Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 8, 2016

Working hard, living well

REALTOR Mac Hibbett

Mac Hibbett is a Realtor with Crye-Leike in downtown Chattanooga. He’s the listing agent for Market Street Lofts, a condominium development in the Southern Railway Building. - Photo by David Laprad

If Mac Hibbett had listened to the dissenting voices when he said he was thinking about going into real estate, he might not be a Realtor today. But as an entrepreneur, he knows a thing or two about feasibility analysis, and he believed real estate was the right choice for him - even in 2010, when the downturn was in full swing.

“When you start a business, you study the numbers. What’s your cash flow going to look like? What are your chances for success? When will you get a return on your investment?” Hibbett says. “Everything I do is calculated. I don’t like going off opinions.”

A Nashville, Tenn., native, Hibbett had just graduated from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC) with a business degree. He began considering a career in real estate when a friend said Hibbett seemed tailor-made for industry.

“My parents owned a couple of rental properties. And whenever someone moved out, I’d grab a couple of my buddies, and we’d put on our masks and gloves and clean it out. We could turn a place around in 72 hours,” Hibbett says. “I also worked construction in the summer. So my friend thought real estate would be a good fit for me.”

Before committing to real estate, Hibbett did a feasibility analysis. He also talked with the only Realtor he knew at the time - Tommye Thompson, a Crye-Leike agent in Brentwood, Tenn. “I didn’t know what real estate was about,” he says. “There are a lot of different ways to make money in the business, and I wanted to make sure I was heading in the right direction.”

Thompson was encouraging, so Hibbett felt good about his prospects. Still, it was 2010. “People told me going into real estate was crazy,” he says.

Thompson introduced Hibbett to Rob Hatchett, who at that time was the vice president of franchise sales for Crye-Leike in Chattanooga. Hatchett was encouraging as well, so Hibbett took the plunge.

Hibbett almost immediately found his footing in the business when he teamed up with fellow Crye-Leike agent Jack Webb to sell foreclosures. “That helped me through the downturn, and it taught me the business,” he says.

The up-and-coming Hibbett also started a property management division at Crye-Leike. Once again, he did a feasibility analysis, and then he trusted the numbers over a swell of cautionary voices. “People said property management is a wild game, and they weren’t sure if I should go into it,” he says. “But I wanted to do it, so I got in touch with (Crye-Leike president) Harold Crye, and he told me to go for it.”

Hibbett started the division with zero properties, and is now managing over 80.

Hibbett is also busy listing and selling properties throughout the greater Chattanooga area. An enthusiastic proponent of downtown living (he resides in North Chattanooga), he’s especially excited about Market Street Lofts, a condominium development in Chattanooga’s Southside district. (To learn more about Market Street Lofts, see “ Condos at Market Street Lofts available for pre-sale” on page 11.)

“This area is going to be the new hub of the Southside, just like Frazier Avenue is the hub in North Chattanooga,” he says. “We’re excited about what’s happening here.”

Hibbett is also thrilled about a recent change in his personal life - his marriage in May to Betsy Goldin Hibbett, a former reporter with News Channel 9 in Chattanooga. Like Mac, Betsy is a Realtor at Crye-Leike’s downtown Chattanooga office.

The two are making the most of life in the Scenic City. Mac says they enjoy eating at local restaurants, and make a point of trying every new establishment. While they love Tex-Mex, Mac’s favorite restaurant is Root, a North Shore restaurant he says serves the best shrimp and grits in the southeast.

To burn off the calories they consume, the couple spends a lot of time outdoors. Mac is a big duck hunter and fisherman, although he and Betsy seem willing to tackle just about any outside activity, including hiking, camping, and climbing mountains. “I’ve fallen in love with the outdoor atmosphere in and around Chattanooga,” he says. “We can take the boat out and camp along the river, or we can be in Cherokee National Park in 45 minutes. It’s incredible.”

Mac and Betsy also do a fair amount of traveling. Recent destinations outside the country have included Belize and Nicaragua, while their adventures within the continental U.S. have consisted of skiing in Montana and exploring the Florida Keys.

It’s a good life, but it comes as a reward for their hard work. Today, Mac spends at least as much time on real estate as he did working 40 hours a week and taking a full load of classes while in college. But you won’t hear him complaining. He loves his job, and is glad he turned a deaf ear to the people who said becoming a Realtor was a bad idea. If Mac were to run a feasibility analysis on his career today, he might see those people will continue to be wrong for years to come.