After spending 10 years in retail sporting goods and 18 years in the textile business, Bobby Hines decided to delve into real estate. He learned the trade over a decade or so at Coldwell Banker Commercial Caine and Langston Black before taking the plunge last year and opening the Greenville branch of Spencer/Hines Properties, a Spartanburg-based real estate firm that he co-owns with his brother, Ben Hines, along with Lynn Spencer.
UBJ recently caught up with Bobby Hines to get his take on the competitive Greenville real estate market.
Why did you decide to open Spencer/Hines in Greenville?
My brother and I have been involved in several real estate deals together in the past and had talked over the years about how great it would be to be in business together at some point. We had a family business when we were much younger, O’Neal Williams Sporting Goods, that we worked in together along with my father, Bentley Hines, and Alva Phillips. We were there for several years and that worked out well.
Ben and I are best friends and really get along very well, so that was a consideration. Everything in life is about timing, including buying and selling real estate, so we had to wait until the timing was right to start a Greenville office of Spencer/Hines Properties. We were both raised in Greenville, and with the Greenville market being such a great market, we felt that with our long-term relationships here and in Spartanburg and us working in this industry for many years that the timing was finally right. We now truly cover the Upstate.
How is your company different than other real estate firms?
There are several good real estate companies in our markets. The Spencer/Hines office in Spartanburg has a larger presence in that market of about 10 agents than we currently do in Greenville, but we emphasize that we are a local real estate company. We don’t have a national flag with our name, but Ben and I and most all our agents have built our business on personal relationships, referrals, honesty and integrity. We are aggressive by nature, so follow-up and services are very important to all of us. We do what we say we are going to do and are careful not to let a client think we know the answer to a question unless we really do. Being forthright and honest are strong attributes in our company.
The Greenville office recently added an agent to be our office manager and residential real estate arm. Alison Germain has about 20 years of experience in residential real estate. We added her because we needed an office manager and we have been asked many times if we worked in the residential area.
My son, Zach, and I are 100 percent commercial agents and our residential agent is 100 percent residential, but we can now refer customers to our residential department. We will not allow a residential agent to work on commercial properties, and our commercial agents will not work on residential properties. They are entirely different animals, and we want to be the best in our field. We offer this service to help us complete the real estate circle of commercial sales, leasing, investment and property management and now, residential (Greenville only).
Where do you think the major emphasis will be this year in the Greenville real estate market?
The downtown area is still the No. 1 topic in real estate conversations in general. There is so much going on downtown, and that is very exciting. I think the focus is going north up Main Street as far as the downtown market is concerned and out to Stone Avenue and Poinsett Highway. There is also a lot of activity for me in the industrial market. I think most brokers will tell you that there is a lack of available industrial properties in the Greenville/Spartanburg markets in certain building sizes, so I think that is an obvious need in the Greenville/Spartanburg markets.