Growing local ‘talent’ Education advocacy is a passion for local Realtor of the Year

Realtor Ann Essig-Marconi has been named the Charleston area Realtor of the Year for the residential market.

Brad Nettles

Education is something Ann Essig-Marconi takes seriously in her many roles in the Lowcountry. That includes heading a Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce education panel in addition to her job as broker-in-charge of Coastalina Realty of Charleston.

It was the Essig-Marconi’s education advocacy that helped her recently earn the Realtor of the Year award from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

“Ann’s dedication to and love for her community is obvious through her volunteering of her time, energy and efforts to (the association) as well as the chamber’s Education Foundation,” said Owen Tyler, president of the Realtors group.

The Realtor of the Year award is given to an association member who is actively involved in civic or community affairs in addition to possessing good character with associates and clients. Todd P. Garrett of Avison Young was awarded the commercial version of Realtor of the Year by the association. In addition to inking the most transactions for Avison Young in 2011 and 2012, Garrett is on the Charleston County School Board and a major in the Marine Corps Reserve.

As for Essig-Marconi, education has been a personal passion for the chair of the Education Foundation’s board of directors. The initiative of the Charleston chamber is charged with serving as an intermediary between the business and education communities. “Education is such a huge thing for everybody, and as a Realtor, I realized that people are moving from one place to another place because of schools,” she said.

Essig-Marconi, who does not have children, said one goal of the panel is to ensure there’s enough locally grown talent for the new employers setting up shop in the Lowcountry.

“I prefer we have our homegrown workforce,” she said. “We need to have our children here having the skills they need for the 21st-century workforce.”

In addition to her involvement with the local Realtors group and the chamber, Essig-Marconi is a member of the Center for Women and the Columbia-based South Carolina Realtor Association, where she served on the board of directors for five years.

Essig-Marconi says she’s living proof of the power of education.

She shifted from the food service industry when she moved from Washington, D.C., to the Lowcountry in 1991. In 2001, she became the broker-in-charge of Coastalina Realty, a roughly 20-person office on the Isle of Palms. In addition to administrative duties, the broker title requires continued education on everything from property management to national designations.

Essig-Marconi, who is largely involved in sales in places such as downtown Charleston, is planning to grow her focus on international buyers. Local officials have said the international real estate market is growing partly because of Charleston’s reputation as a tourist destination as well as its close ties to the global maritime industry.

The local Realtor association does not track total international sales in the region, but anecdotal evidence from agents such as Essig-Marconi suggests growing interest. “For me, it’s being involved in the change and seeing what’s coming with more international buyers,” she said.

The association recently held a course teaching cultures of international buyers and allowing local Realtors to earn a Certified International Property Specialist designation. The label provides research, network and marketing tools for global trade, officials said.

The National Association of Realtors reported in its October 2012 South Carolina International Business report that the top five countries of origin immigrating to the Palmetto State are Mexico, India, China, Colombia and the Philippines.

The report added that foreign buyers and recent immigrants purchased 7 percent of the U.S. residential market in 2011, using cash 55 percent of the time.

Essig-Marconi, who has earned the international specialist designation, is helping form the association’s international committee to help educate local Realtors about this specialized pool of buyers. “I think in order to do anything right you have know your market. If you want to help people, you have to be the expert.”

Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 and follow him on Twitter @tyrichardsonPC.