Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 3, 2023

Selling on the edge at McLemore

Can’t beat the view Bateman, his clients enjoy

Realtor Matt Bateman focuses his work on McLemore, a golf community located on top of Lookout Mountain in Georgia. He says his passion for the game opens doors to clients, many of whom play. - Photograph provided

Some home sale pitches begin streetside, where hopefully there’s enough curb appeal to draw a potential buyer inside. Others start in an office, where the client and agent meet for the first time to discuss needs and opportunities.

Realtor Matt Bateman begins his pitches at the edge of a mountain.

As a real estate agent focused primarily on the mountaintop golf community of McLemore, Bateman has a number of visual aids available to him for pitches, including a view so expansive, he compares it to the wide-open vistas of the Western U.S.

“Humans are drawn to edges,” says Bateman, 41. “And we’re on the edge of a plateau, where you can see Pigeon Mountain in the distance and McLemore Cove below.”

As clients lower their gaze from the massive stretch of sky to the sprawling basin, Bateman assures them the view will remain unsullied.

“It’s all family-owned farmland and wildlife preserves down there. You’re not going to be staring at an interstate or an Amazon fulfillment center.”

The view is inspiring, Bateman says, and sets the tone for the conversation that follows. But it does not do all of the heavy lifting for him, he adds.

“You need someone who knows every nook and cranny of McLemore to stand beside you and provide the best possible real estate services.”

Bateman is that person, he says, because he spent a year working as McLemore Club’s membership director before he transitioned to real estate and learned the lay of land while serving in that role.

“I don’t work for a developer who snagged a property, cleared it and then chopped it up into equal-sized lots,” he counters in response to a suggestion that McLemore has the potential to sell itself. “There’s more nuance at play here.”

For example, Bates continues, McLemore has a southern-facing lot with a long view that costs about $450,000 for half an acre. On the other hand, a lot on the course might be twice as big but cost around $250,000 because it lacks the extended view.

“A lot of factors are important to people who are building their second or third home, but the No. 1 issue is the view.”

Golf is another major draw for people who want to live at McLemore, which has reaped effusive praise from publications like LINKS Magazine and Golf Digest for its experience. The latter named McLemore’s 18th, which runs along a cliff drop that plunges hundreds of feet into a valley, one of the most “visually arresting holes in the nation.”

Plus, McLemore broke ground last fall on a second course that will be nothing but fairways and greens. (“Many real estate entities would have cashed in on the million-dollar views and reserved the frontage for homesites,” wrote Golf Digest in a December 2022 article, “but McLemore realized placing the course along the ridgeline, which looks down over a cove 400 feet below, could pay indefinite dividends.”)

The focus on golf at McLemore gives Bateman, a passionate fan and player, another edge when selling properties at the community, he says.

“Eight out of 10 of my clients are golfers,” he notes. “Knowing the values of the game helped me to talk intelligently about living at McLemore.”

Bateman says the odds of closing a sale rise dramatically when he’s able to coax the client into a round of golf. There again, the award-winning course does only some of the work, he insists, while he does the rest.

“I’m in the relationship business – and I fancy myself to be a good people person. I can read folks and get a feel for them,” Bateman explains. “But I’m not pushy. I just want to have fun on the course and answer their questions.”

Bateman says he’s too competitive to dumb down his game in the interest of making a sale, but he will use a session on the greens to demonstrate his eagerness to serve.

“I’m a good forecaddie,” he laughs. “I’m not out there trying to sharpen my game, I’m answering questions, I’m looking for their ball and I’m telling them where to hit it and how a putt will break. That skillset set is useful.”

A North Carolina native, Bateman competed in high school and college while envisioning a future in which he played professionally, he says. However, he never built up his skills to the point where that was possible.

“I saw a lot of people who couldn’t let go,” he says. “Making ends meet while traveling around trying to earn a living is a struggle. There’s nothing wrong with chasing your dreams, but knowing when to stop is important, too.”

Aspiring to remain close to the game he loved, Bateman completed the PGA’s Professional Golf Managers program with an eye on becoming the director of a premier country club.

He and his wife, Melinda, hoped that would happen in Chattanooga, where they often vacationed. “We love Chattanooga. We have two young boys, so the Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum are big draws for us. Plus, it’s the right size for us, too. We don’t want to live in a massive city.”

Bateman connected with the team at McLemore but the timing was off. Instead, he landed a position at a country club in Indianapolis in 2021. Four months after Bateman and his family moved to The Hoosier State, McLemore called.

Bateman says he produced above par as McLemore’s membership director, which earned him the trust of its leadership. This opened the door to real estate – an opportunity he says he never saw coming.

“I’d already hit the ceiling in terms of income as membership director. So when real estate moved into the crosshairs at McLemore, [vice president] Charlie [Rymer], said, ‘If we’re going to keep Matt, he needs to be able to scale his earnings.’”

Although Bateman had never considered a career in real estate, he needed very little convincing. As he contemplated the number of lots in McLemore’s inventory – he says he and the other agents working at the community have over 900 homes to sell – and as he calculated the potential for resales, he saw work that could carry him to retirement.

In addition to earning his license and joining The Creativity Team at Keller Williams – a group led by Realtor Joal Henke – he became an investor at McLemore.

“It’s a unique position to be in,” he muses. “I want to see McLemore succeed and I want my investment to do well so my family can have a good life.”

Job one, however, is representing the interests of his homebuyers well, Bateman says. This is no small task, so he’s grateful the views and amenities at McLemore do some of the heavy lifting.

“Picture this,” he says. “I play a round of golf with a client and then we stop at the bar. It’s a fabulous spot with a big view and lots of glass. Maybe we have an appetizer, and while we’re chatting, I say, ‘By the way, you asked a question about Golf Village, which we’re about to launch. I want to make sure I button that up for you before you leave.’ And then I shut up and let them talk. It’s a great job.”