Kathy May-Martin: A Real Estate Professional Whose Journey Mirrors Resilience and Adaptability

Realtor® at Coldwell Banker Jim Henry & Associates | Roane County | Meigs Count | I Guarantee My Personal Best

Adversities are like unexpected storms that sweep through our lives. They may seem like unwelcome guests. Yet, they bear within them the seeds of resilience and growth. Here, amidst the tempest, we find the raw materials for our transformation. Our muscles of endurance strengthen. We rise, not unscathed, but with newfound resolve. Adversity clears the fog. We glimpse alternate routes, uncharted and promising.

Years ago, Kathy May-Martin found herself in a storm. Failure was never an option for her, as she became a single mom in a business with no guarantee of a paycheck. With no other source of income, she found that adversity helped her find a better version of herself that she didn’t know existed.

A determined mother of a 6-month-old and expecting her second child, Kathy embarked on a new journey leaving her career in hospitality management, moving to a new town, and starting a new career where she could build a work-life balance around motherhood. Her first day at work was also her first day of finding her place and purpose in life. Real Estate, her new profile, became not only a successful career but more so a passion to assist all walks of life to achieve their Real Estate Goals.

“My two beautiful girls deserved for me to be the best I could be every day and so did my office and my customers. Needless to say, the hurdles of motherhood, learning the ends and outs of a new business, and getting my name and face known in a small town was met with a lot of hard work, excitement, and sheer determination,” recalls Kathy

Today, Kathy is a best-selling author and producing Broker in the Knoxville region.

The Rise

Kathy May-Martin, a seasoned real estate powerhouse, has consistently embodied an entrepreneurial spirit. Her extensive knowledge, unwavering expertise, and genuine passion for assisting others have been the cornerstones of her success over the past three decades. As both an Agent and Broker, Kathy has cultivated a loyal clientele that spans the entire state. Presently, she serves as the Owner and Managing Broker of Coldwell Banker Jim Henry & Associates, where she diligently supports clients across East Tennessee.

Kathy’s achievements in the real estate industry are nothing short of remarkable. As a global luxury agent, she has graced the covers of prestigious publications, including:

· “Top 100 People In Real Estate Magazine”

· CIO Women’s Magazine (Featured as one of the “Top Women Leaders in Real Estate”)

· Success Pitchers Magazine (Recognized as one of the “Most Eminent Leaders In Real Estate”)

· Top Executive Magazine (Named “Agent Of the Month”)

· Two-Time Cover Story Top Agent Tennessee

· Cio Today (Acknowledged among the “Top 5 Unstoppable Business Women Creating History in The Business World 2024”)

· World’s Most Admired Women Leaders In Real Estate 2024

Kathy attributes her achievements to her unwavering work ethic, commitment to exceptional service, meticulous attention to detail, and outstanding negotiation and communication skills. Her journey exemplifies resilience, determination, and a genuine desire to elevate the real estate experience for her clients.

The Company

Coldwell Banker, founded in 1906 in San Francisco, has been fulfilling the dream of home for over a century. It’s more than just a place; it’s a feeling that resonates deeply. As a powerful network in the real estate industry, Coldwell Banker provides world-class guidance to buyers and sellers alike.

The company’s origins trace back to the aftermath of the Great San Francisco Earthquake when Colbert Coldwell established Tucker, Lynch & Coldwell. Their core principles were honesty, integrity, and service. Soon after, Benjamin Arthur Banker joined the firm, swiftly rising to partner status due to his exceptional work ethic and business acumen.

Coldwell Banker expanded across California, with seven offices serving both Northern and Southern regions. Their commercial success contributed to the development of office buildings and large-scale shopping centers. With the acquisition of major East Coast firms, Coldwell Banker achieved its dream of serving the entire continental U.S. In 1996, they became the first national real estate brand to launch a website, pioneering online accessibility.

Today, Coldwell Banker remains one of the most respected names in the industry. Their impressive track record includes 608,728 U.S. Transaction Sides in 2022, 117 Years of guiding people home, $295 Billion in sales volume, and being #1 in Agent Trust. Additionally, they have donated over $1.3 Million to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and achieved $288 Million in daily luxury sales.

Coldwell Banker’s network comprises approximately 52,200 independent real estate agents across 700 offices in the United States. Their commitment to agent satisfaction sets them apart. In summary, Coldwell Banker’s legacy is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering dedication to the art of finding and creating homes.

Caring for the Community

Locally Kathy pays it forward by reinvesting in the communities she lives and works in. Voted Roane County’s Woman of the Year in 2021, Kathy is dedicated to her community, serving as Chair of The Fort Sanders Foundation Board of Directors, serves on the local Chamber of Commerce board, and is a long-standing member of the Harriman Rotary Club. A past Chair of the Boy Scouts of America, Eagle Creek District which spans across five counties, and served as Roane County’s Campaign Chair for Governor Bill Lee. She is heavily involved in a variety of local causes, schools, and organizations throughout the year. Kathy is equally devoted to her industry as the author of the popular book The Essential Guide to Buying and Selling Homes, which features key insights gleaned from her prestigious real estate career and is recognized as an “Amazon Best Selling Author” and excited to release a new book to the market in early Spring of 2024. When she’s not with clients or giving back, Kathy can be found spending time with her family and friends, relaxing on the lake, Hiking, or Golfing.

Navigating Change: Real Estate in the Age of Transformation

In the ever-evolving landscape of real estate, change is our constant companion. Kathy concurs that technological advancements, shifting customer needs, and evolving expectations are propelling the industry forward. To deal with the impending changes, one must be well informed courtesy reading from reliable sources, making positive use of the internet, through hands-on experience and finally training and more training.

Kathy points out that COVID-19 triggered an unprecedented wave of change. In her 30 years as a real estate professional, she had never witnessed such rapid transformation. Customers need and expectations changed. From shelter to sanctuary, homes took on new significance. Customers sought safety, comfort, and flexible spaces. The process of how Buyers previewed homes and how they bought homes, With changing Buyer Behavior sight-unseen purchases became commonplace. Offers soared above asking prices, often bypassing inspections and contingencies. With buyer dilemma setting in, many buyers sold their homes for top dollar but are caught in the middle of getting top dollar and paying top dollar for less of a home than they recently sold. Many Buyers were living and still are with family in campgrounds and rental properties. Rental properties were all at full occupancy and rental rates had increased tremendously for many unaffordable.

As agents, Kathy and her team had to adapt their negotiation strategies. Agility was key. They had to learn new and better ways of negotiating and doing business to stay competitive. “ It seems as if everyone and their cousin had decided to change careers and become a Real Estate Agent,” comments Kathy.

The real estate office environment changed as well. Agents met via Zoom as opposed to weekly office meetings, they worked from home and experienced rapid changes in the technology being put to use. Post covid not much has changed, feels Kathy. While some things returned to normal, others remained in flux. Getting agents re-engaged into the office environment and group participation has been a struggle, to say the least. However, performance and customer satisfaction are still as paramount as it was pre-COVID.

As the Managing Broker Kathy had to keep a pulse on the market and the rapid changes in the industry so they could train to change but be willing to change again next week. “What we learned in yesterday’s meetings, would be obsolete in next week’s meetings. Being a veteran in the business I knew the “unicorn market” would be short-lived and all the agents that got in the real estate business when business was easy might not be around when it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start working hard. We are back to negotiating the price, back to working through inspections, and coddling each transaction to the closing table,” says Kathy.

The After Effects of COVID

Post-pandemic, the industry is still facing changes. It has created a hybrid office work environment. With lots of individuals changing their careers to become real estate agents, Kathy shares that they had to have a better skill level than ever be more efficient at what they do, and respond quicker than ever before to the consumer.

At the consumer end, their ideas of homeownership changed. Suddenly it was a necessity for a home office, family, and entertaining space, luxury items such as pools and hot tubs also became a frequent request. Many homes were sold over the internet and have become the norm and an ongoing request. The value of homeownership changed in the consumer’s eyes almost overnight. “We as agents are

tasked post-COVID to retrain the consumer to realize the market has changed once again and what worked for your neighbor may not work for you when buying or selling. The real estate business is geographically like the weather, just because it’s sunny in Tennessee doesn’t mean it’s sunny in the neighboring state or even the adjoining area,” says Kathy.

Current Challenges and Potential Solutions in the Real Estate Industry

The delicate balance of supply and demand shapes the real estate landscape. Kathy points out that unfortunately, they face critical challenges that impact both buyers and builders. There is an Affordability Crisis. The dream of homeownership remains elusive for many. A severe undersupply of affordable and traditional housing compounds the issue. First-time buyers and those without substantial equity find themselves on the sidelines. The soaring cost of homes, coupled with rising interest rates, pushes ownership out of reach. There needs to be a provision for more affordable housing and creative financing options till the market conditions change.

The industry is also undergoing Building Blues. Aspiring homeowners seeking to build face a labyrinth of obstacles as there is a Builder Shortage and Available builders are scarce. Some projects stretch to over two-year timeline due to sluggish supply chains for materials. Due to the impact of Inflation building materials become costlier than initially quoted and during mid-construction, buyers encounter unexpected price hikes.

The industry also grapples with a scarcity of skilled professionals. There also is a shortage of skilled and experienced surveyors and professionals such as plumbers, electricians, general repairmen, movers, etc.

The solutions, suggests Kathy, lie in a multi-pronged approach. There needs to be a reduction in interest Rate. Lower interest rates can ease the burden on buyers. It is crucial to create more affordable Housing Initiatives. There is a need for Skilled Workforce Development and firms need to encourage training and attract new talent to the trades. Exploring creative and innovative financing models can make homeownership accessible and affordable for middle-class Americans.

Being Prepared for the Future

Change is a constant, regardless of the market. Staying attuned to market dynamics and actively listening to consumer needs and expectations are essential survival strategies. Consistent reading and ongoing training play a pivotal role.

“In our industry, flexibility is non-negotiable. We must adapt swiftly and execute the necessary protocols to sustain our business. As an owner, I perpetually seek out the right people and growth opportunities, ensuring our business continues to thrive and evolve,” says Kathy.

Further, she says that having a diverse age of associates is another key to survival and tenure in business. A mix of seasoned associates and fresh talent ensures longevity. Kathy invests in training and mentorship for both groups.

“I always keep cultivating and training new associates, along with nurturing and mentoring the experienced associates, then helping develop succession plans for the associates that are ready for the next chapter in life. Being a good leader means treating your team of associates as a valuable entity and consistently setting each one of them up for growing their business. in any given market with new tools

and new opportunities. In the coming years, I’m looking for growth for most, succession for some, and a constant influx of new aspiring associates with new ideas and new opportunities,” concludes Kathy.

The following sections need to be designed:

Quick Answers:

· What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

My work ethic, and my ability to communicate with people

· How did you come up with the idea for your business?

The business was already in place. I just helped it flourish.

· How do you define success?

Loving what you do and doing a great job at it!

· What, according to you, makes a good leader?

Listening, flexibility, and Ever Evolving

· Who is your biggest role model?

Dolly Parton

· Have you ever failed at anything?

The first Real Estate Company I interviewed didn’t Hire Me

· A Quote you live by?

“Don’t Just aspire to make a living, Aspire to make a difference”. Denzel Washington

Quote: “Given the current volatility of the market, I use my knowledge and experience to set realistic expectations for my clients and minimize their frustration in any situation.”

Quote: “Every market offers different challenges and opportunities, and my knowledge and experience have taught me to embrace change and search for new opportunities where others might have overlooked them.”

Quote: “We must first begin by recognizing the problems facing the world and then implement the training that is necessary to bring awareness and solutions to the problems.”