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VOL. 37 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 6, 2013

Rookie Realtors fine, if they have good backup

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With three years of increased real estate sales under its belt, the Nashville area is once again a breeding ground for real estate agents. During the recession, there was a drop from 4,000-plus members to less than 3,000 in the Greater Nashville Area Association of Realtors (GNAR).

With sales and sales prices on the rise, songwriters-turned-waiters and others who could stand some tuition money are headed to the streets.

Gaining a real estate license is not as difficult as the Tennessee Real Estate Commission would like it to be. The commissioners’ task of regulating the masses would be made much less cumbersome if all real estate agents actually knew what they were doing.

In order to sell properties, a person must take 60 hours of approved real estate courses, pass a test and then take an additional 30 hours. These hours are 60 minutes each, unlike college credit hours.

In Music City, these agents are entering, or re-entering, the market to the tune of 50 or 60 per month, or 600 to 700 per year. To be clear, as a partner in a real estate firm and a past president of GNAR, I am all for new agents. We were all new once, but …

There are firms across the country that have business models in which the recruitment of agents weighs as heavily as home sales. If there are enough agents paying sufficient fees, the overhead is met. In these firms, the recruitment of other agents is strongly suggested of the new agents. In some of these, the agents gain residual income from their recruits.

As has been said of Amway, somewhere, someone has to buy some soap.

Many of these firms felt the brunt of the recession as the number of people entering the business slowed and, in some cases, more than 35 percent of the agents left the business, higher than the industry average as many of these had no base in real estate sales.

In many cases, these are mom and pop firms that allow their cousin’s nephew to work there. After all, all the real jobs are taken.

Some of these firms are in the area and some local firms prescribe to this philosophy. Yet, other national and regional firms differ.

For example, Keller Williams has a “mailbox money” piece to its business model. Keller Williams agents who follow the extensive training programs provided by the company – nationally and locally – are among the best in the business. The same is true for firms such as Crye-Leike, whose leadership and training is unsurpassed. National franchises are managed by locals with knowledge of the local market.

The national firms, by their massive numbers, have the resources to provide training that boutique firms cannot. The larger firms have national conferences with remarkable speakers and day after day of training.

In all firms, there are agents with various skill sets. When a buyer or seller is choosing an agent to represent him or her, the overall real estate experience of the person should be weighed, but more important should be work ethic, communication and resources.

In one of the Dirty Harry movies, Inspector Callahan’s slogan was “A man’s got to know his limitations.” That line did not quite reach the status of “Go ahead. Make my day” status, although it plays well in real estate.

There is no way to know all of the answers to everything in real estate. Veteran agents like Tommy Patterson, Sue Chilton, Jim Owens, Jim Terrell, Christie Wilson, Richard Bryan, Ivy Arnold, Andy Allen and all the other top-producing veterans have lifelines that they call when in a pinch. Many of those listed call each other.

If a person chooses to work with a fresh, new agent – with no bad habits yet – the buyer or seller should ask about support. Who will that agent find for guidance? In many firms, the newer agents are appointed a mentor. In others, there is a person widely known for generosity of knowledge.

Although he has never taught a class, Richard Bryan of Fridrich and Clark has shared as much of his abundant wisdom as any agent in the city. And there are hundred running a close second to his expertise and willingness to share.

On the flip side, there are those who will take any agent whose breath clouds a mirror. The principal broker hangs the affiliate’s license on the wall and wishes him the best. Just pay the office fees.

When these agents get in a “tight spot,” as George Clooney’s character in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” might say, they improvise. The Tennessee Real Estate Commission deals with these improvisations every month.

Sale of the Week

The sale of the week comes from Electric Avenue in the Shelby Hills section of East Nashville.

The home at 1918 Electric Avenue was built in 1800s and, according to veteran listing agent Melissa Lundren of Village Real Estate Services, is “said to be the United Electric Railways ticket office in 1893.”

In her remarks section on the MNL listing, Lundgren described the property as “a dreamy country farmhouse. Shelby Park is your front yard.” There is “a screened deck, exposed brick, Mexican tiled baths with Jacuzzi tub and shower.”

The main residence consists of 1,399 square feet with a detached building (422 square feet) that houses a studio and a bath. As is the case in most East Nashville neighborhoods, the area is charged with positive energy and is a hub, or substation, for intellectually creative types.

The East Nashville Real Estate Services offices are managed by principal broker Jon McClanahan, and his group of Village People have listings as interesting as the music of their recording industry namesakes.

The house was sold by Michael Dyer of Fridrich and Clark Realty, a well-trained veteran who has made a career of selling unique properties such as this. A home such as this would send Dyer straight to his list of buyers in order to match the perfect quirk with the ticket office.

His buyer paid $298,000 for the home that Melissa Lundgren had on the market for a mere 18 days, one of which was the 4th of July, before Dyer made her sell.

Richard Courtney is a partner at Christianson, Patterson, Courtney and associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com.

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