The Perfect Fit

Realty SouthThe new CEO at RealtySouth has one goal in mind: delivering an exceptional home buying experience for every unique client—where all of the pieces of the home buying puzzle fit perfectly.

Written by Joe O’Donnell

Photography by Beau Gustafson


For Richard Grimes, the new CEO of RealtySouth, the real estate business boils down to one thing, one constant: relationships. “The real estate business is different every day,” Grimes says. “This year marks our 60th anniversary. If you can imagine, we started the same year McDonald’s launched and Disneyland opened. Technology has changed the way we perform everyday tasks, the way we approach our business. The one constant in real estate has always been and continues to be about relationships. It is personal. No matter which home someone is looking to purchase, it will most likely be the single largest investment they will make. It is a tremendous decision. And, the details weigh heavily on those involved. RealtySouth assists thousands of families each year with finding their homes. Each family has different wants or needs; many have hurdles to cross in order to reach their goal. It is our privilege to guide them through the process. It is extremely rewarding to translate our buyer’s and seller’s dreams into reality.”

Grimes has taken the helm of RealtySouth at an interesting time in the real estate business. Technology is changing the information landscape. Markets seem to be heating up. RealtySouth’s parent company, HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, announced last month the new role for Grimes. In addition, Jim Dye was promoted to senior vice president and general manager, and Ty Dodge, former president and CEO of RealtySouth, has been named chairman emeritus of the company.

“Ty and I have worked together for many years, and I have learned a tremendous amount from him,” says Grimes. “He has built a team of immensely talented agents, sales managers, and employees. I look forward to leading RealtySouth to its next stage of growth and performance, supported by Jim and our exceptional management team.”

RealtySouth is Alabama’s largest real estate company, with 16 real estate offices and nearly 760 Realtors® throughout Birmingham, Huntsville, Orange Beach, Auburn, and Tuscaloosa.

Grimes began his real estate career as a Realtor® in 1992, and in 1998, joined First Real Estate as executive vice president and co-owner. In 2002, when First Real Estate merged with RealtySouth, Grimes led the new home sales division as regional vice president, directing land development projects and builder relationship programs. In 2009, Grimes was named senior vice president of RealtySouth. “RealtySouth is a true full-service company,” Grimes says. “Brokerage,  relocation, mortgage,     insurance, title, and closing services. No other real estate company in Alabama can match our comprehensive transactional expertise. Our sales associates and staff are the absolute best in the business. RealtySouth participated in more than 7,500 real estate transaction sides in 2014, accounting for $1.8 billion in sales volume. That is roughly a home transaction every 17 minutes of every eight-hour business day. RealtySouth helps hundreds of clients relocate throughout the United States every year. Our partnership network is vast with HomeServices of America, The Realty Alliance, and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. We can relocate a family most anywhere on the planet.”

At the moment, however, this part of the planet is uppermost in Grimes’s mind. He feels bullish about the real estate market here because overall he is bullish on the metro itself. “Birmingham is systemically less volatile than many parts of the country,” says Grimes. “The Birmingham MSA can expect slow and steady growth for the foreseeable future. We are experiencing a fairly balanced market with some temporary inventory shortages in pocket areas. It is exciting to continuously see our city among the top destinations in the nation to visit, our chart-topping chefs continue to receive rave reviews, and the ongoing development of new neighborhoods, restaurants, parks, and so much more. Birmingham is alive. Not only do we anticipate a slow and steady growth but are also extremely hopeful our youth will feel the resurgence and look to make Birmingham, and our surrounding communities, their lifelong home,” Grimes says.

Serving those new homebuyers is central in Grimes’s thinking, and that part of the business is roiling as it faces down the disruptive power of the Internet. RealtySouth’s key role is to act as the navigator on those volatile seas, according to Grimes. “We have to manage the challenges of an ever changing industry. From government regulations to new technology, the home buying process is becoming more difficult for families to navigate. We take tremendous pride in working to do business the right way each and every time. It is top priority in our company, part of our culture. RealtySouth spends a great deal of time training our sales associates and staff on the importance of understanding the most current laws, the ins and outs of how to process contracts, negotiate in the best interest of their client, and to always be abreast of current technology,” Grimes says.

According to Grimes, the consumer needs a Realtor® to lessen the confusion. While the Internet is empowering, it isn’t all-knowing and can certainly be intimidating. With new “real estate” sites cropping up left and right, it is difficult for a homebuyer or seller to know which site they can rely on for accurate information. “Truth is, AVMs (computer generated home values) will never be truly accurate. It takes a professional to know the ins and outs of a community, to understand the current valuation of your home. We know the vast majority of buyers begin their search online. It is imperative to us to provide a website with the information consumers have come to demand, to be the No. 1 real estate search engine for Alabama real estate. Doing so isn’t a one-day accomplishment. It requires a daily commitment to excellence,” Grimes says. “Buying a home is a very personal decision that is best facilitated by a local expert. Finding the right mix of tools to meet the needs of such a diverse group of buyers and sellers is intriguing.

“Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials all have different needs, expectations, and ways of communicating. Delivering an exceptional home buying experience for every unique client is extremely challenging but beyond rewarding when all of the pieces fit perfectly.”

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