Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, April 30, 2021

Joyner finds second-career success

Realtor finds rewards similar to 30 years of state service

Crye-Leike Realtor Diane Joyner outside a home she sold in Ringgold, Georgia. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

Realtor Diane Joyner says it’s important for agents in this housing market to stay ahead of the competition and then move quickly when opportunities arise.

With buyers snapping up new listings in the blink of an eye, Joyner says she’s working hard to be on top of the market.

“You have to be ready and then act fast or you’ll lose a home for your client,” she explains.

In life, at least, Joyner has certainly demonstrated her ability to stay ahead of the curve.

A lifelong resident of Walker County, Georgia, Joyner graduated from LaFayette High School when she was 17. Two years later, she married her high school sweetheart and moved into the house they had built for themselves.

Joyner started working for Georgia Child Support Services that same year.

“My high school typing teacher encouraged us to take the state exams, which I did, and I was employed with the State of Georgia at 19,” she recalls. “The woman who hired me joked she was going to have to buy a baby bed.”

Joyner remained with CSS for 30 years, after which she retired.

Accustomed to people expressing surprise at her early retirement, she repeats the details: She started working for Georgia at the age of 19, and at 49 she retired.

Although Joyner has indeed established her ability to stay ahead of the pack in life, proving herself as a Realtor has provided a fresh challenge for the now 53-year-old agent, who earned her license in 2016.

Joyner says she became interested in real estate as she and her husband, Jathan, built their first house. She jokes about her early indifference to the design of her home and says the process sparked an enduring passion in her.

“I was 19 at the time, so when they asked me what kind of light fixtures I wanted, I could not have cared less,” Joyner laughs. “But it got me thinking about all the things involved in real estate and building a house.”

Thirty years later, Joyner was ready for a career change. It had also been three decades since her interest in real estate had taken root. Her love grew with each new home she and her husband built.

So, Joyner decided she’d become a Realtor.

True to form, she started taking the classes to become licensed in Tennessee before she left CSS.

“My retirement was not a case of, ‘I’m done working for Georgia; now what?’” she says. “I was ready to do something different – and I wanted it to be real estate.”

Joyner had served a variety of roles with CSS ranging from enforcement of child support orders to modification. She had also established orders for children who didn’t have a court order.

While these were her responsibilities, she also thought of them as community service.

“I enjoyed the case work; I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of the children,” she explains. “It was never easy being stuck between a mom and a dad, but we kept the child’s best interest at heart.”

Joyner adopted the same mindset when she became a Realtor. While it would be her job to represent homebuyers and sellers, she also thought of it as a community service.

“I’ve always felt a strong desire to help others, and I believed this career would allow me to continue making a difference for families.”

After speaking with a recruiter at Crye-Leike, Joyner decided she’d found her work home.

“I love working with Crye-Leike,” she notes. “It has a family-oriented atmosphere and excellent training and support for its agents.”

After Joyner earned her Georgia license the following year, she began specializing in relocation services.

Her work with people who are moving to Chattanooga triggers a memory of a client whose purchase allowed her to combine her nuts-and-bolts work as a residential Realtor and her desire to positively impact the lives of others.

“An immigrant had moved to Florida, and her job was transferring her here,” Joyner remembers. “When she became my client, she thought the only thing she could do was rent; she didn’t think she would qualify for a home.

“I encouraged her to at least check if she would. She did – and she did.

“She was blown away. She said I helped her to make a dream she’d thought would never be possible come true. I felt like I’d accomplished something.”

Joyner also contributes to her community outside the scope of her work as a Realtor. As an 8-year breast cancer survivor who lost her mother to the disease, she’s a proponent of raising both awareness of breast cancer and funds for treatment and research.

To this end, Joyner serves as an advocate for the Chattanooga affiliate of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In this role, she often mans booths at health fairs and helps with fundraising events.

Joyner’s battle with breast cancer was a rare detour from her deliberate march past the milestones of life and her efforts to stay ahead of the curve. But it didn’t sidetrack her for long.

Eight years after her diagnosis, Joyner is retired from one career, doing well in her second vocation and enjoying the company of her family, which includes not just her husband of 33 years and their son but also a daughter-in-law and a “beautiful 6-month-old granddaughter.”

Not only that, but for the first time, Joyner isn’t aiming for the next marker, but rather is enjoying the open-ended nature of the current stage of her life.

This includes her refusal to set a date for her second retirement. “I’m going to do this as long as I’m able,” she insists. “I’m 53 now, so I have a few good years left.”