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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, November 8, 2019

Hill, Sakich rap expansion plans




A relative newcomer to real estate, Hill was her office’s top producer last year. - Photo by David Humber | Hamilton County Herald

One morning a few months ago, real estate agent Kathryn Hill woke up with the idea for a rap song she could hardly wait to write down. It started like this:

My name is Kathryn and it must be fate. I live in Chattanooga and I sell real estate! What’s going on? Are prices up or are they down? I go by ChattaKat and I can tell you about your town!

“I was just in a great mood. I think I had a closing the day before,” recalls Hill, an affiliate broker with Ooltewah-based Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Signature Brokers. “It just came out pretty easily.”

By the time her boyfriend stumbled out of bed, ready for his morning coffee, Hill was antsy to share her new rap. As soon as she’d finished, he told her, “That’s pretty darn good. You should get it on the radio.”

The “ChattaKat Rap” ad began running in September on Power 94 WJTT, Groove 93 WMPZ and BIG 95.3 WPLZ.

“It was very fun, but I don’t know how a singer does it and stays on the beat,” Hill says of the process of working with the Brewer Media producers. “Thank goodness I am a real estate agent and not a radio broadcaster.”

Known for her big personality – in a Facebook testimonial, one satisfied customer describes her as “perky” – Hill laughs a lot and never meets a stranger.

“I can be silly,” she adds. “But when it comes to selling your home or helping you find a home, that’s my job and I take that seriously.”

Hill has always been drawn to the customer service industry. An Oklahoma native who once worked for a Dallas hotel company, she spent 15 years with the Atlanta-based Apartment Guide group, where she oversaw 109 offices nationwide.

In 2012, soon after the Guide phased out her position, she moved to Chattanooga to start her own virtual assistant business for company owners who weren’t quite ready for a fulltime employee.

“I realized that I’d worked with a lot of different personalities and could teach them,” she says. “And I got along with everyone, you know?”

A mutual friend referred her to Gina Sakich of Real Estate Partners, and Hill contracted to help 10 hours a week. But Sakich soon needed more and more of her time. “I learned real estate from the inside out,” Hill points out. “But as an unlicensed assistant, I could not help her with open houses. I could not help her with showings. I couldn’t help her with a lot of things, so it was natural for me to go and get my license.”

In 2014, Sakich opened Signature Brokers and took Hill with her. Two years later, they joined Better Homes & Gardens and combined the two company names. As Sakich’s fulltime assistant and a multimillion-dollar producer, Hill was deemed the firm’s 2016 Rising Star and the top producer in 2018.

From the beginning, real estate was a good fit, Hill says. “Gina has a wonderful demeanor with people, and she taught me to mirror the person’s personality. I realized that’s what I’ve been doing all my life. It just felt like this is where I was supposed to be.”

Hill has handled a wide range of properties, from a $22,000 fixer-upper for an investor to an $845,000 home for an affluent family. Her ChattaKat nickname, she says, started as a Twitter handle and now distinguishes her social media and, of course, her radio ads.

When it comes to clients, she says she’s all about connecting. “You win some. You lose some. You’re not going to get [business from] every single person you talk to. But I always try to find the common ground, whether it’s music or having lived in a place where they’ve lived. I always have a story to tell of where I’ve been.”

Once, in a nail salon, she struck up a conversation with an 80-year-old woman who was worried that, because she had no children, there was no one to continue her business after she was gone. After talking to Hill, the woman decided to get rid of her house, rent a new place and enjoy her life.

“I somehow feel like I have that air, that people want to talk to me and I can help them get to where they need to be,” Hill says.

She occasionally conducts buyer seminars for first-timers and those who haven’t bought a home in a while. “Things have changed since 2008 when the market crashed, when you used to be able to walk into the bank and shake a banker’s hand and he’d give you a loan,” she says. “It’s just a different market today. I find that a lot of people who haven’t purchased a home in a number of years are shocked at how many steps there are and everything that the lender asks them for.”

Hill, who says she is getting ready to open a second downtown office with Sakich, thrives on the “excitement and the smiles and the new adventures” her clients are embarking on. “I really like meeting new people, being able to help them accomplish their real estate goals.”

She also says she is open and honest, sometimes to a fault, and doesn’t hesitate to disclose water damage or gently nudge a seller with a neon green living room to paint it a neutral color.

Recently, as she walked up to a new client’s front door for their listing appointment, she noticed an unpleasant odor. During their meeting, the man asked, “What do you think?” Hill says she asked him to step outside and stand on the porch as if he were going to ring the doorbell. “Oh my gosh!” he said, smelling the stench for the first time.

Another time, Hill, dressed in jeans, a Better Homes & Gardens vest and her nametag, dashed into JOANN Fabrics on Gunbarrel Road to pick up a few things. As she was walking to her car, a man stopped her, asked for her card and said, “When I need a real estate agent, I need someone like you.”

“He had no idea who I was,” she says. “But I looked and seemed normal, just like an everyday person. … People want a real person who’s down-to-earth. I just try to be real.”