Watts Happenings News and Blog

What Spring Means To A Small Family Real Estate Business.

David Watts - Thursday, May 4, 2017

That good exhausted feeling associated with 60+ hour work weeks. Every spring the hard work comes in more quantities compared to fall and winter.

Residential Property Management : Our Tenants move, sometimes scheduled and sometimes with a surprise. Life takes them to new jobs, new cities, to care for an aging loved one, buying a house, and/or new marriages with even the unfortunate divorces & deaths too. Spring also brings more Tenants to Birmingham for those same reasons. These past two years, some of our many 1 SFH Clients make calculated but very hard decisions to leave the world of being a Landlord to finally selling their investments (which they majority of the time occupied personally & couldn't sell due to the market at the time). These transitions happen in spring. Referrals for new management in and referrals to residential sale's agents out.

Commercial Leasing & Brokerage: Spring increases the real estate economy & related activities. Small businesses and corporations alike make moves; expanding & needing more space, and occasionally contracting sometimes which open up spaces.

Commercial Management: New & seasoned investors need managers, as well as current ones looking for a change in their manager. Luckily we've only seen new accounts this spring. 60+ added Tenants with a newly managed property added to our portfolio just this week. We love being of service to these new accounts as much as we love being of service to our 20-30-50+ year multi-generational owners.

We've been blessed so far this spring. A new $16M+ development opening this month (Flats on 4th). A new long term restaurant build out finishing up (iBrew in 5 Points). Renewal after renewal of current Tenants. Witnessing Chip's two big sales last year opening, one recently (TJ Tower) and one soon (2 Hilton branded hotels). Even the smaller leases starting new relationship (Road Runner Moving as an example). Just closed a sale on raw land that has been listed with us since the 1970s (Shades Valley High School on part of the parcel we sold long ago & now a new SFH neighborhood going up on 30+ acres....still have 29 commercial acres for sale from that original listing). Negotiations ongoing for almost every vacant space for leasing and brokerage. And $16+M in new commercial brokerage listings just in 3 months.

We have 4 new permanent staff just in the last year (two being family coming back into the family business). We have one 13 year staff returning from another state & 1 multi year staff returning from maternity leave. We are growing in # of commercial agents. Maybe an intern from UA starting soon. Our dedicated long term staff is pushing through the work load as well as the ups & downs associated with more work. Chip is gearing up for even more increased service to our industry via his roles in the associations to better our field. We all work like an amazing extended family. I know I've been tough on them & me while we work towards excellence.

Spring is in full bloom with wonderful exhaustion.  Let the momentum continue.

Flats On 4th makes Birmingham Business Journal's annual Deals of the Year list.

System - Sunday, April 9, 2017
Watts Realty is honored to be able to accomplish this deal, and be named by BBJ in their annual Deals of the Year. The Watts family worked hard with all its partners to pull this one from vision to reality. Opening May 5th! We have been involved in Birmingham real estate for 111 years, and want to be investing in this city for another century. We wanted to build a property to reflect those values.

I hope our late grandfather would be proud. I'm sure he worked hard keeping Dad in check during the development of Arlington Business Center just as much as Dad has kept Chip & I in check during this project.

Once we close this project up, time to look for another one...(too soon?😅)

Clink link for BBJ's Deals of the Year

Chip Watts Picked As One of Top 25 Excutives of Influence by Birmingham Business Journal

System - Sunday, March 12, 2017
Earlier this year, the Birmingham Business Journal highlighted Chip in one of their Executive Spotlights, which is linked in a previous post. 

Today, the BBJ unveiled their top 25 of Birmingham Executives of Influence, a special feature highlighting key leaders in a range of Birmingham industries who are shaping both their business and the Magic City's economy. Low and behold, they selected Chip as one those 25 people. We just want to thank Chip for his hard work, whether it's with IREM, NAR, BAR, the state of Alabama, or even just little ol' Watts Realty Company. When Birmingham succeeds, we all succeed. Thanks Chip!

Link to Article

44th Annual Commercial Real Estate Awards

System - Thursday, February 23, 2017
Congrats to Hartwell Smith and David for being recognized at this years BCRC 44th Annual Commercial Real Estate Awards held at The Club on Thursday, February 23rd.  Click the link for more information.


BBJ's Executive Profile: Big deals are in this leader's blood

System - Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Birmingham Business Journal just released their January Executive Profile featuring Watts Realty's very own Chip Watts. He talks about how Watts Realty helped shape the city of Birmingham everyone knows of today and how we hope to help shape it's future. 

Read the article here... http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/news/2017/01/12/executive-profile-big-deals-are-in-this-leaders.html It is a pay site, so if you would like a copy to read, just email Michael and he'll make sure to get you one.


Rental Properties and Craigslist Scams

Michael Watts - Sunday, October 30, 2016

I was sifting through some property management news recently when I came across yet another report of an unsuspecting family that had found a home on Craigslist.com, paid money to someone out of country and moved all their personal belongings into the property, only to find out just days later that they were scammed out of their money and ultimately out of a place to live.  

The report, like many of its kind, read a little something like this:

The family was desperate to move out of their previous rental home situation.  They began the process of searching online, probably a Google search, to find a new place to live.  After about an hour or more of searching online listings they come across one that looks too good to pass up.  A nice home in an area they’re already familiar with, and the rent, well it is listed hundreds of dollars lower than other comparable homes in the same area.  


The listing says the owner just wants someone to take care of the property for a year or two while they work out of the country, and the owner wants to rent it as fast as possible.  That’s why the listed rental rate is so low.  Sounds legit.  Once they contacted the person on the listing, they were instructed to wire the deposit and first month’s rent to some “lawyer” out of state and all communications are done via text or email.  No keys are transferred, and is usually communicated through email that the new tenants can just change the locks after they move in.  


Once in the unit, it only took a couple of days before the real property manager came  knocking on the door to find out who moved into his property.  Police are usually involved and it never ends well for the people who thought they had legally rented the home.

This is a horrible thing to go through, and quite frankly is no longer the exception but the norm when it comes to rental properties listed with Craigslist.com.  It not only effects the poor souls that got scammed, but it also affects the property manager and their clients.  It is something that every property manager has to deal with in this new online world, including yours truly.

Once we decided to go fully online with our rental listings, we saw in increase in phone calls to our office asking about properties listed on Craigslist.com that matched one of our listings on other reputable listing sites such as Zillow.com. The only differences between the two listings is the rental rate and the contact information.  If it weren’t for the due diligence of these individuals, we would probably have never even known our listings were being copied and posted to Craigslist.  These rate at which these fraudulent listings are being listed don't seem to be slowing down and is the current reality of online rental listings.  And after so many of these reported scams, I decided to make some changes to all of our online rental listings across the board.

Because photos give legitimacy to online listings, one of the major changes we made was making sure that all photos were watermarked with our brand and company name.  But not just some small logo in the corner of the page; I’ve found through trial and error that placement and size of watermarks matter when scammers are pulling your photos from the World Wide Web.  Photos can be cropped and photo-shopped, so the idea is to make it as difficult as possible and time consuming to copy our listings.  By placing a logo grid across the entire photo, we’ve now made it harder than just pulling the photo and placing in the fraudulent.  Because the grid cannot be cropped out and is very difficult to alter even with computer software, every person who sees the photo can now see our branded logo anywhere in the picture. This in-turn leads them to our contact information and hopefully deters anyone from contacting the fraudulent person on Craigslist.

Because scammers tend to just copy and past descriptions from our original listings with out putting in the time to rewrite it, we have now started placing copyright information in the description area of all our online listings.  This provides anyone who may have found the fraudulent listing with conflicting contact information with the hopes that the potential renter will recognize the difference and do their due diligence to confirm the listing with our office.

These are just a couple of the things we have done at Watts Realty to make sure no one gets scammed here by a fraudulent Craigslist listing.  But just in-case, here are some tips to help avoid rental scams on Craigslist.com:

  • Do your due diligence when researching a rental property.  Google search the exact address to find any other information on the property.  If it’s truly legitimate, more than likely you'll find the correct information on sites like Zillow.com or your local state’s multiple listing service (MLS). If you come across multiple listings with different rental rates and contact information. Follow up and find out why the information is different. More than likely the Craigslist information is incorrect and possibly a scam.


  • Never wire money.


  • Meet the owner or manager in person. Scammers usually prefer to communicate via text or email.


  • Request proof of ownership or management.


  • If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers often list rentals for a low price to lure victims.

If you take these things into consideration when searching for a rental property online, the chances of you getting scammed is very low.

Birmingham Business Journal Highlights Flats on 4th Project

System - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Yesterday the Birmingham Business Journal ran another article by Brent Goodwin about affordable living in downtown Birmingham with all the new residential apartment construction. It is subscriber content, so I can't give you too much, but here is a little taste of the important stuff:

"Flats on 4th will fill the middle market gap by providing affordable apartment rental rates in the Parkside District," said Chip Watts, president of Watts Realty.



Thousands of new apartment units have opened or are being developed in the last few years primarily in Birmingham's Parkside, Southside, and Lakeview areas.  Developments that have opened are filling up, and developers have said people of all ages - not just young professionals - are renting them.

But the majority of these apartments are high-end Class A units, which developers said is what the market and construction costs have called for.  That means there's a growing number of potential renters that want to live downtown but can't afford the high rents and fall into "Birmingham's housing gap," which was outlined in a recent Cover Story.

But this won't be the case with Flats on 4th.

If you subscribe to the BBJ, you can find the entire article right here.

Topgolf Coming to Birmingham!

System - Monday, October 3, 2016

Local real estate experts are hopeful that a new Topgolf location in downtown Birmingham could mean big things for the future of the city.

"Topgolf is an entertainment venue many of our clients have experienced in other metros and have expressed as a 'wish-list' item when discussing opportunities for properties in Birmingham," said Chip Watts of Watts Realty. "It will be a great anchor for the northern side of the BJCC property. With Uptown to the south and Topgolf to the north, it makes perfect sense to place the proposed BJCC stadium in between the two." 

For more on this development check out the links below...



Chip Inducted Into National Association of REALTORS RPAC Hall of Fame

System - Tuesday, August 23, 2016

From critical legislative issues and tax reform, such as the Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 like-kind exchanges, to the combining of multiple municipal business licenses into single county-wide licenses for a significant reduction in fees, RPAC allows CCIMs to be proactive in educating lawmakers at the federal, state, and local levels.

 Visit the link for more info


Flats on 4th Apartment Construction Update

System - Thursday, August 18, 2016

As you can see in the photos, the project is coming along nicely.  The steel pedestals are in place and the elevator shaft is finished.


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