For the latest edition of our Future of Real Estate series on Union Street Media’s YouTube channel, Rachel Allard, Senior Vice President of Strategy, chats with Chip Craig of GreyBeard Realty, one of Western North Carolina’s best independent real estate companies. Craig is the Owner Broker of GreyBeard Realty and is also a skilled marketer and businessperson, bringing years of experience from the education and finance space. He is also heavily involved in the community and serves on several boards including Black Mountain Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund, Buncombe County United Way, and Buncombe County Sports Commission. Click the video above to watch the full interview with this innovative and humble leader.  

Before getting his start in the real estate industry, Chip Craig was an unhappy banker living in Charlotte, North Carolina. After moving to Asheville, Craig fell in love with the area and decided he would do anything to stay. That’s when he discovered real estate. “It was the only thing I could think of to anchor me here in town,” he reflects. GreyBeard Realty started as a “property management company sending out letters to people, trying to pick up vacation houses.” Since then, GreyBeard Realty has grown into a full-service agency, providing sales, rentals, and property management services, and a team of local experts who know the area inside and out. 

At the heart of GreyBeard Realty is the value of helping others and doing the right thing. Craig sees this as the foundation for a successful business, even if it means doing things that seem counterintuitive. “Helping people get out of contracts is not to my benefit, but I think it’s important to take the long term approach and to build these relationships with people and just help them,” Craig says. Craig goes to great lengths to back up this credo with action.

In addition to helping clients, Craig is dedicated to helping his community. He encouraged his employees to seek opportunities to help others during the pandemic when real estate was on hold due to lockdowns, and continued to pay them full time regardless of whether they were doing “real estate” work or volunteering. “We’ve done things like taking over [an] elderly person’s yard over the last few months” states Craig, as one example.

“You can have the greatest marketing in the world, but if your brokers don’t perform or aren’t quality people, that’s going to be your reputation.” 

– Chip Craig 

Craig prioritizes strong relationships with his team, including long term partners like Union Street Media, as well as his clients. “When I add a new broker I always meet with them and they always have to go to lunch with a couple other brokers and then have a coffee with another broker –  just to make sure that chemistry is there,” states Craig. Craig sees strong relationships as key to both his business’s success and his ability to maintain balance; spending time with his family, pursuing hobbies like kiteboarding, and investing back in the community he loves.

Just like bringing on a new broker, Craig likes to try out new tools and technology to see if they are a fit for GreyBeard Realty. He’s constantly seeking better ways to do things. His team has embraced digital for years, from tools like DropBox to partnerships with companies like Union Street Media and Follow Up Boss. “Everything is digital,” Craig says, adding, “It was funny with COVID because we all scattered and went our separate ways, and everything is fine because we use cloud base technologies.” “You can’t be afraid of technology in today’s world,” he affirms.

When it comes to measuring success, Craig is a self proclaimed “stats person”, but he dislikes quotas, having come from the finance world where they were all that mattered, and instead prioritizes innovation and impact. “We’re always trying new things as long as we can find a way to measure [them],” Craig says. “We keep the things that are working and get rid of things that aren’t,” says Craig, adding, “over time we’ve been really successful in really maximizing our standing in the market. And a lot of that has been Union Street and our relationship with them.” 

Craig’s business philosophy and comfort trying new things has led to enviable growth, but he’s the last to brag. To Craig, it’s all about others – especially his team. “I feel like GreyBeard’s job is to generate leads for our brokers,” Craig explains. “When I bring on a new broker I don’t require them to generate their own business,” he continues, adding “none of our brokers advertise – it’s all GreyBeard. I tell them for the first six months to be patient, it’s going to take a while. From six months to a year and a half you’ll be okay, then from about a year and a half to about two and a half, you’re going to start panicking because you have too much going on.” 

The same was true for Craig when he started his own business. “It’s going to take a couple of years,” says Craig, but building a “strong company” that can sustain the ups and downs is important. That applies to anyone in real estate – whether you own your own business or are an individual agent. Craig also advises others to seek balance to avoid burnout. “I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my family, a lot of time exercising, doing the things I want –  and I’m still passionate about work because it’s not all that I’ve done.”

To learn more about Chip Craig and GreyBeard Realty visit:

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