Realtor pulls up stakes for new career
It's not every day a person starts a new career at the age of 61.
But Art Hancock is doing just that.
Hancock, who has lived in Tonganoxie since 1947, and sold real estate in Tonganoxie since 1978, began work this week as mortgage loan officer for Community National Bank.
"It's a natural progression," Hancock said. "I've just gotten ready for a change. I've heard about those three-day weekends but I've never had one."
Bill Altman, president of Community National Bank, said he's glad Hancock's on board.
"Art has shown over his professional career his attention to his customers," he said. "We feel that will be an asset to his mortgage banking career."
Also, Altman said, Hancock is well-known and respected in Tonganoxie.
It only takes a few seconds for Hancock to recall his first real estate sale in the Tonganoxie area. The real estate market has drastically changed since then, he said.
"House prices have tripled," Hancock said. "I see a lot of those houses out in the country on 10 acres that I sold for $50,000 to $55,000 they're $150,000 now."
Surprisingly, through the years, he has observed a correlation between the cost of five-acre rural tracts and lots in Tonganoxie:
"They have always stayed the same price," Hancock said. "It used to be a five-acre lot was $7,500 and a lot in town was $7,800. Now a lot in town is $28,000 and a five-acre tract is $28,000."
Hancock hasn't just kept his eye on real estate he's also kept an eye on downtown, starting as a teen-ager at the Zoellner dry goods store, and at Bill Seymour's grocery store, both on Fourth Street.
"I will miss being on Fourth Street," Hancock said. "Between working at Zoellner's store and Bill's store I figure I have about 38 years on Fourth Street."
With Hancock's departure, his longtime co-worker, Sylvia Kesinger, is starting her own real estate business, Kesinger Real Estate. Kesinger will remain in the office at 525 East Fourth and will retain the same phone number.
Kesinger said so far she has felt uneasy sitting in her former boss's desk.
"It's like, no I don't belong here, Art's supposed to be here," Kesinger said. "So that's going to take some getting used to."
Kesinger said she's glad Hancock will be just a phone call away when she has questions.
"We'll miss having him on Fourth Street," she said.
Hancock said he's been pleased with the way Tonganoxie has grown.
"We have an active downtown," Hancock said. "You have so many of these little towns and the highways came through and bypassed them that has never really happened to us. We're seeing a lot of growth on the highway, but I don't think the growth has hurt the downtown area."
Hancock said he sees Tonganoxie's strengths in its proximity to the employment areas of Leavenworth, Lawrence and Kansas City.
Tonganoxie residents can enjoy the benefits of city life, such as professional baseball games and University of Kansas basketball games, he said, and yet live in a rural area.
"We're still small town America," Hancock said. "We're not Mayberry RFD, but it's still in the heart of the country."
During his years in real estate, Hancock said he's noticed a consistent trend in his buyers.
"From 75 to 80 percent of our business has been people coming from the Kansas City area wanting to move out here," Hancock said.
He plans to keep his broker's license and remain in the real estate auction business.
"I've got four auctioneers who will keep working for me," Hancock said. "We'll sell auction properties on the weekends and handle the transactions."
Hancock said he thinks his years of living in Tonganoxie will be an asset in working at CNB. Among other organizations, Hancock has taken leadership roles in the chamber of commerce, Jaycees and has served on the city council.
"You just get to know a lot of people that way," he said. "It makes a difference."
In reflecting on his career moves helping with downtown businesses, starting up in the real estate business and now working at a bank Hancock said he's glad he has spent his lifetime in Tonganoxie.
He paused, then smiled and said: "Where else would I want to be?"