by Audra H. Anders for The Aha! Connection
More on this later but I want to go ahead and tell you, Jennifer co-founded Solidarity Sandy Springs during the pandemic and Peggy and I were amazed to hear the stories of the tremendous growth since the inception of the idea to feed a mere 10 hungry families in March of 2020. First let me tell you about Dawn and Jennifer’s Real Estate careers….
Dawn is originally from Winter Park, Florida, went to Ole Miss and then moved to Atlanta from Memphis. She lives in Redfield and has a 5th grader at Cornerstone. Her daughter happens to know Peggy’s daughter from softball and school. Jennifer is from Tennessee, went to Agnes Scott, and never left Atlanta. She and her husband have a 16-year-old son and live in Sandy Springs.
Jennifer and Dawn have been together 20 years working for Keller Williams. Jennifer started with Jenny Pruitt and opened the first Keller Williams office in Atlanta. Shortly after Dawn obtained her real estate license, the two met at a baby shower for a mutual friend and started working together two weeks later! In 1999, the company was The Barnes Team. Then when given the opportunity to open an office in Town Brookhaven in 2004 they soon became The Barnes Young Team (BYT). Their team focuses mostly on Dunwoody and Sandy Springs real estate but they’ve done transactions all over the Atlanta area!
When I asked them why someone should choose them to be their realtor, they said: “We care about people. It’s about improving your life not just selling your house. It’s about what can we do to help you. We go through the entire process with you. It’s not a transaction, it’s a person or a family.”
When discussing the current crazy market where homeowners are getting well above asking prices, they mentioned how much they have enjoyed seeing their clients create different lives. They worked with a young couple who had bought their home for around $250k but recently sold it after a few years for $450k and can now invest the equity for their kids education…a life changer for this family. They have several clients who have recently been able to purchase second homes and investment properties. They enjoy seeing people going through different stages from the $100k condo to moving to larger homes, etc. Since they’ve been working together for 20 years, they have enjoyed working with clients multiple times at different stages in their lives.
Dawn’s whole face lit up when she mentioned how much she loves the complicated deals where multiple pieces have to fit together to make the puzzle work. Recently, they had a situation in which a couple #1 wanted to move to Redfield but lived in High Point in Sandy Springs. Dawn was working with couple #2 who wanted couple #1’s High Point house and then she miraculously was able to find Couple #1 a house in Redfield….all with critical perfect timing.
I asked them to share some outrageous situations they have run into during their partnership. Jennifer told us that once they found a homeowner hiding under the bed during a showing so they could hear feedback on the house! Even though everyone knows RING doorbells record, potential buyers still stop to talk on the stoop and unintentionally give important feedback or information!
Both Jen and Dawn said that they love what they do and their work is rewarding even with bumps in the road. One of their mantras is “give it 15 minutes” because everything changes in real estate so quickly. Take a moment to pause and regroup and sometimes things just work themselves out.
Even though houses are selling like hotcakes, they indicated it is almost harder working now in the current market. Clients are constantly up against the timing of selling a home. Clients are putting a lot of trust in Dawn and Jenn because they strive to time events so that clients won’t have to move to temporary housing.
BYT offers a full concierge service. They have a Buyers Agent – Alexis Werner and an Operations Manager – Amy Murphy. They also have everyone needed to help facilitate the process from start to finish including a stager, photographer, organizer, painter, and more. They typically do a pre-inspection and have an electrician, handyman, plumber, etc. on hand to help with any fixes required.
Now back to Solidarity Sandy Springs…
Jennifer and her friend Sonia Simon served together at Every Woman Works and had been helping to send kids to summer camp at Camp Grace in Roberta, GA. Many of these kids live in apartments inside the Perimeter and are often hungry. Some eat their only meals at school for breakfast and lunch when eligible for the government funded free and reduced meal program. When the pandemic arrived and schools shut down in March, 2020 Jennifer knew these kids were going to be hungry. She and Sonia reached out to everyone they knew to come up with a plan to help. Jason Sheetz from Under the Cork Tree offered the use of his restaurant to set up a food pantry. They opened and ran out of food after 60 shoppers despite a line around the block. Jen was determined to not turn away hungry people again. They rallied everyone they knew the next day and served 105 shoppers and have never had to turn anyone away since! They have had 42,000 shoppers in two years. Solidarity Sandy Springs, co-founded by Jennifer Barnes and Erin Olivier, is currently in the Prado shopping center serving 400+ families per week. They began as an emergency food source for food insecure families during the shutdowns. Now they are a community movement, serving the people of Sandy Springs. Their volunteers collaborate with schools, Scouts, local food drives, churches, etc. to receive items and use monetary donations for produce. They are currently collecting Mother’s Day gifts so that the children they serve can “shop” for gifts for their moms. If you have a gift closet or items that could be “re-gifted” this is a GREAT OPPORTUNITY to donate!
If you’ve been thinking of selling check your home value here…