Cathie Anderson: High-end home sales picking up in Sacramento region

Published: Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 3, 2013 - 9:18 am

Mansions are really starting to sell in the Sacramento real-estate market. That's the message Pat Shea, the president of Lyon Real Estate, has been giving his 900 agents in 17 offices around the region.

Shea regularly slices and dices sales from all segments, but home sales in the $400,000 to $750,000-plus segment are what he finds most intriguing at the moment.

"When you compare 2012 fourth-quarter data to 2011, there's probably a 50-percent-plus increase in sales year over year in (this price range) …," he said. "There were 360 sales in … January of 2013 in the $400,000 to $750,000 price point."

The Lyon team should like this news: As the price range of homes goes up, so does Lyon's share of the marketplace.

"We're about 12 or 12.5 percent globally," Shea told me, "but as you get up over $400,000, we're 16 percent. You get up over $750,000, we're approximately 20 percent or more of the marketplace, so it grows."

Shea talked about the market, managing technological and legal changes, his approach to leadership and his history in Sacramento and Bay Area real estate. There's just one thing this former firefighter douses any hopes of exploring: the charges of electronic eavesdropping that toppled Mike Lyon as head of the company.

Amid the investigation, Lyon agents jumped ship. Shea, however, has reversed the tide. These days, you find Lyon agents returning and agents from other firms defecting to Lyon.

Shea knows how to manage a crisis, and he knows how to sell. He was in line to be a captain in the Cleveland fire department before he moved to California. His sister had moved to the Bay Area with her husband, and they had seen a payoff from their home purchases. Shea tried his hand at sales – and found he had a magic touch.

He worked for Coldwell Banker in the Sacramento region for years and won sales awards year after year. He felt he had the skills to manage a real estate company, but he couldn't both manage and sell at Coldwell Banker. So, he went to Pleasanton-based Mason-McDuffie Real Estate. Eventually he rose to lead that company.

"At Mason-McDuffie when I became a manager, I still was a high-producing real estate agent. I sold 50 to 100 homes (a year) because I had a team," he said.

That team included his wife, Eileen Shea. The whole time, the couple maintained their home in Elk Grove, where they reared their two sons. So when Jean Li, then president of Lyon, looked for a successor, a mutual business associate told her that there was a candidate right in Lyon's southern territory.

Shea took the reins in a tough market, but he said his job was made easier because Lyon agents had cultivated 67 years of trust with Sacramento-area residents. That's why when as much as 70 percent of home sales were distressed properties, he said, a large share of equity sellers chose Lyon.

"In difficult markets," he said, "they want what their perception is the best."

Something to crow about

Toney and Megan Sebra have seen so much success with their old-fashioned barbershop, Roosters Men's Grooming Center, in Roseville that they've decided to open a second location at Palladio at Broadstone in Folsom.

"The male clientele are completely underserved," Toney Sebra told me. "There has been a lot of stuff happening over the past couple decades. … The discount chains came in to play and guys had to migrate into a more female-centric environment, and very few barbers continued to go through training, and there's been a demise over the years of the barbershop."

Sebra has made his fortune in the investment business, but he saw a resurgence starting several years ago in the world of barbershops and decided to put money into the industry. It's the same trend that has motivated architect Terry Green to open Jimmy's Barber Garage in midtown Sacramento and the owners of the Federico Beauty Institute to open a barber school and barbershop as part of a $2.5 million expansion.

Sebra and stylist Adam J. Federico both say that reality TV shows about men's grooming have educated men about haircuts and shaving. Also, the "Mad Men" television series has renewed emphasis on classic haircuts and inspired young barbers to try putting a modern spin on the looks.

The Sebras' new barbershop will open in three to four months.

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