There is a phrase, “You can take the man out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the man,” that fits Michael Warren, the Central Oregon Association of Realtors’ (COAR) 2018 Realtor of the Year, to a T and in the most complimentary way. Warren is a real estate broker with Crook County Properties LLC in Prineville, and his modus operandi is that a transaction lasts just a few weeks, but the experience will last a lifetime.
No stranger to small town living, Warren moved to Prineville when he was in elemen- tary school and graduated from Elgin High School (now Crook County High School) in 1982. His dad, Michael Warren Sr., started Crook County Properties in 1992 and the company has oper- ated out of the same building on Northeast Third Street for more than 22 years.
Prior to getting into real estate, Warren worked as the general manager of Beaver Motor Coaches, an American motor coach manufacturing company that was initially based in Bend before moving operations to Coburg.
While working for Beaver Motor Coaches, Warren started an RV repair company in Mazatlan, Sinola, Mexico, in 1998. White Buffalo RV was the first licensed RV repair facility south of the border. Warren started the company to service RVs needing repairs, alterations, or winterization for mostly American customers traveling or living in Mexico. Knowing the RV industry and what customers expected and needed helped the company get established and become successful. But during this time, Warren was contemplating a change.
“In 2006, I decided I didn’t want to be in Coburg and I came back to Central Oregon. I never sold my place here, and Dad had been bugging me all my life to get into real estate, so I did,” said Warren.
Warren obtained his Realtor’s license in 2007 and started working for his dad. His friendly demeanor and genuine interest in people soon got him involved on other levels.
“Pretty much right away I started to get to know other Realtors, not just in Prineville but in Central Oregon, and I had a lot of people wanting me to get involved in the COAR board,” he said. Within a few years, Warren had worked his way up to become the COAR president in 2013.
“When I got to install Mike as president, we all held up two lighted sticks in honor of his nickname, Two Sticks, which is affectionately after his name Michael Warren II,” said Jaynee Beck, 2012 COAR president and the 2016 COAR Realtor of the Year.
As a member of the COAR board, Warren became one of six state directors from Central Oregon to serve on the Oregon Association of Realtors (OAR) board. This position led Warren to represent Central Oregon at the state level, traveling to Salem twice a year for OAR board meetings. That involvement allowed Warren to bring back issues pertinent at the state level, but also to give voice to issues that were pertinent to real estate dealings in rural counties east of the Cascades.
Several issues that Warren and COAR have worked on include maintaining the mortgage interest deduction for federal taxes, keeping flood insurance affordable, and focusing on affordable housing. Warren believes that Crook County does a good job at managing their urban growth boundary (UGB) and that maintaining affordable housing is an issue on the forefront in Prineville and across the tricounty area.
“We want to keep prices affordable and maintain that hometown feeling, but also grow at a steady rate,” said Warren. He also noted that there is a lot of discussion on the definition of affordable housing.
“Is it based upon what people moving into the area can afford or what people working in the area can afford?” said Warren.
During his last two years on the COAR board as president-elect and president, Warren traveled back to Washington D.C. for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) midterm legislative sessions with representatives from Oregon and throughout the country. Even since his term ended, Warren has traveled back for these sessions to represent Crook County at his own expense.
In addition to his private business, Warren is the Realtor of Record for the City of Prineville and for Crook County, representing those entities in any real estate transactions, with one caveat. People often ask him if he is making a killing with the presence of Facebook and Apple.
“Those companies had contracts way prior to when I started,” Warren said. “I deal more with foreclosures because neither government entity buys or sells much real estate.”
Warren’s involvement on Crook County’s board for economic development and the Planning Commission, as well as representing the county at various events, gives him a pretty good feel for the pulse of the county. He takes great pride in knowing his neighbors and being involved in the community. He works often with agents from out of the area, helping them with issues such as water rights, forestry products, properties, conditional use permits, septic systems, and flood zones.
“Mike is willing to help anyone out, anytime, and he is very involved in the Realtor commu- nity,” said Beck. This attitude, along with the long list of Warren’s participation in all things Crook County and Oregon, led to his selection as the COAR 2018 Realtor of the Year.
“This award is not based upon sales or commissions, but who gave back the most to their profession and community. Mike is the perfect example of how you do it and he is in it for the good of all,” said Beck.
When not dealing in real estate, Warren finds that running helps him to clear his head. His goal is to run 30–40 miles every week and participate in 10 half marathons a year. He has competed in the Cascade Lakes Relay, Warrior Dash, and half marathons across the state, usually picking out one somewhere back east when he heads there for the NAR national conference.
And if an organized run allows dogs, Warren registers his lab-shepherd mix, Duke.
“Most runs are a benefit or fundraiser for someone, so I sign him and me up and get Duke a bib number and T-shirt,” said Warren.
Through his professional and community obligations, Warren is well known throughout Prineville and Central Oregon. He prefers to be the man behind the curtain who makes things happen, much like the Wizard of Oz, and takes little credit for his accomplishments.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than having somebody call you and say, “I heard you treated so-and-so well, so I want to see if you can help me too,” said Warren.
“He’s a good ole boy in the best possible definition,” said Beck.
Michael Warren has the heart of a small town beating in his chest, and he wouldn’t want it any other way.