Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 10, 2020

Cordell finds niche in busy market

Transaction coordinator allows Realtors to focus on bigger issues

Since launching Contract 2 Close in 2013, Lacey Cordell has served as the transaction coordinator on over 3,000 transactions. - Photograph provided

Realtors can rely on a variety of criteria when choosing a transaction coordinator. They can read testimonials, talk with other agents or take a coordinator for a test drive on a small transaction.

Or, in the case of Lacey Cordell, they could peek in her closets.

“I like to organize,” Cordell says. “When a closet is unorganized, I enjoy cleaning it up. That’s just the kind of person I am.”

Cordell says it might be weird, but she also likes paperwork.

“Administration is my passion. I like the sense of accomplishment I feel after completing a task. Most Realtors would rather go out and talk with people. I can flip that switch, too, but I also like to sit behind a computer and get things done.”

Cordell serves a profession that places great demands on its labor force. Long days are the norm for Realtors, and days off and vacations are luxuries many agents forgo, she says.

In addition, agents who are trying to grow their business face the challenge of balancing the busywork with the need to be drumming up new clients, Cordell adds.

Transaction coordinators like Cordell remove a large part of the load from an agent’s back and carry it themselves.

“When a contract is binding or accepted, the agent sends it to me. I process it, make sure the file is completed and then start on the task list,” she says.

Cordell’s to-do list is exhaustive. It begins with reaching out to all the parties involved and introducing herself as the transaction coordinator. She then makes sure all the deadlines are met, including those associated with the loan, earnest money, inspection and appraisal.

Cordell also orders the home warranty, sets up the closing and coordinates the final walkthrough.

When all of that is said and done, she submits the closing documents after the property closes.

“Of course, there are a lot of other tasks between all of that,” she says, referring to errands related to utilities, the termite letter and more.

In other words, Cordell handles everything from contract to close, just like the name of her business, Contract 2 Close (contract2closenow.com), promises.

“It helps the agent leverage their business. They can do what they love to do, which is meet new people and pick up new clients, without stressing about all the things that are waiting for them back at the office,” Cordell says.

Keller Williams Realtor Gail Newman, who used Cordell’s services while being treated for cancer, agrees.

“Lacey has been a lifesaver. I’m a bit of a control freak and have a hard time letting someone help me because I’m either worried they won’t do it or won’t do it correctly,” Newman explains. “Lacey did a great job with the deadlines and reminding buyers, sellers and the other agents about important information.”

In addition to her Keller Williams clients, Cordell is serving agents with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Uptown Firm, NuVision, Southern Built Realty, Music City Experts and Benchmark Realty, which ignites a burning question:

How does she handle all of these tasks for all of those agents?

“Systems,” she says. “They allow me to keep up with everything and get things to the closing table.”

Although Cordell is reluctant to give away the recipe for her secret sauce, she does say she spends her evenings putting things in place for the next day.

“I’ll schedule emails to go out the next morning,” she reveals. “Title companies always say they know I’m awake and working because my system sent them 10 emails at 8 o’clock in the morning.”

Even though Cordell schedules those communications to go out the previous day, the title companies are correct: she’s already at her laptop, elbow deep in tasks. “I pretty much work all day, every day,” she says with a laugh.

Cordell does not limit her services to lone agents. In addition to being willing to tackle the contract-to-close process for any solo agent in the Greater Chattanooga area, she’s open to working for teams.

One super producer who uses Contract 2 Close is Keller Williams Realtor Mark Hite, whose team tallied 400 transactions in 2019. Even with administrators handling specific tasks, Hite hires Cordell to handle the buy and sell side of his team’s transactions.

“Gary Keller teaches us in the book, ‘The ONE Thing,’ that if you can narrow your life down to where you do one thing all day long, you will become an expert,” Hite says. “So, that’s how I’ve structured my team; each person has specific responsibilities they do all day, every day, and they’re the best at it.”

Cordell does more than lighten Hite’s load, she also saves him money, he says. Instead of adding another employee to his staff, Hite uses her as needed. Since Cordell charges by the transaction – not the hour or task – his costs are predictable.

When Hite speaks with agents who are building a team, he recommends using a transaction coordinator like Cordell.

“Using Lacey is an ideal scenario because you’re not paying for 20 hours a week if there are no closings; you’re only paying as you have closings, which allows you to budget properly,” he says. “You’ll also have someone managing your paperwork, so you’re going to be better at what you’re doing than someone who’s trying to manage everything themselves.”

Hite has known Cordell, a Chattanooga native, for 17 years. When they met, she was doing administrative work for her mother, Diana Runyan, a top agent at the time. “I saw the quality of the work she was doing,” Hite recalls.

Cordell became a licensed agent in 2004 and joined her mother’s team. She says the experience she gained as a Realtor helps her serve her contract-to-close clients.

“There are a lot of transaction coordinators in Chattanooga, and while they do a good job, they don’t have experience listing and selling properties like I do,” she says.

Cordell returned to administrative work in 2010 when she moved to Atlanta and became the executive assistant for an agent there. When she moved back to Chattanooga two years later, she saw a niche in the market.

“I realized no one was handling transactions for multiple agents,” she remembers. “I thought, ‘If I can do it for one agent, why can’t I do it for several?’”

Since launching Contract 2 Close in 2013, Cordell has handled over 3,000 transactions, including 636 in 2019. While Newman applauds the caliber of Cordell’s work, she says her professionalism is her greatest asset.

“When I was going through chemo, she made sure I always looked professional in the eyes of my clients. She kept us on task by scheduling inspections, sending reminders of due dates, keeping up with lenders and more,” Newman says. “My business would have suffered without her assistance.”

Hite says he appreciates Cordell’s professionalism, as well, and adds her persistence to her list of assets.

“I don’t have to worry about anything. It’s her job to make sure all of my agents are compliant, and she’s not afraid to say, ‘You’re not getting paid tomorrow if this paperwork isn’t completed.’”

To Cordell, it’s all in a day’s work. “My purpose is to assist agents and help them grow their business,” she says. “I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.”

Cordell is outside working on her laptop while her husband – a stay-at-home dad – tends to their two children inside their home. As someone who spends her days and evenings assisting others, she appreciates her husband taking care of their children as she works. “I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for him,” she says.

There’s just one task he won’t take off her hands: cleaning the closets.

“I try to keep them organized, but it’s not easy with a 3- and a 5-year-old in the house.”