Real Estate News — Veteran real estate firm in Charleston makes splash at franchise event; Geer travels to Beverly Hills for global conference

Helen Geer (Provided).

Six agents with a long-time local brokerage earned honors at a national franchise’s “brand” conference.

At the same time, Charleston-based The Beach Co.’s residential real estate wing earned recognition at Fusion 2015, the Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate event. The local office goes by the name Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate | The Beach Company.

Six “affiliated sales associates” earned honors at the conference, while the agency took home a runner-up prize.

“It’s an honor for our company to be recognized nationally among colleagues and peers,” says Ben Schuyler, director of residential brokerage for the local agency.

“We dedicate this award to the agents who make our company outstanding and to the Charleston community in which we strive to best serve every day. We are proud of our agents winning individual awards, and offer our congratulations to them, as well,” he says.

Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate | The Beach Company grabbed a second place trophy for its “company ranking in commission” for the category of franchises generating less than $3 million in revenues or gross commission income.

This marks the third consecutive national award for The Beach Co. team, the agency says.

Separately, individual agents received a slew of accolades from Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate: They include:

- Kim Boyd; Emerald Elite award. It’s bestowed on real estate agents whose performance ranks them among the top 2 percent within the company’s brand nationwide.

- Mary Ziegler; Platinum award. This goes to associates who rank in the top 3 percent.

- Jace Boozer, Will Freeman and Jay Law; Gold awards. Associates who place in the top 5 percent win these prizes.

- Robin Reeves; Silver award. This is for finishing among the best agents.

In addition, two Realtors recently won local awards.

Ziegler earned the Realtor of Distinction and President’s Circle from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors for posting $7.2 million-$11.5 million in volume or 27.5 to 39.5 home “sides,” meeting continuing education requirements and staying in good ethical standing for the last three years. Ziegler also received the Beach Co.’s 2014 Captain’s Cup for the largest year-over-year gain in gross commissions. Boyd earned the Beach Co.’s 2014 Residential Broker of the Year for the highest gross commission income.

Founded in 1945, The Beach Co. specializes in residential and commercial real estate brokerage, development and property management. John Darby heads the company as chief executive.

Helen Geer took a cherished seat at a worldwide property holders event on the West Coast in late March.

The broker-in-charge at William Means Real Estate attended the Christie’s International Real Estate first global owners conference March 25-26. The gathering took place at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Luxury real estate professionals from more than 31 countries took part.

“I am excited to put into practice the new concepts and strategies I garnered from the experience, and look forward to implementing them on behalf of our Charleston area clientele,” Geer says.

Architectural innovator Charles Renfro was among the featured presenters at the show. Also on hand were a host of global luxury market leaders and executives from Christie’s auction house.

The event encompassed talks on global wealth trends, luxury goods, art and design, successful marketing and public relations and strategies for thriving in an increasingly global marketplace, according to William Means Real Estate.

Attendees also took part in sessions aimed at marketing tactics and promoting the Christie’s network. An affiliate awards dinner wrapped up the ceremonies.

Christie’s International Real Estate describes itself as an “invitation-only affiliate network composed of the world’s most proven and qualified real estate specialists in the luxury residential sector.”

William Means Real Estate, founded in 1933, is one of the oldest real estate companies in Charleston. In 1997, it became a Christie’s affiliate. Geer rose to owner and broker-in-charge in 1999 and joined the Christie’s Advisory Board in 2006. The local agency has offices on Broad Street in downtown Charleston and in Mount Pleasant.


A bilingual real estate professional, who’s also a global business executive and avid surfer has signed on with the Mount Pleasant office of a notable real estate company.

Considered motivated and “high energy,” Mat Armstrong touts more than 20 years of national and international business experience. He recently joined Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Carolina Sun Real Estate.

The veteran associate spent his youth in U.S. Embassies around the world and “excels at developing relationships and possesses the ability to conduct business in both English and Spanish,” the agency says.

Berkshire Hathaway Carolina Sun also cites his “strong organizational, problem solving and communication skills” as well an extensive local network of clients.

According to the company, Armstrong bases his business on “integrity, professionalism, hard work and trust.”

The “family man” is married with three sons. He’s knowledgeable about community schools, youth sports and the family activities available throughout the Lowcountry.

In his free time he enjoys surfing, and “has travelled as far as Fiji in search of the perfect wave,” the agency says.

Berkshire Hathaway Carolina Sun calls itself passionate in its efforts with clients and in providing “exceptional real estate services throughout the greater Charleston area.”

House prices surged across the nation in February but in no place more steeply than South Carolina, when troubled sales such as foreclosed properties are omitted.

Values also jumped greatly in the Charleston-North Charleston metro area during the month from a year ago, according to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Index.

With all types of home sales included, South Carolina placed second — up 9.3 percent pricewise — in February from a year earlier, trailing only Colorado, which rose 9.8 percent.

Excluding distressed sales, the Palmetto state topped the list with a 9.7 percent jump year-to-year. New York ranked second, up 9.2 percent.

Home values in Charleston-North Charleston, meanwhile, increased 8.8 percent during the same 12 month time frame. Looking month to month, prices rose 1.3 percent in February from January.

The local area bested the state in price gains excluding distressed sales, soaring 9.8 percent in February from a year earlier and up 3.1 percent in February from the month before.

House prices nationwide shot up 5.6 percent in February from a year ago and 1.1 percent from a month earlier. Excluding distressed sales, home values increased 5.8 percent nationwide year-to-year as of February and 1.5 percent from a month before.

“Since the second half of 2014, the dwindling supply of affordable inventory has led to stabilization in home price growth with a particular uptick in low-end home price growth over the last few months,” says Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic.

“From February 2014 to February 2015, low-end home prices increased by 9.3 percent compared with 4.8 percent for high-end home prices, a gap that is three times the average historical difference.”

The CoreLogic Home Price Index forecast that house values will rise 5.1 percent nationwide by February 2016 from this February and would go up 0.5 percent in March from the month before. Taking out troubled sales, the year-over-year home price would rise 4.8 percent and the change from February to March would be a 0.5 percent increase.

The CoreLogic figures lag real time by a month or more.

“This is the hottest home price appreciation prior to the spring selling season in nine years,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic. “Assuming a benign interest rate environment and continued strong consumer confidence, we expect home prices to rise by an additional 5 percent over the next twelve months.”

The executive who handled property purchases for David Weekley Homes in Florida will now oversee an area extending to North Carolina.

Len Jaffe earned a promotion to vice president of land for the Southeast region, the builder notes.

David Weekley Homes currently raises houses in the following markets in the four states: Charleston and Hilton Head in South Carolina; Charlotte and Raleigh in North Carolina; Jacksonville, Panama City Beach, Orlando and Tampa in Florida; and Atlanta, Ga.

In the new post, Jaffe will take the lead role for expansion of David Weekley Homes into new markets in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida and broaden the Central Living by David Weekley Homes product line in existing markets. The Central Living communities, found in Charlotte among other cities, typically refer to upscale townhome villages.

Jaffe most recently handled all land acquisition and development activity for David Weekley Homes’ Florida divisions as area land president, and is looking forward to expanding his role to the southeast markets, the builder says.

“With our expansion into new markets, I’m excited about giving more homeowners the opportunity to live in a David Weekley home so they can appreciate the level of service that we provide to all of our customers,” Jaffe says.

Jaffe joined the home builder in 2006 and has more than 30 years of industry experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a master’s in business administration from Florida Metropolitan University.

Formed in 1976, Houston-based David Weekley Homes operates in 20 cities across the U.S.

Visit the company’s website at

A new extension of Ravenel Associates real estate operations in Charleston will be a division focused on retail, office and other nonresidential properties.

The company says it’s launched Ravenel Commercial Properties. According to its parent entity, the new commercial real estate brokerage and development division will zero in on land, industrial, investment, office and retail properties in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties as well as surrounding “key” markets in the state.

Jules Deas explained that, “After we started talking to owners of commercial property under our management it became evident that the natural progression was for a sales, leasing and investment component to better service our expanding client base.”

Deas is the president of Ravenel Associates and broker-in-charge of the new division.

“Ravenel Commercial Properties intends to leverage innovative technology and marketing with outstanding service to provide a distinguished value to clients,” adds Will Phillips, a senior broker.

Ravenel Commercial Properties stands at 960 Morrison Drive in downtown Charleston.

Additional “key members joining the team” are David Reese as director and Carlyle Blakeney as senior broker. Along with Phillips, they have more than 75 years of combined experience.

Contact Ravenel Commercial Properties at 843-266-3900.

A New York-based family partnership in April bought the well-placed Shoppes at Azalea complex near Interstate 26 in Summerville.

Marcus & Millichap, a commercial real estate investment firm headquartered in California, announced the seven-tenant 11,966-square-foot building had sold, says Raj Ravi, regional manager of the firm’s Raleigh office.

The fully-leased property traded hands for $5.2 million. Tenants are Moe’s Southwest Grill, Chicken Salad Chick, Great Clips, UltraSkin, TCBY, Which Wich? and Noodle Nerd.

“Shoppes at Azalea is positioned within the bustling Azalea Square Shopping Center, which draws from a regional customer base,” says Andrew Margulies, associate vice president of investments at Marcus & Millichap.

Growth projections for Summerville appealed to plenty of investors nationally. The property was sold while under construction, which speaks to the strong demand for well-located assets in the Charleston area, he says.

The investment firm represented the seller, identified as a South Carolina-based developer. Benjamin Yelm of Marcus & Millichap’s Charleston office and Drew Babcock, South Carolina broker of record, assisted in the transaction’s closing.

A New York-based brokerage company represented the buyer, a family partnership based in New York.

“We generated offers from private buyers and institutional investors, which mirrors the national trend that we’re seeing for retail properties in high growth areas,” Margulies says.

Shoppes at Azalea, located in front of Target at Azalea Square Boulevard, began to be marketed prior to construction wrapping up in late 2014. Leases commenced in December 2014 and in March.

Founded in 1971, publicly traded Marcus & Millichap closed more than 6,600 transactions valued at $24 billion in 2013.


Metro Charleston’s residential “market leader” landed on a prestigious list of top agencies that Real Trends consulting business fashions yearly.

The latest Real Trends 500 includes Carolina One Real Estate Services. Charleston area-based Carolina One ranked as the 53rd largest real estate company based on the number of closed transaction “sides” — buys or sales — at 8,395 in 2014. The company placed 60th in sales volume at more than $2.2 billion.

Carolina One Real Estate was the only South Carolina agency recognized on the Real Trends 500.

“As a company, we have focused on doing things better than the industry and better than our competition. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and believe that extraordinary results would come as a result,” says Michael Scarafile, Carolina One president.

The nation’s larger realty firms outperformed the market, based on findings reported by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders. “These leading firms saw unit sales up 0.1 percent while sales volume increased 6 percent,” according Real Trends.

“This is a testament to the strength of the largest firms in the country who grew even when the market didn’t,” says Steve Murray, publisher.

In its 28th year, the Real Trends 500 ranks the performance of residential real estate services firms in the U.S.

Carolina One Real Estate Services has 11 retail offices, a mortgage division and departments specializing in insurance, new homes, relocation, commercial real estate, property management, vacation rentals and title services.


A sizable nationwide real estate firm’s Charleston area office kicked up its growth pace recently, adding five experienced agents.

The associates are Ruth Faure, Nicholas Strable, Hali Mohn, Sis Marshall and Jason Peé.

Faure, who owned and operated a four star restaurant and a “widely renowned” artisan chocolate shop, retired from the service industry to tackle real estate, according to Keller Williams.

She plans to “bring extraordinary experience and exceptional service to the realtor field,” the agency says.

She completed Keller Williams’ extensive training program. “Armed with their resources and cutting edge technology,” Faure is geared up to help clients find their dream home around scenic Charleston.

Faure lives on James Island with her husband and two of her three sons.

Strable, a veteran real estate professional, joined the Keller Williams Charleston-Mount Pleasant Market Center.

He has a long background in international, local, commercial and residential real estate with a diploma and master’s degree in estate management, according to Keller Williams.

He’s been involved in the real estate industry for more than 34 years. In addition, he’s a past member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and supports local charities such as the Exchange Club, the company says.

“We are truly lucky to have Nick join us here at KW Charleston,” says Adam Roach, team leader. “Keller Williams offers its associates unparalleled career growth and lifelong learning opportunities in the real estate industry.”

Strable says he chose Keller Williams based on its “reputation for integrity and agent-centric business model. I want to continue to grow my real estate business, and Keller Williams provides the training and technology that will help me reach my goals,” he says.

A local native, Mohn joined Keller Williams Realty in Mount Pleasant to specialize in residential property sales.

She attended The Art Institute of Charleston with a concentration in interior design, Keller Williams says.

Her prior posts include the dental field and Charleston’s notable food and beverage industry, the agency notes.

“Hali as a real estate agent working in her home town, brings charm and knowledge regarding buying and selling in the Charleston area,” according to Keller Williams.

A real estate pro in Charleston for more than 10 years, Marshall recently joined the Keller Williams Charleston-Mount Pleasant Market Center.

Along with her extensive background in real estate sales, Marshall is “an acclaimed leader in the Charleston community,” the agency notes. After retiring as the regional director for Bellsouth, Marshall transitioned into real estate – “honing her leadership skills and drive for success.”

Marshall is also past president of the Charleston Horticultural Society; past president of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce; Spoleto Festival USA board of directors member and member of the Charleston Board of Zoning and Appeals. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, gardening, oil painting and antiques, the agency notes.

“Keller Williams offers its associates unparalleled career growth and lifelong development. We know that Sis will be a great fit and that it is truly our customers who will benefit from Sis joining us,” Roach says.

Marshall says she selected Keller Williams for its dedication and focus on the agent. “These are values central to my business and I know they will continue to shine and develop at Keller Williams Realty.”

Peé, a top-performing real estate professional, left Dunes Properties to join Keller Williams Realty in Mount Pleasant. He moved to the Lowcountry by way of the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

“We’re excited to welcome Jason Peé to the Keller Williams family,” chief executive Mark Willis says.

“This company succeeds through its people, and having Jason Peé on our team is a huge win for us.”

“For Jason, real estate was a bold change from his previous background in aviation,” Keller Williams notes. He’s been involved in real estate for more than a decade.

In addition to his assistance in developing the peninsula, he is also a “certified international property specialist.” International buyers or sellers have the option of using a qualified Realtor “who is knowledgeable about all details of international property transactions here and abroad,” according to Keller Williams.

He can help find the best rates for exchanging currencies and immigration attorneys to help with visas among other skills, the agency says.

Located at 496 Bramson Court Suite 200, Keller Williams Charleston-Mount Pleasant Market Center opened in 2003 and today lists 215 associates.

Contact Roach at 843-416-2000 or visit

Keller Williams Realty Inc. describes itself as largest real estate franchise company in North America while hosting 700 offices and 112,000 associates in more than a dozen countries worldwide.

For more information about Keller Williams Worldwide, visit

Berkshire Hathaway’s first agency in the Charleston area had plenty to enjoy at its yearly celebration breakfast in Summerville.

In 2014, Prudential Southern Coast Real Estate converted to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Southern Coast Real Estate. Financier and billionaire Warren Buffet controls the Berkshire Hathaway holding company.

The ceremony, preceded by breakfast, took place in April at Miler Country Club. Owner Linda Collins recapped the agency’s changeover last year, which brought in 19 new agents and gave way to “fun company events all year long,” the company says.

Collins gave out awards to Roni Haskell, Hill & Associates; Cary Collins; Jana Bantz & Associates; and the Stabenau Group for the Soaring Eagles, Apex, Summit and Pinnacle awards respectively.

Lisa Maynor won a special Spirit Award “as she showed the spirit of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Southern Coast Real Estate throughout the year,” company says.

Agents reflected on a successful year and look forward to another top-notch time in real estate in 2015, according to Berkshire Hathaway Southern Coast.

The agency is one of two Berkshire Hathaway affiliates in the Charleston area.

Ryland Homes brought in a new specialist in the Lowcountry while installing two associates on the Grand Strand.

A real estate agent for six years, Neal Crisp has become sales assistant at Ryland’s communities of The Elms in North Charleston and The Landing at Poplar Grove in Ravenel.

According to Ryland, Crisp is new to the homebuilding industry. He earned his real estate license in 2009 and formerly took part in property management at Carolina One full service real estate firm in Charleston.

In Myrtle Beach, the builder named Sonya Douglas as sales counselor for the brokerage’s communities of Hammock Pointe and Wilderness Pointe in Murrells Inlet. 

Douglas, a former teacher, began her real estate career more than 11 years ago with another national homebuilder and most recently was co-owner and broker of her own real estate firm, Ryland says.

Also, Robin Haigler was named sales assistant and will work with Douglas at the two Myrtle Beach area communities. He received a real estate license in 2001 but is “just starting out” in new home sales, the company says.

He was a design consultant and sales and logistics manager for a high end interior designer in Naples, Fla., says Gayle Jinks, vice president of sales and marketing for Ryland Homes.

The builder operates in 28 markets across the country and has constructed more than 300,000 homes in the past 48 years.