Some business partnerships are born with a handshake. Others are formed out of necessity. But the teaming of Realtors Sarah Brogdon and Davey Horsman was forged in the fires of two hellish deals.
Brogdon and Horsman worked different sides of those transactions, which they both say were terrible experiences. But as they plowed through the seemingly insurmountable obstacles of each one, they developed a camaraderie.
Brogdon says she was impressed with Horsman’s thoroughness, responsiveness and understanding of the real estate process. In turn, Horsman says he appreciated Brogdon’s willingness to come together in the spirit of cooperation to get the deals done.
“I love to negotiate and drive a hard bargain,” Brogdon says. “But that doesn’t mean I have to be difficult, negative or noncommunicative. You can do a good job for your client and still have a positive working relationship with the other agent.”
As luck would have it, Brogdon was looking for help. In 2010, she had traded a career in the recycling industry for work as a Realtor at Keller Williams Greater Downtown Realty. She and her husband, Joe, had started a family that year, and she wanted to commit more of her time to raising her son, Beau. Three years later, Buz come along, and in 2014, Brogdon’s real estate business took off like a rocket. By 2015, she was pulling in $13 million a year in sales, and was showing no signs of slowing down. In early 2016, the irony of Brogdon’s situation became glaringly apparent.
“The volume of real estate I was selling was making it hard to do that and be a mom,” Brogdon says. “Being a Realtor had become more than full time, so I needed help.”
Horsman, who was also operating out of KW Downtown, was happy to jump aboard. He’d been in real estate for half as long as Brogdon, but he knew a good opportunity when he saw one.
“The number one driver for me was Sarah’s volume,” he says. “Her ability to sell that much on her own was insane.”
Bringing on Horsman to handle the bulk of the showings freed Brogdon to pursue more listings, although it was initially difficult for her to pass on this and other aspects of the real estate process to her new partner.
“Davey will tell you I had a hard time giving up the reins because I care a lot about the quality of service we offer,” she says.
Although the partnership between Brogdon and Horsman is only about six months old, it’s already bearing fruit. Together, they’re on track to cross $18 million in sales in 2016. While they’re pleased with the results of their work, they’re looking at ways to bump up their numbers even more.
Achieving higher sales doesn’t necessarily mean selling more houses. Instead, Brogdon and Horsman are looking to increase the average price of the houses they sell.
Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors statistics show the average sale price in the Greater Chattanooga area is about $200,000. Before bringing on Horsman, her personal average selling price was about $220,000. It’s now close to $240,000. Brogdon wants to push that number even higher.
“We’d like to do fewer transactions but increase our average dollar amount per house,” Brogdon says.
One thing neither Brogdon nor Horsman want is to increase their numbers by growing the team. At this point, it’s just the two of them, along with an administrative assistant and a marketing assistant, and they’d like to keep it that way for now.
“Some Realtors want to grow a really large team and go for as many home sales as they can,” Brogdon says. “We’re targeting a specific demographic, and we’re planning to grow our business through personal referrals. Our goal is to do such a good job for our clients that they’ll tell other people about us.”
Brogdon and Horsman are both Chattanooga natives who have made a life in their hometown. Eager to leave the Chattanooga area, Brogdon attended undergraduate school at Roanoke College and earned her master’s degree at Virginia Tech.
While subsequently working in the environmental field in Washington, D.C., she continued to make trips back to Chattanooga – and she liked what she saw.
“When you grow up here, you can’t wait to leave. But when I would come back to visit, I would see how much better Chattanooga was becoming,” Brogdon says. “Plus, I got into rock climbing, and Chattanooga is a rock climbing mecca.”
In time, Brogdon became disillusioned with her work in the nation’s capital, so she moved back to Chattanooga, married, and took a job at a paper company. At the time, her husband was working for a builder, and she gradually became drawn to the idea of selling real estate.
“You get to work with people during some of the most significant points in their lives – when their family is growing, or when they’re downsizing because their children have moved on,” she says. “I like helping people through these big life changes.”
An accountant by trade, Horsman was working for a local paperboard packaging manufacturer when he realized he had financial ambitions that would require him to strike out on his own.
Having lived in several houses within in North Chattanooga, Horsman had already developed a love for real estate. He was leery of quitting his day job, though, so he sold houses part-time while continuing to work as an account. When he married in 2012, his wife, Christie, urged him to jump into real estate with both feet.
Today, both Brogdon and Horsman feel fortunate to be working as Realtors. While they can’t help but talk numbers, their day-to-day goal is simpler, and arose out of their enthusiasm for what they do: “Each day, we get up and work hard for our clients,” Brogdon says.
Both Brogdon and Horsman are trying to impact their community in ways separate from selling real estate. As a team, they sponsored this year’s Normalpalooza, the annual fundraiser for Normal Park Museum Magnet. Brogdon, a part-time yoga instructor, sponsored the most recent Southern Bend Yoga Festival, which benefitted the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. And Horsman is a member of The Bright School’s alumni council.
Beyond that, Brogdon claims as much family time as she can with her husband, who now owns Brogdon Construction, and their two sons. Even in those precious few moments, real estate isn’t far from anyone’s mind.
“My six-year-old tells people his daddy builds houses and his mommy sells them,” Brogdon says, laughing.
Horsman and his wife like to travel.
Moving forward, Brogdon and Horsman simply want to continue to enjoy their work.
“Real estate is one of those careers in which your personal and professional lives overlap,” Brogdon says. “Joe and I have become great friends with Davey and Christie. And Davey and I have a great partnership. I’m very fortunate.”
Horsman feels lucky, too. “Sarah is easy to work with and we get along well,” he says. “We’re going to have fun.”