Chattanooga Realtors group celebrates century

Chattanooga Realtors group celebrates century

June 22nd, 2012 by Dave Flessner in Business Around the Region

Mary Carlson, a member of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors board of directors, reads an article about the association in front of a wall bearing the photos of past presidents at their headquarters in Chattanooga on Thursday. The association celebrated its 100th anniversary with a party for members on Thursday.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Century timeline

1912 - Chattanooga Real Estate Exchange established with Noah Hamilton Grady as president. Later became known as Real Estate Board of Chattanooga

1944 - Name changed to Chattanooga Board of Realtors

1956 - Dorothy Hicks hired as executive vice president and first office opened in the Jackson building; Multiple Listing Service established with John R. "Jack" McGauley as president.

1975 - June Kempson succeeds Dorothy Hicks as executive vice president; offices move to Pioneer Bank Building.

1976 - Katherine Bible elected the association's first female president

1979 - Offices move from Pioneer Bank Building to new headquarters on Amnicola Highway.

1989 - Name changed to Chattanooga Association of Realtors.

1992 - Francie Ryder succeeds June Kempson as executive officer.

1997 - CAR and Northwest Georgia Board of Realtors merge.

2010 - Named changed to Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

2012 - GCAR TV introduced

Chattanooga Realtors who gathered Thursday to mark the 100th anniversary of their local association had reason to celebrate.

Despite a report from the National Association of Realtors showing a slight dip in home sales last month, local Realtors reported Thursday that they sold 11 percent more homes last month than they did in April and 22.8 percent more residential units than they did a year ago.

"We've not seen these kind of sales increases since before the recession," Mark Hite, president of the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, said during a reception Thursday at the Realtors' headquarters in Chattanooga. "Sales have been up for five consecutive months and things are really upbeat, much more than in many markets."

Realtors sold 608 houses during May in the biggest monthly gain since the surge created two years ago by the first-time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8,000.

"This is free enterprise at its best now," Hite said.

Through five different names and four relocations, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors and its predecessor groups have remained the primary agent training and exchange network for home sales since its start as the Chattanooga Real Estate Exchange in 1912.

The association grew to include more than 2,000 members by 2007 before the housing slump cut its membership by more than a third to only 1,335 two years ago.

But Realtors said Thursday they see signs of improvement, although it will likely be years before the market gets back to its heyday prior to the recent recession. The association now includes 1,435 members, Hite said.

Across Tennessee, "our markets are doing much better" than the nation as a whole, said Sue Stinson Turner, a Crye-Leike agent in Memphis and current president of the Tennessee Association of Realtors.

Although lenders are stricter in making loans than they were a decade ago, mortgage rates are at historic lows and inventories of unsold houses are declining, Turner said.

Randall Thomas, president of the Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors and vice president of the state Realtors association, said the Tri-cities region in Tennessee is one of only 20 U.S. markets where home prices never declined on an annual basis during the recent recession.

"The East Tennessee market is like a little rubber duck on a creek," he said. "He goes up a little and down a little, but he never takes off and he never sinks."