Oak Harbor’s Koetje Real Estate celebrates 70th year

The orginial Koetje office on Pioneer way in 1942

Koetje Real Estate has come a long way from its beginnings in 1942.

After selling his Crescent Harbor farm to the Navy in 1940, Neil Koetje started the first real estate and insurance offices in Oak Harbor.

After passing down through the family for more than 60 years, including long-time Oak Harbor mayor Al Koetje, the real estate business recently split and sold half of the agency to Rick Schutte, a broker with the agency since 1995.

Schutte said he is keeping up the Koetjes’ tradition of focusing on family and integrity.

“We tell people we are not just your Realtor, we’re your neighbor,” Schutte said.

Now in its 70th year, the Koetje name remains a “strong name” that inspired the companies current motto “tradition and innovation,” Schutte said.

With agents who have worked there for more than 30 years, the agency has a great deal of institutional and regional knowledge to offer prospective buyers.

“It’s that history of real estate that is so important to the town,” Schutte said. “We are often people’s first contact to the town and we are able to share the history of the town — the depths. Combine that with Coldwell Banker … those are two names that are really strong with great traditions.”

Given its history in the area, Schutte said the agency offers a certain stability and reliability.

“I came here in the Navy, got married, my son grew up here. This is home,” Schutte said.

His 26-year-old son, Camden Schutte, now part owner and general manager of the agency, is planning to take over once his father retires.

Keeping the family business feel is important to Schutte who wants the agency to continue to focus on selling the value of “local” businesses.

Schutte purchased the real estate agency in 2009 when the agency split creating Schutte’s Koetje Real Estate and Koetje Insurance. Schutte’s business currently operates as Coldwell Banker Koetje Real Estate and Koetje Property Management.

Koetje Insruance has been owned by Bruce Neil who has announced his retirement, and has recently opted to affiliate that agency with the Leavitt Group, a large national insurance brokerage.

It is managed and co-owned by local resident Jeff Olsen, who has 24 years of insurance experience.

Olsen could not be reached for comment, but according to their website, they take pride in their “consultative approach” to insurance.