Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, November 9, 2018

No place like home for Norwood

Hixon Realtor helping others find their ‘great place to raise kids’

Crye-Leike Realtor Carey Norwood still lives less than a quarter mile from her childhood home on Flat Top Mountain near Soddy-Daisy. - Photograph by David Laprad

Three years before Carey Norwood was born, her father walked through the woods of Flat Top Mountain, climbed a tree and picked the view his daughter would grow up seeing.

Positioned at the end of a dead-end road, the home B.A. Skiles built was surrounded by undisturbed land and tall trees. Tiny creeks snaked through the family’s vast acreage, feeding the land and giving frogs a place to lay eggs. Norwood laughs at the memory of gathering the eggs with her cousins and trying, unsuccessfully, to hatch them.

Norwood spent untold hours exploring the woods that surrounded her home and lazily sitting at the brow of the mountain gazing at views so beautiful it was as though God Himself had climbed that storied tree and picked them.

Skiles had kept building after hammering together the family home. His mother lived in a house on the property, and he sold some of his land to a cousin who built a home there, too. It was, as Norwood says, very country.

“My dad did carpentry work, my mother stayed home until we went to school, and our cousins were our friends,” says Norwood, a Realtor with Crye-Leike in Hixson. “Life was good there.”

Life is still good there for Norwood, now 40. She lives 1,100 feet away from her childhood home with her husband and two nieces, whom she’s raising.

“I’ve never wanted to leave,” she says. “Plus, it’s a great place to raise kids.”

Norwood didn’t even leave for college, instead attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, securing her legacy as a dyed-in-the-wool local girl. After graduating from Soddy Daisy High School, she began taking classes at UTC in the hopes of becoming a math teacher.

Norwood took a job at a SunTrust Bank, too. The work inspired her to change her course of study, and in time she graduated from UTC with a degree in business administration, management and human resources.

Norwood continued her employment with SunTrust, working her way up to manager at one of the small branches situated within a local Winn-Dixie.

When the grocery store chain closed its Tennessee stores in 2005, Norwood was transferred to another area SunTrust branch.

Soon after, Norwood hit a brick wall of boredom.

“It was very humdrum and quiet,” she says. “I felt like I was watching my life pass before my eyes. I thought, ‘Is this my life for the next 30 years?’”

Norwood answered her own question when she took two weeks of vacation and, without telling anyone at the bank, attended real estate school. “I had to do something else,” she says. “I couldn’t sit there any longer.”

Real estate became Norwood’s “something else” after her father and her insurance agent both said she’d make a great Realtor. Once she did the math, she realized becoming an agent would give her the freedom her desk at the bank didn’t.

“I wanted a more flexible schedule. And I love sales. I’m also a numbers and a people person,” Norwood says. All of that added up to one thing: it was time for her to shift gears.

Norwood was nervous about leaving a salaried job for the uncertainty of an all-commission pursuit, so she stuck with the bank until she’d earned her sales bonus from the previous year (2005), then turned in her notice the moment the check was in her hands.

She placed her license with Crye-Leike in Soddy-Daisy the following Monday.

Norwood chose Crye-Leike as her new professional home because of its agent mentoring program, which eased her concerns about leaving the security of a regular paycheck.

Leann Stitt, one of Norwood’s former banking customers, took on the task of showing Norwood the ropes. “She had to take my calls and answer all my questions,” Norwood recalls. “That was a big fallback for me.”

Norwood says she immediately did everything she could think of to spread the word about her home-selling endeavor.

She made cold calls, sent mailers and took a class that taught her to include a business card with every handshake.

“I didn’t have children, so I worked every day,” she says. “I even did floor duty on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Norwood’s hard work and Stitt’s training paid off. In 2007, Norwood joined Crye-Leike Multi-Million Dollar Club; five years later, she received the Multi-Million Dollar Club Lifetime Award for consistently strong sales.

“I quit a good job to do this, so I couldn’t fail,” she says.

Just as rewarding for Norwood is the enjoyment she’s found in real estate.

“I like motivating myself, making my own goals and having more decision-making power,” she says. “Basically, I like being an entrepreneur.”

Norwood is so fond of real estate, she explains, she has little patience for agents who aren’t.

“In this business, you take the good with the bad. Thankfully, there’s more good than bad,” she says. “When I hear Realtors complaining, I tell them, ‘Get out of the business and send me your clients.’”

Norwood has learned to accept the occasional disappointments that come with representing home buyers and sellers, but she says she’s never become accustomed to those moments when an agent on the other side of a thorny transaction loses his or her composure.

“My biggest piece of advice for new agents is to remember people are human. When something unforeseen and out of someone’s control happens, remind yourself that you’re dealing with another person, not a stack of bricks,” she says. “We can all understand each other and get along.”

Norwood, who’s now based out of Crye-Leike’s Hixson office, has reached a point in her career where she’s ready to begin serving not just her clients but also her professional association.

Her first step in that direction consisted of completing Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ Leadership Academy. As a member of the class of 2019, she learned all about the association, including its history, operation and purpose, and how she can become a more active member.

“They want fresh faces at the association,” Norwood says. “Now that my nieces are older, I believe I’m ready.”

Norwood is already a seasoned community volunteer. While the youngest of the two girls she’s raising attended Soddy Elementary School, she volunteered at the school’s library four hours a week and helped where needed, whether it was washing dishes when the cafeteria was short-staffed or administering the TCAP to students.

“I always tried to help wherever they needed me if I had the time,” Norwood says. “That’s hard for parents with regular work schedules to do.”

Norwood tackled Leadership Academy this year because both of her nieces have reached an age where they need less hands-on care.

One, Carey Anna, is a junior at UTC. The youngest, Lena, is 11 and just getting to a point that Norwood feels comfortable giving her more rein.

Norwood began caring for her nieces in 2014 when life threw them a curveball. (That’s all Norwood is willing to say about the circumstances that led to her becoming their guardian.) She and her husband had deliberately never had children, so the transition from favorite aunt to full-time guardian was bumpy.

“In addition to them not being with their mother and father, they were living with Aunt Carey and had chores and other responsibilities, and it had never been that way at my house before,” Norwood remembers. “It had always been sleepovers and fun.

“We’re OK now. They’re great children.”

Although life has come with a few twists and turns, it’s not taken Norwood far from the idyllic surroundings of her childhood, where her parents still live in the same house.

Norwood and her husband, Adam Norwood, an EPB employee, purchased the neighboring house and are now living on what Norwood calls “the lower brow” of Flat Top Mountain.

This allows Norwood to indulge her favorite obsession: her parents, who are merely in their sixties.

“I get on their nerves. If they don’t answer their phone, the next time I speak with them, I’m like, ‘I thought you’d been ax murdered. Why haven’t you answered your phone today?’”

Norwood and her dad have found many ways to spend time together. In addition to co-managing his 14 rental properties, the two of them sometimes flip houses together.

Norwood also looks forward to warm weather so she can luxuriate beside her parents’ pool with her mother.

Norwood does give her parents a break now and again as she entertains friends in her home (Saturday night is usually ladies’ night her with her girlfriends) or spends time on a distant beach with Adam and Chopper, her 14-year-old black Labrador (which Norwood calls her “favorite thing in the whole world).

But no matter how far away they travel or how long they’re gone, Norwood is always eager to return to the place where she works, cares for those she loves and spends her days and nights.

It’s where she’s always lived, and likely always will.