Recruiting new ‘residential specialists’, promoting perks are goals of new Mount Pleasant-based state president

Maria Woodul of Carolina One Real Estate checks out her smart phone at the agency’s office on U.S. Highway 17 in Mount Pleasant. She is president of Certified Residential Specialist chapter in South Carolina, a term that runs through 2015. Leroy Burnell/Staff 1/13/2015

Maria Woodul realized the value of the Certified Residential Specialist designation a few years ago when she glanced at the label on a bag at a national convention.

“I see this bag, I see ‘Albany,’ she says. Woodul, an agent for Carolina One Real Estate, grew up in Albany, Ga. She met the woman, Marvelyn Boyette, who was a generation older and turned out to be from Woodul’s home town. Not only that, she was a fellow CRS.

They became acquaintances, spending time together at the convention in Washington, D.C., and another one a year later in New Orleans.

Then in the fall, Woodul’s parents called for real estate assistance on nine rental properties they owned in Albany. Her choice as a referral? “My friend,” she says. “CRS, this is what it’s all about.”

Woodul appreciates the certified residential specialist tag and all that it carries: the recognition of an agent willing to accumulate two full weeks of study time, someone committed to buying and selling homes, the organization’s professional nature.

She’s reached a pinnacle this year, named president of the CRS group in South Carolina.

Woodul’s tenure comes a few years after fellow Carolina One Real Estate agent Bobette Fisher was state president. The 13-year real estate agent has another Carolina One connection: Her husband Rob Woodul is an office broker-in-charge with Carolina One and a former Charleston Trident Association of Realtors president. The couple have an eight-year-old daughter. “I’m the manager at home,” she quips.

The couple work in different offices but see each other on the road. “The good news is we get to travel the circuit together,” she says.

Woodul, who works with Fisher at the new Carolina One office near Brickyard Plantation in Mount Pleasant, says she intends to boost membership in the state CRS chapter during her year-long term.

“In South Carolina, we have 434 active national members,” she says. Just 187 also pay dues for the state chapter. She wants to raise the current 43 percent rate to 65 percent. “Our goal is a big push for professionalism,” Woodul says.

Among her first moves is to divide the state into five sections, which will help each area promote itself. That way, the organization will get “recognition from all over.”

The new state president is aware of the advantages of attaining the CRS title, such as networking nationwide and continuing education benefits. For instance, an upcoming workshop deals with negotiating techniques.

Across the country, just 3 percent of Realtors hold the residential specialist designation. “In the way of education, we find CRS designees earn three times more than the average Realtor,” says Fisher, who serves on the CTAR board and as an officer with the national CRS organization.

Another function of the CRS membership is to coordinate seminars. In the fall, the group brought in sales leader Jackie Leavenworth, a real estate coach in Cleveland, Ohio. A recent two-day session in Columbia dealt with technology.

Woodul has been involved in lining up the first major speaker for 2015. Mike Selvaggio, a Realtor in Delaware, will visit the state this spring although the exact date hasn’t been firmed up yet. His website is www.mikemycoach.com.

The CRS members around the state will meet March 24 as part of the South Carolina Realtor Rally in Columbia.

Agents learn about the real estate field when they become Realtors. But Fisher says that’s an introductory step. “Realtor, that’s basic training,” she says. “To obtain the CRS designation, that’s 80 hours of classroom work.”

For more information, visit www.crssc.com or contact Woodul at 843-297-1836 or mwoodul@carolinaone.com.

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