By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
A few weeks from now, Nell Postell plans to be in Orlando, Fla., working on a Habitat for Humanity house for an underprivileged family.
She’s taken part in framing 11 Habitat-build homes sponsored by the National Association of Realtors, traveling as far as California for one homebuilding endeavor and missing the yearly event just twice.
Such is Postell’s workday schedule, at once focused on helping clients buy and sell properties while attuned to professional and community service.
The Realtor’s notable 34-year career with Carolina One Real Estate and its predecessors culminated this fall in her being named 2012 South Carolina Realtor of the Year.
She says the award, bestowed by her peers at the South Carolina Realtors convention in Savannah, came as a “total surprise. It was quite an honor,” she says, to be chosen by her fellow Realtors.
“I have been so fortunate,” she says.
The award follows two previous honors from the state group: 2007 Distinguished Service Award and Educator of the Year in 1998.
At the same time, few professionals can match Postell’s prodigious involvement in real estate policy, education and oversight matters.
Just a taste:
• She is a National Association of Realtors director in the midst of a three-year term through 2014, her second stint as board member. She has served on 18 committees from risk management to cultural diversity and taught 24 courses on everything from farming to how to buy and sell a house.
• Postell was S.C. Association of Realtors president in 2002, served in numerous other posts and lists 28 committees and boards with the association and its Education Foundation.
• The agent was on the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors board from 1988 to 2001, Realtor of the Year in 1990 and took part in 21 committees or boards.
• In the community, Postell has been a city of Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals site design member since 2003, was committee chair for the Charleston Wine and Food Festival 2009-11 and has been involved with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Middleton Place Foundation, Preservation Society of Charleston and S.C. Aquarium Society. She also served on the 150th anniversary celebration of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church.
Today despite her packed schedule, she finds time to dote on her two grandchildren Riley Padgett Postell and Chase Hamlin Postell. She has a son R. Arnold Postell II, owner of Edible Gardens and a daughter Helen Postell Huston, who is in regime management with ACMS in Charleston.
What’s remarkable is Postell started in the real estate field in 1978 as a single mother raising two small children. She had limited previous job experience outside of working at the phone company.
Postell chose real estate because of the flexibility it offered while bringing up her children. “I didn’t want to miss anything they were involved in at Porter-Gaud (School),” she says. Both are Porter-Gaud graduates; her daughter went on to College of Charleston while her son graduated from the University of Georgia.
Postell started in the real estate business with O’Shaughnessy Real Estate. Her ex-husband was a homebuilder and O’Shaughnessy was marketing some of his homes. From there, she has stayed with the same company, although it’s gone through mergers and affiliation changes to become Carolina One Real Estate.
The secret of her success, she says, is “continuing education. You can’t stop learning in this business. To be ready to talk to buyers and sellers, you have to be on top.”
She keeps abreast of the latest developments in real estate, made easier through her contacts with NAR. That helped her get an inkling a couple years early that the housing market was poised to slide. “I saw the handwriting on the wall.”
A native of the Pleasant Hill community of northwestern Georgetown County, Postell moved to the Charleston area in 1960.
She has lived in West Ashley for decades, now residing in the plush Sandhurst neighborhood; and has worked west of the Ashley for her entire real estate career, first on St. Andrews Boulevard and now Orleans Road.
Postell says signs are pointing to improvedreal estate scene in the Charleston area — still a buyer’s market overall but with intense competition at specific price points depending on the part of town. Home lots, too, have accelerated in value in certain places from Seaside Plantation on James Island to Grassy Creek in Mount Pleasant and Beresford Creek in Berkeley County.
Looking ahead, Postell foresees rising interest rates, which could bring on a seller’s market. Mortgage rates are as low as 3 percent on Federal Housing Administration loans. “That’s giving away money,” she says. “Rates are going to start trending back up.”
Postell, who has closed on 24 home sales this year, is succinct about her future. “Keep selling.”
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.