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Ally Howell is Not Google. Don’t Tell Her Team.

Ally Howell has ‘Marketing and Sales’ listed next to her name, but she’s really a walking search engine, according to the agents who rely on her for all manner of support, knowledge, and insight inside the Team Billy Taylor office. Or should we call it Howell Headquarters?

She pretty much created her own position, filling a critical need that a group of real estate agents didn’t even know they had, becoming a team game changer. Actually, that does sound like Google - we never could have imagined such a resource, and now that we have it, we’d be pretty lost without it…no one says that about encyclopedias. But the TBT team does say that about Ally.

Ally grew up on a Cabin Cruiser in Florida but married a guy from the mountains of WNC, moving here in 2011 and finding out that the change of seasons suited her. With a background and degree in graphic design and public relations, she acquired her real estate license in Florida in 2002. She eventually merged her marketing background into the real estate space, started working with Billy Taylor, and is now the undeniable anchor point of the TBT office - often described as the ‘glue’ that holds it all together, in addition to her mad research and fact-finding skills. Perhaps ‘Gluegle’ is more fitting?

1. What do you love most about working in real estate - do you have a favorite part of the process?

Ally admits she may have initially been drawn to real estate because she is

“nosey - I like seeing other people’s houses, what style they have, what makes them unique.”

When she was able to merge this curiosity with her creativity, she created her own real estate niche.

After having practiced in FL in a Transactional Broker role - basically, a neutral party who negotiates on behalf of both the buyer and seller, she found the relationship-building aspect of practicing real estate in North Carolina - where you are a committed advocate for buyer or seller - to be a welcome adjustment. It also meant she could incorporate her design and marketing skills into the sales and delivery process; being an agent now wasn’t just about vetting legalities and paperwork, but creating the narrative, telling the story with all of its nuances - and telling it well. Seeing the need for marketing support for both herself and the other agents with whom she worked, Ally started offering graphic design advice, updating and creating branding, lending some polish to both the agency and to those whom they represented. She was then invited to pilot the position of Marketing Services Representative, eventually working exclusively for two principal Beverly-Hanks agents. When one of those agents, Billy Taylor, decided to open his own office within the brand, she joined him as the first official member of the TBT team.

What she does love about her role is that it is creative and always changing.

“Billy is always coming up with a new product, and with each rollout, I am always learning something new. Also, there is a greater variety of homes here, which keeps it interesting - Florida is pretty flat.”

2. Do you work with both buyers and sellers, or do you have a preferred niche that works best for you?

Managing Billy and the always expanding team is a big order. Ally still maintains her license, but focuses primarily on real estate transactions for friends and family.

3. Technology has created far more resources than ever before for both buyers and sellers who think they can ‘do it on their own’ - what do you say to folks who think they don’t need a real estate agent anymore?

“Certainly people might be capable of seeing the transaction through, but agents have a depth of knowledge that the average home seller or buyer does not have - why would you not access that? “

Ally compares it to medical self-diagnosis - sure, you can do it, and do enjoy the inevitable rabbit hole you fall into while you toss your symptoms across the internet - but consulting a professional generally guarantees the most positive outcome. Really.

4. Real estate is considered a fairly competitive industry in the greater AVL area, with numerous agencies and a steady stream of new agents - what differentiates you and TBT agents from the rest of the WNC real estate crowd? What is your favorite thing about working with the TBT team?

“Everyone on this team works with their heart forward - with a servant’s heart toward every project and deal happening in this office. We put our relationships with our clients and teammates first, with constant guidance and support.”

5. Takeaways from what you’ve learned in your industry: What is the most important piece of advice you would give to prospective homebuyers? And to home sellers?

Ally - keeping it simple from Howell Headquarters - doesn't hesitate:

“Listen to your real estate professional”

6. The WNC real estate market is certainly booming - any predictions on where it will go next, or new trends you are seeing?

Ally believes there is

“resilience built into this location - people come for health and wellness, for the quality of life”

She doesn’t see that trend stopping, and like her original hometown of Sarasota, FL, she thinks that the beautiful, outdoor, activity-driven space that is WNC will remain desirable, with the market continuing to reflect that.

7. Can you share the funniest or most memorable moment - anecdote or experience - you’ve had during the course of a real estate deal (positive or negative)?

Recalling a house showing in a neighborhood of somewhat cookie-cutter homes in Florida, Ally can’t forget the lady who came to the showing wearing just a towel. Evidently, she lived across the street, so why bother with formality?

8. Do you have a favorite hobby, pursuit or interest that might surprise your clients - or that has worked to your advantage in connecting with clients?

Not surprisingly, Ally has more than one anchor to drop, and she has more than one extended family. At the time of this interview, she was getting ready to leave her TBT work family for a couple of weeks - headed to California. To see friends? Yes - even planning to meet up with a friend from elementary school, someone she'd known since she was 6. That wasn’t the only catalyst for the trip, however - though a very welcome part of it, and she was super excited about it.

What brought her to CA in the first place? A jam band.

As in a band- in this case Widespread Panic - that often crosses musical genres and forays into improvised, extended renditions of songs from their repertoire. They also have fans of loyalty like no other - those who tape the shows and trade the tapes and show their tried and true - all over the country, at any opportunity they can find. They bond in a serious way with one another, and their wandering nature (when not engaged as responsible adults) means an impromptu homecoming might happen at any time. They are generally a very happy, good-natured bunch - and Ally is one of them. This all makes sense, given her glue-like steadfast, and reliable nature - she can be counted on for real, so says every member of her team. She’s followed the band for ages and as a result, has developed lifelong relationships with people all over the country.

An added bonus was that she would send her French Bulldog to obedience school while she was following the band and reconnecting with her multiple friend and family circles. Ally wanted to get the dog into agility training, but Maya needed some manners first, to get safely settled and trained before getting to the next, exciting phase - Ally would have it no other way.

The dynamic duo!

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