Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 8, 2022

Hensley looks for successful second year

Kodak Hensley is a residential Realtor with Real Estate Partners in Chattanooga and the company’s 2021 rookie of the year. - Photograph provided

When Real Estate Partners named Realtor Kodak Hensley its 2021 rookie agent of the year, it was the crowning moment of a year of intensive work.

Hensley, 34, began 2021 as green as grass. Fresh off a decade of doing business-to-business sales for a major telecommunications company, he lacked experience in real estate and had only a theoretical understanding of how to grow a commercial enterprise, courtesy of a business administration degree from East Tennessee State University.

But by the end of 2021, Hensley had chalked up $4.5 million in residential sales, making him the leading new agent of a company with more than 120 Realtors.

As Hensley aims even higher during his sophomore run, he pauses to look back on the things that propelled him upward during his first year in home sales.

He credits his broker at REP’s East Chattanooga office, Diane Burke, with helping him to establish a sensible sales goal for his first year in real estate: $5 million.

“I wanted to kill it my first year,” Hensley says, “but Diane helped me to arrive at a reasonable number.”

As a new agent, Hensley still felt like he was shooting for the moon. And as he contemplated how to begin, a spark of inspiration ignited his thoughts.

“My first week here, I combed through our company website for agents in this office and messaged everyone,” he recalls. “A lot of people welcomed me to the family, which was great.”

Hensley also asked if he could be of assistance at any open houses. REP Realtor Wendy Lawhorn said yes.

“Wendy played a big part in getting me to where I am,” Hensley says. “My first open house was with her. She showed me what to do and what not to do, and when I needed something, she’d talk me through it.”

Lawhorn also funneled her excess work to Hensley, giving him a handful of clients with which to work. Although Hensley understood the value of relationships from his years in telecommunication sales, he says Lawhorn’s generosity gave him a deeper appreciation for his fellow agents.

“I might have been a one-man show, but I realized I’d need to work with others if I wanted to be an effective agent and reach my goal,” he says.

With the groundwork laid, Hensley says he was ready to sell his first home. Getting to the closing table, however, took patience and resourcefulness, he says.

“The first sale is the hardest, so I focused on one client,” Hensley remembers.

Hensley picked a tough one – a client who wanted to buy a house on water less than one hour from Dalton for less than $500,000.

He says the price range was the hardest part but he finally hit pay dirt after many hours of exhaustive searches.

“I found a vacation house in Meigs County that had expired and was off the market. About two weeks after I wrote the owners a letter to their home out of state, they called me and said they’d love to sell.”

Hensley says securing his first contract was “a huge win” that came at a crucial moment. As April threatened to turn into May, the goal he’d set for himself was beginning to feel unreachable and he was fighting off nagging doubts about the wisdom of becoming a Realtor.

But Henley’s first sale opened a spigot and more sales followed in quick succession.

“Things took off on their own,” he says. “I listed my client’s house and then brought him a buyer. He’s been sending me referrals ever since.”

Although Hensley’s business was firing on all cylinders, he recalled learning the importance of not just being a Realtor but also being part of a community of Realtors. So, when the opportunity to serve at the local association arose, he signed up.

“I felt like I needed to do something to meet other agents and learn about being a better Realtor and community member,” he says.

Hensley joined two committees at Greater Chattanooga Realtors: the Community Partnerships committee, which supports the association’s partnerships with Habitat for Humanity and Snack Packs, and the place-making committee, which identifies opportunities to transform unused public spaces into community destinations.

“The association is always doing things to make our lives easier and homeownership easier, so it feels good to give back,” Hensley explains.

Hensley also completed Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Leadership Academy, which equips agents for governance roles.

He waves off suggestions that he might someday serve on the association’s board, though. For now, he has his nose to grindstone as he tries to reach his sales goal for 2022: $15 million.

“I’ve done $4.2 million so far,” he says. “I’m running behind but I’m going to keep pushing toward it. If I keep networking and being a name and a face that’s ready to help people with their real estate needs, then I’ll get there.”