Judy Holland originally wanted to take cake decorating classes with friends at Gaston College, but she discovered the class was canceled.
Her friends decided to take real estate classes instead.
â€œWe all decided to switch over,â€ said Holland. â€œI enjoyed taking the classes but never thought Iâ€™d work in real estate until somebody called me to come work for them.â€
That call was to come work in Lincolnton at an agency that would eventually merge with Town and Country Realty in the early 1980s.
â€œI was one of the youngest members in the Lincoln County Board of Realtors,â€ said Holland. â€œThe board had only been around for about a year when I joined.â€
When Holland started in real estate, Timken had just arrived in Iron Station.
â€œWe didnâ€™t have computers or a multiple listing service,â€ Holland said. â€œThere werenâ€™t even any fax machines or computers.â€
Holland has witnessed a lot of change as a real estate agent.
So has the company she works for, Century 21 Town and Country Realty in Lincolnton.
Kathy Rhine, who has been owner/broker of Century 21 Town and Country Realty since 2000, started working in Lincolnton in 1990.
â€œThe original owner, Thurman Anthony, wanted to phase out and Iâ€™ve always loved the company,â€ said Rhine. â€œWhen I bought the company, I had six agents. Now I have 10.â€
Over the years, Rhine has seen the influx of people come to Lincoln County from as close as Catawba County to as far away as other states.
â€œMany of them are moving from Florida and New York,â€ said Rhine.
While the average price home Century 21 Town and Country Realty sells is between $130,000 and $200,000 (typically a three bedroom and two bath), Rhine said they have a large diversity of homes in different price ranges.
â€œWeâ€™re pretty evenly covered from Vale to Denver,â€ she said.
Recently, Century 21 Town and Country Realty has enjoyed great success.
â€œDecember 2005 was our second largest month for home sales,â€ said Rhine. â€œLast month, the average price of one of our homes topped $200,000.â€
Agents within the Century 21 Town and Country Realty organization are self-employed and work within different homes, price ranges and buyers.
Holland said the secret to the success of the company is a genuine caring among Rhine and her entire staff.
â€œWe donâ€™t compete among ourselves,â€ said Holland. â€œWeâ€™re a team with a capital T.E.A.M.â€
While Rhineâ€™s company is enjoying great success, some of her agents have recently won awards as well.
Holland won top producer for 2005, while fellow agents Janice Peeler and Debbie Willis won second and third place top producers respectively.
All three also won Century 21 master awards and Century 21 Town and Country Realty won the Pinnacle Award for Service for the fifth year in a row.
â€œThe top producer awards were given through Century 21 Town and Country Realty,â€ said Peeler.
When asked about how much the agencyâ€™s three top producers made in sales for 2005, Kathy Rhine declined to comment.
Peeler started at Century 21 Town and Country Realty the same year as Rhine in 1990 after getting her license and working for another company for a few months in 1989.
â€œThe biggest change Iâ€™ve seen is the technology and the evolution of the computer,â€ said Peeler. â€œWe donâ€™t have to carry a lot by hand anymore.â€
Rhine points out that unlike other agencies, her agency has a low rate of turnover.
â€œI didnâ€™t hire any agents before six months ago for the past three years,â€ she said.
Willis has been an agent at Century 21 Town and Country Realty since 1999 and has seen the biggest change come from prospective buyers using the Internet.
â€œMore young buyers are educated now and they know what their price range is and what they want to see in a house,â€ she said.
What was surprising for Willis, however, was the amount of time and work real estate agents have to put in on a daily and weekly basis.
â€œI was surprised by the fact that I would have to work nights, weekends and holidays,â€ said Willis.
She came to Century 21 Town and Country Realty after spending nine years in the customer service industry.
â€œI wanted something flexible and thatâ€™s why I opted for real estate,â€ she said.
Willis calls Holland, Rhine and Peeler all mentors.
â€œIâ€™m so grateful to come to an office where they were at,â€ she said.
For more information on Century 21 Town and Country Realty, call (704) 735-1425 or go to the Web site: www.c21townandcountryrealty.com
by Jon Mayhew