Off The Rails

How An Average Joe Built A Regional Real Estate Powerhouse

On the morning following his 2005 high school graduation, Joey Carter drove to Atlanta and went to work immediately for Norfolk Southern railway. He trained to become a conductor and spent most of the next decade driving trains between Birmingham and Atlanta.

His journey included two years of double-backs (alternating shifts of eight hours on, eight hours off) without a day off.
“You work uneven schedules and you have to be attentive,” says Carter. “Those factors translated well to my next endeavor.”

An endeavor that never would have happened had his transport career not gone off the rails. At issue was Carter’s new-found fondness for real estate, a side hustle that required his full attention on weekends and was frowned upon by his bosses. According to Carter, that led to “a mutually agreed upon decision to fire me. And that was OK. I was already doing real estate full time.”

Carter earned his real estate license in 2009 and focused on residential property in and around his hometown of Jasper, Alabama. It wasn’t long after his departure from the railway that he became a top producer and by 2016 he formed his own firm, Joseph Carter Realty (JCR).

Today it is one of the region’s top outfits with annual sales of nearly $250 million and offices throughout Alabama, from Huntsville to Orange Beach. Carter is directly involved with each branch but focuses most of his energy on Smith Lake, a serene lakefront community about 2½ hours from Nashville.

“I love the waterfront lifestyle, being on the lake with friends and family,” says Carter. “We have clients in the Nashville area who find that it’s an ideal location for a second home. Our team is knowledgeable and we’re on it 24/7. Call us and tell us what you want and, if it’s in the realm of possibility, we’ll find it.”

As if he needed more motivation, Carter is particularly inspired by his younger sister, Jane. Shortly after he formed JCR, Jane was involved in a serious automobile accident that left her paralyzed. But it didn’t stop her from building her own boutique stationery business, Paper By Janey. “She has a great attitude and perspective on life,” says Carter. “It makes her happy to be successful and
she likes competing with me, to see who can make the most money in a month. She’s very talented and nothing holds her back.”

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