Staff photo by C.B. Schmelter / Greater Chattanooga Realtors President Brandi Pearl Thompson works at the Keller Williams Realty office in Chattanooga.

As the 2020 president of the Greater Chattanooga Realtors association, Brandi Pearl Thompson foresees continued growth this year in the local $2.5 billion real estate market.

The 37-year-old Realtor — one of the youngest to ever head the Chattanooga Association of Realtors — sees such gains helping families as well as the more than 2,000 local Realtors who buy and sell houses in the Chattanooga region.

"I sell real estate to change people's family financial being, starting with my own," Thompson says. "I think I'm really good at looking at something and seeing what it can be."

The wealth of most homeowners has grown over the past decade, with the average home selling last year in Chattanooga for $238,143, up by more than 50 percent since 2010.

Thompson bought her first house in 2003 and has since personally bought or sold more than 50 other houses, including 18 last year alone, in addition to her work as a Realtor at Keller Williams downtown for the past six years and previously for RE/MAX Properties.

She doesn't like the term "home flipper," saying instead that "I take a home, love on it and then give it back.

"It's not about simply making money," she says.

Thompson moved to Chattanooga when she was 21 years old to open a commercial cleaning franchise for Coverall Cleaning Concept. After growing up in North Carolina, New England and Florida, she researched where to move and found just three states east of the Mississippi without a state income tax — Florida, New Hampshire and Tennessee.

"My parents by that point had moved to New Hampshire, and I was then living in Florida and neither of those states were appealing to me," recalls Thompson, who earned a degree in Christian education from Patriot Bible University and taught at a preschool in Florida before launching her own business.

"I was looking for something that had opportunity, was affordable and had room to grow and I saw all those things in Chattanooga."

Thompson eventually gave up the cleaning business after about three years and moved into real estate, a field she says requires a similar entrepreneurial and self-driven mindset for success.

The oldest of seven siblings, Thompson has convinced five of her brothers and sisters to also come to Chattanooga.