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, now located at 5400 St. John Ave. from their grandfather, Paul Waltermire, who 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. For them, it really is a family business.
“Our other brother Michael and sister Patty also have worked there over the years,” John said. “Some of my sisters’ children have also worked there during the summers, along with my kids. One of the great grandchildren sells commercial real estate in [Kansas City], and my daughter is making a career in Colorado selling real estate, as well.”
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.
John remembers one of their clients who used to run the riverboat who was tired of having to re-hire a seasonal crew each year. He opted to find them jobs remodeling homes through Northeast Realty in the off-season so they could return to the riverboats when the time came.
The Lawless brothers list a range of houses, from the roomy mansions surrounding the Kansas City Museum, to affordable family homes.
Some of the most memorable features they have seen in Northeast homes include an indoor pool, tunnels and an abundance of front porches.
“I missed that in the suburbs, everyone’s got a deck but not a front porch,” John said.
With interest rates on loans historically low, the brothers agree that now is the time to buy property, especially since inventory is scarce.
“It’s a hot market,” John said. “The problem when there’s not as much inventory is that people don’t want to sell because they don’t know where they’re going.”
As far as advice for first-time home buyers goes, research goes a long way.
“They need to get educated – that’s the important thing – about what goes on, and there’s so much paperwork and legal work today, it’s just complicated,” John said as his advice to first time home buyers. “Anybody that’s thinking about starting a family, they’re 28, 32, now is the time to buy.”
He compares the price of house payments to rent at some of the upscale apartments in the city, noting the opportunity to build equity and programs for first time home buyers.
“We try and do it right so nobody gets hurt,” Jim said. “It’s just what we’ve always done.”
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.
“It’s good to get on-site and see what you’re really looking at,” John said.
Northeast Realty lists their properties for sale in the Northeast News, and have been reliable advertisers for decades.