History of Watts Realty Company

Watts Realty Company, Inc., through four generations, continues to be a committed, conservative, ethical, and experienced management and sales team serving the Alabama real estate market and its local communities by active involvement through volunteer and public service. Watts knows of no other real estate company in Birmingham that has been owned and operated by the founding family for so long. These are just a few of the many reasons that give Watts Realty its real estate edge.


  • First Generation

    Watts History After working as a Superintendent of Construction for Pratt Consolidated Coal Company, W.A. Watts sought an interest in construction and real estate through several companies. In 1906, he acquired the Cement Block and Manufacturing Co. with W. G. Oliver, constructing many frame and block homes in the area for investment and rentals. These were probably the first of what we now call "split face" block style buildings. Just a couple of the frame homes have survived today and were moved to the grounds of the historical Sloss Furnace in downtown Birmingham for preservation. In 1907, the Oliver-Watts Construction Company expanded its construction, to the purchasing and sales of properties. The Hillman-Watts Land Company of 1908 specialized in the building, buying, selling, dealing and owning of real estate. This lasted until 1918 when Mr. Hillman passed away and the resulting business became known as W.A. Watts, Realtor. In 1925, W.A. Watts helped organize the Birmingham Building and Loan Association, later federalized to become the Birmingham Federal Savings and Loan Association. In 1931 W.A. and E.R. Watts and M.E. Watts began the Watts Land Co. which built hundreds of homes in the southside area that Hillman-Watts had built. In 1953, W.A. Watts, Realtor became Watts Realty Company, Inc., which exists today. W.A. Watts was a former President of the Birmingham Board of Realtors, and was the Building Chair and fundraiser for the Cripple Childrens Clinic, the predecessor of Childrens Hospital.
  • Second Generation

    Watts History Bill Watts, Jr. joined his father at Watts Realty in 1946 after a five year tour of duty in World War II as an Air Force pilot. Bill, Jr. was a former President of the Birmingham Board of Realtors and former President of the Alabama Association of REALTORS. He also served as a National Director of the National Association of Real Estate Boards. Bill Watts, Jr. was recognized as Birmingham's 1963 Realtor of the Year, and as the winner of the 1986 President's Cup Award in Birmingham. The State Association named Bill, Jr. as Emeritus Realtor of the Year after serving for over 50 years in many capacities. His other charitable activities included former President of the Metropolitan Board of Directors of the YMCA, Birmingham, Chairman of the YMCA Birmingham Board of Trustees, former President of the Board of Directors of the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in North Carolina and its Chairman of Trustees. He was awarded the professional designation of Certified Property Manager (CPM®) from the Institute of Real Estate Management. in the mid-1950's Bill, Jr. assembled over 10 1/2 blocks of land with substandard frame homes found immediately west of the campus for potential expansion of the Medical Center. On June 10, 1958 university officials obtained 10 1/2 blocks of land adjacent to the Medical Center. The first Birmingham Urban Renewal Project allowed the campus to grow west from its original four blocks. Bill, Jr.'s father passed away in 1956 and Bill, Jr. continued the firm until his retirement in 1997 for health reasons. He passed away in 2001. He is our continuing inspiration to do what is right in business and our personal lives. He was awarded Realtor Emeritus by the National Association of Realtors and was a member of the YMCA's Order of the Red Triangle.
  • Third Generation

    Watts History In 1970, Bill Watts III joined the firm after graduating from Auburn University and an active duty tour with the U.S. Air Force. Bill III was awarded the national professional designations of Certified Property Manager (CPM®) in 1976, Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM®) in 1982, and Certified Real Estate Broker Manager in 1993. During his 30 plus years with Watts Realty, Bill III served the Birmingham Association of Realtors and was its President in 1988. He also founded and resided as President of the Realtors Service Corporation and as President of the Birmingham Multiple Listing Service. Bill was named the Commercial Member of the Year in 1989, Birmingham's 1990 Realtor of the Year, Alabama's 1991 Realtor of the Year and was awarded the Alabama Realtor's Robert Jemison Award in 1998. Bill is the second in the family to receive the Birmingham Association of Realtors President's Cup in 1998 and the Alabama Association of Realtors David D. Roberts, Sr. Award in 2008. He further served as a trustee of the Alabama Realtors Political Action Committee and served as its Chairman in 2001. Bill has served as Regional Vice President of the Alabama Association of Realtors and was elected as an officer in 2003. He served as President of the Alabama Association of Realtors in 2006. Bill III's commercial specializations grew Watts Realty into the 6th largest commercial property management firm in 1999 according to the Birmingham Business Journal and expanded Watts Realty's services across the state of Alabama. During the early 2000's, Bill and Watts Realty counseled with UAB and helped assemble the land for the new UAB hospital opened in 2004, as well as the land for the adjacent new UAB Women's and Children's Hospital. Bill became Chairman of the Board of Watts Realty Co., Inc. in 2007. In June 2007, Alabama Governor Bob Riley appointed Bill to the Alabama Real Estate Commission representing the 6th Congressional District.

    Watts History Bill III's charitable activities include former Chairman of the Board of Hargis Christian Retreat and Chair of the Diaconate and Mission Council Moderator of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Bill has also provided multiple terms of service as Chairman of the Board of Management of YMCA Birmingham Camp Cosby, member of the Board of Management of YMCA Birmingham Hargis Retreat, and as a member of the YMCA Birmingham Metropolitan Board of Directors. In addition, Bill continues to serve as a Director on the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly Board of Directors in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

    Bill III's wife, Jan, operated the newer firm, Watts Residential Sales, which was listed in 1999 as the 10th largest residential firm in Birmingham by the Birmingham Business Journal. Jan was also the third Watts to receive Birmingham's Realtor of the Year in 1999. In 2000, Watts Residential Sales affiliated with Coldwell Banker and in 2001 became Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties - this firm was sold in November 2003. Jan received her Masters of Divinity at Beeson's College of Divinity at Samford University, was ordained and is currently retired after 20 years of service as Minister of Music at Birmingham's First Christian Church.
  • Next Generation

    Watts History W.A. Watts, IV known as "Chip", is part of the Next Generation in Real Estate. After graduation from Auburn University in 1996, Chip utilized his Wildlife Science degree by serving as an Environmental Educator at YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC before joining Watts Realty in 1998. Chip received his Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM®) designation in 2002 and his Certified Property Manager (CPM®) designation in 2004. In late 2006, Chip became the fourth generation President of Watts Realty and began to enhance Watts Realty's services across the state of Alabama. Chip then promptly earned the prestigious Accredited Management Organization (AMO®) status for Watts Realty from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). In 2008, Chip identified new opportunities for real estate management in the troubled assets/special assets market as the nation's economy began to falter. New management opportunities with banks and other entities holding troubled commercial or residential assets began to emerge across the state of Alabama and Chip launched programs to enhance Watts Realty's services to fill the management needs of such entities. Chip served as the 2008 President of the Alabama Chapter 43 of IREM® and as well as the 2009 President of the Alabama CCIM® Chapter. Chip served as IREM's Regional Vice President for Region 5, covering the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and as a Senior Vice President from 2015-2020. He served as President of the Birmingham Associations of REALTORS® in 2014. Chip currently serves as President of IREM® beginning in October 2020.

    Chip dedicated extra time to the Birmingham YMCA Camp Cosby Board of Management, has served as its past Chairman and is a member of the Metropolitan Birmingham YMCA Finance Committee. Chip recently became a member of the Metropolitan Birmingham YMCA Board of Directors. Chip was honored by both YMCA Camp Cosby and the Metropolitan Birmingham YMCA as its 2007 Adult Volunteer of the Year and was recently honored by the Birmingham Association of Realtors® as its 2008 REALTOR® of the Year, the fourth Watts to receive such an honor.

    Watts History Another part of the Next Generation to join the firm in 2006 is Michael Watts. With a degree in Communication Studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Michael is currently the Marketing Director of the firm, maintaining the firm's internet presence and marketing of clients' properties.

    Watts History In 2007 David Watts joined the Next Generation of Real Estate. David graduated from Auburn with a B.S. in Business Administration with his main focus on Small Businesses Management. David quickly made a name for himself in the Real Estate industry with major renovation projects to commercial space in Historic Downtown Homewood and the Alabama Legal Services Building located in the CBD of Birmingham. David received his Certified Property Manager (CPM®) designation in 2011. David has served for multiple boards, including previous VP of Business Development on the Homewood Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. David's charitable activities include current Chairman of the Board for YMCA's Camp Cosby. He currently sits on the Birmingham YMCA Board as well. He enjoys raising money for under privileged kids to go to camp. David was awarded the YMCA Camp Cosby Adult Volunteer of the Year in 2009.