Crye-Leike Atlanta Region Associate Allyson Roberts Profiled In The Atlanta Journal Constitution

Crye-Leike Atlanta Region Associate Allyson Roberts Profiled In The Atlanta Journal Constitution
Hearing that gas would hit $4 a gallon, Crye-Leike, Realtors' Allyson Roberts figured a Nissan Maxima would be more practical than a Lincoln Navigator.

By DAVID PENDERED

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 06/19/08

 

Allyson Roberts is a wife and mother in Alpharetta, and a Realtor whose business is evolving ? if not evaporating ? before her eyes.

 

So she did what anyone might do to keep a job that has provided a good income for 23 years. Roberts changed her business strategy and cut back on personal spending.

 

She didn’t want to be among the real estate agents who are bailing out of the business in large numbers, according to records of the state real estate commission.

 

“I dumped the Lincoln Navigator ? period, end of story,” Roberts said. “One night in November, I couldn’t sleep and turned on Fox News. They said gas was going to $4 a gallon. I believed it.”

 

Now Roberts, 42, wheels clients around north Fulton County in a Nissan Maxima. But only after they’ve narrowed down their list by browsing through her Internet page. There’s no need to window shop for a house that may be pretty but won’t meet the buyer’s needs, she said.

 

And she doesn’t have as much use for her leisure travel books.

 

“The vacation two years ago was Hawaii for 10 days in a beach resort that was to die for,” Roberts said. “Jet Ski and horseback rides. Mountain climbs and boat rides and snorkel and scuba dives. It was amazing.”

 

This summer’s trip isn’t one to sneeze at. But it’s different, she said.

 

“This year, it’s four days at my in-laws’ house at the beach [on Florida’s Panhandle], and we’re driving,” Roberts said. “It will be walks through the neighborhood and tennis and the pool. Much, much different.”

 

Different indeed. Roberts intends to outlast the current slump in housing sales that seems to be driving out thousands of her colleagues.

 

Numbers dropping

 

In the past 12 months, Georgia marked its first decrease in licensed agents since the early 1990s, according to the Georgia Real Estate Commission. Records show there are 2,820 fewer real estate licenses than this time a year ago and that 3,311 licenses went inactive during the same period.

 

Bob Hamilton, chief executive of the Georgia Association of Realtors, said agents who intend to stick it out are going to have to work harder than they have in years.

 

“We’ve been through some years recently where there was a tremendous demand for single-family housing and selling wasn’t that hard,” Hamilton said. “Now Realtors are having to learn, or relearn, skills they weren’t having to use for a while.”

 

Roberts, who’s associated with Crye-Leike, Realtors in Sandy Springs, said she’s developing specific strategies to survive the downturn.

 

First and foremost, she’s not waiting idly for a rebound in the sales market. She is avoiding local buyers who need to sell a home before they can purchase.

 

Instead, she’s zeroed in on buyers relocating from other states, paying Realtors in those markets referral fees that are higher than the norm. She wouldn’t disclose the bonus for competitive reasons.

 

“Buyers from other states are still coming here, so it’s a question of finding them and getting their business,” Roberts said.

 

Also, Roberts said she’s accelerating use of virtual home tours. Using the Internet may be a fact of life for younger clients, but not always among Realtors, who believe in the value of curb appeal in closing a deal. The strategy carries its own risks, she said.

 

“I’ve had to fire some clients because they didn’t follow protocol or went around me,” she said. “If they call the listing agent direct, or look up tax records and call the owner, it’s unethical, and I won’t work with an unethical client.”

 

Finally, Roberts said, she is all about staying in touch after the sale. Postcards, community updates ? anything to help clients remember her name. Repeat business and referrals are her path to success.

 

Roberts said the shock waves in metro Atlanta’s housing industry will continue for up to five years. She’ll be 47 by then, and she and her husband expect to have one child close to finishing college and another in middle school.

 

This market, although bad, isn’t the first downturn she survived. Roberts navigated the home-rehab boom of the 1990s, when people fixed up their houses instead of moving up, mainly by representing builders.

 

“If I could move to Canada and get a license and make a bunch of money and move home, I’d do that,” Roberts said. “But I’m staying here and changing my strategy. It’s a matter of thinking outside the box, or you’re doomed.”