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Crye-Leike Co-founder and CEO Harold Crye speaks during a company event on Jan. 21, 2014.

The president of Tennessee's biggest real estate firm said Tuesday that he's hopeful company sales will rise about 5 percent in 2015 to reach 32,000 sales units worth about $5.5 billion.

"We think that's very doable," said Harold Crye, president of Memphis-based Crye-Leike Inc.

Crye, speaking to Chattanooga area agents, said he's still a little concerned about the U.S. economy.

"The jobs don't quite seem to be there. They're picking up. They seem to be better and better," he said, adding that every market is different.

Crye said the two hottest markets in the company's service area are Nashville and Northwest Arkansas.

"Nashville is on fire," he said. "It's kind of a boom town over there to some degree."

The Northwest Arkansas market, where Wal-Mart is headquartered, is "doing really, really well," Crye said.

He said he was at a recent national meeting of brokers and a moderator asked each to say what market they're in, if business is up or down and by what percent. Crye said all of the brokers were down except in South Florida and California.

"I was feeling badly that we were kind of flat, [but] flat began to look good compared to a lot of the markets," he said.

Still, Crye said, he believes most markets are improving.

During his annual sales meeting with Chattanooga agents, Crye said his business has begun to drop use of online real estate sites Trulia and Zillow, saying they offer "an extortion model" of doing business.

Crye showed one of those company's websites of a house for sale in Brentwood, Tenn. While a listing agent is on the website, there's no contact information or photo unless he pays money, he said.

Also, there are photos of three agents on the site who paid for them, he said.

"We know those three people have never been in the house. The only thing is they paid money to be there. You can keep them off there if you pay money," Crye said. "We think that's totally bad. Why would we ever let other people advertise our listings?"

In markets where Crye-Leike has pulled out of Trulia and Zillow, the company is getting more in-house sales, typically by the listing agent, he said. There's decreased days on the market, and increased company market share, Crye said.

Crye-Leike, one of the nation's biggest real estate agencies, has almost 3,000 agents and more than 100 offices.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.

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