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VOL. 126 | NO. 39 | Friday, February 25, 2011




Optimistic Elkington Weathering Real Estate Storm

By Allison Buckley

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When the economy crashed in 2007, Griffin Elkington had just taken a principal broker position at River City Land Co.

Elkington

(Photo: Lance Murphey)

Thanks to the optimism he attributes to his father – Performa Entertainment’s John Elkington of Beale Street fame – the younger Elkington was able to not only help River City stay afloat, he was able to help it grow.

“Basically what happened was, we had all these subdivisions sitting,” Elkington said. “I had to find a way to pay the bills so … I kind of went out just hustling and I got the business of a couple different community banks.”

Elkington’s bright idea – selling foreclosed homes, which accounts for 50 percent of River City’s business today.

“We’re selling a lot of REO (real estate owned) property,” he said. “I kind of say that I believe in … the hopper theory. It’s where there are big deals and little deals and you treat them all the same.”

Elkington began a career in real estate after he graduated from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in 2004. With a degree in economics under his belt, he began working with his father at Elkington Real Estate Group.

After about three years, Elkington decided to move onto new things. At 25, he earned his brokers license and joined the team at River City, personally accounting for almost $3 million in revenue in 2008.

Since 2008, Elkington has consistently brought in a significant portion of River City’s annual revenue. It’s his creative ideas that got Elkington the job and, in turn, get the job done.

“It is really not a glamorous thing anymore to be in this business. You have to really love what you do. ... I figure if I’m here now and things are going the way they’re going, when things get good, I’ll really be in a good position. So, it’s just weathering the storm.”

– Griffin Elkington

He laughed as he recounted his first big stunt: parking a brand new Mercedes in front of a house that had been sitting on the market too long.

“That’s what they like about me,” Elkington said. “I was just coming up with ideas.”

That optimism extends into other projects Elkington and his team at River City are working on, specifically three housing developments across the Memphis area.

Bocage, Chateau Gardens and Neshoba Grove are all newer, high-end, residential developments and are filling up quickly.

River City, in affiliation with Kircher-Belz Builders, will host a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Bocage in East Memphis on May 20. The event will feature wine tasting and a look into two Neshoba homes, furnished with upgraded appliance packages.

Also, a silent auction and concert will be held the night before as part of a preview party. All of the proceeds will be given to the ACS.

“It’s a win-win for everybody because we get to show off our subdivision and what we can do and then everything goes to charity and I think they’re really happy and excited about it too,” Elkington said.

Meantime, Elkington will continue to do what he does best – sell. In 2010, River City sold close to $10 million in real estate.

“With four people, that’s pretty damn good,” Elkington said.

Elkington was able to personally bring in about $8 million, something only possible when one knows the ins and outs of selling foreclosed homes.

“There are all different reasons for foreclosure,” Elkington said. “A lot of it’s the job market. … When the economy’s good, you can be off work for a couple months and you go and get a better job. When the economy’s bad, you’re sitting there and you might end up waiting a year and taking a pay cut. No one’s immune to (foreclosure).”

Elkington, a self-proclaimed “stress bucket,” isn’t planning on slowing down anytime soon.

“It is really not a glamorous thing anymore to be in this business,” he said. “You have to really love what you do. … I figure if I’m here now and things are going the way they’re going, when things get good, I’ll really be in a good position. So, it’s just weathering the storm.”

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 73 220 17,575
MORTGAGES 83 246 22,897
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 5 38 4,467
BUILDING PERMITS 206 514 41,739
BANKRUPTCIES 52 176 16,568
BUSINESS LICENSES 20 50 5,751
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 97 196 25,067
MARRIAGE LICENSES 12 66 5,351

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