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Broker Spotlight: Joyce Smith, PMN

by Karen M. Kroll

Helping Clients Make Profitable Real Estate Investments

Joyce Smith - largeThe career trajectory of Joyce Smith, PMN, a compliance broker and REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in Chattanooga, TN, demonstrates the range of options open to real estate professionals.

Smith first earned her license in 1980, prompted by her initial foray into real estate investing. Smith had recently purchased a two-family structure and was living in one side and renting the other. "I was interested in learning more about the industry," she says.

However, Smith didn't actually pursue a career in real estate until about nine years later, when her corporate position was eliminated in a downsizing. Starting in 1989, Smith began practicing real estate sales full time with a local firm.

Four years later, Smith made another switch, taking a position with a public housing organization that focused primarily on property management. After several years, Smith moved to a nonprofit group involved in neighborhood revitalizations. She and her colleagues worked to revitalize a residential neighborhood near the University of Tennessee.

Over the next 10 years, many of the houses the group developed doubled in value, Smith says. Even now, when one comes up for sale, it usually is snapped up in a matter of weeks. The group's work also was key in attracting private development to the area.

During this time Smith also earned her masters degree in community economic development through Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester. She flew to campus once a month for about 18 months, while also studying on her own. "It was a great experience," Smith says. She was one member of a diverse group of 30 students from around the country enrolled in the program.

Smith spent six years with the nonprofit group, returning to real estate sales and brokering in 2003, where she's been for the past decade. She currently juggles two roles: Smith remains in sales, working primarily with first-time buyers, companies that are relocating employees to the Chattanooga area and clients she receives by referral.

In addition, Smith is the compliance broker for the office. She verifies that pending sales transactions comply with applicable regulations. 

Smith credits much of her success to her participation in professional groups, including the Women's Council. "Getting involved with Women's Council allowed me to network and meet people throughout the country. It’s been invaluable," Smith says. She has held a number of industry positions, having served as president of both the local chapter and state and as a member of the national Professional Development Forum. Smith also has served on various committees with the Tennessee Association of REALTORS®.

Although Smith recently has had to scale back her volunteer commitments to care for an aging parent, she has been involved with a number of other nonprofit and civic organizations, including an organization that provides transportation for individuals with special needs and a local housing commission.

Other keys to Smith’s success are honesty and a desire to treat people the way she likes to be treated, she says. "So many people tell you what you want to hear versus being honest about the challenges." Smith points out that some first-time home buyers lack a thorough understanding of the financial commitment they’re undertaking. For example, at least a few buyers who entered into adjustable rate mortgages didn’t fully realize the impact of the payment escalations. It can be tempting for some agents to brush over this information. "I don't like to do that," Smith says.

In addition, Smith regularly works with clients who need to strengthen their credit history before taking on a mortgage – a process that can take six to 12 months. Smith stays in contact with them during this period, "with the hope that the client will do what they should to improve their credit score." Some do, and some don't.

Throughout her real estate career, Smith's overriding goal has been to help her clients make profitable investments in real estate, whether they're purchasing a home in which to live or one to rent or sell. It's an area she knows well. Since her initial investment, Smith has, among other investments, purchased several rental homes and constructed a handful of single-family homes for resale.

Just as important to Smith's career is one trait she tries to avoid: pushiness. "[A home] is a big investment," she says. "If it's not there tomorrow, that's okay. We'll just move on. Smith adds that when agents really work with individuals and have a solid understanding of their needs and capabilities, the right house will appear when the clients are ready.

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