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Returning to BE, and the ‘family building’

By Staff | Sep 3, 2017

Staff members Brian Mehrhof (left) and Mary Springer (right) assist Layne McCleary (middle) inside the office building of Southern Minnesota Appraisal Services. McCleary purchased the building on April 1, 2016.

After traveling around the country pursing a passion for sports, Blue Earth native Layne McCleary is back home where it all started. Not only is McCleary back in his hometown, but he’s also the owner of a building that runs deep with family history.

Roughly 25 years removed from his days as a Blue Earthian, McCleary began working for Southern Minnesota Appraisal Services in December of 2015. By April 1 of 2016, he purchased the building from previous owner Mike Enger. Although Enger has sold the building, he still serves as an appraiser for the company.

Ironically enough, the building itself, located at 116 East Fourth St., used to be the headquarters for “Mac Services.” What is the significance of Mac Services you ask?

It turns out that McCleary’s father and grandfather were both electricians and used this family-owned office to serve the community’s electrical repair needs. McCleary never imagined he would wind up back in Blue Earth, much less in the same office building.

“My grandparents lived upstairs, so I guess it was kind of just meant to be,” McCleary chuckles. “I’ve kind of lived all over the place, so I never thought an opportunity like this would happen.”

Making McCleary’s journey even more intriguing, his relocation back to Blue Earth also involves following a completely different career path. An accomplished tennis player, he was part of a state championship team during his senior year at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.

Shortly thereafter, McCleary experimented with the east coast lifestyle. Stops in Washington D.C., Stowe, Vermont, and Atlanta, Georgia allowed McCleary to chase his passion of coaching tennis.

However, life priorities quickly changed when McCleary’s wife, Jennifer, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Logan. A few years after Logan’s arrival, daughter Madeline was also welcomed to the family.

The McClearys then moved back to Minnesota as Layne secured a tennis director position in White Bear Lake. Tired of constant travel demands, McCleary eventually made the career transition from athletics to real estate.

“I had my real estate licence in the early ’90s in Blue Earth for a short period of time before we moved out east,” McCleary said. “I always had a thing for real estate and a big interest in it, so this opportunity popped up and it was a really good fit.”

When sizing up the current real estate market, McCleary’s discussions with Enger have revealed Blue Earth to be a seller’s market. At the moment, there is not enough inventory to meet the high demand of buyers.

“If you’re in Mankato or Fairmont, houses are turning over a lot more and there is more for sale,” McCleary said. “Smaller towns like Winnebago, Elmore, and even Blue Earth, there is not a lot of inventory changing hands.

“Just in talking to Mike (Enger) who has been involved in this market for over 40 years, he says we’ve probably got about the lowest inventory of houses on the market that he remembers seeing,” McCleary added.

Despite facing new challenges such as high market volatility and the possibility of climbing interest rates, McCleary is very bullish on the future of real estate in Blue Earth.

“The stock market has never been better and consumer confidence is higher. The more money people have to spend, usually the better that is for the housing industry. If the economy improves, I think all consumer service businesses will end up doing better,” he says.