• Beaufort Lifestyle Magazine
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Beaufort Success Story: Greg and Shelia Bennett

story by cindy reid    photography by paul nurnberg

“Beaufort is our home, real estate is our business!” Greg and Shelia Bennett have been in the real estate business since 1997 and have owned their own brokerage, Beaufort Realty Consultants, since 2001. They specialize in residential and vacation home and land sales, servicing Beaufort, the surrounding areas and the beach resorts of Harbor and Fripp Island.

Additionally, they provide both a long term residential and short term vacation property division to assist clients with investment properties. Together they exemplify the unique combination of hard earned success, good humor and laid back lowcountry living that is the Beaufort lifestyle.

They reside on Lady’s Island with their two rescue dogs, Zoey and Ruger, but how Greg and Shelia ended up in Beaufort is a story straight out of Hollywood.  It starts appropriately enough on a Caribbean island…

Greg:

After resigning my commission from the Army after the first Gulf War, we wanted to pursue our dream of island living. We left Puerto Rico where we had been living and moved to Montserrat, a Caribbean island in the British West Indies, with our five month old daughter Morgan. We opened a scuba diving shop and did very well for two and a half years. But then the previously dormant Soufriere Hills volcano became active. After the volcano erupted, there was fewer than 15 square miles of livable land left on the island and non citizens were asked to leave, as it was extremely difficult for the government to feed and take care of the population. We didn’t have any other option, if you were not a native of the island you had to leave. We evacuated April 30, 1996.

Shelia:

We had to hire an independent pilot to fly us out to Antigua. We gave everything we had to our cleaning lady. With nowhere else to go, we went to my sister’s in West Virginia to regroup. Our plan was to open another dive shop in the United States. We were researching coastal towns by calling each town’s Chamber of Commerce. This was before the internet! Of the twenty five chambers I called, Beaufort’s was the nicest. I never knew their name but who ever answered the phone was so enthusiastic and bubbly that I knew we had to visit this town.

We bought a junker car and toured the towns on our list, ending up at Tybee Island during a heat wave, and the car’s air conditioning gave out. I was determined to drive to Beaufort and Greg was equally determined not to. He thought it was a truck stop! We had a fight and I said I am going to Beaufort, with or without you.

Greg:

I was wrong- I think I had confused Beaufort with exit 8, Hardeeville! I gave in and we went to Beaufort together.

Shelia:

We came into Beaufort and we knew immediately it was for us. We sat on the swing at the waterfront park and I said to Greg, “How do you like this truck stop?” We didn’t have jobs but called real estate agents to rent a house. We knew this was the right place for us.

Realty Success

Greg:

After we moved to Beaufort I couldn’t get a job. We were living in a small rental house with a mattress and a large tupperware container that we used as our clothing storage and dining room table. We were literally down to $785.00 when I got into real estate.  I answered an ad for a sales position which turned out to be for real estate. The rest was history. I stumbled into the right place, at the right time, in the right market. But I had a distinct advantage.

Number One- I was naïve.

Number Two- I was broke and motivated to succeed. We had $785 to our name and the rent was due.

I had worked for an executive recruiter for a short period of time and was an epic failure. But I knew how to cold call. I had no fear of the phone. I went from working at a housing development in Bluffton to being an onsite sales person at Harbor Island. I used my ability to cold call property owners and build a client base.  Three years later we opened our own real estate company. During this time, we realized it was important to us that we raise our child ourselves and back then the daycare options were very limited and we could not afford them. So Shelia stayed home during the day with our daughter and she would do things like teach gymnastics at night. (Daughter Morgan is now 22 years old and tutoring English in Rome, Italy) Everything we have achieved has been a total team effort.

By all standards, their real estate career / business has been a huge success. Greg is consistently ranked in the top 3% of Realtors in Northern Beaufort County and the top 8% of residential Realtors in the SC, NC and GA region, based on sales production.

Greg:

Shelia has worked incredibly hard and smart for the last 7 years on our internet marketing, organically growing our business. She trained with the smartest guy in internet marketing, moving way beyond paid “clicks.” When the market collapsed in 2008 Shelia and our consultant worked on our online presence, achieving greater visibility via web based marketing to provide a continual flow of business to our agents.

Shelia:

I would rather work hard and smart than pay someone else. I am in control when I am doing the work.  I am passionate about providing the highest quality of training, technology tools and support for our agents to ensure their success. We really focus on training, mentoring and helping our agents at our brokerage. It is our responsibility and obligation to stay up to date so they can serve our clients and the consumer. We have such a wonderful group of people here, everyone is so supportive of each other and we like it like that.

Greg:

At one time we had forty agents. We are now very selective about who we bring on. We are not looking for lots of realtors, just a select few who are serious about their business. We really are like a big, happy family here.

Shelia:

Life is too short to have it any other way.

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