Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 14, 2023

Dees finds new life in Chattanooga

Moved here with church, found a home in real estate

David Dees is the principle broker of Woody Creek Realty and the community sales manager for James Creek, a subdivision Turner Homes is building in Ooltewah. - Photograph provided

People relocate for a variety of reasons. From switching jobs to being close to family – or a beach – any number of things can motivate someone to pack up their life and move to a new city.

For David Dees, it was the opportunity to help establish a new church.

“I spent a lot of time apart from the (Christian) faith,” Dees, 37, begins. “When I started attending Two Rivers Church in Knoxville in 2010, my life changed. The church discipled and supported me, and I made a lot of friends, so when I heard they were planting a church in Ooltewah, I wanted to help people here to experience the same thing.”

Dees was able to move to Chattanooga without changing his job as he was helping his father manage a number of cash businesses along the I-75 corridor.

“It didn’t matter if I started my day in Knoxville or Chattanooga, I was going to be driving to Athens or Lenoir City or South Pittsburg,” he says. “I wasn’t married, either, so I had the flexibility to pick up and move.”

Dees arrived in the Chattanooga area along with about two dozen other Two Rivers parishioners and served the church in myriad capacities. Essentially, he says, whenever there was a hat to wear, he’d volunteer to put it on. Today, he’s an elder on the board of the congregation’s Ooltewah campus.

“All these years later, I feel like moving here was the right decision,” Dees says.

All these years later, there’s another reason Dees is pleased with his life in greater Chattanooga – his career as a Realtor.

Gone are the days when the interstate was Dees’ home away from home. Instead, he spends his days – and evenings and weekends – serving the needs of residential buyers and sellers. He made the switch after he and his father established a dental lab in Chattanooga but the business failed to gain traction.

“After I exited the dental lab business, I had a season of, ‘Now what?’” Dees recalls. “Some family members in Knoxville had had success in real estate, and I’d always been interested in home sales, so I earned my license and then joined Keller Williams in East Brainerd.”

Dees says the team leader at KW, Jay Craig, was influential in his decision to align with the brokerage fresh out of TREES (Tennessee Real Estate Education Systems) in Chattanooga.

“I felt welcomed and believed they were going to provide good support. And they did. I received a lot of great training and enjoyed the culture there.”

Dees says his first year in real estate was slow, but as he applied a lesson he learned while working with his father, he began to gain momentum.

“Dad taught me the importance of having a team of good people around you. In the real estate industry, you need to have a strong relationship with a lender who does excellent work and will be honest with your clients,” Dees says. “The same goes for home inspectors and title companies. Partnering with the right people can take you a long way.”

As an example, Dees offers the story of a buyer who wanted to move from Nashville to Chattanooga but could purchase a house in Chattanooga only if he was first able to sell his residence in Nashville. Unfortunately, the seller declined to participate in a contingency deal.

So, Dees turned to a lender with whom he’d formed a close working relationship.

“The lender was able to use the equity in my client’s house in Nashville to create a HELOC (home equity line of credit) to help with his down payment here. If you have a good team of people working together, you can find a way to make a difficult deal work.”

By year two, Dees’ business was “rockin’ and rollin,’” he says. Each sale taught him something new and enhanced his ability to dissect a pending deal, indentify problem areas in advance and prepare to deal with them.

Dees also discovered he liked his new career. “You have to work hard at real estate, but I enjoy the life it provides. It’s not your typical nine-to-five,” he says.

Dees switched from KW to Woody Creek Realty when his friend and fellow Two Rivers member Chris Jessen became the director of Chattanooga metro area for Turner Homes, a Knoxville-based residential developer that’s making inroads into the Scenic City.

As the principle broker for Woody Creek and the community sales manager for James Creek, Dees will be responsible for selling the homes Turner builds at James Creek and leading a team of agents as the company develops additional communities throughout greater Chattanooga.

Jessen says he hired the right person for the job.

“David’s reputation precedes him, not just because of how fruitful his real estate business was with Keller Williams but also because of who he is as a person. He has integrity, which is important because we’re not just selling houses, we’re also taking care of people. He cares more about doing the right thing than making a buck, which is who we are as a company, so it’s a good fit.”

All these years since Dees left Knoxville, there’s yet another reason why he’s glad he moved to Ooltewah – his family.

Dees is, as photos of him with his wife and four children visibly suggest, a proud husband and father. He met his wife, Katie, after moving to the Chattanooga area, and together they added two children to his brood.

Noting this sets up a joke about the age gaps between his older and younger children, who range from 2 to 16. “Yeah, no sweat starting that life all over again,” he laughs. “Who needs spare time?”

Miraculously, Dees does have spare time, some of which he commits to his community. During the school year, for example, he officiates local TSSAA high school basketball games – a service about which he’s passionate, he says.

“David is a shepherd,” Jessen adds about his friend. “If there’s a place where he can help, you’ll find him there. I swung for the fences when I said I wanted to hire him, and I’m thrilled to be building a community with him.”