Jason Gentry: From recession rookie to Association president

How many Realtors® do you know who decided to go into real estate during the recent recession?

While many agents exited the field when the market took its plunge, 2018 President Jason Gentry saw opportunity. “If anything is going to fall that hard,” he says, “I knew there was going to be an uptick. I wanted to be a part of it.”

He also wanted a career that put less strain on his personal life. In his last job as an architect, he worked for Perkins+Will, an internationally known firm that kept its architects busy during the recession by assisting other Perkins+Will offices around the globe. Gentry’s assignments included living in Seattle and Atlanta and helping to design an all-women’s college in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Despite fascinating design challenges with the Riyadh project and others, Gentry found weeks turned into months away from home. He missed Charlotte, his partner, James, their new townhome and their new dog, Macho, a shiba inu. “It was not a great experience,” he says.

Gentry, who turns 35 on Jan. 16, had thought he would dabble in real estate in addition to being an architect, but instead he jumped into real estate full time after obtaining his license in late 2009. He soon found his way to the Association for the professionalism and education. “The first thing I did was join the Young Professionals Network,” says Gentry, who eventually chaired the group.

He quickly made his mark in other ways, winning the 2011 Vane Mingle Rookie of the Year Award — an annual honor that goes to a Realtor® who meets three criteria: strong sales volume the first 12 months in business, professional education and association and community involvement. Not surprisingly, in 2012, NC REALTORS® dubbed him a “Rising Star.”

Now as president of the Association, CarolinaMLS and Housing Opportunity Foundation, he and other board leaders have identified the following priorities for 2018: MLS regionalization, technology and surveying the membership. They are also focusing on growing the foundation and building the organization’s new headquarters in Midtown, a process that will begin in 2018.

In addition, Gentry is eager to expand the reach of the association’s Diversity Council — which just celebrated its 10th anniversary and grew in membership by 25 percent over the first three quarters of 2017. The council consists of three sub-councils — African-American, Asian-American and Latin-American. Gentry would like to make the focus even broader.

“I’ve asked the Diversity Council to review what we’re doing to make sure we’re as inclusive as possible,” he says. “If you’re a Realtor® who wants to be involved in the Diversity Council, choosing one of the current three sub-councils may or may not fit your interests.”

Additionally, staff (Karyn Lindsey and Courtney McLaughlin) is working with NAR to provide a facilitator for our strategic session on diversity. We’re hoping to conduct this session during February.

The Association has also been contacted by one of our members who is working with the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals to start a chapter of this organization, and we plan to support their efforts.

For Gentry, transitioning from architect to Realtor® has gone well for many reasons — not the least of which is his design knowledge. Not only is he certified in building design and construction within LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), he has both a bachelor of arts (2005) and bachelor of science (2006) in architecture from UNC Charlotte.

A native of Elkin, N.C., he is also a member of the Charlotte chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Gentry still puts his architecture skills to use helping clients. “Ours is a low-inventory market, so there are not many perfect choices,” says Gentry, a broker associate with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. “Buyers want a good deal and not to have to remodel, but you can’t have both. The market is too hot. I help buyers visualize how a home can be adapted, renovated or expanded to meet their needs.”

Not unlike how he once re-visualized his career.