By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson
The Birmingham Times
The key to success for Lou Hill, broker and owner of EPI Real Estate LLC, in Hoover is simple: “We want to treat every client like they are the only client,” said Hill, pointing out that EPI in the business name stands for “Every Person is Important.”
That philosophy stands no matter the market conditions or the opinions of others, he said.
And key is his passion about succeeding in a field that has seen many agents come and go over his 20 years in the business. “I’m certainly not perfect, but I do have a heart to help those I work with,” said Hill, qualifying broker and owner of EPI.
Hill said he encourages buyers to look at their long-term goals versus temporary real estate market changes because it is always a good time to invest in real estate.
“I do not mention the interest rates (to buyers), he said Hill, as interest have climbed steadily since record lows two years ago. “What I do, is show them the product within their means that they can purchase and I let them know there is no perfect home. You get in that house, personalize it and make it your own.”
And once a home interests a buyer, Hill tells them to take it a step further – take time and visualize themselves in that home and neighborhood.
“I am letting them know – you are going to be living in that house,” said Hill. “Come out in the evening and during the day and ask, can you see yourself living in that house? Cosmetic things can change, but can you see yourself living here? If you can, then let’s go. Let’s write an offer.”
He began his career in real estate more than 20 years ago as an eager and inquisitive agent with Century 21 in Hoover.
Today he oversees 37 agents in his Hoover office and continues to buy and sell homes in addition to assisting the agents who work with him.
Interestingly, real estate wasn’t originally the path Hill chose for a career.
Hill, 47, a self-described “country boy” who likes hunting, is a Tuscaloosa native. He attended and graduated from Livingston University, now known as the University of West Alabama and began charting a career as a chemist. Lou graduated in 1999.
That career path took him to Nashville, Tennessee. But shortly after he arrived, two phone calls would change his life.
He had been in The Music City for three years – 2000 to 2003 working at TestAmerica Laboratories, a national environmental testing lab, which has since closed. He and his girlfriend (now his wife of 20 years), Christie, had a young baby boy, Caleb, and she needed help. Dating since college, she called Hill and asked him to help her with their son. She was in Birmingham. Shortly before her call, he’d talked to his dad who was also battling illness. His mother needed help in caring for him as well. His parents lived in his hometown of Tuscaloosa.
“I sat down in front of my refrigerator, and I prayed, and I asked God to show me if he wanted me to come back to Alabama,” said Hill. “And He answered. The next morning, I got a call from a company saying they had a job for me – as a chemist – in Midfield. At that point, I knew God was real.”
So late 2003, Hill came back home to Birmingham to work as a chemist at Holcim, an Italian cement company. His work involved testing the flexibility and strength of cement for use in infrastructure, airports and driveways.
After he came back home, he also got married and helped his wife care for their son, who was attending school to get her doctorate in Public Health. He also had the opportunity to care for his father until his dad’s death in 2003.
Creating His Own Path
He had already been working as a real estate agent (after getting his real estate license through Avery Yarborough and Associates in 2004) and according to Hill, “I would work 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Holcim, then shower at work to get rid of the residue of those chemicals I dealt with, then I would go show houses afterward.”
He eventually made the decision to leave his job as a chemist in 2006 and work as a full-time realtor. He said the decision came with fear and trembling. “After I turned in my 30-day notice, I was scared, and I couldn’t sleep for two days straight because I was so afraid of failing.”
The fear of failure that tormented him initially, he would later use it as fuel for his success.
As an agent, Hill said he hustled, and he made his mark in the real estate industry with HUD foreclosures. “Back when the housing market crashed around 2008, I was still booming because I was a listing agent for HUD for REO (real estate owned or bank owned) properties and I also worked with investors. They were unphased by interest rates. That’s when they – investors- came out in droves. Business was booming. I never looked back.”
Paying It Forward
Hill and his wife, Dr. Christie Hill, now have three sons – Caleb, 21; Joshua, 18; and Jordon, 16.
Dr. Hill earned her Doctorate in Public Health and is currently working at the University of Alabama in the Division of Preventive Medicine.
For aspiring realtors, he encourages them with this simple line of thought. “Do what you love and love what you do. Then, it’s not work.”
And to remain planted in the real estate business, Hill encourages his colleagues with one simple thought that has helped him generate consistent income over two decades.
“As far as market conditions, don’t be moved by them. People are always buying and selling houses.”
EPI Real Estate LLC can be reached online epirealestate.com or by calling 205-434-1687.