When Juliet rhetorically asks Romeo, “What’s in a name?” in Shakespeare’s celebrated play, she’s suggesting a name in and of itself has no special meaning.
Realtor Ty Swafford, 39, says he knows better than the Bard. Imbued with his late father’s entrepreneurial spirit, he believes a good name can make a difference in the business world. So when he became an agent, he dropped “Swafford” and called himself “Ty the Real Estate Guy.”
“I wanted to make it easy for people to remember me,” Swafford laughs. “When you need to buy or sell a house, who are you going to call? Ty the Real Estate Guy.”
It’s not that Swafford isn’t proud of his last name. It was a good name in Bakewell, the Hamilton County hamlet in which he grew up. His mother was a diligent employee at La-Z-Boy in Dayton for more than 20 years, he recalls, while his father owned a reputable moving company.
The Swafford name was good enough to grant him a pass through his neighbors’ yards if he wanted to take a shortcut, and when he started going to school, it was shouted at football games and track meets at Soddy Daisy High School as crowds cheered him on.
But when Swafford started a business in the competitive arena of real estate, it had to go.
The Facebook page for his real estate business wears “Ty the Real Estate Guy” proudly. Below his business moniker, his first post declares, “The best way to appreciate having a Realtor is to go through a real estate transaction without one. Don’t learn the hard way. Just give me a call. I have your solution.”
Swafford notes that his statement contains a promise. He then adds the only way ensure his name will have value is to make good on that pledge.
The work ethic his parents passed on to him will help, Swafford says.
“My mom and dad both inspired me to be a hard worker. I started moving furniture with my dad when I was 12. I wanted to be physically strong, and that was my way of proving what I could do.”
Swafford laughs again as he says his mother taught him the importance of being on time.
“I was never late to anything as a child. My mom did what she had to do to make sure we were always on time.”
Swafford says his education will benefit him, too. In addition to graduating from Soddy Daisy, he attended Chattanooga State Community College, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech and earned a degree in political science.
Swafford had planned to attend law school but changed direction after graduating because he realized he wasn’t passionate about becoming a lawyer. Similar to when he was working for his dad, he merely wanted to prove he could do the heavy lifting.
Instead, years of working for his father had instilled a love for homes in Swafford, so he began a career in the electrical and construction industries in 2005. After 13 years as a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, he decided to become a Realtor.
“I’d always wanted to be in real estate but thought getting started would be complicated. One of my best friends was a Realtor, though, and when we’d talk about it, she’d say, ‘Why don’t you just do it?’ So I did.”
Swafford started his real estate career at RE/MAX Experience in Cleveland in 2018, but his other talents stole the spotlight.
“Everyone in the office knew I had a background in construction, so whenever they needed something done, they’d call me,” he explains. “And I thought, ‘I’m getting a lot of business doing this and I’m struggling to get listings, so I’ll just do this.’”
The thing that took Swafford out of real estate eventually opened the door to his return. He and his broker at RE/MAX Ambassadors, owner Heide Rau, take turns telling the story.
“I was thinking about getting back into real estate when I ran into a guy who knew Heidi,” Swafford begins. “He said she needed some work done and gave me her phone number.”
“The previous owner of this space had left some signage on the wall,” Rau says, taking over. “While Ty was doing the repairs, we started talking about real estate – and the rest is history.”
A very short history, to be exact. Swafford joined Rau’s brokerage in November and dove into the work, determined to promote not only his name but also the name of his brokerage by being a true “ambassador” for his clients and city.
Rau says Swafford is well on his way.
“Ty is very outdoorsy, so when people come in from out of town, he’s able to tell them all about what to do because he’s done it,” she says. “He’s also driven and self-motivated. There are things I sometimes have to remind my agents to do, but when I tell him to do them, he’s already done them.”
In return, Swafford praises Rau for taking an active role in shaping his up-and-coming business. Specifically, she’s guided him toward investors.
“Ty has a lot of experience in construction, so he knows how much different projects cost,” Rau says. “He can walk through a house with an investor and give them an idea of what they’ll need to spend on a rehab, so that’s a good client for him.”
As Swafford takes on the mantle of Realtor, a profession that comes with heavy responsibilities and expectations, he’s enjoying his leisure time more than ever. An avid cyclist, he likes riding his bicycles from his North Chattanooga residence to the downtown area, and as a father, he relishes the time he’s able to spend with his 17-year-old daughter, Makayla.
Makayla has Smith-Magenis syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects various parts of the body. Swafford smiles as he describes her personality.
“She doesn’t care what people think about her, she just lives her life,” he says. “She thinks she’s the center of the universe.”
Swafford also enjoys traveling, but his vacations rarely involve arriving at a destination and staying there. Rather, he likes to see and do as much as possible.
This was his approach during a recent trip to California. “I started in L.A., worked my way down to Newport Beach and then went up to Sacramento. I wanted to see the Golden State. It was amazing.”
Swafford says being “Ty the Real Estate Guy” has been an adventure, as well, and he intends to “go the distance” this time.
“I looked at everything I did the first time, pulled out the things that didn’t work, kept the things that did and plan to move forward with those,” he says.
That will entail turning down repairs and rehabs, Swafford adds. Rau says she’ll do her part to ensure he concentrates on his buyers and sellers.
“He did some work for me on one of my investment properties,” she confesses. “But I’m trying to not give Ty too many jobs because I want him stay in real estate. He’s going to be a great success.”