Kipp Harris came to a startling realization as he hung up his office phone one day: He’d rather be at chemotherapy than at his job with a pharmaceutical software firm in California.
Equally shocking, Harris realized he wanted to move back to North Dakota. When he left the state following his high school graduation in 1986, he vowed never to return.
Harris experienced a change of heart after his initial cancer diagnosis in September of 2004. He eventually quit the job, sold his home, and moved back here to be closer to family in 2005. He planned to take a few years off to travel, but the cancer came back in August of 2006. And again in December of 2007.
Once he was healthy and ready to return to work, Harris knew it was time for a career change so he decided to earn his real estate license.
“Moving around the country as I moved up the corporate ladder, I would buy and sell houses in different parts of the country and never was happy with the experience that I had with a real estate agent,” Harris said. “So I thought, ‘I can do this better.’ From the beginning, my slogan has always been, ‘We do real estate differently.’ “
He started his own agency, Kipp Harris Realtors, in 2014. One way he operates his agency differently is that he does not track sales.
“I refuse to track sales. I refuse to recognize top producers and top listing leaders. Every real estate company in town is driven by sales. They’re sales companies. It makes sense, and I don’t judge that,” Harris said. “But we’re a company that focuses on three things, which are the only things that matter to me in my personal and business life: love, joy and human connection. We believe that if we have all that, everything else will just happen.”
When asked how he can run a business that way, Harris said he understands what his costs are and how much money he needs to bring in to make ends meet. The difference is about focusing on people rather than transactions.
Harris recommends people interview multiple real estate agents before selecting one.
“This is the biggest investment most people will ever make, so my advice is to interview agents. Find out what they’ll do differently,” he said. “If they’re just going to jump in the car and throw a bunch of feature sheets at you, that’s not representing a client. Feel comfortable in how they’re going to represent your interests.”
A new home for the business
Kipp Harris Realtors moved into a strip mall along 13th Avenue near Wal-Mart last spring. Harris said he was in no rush to decorate because he wanted the office to evolve around the team and their work flow.
When he met North Dakota State University art student Tyler Card, they came up with the idea to incorporate artwork from local students. The canvases were sliding barn doors made by Harris’ dad, Jack Harris.
“Over the last year, the space has really evolved around us to be a space that feels good. My dad built the doors. I’m connected to those doors. And we commissioned these artists because what we really wanted to do was give them the opportunity to showcase their artwork permanently in the space,” Kipp Harris said.
Most of the artists said they were inspired by Harris’ motto of “love, joy and human connection.”
Emma Beatrez described her painting, “Anchor,” as reflecting Harris’ relationships with his family and co-workers.
“His whole family works with him and keeps him grounded. They’re always supporting him,” Beatrez said. “I have the plants standing alone, but below the surface there is a lot more happening, and it’s anchoring him and giving him support.”
IF YOU GO
Open House: Kipp Harris Realtors
Where: 4950 13th Ave. S. Suite 23, Fargo
When: 4 to 7 p.m. July 7
Contact: (701) 866-2262 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Online: RSVP at www.kippharris.com