Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 20, 2018

‘Work isn’t just a job for me’

Torgerson’s early real estate success defies millennial stereotype

Millennials, the estimated 75 million individuals ages 22 through 37, are typically profiled as underpaid, underemployed, riddled with student debt and often still living at home with their parents.

Nathan Torgerson destroys that stereotype.

The 28-year-old Realtor, who got started in his local real estate career when he was 21 and fresh out of college, leads his own successful cadre of industry professionals – the Torgerson Team at Keller Williams Realty.

The Torgerson Team sold 100 properties last year and is on track to sell more in 2018. The team consistently performs above industry sales averages, locally, regionally and nationally.

What drives this high-performing millennial, and how has he been able to reach a level of success many people don’t reach until the mid-point of their careers?

First of all, Torgerson has a habit of minimizing the fact that he’s a millennial, preferring not to be defined by the label and the flighty image that sometimes goes along with it.

But recently, he’s been more willing to own up to his age and generation.

“For a long time I didn’t like talking about my age,” Torgerson says. “Now that I have a proven track record, I’m more comfortable with it.”

While real estate is notorious for attracting people who are older than 30 and often pursuing a second or third career, Torgerson signed up with Keller Williams almost immediately after graduating from college.

He had already practiced a pattern of success at Lee University in nearby Cleveland, where he earned an advertising degree and graduated summa cum laude in 2011. He also was named the top advertising student in his class.

Eager to pursue a promising career track right away, Torgerson was more than willing to put in long hours of training and practice and not afraid to risk failure. If he was going to make a mark on the real estate scene early on he knew he’d need to be dogged, persistent and committed.

“I knew I didn’t want a quick in and out kind of job,” Torgerson says. “I grew up witnessing an incredible work ethic from my dad. I learned so much from him growing up, and that’s probably one reason my own work ethic is so strong.

“Work isn’t just a job for me; it’s something I’m passionate about and actually enjoy doing,” he adds.

Since diving into his real estate career seven years ago, Torgerson has piled up awards and accolades. In 2012, he was awarded Rookie of the Year for Keller Williams Realty.

During this time he also received numerous customer service and top listing agent awards.

In 2014, he reached the top 100 list of agents in the Greater Chattanooga and North Georgia area, and the following year Torgerson was recognized as the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Real Estate Professionals.

By 2016, Keller Williams presented him with the Highest Closed GCI (gross commission income) by Agent and Most Closed Units by Agent awards, making him the No. 1 agent at Keller Williams Downtown Realty, not only for volume sold but also the number of units.

And finally, in 2017 Torgerson ranked in the top 2 percent of agents in the Greater Chattanooga and North Georgia Area.

Torgerson gives substantial credit to Keller Williams Realty for providing him with the educational resources and coaching he needed to learn the industry’s best practices.

“Going with Keller Williams was a great decision,” Torgerson says. “Without all that guidance they provided me at 21, I really wouldn’t be where I am.”

Hamilton County Herald recently chatted with Torgerson about his real estate career in the Scenic City.

Tell us about your background. How did you end up in Chattanooga?

“I was born and raised in Southwest Missouri, in a town called Springfield. When I was 13, my dad was promoted and our family moved to Atlanta. All our family still lives in Springfield – cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. I graduated high school in North Atlanta and then moved to Cleveland to attend Lee University.

“The degree I received (advertising major and graphic design and biblical studies minor) has helped me tremendously in building my business and using skills most other Realtors may not have. I love the side of my business where I get to be creative in our marketing efforts and in making various advertisements. It’s been a huge advantage.

When did you start your real estate career?

“A week after I graduated from college, I married my wife Mary Beth. We met the first day of college in our first class. It was history after that. While in school, Mary Beth was interning at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. They offered her a full-time job, so after we graduated we decided to stay in the Chattanooga area. At the time, my goal was to find a job at an advertising agency doing graphic design or media sales.

“The economy was still down and that job market was a bit scarce, so I decided to follow a passion I always had in the back of my mind - real estate. Two to three months after graduation I was licensed, and I hung my license with Keller Williams Realty.

Can you give us a sense of the various phases of your career as it’s grown?

“Little did I know that Chattanooga’s lowest real estate year was in 2011 when I started my new career. I was also new to the area and didn’t have any connections with friends, family, colleagues, etc. That’s super important in the real estate industry. It’s very much a people-oriented business, and it helps to know people in the area when you’re starting off. However, the fear of failure and not providing for my wife was the motivation behind making sure I put my all in this new career choice.

“Not knowing anyone, in the beginning, was a big challenge. I did a lot of cold calling, door knocking and had a lot of open houses. I concentrated on giving not just good customer service but the best customer service anyone could experience. Cold calling is never fun, but it’s what I had to do. It’s all paid off. Now almost all of my business comes from repeat clients or referrals.

“We love our clients and want to continue to give back to them year after year for entrusting us with their real estate needs. We do client appreciation events and offer them a free night at the movies for their families. We also give away pies during Thanksgiving as a thank you for their continued support.’’

Can you name your favorite things about real estate? Do you have notable specialties or interests?

“My favorite thing about real estate is the people I get to meet, relationships I get to build, and the people and families I get to help. Buying and selling real estate is one of the most expensive transactions a person will do in their lifetime. To be able to walk our clients through the process, offer our advice and help them make sound decisions is always rewarding. I also love that every day is different. I always have new conversations, negotiate new contracts and meet with new clients.

“We primarily work in the residential field selling condos, townhomes, single-family and land properties in the Greater Chattanooga and the North Georgia area including Hamilton, Bradley, Sequatchie, Marion, Rhea, Meigs, Walker, Catoosa, Dade and Whitfield counties.’’

What is it like to build a real estate team?

“Building a team is incredibly rewarding. To be able to give colleagues and friends opportunities financially and professionally is a benefit. The reward of building a team [comes in being] able to offer our clients the best customer service, being available to help at a moment’s notice and always having someone there to help answer questions for clients.

“We each have a specific job on the team. I’m the team lead and work primarily with sellers. Jordan Cook is our buyer specialist and works with all our buyers. Griff Fleenor is our sales agent and helps connect future clients to the team; my wife Mary Beth is our marketing director and handles client events, social media, and weekly blogs; and Lauren Johnson is our transaction coordinator who helps take clients from contract to the closing table with paperwork and meeting deadlines.’’

What does the Chattanooga market have going for it? Are you selling more homes this year than last year?

“The Chattanooga real estate market is amazing, but difficult to maneuver. Home prices are up but the overall inventory is very low, making it hard for buyers to find properties. Sellers are reaping the rewards at this time by selling quickly and for top dollar. Average days on market is 55 for the overall market, but The Torgerson Team’s average days on market is only 30.

“Sellers are selling at 96 percent of their asking price, but The Torgerson Team is selling at about 98 percent – helping our seller’s make more money than most on the sale of their homes. We are currently on track to sell more homes than in 2017. We sold about 100 properties last year."

If you had a crystal ball and could predict where the Chattanooga real estate market would be in five years, what would you say?

“I believe we will continue to see more growth in our city and more new construction coming to the area to help support our growing population. We will see communities grow and change residentially and commercially. However, with rising interest rates and higher than normal price points, buyers may start to push their pedals and start slowing down their purchasing process.’’

What keeps you busy in your spare time?

“I studied abroad in Cambridge, England, when I was in college for an entire semester. Since that time, I’ve developed a love for traveling. I love meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, seeing amazing sites, and trying different food and drinks. I also love all the outdoor amenities Chattanooga has to offer –paddle boarding, hiking, blue holes. My wife is also involved in musical theater locally, so I enjoy getting to see her shine in the spotlight when she has new shows she is in.’’

Are there other ways in which you engage with the Chattanooga community? Anything you want to mention?

“We are currently holding a School Supply Drive for local teachers. This is an effort we started in 2017, and it was such a success we wanted to continue to do it every year. It warms our heart to see the reactions from the teachers when they receive the gift baskets we put together.

"It’s like a weight is lifted off their shoulders. Teachers invest a lot of personal money into school supplies and to help make their classrooms a better learning experience. We want to give back and help offset those costs. We are accepting donations through the month of July.’’