Byron, Ben and Karen Kelly, and Vanessa Mercer, from left, stand Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 in Chattanooga Golf and Country Club

CORRECTIONS: An earlier version of this story included a quote that incorrectly suggested that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices had the highest average sales price among the five biggest local real estate agencies last year. According to the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors data, the average price of homes sold by Real Estate Partners in 2016 was $246,274, which was higher last year than the $219,848 average for Berkshire Hathaway, which had the second highest average sales volume among the leading real estate agencies in Chattanooga. Also, an earlier version of this story included a different list of top agents and teams that was ranked based upon number of transactions each team or agent handled in 2016 and their total value of their sales. The list included here includes top teams and agents ranked by the dollar value of total sales in 2016. The top selling individual Realtor in Chattanooga last year who was not affiliated with a sales team of agents was Linda Brock with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty.

Top real estate agencies in 2016 MLS home sales

1. Keller Williams Realty downtown, $703.7 million

2. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty, $415.7 million

3. Keller William Realty Cleveland, $407.2 million

4. Cye-Leike Realtors, $354.6 million

5. Real Estate Partners Chattanooga, $193.9 million

Source: 2016 Multiple Listing Service totals, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors

Top agents, teams in Chattanooga

The real estate agents and teams who sold the most dollar-value of homes in 2016 were:

1. Edrington Team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center, $83.8 million

2. Jay Robinson of Keller Williams Realty, $73.4 million

3. Mark Hite team of Keller Williams Realty, $72.2 million

4. Charlotte Mabry team of Keller Williams Realty, $70.2 million

5. Linda Brock of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center, $54.3 million

6. Jim Lea of Keller Williams Realty, $53.9 million

7. Wendy Dixon team at Keller Williams Realty, $50.8 million

8. Paula McDaniel of Real Estate Partners Chattanooga, $37.5 million

9. Geoffrey Ramsey of Re/Max Properties, $36 million

10. Barry Evans of Keller Williams Realty, $34.8 million

Source: Multiple Listing Service sales in 2016 through the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors. Property types include single-family, multi-family and vacant land.

Realty Center timeline

1982 - Realty Center is started by Ben and Karen Kelly and Wayne Powell.

1985 - Kelly’s assume sole ownership and the firm affiliates with the Better Homes and Garden real estate franchise.

2002 - GMAC buys the BH&G franchise and firm becomes Realty Center GMAC.

2006 - Firm joins the Prudential Real Estate network and becomes Prudential

2015 - Firm becomes one of the first Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty Center Agency franchisees

2017: Byron Kelly succeeds his father, Ben, as CEO of the agency

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Doug, Grace and George Eddington, from left, stand Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017 in Chattanooga Golf and Country Club

After 35 years of leading one of Chattanooga's biggest real estate agencies, Ben and Karen Kelly on Wednesday passed the torch to a new generation, turning over control of the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Realty franchise in Chattanooga to their son, Byron.

With the economy continuing to improve, the new head of Chattanooga's second biggest real estate agency said he expects the market to continue to improve in 2017. The local Berkshire Hathaway franchisee has grown to include 171 agents at five offices and Byron Kelly said he hopes to expand that number up to 200 agents this year.

"But we want to serve our agents and we want the best agents, not just the most agents," Kelly said. "I think the Berkshire Hathaway brand and our reputation really helps us."

Although his parents have been leaders in Chattanooga's real estate industry over the past four decades, Kelly said growing up he was not initially anxious to follow his parents' vocation so he studied geography at San Francisco State University.

"I was trying to get as far away from real estate as possible, but it turns out real estate is really just applied geography and I've been blessed to have this whole real estate family raise me and then teach me how to sell real estate," Kelly said. "It's really amazing how supportive and generous our agents are with each other. They are really cooperative competitors."

Kelly said he started out cleaning up at his parents first real estate office in Hixson in the 1980s and got his real estate license and entered the industry in Hixson in 2002.

Ben Kelly, who has operated one of Chattanooga's top real estate agencies for the past generation under the Better Homes and Gardens, GMAC, Prudential and Berkshire Hathaway brands, had one simple piece of advice to his son during the company's annual awards ceremony Wednesday in which the leadership baton was passed.

"Make sure that what you say, how you act and what you tweet is always presidential," the elder Kelly told his son.

Berkshire Hathaway has the top selling real estate team in Chattanooga, the Edrington team, which closed 441 home sales last year collectively worth more than $83.8 million, up nearly 15 percent from the previous year.

The agency, which was recognized Wednesday with the company's top team award, has set a goal of topping $100 million in real estate sales this year. Edrington will be aided by its expansion into Nashville as the first team under the Berkshire Hathaway brand to expand outside their home market.

"There's a lot of opportunity out there and we've really stepped out on a national level as one of the top teams among all of the 42,000 Berkshire Hathaway agents across the country," said Doug Edrington, CEO of the Edrington Team who began working in real estate in his teens and flipped his first home when he was only 18 years old. "We've built our business on systems, processes and relationships in a way that has allowed us to grow steadily every year since we began."

The team was started in 2006 by George and Grace Edrington, who entered the real estate business two years earlier after George had left his job as general manager for the local Kia dealership he operated for Nelson Bowers prior to the sale of the business. From the initial 21 houses sold in the company's first year, primarily in East Ridge, the Edrington team has boosted sales more than 20-fold over the past 12 years by adding more than a dozen agents and expanding home sales across Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia.

"You can't be one person and do this job so we added support staff and other agents to make sure we had the right expertise and available talent to handle the business we've been able to generate," said George Edrington, the 62-year-old agency founder.

The team now includes 24 employees, including 11 sales people. For 2017, Chattanooga's biggest real estate agency has set a goal of selling 640 homes — up 45 percent from last year's total — and more than $100 million in total sales. The Edrington team was one of the top 10 selling agencies among all Berkshire Hathaway franchisees across the country and is expected to add more personnel this year when it expands into the Nashville market with a new office opening in April.

During an awards ceremony, Kelly also recognized Linda Brock with the president's award for her 21 years of real estate service with the Kelly real estate agency. Brock has single-handedly closed nearly $700 million worth of business since she changed her career from being an elementary teacher to being a Realtor in 1996.

Brock recently has added her son, Lee, and Kevin Wamack, who joined Brock's agency as Realtors after working with ReMax Properties.

"We're not trying to get bigger with this team, but to get better and raising the bar to make sure we give even greater professional service," said Brock, who sold more than 75 homes last year.

Contact Dave Flessner at or at 423-757-6340.