Staff Spotlight: Get to Know the Urban Acres Support Team

They say it takes a village to raise a child. The same is true of buying or selling a home. 

A real estate transaction is a process with a lot of key players, or what we like to call a deep bench. Your agent is the team leader when it comes to working with the client, but they don’t make up the whole team. There are some heavy hitters behind them.

At Urban Acres, we have a crew of 5 hardworking individuals that support our REALTORS® and our clients. You may not see their faces as often as our agents, but they are just as vital to a smooth transaction. Read on to get to know our awesome staff members!

The Closing Department

The majority of our staff members are closing experts. Made up of two full-time and one part-time staff member, this department oversees every single transaction at Urban Acres. They touch every home our 50+ agents help buy or sell!

Every closing comes with its fair share of important documents. Cari, Jenn, and Matt help our agents and their clients navigate these mounds of paperwork to make sure nothing gets lost in the shuffle (literally). 

Each member of the closing team is responsible for a section of the alphabet. They divvy up all sales by street name. For each sale, they: 

  • Collect all the necessary information needed for a sale 
  • Audit paperwork for all sales to make sure no mandatory documents are missing
  • Help enforce the rules and ensure all paperwork gets turned in by the deadline so our clients can close on time
  • Keep track of all the other key players in the process—for example, what attorney the buyers or sellers are using, who is doing the title opinion, who is doing the abstract, where the closing will take place, and other important details
  • Calculate taxes down to the penny 
  • Ensure that mortgages and other liens are neatly taken care of prior to closing
  • Troubleshoot throughout the process, helping to avoid any hiccups in the closing process before they arise

And it all happens behind the scenes. Most of our buyers and sellers never meet Cari, Jenn, or Matt, but without them, our closings would not go as smoothly as they do.

Cari Kaut | Closing Director

Cari is an Urban Acres original! She celebrates 7 years at Urban Acres this year, having joined our agency when it was founded back in 2015.

Cari worked at another local real estate company for 13 years before adopting the Urban orange. Prior to that, she spent 10 years at a local settlement and attorney office, bringing her years of experience in the closings industry up to 30!

Aside from her typical closing duties, Cari is also responsible for taking care of the bookkeeping. 

Check out Cari’s Q&A. 

Q: What is your favorite Urban Acres memory? 

Halloween 2018. A group of us thought it would be fun to dress up and decorate the office with Wizard of Oz as the theme. I was a flying monkey. We had the school next door trick or treat through our office. We also had a small party here with the children of agents and staff. It was so much fun!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

A: Spend time with my grandson! My first grandbaby, Bodhi, was born on December 9th, 2021. Becoming a grandmother for the first time was a wonderful gift. It is hard to describe the deep love I have for this baby boy!

Q: Where did your nickname “The Score Keeper” come from?

A: For years I was the only one that would keep the book for my daughter’s softball teams. When it comes to work, I keep “score” to make sure everything is done right and on time and that the books are kept up-to-date.

Jenn Lee | Closing Coordinator

Jenn is another one of the Urban Acres originals! She’s been with Urban Acres since the very beginning. Before joining our team, she worked for another local real estate company for 13 years, meaning she’s been in the closing game for 20 years. 

Aside from her closing duties, Jenn is the resident “green thumb” in the office. She waters all the plants in headquarters (without her, they’d be long dead). She’s also known for decorating the office for special occasions and holidays and never forgets a birthday—no small feat in a company this large!

Enjoy this mini Q&A with Jenn.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your time at Urban Acres? 

A: All things Halloween! We take our Halloween pretty seriously around here. Halloween 2018 was a Wizard of Oz theme, complete with a daycare that paraded through the office. Halloween 2019 was The Greatest Showman, again with daycare parades. 

BT dubs—any day you can add skates to your outfit is a grrrrrreat day! 

Q: What’s a fun fact about yourself that you love to share? 

A: I am a competitive bodybuilder. I won the state title in—wait for it—1988 and 2015, with a little bit of a break in between! 😂 That’s where my Urban Acres website nickname,“The Strength Finder,” comes from!

Q: What do you like to do outside of work, aside from bodybuilding?

A:  Where to start…In my free time, I love hangin’ with my peeps at the yoga studio and hangin’ with my herd of cats at home (MEOW!). My “Best Day Ever” would have to include roller blades on my feet! (I trained for a marathon on roller blades a year ago.)

Matt Evans | Closing Coordinator

Last but certainly not least on our closing team is Matt, who joined the Urban Acres family in 2022. As a University of Iowa College of Law student, Matt works full-time with us in the summer and part-time during the school year. He’s set to graduate in 2024. 

Though law school and Urban Acres keeps him pretty busy, Matt carves out time for his other hobbies, like traveling and anything outdoorsy (hence his nickname, “The Explorer”). He also loves to play the piano and even holds a bachelor’s degree in Music! 

Read the Q&A to get to know Matt a little better. 

Q: Where did you work before you started law school and joined Urban Acres?

A: I worked full-time in politics for 4 years doing work ranging from grunt field staffer to managing two congressional campaigns. That experience was a wonderful crash course in multi-tasking, time management, and networking. 

Then I worked in real estate doing paralegal work, closings, and abstracting at Meardon, Sueppel & Downer/Security Abstract Company for two years immediately before law school and joining the UA team. 

Q: What’s your favorite Urban Acres memory so far? 

A: Playing with Hobbes (Haley’s pupper) in the closing office. I also always enjoy our family lunches!

Q: What’s a fun fact about you that always blows people’s minds? 

A: I have traveled to all 50 states but have only been outside the U.S. once! 

The Marketing Maven

Sarah Davelaar | Marketing Director 

Sarah joined Urban Acres in 2021. As our full-time Marketing Director, she’s responsible for making sure we put our best foot forward at all times. She helps spread awareness about our listings, our agents, our clients, and our partners to keep Urban Acres #1 in the market. 

If you see the Urban Acres logo anywhere around town, chances are Sarah had a hand in it. From Urban Acres swag to our orange “For Sale” signs, she makes sure our office never runs out of any physical marketing materials. 

On the digital side, Sarah can be found crafting newsletters, coordinating photoshoots for the website, snapping photos for Urban’s social media, making Instagram Reels, and more. She also coordinates with our agency, Meld Marketing, to keep the Urban Acres brand in tip-top shape and to help our agents’ listings get as much visibility as possible online.

Photo Credit: Thad Buege Photography

Sarah wears the hat of “event planner” as well. Our annual client appreciation party? The University of Iowa homecoming parade? Our monthly company-wide team lunches? Big or small, she pulls off many office-wide events every year. 

Last but not least, she plays a big role in our community outreach. From coordinating Urban Acres’ company-level sponsorships—Parade of Homes, Summer of the Arts, the Downtown Block Party—to organizing giveaways, she makes sure our agents and our company do everything we can to give back to our community. 

Juggling all this takes some serious organizational skills. Her efficiency and her keen eye for detail earned her the nickname “The Optimizer” on our website. 

Here’s a little Q&A with Sarah!

Q:  Where did you work before you joined Urban Acres? 

A: My job experience spans quite a few industries in a few different cities. My first real job out of college was with a leadership development nonprofit in Pittsburgh, where I grew up. I did a brief stint at Starbucks in Sioux Falls (hence the costume), higher education marketing at the University of South Dakota, utility vegetation management in Des Moines with Wright Service Corp, telemedicine with UI Health Care, and then workforce assessment and solutions with ACT Inc. 

One of the coolest parts of marketing is that you can apply the principles to any industry. My job history looks a bit random, but the advantage that I have is the ability of seeing many different ways of doing something and taking the best parts of it and applying it to Urban Acres. I love the job I have here because every day is different!

Photo Credit: Thad Buege Photography

Q: Are you an Iowa native or an Iowa “transplant?”

A: My husband Zach and I landed in Iowa City by accident. Most people assume that one of us grew up or went to school here. The truth is that we followed a job, and now it’s where we’ve put down roots. Some of my kids’ first words have been “Iowa Hawkeyes!”

Q: What is your favorite Urban Acres memory? 

A: The gas giveaway that we did in July was the biggest highlight of my time at Urban Acres so far! It’s always fun to plan the details of an event and see it come to life. Even more incredible were the reactions that we received from the public. Paying it forward at the gas pump when prices were the highest they’ve been in years is such a powerful way to give back to the community, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of it. 

The Office Aficionado 

Haley Willard | Manager of Office Operations

An office of 50+ agents and 5 staff members doesn’t run on autopilot. That’s where Haley comes in!

Haley joined our team in 2021. As our Manager of Office Operations, she keeps our entire office on track. Whether you’re a client or an agent, she’s the first face you’ll see when you walk in the door at headquarters. You may see her dogs’ faces, too! They love to visit the office with her when they can. 

Haley is a Jill-of-all-trades. Her duties run the gamut, from managing reception to taking deliveries and messages, ordering office supplies, making coffee, and more. She also supports the closing and marketing departments, collecting paperwork on behalf of agents and assisting Sarah with events. She’s pretty handy at troubleshooting things around the office, too, like glitchy printers. It’s why we call her “The Problem Solver!”

Haley also knows the ins and outs of everyone in the Urban Acres family. Because she sits at the front desk, she sees people come and go and learns their routines. She knows everyone’s odd habits, like who can’t resist the free food in the kitchen or what color Starbursts each agent likes!

Get to know more about Haley in this Q&A. 

Q: Where did you work before you joined Urban Acres?

A: I graduated from Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids with degrees in Human Resource Management and Marketing. Immediately after college I was hired into a management development program for a national insurance company, where I myself was licensed. I trained new licensees in customer service and sales.  

My next career step was a lot of the same responsibilities, but this time I was training people on cosmetic/dermatology products and services. My goal in these roles was to be the “go-to” person for any questions or needs for my team and our clients. That still rings true today in my role at Urban Acres!

Working in diverse industries has made me well-rounded. It’s taught me to have a process for everything and shown me how to find solutions in any situation. I’ve also learned to be forward-thinking to determine how to put my team and company ahead! 

Photo Credit: Thad Buege Photography

Q: What is your favorite Urban Acres memory? 

A: The 2021 client appreciation party at Wilson’s Orchard was a blast! It was my first year helping to put the event together and it was awesome to see the agents and staff collaborate to put on a very special and thoughtful event for the community and our clients. Urban Acres throws one heck of a party with swag, treats, and fun! Our unique engagements in general is a top reason I love working here and look forward to planning events for the future. 

Q: What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know? 

A: I was a competitive figure skater! From ages 7-17 figure skating was LIFE. I conditioned for hours in the morning before school each day and competitions and training camps took my team and me all over the country. Until a knee injury took me out of the game, I was working on high-level skills such as combination and triple jumps. 

Some of the talent I trained with in my youth have gone on to perform for Disney on Ice and compete at national and olympic levels. I love cheering them on from afar and how they represent the Eastern Iowa Figure Skating Club.

The Oil in Our Well-Oiled Machine 

Cari, Jenn, Matt, Sarah, and Haley are the unsung heroes of our office. They help make Urban Acres who we are. Our success over the last 7 years (and counting) wouldn’t have been possible without them! 

At the end of the day, both our staff and agents have one goal: to help you have a great buying or selling experience. If you’re ready to move, reach out to our team

 

You may also like

Your Guide to 14 Iconic Eastern Iowa City Neighborhoods

An In-Depth Look at the Most Popular Eastside Neighborhoods

Client Spotlight: 3 Real-Life Stories from People who Relocated to Iowa City

Hear from 3 Buyers Who Chose to Make Iowa City Their Home

8 Eco-Friendly Features to Make Your Home a Little Greener

Save Energy, Lower Your Utility Bills, and Do Some Good for the...