Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 26, 2021

Rookie Realtor finds 5 keys to success

From ‘showing up’ to ‘giving back,’ Walker learns simple winning formula

Jeff Walker is a Realtor with RE/MAX Properties on Encompass Drive. By applying five principles to his real estate business, he says he’s been able to progress from hesitant rookie to successful buyer’s agent in less than a year. - Photograph provided

Josh Walker might have less than a year under his belt as a Realtor, but that’s not stopping him from offering what he says is good advice for other new agents.

Walker, 42, became a Realtor in 2019 after recovering from an illness that sidelined him for several months and forced him to leave the restaurant industry – his bread and butter throughout adult life.

“I looked for something different and found real estate,” he recalls. “I knew several people who had switched from other careers to selling houses and were doing well, so it seemed like the natural thing to do.”

However, instead of assisting buyers or listing homes, Walker became an inside sales agent and spent his days on a phone, trying to warm up cold leads.

It was not his cup of tea. “I didn’t get into real estate to become a telemarketer,” he quips. “I wanted to work with people.”

A friend who was working with RE/MAX Properties said good things about the company, so Walker hung his license at its Encompass Drive location early last year, waited out the first few months of the pandemic and then rolled up his sleeves to start working.

But there was a problem: Walker had no idea how to get rolling.

Nearly a year later, his plate is piled high with work and “the money is great.” So, how did Walker go from naive rookie to industrious agent?

He says these are the five reasons:

Show up at work

When RE/MAX Properties re-opened in May after temporarily closing due to COVID-19, Walker didn’t have a plan. While the pandemic has made it easy and tempting to work from home, he started showing up at the office instead, finding things to do and attending meetings.

“I wanted to be present and available,” he explains.

Top-selling RE/MAX agent Geoff Ramsey was at one of the meetings and took note of Walker’s attendance. About a week later, Ramsey asked Walker to show a house for him. Walker was more than ready to get his feet wet.

After the buyers purchased the house, Ramsey began sending Walker the occasional task. Walker and his benefactor clicked and slowly ramped up their collaboration, and now he’s working full time as Ramsey’s buyer’s agent.

“Starting out in real estate is like jumping off a cliff without knowing what’s below you; you don’t know where to start, and you don’t know if you’re going to get leads,” Walker explains.

“If you don’t develop relationships within your brokerage, it’s going to be even harder. A couple friends might have used me to buy a house, or I might have put a little money into lead sourcing, but meeting Geoff was integral to me being able to grow my business.”

Develop relationships outside the office

Walker says each buyer he’s represented for Ramsey has been an opportunity for him to develop a new relationship. This, too, has been crucial to him building his business, he says.

“It’s awesome to meet a stranger and then, before long, they’re trusting you to help them with a really big purchase,” Walker marvels. “It takes time to develop a rapport and earn their trust, but once you do, you actually form a friendship with them, and after the deal is done, they’ll continue to ask you questions.

“Embracing that is part of why I’ve been successful. It’s a bigger priority for me than getting a check.”

Learn how to sell Chattanooga

A Cleveland native, Walker has spent his life in or near Chattanooga. With nearly 80% of his business coming from people who are relocating to the Scenic City, he says he’s able to use his knowledge of the area to promote its benefits to potential transplants.

“We have a low cost of living. We also have the fastest internet in the country, so people who are working from home are relocating here for that. And we have a great network of local lenders who are also good at developing personal relationships,” Walker says, sounding like he’s practicing his pitch.

“Plus, people in Chattanooga are really friendly, so it’s a phenomenal city to show people.”

In the end, Walker says the abundant resources available to homebuyers makes Chattanooga a “fantastic market” for new agents.

Give back to your community

Realtors are no strangers to community service. Not only do many agents want to help others, they also know healthy people and neighborhoods contribute to a healthy housing market.

Walker says he and a friend began volunteering together to advance their careers and become more involved in East Ridge, where they live. Their organizations of choice were the East Ridge Optimists Club and the East Ridge Community Food Pantry.

Through the Optimist Club, which currently meets virtually twice a month, Walker helps to raise money to fund an annual college scholarship for an East Ridge High School student.

Walker also volunteers twice a month at the food pantry, where he assembles food boxes and then hands them out.

He jokes that the older volunteers at the food pantry like having him around to do the heavy lifting, but ultimately, he says the work is good for his emotions as well as his body.

“Having the freedom to make my own schedule and not have to clock in and be stuck somewhere for 10 hours a day is really gratifying, and I want to make good use of that time by giving back to my community.”

Give back to yourself

Realtors are known for burning both ends of the proverbial candle, and then finding new ends to burn when those are gone.

Many agents have told the Hamilton County Herald they are up by 5 a.m., answering texts and emails, and rarely stop working before late in the evening.

With home sales involving countless moving parts, and with the housing market in Chattanooga currently at a fever pitch, agents either stay busy or fall behind.

But working around the clock seven days a week can take its toll, Walker says, so he regularly carves out time to do something he enjoys.

Walker’s hobby of choice is spending time on water. To get there, he’s taken on a second hobby: Maintaining a 1979 Chris-Craft cabin cruiser christened “The Knot Working.”

“It’s broken down more than it’s running,” Walker laughs. “When I went to see it, my friend and I laughed at the name, but then it broke down on us when we got out on the lake.

“I bought it anyway, just to have an old motor to tinker with. I’ll get it running, and then it works for about a week before something else breaks.”

Walker likes to fish when he’s able to get on the water, and when he’s on dry land, he schedules family time with his adult daughter and granddaughter, who currently live with him.

By basing his business on these five principles, Walker says he’s doing well and doubts he’ll ever return to the restaurant business.

“I like real estate too much,” he says. “I have no problem with never bartending again, but I can’t imagine not selling houses.”