Madison Arnold realizes college is important. But lately, she seems to be enjoying more being able to shadow her grandmother and local realtor Dianne Arnold.
She’s finding that “Granny”-a well-known local realtor of 35 years— still moves really fast within the real estate market; she’s in the top 10% in Shelbyville. She’s been a realtor for a long time with Coldwell Banker Segroves-Neese Real Estate.
“I’m Harold’s oldest agent he’s had. I’ve stayed with him longer than all the rest.”
Dianne, who works with Harold Segroves, is a residential and new homes specialist. She’s maintained her State of Tennessee real estate license since 1986. She remains in the top 1% with Coldwell Banker agents nationwide. Dianne was a member of the president’s elite in 1999 and a million-dollar seller from 1988 to 2002.
She explains, “Harold has always told me I have this little Jedi thing, when I talk to people. He says, ‘how you do it, I don’t know.’”
Dianne believes that listening is the key to her success.
Glancing at her granddaughter, Dianne says Maddie, as she affectionately calls her, is her right hand. As well, she says Maddie is “tech-savvy.”
“I tell her that she saves me a lot of time.”
Madison admits that her paternal grandmother is much more well-seasoned in the area of public relations.
“She’s a lot better at talking . . . convincing people. I’m the one who puts it into the computer.”
This 18-year-old realizes she has some pretty big shoes to fill when it comes to being anything close to a real estate entrepreneur like her “Granny.”
Farm girl at heart
Born and reared in Unionville, Dianne credits her family for much of her success. She also credits several Community school educators for setting her on a path to a life-long business career. A Community High School graduate, Dianne grew up in a large family on a working farm. Her dad was a farmer, cattle/ horse trader, plus an area veterinarian.
She says she learned a lot about business, managing money and saving from him. Going with her daddy as he traded horses, and also along with her older brother—a local real estate agent and auctioneer— Dianne says she grew up learning the basic skills of good business, she reveals.
She was encouraged to get a good education. She took that advice and majored in marketing and accounting in college.
Then, she met the love of her life, Steve, and started her family. The couple had two sons Mark and Clint.
During their “high demand years,” Dianne worked as an area supervisor with a lady's apparel company and traveled around 2,000 miles a week. Steve worked nights and she admits it was very hard to get the boys to school functions, etc.
This, coupled with some family illness, was the deciding factor for Dianne to get her real estate license.
She believes still that was the right choice, even with many ups and downs over the years. Now, she’s working with her third and fourth generations of homeowners.
Working with family
“I told Madison . . . if you work with me, and I decide I want to slow up in the next couple of years, there’s a large data base for you to walk right in with. If she meets them all and they learn to trust her, like they did me, she’ll have a good business.”
A communications major, Madison has already earned her real estate license; she does not take that process lightly.
Dianne says she’s grooming this budding real estate agent to “come out of her shell.”
She’s talked to Madison about the long hours in the business—7 days a week, sometimes 16 hours a day.
“I’d like to slow up a little, let her pick up, so I can slow up.”
Madison adds, “You’ve got about 3 more years.” “Granny” chuckles.
Madison admits she’s ambitious. She strives to be able to “keep it together,” just like her grandmother. With all seriousness, she notes her “Granny” cannot eat, write and drive at the same time. “Granny” tells her real estate prodigy, “I’ve done it for years.” They joke about Dianne’s driving, admitting it’s an inherited trait.
Dianne says, “I didn’t realize she’s as much like me, until we started working together.”
The two, who even favor in appearance, say they rarely have any family spats. But they do rib one another quite often.
Dianne said she’s also explained to Madison that as realtors, they’re at the “high time” in the market, like in 2006.
She recalls how her former math teacher—one who lived during The Great Depression— preached that the economy never continues to operate “on a dime” and that it “will correct itself.” The local realtor believes that is true.
“It’s going to happen again,” she says of the current economy. Dianne said right now, like in 2006, there are 2,500 agents on the middle Tennessee real estate board—300 of which were added in 2021. She said many new agents back in 2006-after the market crashed—were forced to get new jobs. (Collapsing home prices from subprime mortgage defaults and risky investments on mortgage-backed securities would burst the housing bubble wide open in 2008.)
The long-time realtor recalled, “The only ones that continued were us old people, those that knew when you work, you do what your parents taught you . . . put some money back for that rainy day. We put it back and we’re the ones who made it through.”
Dianne says Madison is already good at saving. She has shared with her granddaughter financial wisdom which is to take $10 out of each paycheck (from 1970s) and open savings account, because there’s less temptation to withdraw from that type of account, she says.
“In those days, that paid for my gas to work . . . $5 gas, $5 to buy a loaf of bread and a pound of bologna and cheese for my sandwich each day.”
Madison sighs at the sandwich remark.
“I would put the rest in my savings. I still do . . . except my $10 has increased to about $200 to $300 now.”
Dianne says she puts struggling, prospect homeowners with her best lenders. She says they “school” them on what it will take to buy a home. She believes that’s an investment in her business. She has encouraged Madison to take a couple of courses, such as an appraisal class which taught her how to do a market analysis. She says this was invaluable as it taught her to learn how to list at the right price to sell.
Dianne also recommends her granddaughter take plenty of financial classes. She explains that throughout her 35 years as a realtor, business has kept moving, because of the 100% USDA rural development loans available. This loan has helped many homeowners see to fruition, she says.
“As long as they have a job, a good credit score, we can sell them every day.”
With those 100 percent USDA loans, she says, the seller pays all the closing costs, the first year insurance and will even set up escrows.
“We’re lucky. Most of the little counties around us are still that way.”
She said because median incomes are taken into consideration, growing cities like Murfreesboro no longer qualify for these zero down loans.
Happy, ever after
Despite some people’s thinking that realtors just “ride around and talk all day,” Madison begs to differ, especially now that she’s traveled with her “Granny.”
She’s watched as her “Granny” has made wishes come true. Dianne says this is the business she always wanted, rather than being a broker, despite some pleading from local businesspeople.
Madison lives near Beech Grove; she is attending college, thanks to many generous scholarships.
Dianne notes, “I told her this might not be for her. I told her to try . . . take a job where she travels out of town and sees things, while she’s young.”
What’s one of the greatest things this seasoned realtor is likely going to teach her prodigy?
“It took me a long time . . . to realize I couldn’t make everybody happy. It used to really, really bother me . . . my first 15 to 20 years, if someone complained. I have learned that you can’t satisfy everybody.
Madison is waiting and learning all she can from her “Granny” before she jumps in to make her first home sale.
“I don’t want to mess it up. That’s my huge fear.”
Dianne notes she believes that day is coming soon for Madison. She’s looking forward to sharing that feeling of accomplishment with her granddaughter.