Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 18, 2020

Elrod has little need for big billboard

Realty Center veteran’s success speaks for itself

Amy Elrod is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center in Ft. Oglethorpe. She says word-of-mouth brings most of her business her way. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

While traveling north on Battlefield Parkway the first week of September, drivers could have seen a simple advertisement for a Realtor on the billboard outside Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center, which is located in the attractive brick building across the street from Walmart.

“Client focused!” it declared with alacrity. “Buying or selling.” It then ended with “Amy E.” and a phone number.

The “E” stood for “Elrod.” Although there wasn’t enough room for the agent’s full name, more than a few of the people who saw the trimmed version likely knew the rest anyway.

Elrod has been listing and selling houses at Realty Center in Fort Oglethorpe since 2005. What’s more, she grew up a stone’s throw away in Ringgold, and for 15 years, she worked another stone’s throw away in Dalton.

This makes Northwest Georgia Elrod’s backyard. Not only does she know it like the back of her hands, many people know her, too.

This is why the billboard message – a free perk for Realty Center agents – was a rare advertisement for Elrod. Since a sizable chunk of her business consists of repeat clients and referrals, she doesn’t do much marketing.

“Real estate is a struggle at first,” Elrod says, remembering her early years in the business, more famine than feast. “But then you start getting more and more repeat business and referrals. Some folks move every few years, while others never move but do tell people about you.”

Elrod has just returned to Ft. O from Dalton, where she helped a buyer close on a condominium. Before that, she sold the man’s house in Chatsworth, Georgia. The two connected through his mother – a past client of Elrod’s.

“She was there today,” Elrod notes. “She’s become a second mom to me.”

Elrod’s denim jacket sports a pearl-white and gold angel pin the woman gave her, indicating the two have a relationship that extends beyond real estate. But before Elrod became the woman’s friend, she served as her Realtor – and she says she won a client for life and a source of additional business by doing what the billboard outside Realty Center said she does: Focusing on her real estate needs.

“Her transaction was crazy,” Elrod says, thinking back to when the federal government shut down in December 2018, bringing many home purchases to a grinding halt. “The person buying her house was using a government loan, so we had to wait. And then, sadly, her husband died.

“It took me three months to sell her house, but we became close, and now she calls me her angel.”

To remain client-focused in the current market, in which buyers are snapping up homes as fast as Realtors can plant signs in yards, Elrod says she strives to anticipate what her buyers or sellers will need and then stay several steps ahead of them. She offers financing as an example.

“The last property I listed went on the market on Friday, had seven showings on Saturday, and went under contract on Sunday,” she recalls. “That’s how fast things are moving. So, when someone calls and says, ‘I want to buy a house,’ my first question is, ‘Are you working with a lender?’

“You need to have your letter of approval ready when you make an offer on a house because there will be others, and a seller doesn’t want to hear you’re planning to get financing; they want to hear you’re ready to go.”

Elrod says she also endeavors to match her clients with a house that meets their needs, not a house she wants to sell.

“When clients walk into a house, they’ll know if it feels like home,” she explains. “You might show a couple 20 houses before they find one they want, or 20 buyers might walk through a house you’re selling before the 21st one walks in and says, ‘This one feels like home.’”

Elrod says staying focused on her client’s needs in the whirlwind of steps that follows involves a lot of hard work and is filled with potential road bumps, but the end result is worth every bucket of blood, sweat and tears.

“You have to work hard to make sure both the buyers and the sellers are happy,” Elrod notes. “They’re your repeats and referrals.”

Elrod’s reasons for becoming a Realtor will sound familiar to her colleagues who were drawn to the profession out of a love for houses.

While working in administration for a large carpet company, first in Ringgold and then in Dalton, Elrod spent her weekends looking at new construction – just for kicks.

“Whenever I went into a house, I thought it would be neat to sell it to someone,” she says, smiling.

Elrod wanted to earn her real estate license but spent 33 years earning a paycheck instead. Finally, as other staff absorbed her position and her employer began to phase out her job, she went to real estate school and then began listing and selling houses part-time.

Elrod spent five years switching from part-time agent to full-time Realtor, but in 2010, she finally left the carpet maker and completed the transition. “That weekly paycheck is your security, and it takes a long time to let loose of it,” she acknowledges.

Still, Elrod says, her years with the carpet company helped to prepare her for a career in real estate. From becoming a skilled multitasker to sharpening her communication skills, she says her previous job allowed her to become an agent who can focus on serving others.

“I like having more flexibility than I did at the office, but I try to never say no to a client,” she says.

Elrod has worked with Ben and Karen Kelly’s Realty Center from day one, when the company was affiliated with Prudential. She says she’s always liked the combination of aligning herself with a major real estate brand while also working with a local, family-owned business.

If there’s a common thread running through Elrod’s life, it’s that she’s a local. Born in Ringgold to parents from Chattanooga, she’s worked and lived in North Georgia her entire life.

Being licensed in Tennessee gives her an excuse to escape to Chattanooga, though, as she did earlier in the week. Although she was there on business, she claimed a few moments to enjoy a quiet corner of downtown.

“Chattanooga is an awesome place to hang out,” she says. “I sat at Rembrandt’s drinking coffee and looking at the mountains. It’s peaceful there.”

Elrod’s heart is in North Georgia, though, and her home is in Ringgold. While she’ll list and sell houses in Tennessee, she looks forward to coming home at the end of each day and spending time with her husband. On weekends, she adds their grandchildren to the mix.

“I have a good life,” she adds, smiling again.

The week after Elrod’s name was facing drivers traveling north on Battlefield Parkway, her full name appeared on the other side of the billboard above the line “Top listing agent.”

This was no free perk from her broker, though, as Elrod worked hard to list homes in August. Although the local housing inventory has been tight, the years she’s spent focusing on her clients are paying off.

“I don’t look at houses for fun anymore because I’m always working,” she says. “But making it to the closing table and making my clients happy makes it all worthwhile.”