(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
Here, he talks about the current real estate market and how it's changed in the years he's been in the business:
Business Today: Prudential Bridgeport has been locally owned for more than 30 years. What's the secret to your success?
Roger Skinner: I think most people would answer hard work. For me that's part of it, but I think I have been just plain lucky my whole life -- great parents, wonderful wife, four super children and a top-class business partner. I've been associated with smart and truly professional real estate agents and office personnel who have been a pleasure to work with. I know hard work and luck go hand in hand, but I have been truly lucky my whole life.
BT: How did you get started in the real estate business?
Skinner: I graduated from (Southeast Missouri State University) with a business management degree and was immediately employed by Uncle Sam -- drafted into the Army for two years. I spent most of my time in Nuremberg, Germany. In some of my spare time, I played chess with a major from California. During my last match with him before shipping back to the states, he asked me what I was going to do when I got out of the Army. I didn't have a clue. He thought I should get into the real estate business and that's what I did.
BT: How has it changed over the years?
Skinner: The three biggest changes I've noticed are interest rates, foreclosures and the number of people in the business. Interest rates are unbelievably lower -- fixed 30-year rate under 4 percent and adjustable rates under 3 percent. Most of my 40 years in the real estate business, fixed rates were around 8 percent.
Until four years ago, I couldn't spell the word foreclosure. Today foreclosures are really prevalent. Foreclosures come on the market every week. It's really sad.
The number of people has increased by leaps and bounds over the years. When I began, most everybody who sold real estate did it full-time. It was their only livelihood. Today, there are many many people selling real estate part-time.
BT: How would you describe the current housing market in Southeast Missouri?
Skinner: I think it is gradually improving in some price ranges and stagnant in others. The unbelievable lower interest rates are making it attractive for any type of buyer, but especially for first-time home buyers. They are leaving their rentals and purchasing homes.
BT: Why is now a good time to buy or sell a home?
Skinner: The low-low interest rates make it a good time to buy. Fix rates in the three's (percent) and adjustable in the two's (percent). The interest rate makes it a good time to also sell, but your home needs to be priced at a fair market price and in "move-in" condition
BT: You're a founding member of the Noon Optimist Club. Why do you think community involvement is important?
Skinner: If you help your community, your community will help you, because your community is people. A selfish reason to help others is that it makes you feel good. The giver receives more than the one who receives. The Noon Optimist Club was a perfect fit for me because I have four children and the Optimist slogan is "Friend of Youth." Our mission is to help the youth in the area.
BT: You've played Santa Claus when delivering gifts for Toybox; tell me what's that like.
Skinner: Growing up, I never received gifts during the year. My parents didn't have the money. But somehow at Christmas there were always lots of gifts under the Christmas tree. Delivering toys to kids who have very little makes me appreciate what I had growing up. Lots of kids' eyes really light up when you arrive at their home. If I don't lose any weight, I won't even need padding next year.
BT: What do you do in your spare time?
Skinner: Travel. My wife and I go somewhere about twice a month. We have children and grandchildren in Indianpolis, St. Louis and Kansas City. We enjoy going on cruises, traveling to Mexico and Florida. We just got back from China and are getting ready to go to the hot air balloon festival in Albuquerque. I don't want dust setting on my shoes.
BT: What's your favorite thing about Cape Girardeau or Southeast Missouri?
Skinner: Since I'm from this area, I take everything here for granted. I ask people what they like about the area after living here a couple years. Their answers are friendly people, clean, rolling hills and trees. I agree with them.