Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 3, 2021

Selling Florida sunshine in Tennessee

Purcells help others find beach homes from miles away

Mike and Brenda Purcell form Team Purcell at RE/MAX Renaissance in Hixson. They’re expanding their business to Florida, where they hope to find vacation and retirement homes for clients who are referred to them. - Photo by David Laprad | Hamilton County Herald

Realtors Mike and Brenda Purcell say they have a new venture for their real estate business. But to make it work, they’re going to have to rely on an old school principle.

Their latest endeavor took shape not in their hometown of Chattanooga but in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, a small town located between Destin and Panama City where they recently purchased a second house.

The spouses had been vacationing in Northwest Florida for most of their adult lives, and for the last decade had been searching for a place in which to purchase a vacation or retirement home.

Mike says Santa Rosa Beach, with its unique charms and traditions – as well as its world-famous beach – seemed like the perfect spot.

“We loved it,” he says. “We felt like it would be a good investment and a place where we could retire.”

As the couple worked through the process of purchasing a home in Florida, they became familiar with the market. They also say they came to believe they might not be the only ones in Chattanooga who were contemplating such an investment.

So, Team Purcell decided to become licensed in the Sunshine State.

“We’re not leaving Chattanooga,” Mike clarifies. “Instead, we hope to work with clients who want to buy a beach house or a second home in Florida.”

Mike says he and Brenda are confident they won’t have to look any farther for prospective part-time Floridians than their sphere, which he says has been steadily expanding since they formed Team Purcell in 2016.

“We don’t buy leads; we nurture our sphere,” he says. “We make sure we’re top of mind with them and know what their needs are. And this year, 90% of our business has been referrals.”

These referrals have come from across the U.S., Mike adds.

“People are moving to Chattanooga from all over the map, and the individuals and couples who are calling us are referrals.”

When Mike and Brenda established Team Purcell at RE/MAX Renaissance, she had been a Realtor for 14 years and he had just left TVA after 37 years.

“I was ready to retire but I wasn’t ready to sit still, so I decided to go into real estate,” Mike recalls.

The notion of both of them working on commission initially worried Brenda.

“Every morning, when you wake up, you’re unemployed,” she explains. “So I wondered how we were going to make it.”

Mike says they learned to lean on their individual strengths.

“Brenda is good at forming relationships and connecting people. As an analyst, I concentrate on our processes and making them as efficient as possible.”

As Mike researched the pillars of his wife’s real estate practice, he noticed most of her clients were referrals. He says this made sense, given her skills and background.

Before becoming a Realtor in 2002, Brenda spent 26 years in various corporate environments. While working for McKee Foods, Unum and other national companies, she often found herself in roles that required her to make connections between diverse entities and people.

After becoming a Realtor and learning the ropes of the residential business at Realty Center, Brenda joined The James Company, where she gained experience with commercial transactions.

She says she learned the importance of not just making but also keeping connections in real estate during this phase of her career.

“I came to realize there’s a lot of beauty in bringing players to the table,” she notes. “Real estate is about relationships, which in turn are about trust.”

Brenda joined RE/MAX after she and her family moved to Signal Mountain. There, she learned it’s possible for a Realtor to start over and develop a new sphere.

“I thought breaking into our new community and rebuilding my business would be hard, but as our son played football at Signal Mountain High and I became involved in church, I started to form new relationships.”

Some of these associations are still bearing fruit, Mike says. Not only have they worked with three generations of certain families, but recent referrals have kicked off a string of word-of-mouth recommendations, leading to even more sales.

“Earlier this year, clients of ours referred someone to us, and after we closed their house, they referred us to a friend, and we closed their house.”

Returning to the topic of trust, Mike and Brenda say the best way to nurture it is through education that prepares a Realtor to represent their clients well.

To this end, they have each earned the Certified Residential Specialist and Accredited Buyer’s Representative designations. In addition, Brenda has secured the Seniors Real Estate Specialist designation, which she says enables her to meet the special needs of maturing clients.

She says this could prove helpful when assisting clients who will be retiring in Florida.

Someday, Mike and Brenda might join their clients farther south, but for now, grandchildren and aging parents are anchoring them to Chattanooga.

Until then, they will be relying on the old school real estate principle of referrals to help them develop their new venture in the Sunshine State.