Real Estate Partners Chattanooga LLC held a grand opening celebration to launch its new second location at 6043 Shallowford Road near Highway 153. The nearly 60-agent firm is the Chattanooga area’s leading locally-owned independent real estate company and the only one of its kind among the Top 10 Chattanooga real estate companies.
The new East office was designed from the shell and offers a beautiful and highly functional working environment for its agents, according to Wendy Lawhorn, managing broker at the new location which is now “home” to 15 agents.
She said, “To have this great, centrally located office which is designed to serve Ooltewah, Apison/Collegedale, East Brainerd, Highway 58 and Hixson areas and design it from the studs up to best serve our agents has been a great opportunity and we are so pleased with the outcome and reception it has received.”
Earlier this year longtime real estate leader Paula McDaniel and her team comprising The Paula McDaniel Group joined Real Estate Partners and are located at the new East location. Another well-known real estate leader – Grace Frank became affiliated with Real Estate Partners in 2015 and works from the downtown location. “We are energized and poised for growth this year in this office and as a company. Our real estate and housing market is strong as a whole and Real Estate Partners is looking for like-minded agents at both our East and Downtown locations – as a mid-sized independent, local real estate company and a market leader – we have much to offer,” Ms. Lawhorn said.
Darlene Brown, the company’s president and managing broker of the downtown office, agrees. She said, “In 2015, with 47 agents we generated $130 million and had an average sales price of $215,237 which is one of the highest of the 10 ten local real estate companies. With the growth we have experienced and the planned growth we are anticipating – 2016 should be a banner year for our company.”
As the only female-owned real estate company in the “Top Ten” – there is a cultural difference at Real Estate Partners that reflects that, Ms. Brown said. “I am proud our company is ‘up there’ with the larger real estate companies in terms of production. But what I am most proud of is that agent productivity is very high and very expansive at Real Estate Partners,” Ms. Brown cited the fact that in 2015 of the company’s then 47 agents – 29 agents or 62 percent had a sales volume of $1 million and above and of that group 20 agents or 43 percent had production levels of $2 million and above.
“To me this speaks loudly and clearly about our productivity, professionalism and work ethic and directly to our broker, management and support staff, and our training and marketing programs and tools. But most importantly Real Estate Partners professionals are earning a very good living in a profession they love and providing for their families. I know for me and for Wendy – that gives us great satisfaction.”
Both Ms. Brown, who is also the company’s founder and majority shareholder, and Ms. Lawhorn, who is a real estate veteran and part of the Lawhorn-Rearden real estate team are working brokers. “We ‘walk our talk’ and consider this a benefit to our agents. We are in the field like them every day and we contribute the success and bottom line of our company – side by side, said Ms. Brown. “Accessibility is key to provide the agents with the support, mentorship and ability to have their questions and concerns addressed and choosing to be a mid-sized company allows us as managing brokers to have and maintain that important relationship,” Ms. Lawhorn added.
Chattanooga is now home to a strong and nationally-recognized entrepreneurial business, technology and ‘start up’ environment and Ms. Brown reports her company is a part of and benefits from other local businesses. “As a locally owned company, we are more nimble and responsive and grounded in our Chattanooga community and this is reflected in everything we do – you have an opportunity to make a difference the lives of the families we serve and our community at large.”
A recent Inman Select Special Report entitled “The Shift toward Independent Brokerages” seems to echo that on a national level. The report from Inman, the leading national source for real estate news, cited in its findings “Independent brokerages are more prevalent now than they have been in a decade. Today not only are more than 8 in 10 brokerages independents, but the majority of U.S. agents are with ‘indie’ (independent) brokers. The study states nearly 9 out of 10 Inman readers (86 percent) think indie brokerages are becoming more popular among real estate agents nationally.
Inman reports local control of branding and technology gives independents the ability to build "profitable businesses that can adapt quickly to local market conditions - without the burden of franchise fees."
Available technology at a smaller scale and at a cost within the reach of smaller independent real estate companies and agents has ‘leveled the playing field’ tremendously, according to Adelia Mosley, executive vice president. “Chattanooga is now nationally known for its tech start-ups and real estate technology solutions are readily available – agents today by and large hold the core of their business in the palm of their hands – smart phones, technology platforms and apps have and continue to be ‘game changers’,” Ms. Mosley, who serves as the company’s marketing director, said. “With the increasing number of millennials moving into the homes market – technology and technology solutions on both an agent and company level will be increasingly important.”
But Ms. Brown said at its core real estate is and will remain a relationship and client services business. “At Real Estate Partners we talk about the tools in your toolbox. Technology solutions are a tool to enable us to work more effectively at a larger scale but they will never replace the important and vital ‘human connection’ of real estate.”
“Our company’s foundation statement is We Believe Dream Homes Belong to All of Us and we try to live that every day. We are actively seeking agents who share that philosophy and see the benefits our company has to offer,” Ms. Lawhorn concluded.