Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, September 29, 2017

Preparation the key to Patty’s success

Carmen Patty is the lead buyer’s agent for Chattanooga Property Shop, which was founded by her mother, Diane Patty, and Lisa Brown. - Photograph by David Laprad

Carmen Patty was 23 and ready to conquer the world of real estate. Her first stop: a tumbledown property with two houses. The price: $30,000.

An out-of-town buyer had found the listing and stayed with the deal until closing day. Then she bailed.

“It was a mess. The seller had done all the repairs but the buyer decided she didn’t want the houses anymore,” Patty recalls. “So, she skipped town.”

There are worse situations than your client being in breach of contract on your first deal as a real estate agent – but not many. Luckily, Patty’s broker at Keller Williams, Steve Champion, had her back. But it was still a distressing first experience for the hungry young agent.

It was not, however, a defining experience. Today, Patty is 27, and she’s well on her way to conquering the world of real estate. As the lead buyer’s specialist for Chattanooga Property Shop, a real estate team operating under the umbrella of Keller Williams Greater Downtown Realty, Patty is doing gangbusters business.

What’s more, the owners of Property Shop, which include Patty’s mother, Diane, have put her in charge of training their new buyer’s specialists. Diane and her business partner, Lisa Brown, are also grooming Patty to someday take the reins of the business.

It’s all in a day’s labor for Patty, whose work ethic seems to have been chiseled from stone.

“I want a lot out of real estate,” she points out, “so, I put a lot into it.”

As a self-professed perfectionist, Patty doesn’t cut corners. Before she steps into a house with a client, she researches the market, prepares the comps and arms herself with a list of everything that’s wrong with the property. “It’s important to be ready to address someone’s objections,” she adds.

Patty, who has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology, then counsels her client in the way she believes best suits their personality.

“When a client is fighting the process every step of the way, I’m all about the numbers. Everything is calculated to a T because that’s what that person needs,” she says. “But if someone is more laid back, I focus on their emotions. How does the house feel? Are you comfortable with it?”

Patty says the hardest part of being a buyer’s specialist in the current market – which still favors sellers – is setting expectations.

“We’re not in a market in which buyers can get the concessions they once did, and if they need them, then they’re going to be paying close to full price,” she says. “But if they don’t listen to me, they could lose the first house they want.”

Even with its difficulties, Patty is sold on being a Realtor. “I enjoy it but it’s harder than people think,” she explains. “It involves more than showing people pretty houses.”

That said, the challenge of guiding a buyer on the purchase of a home pales in comparison to teaching someone else to do the same, Patty explains.

When Patty joined Property Shop, she received a baptism by fire in lieu of training. But through experience and taking advantage of the education Keller Williams provides, she’s reached the point where she has expertise to pass on.

Patty is currently training four buyer’s specialists at Property Shop. She calls it “an intensive experience.”

“When they joined Chattanooga Property Shop, they were glued to my side,” she says. “They shadowed me when I showed a property, they learned how to run market stats and comps and they did their first five contracts with me.”

Property Shop employs the boot camp approach to training agents to make sure everyone is operating at the same level of service. “I want our buyer’s specialists to be at my level in terms of customer service and business savvy,” Patty says. “Getting someone there isn’t easy.”

Despite the added responsibility of training new agents while she’s still working with buyers, Patty says few things in real estate are as satisfying to her as seeing someone she’s trained take flight.

“I love when my baby birds get the first gust of wind under their wings,” she adds. “It’s fun to see them doing things on their own.”

Reared in Ringgold, Georgia, Patty learned to fly at an early age. Her parents emphasized education and travel and made sure she learned that her gender did not limit her potential.

One formative experience took Patty to Ecuador alone at the age of 15, where she backpacked the Andes Mountains with a group of strangers. “That taught me that I could do anything – that it didn’t matter how young I was or that I was a girl.’’

An education at Girls Preparatory School (GPS) reinforced this lesson.

After graduating in 2008, Patty attended classes at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She loved the city at first and intended to either stay there or at least never return to Chattanooga. But every time she spent a break in classes at home, she learned about a new restaurant or some other local attraction that had opened.

Meanwhile, Patty was becoming less and less enamored with Texas, which she calls “flat as a pancake,” and Dallas, which she says is “massive and man-made.”

“Dallas slowly become less cool and Chattanooga became cooler,” she acknowledges.

Although an interest in learning about human behavior led Patty to study psychology, she decided against pursuing a higher degree. Instead, she returned to the Chattanooga area and began working in property management at One North Shore Condominiums.

Something about the work clicked with Patty. When Lisa Brown, her mother’s business partner at Property Shop, suggested she might fare even better in real estate, she took the leap and has never looked back.

Few obstacles seem to be in Patty’s way. Even working with her mother has been problem-free.

“She pushes me harder than she pushes anyone else. But working together has strengthened our relationship,” she says. “I have more respect for her now because I’ve seen her in a professional environment and she’s incredible.”

Patty’s newfound love for Chattanooga has turned her into a true hometown girl. She is active civically, has a lifestyle that draws on the advantages of living and working downtown and has become a passionate advocate for the city she sells.

During her off hours – which are rare – Patty raises money for GPS through the school’s Young Alumnae Council, serves on the fund-raising committee at the Jordon Thomas Foundation and is an active member of the Junior League.

Patty lives on the North Shore, where the townhome she’s renting serves as the base of operations from which she walks “everywhere.”

“Chattanooga is a Goldilocks town – it’s not too big; it’s not too small; it’s just right,” she says. “I’ll throw on my tennis shoes and a dress and walk to wherever I need to go. If I’m short on time, I’ll hop on an electric shuttle.”

Patty’s companion on some of these walks, and in life, is Myko, a Teacup Maltese she named after a visit to Mykonos, Greece. “We’re best friends,” she says. “Until there’s a man, I have Myko.”

Patty says she works too much to be in a relationship, but when that times comes, he must be an avid traveler.

Spurred by the love for traveling her parents nurtured in her, Patty has visited five continents. Once she begins dropping the names of the places she’s been, it would take a push broom to sweep them all up: Istanbul, Turkey; Paris, London; the Galápagos Islands and more make up her travelogue.

Patty says a month in China was her toughest trip because of the foreign nature of the culture.

A recent solo jaunt to Vancouver ranks as one of her favorites. “You can walk from one end of the city to the other in an hour and a-half,” she points out. “So, I explored it on foot. It was perfect.”

Patty says one of the perks of being a Realtor is having the flexibility to travel, which she says provides the life balance she needs in order to be able to focus on her work.

But as much as Patty relishes every new adventure, she’s always eager to come home. For all the wonders of the world she has yet to experience, Chattanooga is where the family she loves, the work she enjoys and the quality life she wants can be found.

It’s been a good day for Patty. Instead of dealing with the fallout of a missing client, she spent her lunch hour with two of her favorite buyers – a pair of sweet elderly ladies who like to cook for her.

As they shared a homemade meal and swapped stories, Patty reflected on the many relationships she’s developed through her work and how they have benefitted her professionally and personally.

“From a professional standpoint, there’s nothing better than turning your clients into personal advocates,” she says. “But I also maintain those relationships because I like the people I meet. They’re unmatched anywhere in the world.”