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Front Page - Friday, January 28, 2011

Puckett does real estate her own way with Buyers Exclusively

Linda Puckett established Buyers Exclusively in 1992, and they are still the only company in town that works only with buyers to meet their real estate needs. Puckett’s former years as a school teacher have also helped her to be able to educate and guide first time homebuyers, out of state buyers, and those buying a home for the third (or more) time. - Erica Tuggle
Before the Aquarium was built, it was virtually as if the sidewalks were rolled up at 5 p.m. because it was common knowledge that no one came downtown for anything but work. There was no tourism, as people just passed through town, and smoke and smog was what Chattanooga was well known for at that time.
Today, there is a totally new town called Chattanooga, and Buyers Exclusively owner Linda Puckett says she is glad to “sell the town,” as the only exclusively buyers agency in town.
Puckett started Buyers Ex-clusively in June of 1992, when the Aquarium was opening their doors. Everyone told her she couldn’t make it as just a buyers agent, that she wouldn’t be able to survive without taking listings, Puckett says. Yet, with Dixie Billingsley joining her in her vision shortly thereafter, the pair has now been business partners for almost 19 years – longer than most marriages, Puckett quips, and they both have been extremely successful.
Puckett says her company also changed the business because when they started, since they didn’t have any houses to sell, their publicity in magazines would be pictures of her and Billingsley and an explanation of what they did. Puckett says back then the magazines were full of houses, and now all the agents have their headshots in there.
Before real estate, Puckett taught at the Bright School, but houses had always been interesting to her. She was selling a lot of houses by way of calling her friends when she saw a house that would suit them, and telling them to jump on it. When she stopped teaching, her husband encouraged her to take the test because of her past love of helping buyers find that perfect fit.
Puckett did, and joined a “regular” real estate company for two years, only to find that she didn’t like listing houses.
“Buyers were my friends, the ones I enjoyed,” she says. “Listings I didn’t enjoy because I didn’t do very well with them and also I didn’t like telling someone they painted that room a terrible color or things they were proud of but wouldn’t sell.”
Puckett says she was going to get out of the business, but then took a course in Knoxville on buyer brokerage and loved it.
“Some agents are the most wonderful listers because they can do that, and I think maybe they have a special way of doing that, but I never found it, so I took the course and said that’s what I wanted to do. I took the brokerage and then thought; I am going to start a company, I’m going to do it the way I want to do it, only represent buyers, and we also do it a little differently too!”
Different for Puckett means a non-competitive partnership with Billingsly where either of them can turn to the other and ask them to take a new client, and amazingly enough, Puckett says, the financial gain all works out for both of them.
The pair brings in their buyers so that both of them can meet their new client, and work together to find them the right house. They show their clients a big map in the office and find out where they want to be, and then find them in a house in, at most, two weeks, Puckett says.
Using the MLS and “for sale by owner” properties, the Buyers Exclusively team shares things they have seen, and using their superb knowledge of the market, they make short work of the house hunting process. If there is a new neighborhood, the pair will go out together to learn it, and this kind of work ethic is part of the reason they have been so successful, Puckett thinks.
For out of town buyers, they have been known to find houses for them within two visits to Chattanooga, and sometimes sight unseen when Pickett calls the buyer and says she knows she’s found their perfect house and sends them video of their new home.
“We really get to know these people. Even before they get here, we interview them over the phone, find out what they are looking for and then send them houses to look at so that we can cull a lot of things before they even get here,” Puckett says.
Part of Puckett’s commitment to her clients is in providing them a navigable Web site with many pictures of Chattanooga, and an interactive map to aid the ease of finding the area they want to relocate in. She attributes part of this success to the site’s design by Nancy Harrison, owner of Everything Just So. With the ease of working with Harrison, and her openness to suggestions like the interactive map, and important elements like the pictures to help sell the town, Puckett says Harrison was a joy to work with.
Friends ask Puckett when she will retire, but she laughs and asks why she would want to do a thing like that?
“I love this. I look forward to every day, and it’s different; there are no set times to work and it’s fun how we have changed things and the way we do it with no competition between us,” she says.
Since they hold their clients hands, help them through the inspections and take care of them, buyers love Buyers Exclusively, Puckett says.
“Especially with helping first time homebuyers, I feel like I’m back teaching school, because we help them understand even the terms and how everything works. Even people who have bought lots of houses love us, because we take their worry out of things,” she says.
One of Puckett’s main philosophies is that she never wants to look back in regret. As such, she is an avid fly fisherman, snow skier and has tried everything from white water canoeing to sail boarding. From selling a town she adores to doing business her own way, it’s safe to say regret is one thing Puckett won’t have to worry about.
Visit Buyers Exclusively at www. buychattanoogahomes.com.