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SANTA ROSA -- Bradley Real Estate is expanding with the addition of a new office in Santa Rosa.

This 5,000-square-foot branch will be located at 1401 Fourth St. in the former headquarters of Hurd Real Estate.

"We're optimistic about the future," said Robert Bradley, president of the company. "Our business has grown substantially since 2006 and we have continued to add one new office a year during the recession."

Bradley Real Estate has hired more than 300 agents and staff members since 2006.

Mr. Bradley said plans call for adding 50 agents and staff members in Santa Rosa. Two or three of these agents will be commercial brokers.

Today, Bradley Real Estate has residential sales offices in Tiburon, Mill Valley, San Rafael, San Anselmo, two in Fairfax, along with other locations in Napa, Novato, Woodacre, and now Santa Rosa. In addition, the company's commercial division has an office in San Rafael.

During 2010, the company sold $530 million worth of residential and commercial real estate.

"My wife and I have a unique philosophy about the real estate world. Our firm is capturing market share by providing a higher level of service and support to our agents. As a result, agents come to us from other brokers based on our reputation for helping them become more efficient and productive."

Melissa Bradley, CEO, founded the company in 1997 and continues to play a strategic role in guiding the firm in new directions. She was the top producing real estate agent in Marin County from 1998 to 2010, having sold more residential property than anyone in Marin County during that period.

"Our agents are more efficient because we have an in-house escrow management system, which includes five full-time, licensed transaction coordinators and web-based escrow management software" she said.

"Consequently, our agents don't waste valuable time doing administrative and clerical work. The net result is more time for client services. This strategy has paid off in terms of overall satisfaction of our staff and sales agents."

According to Mr. Bradley, California has "micro climates" and so does real estate.

"In some areas prices and property values continue to decline, but in others they have stabilized. There is an active market today for some less expensive properties that investors are eager to purchase and hold."

"At the same time, the volume of foreclosures (REO properties) has slowed down and banks are processing more short sales successfully. This trend bodes well for the industry as a whole."

"REO" is a class of property owned by a lender (typically a bank, government agency, or government loan insurer) after an unsuccessful foreclosure sale.

He said a major drawback today is the lack of inventory in good properties. "Buyers are ready, evidenced by the fact that good properties are getting multiple offers. Mortgage interest rates should remain low for the next year or two, meaning now is the time to get in."

Robert and Melissa Bradley started working together in 2003, and now Melissa is taking more time to be with the couple's four children, ages 10, 7, 5 and one year, while still keeping an active hand in the business.

She grew the firm from 50 agents and two offices in 2003 to 400 employees and 11 offices throughout the North Bay in 2011.

"We're a local, family-run company that believes in this area. It has a lifestyle that everyone wants to enjoy, but it has never been the cheapest place to do business," she said. "Yet people are willing to pay a premium just to live and work here," she said.

This husband and wife team is convinced that the North Bay will continue to be an entrepreneurial area where new firms and industries are born.

"People are worried about inflation, but hard assets -- such as real estate -- are destined to increase in value over time. Individual investors now see real estate as a long-term hedge against inflation," Mr. Bradley said. "This category of intelligent real estate investors is getting into the market today and planning for the future."