Eric Hamm spent about 25 years in the automotive sales business and now is venturing into selling homes in Merced.
Hamm, president of Next Door Real Estate Professionals, sees many similarities between selling cars and real estate.
“The more I thought about it the more I realized how similar the businesses are. There are similarities in selling houses and cars. As part of a sale organization you are selling a product that is both expensive and part of a person’s life,” Hamm says.
Buying a home is not a purchase people make every day. It’s a process for people and a place where relationships are developed for the long term. In both car sales and real estate you have to provide excellent customer service and think beyond the present transaction, according to Hamm.
Hamm, 47, decided a year or so ago that he didn’t want to be in the car business for the next 20 years. He also discovered he has an affinity for real estate and a passion for doing business in the Merced area.
Hamm spent 22 years with Razzari Automotive Group, 10 of those years as general manager.
“I am passionate about Merced. We could live anywhere but gave a lot of thought where we wanted to live. We looked at the San Diego area and Texas. There is no other place in the world where I would rather be. It is home, we have family here and I grew up here,” Hamm says.
Merced is one of the last places in California where one can afford to live. Merced is in a pretty unique time in its history, and there are things happening here, particularly the downtown.
“I couldn’t think of any other place I would want to be in business more than Merced. There is so much going on and I think Merced will be a good investment for a lot of years, I think the economy in Merced remains strong,” he said.
The housing market in Merced is very good. A lot of real estate transactions are happening and will continue to be. It’s a real estate market where you will be able to find what you’re looking for, Hamm believes. There are great properties and values to be had.
Hamm concedes there is an absolute shortage of rental properties in Merced now and a sizable inventory of houses for sale.
“There is probably a slightly greater demand than there is supply, although it has stabilized to some degree.”
Next Door Real Estate has 23 agents, some of whom have been with predecessor Mike Salvadori for 40 years. Hamm says Salvadori had a well-earned reputation of taking good care of his agents.
“Everybody is well-trained and very professional. They take the business very seriously. The team Mike had in place is stellar. I didn’t feel like I would have to walk in and rebuild things. I don’t think there is a real estate office in Merced with better knowledge and experience,” Hamm says.
Hamm moved to Merced when he was 9 months old. He graduated from Merced High School in 1991 and the University of California Berkeley four years later with a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric, which he hoped would help him in law school.
He then played minor league baseball and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs, playing a single season but ultimately decided he didn’t want to pursue baseball any further. He still wanted to get a master’s degree in business administration degree and go into business.
His future father-in-law, auto dealer Tim Razzari, urged him to consider selling cars. After a year of selling Fords in Fremont, he says he fell in love with the car business and them came to Merced in 1996. He and his wife Erin got married in 1997.
Erin Hamm says choosing to live and work in Merced for the past 40 or more years, she has a deep desire to give back to the community and be part of positive change.
“Numerous improvements are happening in Merced and its surrounding areas and Eric and I are overjoyed to be part of the movement for a greater Merced. We can’t imagine a better way to impact our town than to help those desiring to move within or from outside the area to find their next home. No place is perfect, but there is so much right about Merced,” Erin Hamm says.
She says she is thrilled to be in business with her husband, she as a broker and he as the managing partner.
“Eric brings positive energy, savvy business thinking, and new technology with the introduction of Next Door Real Estate Professionals. Our office vibe is fantastic: professional, fun and motivated. Together with our great team, not only are we excited to help people find their dream home, their next investment or sell a property and close a chapter of life, we are delighted to follow in the footsteps of Mike and Jeanne Salvadori with a desire to give back to our community for the betterment of all our residents,” Erin Hamm says.
Eric Hamm took over the North G Street office in late October. He says while he was growing up he knew the Salvadori Real Estate office was the number one real estate office in Merced and both Salvadori and Razzari have been pillars in the community. He says his first goal is to become the top real estate office locally once again.
He also would like to expand the office in the San Joaquin Valley, with other branches from Fresno to Stockton.
Hamm is on the board of the Merced Boosters group, a group of business people who are working to promote local business interests here. The group visits other areas in California to recruit firms to locate here. Hamm was involved in getting Bitwise to locate in Merced.
The Hamms have three children. Ellie is a junior in high school and her brother Easton is a sophomore and water polo player. Eli is a sixth-grader who is an all-around athlete.
Hamm said he spends most of his weekends and free time in supporting his kids’ athletic endeavors.