Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, May 10, 2024

Father’s faith guides career decision

But Davenport needed to convince herself before leap

Keller Williams’ Realtor Shirley Davenport recently earned the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource certification through the National Association of Realtors. The course teaches Realtors how to assist buyers and sellers of distressed properties. - Photograph provided

Shirley Davenport was 28 when her father fell on hard times and began to tumble toward foreclosure in 1998.

A stubborn case of post-traumatic stress disorder held John Emmanuel Foy, Sr., a Vietnam veteran, in an unyielding grip. Unwilling to let the streets claim him, Davenport moved him into her home. He then sold his house and used the funds that remained after he’d paid off his mortgage to settle into a new dwelling.

Davenport’s late dad was more than an American hero, she says; he also was her personal champion. Although her eyes had radiated sadness as she spoke about the difficulties he experienced during the latter years of his life, they brighten as she remembers spending weekends and holidays with him in his Shepherd community home in Chattanooga when she was a child.

Foy’s house was always cluttered with parts for the vehicles he was restoring, Davenport recalls, and it contained a pool table where he taught her how to play 8-ball and 9-ball after she’d turned 5. Nurtured in the shadow of his broad wings, she grew up a tomboy – an identity she still claims today with a smile that looks as though it’s packed with memories.

Davenport’s father continued to pour good things into her life as she entered adulthood, she says. For example, when she was 22, he purchased the equipment she needed to open a starter salon in the back of her boyfriend’s clothing store. Davenport had tapped into a federal program that enabled her to earn a beauty treatment degree for free; after the Clinton administration had done its part, dad stepped in to do his.

“He had faith in me,” Davenport says. “He said, ‘You’ve been wanting to do this, and I know it’s going to be a success.’ He always pushed me to do more. He never wanted me to settle for less.”

Davenport was working as a claims processor for Cigna Healthcare last year when she realized she missed being her own boss. As she considered her options, she landed on real estate, which she believed would be an easy side hustle, she says.

She soon learned otherwise.

“Being a dual agent was tough,” Davenport says. “I didn’t have enough time at the end of the day to build my business. I hosted a few open houses for other agents on the weekends, but that was it. I wasn’t able to get out there and sell myself, so no one knew I was an agent.”

As Davenport struggled with the need to leave either Cigna or real estate, she remembered how her father believed in her and encouraged her to always be reaching higher, she says. Her memory of him nudged her toward being her own boss again, she adds, and she became a full-time Realtor with Keller Williams Greater Chattanooga Realty on Lee Highway in November.

Not content with merely acquiring her real estate license, Davenport is now furthering her expertise through education. She intends to explore topics that will qualify her to serve her clients in ways that are meaningful to both her and them, she says.

Choosing a certification to earn first was easy after Davenport learned about the Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) certification, she adds. Available through the National Association of Realtors, the course teaches Realtors how to assist buyers and sellers of distressed properties.

“It felt personal because my father had faced foreclosure,” Davenport explains. “I’d hate to see anyone lose their home.”

With the SFR certification now in hand, Davenport says she has a foundation for guiding distressed sellers to finance, tax and legal professionals who can help them, for qualifying sellers for short sales, for developing a short-sale package and for negotiating with lenders.

The next step for Davenport involves locating people who need her help. She says she’s leaving no stone unturned in this endeavor.

“I’ve been calling people and leaving handwritten notes at their homes to let them know they can reach out to me,” she says. “They might be experiencing a hardship, and if we can prove that to their lenders, then we can possibly stop the foreclosure and figure out what they can do to save their home.”

Although remedies exist, some distressed properties can’t be saved, Davenport points out. Such was the case with her father, who had to sell his home. However, even this less-than-ideal outcome can have its benefits.

“If you can’t save your house, there’s no shame in putting it on the market,” Davenport continues. “You might be able to pay off your loan and even have enough left over to get you into another home or an apartment. Just don’t give up and let your lenders take your home back.”

Whatever the outcome, Davenport says she’ll never judge a client for the circumstances in which they find themselves.

“All I want to do is help. My heart goes out to people who could lose their most valuable possession.”

As Davenport shakes the proverbial apple tree for short sales, she’s also focusing on building a real estate business with no boundaries. From fatigued properties that would appeal to investors searching for their next flip to Chattanooga’s finest luxury homes, and from economically distressed neighborhoods to the city’s most affluent communities, her goal is to serve any buyer who wants a home and any owner who has one to sell, she says.

“I’m not looking for a particular client. I’m willing to help anyone, regardless of their budget or the price of their home. I just want to make people smile.”

Davenport is acquainted with the facial expression she hopes to inspire in others. As a mother with three adult sons and three grandchildren, she has much to smile about, she says. She also enjoys many different activities during her down time, whether she’s traveling, dining out or reading a book.

Memories of her father also make Davenport smile, she says, and are never far from her thoughts. She might be preparing to call the owner of a distressed property, or tending to her salon (Pinkie’s Hair & Nails, which has become a community icon on Brainerd Road), or gearing up participate in Keller Williams’ annual day of service, Red Day, and she’ll hear her father encouraging her to always be reaching higher.

“My dad inspired me in more ways than I can count,” she says. “I hope to do the same for others.”