Drawn to Chapel Hill after the start of the millennium by the lure of its fabled music scene, Clayton Nell entered the real estate business by asking a series of questions. In 2004, for instance, he learned that a friend was a property appraiser—he wanted to know what it meant, how it worked. Within a matter of months, he was trekking around the state, appraising property and learning the ins and outs of real value. When he learned that another friend was an agent at a small Carrboro brokerage that had a tendency to do things differently, he again wanted to know what it meant, how it worked. By 2008, he was a young agent at the firm; by 2015, he was a full partner. And now, in 2019, he is the cofounder of Boro Realty.
That past gives Clayton a welcome and uncommon insight that both buyers and sellers can use to their advantage: He understands not just how a piece of property looks and feels but also how it’s been built, how it has been maintained, and how it will retain its value. “It gives me a different eye on the house, so that it’s not just a commodity or a product,” he says. “It helps keep buyers from overpaying, and it helps sellers understand what they have.” But it’s not just about making sense of dollars: Clayton likes how real estate means that all of his days are different, how it often sends him for walks in the woods, and how he can funnel his social values into his business by advocating for solar energy and sustainable design. To that end, he likes a good hike, a good trip along the river, and time with his family of four in Carrboro.