Known locally as a “Mini Chamber of Commerce,” realtor Judy McLellan is well-versed in all of Memphis, from the Mississippi River to Collierville and beyond. For 19 years “Judy Mac” was Crye-Leike’s #1 Agent, until 2016, when she was named Lifetime #1 Agent and retired from the competition. In a city known for its hustle, Judy lives by the mantra “hustle and heart sets us apart,” and works with a team of four — including her right-hand man, husband Mickey — to provide the best possible experience for her clients when buying and selling their homes. We were able to chat with this award-winning and extraordinarily busy powerhouse, and we are so excited to introduce Judy McLellan as today’s FACE of Memphis.
Where are you from — native Memphian?
I am a lifelong Memphian. I graduated from Germantown High School, and I also attended the University of Memphis.
How did you get started as a realtor?
Real estate is really the only job I have ever had. My mother was a realtor, and I started working with her at an early age, and she and I worked with two small companies starting out. We both decided that we needed to make a change and move to a larger company that could afford us more opportunities, and that’s when we moved to Crye-Leike about 30 years ago, which was the best move we ever made.
What’s your favorite part of being a realtor?
The interactions with clients. I love to talk to them about what they want and learn what they’re looking for. Finding that perfect house and seeing the smiles on their faces … it’s truly amazing.
What is a typical work day like for you?
I’ll start sending and receiving text messages as early as 5:30 a.m. Then we’ll talk details about contracts and negotiating repairs. Later in the day, I’ll start showing and listing properties. During our peak season, it is not unusual for us to work until 8 or 9 at night, seven days a week. You’ve gotta really love this business to put those kind of hours in! Luckily both Mickey and I love to do this.
What is it like working with your husband Mickey?
It has turned out to be a wonderful situation for us. Mickey handles all the marketing and communications, and he takes care of all the behind-the-scenes work that nobody ever sees but [that] has to be done. His work allows me to get out there and interact with our clients and people in the day to day. It’s just a great marriage from a business standpoint as well as personal. We’ve been working together for almost 20 years now. It’s a lot of fun, because we work such long hours and we still get to see each other.
Tell me about the rest of your family.
Mickey and I have one grown son, Bren, who is a real estate closing attorney for Realty Title & Escrow Company. We’re lucky to have Bren and his wife nearby in Germantown, so we get to see them often and spend time with our two precious grandsons, Mason and Bo.
Do you have a mentor or role model?
My mother was definitely a role model, and another one is my dear friend Joy Rowe, who is a realtor who lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Joy is an incredible woman whom I speak with frequently to discuss business. Now that she’s retired and taken a step back from the business, I am able to call her and ask her for some sage advice, and she’s always got it.
What are your hobbies, and how do you unwind?
You know, I normally work 10 to 12 hours a day, seven days a week, so every three months we go out of town for a week to recharge our batteries. We’ve been going to the same place for 30 years. Just south of Carmel and Big Sur in California is a resort called The Ventana that we just love. Most of the staff have been there as long as we’ve been going, so it’s almost like connecting with family. They know what we like, and it’s just a wonderful place. We always take a trip up to the wine country as well.
Where’s the first place you take an out-of-towner when they visit you in Memphis?
Downtown! I love to take visitors on a driving tour in Downtown Memphis to Harbor Town then back around to South Main. I love to show them Riverside Drive overlooking the Mississippi River, where we have Memphis in May, and kind of give them the sights and sounds of the area. People are always so pleasantly surprised when they come here and see what a gorgeous place it is. We love Miss Cordelia’s in Harbor Town and Boscos in Overton Square. And if we’re going out East, we’ll hit The Grove Grill. Memphis really has fabulous dining establishments.
What’s your favorite thing about Memphis?
The one thing that we always tell clients that they’ll love for sure is the people. People here are so engaging and hospitable that you will never meet a stranger. The people of Memphis are awesome!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Personally, of course, it would be being a wife, a mother and a grandmother. Professionally, it would be being the #1 Agent for Crye-Leike for 19 years and receiving their Lifetime #1 Agent Award.
What inspires you?
Striving to be the best that I can be. Seeing the excitement on a client’s face when they close on their house and all the hugs that follow. It’s such a great and fun experience.
Finish this sentence: If I had a superpower, it would be …
The confidence to tell people what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear.
What would someone be surprised to learn about you?
I sing professionally, and my singing ability is a gift from God. I sang quite a bit as a young person and so did my entire family.
What are your guilty pleasures?
Great wine, great scotch and great clothes! I love shopping for those great clothes at Oak Hall.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My mother always tells me to work hard, but to work hard with your heart … “Hustle and heart sets us apart.”
What are three lighthearted things you can’t live without?
My three little King Charles Cavaliers — Hewgley, Bedford and Max.
Thank you, Claudia! Learn more about her work and the Judy Mac Team at Crye-Leike Realtors.
Thanks to Micki Martin for the fabulous photos of Judy!
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