2012 1st Ave N.
Birmingham, Al 35203

Resident Portal: Existing Client? login here.


Tag: h2 team

2016 in Review: Why Realtors Still Matter

why realtors still matter

As we wind up 2016, we’ll be focusing our final posts on lessons the past year has taught us, about our city and, in this case, our industry. Check back Wednesday and Saturday afternoon for our roundups on the state of our Birmingham real estate.

why realtors still matter

In an age of digital everything–including house hunts–it’s tempting to think the realtor is obsolete. There are all sorts of automated settings you can program, after all, that send you an alert when a property matching your specifications hits the market. But there end up being two big arguments for why realtors still matter:

  1. Mass market sites don’t know everything, and
  2. Buying or selling property is a full-time job.

Consider the time you can wile away browsing your favorite real estate aggregating site. You’ll plug in the things you really need–like that extra powder room–and try different combinations of things you like to see what’s available. Or, as a seller, your bare-bones selling points versus the current competition. And that’s all before you start touring homes or planning your essential pre-listing upgrades.

Now imagine you’ve put in all that time, and you’re still not getting a complete picture. Because that’s the reality you’re facing. “Realtors are able to pull accurate information from the Multiple Listing Service that your typical buyer does not have access to,” explains our own Lynlee Real Hughes. “I think Zillow is great for just looking at pictures of homes and all, but it is just not accurate information.”

And even if it were, it still couldn’t factor in the many nuances of place that make one location more desirable than the next. The ones that tell you not just what’s there but what soon will be. “I think the biggest advantage that comes with having a realtor is market knowledge,” Lynlee says. Realtors can give you a better sense of an area’s lifestyle, including how it varies a bit by street.

Then there’s the negotiation process, where minute details matter. How accurate is the pricing? What’s coming on the market soon? Those things help hone in on (and communicate) a fair price. (If you’ve ever watched the beginning of HGTV’s Property Brothers, you’ve seen this in action.)

It’s fair to worry about the price tag associated with a realtor’s services, but it’s worth looking at the broader picture. “I feel that agents end up saving their clients a lot of money in the grand scheme of things,” Hughes says. And that goes for both buying and selling.

Are there people who can quickly and successfully DIY a property transaction? Absolutely. But they also tend to be the ardent DIY types with flexible schedules. Not total unicorns, in other words, but not most of us.

Need help with your Birmingham real estate? Give our team a shout.

Our Team: Jess Anne Heppenstall


H2 Leasing Agent Jess Anne Heppenstall is a Birmingham native, an Ole Miss grad, and a recovering New Yorker. You could say she has mixed geographic loyalties, but she maintains firm Magic City roots.

Jess Anne’s grandfather was among the original families in Glen Iris Park, and that neighborhood remains her favorite. She thinks the area’s historic beauty is one-of-a-kind, and she’s happy to see it rising in popularity. She also says our Mesa Verde property is an example of great renovation work in a fantastic location next to Glen Iris Park.

Talking up the H2 brand comes naturally to Jess Anne because she sees happy clients on a daily basis. “H2 stands out when it comes to service and communicating with our clients,” she says. She believes that client communication is key to successful client placements, and she thrives on seeing the fruits of that work. “The gratitude and satisfaction when we are able to successfully place someone in their new home is super rewarding, and we love to hear positive follow up after a client has moved in,” Jess Anne says.

Her experience as a former marketing coordinator for H2 also meant opportunities for satisfying connections. From the inaugural Sloss Fest to the Swinging for Smiles Golf tournament benefitting Camp Smile-A-Mile, Jess Anne has kept H2 involved with great things happening around town. She also helped maintain our support for the Young Professionals of Birmingham and the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Art on the Rocks series, including this year’s After Rocks parties following the main event.

When she’s not helping folks #liveinbham, Jess Anne enjoys riding her horse, Andrew; taking her dog, Ollie, on long walks; and spending time with friends and family. She’s partial to a good glass of wine and an evening of Netflix, but you may well find her sampling the great Birmingham food scene. She absolutely recommends the burger at Chez Fon Fon, by the way, and says it’s “hands down the best burger in town!”

We think Jess Anne’s Birmingham grounding, cosmopolitan world view, and excellent taste in burgers make for top notch service to our prospective tenants. Reach out here if you’d like her help finding your next home.


Our Team: Lynlee Real Hughes

lynleeH2 agent Lynlee Real Hughes is a Loft District fan. She loves seeing the great development strides the area’s making and watching the loft/condo sales keep pace. “It is so nice to have so many young professionals wanting to buy close to where they spend most of their time,” she says. But Lynlee also knows Birmingham has plenty of other great housing options to offer, including charm-filled historic homes. It’s no wonder, then, that she thrives on helping people understand the dynamics of each neighborhood.

Lynlee is a people person at heart, and that’s the trait that drives her client approach. “I genuinely enjoy people, getting to know them throughout the process,” she says. Lynlee also knows that real estate is more high stakes than the average sales transaction: “I know a person’s home and where they live is one of the top priorities in life.” She works hard to make the home buying process as simple and low-stress as she can, so that even a big-ticket purchase doesn’t become a big time headache.

Lynlee’s been helping our residential sales clients since July of 2014, though she’s been involved in our marketing/administration and apartment leasing services since 2012. These days she divides her time between the office and showings. She takes advantage of quieter days “following up with past, new, and prospective clients to see if I can help them in any way, or just to catch up!”

In her non-work time, Lynlee is another of our resident foodies who enjoys dinner out with her husband, family, or friends on the Birmingham restaurant scene. Chez Fon Fon is a particular favorite, and she’d want her last meal in Birmingham to be there, “sitting at the bar with an old fashioned, charcuterie board, and splitting the steak and frites with my husband.”

When she’s had her fill of city living, Lynlee also loves the Smith Lake life. “I love how the lake just automatically relaxes you,” she says. “It is hard to beat a day on the lake cruising in a boat, hanging out on the dock, and grilling out.”

We couldn’t agree more, though Lynlee’s had some pretty awesome days lately ⏤ she’s been away most of October getting hitched and celebrating with her new husband, Carter. But she’s back in the office now. So if you’re looking to buy or sell a home, give her a shout today.


Our Team: Matt Neal

Realtor and HOA manager Matt Neal is a Colorado native who’s built a life here in Birmingham. And frankly, he thinks you should to. Read on to find out more about Matt, and give him a shout for help finding your perfect Birmingham residence.

H2 realtor and HOA manager Matt Neal

How long have you been here, and how did you make your way to H2?

I have been with H2 for two and a half years.  I was referred by a friend to contact one of the owners to express my interest in joining a boutique real estate firm.  The rest is history.

What does an average day at work look like?

I usually come into the office and take care of any managerial duties related to HOA first, then either take clients to view prospective properties or visit our current single-family developments to monitor progress for my clients.  I spend the afternoons updating marketing and current H2 offerings on several online platforms.  Every day is different but it’s important for me to keep structure, which helps me stay organized.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The ability to create my own brand through an already awesome brand.  H2 employees are encouraged to be unique in what we do and offer, which helps us stand out in our prospective markets.  Not many people have the opportunity to wear their job on their sleeve.  I enjoy every aspect of my job and am genuinely excited to come to H2 everyday and work with bright and creative people.

What’s your favorite thing to do in your off time?

If I’m not working, I’m usually on my bike.  I am an avid snow skier and try and ski as much as possible in the winter.  I also love exploring new places, whether it’s a new restaurant in Birmingham or a new country.

What’s your top Birmingham neighborhood? Why?

Highland Park.  I’ve been a Highland Park homeowner for five years and love every aspect of the neighborhood.  I feel like Highland Park is Birmingham’s most diverse and cultural neighborhood. The combination of historic and new homes, eclectic residents, and ample green space and parks makes it hard to beat.

You’re eating your last meal in Birmingham. What is it and where?

Of all the amazing restaurants in Birmingham,  I’d likely go to Hotbox food truck at Parkside Bar and get the Green Curried Smoked Brisket.  It’s simple and awesome.

Anything else about yourself folks might like to know?

The first time I ever stepped foot Birmingham was for a college visit to Birmingham-Southern College.  Growing up in Colorado, I was nervous about such a drastic transition, but immediately fell in love with the size and culture of the city and have been here ever since.

Our Team: Kenny McCullum

Leasing Consultant Kenny McCullum has spent the last 3.5 years with us here at H2 helping folks find great rentals. That process has also meant watching the city evolve, and Kenny says that being plugged into Birmingham’s growth has been the most rewarding part of his H2 career. “It has been really cool to see everything being done to grow and shape this city, and I’m glad to be a part of it,” Kenny says.

But he also enjoys the constant surprise factor of client appointments. “No matter how many times you have communicated with this person on the phone or through email, you never know who is going to show up to look at that apartment,” he says. “Every client is different.

“I enjoy the challenge of meeting with each individual, discovering their needs, and helping them find a place that they can be happy to call home.”

If the paperwork involved in rental applications feels like a drag, Kenny feels your pain. “Paperwork is the least fun part of any job,” he says. “Leasing is no different.” But leasing consultants like Kenny try hard to find the right rental fit so that the the paperwork is worth the time investment. They’ll also keep up with the application to make sure it gets processed and hopefully get you settled into a great H2 rental home.

As a Homewood native and longtime Magic City resident, Kenny knows and loves the neighborhoods we work in. He loves them so much, in fact, that he’s hard pressed to pick a favorite. Under pressure, he’ll admit a special fondness for the greenery of Highland Park and the amazing growth of downtown’s Loft District. “Five years ago downtown was a ghost town after 5 p.m.,” he says. “Now you can see people out and about, heading to El Barrio for some al pastor tacos, Rogue to check out some live music, Carrigan’s to sip a carefully crafted cocktail, or Paramount for some beer and arcade games.”

If you’re looking for entertainment outside the Loft District, Kenny recommends Rojo in Highland Park, Parkside in Avondale, and the Blue Monkey in Five Points South.

Kenny also shares the food-loving H2 ethos and raves that there is “SO MUCH GOOD FOOD IN BIRMINGHAM.” [Ed. note: The all caps are all Kenny.] His very favorite meal, though, is the pork and green’s at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale. We’re guessing more than a few of you agree.

Kenny recently married and is relocating to Nashville, so our congratulations are bittersweet. His passion has been a huge part of our H2 team, and we appreciate every bit of it. Congratulations and thanks, Kenny!