Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 18, 2022

Robinson Team keeps pushing higher

$169M in sales eclipses previous record of $110M

“Every year, I insist on doing better,” Realtor Jay Robinson told the Hamilton County Herald in 2020 after his team at Keller Williams Greater Downtown Realty sold a record $110 million in residential real estate in 2019.

It was the first time a team based in Chattanooga had topped the million-dollar century mark in sales – according to the local multiple listing service.

Then came the pandemic, which compelled Realtors to devise new methods of showing and selling houses.

On the heels of this redefining moment, the local housing inventory shriveled even as a sales boom sent the Chattanooga area market into overdrive. Home and hearth had become even more important than before, and buyers engaged in fierce bidding wars to stake their claim.

This is the market in which the Robinson Team, which works throughout Chattanooga, northwest Georgia and northern Alabama, tallied a number in 2021 that far exceeded its high mark from two years earlier.

The baker’s dozen team of real estate professionals chalked up $169,202,385 in residential sales last year as it averaged $535,451 per transaction.

Even in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, the team tallied 324 transactions.

Robinson says his team’s ability to generate off-market transactions was a key element of its performance as the low inventory continued to plague housing markets across the nation.

“We’ve always done a significant number of off-market transactions, in which we create the transaction and then find the buyer and the seller,” Robinson explains. “We have 55 of these pending in the next 45 days, which already puts us ahead of where we were last year.”

The team’s propensity for nudging the median sales price in Chattanooga upward was also essential, Robinson adds.

“Our average price per transaction is usually about double the median in Chattanooga. And we were even a little higher than normal for us last year.”

Robinson attributes this bump to his team serving everyone from first-timers who can afford only a starter residence to seasoned buyers who can purchase a luxury home.

“We don’t care if a home is selling for $100,000 or $3 million. We’re good at selling premier properties but also excel at working with first-time buyers on entry level homes.”

If the Robinson Team does have a singular focus, it’s relationships, Robinson says.

“We concentrate on nurturing past relationships and developing new ones. Repeat business is the highest honor we receive and we earn it through each and every transaction.”

That said, Robinson does say he believes the wealth his team’s long-term clients have accumulated through real estate is helping to boost its numbers as these clients seek out additional investments or a new place to call home.

“The older I’ve become, the more my clients are buying more expensive properties. Maybe I’ve aged into success,” he laughs.

Although Robinson’s team sold more houses in 2021 than were on the market in Chattanooga March 14 – when Robinson spoke with the Herald by phone about its record-setting year – the work was not easy.

Rather, it was riddled with challenges, Robinson says.

Chief among these was the speed at which the market was moving. From buyers being forced to react quickly to an opportunity, despite having insufficient data, to sellers being pressured to respond immediately to offers, Robinson says the market was – and still is – moving too fast.

“The speed at which buyers are having to make decisions is not good. Some are buying homes sight unseen or are getting into bidding wars to win a piece of property, while others are buying directly from homeowners without doing their due diligence. You’d like to have more time so you can make a fully informed decision, but in this market, buyers are not afforded that opportunity.”

Seller aren’t either, Robinson continues.

“Buyers come along, make great offers and want a quick response. It would be better for a seller to have more time to reply.”

Robinson adds his team tries to mitigate the consequences of a rapid-fire market by compiling as much data as quickly as possible and enabling its buyers and sellers to make educated decisions.

“We’re problem solvers. Because of our experience, situations like this is where we do our best work.”

Robinson says he does foresee the market decelerating in the not-too-distant future. This is a good thing, he adds, because it will balance the market.

“We’re way out of balance. There are far too many buyers competing for too little product. And we don’t have enough inventory for the sellers who want to move. A balance of buyers and sellers would benefit everyone.”

Robinson says he expects ongoing price increases to put the brakes on the market and bring about great balance.

“Affordability issues are going to force out first-time buyers, which will slow down this market. It’s going to become so expensive to buy a house you like that a lot of first-time buyers aren’t going to be able to do it.”

Despite the dour nature of this prediction, Robinson says price increases in Chattanooga are not as sharp as they elsewhere in the Southeastern U.S.

“It seems like prices have gone up dramatically in Chattanooga, but when I talk with my colleagues around the Southeast and nationally, we’re blessed that it’s not as bad as it could be.

“I was just talking with a family from Huntsville and they shared some pretty staggering numbers about affordability there.”

That said, there is hope for first-time buyers in the current market and moving forward, Robinsons shares.

“This morning, there were 255 homes for sale in Hamilton County. Pre-COVID, there would have been 3,000 or more homes. It’s important to use a team that knows the market and prices properties appropriately.

“Our best advice is to take a deep breath and get a realistic valuation and home inspection before moving forward. A good valuation is a confidence builder and is something everyone should have as they consider a real estate transaction in this market.”

Robinson is already predicting another record-setting turn for this team. His group of agents closed $10,281,190 in transactions in February and is prepared to finish March “roaring like a lion.”

“Our success drives us to do more. But our desire to serve our clients well drives us to do better. It’s at the heart of everything we do.”