Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 26, 2022

Odum finds success with Spain team

Tauris Odum is a Realtor with Mark Spain Real Estate in Chattanooga. He says he first saw Spain’s billboards in Atlanta and joined the firm when it opened its Chattanooga office in May to secure listings. - Photograph provided

Realtor Tauris Odum was visiting his brother in Atlanta in 2019 when he noticed he was repeatedly seeing one particular face beside the interstate as he drove through the city – that of Realtor Mark Spain.

Odum, 51, remembers Spain smiling down on traffic from billboards that appeared and disappeared like a looping GIF.

“He was at every exit,” Odum recalls. “I said, ‘I need to find out who he is.’”

Odum soon learned the man with the omnipresent face was the leader of the top real estate team in the U.S.

In 2019, Odum was a buyer’s agent on Realtor Mark Hite’s team at Keller Williams in Chattanooga. He went solo in 2020 and was soon reeling from the lack of inventory, intense bidding wars and choked supply chain that rocked the housing market during the pandemic.

So, when Odum saw Spain’s face pop up in Chattanooga, he threw in his lot with the newcomer in the hopes of snagging some listings.

“Market conditions convinced me to align with a broker again. I had a lot of people in my sphere but no homes to sell.”

Spain opened his Chattanooga office in May, and by June, Odum was sitting like a fat cat on a stack of 17 local listings – the second highest in Spain’s company, which is made up of 18 offices in seven states.

From those listings, Odum tallied $6.5 million in sales in June.

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Odum stepped out on his own in 2020 because he believed his sphere was large enough to support the amount of sales he wanted to do. And – at least until the pandemic hit full stride – business was brisk.

But when the earth beneath Odum’s feet wouldn’t stop shaking, he changed direction in search of firmer ground.

“In a thriving real estate market, I could work on my own and build a team, but we have no control over the economy, and if you want to sell homes for a living, you have to ride the waves,” he says.

This calculated approach to business led Odum to real estate in 2004 and has guided him since then.

“I do a lot of research before I make a move,” Odum notes. “I also run things by my wife because she might see things I don’t. I might be seeing what I want to see.”

Odum’s ticket to the real estate profession was not a license to represent buyers and sellers in property sales but a job as a mortgage broker.

He became interested in lending after speaking with a mortgage broker while searching for a home. Although he had no practical knowledge about financing, his conversations with the lender sparked his interest.

“He spoke a language I’d never heard, and I wanted to learn more,” Odum remembers.

While researching the mortgage industry, Odum discovered an online forum in which bankers answered questions about credit scores and financing from aspiring homebuyers. As he dove deeper, he often spent entire evenings after work and the night hours that followed reading queries and replies.

By the time Odum sat down with a dozen hopefuls to receive training from a Chattanooga lender, he was more or less self-taught.

“When the instructor asked, ‘Who knows what YSP is?’ I raised my hand and said, ‘Yield Spread Premium.’ Everyone looked at me and the instructor said, ‘You know just enough to be dangerous.’ I didn’t realize how much I’d learned.”

After Odum began to work as a mortgage banker, he learned the one lesson his self-guided research and professional training had not taught him: being a mortgage banker can be as much as a matter of the heart as the head.

“I loved helping people get into a home,” he smiles.

Odum was managing a lending office in Chattanooga when the collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 triggered the subprime mortgage crisis. He clung to his job until 2009, when financial stressors at home forced him to locate a regular paycheck.

After working in sales for Comcast and T-Mobile for several years, Odum returned to real estate in 2018 as a licensed Realtor.

“Leaving the mortgage industry was tough, so I decided to go in a different direction,” he explains.

Odum joined Hite’s team as a member of the Realtor’s inside sales team; Hite later promoted him to buyer’s agent. Once again, Odum learned he has a passion for helping people purchase a home.

“Homeownership is a big thing, and if you’re a prayerful person, you might pray about it,” he submits. “As an agent, I might be in the middle of helping someone with this transition when a little of the Divine will step in. I sometimes think certain homes are meant for certain people.”

Odum shares the story of a client who moved to Chattanooga for work and purchased the house he believes “the Divine” set aside for her.

“We submitted an offer on a house that went under contract with another buyer. The moment I submitted an offer on a different house, I received an email announcing my client had risen to the top position for the first house, which was the one she actually wanted.

“The address of the home was 1022, my client’s birthday was Oct. 22 and she started her new job on Oct. 22. Buying a home involves a lot of moving parts, which can be challenging, so when things get tough, I tell my clients to say a prayer.”

Odum says he loves his work because he loves the city in which he’s spent his life. He was born at Erlanger Hospital and then taken a mere 1.2 miles away to his family’s home on Maude Street. When he was 3, his parents moved another mile away to Citico Avenue in the Churchville neighborhood.

After graduating from a public school, Odum left home to study computer science at Tennessee State University in Nashville. When he returned to Chattanooga the following summer, he worked at the now-closed Phillips-Van Heusen clothing distribution center to earn money for a car.

Odum liked the pay, though, so he stayed in Chattanooga. Twelve years later, he remembered he had other aspirations and became a mortgage broker.

Odum once again lives 1.2 miles away from Erlanger, although it’s Erlanger East Hospital instead of the downtown facility. But he still revisits the Churchville community to maintain his ties to the people there and co-host the annual Citico Reunion, which he helped to launch.

“Before I was born, Citico was a thriving community. We hope to inspire the young people who live there now to seek success.”

Odum also spends his free time with his family, which currently involves shuttling his and his wife’s 14-year-old twin daughters to volleyball practice at East Brainerd High School and their games.

This comes in the heels of moving his and his wife’s college-age daughter to the University of Kentucky for her freshman year.

“I’m proud of her but still crying a little about that,” he admits. “I guess we’ll be taking in some Wildcats games.”

While Odum says he might – and he emphasizes the word “might” – root for the Wildcats basketball team, his love for and loyalty to the Tennessee Vols football team won’t permit him to cheer on blue this fall.

“My wife and I were parked by the stadium in Lexington, and I said, ‘There’s no way we’re rooting against the Vols,’” he laughs.

Odum also has a fourth daughter from before his marriage to his wife.

The 51-year-old Realtor says helping to provide for his family has always motivated him to research new prospects and to take advantage of the opportunities that followed. For that reason, he’s thankful he saw Spain’s omnipresent face smiling down on him from billboards in Atlanta.

“I have 12 listings on the market now, six of which are pending,” he says. “I’m very happy with the move.”