Biking has started to make a comeback in the U.S., in ways you might not imagine. Take, for instance, Pedal to Properties, a full-service real estate company that gets customers on bikes to check out not just properties, but the neighborhoods around them.
Matt Kolb founded Pedal to Properties in 2006 after a potential client went out for a bike ride and found a property he liked, swinging a deal with the owner and cutting Kolb out. The business was founded on the idea of slowing down and taking in the scenery, to connect with a neighborhood and get a feel for the community before buying in.
“In the backseat of the car, you tend to be driving faster, you’re not really taking in the area as much,” says Tim Shea, who took over the business in 2013. “It’s just a different perspective. And for somebody who hasn’t been here before, [biking] gives a much better sense of the area.”
Agent John Farley joined the team at Pedal to Properties in 2010 after realizing the potential bikes bring to a real estate transaction. While using a bike may not always be feasible, the model to him revolves around breaking down barriers between communities and the environment.
While cars separate the agent from the client and the client from the neighborhood, bikes give a feel of the location before arriving at the actual property.
“Barriers came down immediately around the bike. The reason for that is you’re not in an automobile. You’re able to either get on a bike together and ride and talk to one another, or the barrier comes down for me as a realtor to go and list a property because I bike over, and I pull up to the property, and I’m able to experience it,” Farley says.
The new perspective allows Farley to sell the house based on the unique qualities of both the neighborhood and the home.
Biking also brings people together, as showing up to homes on bikes often brings out inquisitive neighbors. Once, neighbors saw Farley bike up to a home and later brought their friends who wanted to move into the neighborhood to the open house.
“The neighbors all were congregating and I think if I pulled up in a car that would not have happened,” Farley says. “And the reason I think that is they probably wouldn’t have identified me as even being a realtor, maybe just a friend coming by to say hello. But they saw the bike with the signage.”
Another time, he and his clients took the bikes out after they had a house under contract. By doing so, the buyers knew a majority of their neighbors before they moved in.
Back at the office, bikes morphed into a symbol of achieving sustainability. From sponsoring the summer and winter bike to work days in Boulder to trying for a zero-waste office to buying homes that are net-zero, Pedal to Properties encourages healthy lifestyles.
“It’s not one big thing that the company’s doing as it is the individual people who work here trying to ‘walk the walk,’” Shea says.
The office has also worked to go completely paperless. Real estate transactions can create a lot of paperwork, but Pedal to Properties uses PDFs and cloud secure document sharing to work with other brokerages and keep the paperwork paperless.
Several members of the team are also certified EcoBrokers, which allows them to talk more freely on the newest sustainable features homes can offer and how to obtain these features.
Brian Yates, a client of Shea’s who has purchased seven properties with Pedal to Properties and is an avid cyclist, chose the company because of its sustainable practices.
“I think in theory it’s a sustainable form of transportation. So just in terms of driving around town a lot, if you’re driving on a bike it has a great environmental impact; it also has a great societal impact,” Yates says.
Because the housing market is currently a seller’s paradise, Pedal to Properties does fewer bike tours with clients these days. Sometimes homebuyers only have several hours from when the house goes on a market to get there and put in a bid. Farley explains houses right now go on the market Wednesday with the intent that multiple offers will come through by Monday night and the seller will have his pick. This causes the logistics of buying a home to feel rushed.
However, sometimes a bike ride provides a new perspective — slowing down the fast-paced real estate market and contributing to a sustainable lifestyle.