Ken Simeral – Entrepreneurial Commercial Realtor, Business Owner, Supporter of the Arts

Ken Simeral, a prominent figure in the real estate community in Acadiana, joins Discover Lafayette to discuss his thoughts on investing in real estate when the numbers work in your favor, the importance of offering high-quality, targeted service to his clients, and his lifetime involvement in bettering our community.

Ken is President-Elect of the REALTOR® Association of Acadiana (RAA). A devoted family man, he has been married to his wife, Deborah, since 1977 and they are the parents of two sons, Kyle and Jeffrey. Ken brings a seasoned voice to the industry: when he joined the former Lafayette Association of Realtors, there were 320 realtors; today there are more than 1850 members of the Realtor Association of Acadiana.

Ken is owner of Magnolia Real Estate & Construction. He and his son, Kyle, operate Scott Quick Lube and Thermal Insulation Contractors. Ken, his wife, Deborah, and his sons own Simeral Properties, a company with multiple real estate holdings. And Ken enjoys the outdoors; he keeps horses and cattle on his 40-acre farm in Arnaudville where he and Deborah reside, and if you drop in, you may see him navigating his backhoe on the property.

Pictured is La Maison Chatrian, a bed and breakfast home that Ken and Deborah Simeral offer to travelers visiting lovely Grand Coteau. Built circa 1835, the home sleeps 12 and is one of the oldest homes in Grand Coteau. Ken and Deborah spent seven years restoring the home. Restoration of historic properties is a passion of Ken’s.

Ken took his first real estate class in 1972, at a time when interest rates were 18%. By the early 80s, they had lowered a bit to 12%. With his decades of experience in residential and commercial real estate, Ken has witnessed firsthand the cyclical nature of real estate and interest rates, and he counsels homebuyers not to let the current interest rates be a controlling factor in their decision to buy.

A 1969 high school graduate, Ken started college that fall. Unfortunately, his timing put him in the first draft lottery to determine military service since WWII in 1942. When he pulled #64 (based upon his birthday), he decided to enlist in the Air National Guard, and thereafter spent some time in Korea during the Vietnam War. Ken never returned to college studies, but began his lifelong journey of work, where he learned from others, benefitted from his own hard work, and the art of making smart investments.

Always good with numbers, Ken bought his first home in 1972 on Garfield St. in Lafayette while in his early 20s. While managing an 18-unit apartment complex in Lafayette, he bought his second property in the McComb Veazey neighborhood, and then used equity from the first two homes to roll financing into three rentals. He soon married Deborah and started working with the Grand Paper Company, a national outfit where he was hired to be only the third salesman in the territory after 150 years in business. When he was offered a national rep position with the company, he realized he didn’t want to be on the road each and every week; he wanted to be home with his family.

Ken Simeral says, looking back on his rich life, “I was taught by older mentors. Everything I know I’ve learned from other people I could trust. The WWII generational ethics, how to do things right. Randolph Trappey was a mentor to me and I watched him build great houses. I just followed what he and others did.” Ken ended up teaching the Realtor Code of Ethics (“Code of Conduct”), and served as the Chair of Professional Standards for Realtors.

Ken looks back at this early period of his life with gratitude about what he learned from others. He also has advice for young homebuyers who are looking from guidance from seasoned real estate owners such as himself. “It has to be a good investment before you worry about pretty colors on the wall. Before buying, determine whether the cost of the house purchase plus the cost of repairs equals the value of the home when it is all said and done. Anything I’ve ever done, I have calculated what the value is when finished. Get an independent inspection done.”

Ken also shared that in the ‘old days,’ a realtor marketing package would include an independent inspector report that pointed out flaws and repairs a house may need. Sellers would pay for needed repairs as well as the cost of the first year home warranty for things that went awry; but in those days, homes were sold with a warranty, unlike today, when “As Is” is always the norm. Never rely upon a seller’s inspection, Ken advises: “Always get your own inspection done.”

First time homebuyers used to stay in their home an average of seven years. After kids were born and life changed, an upgraded, enlarged home would be pursued. Today, people stay in their homes for less time. Yet, while today’s conditions seem to be evolving, many things never change, according to Ken Simeral.

Ken Simeral says, “Interest rates are cyclical yet human behavior is predictable. Know what you can afford. Shop the banks and get quotes on the cost of a loan. It’s important to get pre-qualified. Don’t buy more than you can afford, which many people do. It is also critical to have a good banker on your team. They need vision to help you get what you need. The trust has to come from both sides and it can take years to build. And lastly, real estate is local. You need a good, local real estate agent that understands our market. They need to ask, ‘Where do you work? What school do you want your children to attend? What is important to you?”

Ken has worked in the Lafayette area exclusively, except for a brief foray to Columbia, South Carolina from 1985 to 1990 when the market crashed locally due to the oil bust. His focus is on the commercial real estate sector.

Ken shared that the real estate brokerage business has changed dramatically in Lafayette and around the U. S. There are very few of the old time brokerage companies such as the former “Van Eaton & Romero” in Lafayette. He said that, “Van Eaton was a full-service brokerage firm, as was the former Coldwell Banker, who brought in agents to train them and do everything that they needed to be prepared to represent their clients adequately. The commission split between broker and agent was calculated on the level of service the brokerage firm provided its agents.”

Today, very few of our local real estate brokerage firms have any direct ownership connection to our community. Yet Ken says, “Real estate is local. There are many really good real estate agents here, locally. Your agent needs to know your preferences for school districts, convenience in your every day life, what you want in your home, what you can afford. They need to be attuned to local issues to offer you the best advice.”

Ken Simeral’s service in the real estate professional industry has not gone unnoticed. He was awarded the Lloyd G. Smith Lifetime Achievement Award in December 2015. He is also especially proud of earning the National Association of Realtors’ Emeritus Award which recognizes members who have forty years of membership and who have completed at least one year of service at the national association level. 

Late last fall, a federal law suit filed in Missouri was settled (“Burnett et al v. National Association of Realtors et al”), challenged the NAR’s rule requiring sellers to pay commissions for both the listing agent and the buyer’s agent. Plaintiffs argued that this practice artificially maintained high commission rates, harming sellers financially. While this wasn’t the practice in every state, including Louisiana, the settlement has caused an upheavel in how buyer brokerage agreements are handled. So now, buyer agency agreements must be negotiated between a realtor and the buyer(s). Ken explained that the outcome has solidified that licensed real estate agents must now use a buyer agency agreement that sets forth the real estate commission rate which has been negotiated between the homebuyer and his agent, before being shown homes. Details are still being worked out locally.

As for the arts, Ken and his wife, Deborah, are huge supporters. He loves the Acadiana Center for the Arts with “its bar, cushy seats, and the variety of musicians he has heard over the years, especially Louisiana Crossroads. He is also an active supporter of the Nunu Arts and Culture Collective (“NUNU”), which features not only local and national performers, but offers a place for artists to show and sell their wares.

We thank Ken Simeral for his service to our community and for sharing his experiences. Besides his real estate involvement, he has been actively involved with economic development in St. Landry Parish. To contact Ken, please reach out to him via email at