Job: Broker for Re/Max Properties
Career: A native of Anderson County, Ramsey attended the University of Tennessee, both in Chattanooga and Knoxville, and worked as a bartender and corporate trainer for Applebee’s and O’Charley’s restaurants before becoming a Realtor and joining Re/Max in 2000.
Real estate positions: Ramsey is the 2017 president of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors and is a board member for Tennessee Realtors.
Professional distinctions : Ramsey is a Certified Residential Specialist and a graduate of Realtor Institute.
Volunteer roles: He has been a sponsor of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway every year since 2013.
Growing up in Oliver Springs, Tennessee, Geoff Ramsey watched his father's legal and political career as Anderson County's district attorney and thought, as a youth, he would follow a similar path.
But Ramsey, who has worked long hours since he started mowing lawns and delivering newspapers as a teenager, found he wasn't content to just sit still, study his books and pursue a legal career.
So, rather than practice law in his hometown, Ramsey has found his passion combining his hard work and negotiating skills to sell real estate in his adopted home in Chattanooga. The 47-year-old Realtor is the 2017 president of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors, where he will serve as the volunteer head of the 2,014-member association this year.
Ramsey came to Chattanooga in 1993 to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and live with his aunt, Linda Collins, who was a professor of biological and environmental sciences at UTC. Ramsey lived in his aunt's guest house while studying political science and preparing for what he thought would be a career in law.
But Ramsey wasn't content just to go to college, so he also worked a variety of jobs, including working as a bartender and selling real estate on the side. He gave up college 28 hours before graduation and focused on his restaurant work for a few years before deciding nearly two decades ago to get his real estate license and try selling homes.
While building his real estate business, Ramsey continued to tend bar at night for the first five years "because I wanted to have enough money in the bank and reserves so that if I didn't sell any property I could still pay my bills."
Over the past 17 years as an agent and broker for Re/Max Properties in Chattanooga, Ramsey has grown his real estate business to pay ever bigger bills. Ramsey has combined the political and negotiating skills he acquired from his father with his zeal for hard work and study to become one of Chattanooga's top selling real estate agents.
Ramsey ranks among the top 10 individual real estate agents in Chattanooga with sales last year of more than $135 million.
"In real estate, you pretty much get out what you put into the profession," he says.
For Ramsey, that is often a 7-day-a-week job with long hours. He said real estate has proven to be the perfect job for him "because I have trouble sitting in one place or not getting out and working."
As an admitted workaholic, Ramsey said he has had a strong desire to work since he had to beg his parents to allow him to be a dishwasher at the local Pizza Hut at age 16 — and then quickly became a shift supervisor before he was even 18.
"I had the keys to the place and would lock it up at night before I was even legally able to sign my own contract," Ramsey recalls.
While in college, he began tending bar and later worked as corporate bar trainer for O'Charley's and Applebee's.
But real estate ultimately proved to be his calling to capitalize on the skills he learned while growing up with his passion for active work.
His father, James Nelson Ramsey, worked as a city judge and county district attorney for 28 years in Anderson County. The younger Ramsey said he learned from his father at a young age that you need to work hard, have a thick skin and treat people fairly.
After an initial foray into real estate generated only limited success on his own, Ramsey returned to the profession with a mentor when he joined the team of Realtor William Weathers for several years nearly two decades ago.
"That taught me a tremendous amount about what you need to know to be successful in this profession, and I would encourage most people thinking about real estate to get a mentor or start working with someone else until you get established," he says.
Aided by a small support staff, Ramsey sells both new and existing homes, along with some commercial property, as well. Ramsey has participated as a partner in four commercial properties and has helped assemble properties for some residential subdivisions. But he said he focuses on selling, rather than building, homes and residential properties. Ramsey has worked for years with GT Issa Construction, including such projects at Flower Branch, Castlegate, Hawks Landing and Barrington Pointe.
Such developments have been home to a half dozen St. Jude's Dream Giveaway Homes, which builders, developers and Realtors have donated time and materials to help raise millions of dollars over the past five years from raffle tickets sold to benefit St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. Ramsey said he likes to support both St. Jude's and the Children's Miracle Network.
"I don't have kids of my own so with the amount of money it takes to raise a child, I can afford to give back to these causes," he says.
Ramsey will also spend much of this year giving back to the profession he loves. He is both president of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors (formerly the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors) and a board member of the Tennessee Realtors.
As head of the Realtors association in Chattanooga, Ramsey said he hopes to build upon the education focus for the local Realtors group promoted in 2017 by Mark Hite, who was president of the local Realtors group last year.
"We want to continue to raise the standards of our profession and education is a key part of that," he says. "I hope we can not only offer the classes our Realtors need to maintain their licenses, but also classes that teach you how to be a better business person."
Realtors are coming off of a record sales year in 2017 even with leaner inventories and more Realtors selling houses. Last year, membership in the Greater Chattanooga Realtors topped 2,000 for the first time since before the Great Recession a decade earlier.
"We're turning inventory much more quickly and hopefully in 2018 we'll see more homes come on the market," Ramsey says. "Chattanooga is getting national recognition as a retirement destination or a great place to raise a family. Chattanooga is growing and more people are moving here. I don't think that is going to stop anytime soon and when people move, they usually need a Realtor."