Two years in and Underhill Realty is growing exponentially.
During its first full year in 2015, Underhill Realty had five real estate agents and generated $6 million in total sales volume. Last year, the company added 18 agents and increased its total sales volume to $29 million, a 383 percent increase year over year.
That total includes everything from a $40,000 house that Underhill Realty flipped to a $3.3 million apartment complex, said Todd Smith, who heads up Underhill Realty. In 2016, “we got more organized.”
The Louisville real estate company is a branch of locally owned Underhill Associates. For the most part, the two operate separately, but for example, Underhill Realty will help market and sell the condominiums at The George, a 63-unit complex that Underhill Associates is renovating.
The partners at Underhill Associates decided to start a new arm of the business because they didn’t want to rely on an outside real estate company to find tenants for its developments or broker deals on properties the company wants to develop, said partner Colin Underhill, adding that in the past, he and his father, Todd Underhill, had taken on the role of real estate brokers.
“As we continue to build the infrastructure of our company, we said, Helping people buy and sell real estate is something that we’re doing every single day, and if we’re going to continue to grow the company and be able to develop more and do more, then we need to have people within our organization who can help us execute on that plan,” Colin Underhill said.
Smith, 34, had hung his real estate license with Underhill Associates for about six months when the partners tapped him as the person to develop Underhill Realty. Prior to becoming a real estate agent, Smith worked in the mortgage industry, including spending time as an adviser for JPMorgan Chase helping homeowners reconfigure their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.
“I think that line of work, you get burnt out,” he said, adding that he also saw the higher returns that real estate agents earned selling houses.
Having worked on the banking side, Smith said, he knows the loan process inside and out, as well as the problems that can arise when someone tries to buy a home.
Underhill listed Smith’s background in mortgages and his family’s 50 years of experience developing projects in Louisville as keys that helped Underhill Realty set itself apart.
“Us understanding that angle, I believe, gives our agents a greater knowledge basis and greater resource base to be able to help clients be able to land in good positions,” he said. What Smith has done, he added, “is pretty remarkable.”
Although it has name recognition, the company still battles the assumption that the Underhills only deal in commercial real estate development.
“Real estate is real estate,” Underhill said. “It’s the same dirt whether it’s under a commercial building or under a residential house.”
Roughly 95 percent of Underhill Realty’s business is residential real estate, Smith said. Three Underhill Realty agents focus on commercial real estate, which makes up the remaining business.
This year, Smith’s goal is to hit $40 million in total sales volume, he said, adding that he wants to grow strategically when it comes to the real estate agents who work for Underhill Realty.
“I do have an interest in being somewhere between $75 million and $100 million in sales. That’s where I want to be,” he said. “And with that, we’re going to need to at least double the size of the agent base and with more experience.”