The real estate business is complicated and requires knowledge for reputable practitioners who are regulated by the State of Alaska to provide Alaskans with honest and responsible property exchange options. I have known many real estate professionals and regret I have witnessed some who exploit those who trust them through cunning because of the client’s lack of understanding about how the business works.
My long-time friend, Realtor David Windsor, is a top producer in the industry and brings a fascinating life experience to this business. I have long admired David’s periodic instructional newsletters helping general consumers and practitioners understand how the industry works. So, I am honored that David Windsor will be providing a weekly column on this website as he has done for years in other print publications.
I say this as someone who has had some interesting life experience with Realtors myself.
Before our state went into economic recession in the 1980s it was jokingly said by some that a real estate license would soon be required to buy liquor in Anchorage because more people had those than had driver’s licenses. At that time, I had a new publishing and public relations company, DONN LISTON ENTERPRISES, started in 1977 in one bedroom of a two-bedroom apartment in Spenard. As a new business–after having worked as a staff writer for the Anchorage Daily News–I was introduced by a mutual friend to the new president of the Anchorage Board of Realtors, David O’Bannon.
O’Bannon wanted to start a newsletter for the organization.
The name would be Realtor News and the deal was pretty good: I would organize a team of association members to produce copy for the publication, and I could have ALL the money from any advertising I could sell on a 50/50 editorial/advertising split. They wanted an activity for member participation and a product that reflected the people who sold real estate in Anchorage. They kicked in some money to pay for printing the first couple of issues, but it was up to me to make it work beyond that.
I organized a committee with an editor, the late Bill Noll who had just gotten his license and who would later be mayor of Seward, and a number of other columnists including a gossip writer who surveyed the industry to write about who was getting married, new babies born, who was changing to a new job, and related items of general interest. She worked for Security Title and Trust company and her name was Carole Bangs.
The editorial board met weekly to determine who was writing what, set production deadlines and produce a working draft of what I would paste up on the homemade light table in my apartment. I bought 35mm black & white film in bulk and rolled it into cassettes which I handed out like candy. Realtor News Reporters were using their cameras at every function and turning the film into me for processing.
The Executive Director of the Alaska Real Estate Commission, Jim Magowan, had a regular column and when new regulations were proposed we produced a pull-out section everybody could mark up and take to the public hearings to speak knowledgeably about proposed changes.
We got a Commendation from Gov. Jay Hammond for that.
The number of ads I sold determined the size of the editorial hole we would need to fill. In a matter of months Realtor News went from being a 11” x 17” fold-in-half b&w newsletter to a 26 page magazine with full-color ads. I was making money–as the market was headed to a recession–and after O’Bannon wasn’t president anymore the Board decided they would hire an executive director and do the same boring thing all these kinds of organizations do with happy talk newsletters.
Today the inclination is to have boring websites! Watch for a coming story on one option to change that dynamic in YOUR organization!
Realtor News was fun over two years while it lasted; advertisers included every bank and title company in Anchorage as well as a variety of other companies wanting to reach real estate professionals here. I would draw an idea for an ad on an artist pad as I talked to a potential advertiser, schedule photo shoots, and produce a mock-up of the ad for their approval signature.
It was a hoot!
The real estate business has changed since those days, but honor and integrity are still essential for practitioners. Knowing David Windsor, I can say he is detail-oriented and impeccable in all his dealings, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
I served in the Australian Army, stated Windsor jovially. They made me a temporary corporal for two years so I could SERVE BEER, sell cigarettes, an occasional T-shirt, and manage a canteen SERVICE in remote jungle locations. I had to have that level of authority because I had a private working for me–I was in charge of the cash register. I did not actually fight but I SERVED my country! I was discharged when the Vietnam War ended.
Next Windsor became a non-denominational evangelist through an association in accounting school when he was converted to Christianity by a school chum.
Being the passionate person that I am, I was out on the back of a pickup truck outside a bar with a microphone, continued Windsor. I was recently married (much too young at the age of 21). But, I got a position as chief accountant with a chemicals company in Australia after my military service and worked for them for a few years. I’m a person who escalates out of employment.
Back to the Preaching Deal
At the age of 27, I decided to go to the best Theological College in Perth, Western Australia, at Baptist Theological College, continued Windsor. I became pastor at the same time at one of the largest Baptist churches in Perth and, by then, had a wife and three children. I pursued theological studies for four years but, when I was asked to be ordained, I declined on ideological grounds. I realized personally that Christians don’t love unconditionally–only Jesus does. In fact, the church has a habit of crucifying their leaders–as occurred in the life of Jesus.
Windsor’s life took a new twist when he saw an ad for an administrative manager for an offshore drilling company in Houston, Texas. They had never done business in Australia before and they needed someone who knew about insurance, trade unions, accounting, taxes and materials: And, by golly, although I’d been in the ministry for 10 years–Donn, they hired me with just an old accounting degree!
Being unaware of Australian ways and ocean currents off Western Australia the company decided to tow a jack-up rig with three 310 foot legs in the air from Darwin to Fremantle, continued Windsor. We told them to put it on a barge, but no, they said “we’re going to tow it.” Two towing vessels were hired to tow that rig from Darwin to Fremantle where, less than 24 hours away from Fremantle Harbor, a storm came up. There are no land-masses between Perth and Antarctica; Huge seas, 52 men on board this thing with 310 feet legs swinging wildly. Overnight, it started taking water and listing, and we were having radio chatter urging them to slow down to half a knot, but they wanted to get home to Fremantle so bad. So, the tow lines broke and they radioed our office in Perth: “We’ve lost radar contact with the Rig.”
They managed to get all the men off that rig with heroic efforts before it sank in 185 feet of water–where it remains today.
That’s what led to me coming to Alaska, continued Windsor. They sent me to Japan to join the crew bringing a similar, specially designed environmentally sensitive jack-up rig to Alaska. I rode inside that rig and at one point we had a force 11 storm for two days when we were not able to walk across the deck.
After that trip the rig was finally parked in Kachemak Bay and Alaska became Windsor’s soon to be home. But, in an interval after he declined the Drilling Company’s offer to send him to the Congo, he had an opportunity to serve as area manager for Australasia region for Baskin Robbins Ice Cream from the Philippines to Australia.
Again David worked himself out of a job.
Back in Anchorage David got his real estate license. With his experience he knew that the secret to business is to do what everyone else is doing, but do it better. So, he started a newsletter and began building a mailing list.
I’ve always enjoyed writing, Donn, and I almost can’t stop myself writing, said Windsor. There’s a lot of information in the real estate industry that remains classified–or in fact, if I may say so, largely unknown even by Realtors! Some of this information might be manipulated by the industry for their benefit, as opposed to the public benefit.
I like to share knowledge. I like to teach the general public about this industry, said Windsor. When I see new information or get an idea, I ask: “Should the public know about this?”
I grew up in a poor home, where I struggled to get an education, which my parents said would always lead me to a better life, concluded Windsor. And, I found knowledge is the path to power.