties are currently a little undervalued, making them attractive to investors, and that the market is poised for good growth in the coming years.  Ben and John point to the recent improvements on the Riverfront, and are excited that local investors are bringing great ideas to the table, such as the soon-to-be-open Redtail 412 restaurant on Water St., and Ropes Courses, INC’s zip line over the Kalamazoo River, scheduled for opening next spring.

Weichert Realtors Platinum Group’s Allegan Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM; however, as much of their work is away from the office meeting with clients at the buyers and sellers convenience, it is always best to schedule an appointment.  Ben Otis can be reached at 616-813-0019 and John Lievense at 616-218-2072.

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