Meet the Real Estate Experts

Meet the Real Estate Experts

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

Whether you’re working to buy your first home, pouring love into a fixer-upper, or have found your forever home, chances are you still have questions about the best strategies in real estate. Who doesn’t?

We’ve all heard that the housing market has been disrupted these past few years. What does that mean locally? And what can prospective and current homeowners do to get a leg up in the buying and selling process? To learn more, we consulted with the experts: an array of local Realtors, many who have served Mid-South families for quite a few years. We asked them the questions that we might wonder ourselves: What should I do if I’m interested in selling a home? How about buying one? Where should I be looking? What might I be getting wrong?

Through these conversations, we learned more about the local Realtors whose names you might encounter on a for-sale sign, or maybe even who sold you your home. And through them, we picked up some helpful suggestions that we’re happy to pass along to you.

Jennifer & Joel Hobson

Broker/Owners, Hobson Realtors

What attracted you to a career in real estate?

I grew up in Memphis with both my parents selling real estate and they talked about it every night at the dinner table. They loved it, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do at an early age. I enjoyed being around people, and the idea of helping people find their dream home was intriguing to me — and challenging. My parents opened Hobson Realtors in 1972, so we are celebrating our 50th year in business. My wife, Jennifer, and I love working together, just like they did, and now we talk about it at the dinner table, in front of our kids!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

We like helping people move from one stage of their life to the next. People move because something changes in their life, be that good or bad. They get married, get divorced, get a promotion, lose their job, have a baby, or somebody dies. You really get to know your clients and their family, and it’s exciting to help them figure out what it is they really want in their next house, and then make it happen. It’s very personal and always interesting.

Real estate can be a volatile industry. How has it changed over the course of your career?

Technology has been the biggest change in selling real estate. I used to carry a roll of dimes in my car, so I could go to the nearest pay phone to make appointments. We had to pick up keys at the other agent’s office to show a house! It’s just amazing how much more we can do now, with all the advances in technology. Smart phones, digital signatures, key boxes, social media, and the internet have changed everything! Part of being a great agent is keeping up with technology and using it to help your clients buy and sell. You are “on call” all of the time, and particularly in this market, time is of the essence.

Do you have a favorite Memphis neighborhood?

Our favorite neighborhood is East Memphis, which goes from Chickasaw Gardens to River Oaks. It’s just so convenient and beautiful, with all the trees, and it’s 15 minutes from everything. That’s where we live and where I grew up. That said, we sell all over town, from Downtown to Collierville and Lakeland. I love selling Memphis, showing our great city to people moving here from all over the world. The secret is out. Memphis is a bargain, compared to any other big city you might consider. Nashville is a magnet, bringing people to Tennessee, but when they see the traffic and the high prices there, they come to Memphis and love it here!

What are steps a homeowner should take to increase their home’s value?

The first step is to declutter. The way you live in the house, and the way you sell a house are two different things. Less is more. Clean off your countertops, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms. Eliminate any bad smells. The second step is to increase the curb appeal by working on the exterior of your house. Repair rotten wood, paint the exterior, mulch the flower beds, and power-wash the driveway, patio, and walkways. Make the yard look inviting, by trimming the overgrown bushes.

Any tips to prepare for buying or selling?

My first tip is to hire a Realtor. After all, your house is probably your biggest asset. They can help you prepare the house for the market, advise you on pricing it, then market it so that you reach the most number of potential buyers. They will guide you through the negotiations of a contract and see it through inspections, appraisals, and finally closing. It can be a very complicated and stressful situation trying to coordinate everything, and crazy things do happen. On the buying side, a good agent can help you find a house first day on the market or even before it hits the market, and then advise you how to make your offer the one that is accepted.

How has the internet affected your business?

Some people thought the internet would eliminate the need for real estate agents, but in reality, it’s been a great asset for both agents and the public. The consumer has access to so much information, and it can be overwhelming. It’s really hard to interpret all that data, when sale prices and price per square foot are all over the map. You need somebody who is in the business every day, to counsel you.

What’s the most common mistake that new home buyers make?

The most common mistake is not understanding the different valuation of different locations. The same house may be worth a different amount in East Memphis than it would in Germantown. Same thing for a house on a busy street versus a quiet cove. It may even vary from the 1500 block of a street to the 1900 block of the same street. Secondly, get pre-approved for a loan by a reputable local lender, so you know what you can afford. And finally, don’t try to do it alone. Get a Realtor to help you.

Sean Blankenship

President, Coldwell Banker Collins-Maury

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate?

Before real estate, I worked in the automotive industry for two big car manufacturers. When approached about leading Coldwell Banker Real Estate’s marketing team, I found many similarities between the two sectors. I’ve always wanted to be as close to the customer as possible, leading to better service. I find it rewarding to fulfill a family or individual’s dream of home ownership in real estate. It’s the pinnacle.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is helping others build or elevate their real estate business. Today, I am focused on leadership and providing the best environment for real estate professionals to succeed in building a lasting business. This accomplishes our ultimate goals; ensuring our real estate professionals have a business of value when they retire and providing the best possible customer service experience for our clients.

Real estate can be a volatile industry. How has it changed over the course of your career?

The industry is tied firmly with the economic environment. Two significant events were the 2007 great recession and coronavirus in 2020. Those two events changed human behavior, adjusted household income, changed where people want to live, and challenged our industry. As an industry, we have to adjust to consumer sentiment and behavior. An example is a trend of working from home. It has allowed many families or individuals to move far from their place of employment. No longer are people tied to a commute. Another trend is the so-called “on-demand” society. More and more, consumers expect services and goods immediately. Lastly, consumers can access luxury homes more than ever with low mortgage rates. The definition of luxury is changing with affordability.

What makes Memphis real estate — this particular region — distinctive?

Quality at an affordable price. The Memphis general market, including Northwest Mississippi, offers excellent variety and quality of life. The number of corporations investing and moving to the Memphis general market is testimony to quality at an affordable price.

Do you have a favorite Memphis neighborhood? Is there a hidden jewel?

This is a tricky question as we see revitalization everywhere, new construction shifting the traditional landscape, corporate relocation picking back up, and a new generation of homeowners wanting turn-key properties. Call me old-school, but I love East Memphis. The architecture (traditional colonial meets modern transformation), restaurants, retail, access to entertainment, schools, and family environment. Such a great mix, hard to beat.

What are some tips to prepare for buying/selling?

There are tons of tips, so I will keep it brief.Buyers should get pre-approved by their lender of choice and eliminate as many contingencies as possible (i.e., the need to sell their home first). Make yourself the best buyer possible when presenting your offer. It’s very competitive out there. Sellers can do a few things to maximize their price and reduce the anxiety of selling. First, invest in making your home as turn-key as possible (listen to the market). Appearance is everything; small details matter. Of course, we can help with that and maximize your investment. Finally, remove the stress of trying to find the perfect next home immediately. Find a nice place to rent (Airbnb, VRBO, a condo) overlooking the river or an extended-stay hotel. It will reduce your willingness to compromise and allow you time to work with us to find your dream home.

What’s currently going on with high home prices, interest rates, and inflation?

Supply and demand at work. The media tends to sensationalize the extremes. We have demand outstripping supply, low-interest rates, and household income and savings historically high. Inflation has entered the conversation, and we are seeing mortgage rates tick up and the average days on the market for homes tick up. While this may feel like normalization, we regularly see multiple offer situations. We saw average sales prices increase by as much as 25 percent year over year in the past few years. That number is floating down, most likely around 11 percent this year. The real estate market fundamentals are strong; this is nothing like 2007.

How much of a problem is the phenomenon of out-of-town corporations buying up properties and renting them or flipping them?

The greater Memphis market is always in the top 5 nationally for the category. The question might be, what’s a healthy percentage rate of rentals in a given town or city? I read recently that Southaven and other cities are looking for regulatory options to control this phenomenon. We, of course, believe homeownership is an excellent wealth-building investment, enriches lives, and builds community. But we also recognize it’s not for everyone or accessible to everyone. Affordable housing, in general, must be a priority for our region and country.

Linda Sowell

Owner and Principal Broker, Sowell Realtors

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate?

In 1973, shortly after presenting an offer to a local homebuilder, John G. Sowell, I joined his real estate firm. We married in 1974, and I became principal broker in 1988. Homegrown and locally owned, my agents, family, and I are personally invested in the local businesses and charities that make up the wonderful Midtown community. I’ve always been interested in architecture and houses. Real estate started out as a part-time job and here I am 50 years later.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am still thrilled every time my client finds “the one.”

What’s the first step a homeowner should take to increase their home’s value?

That’s simple. Take care of any and all delayed maintenance.

Any tips to prepare for buying/selling?

Buyers should list all of the features they are looking for in a home, then narrow the search to cover the most important needs. When they find a home and are going to make an offer, go in with your highest and best offer. If someone else pays more than my clients’ comfort level, I remind them that there will always be another house. I believe this wholeheartedly, and it remains true even in today’s market.

We are now in a sellers’ market because of a lack of inventory. To maximize profits, it’s a good idea for sellers to be the best house in their price range. The trend is to price in the lower range of comparable sales to result in multiple offers.

I highly recommend a deep cleaning, including washing windows and decluttering. Paint where needed and make sure the lawn is landscaped and neatly trimmed. A stager can help tremendously when preparing your home for the market. One of my agents always says, “Get your house ready like you’re having a party, and hopefully you won’t need to have the party for long.”

Can you suggest strategies to improve a home’s appeal?

Kitchen and bathroom updates are the top improvements. With remodeling and updating, choose timeless finishes and colors rather than anything too personal. 

How does the internet (and sites like Zillow) affect your business — since home buyers and sellers are now more knowledgeable about properties?

When I started in real estate we exchanged index cards. Multiple listing books originally had four listings per page, then there were 12 houses per page. The internet drastically changed our business. Now we know instantly when something hits the market. At first I was afraid clients wouldn’t need us, but the opposite is true. We are needed to interpret data, guide buyers on how to beat the competition, and help sellers get the most money for their home. Not to mention talk them off the ledge, provide perspective, and always have their best interests in mind.

What is the most common mistake that new homebuyers make?

The first is paying too much for a home, and the second is waiving inspections. 

On average, how long does a house stay on the market in Memphis?

The days on the market vary greatly depending on available inventory.

How many houses do buyers look at before making a decision?

The average is about five to seven. I’ve had clients who looked at one house and others who looked for three years.

What’s the most unusual sale you remember?

There have been many unusual sales, but the one that stands out involved a chaplain and his family moving from New York to Memphis. After three days of an intense search it was narrowed down to a home in Central Gardens. As the wife videotaped the home, a tree fell on my car parked outside, and she took that as an act of God to not buy the house.

While they were flying back to New York, I found out one of my agents was about to list a house in Evergreen that I knew would be a great fit. The agent gave me 72 hours to get them in the house before listing it. My client was returning to Memphis, only to make it to Atlanta — where all flights were canceled due to weather. The wife hopped on a plane to Little Rock, rented a car, and drove through a torrential storm to see the house. The clock was ticking and with no time to spare, we toured the home. Thank goodness she fell in love with it! 

Stacia Rosatti

Team Rosatti

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate?

Growing up in Memphis and raising my family in Germantown has made me a Memphis homebody. Understanding the importance of home motivates me to help people find the right space for their lifestyle. All people have different priorities when it comes to their homes; listening to what those are and finding the right fit is a fun challenge for me.

When I started my real estate career in 2013, I did so to get back into the flow of business after staying home to raise my family. I got my real estate license as a 50th birthday present to myself, and immediately started to see this “gift” pay off. Fast forward, and it has grown into our family’s business and passion! My husband, Bill, joined me after retiring from a lengthy career in finance, and Rollin, our youngest son, also joined us. That’s the great thing about the real estate industry and our group specifically: We all have different strengths, passions, and experience, and we enjoy working together to help people find their dream home. I really never imagined that happening or all the people we would meet along the way.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I enjoy problem-solving, and the creativity it takes to craft a strategy for our clients that works and gets them what they want. I often work with people during one of the most stressful times of their lives, because moving is usually motivated by change. Change is something I’ve always embraced, so being the trusted advisor and bringing clarity to the chaos of a move is gratifying to me as well. We navigate moves 50 times a year, so it’s not as emotionally taxing on us, and we are able to do our full-time job, while our clients focus on theirs.

Real estate can be a volatile industry. How has it changed over the course of your career?

I began in 2013 when the market was coming out of crisis, so it’s been more stable over my career. Seeing the huge shift from a buyers’ market to the recent sellers’ market has been interesting and something that has demanded our creativity and strategic mindset more than ever. Cultivating new client relationships and accomplishing their goals while also navigating a global pandemic was also a unique challenge the industry was not prepared for, so we had to really get creative and pivot on a dime to continue to show and list homes during that time.

When I track our business between buyers and sellers, we have maintained a balance between the two even during this market of low inventory, and our end goal does not change: Get our clients exactly what they want. It’s been a goal of mine to grow no matter what market conditions are, and thankfully Team Rosatti has seen year-over-year growth despite Covid and this low-inventory market.

What makes Memphis real estate (this particular region) distinctive?

The Memphis region is overall an affordable and convenient place to live. I’ve really never helped anyone buy a home here that doesn’t recognize and enjoy that. The sellers are rarely excited about leaving. Our area provides such a rich quality of life that is hard to find in other places. One quote from a client that I’ll always remember: “We keep trying to replicate our neighborhood in Memphis in other cities and it just really can’t be done!”

What’s the first step a homeowner should take to increase their home’s value?

Maintaining a home is step one, but if some things have gone unattended, we start with the deferred-maintenance items. Buyers understand that they will want and need to put their own style into a home, but what they don’t like to do is spend money on exterior wood rot, peeling paint, and major systems. Buyers like to come in and start on the fun part of decorating and designing to their tastes. Every property is unique and every budget is different so we meet people where they are and devise a specific plan for them.

What is a common mistake new homebuyers make?

Sometimes people new to our region will believe they can buy well under their budget here because they read the national news about affordability, then when they arrive, they realize that rather than purchase below their budget, they’d just like to enjoy what their money will buy here. It’s human nature to want more for less. Here they can attain that and it’s exciting for them.

Do you have a favorite Memphis neighborhood? Is there a hidden jewel?

There are so many hidden jewels in our area! Everywhere I go, I find new ones. It’s really about the buyers, and what is important to them. Do they want to be close to live music and bars, public elementary schools, or have ample access to outdoor space? You can direct a client to multiple amazing neighborhoods that fit the bill for each of those interests. It’s fun to see people flourishing all over town, and moving to different areas of town as their interests or stages of life change.

Jimmy Reed

President and Co-Owner, Marx-Bensdorf Realtors

What was it about real estate that drew you in and that you really enjoy?

After a whole lot of years, all of a sudden it dawned on me that it really feels good helping people. I love the process and love helping folks, but it took me a long time to actually verbalize it to myself.

I happen to think this is a huge responsibility that we carry to help families. It’s their lives and their money. We have a great duty to know what we’re doing and it’s a very complicated business, more so than ever. I even believe that it’s a moral obligation to do a good job for folks and know about all things real estate.

That means understanding the complicated 11-page contract, understanding proper home valuation approaches, having a handle on market trends, putting together successful, and win-win transactions — they don’t have to be confrontational.

What should a potential homebuyer or home seller know about how you work?

If someone’s not ready to execute a contract, I’m also not ready for them to execute a contract. I don’t want somebody’s hand shaking when they’re signing the durn thing. They’ve got to have a complete understanding of what’s going on.

I will build a relationship with the client and help them understand that I’ll get them through this path and help keep their blood pressure low — no hidden agendas. I talk about all of these things with folks on the front end when I engage with them.

Marx-Bensdorf has been around since 1868. We’re the oldest real estate company and the 11th oldest corporation in Memphis. We are a very low-pressure organization — it’s not just me, but the entire firm’s reputation. We are real insistent on everybody having the same deep philosophies about how we serve the public.

What’s it like to have to sell Memphis to out-of-towners?

I had a physician and his wife once for clients, and when she got in the car, she said, “Yeah, my husband mentioned Memphis. I don’t know what to think. I mean really? Memphis?” And by the end of the day, she’s like, “Rock and roll! Let’s move!” Memphis is finally getting its real due. We’re not losing our culture either. We’re not losing our soul.

What is it that attracts you to a home?

I love all things architecture and all things styling. When I was 18 years old, I worked for an interior design firm and a light came on and I just started falling in love with aesthetic matters in art. It’s such a pleasure handling a house that is done in as fine a finish as could possibly be, and imagine the detail work and the sense of what a house brings to folks. When you’re enjoying your home, there’s so much psychology around it and to have this aesthetic environment is an absolute pleasure to be involved with.

How has the real estate business been in the last three or four years?

We all thought 2020 was going to be the end of the world, and little did we know it was going to turn into a wild feast. People were looking inwardly and they’ve had time to realize that staying home and having a wonderful home place has great value against all the other attractions in the world. And so it just became a boom.

It’s a really crazy phenomenon. My wife decorates and she has been so busy with folks redoing stuff. The builders are going crazy because they have so much emphasis on home place now. People are not going to be traveling as much and now they have time and energy on their hands and want a beautiful home place.

Well before the pandemic, floor plans were becoming more open. Have recent trends had an impact on that?

I challenge folks to think about that openness. If someone’s in a room watching TV, then everybody in the house is watching TV. So there’d better be some ancillary spaces available, and that has really come to pass with Covid. So people have been moving around, maybe getting more space and having more room so they can have their privacy and work and enjoy the house together.

What about the financial end of it with interest rates and inflation?

It is sobering, and the last few months have given us a decided question mark in the marketplace. But most of us nationwide feel like there was a need for some tempering to the pace of things. It’s healthy to slow things down a little bit. It’s going to be a bit of a tough transition time, but you know, a more balanced relationship between buyer and seller is ultimately a good thing for everybody.

Folks say, wow, hasn’t real estate been a great boom for you? It has been, but it has had a lot of stresses along with it at the same time: lack of inventory and high demand and trying to understand pricing and values and all that, and how to weave people through complicated, competitive contract environments. It’s been the most interesting and challenging environment as long as I’ve been in the business.

Tiffany Brown

Agent, Adaro Realty

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate?

My grandparents relocated to Columbia, South Carolina, when I was around 12 years old. I remembering seeing this beautiful lady with style and grace — not to mention being quick, witty, and knowledgeable — drive up to show us a gorgeous home. I was in awe of her. I said to myself, “I want to be just like her when I grow up.” So I studied business management at Strayer University and became a Realtor, certified as a new home construction specialist. My community focus is to get everyone I know or encounter to own at least one piece of real estate.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The freedom to be authentically me. There are no scripts, and no strings attached — it’s just me and it’s accepted. Also, getting a complete stranger to trust you on a daily basis to assist them with all of their real estate goals is electrifying. I like to think that my clients are my family.

What is the most common mistake that new homebuyers make?

I would say it’s a mistake listening to other homeowners’ friends, their family members, or even co-coworkers who don’t understand the current market. The same process and guidelines do not apply to everyone. Every buyer’s financial situation is different, as well as their family make up, along with whatever is happening in the current market. I always urge everyone to consult with a Realtor and lean on their expertise to guide you through the process.

How many houses do buyers look at before making a decision?

This all depends on a combination of the buyers’ wants, needs, and/or urgency. I have had buyers write an offer on the first home they ever saw, while with others it may take showing 10 homes before the buyer knows what they want. The current market is so low on inventory there is really not much to choose from. But there is no right or wrong way to do this. I tell all buyers, “You know when you walk through the door.” It’s just a feeling you get, and you don’t want to let go of it.

On average, how long does a house stay on the market in Memphis?

This depends on the seller, and the offers they get from buyers. But I’ve seen a fair amount of homes that sell in one day.

How much of a problem is the phenomenon of out-of-town corporations buying up properties and renting them or flipping them?

Problem? I would say this is a catastrophe. It has become one of Memphis and the surrounding area’s biggest hurdles, when our home buyers are having to compete with out-of-town investors or hedge fund managers with more resources than they have. It is sad when a buyer who works for the city or county and pays taxes cannot find a home in their own city.

This situation sometimes causes our buyers to write 20 to 30 offers before they have one accepted. It’s also costing buyers more out-of-pocket expenses. The good news is that here lately, I have been seeing sellers who are more cautious about selling to investor — just owner-occupants only. This is a start, but we have a long way to go.

What’s the most unusual home you’ve ever sold?

I can remember when the youngest buyer I ever sold a home to purchased one of the oldest homes I ever listed. I was so sure it was going to be a “no” when they saw it, but the buyer walked in and was in awe. They said it reminded them of a home they grew up in. The best thing about that sale, was the house was later appraised at $45,000 over the offer price.

Judy McLellan

Agent, Crye-Leike Realtors

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate, and why have you stayed with this career?

I was a realtor’s kid and my father was in construction, so real estate was just in my blood. Then my husband, Mickey, became my business partner in 1995, and our son is now our closing attorney so real estate is a family affair.

I have always followed my mother’s advice, “Do business with your heart,” and that has served me well. When you do business with your heart, you have compassion for your client and their needs rather than for your commission. I never look at a client in terms of money. If you genuinely have a heart to help people with one of their largest investments and you know your business well, success will follow professionally as well as monetarily. Doing business with your heart is not one particular act, it is a culture of how you conduct your business.

Real estate can be a volatile industry. How has it changed over the course of your career?

Real estate is like the stock market in a lot of ways, so throughout the years we have faced the challenges of an up and down market. We went through 18 percent interest rates, adjustable rate mortgages, predatory lending, the 2008 debacle, then the good years of 3 percent interest rates, and now demand outpacing supply along with higher interest rates in the 5 percent-plus range. Through it all, you just have to keep a positive attitude, work hard, spend long hours, and remember to always, always do the right thing.

What makes Memphis real estate/this particular region distinctive?

Our region is a little slower to accept change so that’s a balance act. Many trends in real estate start in California or Florida. Memphis and the South in general were slow to accept an open-floor plan with one living area rather than two. The “living room” was seldom used and many times just a place where you put antiques and other heirlooms handed down through the years.

As the GenX and millennials began to buy homes, many of them said, “We don’t want that old stuff, and we don’t need that room.” They would rather have a home office or exercise room. but once Memphians started accepting the new trends, the one-space living area became the rage, and now almost every new home for the last five years has only one living space, which is open to the kitchen and allows for more quality family time.

Other examples Memphians have been slow to accept are the dark moody interior colors as well as dark exteriors. White-painted brick has been the rage in Memphis for the last 5-10 years. The next trend we see moving across the country is darker wood cabinetry coming back in style.

However, our positives far outweigh the negatives. When it comes to affordability, great architecture, beautiful landscape and vegetation, and wonderful brick construction, Memphis can’t be beat.

What’s the first step a homeowner should take to increase their home’s value?

From day one of owning a home, a homeowner should keep their home relevant by avoiding deferred maintenance items. A home needing a new roof, new kitchen appliances, updated countertops, new HVAC units, new carpet, or updated painting is going to take longer to sell and is going to sell for much less than one where deferred maintenance items have been addressed.

Are there any common mistakes homeowners looking to sell should avoid?

I would say the biggest mistake is not listening to the wise counsel of their real estate adviser and their stager, along with wanting to price their home too high. A new listing usually gets its greatest amount of activity in the first four to six weeks of being on the market, and you don’t want your home priced significantly too high during that time.

As for condition, you only get one chance at a good first impression. Some sellers want to just put their home on the market as it sits. We have to educate them on why they need updates and changes to help their home sell quicker and for the highest possible price. When we bring our stager to a new listing client, our goal is to take their “home” and make it into “a house for sale” that will appeal to the most buyers. A light neutral color allows the property to be more relevant for the majority of today’s buyers. A blank, light, neutral color palette allows buyers to visualize what their furnishings will look like in the home.

Another thing sellers are sometimes reluctant to accept is editing of furniture, furniture placement, and accessories. Our stager is excellent at furniture placement for the market in order for the home to feel open and airy, not cluttered and cramped. If sellers will trust our advice, we fully believe the home will sell faster and for more money.

On average, how long does a house stay on the market in Memphis?

That’s not a statistic I pay a lot of attention to. In all price ranges, homes have been selling faster in the last 12 months and for top dollar because of the low supply and high demand. However, ultra luxury homes in Memphis in the $2 million-plus price range are typically not going to sell as fast and have multiple offers like homes in the $200,000 range, and older homes without many updates or with a lot of deferred maintenance are typically not going to sell as fast as newer homes. The old price, condition, and location rule is still alive and well.

Meredith and Paul McDonald

Agents, Ware Jones Realtors

What originally attracted you to a career in real estate, and why have you stayed with this career?

Meredith: I remember saying one Sunday night, “I am going to get my real estate License,” just out of the blue! I had recently suggested two homes to two different people and they both bought them. So I said, “I can do this!” One fun fact: After just getting my license, I was at a party (I remember exactlywhere the house was) and a banker said to me, “Do you really think you can make it in this business?” I was so stunned, I made up my mind to prove him wrong. I love a challenge. Here I am 35 years later, still selling.

Real estate can be a volatile industry. How has it changed over the course of your career?

Real estate has always been an industry full of changes. So many factors create change, usually for the better. Technology has been the biggest influence. I can remember getting a cell phone for my birthday and I was furious — it was like getting a vacuum cleaner! Cell phones were a game-changer; we used to have to return every call after we got home as we had no phone in the car. Now the technology has advanced to unlocking a door with a button on your phone and writing an offer electronically. Then there are platforms like Zillow. The entire world thinks Zillow is the official ex- pert for each home, even though Zillow has never seen the home or measured it. Plus, Covid has certainly created more issues, but agents found a way to work around it. Appointments were very specific — no overlapping of showings, no open houses, electronic signatures became the norm, and closings were often in the attorneys’ parking lots.

What makes Memphis real estate/this particular region distinctive?

Memphis is unusual! One reason is that we have such beautiful and incredible “real neighborhoods, where people are friendly and everybody knows everybody and there is great pride in ownership. It is still a Southern town, and Memphis should appre- ciate the great architecture, old trees, great parks, and fun restaurants in every area.

What’s the first step a homeowner should take to increase their home’s value?

“Rome was not built in a day.” I encourage homeowners to invest in projects as often as possible. Most people cannot renovate an entire home overnight. When sellers make small changes, they become so proud and productive. Every buyer wants a renovated kitchen or baths — the market confirms that you will get your investment returned to you.

Are there any common mistakes homeowners looking to sell should avoid?

They often think their home is perfect just the way it is and they do not think it should be decluttered or any repairs made to put it on the market. They need to realize it needs to be neutral. Buyers so often cannot imagine their possessions in the house if it is cluttered with “too much stuff.” I believe the agent should help make an executive decision to suggest ways to declutter and assess the condition with the owner before putting the home on the market.

On average, how long does a house stay on the market in Memphis?

In the last two years, the number of days on the market is comical — maybe three days. The lack of inventory and the fierce competition has made the “days on market” an unusually short time period. Buyers offer an incredible monetary amount, and the sellers are willing to accept the price in a matter of hours. But at the end of the day, there is no way to predict how long it will take a house to sell — a perfect home might take longer to sell!

What is the most common mistake that home- buyers make?

They think that everything has to be com- pleted the first week. Take your time, check out the lighting, do not paint immediately, and live in it for a few months. Just living in a home for a short time period allows the owner to see the lighting, depending on the time of day, or which room becomes the family favorite for new furniture. It is easy to choose the wrong paint color and a cost- ly one! So often new buyers make changes that are not needed or justified.

On average, how many houses do buyers look at before making a decision?

Every buyer is different. Some can buy in a day and others take months or years. Some buyers know exactly what they want and where they want to live; others have to see every house available. I always tell them, the more they see, the better satisfied they will be!

How much of a problem is the phenomenon of out-of-town corporations buying up properties and renting them or flipping them?

I do not think of it as a problem but more of a good thing for our city. I know that Memphis is a very affordable market for inves- tors, but investors have certainly raised the prices. I hate to have so many rental homes in all of these areas, and as a buyer, it is hard to compete with investors’ money.

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