Brooksville Realtor continues family tradition

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For Realtors like Josh Burbank, broker/owner of Home-Land Real Estate Inc., the fall of the real estate market in Florida was a dramatic time. His family had been selling real estate for decades. In fact, he had obtained his license when he was just 18.
Kristie Ruppe listed her Trillium home Friday with Homeland Realty at a price lower than what she and her husband had put into the property in the eight years since the home was built. Still, the Hernando County real estate market is recovering at a rate of about 10 percent, said Broker Josh Burbank, center. He and his partner, Augustine Solino, opened Homeland Realty in August. KIM DAME

After pursuing other avenues, including going into a renovation company with his now business partner, Augustine Solino, Burbank saw a shift in the market that indicated a recovery. He opened an independent company in August in the Burbank Place building on Jacqueline Road in Brooksville.

While the market is indeed in recovery mode and housing prices are finally on the rise, Burbank is cautiously optimistic about his industry. Like most Realtors who survived the downturn, certain principles his family adopted in the early years are still the foundations that keep reputable companies in business.

A lot of new agents joined the market when it boomed, Burbank said.

“Everyone wanted to get their license and jump in,” he said. Yet few survived when the bottom dropped. Those who did built solid foundations that focused on integrity, customer rapport and trust, characteristics Burbank said he found are necessary for building loyalty with clients.

Burbank learned from his father, Robert Burbank, who became a force in the county with Terra Research and Burbank Properties.

“My father bled real estate,” Burbank said. “And he always told us to find something in the business and specialize in it.”

While his father built the family empire on land and investment sales, Josh Burbank is specializing in residential properties. He will list and sell vacant land and has a background in investment real estate. But homes are his forte, and the ability to sketch plans for modifying an existing home is the company’s niche.

If a buyer likes a specific home but wants to make changes to the floor plan or add amenities, Home-Land Real Estate has the expertise to draw up a plan and estimate the costs involved. It is also great for investors to determine the amount of investment needed to bring a fixer-upper back to its marketing condition, Burbank explained.

Burbank also believes in building solid foundations with his clients by building trust. As a Realtor, he prescribes to a code of ethics that regulate sales agents. But his integrity was established long ago by how he was brought up.

While a competitive industry, real estate is also one that encourages networking and respect among offices. The local industry works together to insure buyers and sellers are protected and represented fairly.

In the business for years in one capacity or another, Burbank has made friends who consistently recommend him. Many have used his expertise in listing their existing home and purchasing their new one.

“I build a lot of friendships in this business,” he said.

Kristie Ruppe, an attorney in Brooksville, recently listed her two-story home with Home-Land Real Estate. Her decision to sell now, despite the fact that she and her husband will take a loss on the property, comes from their desire to move into a home that will better meet the needs of their larger family.

Home-Land Real Estate and Josh Burbank were recommended and Ruppe was immediately impressed with his knowledge of the market. Exposure of her property was important to her and the fact that Home-Land Real Estate belongs to both Hernando and Pasco County Realtor boards, allowing them access to 20 counties through the Multiple Listing Service, was a deciding factor.

“He came with information about sales and other listings similar to mine,” Ruppe said. Burbank showed Ruppe comparable homes that have sold in her area and suggested a fair market value for the property based on today’s market.

“It was a little lower than we had hoped,” Ruppe said. But both parties agreed and a sign went up in the front yard immediately. “And (Burbank) has already gotten some calls.”

The house sits on a quiet street in the Trillion Subdivision, just south of Brooksville. The Ruppe’s added some aesthetic improvements, including an in-ground pool, in the eight years since they had it built. Unfortunately they likely won’t get that money back and will take a loss at closing.

“We’ll still have a small mortgage on this house to pay,” Kristie said.

But interest rates are still lower than when they had the home built which led to their decision to list. And lower interest rates will make the home more affordable for buyers.

That is all part of this new real estate market, Burbank said, which has required agents to mold their services to meet the modern sellers and buyers. Clients are more knowledgeable than ever before, he said, because they use the internet as a tool to learn about property values.

Burbank’s job is to bring buyers and sellers together to secure an acceptable transaction so both can meet their individual goals. And that is exactly where his passions lie.

“I’ve put my feelers out and tried other things,” Burbank said. “But there is no greater feeling than bringing two parties together and seeing the smiles on their faces. And I make money doing it.”

Email Hernando Today correspondent Kim Dame at