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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, September 11, 2020

New life, new locale, same success


Kinard Realty agent development director O'Dell makes most of big move



Brandyn O’Dell is the director of agent development at Coldwell Banker Kinard Realty. He says he enjoys teaching new agents to thrive in an industry that’s “100% flexibility and 0% accountability.” - Photograph provided

Brandyn O’Dell nearly had it all. But he was missing one thing.

During more than a decade of selling homes in Champaign, Illinois, he’d built a booming real estate business. He’d also risen through the ranks of his brokerage – one of the largest Coldwell Bankers in the nation, he says – to become its sales manager.

But O’Dell was missing something important. Or, rather, someone important.

Several years earlier, he’d met and started dating a woman from Ringgold, Georgia, a much smaller town than the home of the University of Illinois. Then, in 2016, their long-distance relationship arrived at a crossroads.

“Andrea learned she had breast cancer,” O’Dell says. “She has two kids, and the dad lives here, and her doctors were here, so moving to Illinois wasn’t an option for her.”

Moving to Ringgold was an option for O’Dell, although he knew leaving behind his business for the untilled pastures of Northwest Georgia wouldn’t be easy. Still, if he was going to be a man who had nearly everything, he was ready to relinquish his business and become a husband and stepdad.

“Walking away from all of that for a new wife, new kids, a new house and a new job in a new state was tough,” O’Dell recalls with a laugh. “It was a lot of new all at once.”

Something familiar soon became available to O’Dell in Ringgold, though – a job with Coldwell Banker. He stopped in at Kinard Realty one day “to get a feel for the place,” which led to lunch with broker and president Mike Maret, which led to an offer to become the company’s director of agent development.

“They believed I would be a good resource,” he says.

Founded in 1974, Kinard Realty is composed of five offices in Northwest Georgia and Tennessee. Even so, it’s a smaller operation than Coldwell Banker’s Champaign office. Plus, O’Dell was starting over from scratch and uncertain about his prospects.

“I’d had great success, but was that going to translate to here?” he asks. “I was skeptical.”

Not long after O’Dell had arrived at work, Kinard’s relocation team threw him a bone.

“They had a lead with a married couple in Chickamauga and gave it to me to get me started,” he remembers. “I was nervous. I didn’t know where Chickamauga was or even how to spell it.”

Although O’Dell was up against two well-known Realtors from Chattanooga, he secured the lead. After the husband told him the good news, O’Dell asked why they had chosen him. The first part of the man’s answer contained a touch of unintended irony.

“He said, ‘You were all very knowledgeable, and we could tell you know the area really well,’” O’Dell says, smiling. “’But my wife felt like she could trust you.’”

O’Dell says that was the moment he became a Northwest Georgia Realtor. “It made me feel like I could do this here, too.”

If O’Dell was worried about not having enough to do, Kinard eased his concerns by piling ample responsibilities onto his plate. In addition to serving as the company’s director of agent development, he’s also managing the company’s Ringgold office.

These roles, combined with his listing and selling activity, keep O’Dell busy.

“If I wasn’t training new agents, I could probably sell more houses, and if I wasn’t out selling houses, I could probably do a better job of training new agents,” he jokes. “But I like doing both and don’t want give up either one.”

O’Dell says he enjoys training new Realtors because he remembers the misperceptions he had of the business as a rookie 16 years ago, and he’s passionate about correcting those early in agent’s career and placing the person on a path to success.

“A lot of agents – especially young ones – think they’re going to get licensed, sell Trump Tower, make $20 million and retire. Or, they think showing houses is fun,” he muses.

“They don’t know what it takes to advocate for a client and add value to a listing. Those things can get lost in a fast market like we have now because all we have to do to sell a house is put a sign in the yard.”

O’Dell says he remembers how the active market the mid-2000’s skewed his perception of how hard he would have to work. After selling three houses during his first three weeks, he thought he’d discovered a secret to fast and easy success.

Fortunately, he says, he was paired with an experienced agent who taught him otherwise, and by the time the market dropped in 2008, he’d learned what it takes to truly sell real estate.

Now, through training classes, company meetings and a guide that steers agents through their first 30 days, he imparts his acquired knowledge and experience to Kinard’s newest agents. It’s a function from which he derives tremendous satisfaction.

“A career that’s 100% flexibility and 0% accountability is a difficult change for some people,” O’Dell explains. “I like to shorten their learning curve and show them the right path. If we don’t, agents who could have been successful will fall through the cracks.”

O’Dell has settled into his new life, which has taken him from working more than 500 miles away from where his girlfriend lives to working 1 mile away from where his now wife teaches at Ringgold Middle School.

He says his new life was well worth leaving his business in Illinois behind, even though he now has to suffer the occasional Yankee joke.

When the ribbing becomes too much for O’Dell and he needs to escape, he travels to Alaska to hunt big game (a rare treat due to the expense) or takes his bird dogs on a shorter excursion to pursue small game. A trip to Minnesota later this year will give him the opportunity to bag grouse.

O’Dell also enjoys tending to his side business, The Tribe, a guild of about 40 craftsmen who make and sell a variety of custom, handcrafted products.

“Nothing fits together,” he laughs. “I have a guy who makes Viking shields the way they made them a thousand years ago by cutting down a tree, and I make women’s totes out of leather.”

It’s a good life, O’Dell says as he reflects on what he left behind and what he now has. His days are filled with work, his evenings are filled with family and there’s plenty for him to do in-between those times.

He seems like a man who has everything.