Chris Garland was drawn to the hustle and bustle of the real estate business in his early teens.
“I remember going into my cousin’s office one day, and he was sitting in there on the phone with his feet up on his desk, looking through all of these papers and negotiating a deal,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘I want to do that.’”
He would go on to run errands for that cousin, Gary Garland, at Crye-Leike Commercial Investment Division, before getting his real estate license in 1987 at age 20. That background led him to obtain a degree in urban development from the University of Memphis – a combination of real estate, finance and city planning.
Chris Garland joined Gary’s newly formed company, Garland Co. Real Estate, in 1993 to sell commercial real estate and has been there ever since. In 1997, the firm moved its offices Downtown from Sanderlin Avenue and Garland started selling residential too.
It’s a broader focus that Garland’s industry peers don’t dabble into quite as much.
“Commercial real estate agents will ask me, ‘Why do you sell residential and commercial?’” Garland said. “I say, ‘Well, one day I figured out that I could sell three $300,000 houses twice as fast as I could sell one $300,000 commercial building.’ But I still liked doing commercial buildings too, so I decided to do both. And be good at both.”
Garland began to specialize in the Downtown market, selling homes at Harbor Town, South Bluffs and condos. He also brokered commercial transactions, including retail and office leasing, sales of buildings for redevelopment, as well as land for redevelopment.
All the while, Garland kept bumping into Tracie Gaia, who was handling residential property for Downtown investors and developers like Phil Woodard. In 2004, Gaia joined Garland Co. Real Estate, and the duo teamed up to take on the marketing of newly constructed town homes and condos.
“We started selling these vacant buildings for the revitalization of Downtown,” Garland said. “We were the sales team for the developer/builder who had no sales team. We helped them design up for what was best for the market, meet with the architects, get the floor plans and finishes right to where we knew we could sell them.”
Since then, Gaia and Garland have tallied more than $80 million in residential sales. To this day, they’ve sold several of those units two or three times over.
“I remember going into my cousin’s office one day, and he was sitting in there on the phone with his feet up on his desk, looking through all of these papers and negotiating a deal. I was like, ‘I want to do that.’”
– Chris Garland
“People, when they’re getting ready to sell it, they call us again,” Garland said.
Projects Garland has been involved with in recent years include Kerr Tigrett’s The Ivy at South End subdivision, CityHouse Memphis Condominiums at 6 W. G.E. Patterson Ave., Finard Properties Inc.’s The Welcome Wagon Building at 30 N. Second St., and numerous buildings along South Main, including where UrbanArch Associates PC now resides.
“I love to see the buildings go from being vacant to useful and thriving,” Garland said. “I like seeing things change.”
Garland has also represented such retailers as City Market grocery in its ground floor lease at Radio Center Flats, 66 S. Main St., and Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in its build-to-suit space at 730 S. Mendenhall Road.
“In a previous real estate market, I could afford to specialize in one area: Downtown,” Garland said. “I still specialize in Downtown, but I’ll handle commercial or residential real estate transactions anywhere in the city. And I’m very capable of it because I’m 45 years old and I’ve lived in Memphis all my life.”
Sales have “picked up a lot” in the last year, Garland said, and he looks forward to when the market bounces back.
“It’s going to be different than it was before, hopefully we won’t have these drastic changes,” he said. “What you’ll see if when the market gets really good again, apartments will be converted into condominiums.”
When he’s not making real estate deals, Garland enjoys traveling, fly fishing and scuba diving. He’s also a Tigers and Grizzlies season ticket holder.
It’s a testament to his love for Downtown, where it’s not uncommon to see Garland out and about showing property, cell phone in hand – but never in a suit.
“I walk to the beat of my own drum as far as the whole real estate business goes,” he said.