Northeast Realty helps new Americans find starter homes

Abby Hoover
Managing Editor

Northeast Realty has been the go-to place for buyers and sellers for generations in Northeast Kansas City. Brothers Bill, Jim and John Lawless inherited the business, located at 5400 St. John Ave., from their grandfather Paul, whose father Marcus Waltermire started the business in 1909.

The brothers began selling real estate in the Northeast in the 70s when the office was on Hardesty Avenue. John joined after he graduated school in ‘77 and stayed through ‘81 before going into the steel industry.

Now, the three brothers are back together again, working in the neighborhood they grew up in. The Lawless kids grew up on Cypress and went to Holy Cross Catholic School. John said it was a wonderful experience growing up in Northeast, and they reminisce about the candy store, playing ball and walking to school.

“We know a lot of people, people we’ve done business with for a lot of years, they like doing business with us and that’s the advantage, I think,” Jim said. “We concentrate in the Northeast, we stay here.”

Northeast Realty not only gets a lot of repeat business, but they sometimes deal with clients whose parents once used them.

Angelica De La Cruz is the most recent addition to the family-run business, and is bilingual in Spanish.

De La Cruz has been a realtor with Northeast Realty since 2011, but recently transitioned to full-time to provide flexibility for her young children.

“I think it’s something God wants me to do because I didn’t even look for it,” De La Cruz said.

Jim has been a mentor to her throughout her career, starting when he was her landlord. He noticed she would come into his office and help translate for other tenants.

“You get to work with a lot of people and connect, and I think that’s why it was so easy for me,” De La Cruz said, adding that it’s always been easy for her to make connections with other Spanish-speaking people. “If you feel connected with someone, then you feel comfortable with them and sometimes it’s hard when you don’t have the language, so I try to help them a lot.”

Buying or selling a home is a very personal process, and De La Cruz knows that having a realtor that speaks your language and shares your culture helps alleviate a lot of concerns.

“You come to this country with big dreams and my family, myself, had those dreams, too, so I know how they feel,” De La Cruz said. “I take it very, very personally. I don’t even care to look at what the commission’s going to be because it’s not about that to me. It’s more about helping them make the right decision and looking out for them, not just because it’s my job as their agent but because it’s what I want to do as a Christian, as a person.”

De La Cruz lived in Kansas City from 2005 until last year when she and her husband, Ben, moved out. Northeast has a lot of diversity, compared to other areas of the city, and buyers can still find affordable properties here.

“Some people who come to Northeast Realty are immigrants and it’s a starting home, their budget’s going to be a lot less, but it’s as meaningful to them as it is for someone who’s going to purchase a house for a million dollars,” De La Cruz said. “It’s important, and emotional, too.”

She is now licensed in Kansas and Missouri, and is excited to take continuing education courses to help her clients. De La Cruz will use her knowledge to help first-time homebuyers find programs for which they qualify, especially in target areas like Northeast, and advice on inspections and qualified lenders.

“It’s a good time to sell, still, there’s not a lot out there,” De La Cruz said. “It’s a seller’s market. The problem right now is that we do have a lot of buyers and not enough properties.”

Northeast Realty lists a range of houses, from the roomy mansions surrounding the Kansas City Museum to more affordable family homes. Some of the most unique features they have seen in Northeast homes include an indoor pool, secret tunnels and an abundance of wide front porches.

“I miss that in the suburbs, everyone’s got a deck but not a front porch,” John said.

Despite the pandemic, Northeast Realty is accommodating their customers. They have been diligently following protocols for open houses, and provide sanitizer and masks during tours.

Northeast Realty lists their properties for sale in the Northeast News, and have been reliable advertisers for decades.

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