When Mikki Ramey, broker in charge at Healthy Realty, was working as a middle school teacher several years back, she noticed the similarities between a career in education and a career in real estate.
The ambitious mother of four had always sought a "helping profession," and, after a few subpar moving experiences inspired her to pursue real estate, she took the plunge, knowing that years of teaching had given her the right tools.
"Plenty of people think of real estate as a sales profession, but it's really about helping people," she said in an interview from her office on Daniel Island.
Because Mikki's husband, John Ramey, is a physician, the couple spent the early years of his career moving around for residencies and fellowships - from Charleston to Winston Salem to Florida and back again.
Mikki Ramey confessed that their experiences with agents were "horrible," and she felt inspired to do a better job. Thus, she founded Healthy Realty in 2000 with the intention of helping doctors and other medical professionals relocate with ease. She obtained her license as a Realtor in 2004.
Interestingly, the three people who have worked with Ramey for the last year as her real estate team are former teachers as well. Abby Hartman and Stephanie Crowder previously taught elementary school before joining Healthy Realty. All three ladies agree it's a great fit - they met by chance during their years in education and now share the same goals for the business.
"When I hired Stephanie and Abby, I knew them to be organized, efficient and compassionate people," Ramey remarked.
"This has been a great experience for all of us," Hartman piped up. "I have two mentors; everyone works together."
The trio work together in Ramey's guesthouse behind her home on Daniel Island. There are two other Realtors on board at Healthy Realty: Lauren LaPlante and Angie Esposito. Together, the five women cover the tri-county area with little overhead cost, since the business operates as a virtual agency, according to Ramey.
"We all work from our homes and the homes of our clients," she says.
Ramey says the team can meet clients without a storefront by way of networking - the cornerstone of the personal touch she hopes to offer homebuyers. Because her husband works in the medical field, Ramey strives to attend events and reach out as much as possible. After an initial connection has been established, the Healthy Realty team helps potential buyers figure out what area of the Lowcountry is best suited for their new home. Obviously, the love of educating is not lost on the three former teachers.
"We find out what the client is looking for and how much they know about Charleston," Ramey explains. "Then we'll teach them about the city and obtain the appropriate listings for their needs."
Likewise, when it comes to those who are selling a home through Healthy Realty, Ramey and team add the same level of communication, right down to helping clients understand how to "stage" a home to give it the proper selling appeal.
Aside from the buying and selling processes one would expect, Healthy Realty provides another service - tours for folks who work at local hospitals.
"We take employees around town and show them property," she says.
But Healthy Realty is more than assisting homebuyers in the medical field. The team is happy to do business with anyone who wants professional, personal service. In other words, they've "branched out" and are excited to work with other buyers and sellers in Charleston.
Ramey's consistently positive attitude about business is surely one of the reasons for her success. As a busy mother to four children - ranging in age from infanthood to 12 years - she makes sure to recognize Healthy Realty as a give-and-take effort. Her mother, who recently purchased a home in Wild Dunes to be closer to the family, helps with the youngest child during the day. And Ramey also credits her faith as assisting her in owning a business.
"We're Christians, and we honor God in our transactions," she says with a humble smile.
But at the core of Ramey's daily work with Healthy Realty is what anyone would suspect in good business - a love for what she does and a love for her team.
"My goal is to always do better for people," she says. "If you do well by people, the money will come."
Healthy Realty is located at 1429 Hooper St. on Daniel Island. For more information, call 843-729-0302 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Denise K. James is a freelance writer based in Charleston.