In the following interview, Joel Carter, broker/owner of CENTURY 21 J. Carter & Company in Gulfport, Miss., discusses affiliating with the brand, the dynamics of a family operation, and more.
Region Served: The Mississippi Gulf
Years in Real Estate: 4
Number of Offices: 1
Number of Agents: 17
You are described as a true family business. What’s your best advice for other siblings mulling a real estate partnership?
Go ahead and address the elephant in the room—or, more specifically, the fact that someone has to be the leader and the company’s spokesperson. This can be hard to identify in a highly competitive family. When we decided to launch our company together, all four of us [Carter and his three siblings] had to dig deep and identify our strengths and weaknesses. After we had that candid conversation, we were able to focus on our strengths and assume responsibilities. You can’t let pride influence the way you communicate.
Your company was an independent shop until you recently decided to affiliate with the CENTURY 21® brand. What prompted your decision?
Not only were we paying a premium for technology services that the CENTURY 21 System offers when you affiliate with their brand, but we also saw another huge opportunity in terms of training. In order to grow, our family firm needed a structured platform to train and recruit new agents. Perhaps most importantly, we simply needed a national brand. With independent brokerages opening on every corner in our market, it was time to make a separation. We felt that we were competing for the same bucket of business locally and missing out on a big chunk of the pie.
How do the region’s military installations and defense contractors affect your market and the way in which CENTURY 21 J. Carter & Company does business?
Defense and tourism are the big economic drivers in our market, which leads to a lot of incoming and outgoing personnel. In addition, we have a big military retirement presence, as a lot of the people who have been stationed here come back to the area to retire. This keeps the inventory moving and the rental market strong, as well. Housing is very affordable and more often than not, it’s cheaper to buy than rent. Most people around here say that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is a hidden gem.
Why is your market perfect for someone looking for a great vacation home or retirement option?
First and foremost, the cost of living is very affordable. We also have every coastal amenity you could imagine, from restaurants, fishing spots, golf courses and gaming. I frequently hear visitors say, “We had no idea this place existed.” This is why a lot of military couples come back to our market to retire.
What is your No. 1 tip for determining the best listing price?
Use market trends and current inventory levels to forecast the future value of your seller’s property.
What is the most effective way to motivate agents?
Positive reinforcement and recognition
What has been your most creative marketing idea?
We promote the concept of four REALTORS® for the price of one. My three siblings (sister Christina and brothers Jake and John) and I team up on every transaction.
What is your top tip for getting buyers and sellers to work together?
Put yourself in each of their shoes and work the transaction as if it were your own.
For more information, please visit www.century21.com.
John Voket is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
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