PITTSFIELD — One year of factory work after serving in World War II was all Leland Inman needed in 1947 to accept a second invitation to join his father’s real estate business in Pittsfield. And, 45 years later, Inman’s name is synonymous with real estate in the central Maine area.
He formed his own business in 1954, and 20 years later earned the distinction of Realtor of the Year from the Kennebec Valley Board of Realtors. The next year, he served as president of that group. In 1980, he again earned the Realtor of the Year award, this time from the Northern Kennebec Valley Board of Realtors, a group formed when the first association split. With the second award, Inman became one of the few realtors to earn the award twice.
Inman served as a property manager for the Veterans Administration for 26 years, coordinating maintenance and repair on VA-owned properties for re-sale. He also served a number of years as a corporator for the Skowhegan Savings Bank.
His success and accomplishments would not have been possible, he said, without the support of his wife, Barbara, and later his daughters, who answered the telephone and staffed his home office.
With so many years devoted to real estate, he has no idea how many individual homes or lots he has sold. Some he has sold twice, if not more times. He has watched interest rates and prices climb to unmanageable levels.
“With the market the way it is today,” he said, “and advertising costs what they are, it would be easy to put out more than you take in.”
The real estate market was a healthy industry, Inman said, from post-World War II into the mid-1980s when prices began to climb.
“When you price something beyond a working man’s wages, things have to slow down. Prices have to level off and come down to match peoples’ wages.”
In recent years, Inman’s real estate activity has decreased, but not ceased, he says. His real estate expertise also created a demand for his appraisal work, and provided him with some interesting experiences.
Once appraisal work found him on the witness stand in a property dispute, he said. Two appraisals prepared on the property were part of the dispute. An attorney for one party asked Inman if he would be interested in doing an appraisal. Before the work was done, however, Inman found himself detailing his real-estate experience on the witness stand, ending with the judge slamming his gavel down as he said, “Appointed.”
Selling a home in Newport one time to former Maine Governor Lewis Barrows, Inman learned a long-time lesson.
“The property he was buying was very well marked, but he insisted on having it surveyed. I questioned why he would want to waste his money. He told me: `It’s one thing to put property on paper. It’s another to put it on God’s earth.”‘
Once Inman gained free television advertising when the home he had marked with his sign was the site of a murder.
On another occasion, he almost saw more than he should have seen.
“(I was) showing another home on a hot August afternoon,” he said, “No one came to the door although the doors were open. And, the lady of the house was known for her drinking. The gentleman with me stepped over to peek in the window, and there she was — laid out without a stitch on and drunk. I never looked, but he sure was grinning all over. Needless to say, we left and she never knew we were there.”
Undecided customers pose another scenario. One such family made repeated trips to Pittsfield from Portland to look at one particular house. Each time the woman would relay her remodeling plans for the home, but never commit to buy it. When the decision was finally made, the owner told Inman, “If she hadn’t bought it, I was ready to tell her she had remodeled my home for the last time.”
Having experienced the many changes in Pittsfield history, Inman recalls with fondness the reputation of the town, and its landmarks, the former Lancey House and Maine Central Institute, where ever his travels took him.
“And, Pittsfield is still one of the better communities around, with a good future ahead of it,” he said.