By NASH NUNNERY
Adam Watkins officially launched his real estate career the day he graduated from William Carey College (now University) nearly two decades ago.
There were no smart phones, text messaging, Realtor.com or Zillow. The highest tech tool used in real estate transactions was the fax machine. Comparatively, the process of buying and selling homes now is immersed in technology.
Watkins, who earned his MBA from Tulane in 2013, recalls when the Multiple Listing Service was a printed book and each office held keys to listings, requiring agents to pick up and return keys prior to and after each showing.
Times have changed.
“When I started, the MLS was downloaded daily onto a computer, contracts were faxed (not scanned or e-mailed) and computerized lock boxes were being used,” said Watkins. “There have been so many technological changes, so the primary change in the real estate has been how we deliver and receive information and data.”
A Hattiesburg area broker/listing partner with The All-Star Team Realtors, Watkins was recently installed as president of the Mississippi Association of Realtors. He says his long-term involvement in the association side of the business coincided with his career as a licensee and Realtor.
“We want to strive to improve and protect the rights of our members to conduct their businesses in the most ethical way possible, as well as consumers and clients who are making their largest Investments,” he said. “The theme for the year is ‘Take the L.E.A.D. (Leadership, Education, Advocacy, Dedication)’. Our desire is to help each member connect with their calling as Realtors and to be leaders in their communities.”
For Watkins, the lure of the real estate business started early. As a boy, he was fascinated with land, homes and property. Growing up east of Petal in the tiny community of Runnelstown, Watkins began studying real estate guides and developing local knowledge of the Hattiesburg market in middle school.
“In hindsight, being drawn into the real estate business was almost inevitable,” he said. “My dad and his family were home builders and developers. As a little kid, I was always interested in home construction. I’d even ‘show’ the homes my dad built to anyone who was walking through – including his Realtor.”
During his college years, Watkins worked on the staff of Hattiesburg realtor DeLois Smith. After graduation, he earned his real estate license and made his first sale in March 2002. By 2007, Watkins partnered with Smith and formed The All Star Team, with offices in west Hattiesburg and Petal.
The Petal of Watkins’ youth is no more. Over 40 years ago, the former sleepy hamlet incorporated as a city and created the Petal Separate School District. A small community with very little industry or resources previously, Petal was transformed into a viable city, says Watkins.
“Much of Petal’s attractiveness and appeal can be linked to the consistent success of the school district,” he said. “Our growth also has been solidified with the addition of the Evelyn Gandy Parkway, which has really improved access.”
Regardless of the technology changes in the real estate industry, Watkins believes there is one constant – people.
“Ultimately, relationships and the sincere desire to serve others in an adaptive way is a uniquely human experience,” he said. “There is no technology or website portal than can adequately analyze the market and the individual needs of clients.
“I’ve actually found my greatest success in what some call a ‘down’ market. Why? People will always possess the need to buy and sell property.”
Real estate runs deep in the family, as Watkins’ wife Amelia also is a licensed realtor. Despite the 24-7 cycle of the realty business, the couple spend lots of time serving in their church, where the Watkins are involved in choral activities.
“Our church is like a family to us, and it’s where I learned about service,” said Watkins. “I find that is extends beautifully to our work as Realtors.”
Watkins began his term as MAR president Nov. 5. He praised the dedication and service of those before him, those that helped him understand the importance of advocacy for member realtors.
“When you’re fully invested in this business, it truly becomes a part of who you are,” he said. “It doesn’t ever leave you.”
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