LakePlace.com opens shop
As you can see by the name, LakePlace.com is a web-based real estate company -- but it now has a brick-and-mortar presence in downtown Detroit Lakes.
The owners are Bruce and Jodi Zeller, and LakePlace.com is located downstairs from Curves, which Jodi manages at 831 Washington Ave.
"I'm kind of a franchise for LakePlace.com," Bruce Zeller said. "The goal is to have an office in virtually every lakeshore market in time -- it's kind of a lofty goal, but that's what they want to do."
The "they" in question are business partners Dave Gooden and Cameron Henkel. In 2002 they were separately involved in a search for their own lakefront family retreats.
They were not sure of an exact location, but both knew what they could afford.
Although the Internet was a convenient way to locate and browse available properties -- even back then -- most websites covered only a small geographic area and were very difficult to navigate.
After discussing the problems they encountered, the idea for LakePlace.com was born.
In the fall of 2003, LakePlace.com Version 1 was launched.
According to its website, LakePlace.com is now one of the most visited websites in the Midwest.
"We brought on some very talented people who have helped us grow into the largest online database of Minnesota and Wisconsin lake property for sale, cabin rentals, and resorts," the website says.
"From the beginning, our goal was to create a solution to a problem, and we hope we have made your search for a lake place a little easier than ours was back in 2002."
To give its website full coverage, LakePlace.com became members of every multiple listing service in the state.
"Local real estate agents tend to only belong to their local MLS," Zeller explained.
"Every lake place for sale in Minnesota is on LakePlace.com. A buyer can search the whole state. Sellers get a lot of exposure to their listing -- the site gets 1.5 million web hits per year, typically."
The founders of the company were computer experts, not real estate people, but they have learned the business -- and they put their computer knowledge to good use.
"They've gotten LakePlace.com as the primary website to pop up when you do a search for lake property," he said.
LakePlace.com specializes in lakeshore property, but its agents can handle property sales of all types -- from city and rural homes to hunting land.
"So we're going to be just like every other realtor in town," Zeller said.
Jodi Zeller has completed the required courses and now is a licensed realtor for LakePlace.com. She will also continue to run Curves.
Two agents in the Wadena area, Lorinda and Chuck Davis, will also be working out of the new Detroit Lakes office.
Another agent is in school right now and will join the team later, and other agents will be added as the need arises, Zeller said.
"Every lead in Becker, Otter Tail and Park Rapids will run through this office," Zeller said.
Zeller has plenty of sales experience: Until recently, he worked for Jack Chivers Realty.
Before that he spent nine years as an outside sales representative selling pharmaceutical and medical equipment.
Zeller previously worked in automotive sales for the Big Lot in Moorhead, and he was a teacher and coach in Hawley for six years.
He graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business education.
The 1,300-square-foot Detroit Lakes office of LakePlace.com has now been up and running for about a month.