Meet the Broker
Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 Chris Webster: Loving Life in Little River By Roger Yale - For Weekly Surge
Chris Webster at Island Palms Realty in Little River. Photo by Scott Smallin, Weekly Surge staff.
Chris Webster, 37, says he came to the Grand Strand with $130, two daughters and a junky car. Recently divorced, and wanting to get away from his native Kentucky for the weekend, Webster decided on the fly that he did not want to go back home and immediately set plans in motion to make living the beach lifestyle a reality on a permanent basis. Because Webster comes from a background in restaurant management and started out as a pizza delivery driver for the likes of Papa John's and Domino's, he decided the best way to make some quick cash while learning the lay of the land in Little River was to do the same thing here. So while staying with friends, he took on a job as delivery driver with Pizza Hut in Little River and set his sights on a much loftier goal. "When I got here, I really didn't want to go back behind the scenes in the restaurant industry," he says. "I had always wanted to get into real estate, but my ex-wife would never cooperate on that point." So Webster decided to go to the Fortune Academy of Real Estate in Myrtle Beach to obtain the tools necessary to pass the pre-licensing requirements set forth by the South Carolina Real Estate Commission, which includes 60 hours of arduous classes and a test. After jumping that hurdle it was time for the actual state exam with the SCREC, which one must pass before hanging one's license with a broker. "It was hard," Webster admits, "but I didn't give up. I didn't pass the first time - but you know what - it's not about how many times you take the test - it's about getting the license. I wanted to be in control of my own destiny." After cutting his teeth working for other brokerages, Webster realized early on that striking out on his own was the best option. "I'm looking at the long term here - a career versus just another job. I ran a team for another brokerage and decided that instead of giving away half of my money and splitting it again, I could be in the position to split it only once." In August, Webster opened Island Palms Realty in Little River. "We do real estate sales with a concentration on foreclosures and short sales and everything in between including standard and vacation rentals," says Webster, who has 16 listings currently, and has five agents working under him, and asserts that doing business without a franchise name - such as RE/MAX or Century 21 - has not hurt him thus far. "When I went to add my company name to the MLS [Multiple Listing Service] locally - she said thank God it's not another 'palmetto' or 'coastal' or something else. I'm the only Island Palms Realty out there." Webster calls himself a "real estate matchmaker," and has been known to roll up his sleeves and assist his clients in surprising ways. "I just recently helped a client move and drove her U-Haul truck from Long Island to here," he says, adding that helping people paint or remodel can be all in a day's work for him. "I feel like once you become a client, you become a friend." With the real estate market flat the last couple of years, Webster opened up a thrift store called Bloomingdeals on S.C. 9, got it going and then sold it. "I put it on Craigslist for giggles, and sold it for cash money in 24 hours and made a hell of a profit." This, he says, pulled him through the economic slump - but owning the thrift store took him off task. With the store sold, Webster was able to focus on real estate again. But he still loves hitting up thrift stores, and revels in some of the "awesome buys" he comes away with. To recharge, Webster has been known to pick a spot on the map and head out with his daughters Catherine (17) and Chelsea (15). "On a random Friday I might tell them to pack their bags, and we'll take off for a long weekend." Know of someone with an interesting job or career that should be given the Working 4 a Living treatment?
Contact Roger Yale at firstname.lastname@example.org