Carolina One Real Estate ‘nets’ top online award

REAL ESTATE -- Michael Scarafile, president of Carolina One Real Estate, points out the new Personal Shopper feature of the agency's website. The online informational tool won a top award from Leading Real Estate Cos. of the World, of which Carolina One is a part (Jim Parker/Staff 4-11-12).

By JIM PARKER The Post and Courier

Spring sales figures may convince consumers that the nation’s emerging from a housing slump. But if not, try a big local brokerage’s online numbers.

“We’ve seen a big increase in traffic,” says Philip Cheves, marketing director for Carolina One Real Estate. The agency clocked 71,844 “unique visitors” in March to its website. “That’s a big number,” he says. It’s the highest monthly count since 2004 and compares with 41,000 to 42,000 a month in recent years.

The company can track where the queries are originating, breaking out figures by state and even country. For instance, one summer not so long ago, numbers began to spike in the state of Washington. Soon after, Boeing announced its plans to build an aircraft assembly plant in North Charleston.

Meanwhile, the average stay on the site by viewers as of April 11 was 17 minutes, 18 seconds. “They are not going there to leave; they’re doing a little bit of work,” says Michael Scarafile, president of Carolina One Real Estate.

The website usage figure is just one tool connected with Carolina One’s online system.

Upgraded in 2008, the system is praised by the brokerage. Now, it is gaining some outside recognition as well.

Carolina One Real Estate, an affiliate of Leading Real Estate Cos. of the World, recently was honored for having the top website among Leading RE’s 550 companies across the globe. The network brings in a third party expert to make the selections.

“It (the award) recognizes design, functionality, ease of use and traffic components,” Scarafile says. “We were certainly happy,” he says.

Carolina One beat out a much larger outfit, second place Ebby Halliday Realtors in Dallas, which is the 13th largest independent agency in the nation (Carolina One is 61st).

The greater Charleston agency received the award at Leading RE’s annual convention March 25 in Orlando.

Although Carolina One, which is involved in 31.3 percent of closed transactions in the area, compiles online totals for internal use, it also has designed the www.carolinaonerealestate.com website to be user friendly and provide mounds of information for people looking to relocate here, homeowners seeking a Realtor and investors eager to buy or sell properties.

Most involved in the website’s design are the marketing department, headed by Cheves and informational technology, under the guidance of Les Sease.

“The website is really the marriage of IT and marketing,” Scarafile says.

The Carolina One team is always looking for ways to upgrade the online offerings. A new consumer service is “Personal Shopper,” where interested parties can set up their own property search parameters and browse for homes.

Another perk being worked on is a diagramming tool that would permit online viewers to narrow the scope of a search by using the cursor to traceboundaries on maps found on the computer, tablet or smartphone screen. This would make it easier, for instance, for someone to look at all the properties for sale between Coleman Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant rather than be confined to Multiple Listing Service’s broader East Cooper areas south of S. C. Highway 41 and north of Highway 41, Scarafile says.

The website is important as a consumer link because it’s often a starting point for potential buyers and sellers in a process that typically last more than a year from the initial idea to completing the deal, he says.

For the consumer, Scarafile says, “It’s just something nice to go to.”

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com