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People come first

It’s all about service and building relationships at NextHome Navigator in Tiffin
Wrigley, Jeff and Marley Tackaberry are ready to help you find your next home. Jeff recently opened his NextHome Navigator realty office in Tiffin, a dog-friendly environment where homes are found and relationships are forged. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

TIFFIN– You see it all the time: businesses proclaiming, “We put the customer first,” “Customer service is our No.1 priority” and other similar platitudes. But sadly, reality is often disconnected from flowery rhetoric.
In Tiffin, Jeff Tackaberry and his NextHome Navigator real estate agency is putting meaning behind the words with a focus on putting people first. “#Humans over Houses” is the motto.
Tackaberry has been in the real estate industry for 17 years, and has worked with several different companies.
“I’ve worked with a lot of good people over the years,” the central Illinois native said, “But what I found is that from a business model, while they were trying to promote their products and grow their companies, they said ‘people first,’ but it wasn’t a value that necessarily played out.”
He said he would see new agents coming in and not receiving the training to truly put people first. “They had the tools (to sell houses), but I watch people get left behind because the company was always about the next person, the next opportunity to make a sale.”
Some companies, he said, do very little (if any) training for their agents in helping them learn how to put the customer over the sale. “They’ll bring agents on, take their monthly office fee, and let them fly in the wind hoping they’d sell to a few relatives. But, 88 percent of new agents don’t make it. Tackaberry believes good lifetime agents are developed with good mentoring and time-honored “people principles” being taught.
At NextHome Navigator, Tackaberry has a three-fold objective: serving his clients; serving his agents; and building a culture, which in turn builds relationships and builds the businesses in a reputable way.
“You’ve got to take care of people. People and relationships matter,” he said. “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care”.
Jeff and his wife Amy have served in the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district for years in different capacities. Currently, Jeff is a CCA school board member and enjoys serving the area to make it better.
“I enjoy improving the community where I live in and the individuals I serve,” he said. Jeff and Amy, who reside in Tiffin, have three daughters, a son-in-law, and two dogs.
“NextHome Navigator” is in the business name, and it is a guiding principle as Tackaberry helps people to navigate the real estate market, and the complex realm of financing and financial institutions. “When people recognize that it’s not about selling a house but “How can I serve you?” he said, “The house will follow. Then I can help them navigate the housing climate that exists.”
Financial literacy guru Dave Ramsey repeatedly says “Debt is dumb,” and coaches people on how to avoid it. Tackaberry said Ramsey has been an influence in his life and acknowledged the paradox of avoiding debt while navigating people into a home.
“I share with folks that debt is not a good thing, and so the rub there is, how do I do my business, which predominantly partners with lenders to help folks get into their homes precisely to get into debt?”
Tackaberry quickly noted there is no “great debt,” but, “If there is a debt that is more manageable, sustainable and that helps to achieve the American dream… it is the mortgage, especially now when we can get a much lower interest rate than our parents did.”
He pointed out how interest rates 30, 40, 50 years ago were in the neighborhood of 17-1/2 to 22 percent, while today’s homebuyer can lock in a rate less than 4 percent. “Today, money is pretty reasonable when you’re buying a home,” he said.
Tackaberry encourages people to look into incentive programs, which make the debt manageable, and to pay off their mortgage as quickly as possible without destroying their finances in the process. He recommends programs like the USDA’s Rural Development Loan program for communities of 25,000 or less. “It’s 100 percent a loan, no money down (there is a fee, however), but it allows you to get into the market at the same 30-year fixed rate (or lower) as somebody might putting 20 percent down.” As an agent, there is no incentive for Tackaberry to recommend this, or other programs to a potential homebuyer. “I have to educate myself so that my clients are aware of it,” he added. “Otherwise, I’m putting them at a disservice when I meet with them and they’re not getting the best rate possible from a lender. So, I can help guide them.”
Tackaberry graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., where he met future wife Amy. “She was an Iowa gal, and she introduced me to Iowa, and the rest is history,” he said.
He has a bachelor of arts degree in religion and has served as a pastor. The couple founded the Heartland Community Church in North Liberty (now Parkview), which he has since turned over to a fulltime pastor while pursuing his real estate career.
Amy has teamed up with Jeff to launch NextHome Navigator, and will be the office administrator.
The compassion and people skills learned through ministry come into play as a Realtor, as does cultivating personal relationships, and building trust.
“Part of my job is not just to sell a product, it’s to try to restore trust. It’s hard to trust people. Ronald Reagan said ‘Trust, but verify,’ and people want verification that they can trust. This is why it is so important that I return that phone call. That’s why the little details are so important and why it’s important that I do my homework and background, and give them the right information leading them to trusted sources. Am I perfect? No. Do I try to be? Sure! I want to do right by people. This isn’t about me, it’s about them.”
Tackaberry said there are a lot of good Realtors, and real estate companies around, but NextHome Navigator excels not only because of the technological tools available to the agents, but because of the focus on service and trust.
The NextHome franchise is headquartered in Pleasanton, Calif., and each of the 471 offices nationwide are independently owned and operated. Tackaberry’s office, the first brick-and-mortar real estate brokerage in Tiffin, is the sixth to open in Iowa. Tackaberry’s area covers the Interstate 380 corridor between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, and the counties of Johnson, Linn, Iowa, Cedar and Washington.
“If you aren’t serving your agents and your clients with compassion and understanding, then they will easily see through the fallacies of your business model,” Tackaberry said. “If you genuinely take care of people, that’s good business.”
NextHome Navigator is located at 1130 Tall Grass Ave. in Tiffin. Call 319-430-5207 or email JeffTackaberry@gmail.com for an appointment. For more information on NextHome Navigator, go to www.NextHomeNavigator.com.

Pull Quote
“People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” – Jeff Tackaberry, Owner-Realtor, NextHome Navigator in Tiffin