Best in the Business
Realtor of the Year Hagan Stone juggles clients, volunteering
Friday, March 18, 2011, Vol. 35, No. 11
By Colleen Creamer
Daily, Hagan Stone rushes from meeting to meeting, fields phone calls, managing to make time for church and family, and is, concurrently, one of the most successful realtors in Nashville.
The Greater Nashville Association of Realtors (GNAR), the region’s organization of record for the real estate industry, just named Stone 2010 Realtor of the Year. He also serves on the Belmont University Alumni Board, helped develop the curriculum for Youth Leadership Brentwood and teaches a Sunday school class. Fortuitously, for Stone, meaningful involvement in his community does appear to dovetail with his success
“With this economic climate, it’s got to be more of a shepherding process,” says Stone, who is allied with Pinkerton Realtors. “We spend more time educating them because they have a lot more choices, especially buyers. The sale and brokerage of real estate is a very personal business. So, we have to be able to connect with clients and customers in a unique way to be able to facilitate a transaction.”
Areas continuing to rise in appreciation, Stone says, include the Belmont/Vanderbilt area, 12South, East Nashville, Woodland Waverly and parts of downtown Franklin and Brentwood.
“Those areas are the shining stars. They are seeing a lot of new construction going on and a lot of renovation,” he says. “People are kind of getting back in the saddle and knowing that those areas are not going to diminish. We are on the cusp of seeing real stabilization within the next two to three years.”
Buyers have mostly been those relocating to Nashville, Stone says, and those looking to take advantage of the current market to invest in starter homes.
“I am seeing people who are moving here for opportunity from other cities. That’s been about half of my business for about the last six months to a year. I am also seeing people who are buying their first home in the last six to 12 months. The rates are probably at a historic low, and so they are likely to go ahead and pull the trigger.”
The most important thing for sellers, however, is the pricing and the condition of the home, he adds.
“The location is important, but those are the two things you can work on to sell,” says Stone, adding the majority of sellers are those leaving Nashville and Baby Boomers looking for less maintenance.
“I have lots of over-50 clients who want to get into something smaller with less maintenance so they can travel,” he explains.
Selling a home during a housing glut, Stone specifically advises potential sellers to not only find a realtor they can connect with but also one who can act as financial advisor.
“Number one, find a realtor who has the knowledge to price your house to sell and not necessarily to accomplish financial goals, because there is a disconnect between the two,” he says. “Sometimes people will go in and talk to an agent and realize it’s best to stay where they are. They say one of the four or the five things that does not have anything to do with selling your home is, number one, what you paid for it, unfortunately.”
Realtor of the Year is awarded annually to the GNAR member “who has made the most significant contribution to their clients, to the real estate profession and to the community.” The five immediate past winners select the winner.
Alice Walker, president of GNAR, says Stone’s professionalism, affable nature and work ethic made him a natural for GNAR’s 2010 award.
“He is a remarkable professional and a remarkable person,” Walker says. “And, it bears noting that he and his family were directly affected by the flood last May. To earn award recognition this year while rebuilding his home and caring for the needs of his family is simply amazing.”
Stone also counsels those who bought during the real estate bubble, particularly from 2006 on, to stay for a few years if they are looking to recoup losses including what upgrades they may have made. However, he maintains, staging a house is still primary.
“Some of those [upgrades] are not going to give you the return on investment that you are thinking, so you need to have somebody who can tell you honestly and can help you make the right decision as to whether it is time to sell or not and to what a really good market price would be,” he says. Social networking is part of Stone’s approach to selling houses but, as usual, he takes a balanced approach.
“I use Facebook to keep up with all my friends and real estate colleagues, but I find that if you use it for business primarily, then you lose a lot of friends,” he says.
“I’ll tweet out what the going rates are for a day, activities I see in the market. I’ll tweet that I’ve just shown a great house. I have a lot of other realtors that follow me and say, ‘You know, this didn’t work for my client, but it was nice to see this property.’ Technology is great, but there is no substitute for personal contact.”
Stone says a family home offers considerably more than bricks and mortar. His innate understanding of “a sense of place” is part of what propels him to help clients make the right decision.
“My passion is to be able to help people make a really wise decision they’ll feel good about for a long time,” he says.
Stone’s positive attitude has an infectious impact on those around him, including prominent colleagues. Richard Courtney, former GNAR president and author of the best selling inside-the-biz book “Buyers are Liars and Sellers are Too!” is not immune.
“Hagan Stone possesses a unique ability to lead while those following are having fun,” Courtney says. “Actually, they’re having a blast. More important, they are accomplishing things. I know of no one that has chaired more challenging committees and produced more incredible results. He smiles. He works. He is positive. He is brilliant. And he’s hilarious.”
Stone is a vice president of GNAR and is a director of the Tennessee Association of Realtor.