Chattanooga Realtors looking to land Volkswagen business should step up their Internet advertising and prepare to show off the community, according to one Alabama agent who has experienced the opening of an automotive plant in his state.
“You need to develop some action plans to help handle the traffic,” said Taylor Jernigan, former president of the Montgomery (Ala.) Area Association of Realtors. Relocating executives “were coming in so fast at one point.”
Mr. Jernigan on Wednesday told Chattanooga Association of Realtors members about Hyundai’s effect on the Montgomery area and gave them tips for handling Volkswagen business.
Hyundai opened an auto assembly plant in Montgomery in May 2005. The plant provides 3,000 direct jobs and 8,000 total jobs and has a $1.4 billion estimated annual economic impact, Mr. Jernigan said. Twenty-six Tier One suppliers plus various lower-level suppliers are in 15 Alabama counties, he said.
A Montgomery, Ala., university offered etiquette, language and cooking courses to help residents welcome Hyundai executives visiting from South Korea.
Source: Taylor Jernigan
To deal with the influx of workers, Montgomery real estate agents created a detailed tour of the city’s landmarks and schools for relocating Hyundai executives, Mr. Jernigan said.
Giving a tour of a city is a standard business practice for working with any relocating client, said Dan Griess, a director of the Chattanooga Association of Realtors.
“When anyone is relocating to an area you want to give them an area tour and put your chamber of commerce hat on and show them all the features the city has to offer,” said Mr. Griess, a former president of the local Realtor group. “That’s a logical move.”
Mr. Jernigan said that on Tuesday night he searched the Internet using the keywords “Volkswagen,” “Chattanooga” and “Realtor,” and only two of the top 40 results included Chattanooga real estate agents. Realtors’ Web sites should mention they work in the home city of the new Volkswagen plant, Mr. Jernigan said, so their sites show up in Internet searches. Agents should also consider starting blogs that mention Volkswagen.
Hyundai built its plant in a farming area near Montgomery, he said. Residential sales volume jumped from about $3 million a year to $13 million a year, he said. But the plant’s construction led to real estate speculation as well, he said.
“Every landowner in that area thought they’d struck oil ... some of them did,” Mr. Jernigan said. “Some people held out a little bit longer, made a little bit more money. Some people held out even longer and they still have cows.”
Mr. Griess said that while many people may expect an instant real estate boom, it likely will take one to 1 1/2 years for housing sales to feel an impact from Volkswagen.
“We already had a good market,” said Mr. Griess of Crye-Leike Realtors. “We didn’t have the highs and lows. This will be icing on the cake.”