One of the most potent ingredients of success in real estate is presence. Many clients are drawn to a Realtor whose name, face and reputation they know.
Realtor Brian Erwin, 33, has presence. But he didn’t carve it out of a ubiquitous marketing campaign, nor has he made headlines by selling tens of millions of dollars worth of real estate.
Rather, Erwin has an almost constant presence through his professional association – Greater Chattanooga Realtors.
If Realtors are gathering together for any association event, chances are Erwin will be there, offering his assistance or socializing with his colleagues.
Erwin became involved with Greater Chattanooga Realtors as soon as he became licensed in 2015.
“At new agent orientation, I threw my hat into the ring and asked, ‘What can I do to help?’” he says.
A lifetime of watching people he respected model leadership nurtured his desire to serve, Erwin says.
His father, David Erwin, was licensed in the mid-1970s and then became active in the local Realtor association. In 1991, he served as its president.
The younger Erwin continued to see others display high levels of service as he worked for a succession of brokers. He says the enormity of the community involvement of Darlene Brown, the owner of his current brokerage, Real Estate Partners, played a part in drawing him to the company.
“I never felt obligated to serve,” Erwin notes. “But I’d seen leadership growing up and while working with my brokers, each of whom sowed the importance of local involvement in me.”
Erwin is presently serving his second term as a director of Greater Chattanooga Realtors. But like many of his fellow board members, he started by serving on committees.
His first volunteer endeavor was the association’s Community Partnership Committee, which at the time of his initial involvement was planning the inaugural Tee Up Wine Down fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Chattanooga Area.
Erwin went on to serve on the Governmental Affairs and the Education/Professional Development committees. He also represented the subscriber base on the MLS board and helped to raise funds for RPAC.
Erwin says the encouragement he received from others to volunteer for committee work helped him to develop his business in its early days.
“When I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing, my colleagues said serving would not only help me to get to know other Realtors but would also enable me to become a part of my community and sustain it. That was empowering.”
Erwin is actually a third generation Realtor. Before his father became licensed, his grandmother, May Erwin, became the first member of the family to enter the profession.
His mother, Elaine Erwin, was also licensed from 2000-2019.
Although Erwin’s parents were active in the business, they never insisted he follow in their footsteps. Instead, they merely suggested he consider real estate as an option.
“My dad encouraged me but never insisted I take the same path he did. It was more along the lines of, ‘Have you considered real estate?’”
That said, it does seem as though the die might have been cast while Erwin was a teenager. If he wasn’t on a ballfield, he was mowing one of his dad’s rental properties.
Erwin briefly considering sports marketing while in college and took a job with the Chattanooga Lookouts. The latter experience taught him he wasn’t interested in helping other businesses or entities to move their markets.
Lacking a firm direction, he helped to manage his father’s properties and even helped with renovations, whether it was putting up drywall or landscaping a property.
A burgeoning interest in investment properties opened the door to real estate in 2015.
“There was no lightbulb moment when I decided to become a Realtor,” Erwin explains. “I had no intention of doing sales but had become drawn to the management and investment side of the business and knew being licensed would help.”
That changed after Erwin completed his real estate education and met Jason Farmer, then the broker and owner of RE/MAX Renaissance.
“Jason was an amazing mentor,” Erwin gushes. “He taught me how to learn on the street and not the classroom. And he showed me how to be adaptable.
“He also told me people would look to me as a real estate professional, so I needed to have the information they might need on hand and present it confidently.”
Now in his seventh year as a Realtor, Erwin says his greatest challenge is finding homes for his buyers in a market stricken with a severely limited inventory.
“Tennessee is at least being presented as affordable, so people are moving here. But the challenge I’m facing when representing buyers is knowing what’s available. So, I stay in constant contact with people at my office and in the community and with past clients.”
To help his business remain solvent, Erwin runs a diversified operation that includes connecting prospective tenants with rental properties.
Fortunately, Erwin says, his productive days outnumber his lean days and the rewards for himself and his clients are worth the hard work.
“I love when a client trusts me to guide them through the process – whether it’s a buyer, seller or tenant,” he says. “It’s very rewarding.”
When Erwin isn’t drumming up business or volunteering his time with the association, he says he tries to live his life to the fullest. To him, a great night out or weekend would include hearing live music (he’s partial to “jam bands” like The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers) and either viewing or participating in sports.
In addition to being a devotee of the various Chattanooga Mocs sports teams, he also fills his spare time with travel, art and studying business trends.
While Erwin enjoys the balance this provides, his thoughts frequently return to his professional association and the value he says it provides both Realtors and the industry at large.
“Greater Chattanooga Realtors is on the cutting edge of industry advancement, especially for a mid-sized association,” he submits. “When we attend state and national meetings and hear larger boards discussing something they intend to do, it’s frequently something our association has already implemented. We have very strong leadership and staff support.”
For this reason and more, Erwin intends to continue to serve.
“If we don’t focus on our industry, then who will?”