Stedman-Ulmer agency looks ahead after merger

Published 2:00 pm Sunday, February 4, 2024

The new year brings more changes to the Natchez real estate market, as a joint venture between long-term industry leaders gets under way.

Joe and Sue Stedman of Crye-Leike merged in the fall of 2023 with timber and land expert Billy Ulmer to form Crye-Leike Stedman Ulmer Realty. The Stedmans, who have more than 75 years of experience between them, have been key players in the Miss-Lou real estate sector.

“Joe has had his real estate license for 50 years,” said Sue Stedman. “We got married in 1986 and I got my license a year after we were married.”

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While neither is ready to retire, they are ready to scale back a bit from the day-to-day operations. “We’re not necessarily ready to retire,” she said, “but maybe we don’t want to put as much energy into operating a company.”

Both are still actively working, but the Stedmans also sought a way to plan for the future of the company.

“Billy and I have been longtime friends,” Joe said, adding that Ulmer is a well-respected timber producer and land developer.

As part of the merger, Ulmer brought in Ron Rushing, a Brookhaven-based forester with deep knowledge of Southwest and South Mississippi.

“Both are good guys and respected in their industries,” Joe Stedman said.

Ulmer, a licensed broker in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, has bought, sold and developed land through his Woodhaven Corp. for years. He also owned and operated sawmills in Adams County and Monticello through Monticello Tie and Timber and operated 3W Timber and Construction, a logging company. He and his wife, Leah, are extremely active in the Natchez-Adams County community.

Ulmer and Rushing met in college, where Ulmer said he was “always doing timber work to earn a little extra money.” Rushing, who previously lived in McComb and worked with Don Rushing Realty, brings a deep knowledge of Southwest Mississippi and South Mississippi where recreational, timber, hunting and farming land is plentiful, as are opportunities for development. He has been a Realtor for more than 12 years.

“When you combine Billy’s and my background in the timber and recreational business … we are well-suited to selling and listing property … and we can together produce a product to better serve our clients.”

The pair also significantly expand the footprint of the agency.

“My area of expertise is everything south of I-20 and west of I-55,” Ulmer said. “Ron primarily worked west of I-55 and back east across the state …so there are not many pieces of land in these areas that we’re talking about that we haven’t been on.”

Because the pair have successfully developed land, they also can provide development plans and analysis, customized to a customer’s plans for the land.

And even though the pair specialize in land and timber development, they are well-versed as residential and commercial real estate agents. The Crye-Leike team also includes 14 real estate agents.

Looking ahead to 2024, Ulmer said he is encouraged.

“I’m very optimistic about the market,” Ulmer said. “Hopefully we will see interest rates trickle down a bit … and you know land is the one thing we’re not making more of, so it’s always a good investment.”

Sue Stedman echoed that optimism. The Natchez real estate market is still seeing “good demand,” she said, with the biggest challenge being inventory. “The main thing for all of us in this industry is trying to work hard every day to serve our clients and customers to the best of our abilities.”