Vitals: Coldwell Banker Wallace
Years in Business: 83
Size: 6 offices, 365 agents
Regions Served: East Tennessee, Knoxville and surrounding areas
2018 Sales Volume: $694,780,290
2018 Transactions: 3,284
Claudia Stallings entered the real estate field in 2004, though her firm, Coldwell Banker Wallace has been around locally since 1936. After finding success in careers such as advertising and marketing, Stallings got her real estate license 15 years ago and today serves as vice president of Residential Sales for the East Tennessee-based firm, which ranked No. 252 in sales volume in RISMedia’s 2019 Power Broker Report.
How is your firm unique?
Claudia Stallings: We remain a full-service brokerage for both clients and our agents. We believe that clients are best served when their agents are well-trained and have a complete marketing package provided to them. We believe agents are most productive when they have ample access to education, to tools that automate their processes and to staff who support their administrative, marketing and technology needs.
Please describe what you saw in the East Tennessee market last year.
CS: Our market spent most of the year with less than four months of supply. Buyers were often in a race to get in to see the homes and found themselves in multiple-offer situations. We saw a steady increase in price as the year went on, which is a typical supply/demand issue. I believe that there was—and continues to be—pent-up demand. Millennials are ready to buy, baby boomers are ready to downsize and both are after the homes that are in the middle of our price point.
What is your growth strategy for this year?
CS: In 2018, we opened a new café-style office in an area that’s seen steady population growth and a good level of appreciation, but was lacking a strong brokerage presence. We hope to grow that office in 2019 by increasing agent count and marketshare.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’re currently facing?
CS: There’s a lot of competition for agents among brokerages in our market, and there are more agents than there have ever been. It’s typical for people to decide that they want to “dabble” in real estate when in the midst of a seller’s market, so they get their license and try to do this job on a part-time basis with little training or experience. As a full-service brokerage, we want full-time agents who are not only dedicated to our initial training, but also care about the ongoing quality of their work, and value learning about the newest rules, marketing strategies and technology. We have minimum standards that we enforce, which sometimes creates a barrier to our hiring and retention process. Having agents who are among the most professional in the business makes our agents a recruiting target.
What are the biggest opportunities for increasing business right now?
CS: There’s room for new-construction growth right now from an inventory perspective. For us, there’s opportunity to grow our luxury marketshare due to the unique marketing package we provide to our sellers. There’s also opportunity to leverage technology to streamline and automate our processes, leaving agents more time to do what they do best, which is work with clients. The seller’s market will shift, and we may have started to see that happen a little bit already. When it does, sellers will demand more from their agents for a longer period of time. Those agents who are equipped for this level of service will grow their business.
How are you preparing your sales force to meet the expectations of today’s consumer?
CS: Today’s consumer comes to their agent armed with more knowledge than ever before. It’s our job to make sure our agents stay several steps ahead of the information available to the general public. We provide our sales force with timely market statistics and analyses on a regular basis to give them a stronger market understanding and negotiating position. We create training to address the items facing our agents at the moment, and we prepare them for what’s ahead by having workshops on the latest apps, tax laws, contract changes, etc. Many first-time homebuyers and millennials hire agents because they want the guidance of an experienced professional, so we make sure to provide them with agents armed with knowledge.
Keith Loria is a contributing editor to RISMedia.