One of Charleston's oldest real estate firms is passing the torch and moving its headquarters to Mount Pleasant.
Lyles Geer is taking over ownership of William Means Real Estate from his mother, longtime owner Helen Geer. He also is now the firm's president.
Additionally, the company will relocate its longtime office from 41 Broad St. in downtown Charleston to a newly acquired building at 353 N. Shelmore Blvd. in the I'On community of Mount Pleasant. Lyles Geer recently bought the two-story structure for $1.585 million.
The 4,000-square-foot building in I'On currently houses several different businesses, including a retail shop at the front and a barbershop in the rear on the first floor. Several tenants occupy small upstairs offices.
The retail store and tenants in the upstairs street-side offices are expected to relocate elsewhere by August, when construction will begin on renovating the front parts of the building, both downstairs and upstairs, for the new firm, according to Lyles Geer. Three upstairs office tenants in the rear of the building will remain.
William Means operates a second Lowcountry office in a leased space in I'On around the corner on Civitas Street. That office will be folded into the new Shelmore site in November, when construction is expected to be completed.
The firm plans to put the 4,800-square-foot, three-story structure on Broad Street on the market for $3.25 million. It includes four separate electric meters and a nine-space parking lot in the rear off of Elliott Street.
Helen Geer took over the business in 1993 and bought the Broad Street building in 1999 for $590,000, according to Charleston County land records. In 2004, she bought the parking lot for $412,500.
Lyles and his mother said the decision to vacate the downtown site was difficult, but they decided it was in the company's best interest.
"If we feel that we need to have a business downtown, we will do that," Helen Geer said. "At this point, I don't know that that will be necessary."
With her son now leading the company, Helen Geer, a 49-year industry veteran, will continue as an executive broker.
"William Means has always been a company that has held strong to the principle of integrity through dramatic changes," Helen Geer said. "That principle has sustained our firm over years, decades and generations. To know that my son will continue on that legacy and tradition is of paramount importance to me and our entire team of agents."
When Helen Geer took the company's reins nearly three decades ago, the Internet was first getting established. She paid $500 to secure the domain name of charlestonrealestate.com. She also saw the explosive interest in the East Cooper area and opened the current office in I'On.
"When my mother became the third owner of William Means, she had a vision and philosophy of integrity and clients coming first above all else," Lyles Geer said. "I plan to carry on these principles with our esteemed team of agents for years to come."
Founded in 1933, William Means Real Estate is an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. While most of its residential transactions are $1 million or more, the firm handles home sales for a variety of price points throughout the region.