John & Gay Chambers join our “Wifi Studio” to talk about the real estate world & how they are successfully navigating through the pandemic.
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Read the Full Interview Below
Sarah: Good morning everybody. It is Friday, 8:00 AM. We’re happy to have you here. Ready for Biz Talk.
Glyna: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anybody get up so fast.
Sarah: I can already tell this is going to be a fun one.
John Chambers: I’m sorry. this is a test
Gay Chambers: We are on the farm.
Glyna: That is great. It doesn’t matter. I said I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anybody get up so fast. Talk about exercise. Well, welcome to Biz Talk, everybody. We’re so glad to have all of you here this morning. I’m Glyna Humm, the owner of Fusion One Marketing, and the reason for Biz Talk is that we’re all stuck at home but we want to talk to those people who are still out working, still charging through and being successful with their business and can tell us all about how they’re coping through all this ridiculous craziness. I’m going to go ahead and take it around the corner and let Sarah introduce herself.
Sarah: Hi, good morning everybody. I’m Sarah, the Director of Digital Marketing.
Kelsi: I’m Kelsi, a social media manager with Fusion One Marketing.
Glyna: Sorry about that, Kelsi. We have some awesome guests this morning. Gosh, they’re friends of all of us so we all know them and have known them for years so it’s a great, great day to have these wonderful people on. I’m going to introduce to you, John and Gay Chambers. They’re over there. They are with Chambers Realty Partners that is also with Keller Williams in the Hoover office. Good morning.
John Chambers: Good morning.
Gay Chambers: Good morning.
Glyna: Glad to see you guys this morning. Are you ready for this?
John Chambers: We are thrilled, Glyna. We are thrilled to be asked to be on and we are going to do everything possible to make you look good, okay?
Glyna: Hopefully our payment will be there today. Well, let’s get started. Won’t you guys tell us a little bit about your history? Obviously it’s a long history since you’re a husband and wife team. A little bit about your family and your background.
John Chambers: Well hey, thank you Glyna. Gay and I both grew up in the Atlanta area. I went to the University of Georgia. My uncle was actually the Mayor of Athens, so when your uncle is the Mayor of Athens, Georgia you certainly don’t think about going west to school. I came from the Atlanta area. We lived in the Cumming, Georgia area, just north of Atlanta, up around Lake Lanier. My parents have a lake house up there and so that’s kind of what drew us up there. We were there for about 20 years and in 2000 … We had three children. It’s been awesome.
John Chambers: In 2006 we had the itch to do something different so we had bought a condo down at the beach and so we moved to Panama City and we started a real estate business down there. Gay was a consultant for a company here in Birmingham but it didn’t matter where we lived, so we spent five years in Panama City and then when that economic crisis of that period kind of changed things, Gay’s company needed her here in Birmingham and then our daughter had an opportunity to get into a very good school up here so we made the decision to come up here, so that’s what brought us to Birmingham, actually in 2009. We’ve been here 11 years actually.
Sarah: Awesome. I remember when y’all moved up here. It was a happy day for Cody and Megan.
Gay Chambers: Yes. It was funny because they got the call to move to Birmingham about the same time we did and so we were helping them house hunt and then turned around and did the same thing for us, so it’s been great. We haven’t looked back.
Gay Chambers: We’ve got three kids, five grand-kids now. Three of them are here and the other two are in Georgia so everybody’s close by. It’s just been great. My background was corporate, as John said, and we had about a five-year plan for me to transition into real estate and that’s just been wonderful. My job required me to travel quite a bit and so this has just been a blessing to be able to work where we live and so it’s been a great move for me. Excited to be a part of John’s team.
Glyna: Well you obviously make a fantastic team.
Gay Chambers: Yeah.
John Chambers: Yeah we do.
Sarah: I know that you … Well, I guess has it been a year? Or maybe more or less, that you moved out into the country a little bit, enjoying farm life. I want to know what made you make that decision to move out in the country and what do y’all enjoy there?
John Chambers: That’s so funny, Sarah, that you asked that question. We had some friends that we went to church with that lived on a 20-acre parcel out in Westover, just the other side of Chelsea, and it was a five-acre pond and they lived on one side of the lake and there was another small house on the other side of the lake, and so they called us and told us that the owner of the smaller house was moving to Montana and was going to put his house on the market. We came out here and took a look and walked the property and we had to make a decision because if we didn’t buy the house he was going to go ahead and list it for sale. We sat in the kitchen of our house over close to Mount Laurel, Sarah, and I said, “What do you think?” She said, “Well what do you think?” We were just both kind of stammering around.
John Chambers: We ended up, I said, “Well all right, on the count of three thumbs up or thumbs down, hand behind your back.” We did that and I said thumbs up. All right? She said thumbs down. Okay? We got to talking about it and the reason I said thumbs up was because I thought it was something that she wanted to do was to have horses on the property. She said thumbs down because she didn’t think that I wanted to have anything to do with horses. It’s really funny. Our motivation was actually the opposite. I have enjoyed the farm much more than she has. We still don’t have any horses, but we’re still married so it’s all good.
Sarah: It worked out in the end.
Kelsi: I love that decision-making process. That’s amazing.
Gay Chambers: We had a little challenge with snakes when we first moved out here and so that’s had something to do with my perception, but Sarah we’ve been out here almost two and a half years now.
Sarah: Oh my gosh.
Gay Chambers: I know. What we’ve spent our time largely on is what I call “taming the land”. We have been grooming the trees back to keep the snakes and critters far away from the house and so I’m much happier now. This pandemic that we’re in and we’ve been out here a lot and I think we’ve decided to stay and we’ve got some plans to go ahead and build that barn and move ahead, but it took us two and a half years to get to that decision because I was on the fence the whole time.
John Chambers: We see that with a lot of our clients too. They kind of have a foot in their new life and kind of a foot back in their old life. Glyna, you guys made a big move a few months ago.
John Chambers: It’s important to kind of embrace where you are and we see that of course in our real estate business, so we thought all right, if we’re not going to be bold and do something different then why should we expect that our clients would consider doing something like that?
Glyna: Yeah. Good point.
John Chambers: It’s been very good and we certainly can understand the emotions that somebody goes through when they’re leaving their house of a lot of years. It’s been great, but it’s a new challenge every day. Okay?
Glyna: I bet.
Kelsi: Well the husband/wife work duo dynamic is really interesting. Tell everybody what part do you play individually on your team?
Gay Chambers: Yeah. Well, John and I, we’ve always been in each other’s business so being in business together has been okay. We actually met in a work environment. Years ago I was in a management position and I was looking for a superstar rep and I kept hearing, “You need to meet this guy John Chambers,” and so I sought him out and ended up hiring him and that’s how we met. Of course, then I realized I probably don’t need to be your manager anymore so we both ended up leaving the company and continuing our relationship. Seriously, we have always been very involved in each other’s work lives and for me making the transition into real estate, that was a blessing because I had been shadowing him and so as we’ve moved into the business John largely manages the books along with our accountant. I focus on marketing along with our superstar Director of Marketing, Megan Schmotz. We’re lucky to have her. I was just meeting with her this week about expanding her role and what she does for us. When it comes to business cultivation, we both really work on being quote “the rainmaker”, looking for new business and then we work together on meeting each one of our clients and so because we are busy working with a lot of people, we want everyone that we work with to know both of us well. That way either of us can jump in and assist a client with whatever they need. That’s worked out really well. We’re working on the transaction side of our business and hiring assistants to offload some of the busywork that happens after a transaction has and a contract has been met. Right now that’s working well. We are thinking about perhaps expanding this year and bringing on another agent, but we’re not ready for that just yet. We’ve got a different issue called this virus that we’re all focusing on.
Glyna: Yes. Exactly.
Gay Chambers: Do you think it’s working, John?
John Chambers: I do. It is funny, Glyna, obviously you, Kelsi I’m not sure, but working with your spouse is different because we don’t treat our spouses exactly like we treat a co-worker.
Glyna: It’s a bit different.
John Chambers: Well yeah, so at the end of the day I think we don’t always hear what the other person says, but we’re always listening. I think that comes from a lot of years of marriage and recognizing that relationships, just like relationships in business, are tricky but it’s all about the respect that you have. We’re not the Cleavers, I don’t know if anyone remembers “Leave it to Beaver”, but we have our good days and we have our days where we disagree but at the end of the day we’re making it work and we’re excited about it too. I’m so excited that Gay’s not getting on an airplane anymore and leaving.
John Chambers: And with this virus, I can’t imagine what air travel’s going to look like in the future so it really was a great blessing that she’s come off the road and she’s here. And she still scares me.
Gay Chambers: [Laughter] Every good wife scares her husband.
Sarah: Yeah I was going to say, a little bit of fear goes a long way. You’ve got to have a little element of fear for a happy marriage.
Glyna: Yes. Always. Well, you obviously make a great team and yes, working with your spouse and just being with them 24/7, it is interesting but at the same time it can be a lot of fun too and I can tell getting to know you two, I know that there’s a lot of fun mixed in with the work.
Glyna: I want to say that we have a few people joining in this morning. We have Elise Hearn, Chad Bennett, who wants to know what kind of pants that John has on.
John Chambers: He’s got on nice pants today, okay Glyna? I knew that question was going to come up.
Glyna: Should we challenge? Nah, I don’t want to be challenged on what I have on. We’ll all just stay seated.
Sarah: Yeah, exactly. We’re going to keep it shoulder up. Okay?
Glyna: Peggy Daniel, nice to have you on, and of course your superstar Megan, she’s on with us as well.
Sarah: Yes, Megan’s one of my favorite people in the world.
Glyna: I think you have a little bit of history with her, don’t you?
Sarah: I do.
Glyna: Tell us a little bit about Keller Williams, what it is about your partnership with them that you think makes a great real estate partner just for Chambers Realty Partners?
John Chambers: Yeah. Well, it’s interesting, Glyna, a few years back, I won’t name any names, but I was with a company that kind of has a balloon logo.
Glyna: Red, white, and blue?
John Chambers: I really thought I was home. I really thought that everything that I needed in my real estate career was there. I met Kathy Gibson, who is our team leader for our Keller Williams office, and Kathy just started to peel back the layer of were we accomplishing or was I accomplishing what I felt like I was capable of? Was I really happy with the business? What I recognized was that I wasn’t really comparing myself to anybody else and so you know that old saying that if you’re the smartest person in the room you need to go find a new room? We started to look around and see that there were these realtors at Keller Williams that were just achieving unbelievable results and so I thought I was kind of where I needed to be and then she made me realize that there was so much more that I can expect. It’s so important to surround yourselves with people that are high achievers, people that have taken their businesses to a new level, and Keller Williams is absolutely noted for their training and so it was just once I kind of dropped my defenses that I wasn’t really as smart as I thought I was, then it was the perfect fit.
Sarah: Awesome. Yeah, that makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. We were talking about this the other day that not all real estate agents are created equal. We all know that.
Sarah: I wanted to know what are the key factors that make your team unique?
Gay Chambers: Well I’ll start off and then let John talk about that. I think one, this is a people business and so I think being authentic and compassionate and relatable to people, I think a big dose of humor helps and people like to laugh. We don’t laugh enough. I think John had done a tremendous job of putting a business together that foundationally held those elements from a relationship standpoint and John, he’s always been more interested in learning about other people than telling people about him and just organically and speaking to people and building relationships, it turned into trust and that people wanted to do business with him because of that trust.
Gay Chambers: I’ve watched him in the position where he’s sold to first time home buyers and they outgrow that home and have children and then they’re ready to in a move up situation, call him back five years later to say, “Now we need a larger home.” Sell them a larger home and through the process end up meeting the parents, parents are ready to downsize, the parents call him and say, “We’re ready to downsize. Will you help us?” He put a lot of hard work. It wasn’t hard work for him, but a big foundation in and just knowing a lot of people and caring about people. I feel like that is what separates us. Everybody can learn the mechanics of the business, but how you relate to people and how you take care of people, your honesty and integrity, and being authentic over time is what builds everybody’s reputation and so I think that that’s what makes us unique. We’re birds of a feather in that way.
Gay Chambers: During my corporate career, which was very long, although I traveled nationally I held those same kinds of relationships so it’s just been really easy for me to come home and work with John. I’m really proud of you.
Sarah: I know. I need some tissues.
John Chambers: I had kind of a cathartic moment when it comes to that. What I recognize is it’s really all about somebody’s passion. For me, I was never money motivated. Hey listen, the money is nice and we all recognize that, but it was more satisfaction resulting. That’s what really drove me in making sure that somebody had a good experience and somebody had gotten all their questions answered and that we got to the closing table. I’ll tell you for me, it was really funny when we were making the transition from Panama City to Birmingham I was licensed in both states and was for a lot of years. As we got busier up here we started to let go of more business down at the panhandle. One day I was showing about a $600,000 condo on the beach. I mean, unbelievable. Beautiful. Unbelievable Gulf views. It was just spectacular. Then I was leaving that afternoon to come to Birmingham and I had my license here and the next day I was showing a $25,000 mobile home in Oneonta. What I recognized was those folks in Oneonta had never owned a house before and it was so magical to watch them get excited about the possibility of actually owning a house and they were so much more excited than those people were that were buying that condo at the beach and I recognized that it’s not for us to say what’s really important to somebody, but it’s important for us to serve the needs of somebody that has come to you looking for a solution. That’s what did it for me.
Sarah: Gosh, that’s a great story.
John Chambers: Well thank you. For all your mobile home needs, just give me a call.
Sarah: Yeah, a little plug.
Gay Chambers: Call me for the $600,000 home.
Glyna: There you go. There has to be balance.
Gay Chambers: Yes, exactly.
Kelsi: Well business does not seem to have slowed down much for you two, so can you share some of the creative ways that you’ve helped your clients buy and sell through the pandemic?
John Chambers: Yeah Kelsi, that’s really interesting. Obviously we’ve never been through a pandemic like this in our lives and so we didn’t really know what to expect. I do know that we have a really strong spring selling season. That is the housing market, regardless of where in the country that you are. I’ve noticed the last two or three years that the spring selling season has started earlier in the year, so it’s almost like we go from New Year’s Day and what are your New Year’s resolutions, and for a lot of people that’s to be in a new house this year.
John Chambers: We started to see the market really start to uptick and get strong late January, February, and so then as we were coming into March, which is typically one of our busiest months for people starting to list their houses and people to look at houses if they’re considering to buy, we came into this really strong period of time and then of course then the pandemic hit.
John Chambers: What I think is, is that it’s an optimism that the American people have is that this thing is going to be over. Yes, it has altered our lives, it has caused us to fret and to fear about what the future looks like, but I think at the end of the day people are saying, “When this is over we want to be in that new house. We’re not going to let this virus slow us down.” I think that is what’s happened. We’ve got a closing today. We’re listing two new houses this afternoon.
John Chambers: We got two new houses under contract this week. What we’re finding is we’re very, very busy. We are also Dave Ramsey-endorsed local realtors. That’s a fairly new relationship for us. Dave Ramsey has got a really, really loyal following and so when those people call we absolutely jump and so those people are very interested because they recognize with interest rates being where they are, they’ve been low for so long but they’re historically low now. With the interest rates that we have today are almost like no interest, so it is such a great time to buy.
Kelsi: It is. Also, have you noticed maybe any trends where people who are locked down in their homes together are feeling like they need a little bit more space? Or they have too much space to deal with and they want to downsize?
John Chambers: Well let me ask-
Gay Chambers: I was wondering if marriage counselors are considered essential businesses.
Sarah: Right. We need a bigger house or this isn’t going to work anymore.
John Chambers: Well Rob and Glyna saw this pandemic coming, Glyna, right? You guys upsized quite a while back. Yeah, but I do think that’s correct. When you’re spending so much time at home you say, “Wow, I wish we had a finished basement for the kids.” Or, “I wish we had a playroom.” Or, “I wish we had a fenced yard.” You know, our time with our children is so brief and so the tendency is to just say, “We’ll make that decision next year,” and then next year and next year.
John Chambers: I do think it’s important to say that, I mean now we’re empty nesters so our children are gone and so it really doesn’t matter the kind of house we have anymore, but I would tell people that hey, if you think you’re in the wrong house because this pandemic has kind of exposed what the faults are, then this is a great time. But that’s a great question, Kelsi, and yes I think I see a little bit of people talking about how close they are to their spouse.
Gay Chambers: Well certainly I think it gives clarity, just like I was saying we’ve reached a clarity about our own farm and what we wanted to do. We didn’t have that same clarity 60 days ago. I do think that this process is going to have a silver lining from that regard and give people a focus about what their priorities are and help them not be afraid to make a change.
Glyna: Yes, all great points. It makes everybody pause and that’s not always a bad thing.
Glyna: For a lot of reasons. Well, all this stuff is just so crazy and I know the normal thing is to get people in your car, take them to show them houses or meet them at the house, tromp through the house. That has to have changed because of this pandemic. What kind of things has your team had to do to change up just your day to day real estate?
Gay Chambers: Yeah, so it’s been pretty simple to tell you the truth. I think a few things. One, the idea of just loading up a buyer in the car that kind of willy-nilly without any pre-qualification, that’s the first thing that’s important is that you want to make sure that the people that are looking can afford the home that they want to look at, and so that step of pre-qualification is very important.
Gay Chambers: Then coaching them on the safety precautions that we need to take when we’re in the home, both for the buyer and the seller. On the seller side, we want the seller to be assured that we are going to be practicing safety and what that entails is wearing gloves, some sort of a mask or staying over six feet away, and carrying your hand sanitizer. Then the sellers, we also ask them to do things that we didn’t before. You go ahead and turn on all your lights. Make sure all your interior doors are open. If there are any fans you want on, anything that you want a buyer to see, we want you to go ahead and touch that and make that available and then when we leave we would normally courtesy turn everything out, et cetera, but we let them know that we’re going to leave everything just as we found it. If we’ve been able to accomplish that, then all we’ve done is open the front door and open the back door and then do the same on the way out, and then John and I are the only ones that touch anything and we coach our buyers not to touch anything. If they have children we ask them to leave them at home. If they have to bring their children, and we’ve done this, I’ll stay outside with the kids and bring some games to entertain them so the parents can go inside with John to take a look. I think it’s building that trust with the seller that we’re going to be responsible in their home. That’s also part of when we talk to someone who’s wanting to list their home, we explain the rules that we’ll employ on their behalf so that they can feel safe about who is going to be in their home and that we’re going to limit contact and limit the number of people that can be there. We also make sure, I mean we always do anyway, but have professional photos taken and then we might or might not make a video, depending on what the situation is, but now we want to make sure that we have a video so that you can do a virtual walk-through so we give the buyer as much information before they get to the home to eliminate anybody that says, “Nah, I don’t think this is it for me,” or “Yes, I think this might be, and here, let’s go.” I think those are the major changes that we’ve seen.
Glyna: You definitely want to make sure they’re serious.
Gay Chambers: Yes.
Glyna: You’re not just going to go visit 15 houses just to see if you like it.
John Chambers: Yeah that’s really important. No more riding around looking at houses.
Gay Chambers: Those are good practices anyway. Of course, we always encourage our buyers to get pre-qualified. Otherwise, I always say it’s just why do you want to go look at a $400,000 home if you’re only approved for a $350,000 home? You’re going to be frustrated about that. Let’s go ahead and see what your framework is at the beginning and then we can eliminate a lot of time and frustration for you and your family. Then I love the safety features. It’s never comfortable if you’re showing a property and they’ve got all their kids, and kids like to touch things.
Sarah: Yes they do.
Gay Chambers: I’m hoping some of these factors will stick after the fact.
Glyna: Well, and we didn’t have this on here but Rob was telling me, John, that you had talked about how you were able to even close these transactions a different way so that everybody didn’t have to be in the same room and I think this is a very important thing to go over even though we didn’t have it on our list here.
John Chambers: Yeah, no, that’s really true. Rob and I talked about the things that will probably never go back, and closings may be one of those things, Glyna. We closed the other day via Zoom link. The state of Alabama, Governor Kay Ivey, signed some legislation in, so what happens is an attorney, a closing attorney is sitting in his office with a camera and then the buyers are sitting in either my office or their living room with the same set of documents and he’s going through each document and telling them where to sign and then we run those documents back to the closing attorney. That is totally different because we used to all sit in a room and that’s really different now, so we’re either doing it now through Zoom or in some case, as the closing we’ve got today, is the buyers will actually call the closing attorney once they’ve reached the location of the attorney and they sit in their car and the attorney will come out and give them a clipboard and have them sign all the documents as he stands beside the car. That’s a new way.
Glyna: But it works.
John Chambers: We met some new clients out at a house on Monday evening and it was so weird because the first thing you’d normally do is you would shake hands and introduce yourselves and now you get out of the car like it’s the first date. Don’t get too close.
Kelsi: What do I do?
Sarah: What do I do with my hands?
Glyna: I’ve seen so many people in that situation where they start to walk up and it’s like, oh, nevermind. Hey, how’s it going?
John Chambers: Oh my gosh, it was so funny. I met somebody the other night and she brought the whole family. I mean, it was everything that you don’t want to see in a pandemic, but anyway they brought the whole family and everybody was kind of social distancing and suddenly her dad came up and he shook hands and just like, okay. Whatever.
Glyna: What can I do?
John Chambers: Yeah, right. Your politeness takes over.
Kelsi: We’ve got some new people that jumped on. Hey to Cindy, Hey Leon, Ms. Lynn Ray, and Steve Johnson are with us.
Glyna: Leon Love!
John Chambers: All right. All these rockstars.
Sarah: Good morning guys. Thanks for coming on. You had talked a lot, I was seeing a lot of the same words of organic relationships and transparency and trust and integrity, and I would like to think that that would help you tremendously in generating referrals and new leads, but what do you feel like has helped you the most in getting new leads and referrals?
John Chambers: I think really, Sarah that’s a great question, and it’s a question that anybody that owns a business has got to decide, is how are you going to generate business? The most important thing is consistency over time, and I think it’s also being able to capitalize on what your strengths are. If you’re really good with people, you don’t need to try to build an internet business. If you’re not good with the internet and you are good with people, then you need to go where people are. For us, that consistency over time, certainly BNI has been wonderful for our business. The relationships it’s created have been great. Anything that we’ve been involved in as we have gotten to know people, whether it’s Iron Tribe and working out, or whether it’s going to church, and we didn’t join the church so that we could do real estate, but as you get to know people and then they recognize what you do, then that becomes natural. That’s a slow way to build a business, but to me, it’s the best way because you build strong relationships and if you have taken care of those people then they are just natural referral partners, Sarah. Dave Ramsey, us representing Dave Ramsey is a little bit different for us because it is somebody else basically generating the business, but we felt like because we were in sync with Dave Ramsey’s philosophies and what he teaches that it was a natural fit for our business because I work with a lot of first time home buyers.
Gay Chambers: I’ll give John a shout out, and I’m a huge Dave Ramsey fan, and so when we got the call, they actually reached out to us to ask if we would be interested in being what he calls an endorsed local provider, and that’s because of the foundation and the strength of the business that John has built over years. We did have to go through a stringent interview process to be a part of their organization and what they do is they don’t send us business, they send us opportunities. People that are looking, and then it’s up to us to convert that into someone that would like for us to serve them.
Glyna: Oh. That’s neat.
Gay Chambers: That’s been a real honor for us to be a part of that organization and we take that very seriously. His values, the Dave Ramsey organization, that value proposition is in line with ours so it’s a really easy conversation and we’re having a lot of fun with that. We end up with a lot of first time home buyers through that process and we really enjoy helping those young people get a good healthy start off on their journey and so that just is a whole lot of fun every time.
John Chambers: It’s funny Sarah, I had first applied to be a Dave Ramsey ELP in 2011, so nine years later I was finally good enough for him.
Gay Chambers: They told him no.
John Chambers: They told me no, and every year they would say, “Do you want to update your application?” And I would say, “Yes,” and it was literally like the Shawshank Redemption when they reject him every time for being able to get out on parole and so that’s exactly the same way and suddenly it was … Yeah, that took nine years if you look at it so having a plan-
Sarah: They’re like, “This guy is persistent. We better say yes.”
John Chambers: Oh my gosh, that is so true.
Glyna: He’s not going away.
John Chambers: Yeah. We give up on our dreams probably too early.
John Chambers: I’ve always loved the saying that God’s delay is not His denial. Okay, so if there’s something that’s really important to you, you just have to stay faithful that that’s going to happen one day.
Sarah: Oh, absolutely. I believe that 100%.
Kelsi: Well John, we know that you are the broker for the Keller Williams Hoover location, so can you just kind of briefly explain your roles with that and then with Chambers Realty Partners?
John Chambers: Yes, absolutely. What happens is the state of Alabama, there’s the Alabama Real Estate Commission. They oversee all real estate activities in the state. It’s called AREC, Alabama Real Estate Commission, and so what they do is they do not want to have a point of contact with, for example, our office has about 175 agents. They don’t want to have to be in touch with all of those agents. They want a qualifying broker to be their point of contact and if there is something that somebody has filed a complaint or there’s an issue that they have concerns about, then they contact me and it is my responsibility to supply to them whatever information that there is. You can get your broker’s license, Kelsi, but you are an associate broker until such time as you are the broker or the qualifying broker for an office. What this does is it’s made me a much better realtor because one, I see what can happen if realtors don’t do it the way it’s supposed to do. The other thing that it has allowed me to do is I teach classes every month. I teach contracts class, I teach new listings class, so I have an opportunity to really try to dictate the future of our new agents and their understanding of contract language. I have tried to maintain a great relationship with the Real Estate Commission, and so their corporate attorney, have really gotten to be very close with them. One of our agents was called to testify in a case about a year and a half ago and you sit down, it’s literally like a courtroom and you sit before nine commissioners and they kind of decide your fate. I recognize the importance of that and making sure that our agents are doing the right thing. We take that responsibility very seriously, so it’s made me a better realtor because I don’t want to see any of our realtors in real estate jail.
Gay Chambers: That’s what I was going to say. He keeps agents out of real estate jail.
John Chambers: I get a lot of calls every day and they’re primarily, “How would you do this? How would you handle this? What do you think we should do?” I give a lot of advice about that. Well, let’s try to go back to the contract. What does the contract say? Okay, because that’s what an attorney would say, is “What does the contract say?” What that allows me to do, Kelsi, is allowed me, I’m considered to be a selling broker so being the qualifying broker for our office doesn’t take 100% of my time and so it allows me honestly to build my own real estate team, so Chambers Realty Partners is a team of realtors within the Keller Williams structure. That’s the way that works. It can be a little bit confusing, but it’s branding within an organization.
Kelsi: Really good explanation, thank you.
Glyna: I don’t think they could have a better coach, just because you’re so encouraging and you’re fun. Oh my gosh. You’re one of the funniest people I think I’ve ever met, but you’re also kind and understanding. You’re obviously in the perfect position.
John Chambers: Well you’re sweet, Glyna. Zoom calls don’t allow you to really be funny. I really struggle with that because I recognize that I like the up close and personal. Everybody has got a great story to tell. That’s been part of my key is just wanting to know how did somebody get here? It’s the same for our clients. How did you get to Birmingham? What do you do? Tell me about your kids. Tell me about your life. Everybody has such a great story to tell and our agents are the same way. I love hearing their stories, how they got to real estate. Some of them grew up knowing they wanted to be realtors. Most of us came out of a corporate background somewhere and said, “It’s not what I want to do.” Some of our best realtors are former teachers. It’s really interesting. If you’ve got the right heart you could be a great realtor. That’s really the key, is a passion for helping people.
Glyna: Well, and you obviously have that. You talked a minute ago that you need to play to your strengths, no matter what those are, but I would imagine, for whatever reasons, going through all of this there are some seasoned agents and also some new agents coming on that may not be finding success and I know this is a broad question, but what advice would you give them to kind of either fire up their real estate business back up or to get started in this pandemic especially?
John Chambers: It’s so funny, Glyna, one of the magic things about Keller Williams is Keller Williams was actually born, there is a Gary Keller, who started his real estate career back in the ’70s and he started his career in a really tough economic time. His business was built in a shift. That’s what we’re in now. It’s a shifting market. You know Glyna, we talk about this at BNI a lot and I know a lot of us are familiar with Business Networking International, it’s been great for us all, but if you show up at BNI it’s not just magic of suddenly you’re now successful.
Glyna: True. Yes.
John Chambers: Your bad habits get to BNI before you do, and I think it’s the same thing in real estate. We have some agents that are just refusing to answer their phone and refusing to set up showings and refusing to do anything. I mean, they literally are-
Gay Chambers: Not our agents.
John Chambers: Not our agents, but I’m saying there are agents.
Kelsi: Definitely not.
John Chambers: A lot of agents are just staying in bed with the covers pulled over their heads, and we never felt like that was a strategy that made any sense. We’re going to get through this. I have no doubts about that. I just think that’s the deal is you’ve got to make a decision every day that I’m going to help somebody today. I’m going to change somebody’s life or I’m going to move my business a little bit further down the road.
Gay Chambers: That’s been our message for all of our agents, is now’s not the time to go out really and, as you would say, lead generate and look for new business. Now’s really the time to reconnect or connect with everybody that you know and find out how they’re doing. Is there anything that you can do for them? Just care about people, and in the midst of that if a real estate conversation comes up that’s great, but that’s not the purpose of why you’re trying to connect. Then once we get on the other side of this, you’ve got fresh relationships with people, it’s easier to talk about back to normal once we’re back to normal if you’ve been caring about people while we’re all in a bit of a dire straight.
Glyna: Yes. Perfect.
Sarah: Yeah, that’s really been our strategy too. We’re like, you know what? Don’t hunker down.
Sarah: Don’t, like you said, put the covers up. If anything press in, press through.
Gay Chambers: Yes.
Sarah: Keep going. I cannot believe that we’ve been on here for 40 minutes. This has been so awesome.
Kelsi: So fun.
Sarah: I mean, it’s really been awesome. You both are just a wealth of information. Before we kind of wrap things up, I wanted to ask you two questions. First, what would be the best referral partners for you, and I’m about to put your contact information up, but also what’s the best way to reach you both right now?
John Chambers: Well thank you, Sarah, for doing that. The best referral partners for us is just anybody that wants some assistance. We’ve always said that our relationships, they start with a conversation, not a commitment. It’s really important for us to understand what somebody’s trying to do. If they’re trying to downsize, if they’re thinking about moving to the beach, we’ve obviously moved to the beach, we have some compassion about what that lifestyle looks like. If somebody wants to move to the country, we can certainly talk about that. But if somebody just wants to move down the street, we’re okay with that. It really is important for us to plug into what’s important to them. Anybody that is thinking about making a change, anybody whose children … It’s so cool, I went to high school in Atlanta and I got a friend of mine that I went to school with 40 something years ago that reached out to me that said, “Our son has just moved to Vestavia and he’s in an apartment. Can you help him and his wife?” That’s a 40-year-old relationship.
Gay Chambers: Also a shout out to Megan because she had been following our social media and had been focused in on how good our marketing was and then found John that way and reached out, so that was neat.
John Chambers: Anybody that’s looking, that just wants some more information. That’s really key, Sarah. If you want to have a great time, call me. If you want to get serious, call Gay.
Sarah: Pick your pleasure, pick your pleasure.
John Chambers: Right, right. I’m not going to be able to take the fun out of it. I’m sorry, but everything has a fun angle to it and this time is no different.
John Chambers: I bought a hairdryer this week for the first time. I was starting to look like the wooly mammoth, so I have a new hairstyle. Thank you Sarah, but text, email, phone. We try to answer our phones. If we don’t answer then we will get back to you, but it’s really important that people know that their business is really, really important to us.
Gay Chambers: Yeah, and our best referral partner is somebody that we know that feels confident that we’re going to take care of one of their friends or family members the way we would them, and would ask them to reach out to us.
Sarah: Perfect. That’s awesome.
Kelsi: Well I see we do have one question in the comments I’d like to throw at you before we wrap it up. Shawn Troughton’s here with us. He wants to know are properties appraising higher than expected during the pandemic?
John Chambers: Well it’s really funny, we’ve had a couple of nervous appraisals the past couple of weeks. It’s a good question. What we’re finding out, Kelsi, is if a property is priced right, depending on where that property is, we are getting multiple offers. What happens is when you’ve got a property, and let’s say it’s in Vestavia, we’ve got a house that’s getting ready to hit the market later today, and we’ve got five or six people that are dying to get into that house. It probably will sell for more than list price and we’ll have multiple offers on it if I had to guess. What happens is the appraisers are taking that into consideration. It’s what was the interest in that? But we’re not running into too many appraisal problems right now because the market is definitely ticking higher and so appraisers are taking that into consideration. Sometimes we have to have conversations with appraisers to find out what is he using? I give a lot of credit to the appraisers because it’s tough to know. In a rising market, it’s tough to know what is real market value now? They’re willing to say that we know that the market is rising higher and they have challenges when the market is going lower or when it’s going higher. We’ve not had many appraisal problems right now, but tell Shawn that if he’s got a particular question or maybe he’s had a poor appraisal then we’ve got some techniques that we try to help with that. That’s our deal, is we would call the appraiser to say, “Hey, can we talk about this, and I want to give you the back story for why we think that your appraisal is too low.”
Glyna: Well we want to thank you guys so much for being on. We really, really appreciate you both and all of us love you. We all have a different relationship with each one of you and you’re just amazing people. We can see why you’re so successful. Thank you so much for being on Biz Talk, and we’re going to play the outro, and we’ll see everybody later.
John Chambers: Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Gay Chambers: Thank you so much.
John Chambers: Enjoy.