Our journey of connecting with Christie’s agents from around the country takes us to beautiful Charleston, South Carolina in this week’s episode of the Carolina’s Luxury Real Estate Podcast- Christie’s Luxury Expert Series. Broadcast Audio Coordinator Sam Sparks is joined by agent Leize Gaillard of William Means Real Estate | Christie’s International Real Estate. In this episode, they discuss the picturesque Charleston area, best social media practices, and the definition of luxury.
Leize is an agent at William Means Real Estate, an exclusive affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. William Means is one of the oldest real estate firms in Charleston and has been a Christie’s affiliate since 1997. William Means Real Estate is a dominant player in the Charleston market and delivers top-of-the-line service to its clients.
Leize Gaillard is a Charleston luxury expert. She is a twelfth-generation Charleston native with French Huguenot roots dating back to 1680’s Charleston. Leize has a passion for the Charleston area and particularly loves the historic homes and architecture.
While an area expert, real estate is her second career. Leize has a background in counseling and previously worked in higher education administration at the College of Charleston. Leize combined her interests in helping people and her love and appreciation for Charleston with a career in real estate. Leize joined William Means in 2014, has quickly become a Realtor to watch, joining the ranks as a Realtor of Distinction within her first two years.
Like many areas around the country, Charleston is experiencing a real estate boom, with interest from around the country, and the world. “We continue to see a lot of interest from out-of-towners. This has been a trend in Charleston for some time, really over the past 10-15 years. It’s been a popular spot for relocating.”
This exponential growth in the area has led to it becoming more accessible. Charleston’s airport now services daily flights to major hubs like New York, Seattle, and Washington, DC. This accessibility is creating a place where people can realistically live and work, especially in the time of work from home. Workers can live in Charleston, while still being based somewhere else, and this wasn’t the case 10-15 years ago. Big companies are also making Charleston their home, or are opening up satellite offices here, like Amazon and Bosch.
Charleston is currently experiencing a boom in growth, with many new residents drawn to the area. The beautiful year-round weather is the major driver of growth. The ability to be outside and enjoy the area year-round is a major highlight of living in the area. This Ties into Charleston’s location right on the beach, with plenty of opportunities to get outside and enjoy it.
The second main driver of growth in the area is affordability. Low property taxes are drawing in residents from the west coast, and northeast. These affordable tax rates are drawing people to make Charleston their home base. “People will claim this as their primary residence to take advantage of that tax benefit.”
With the newfound interest in the area, comes growth in the cultural atmosphere. Charleston is becoming a hotspot for foodies, artists, and tourists. “Particularly compared to 10-15 years ago, there is more and more happening here in Charleston that is on par with restaurants and cultural opportunities that you would get out of a major city. No longer is it a place where there’s not much going on.”
Leize firmly believes that social media is a key aspect of real estate marketing. “Social media, Instagram in particular is a great tool for communicating with agents, promoting listings, and connecting with clients.” With changes in the market, and how real estate is conducted in a pandemic, social media has been a key aspect of marketing. “We’ve had to pull back on coming soon and pre-market promotions, and it’s super helpful to getting buzz going.” And that buzz works. Leize regaled to Sam about a current listing of hers, that flourished on social media. “I just had a listing go live this week, the people who responded, social media-wise, at least 2 of them have brought offers, and I had communication with them within 6 hours of the listing going live via Instagram.”
Utilizing the right hashtags has also helped Leize be found on social media. This is also a great way to showcase your personality and sense of humor. “There’s been several occasions where people have found me through hashtags, or other means through Instagram. Because you know they already jive with the way you communicate, and what you‘re interested in, and that tends to be a really good fit.” Some key hashtags that Leize likes to use are #CharlestonRealEstate, #ComingSoon, and #JustListed. She also likes to use area-specific hashtags. Leize uses neighborhood hashtags, particularly in the downtown area. “There are 8-10 distinct neighborhoods that are within that downtown area, so hashtagging particular areas can really give a quick idea of where that property is. Social media can help clarify that for people who are unfamiliar with Charleston.”
Leize firmly believes in the power of social media marketing for mid-range homes. “For mid-range buyers- social media is key and a great tool to promote listings, and connect with current and prospective clients.” Traditional marketing is still at work for the higher-end homes. “There’s less activity due to the age of the buyer, although that is starting to change as younger professionals start moving to Charleston.”
“[Social media] is a great tool and one that I foresee continuing to use and recommend it to all agents, who are curious about using social media for their marketing”
Leize first connected with Ivester Jackson at our 2019 Southeast Regional Luxury Retreat in Asheville, North Carolina. As a Davidson College alumna, Leize was familiar with our area and jumped at the chance to connect with other agents. “I have always spent a lot of time in western North Carolina, so I think I have a particular affinity to the agents who are in those necks of the woods.” Leize cherishes the opportunities to connect with other Christie’s agents. “It’s an awesome opportunity to connect with other Christie’s agents. I have relationships with other agents that have continued since then.”
As with many things, the pandemic has put a halt on many of these events, but Leize looks forward to their return. “I’m hoping that once things get back to normal post-pandemic, we’ll see an uptick in that type of networking. There’s a lot of opportunities there.”
Christie’s International Real Estate uses the phrase Luxury Defined, so we’ve been asking agents what this means to them.
Leize says that luxury means so many things in Charleston, and it is in the eye of the beholder. To some, luxury in Charleston means a huge, sprawling house with beautiful views and a top-of-the-line kitchen. To others, it means a historic pied-a-terre with fine woodwork. It truly depends on the buyer and what they consider luxury. “When I’m working with a luxury client, I try to figure out what they mean when they say luxury.”
To Leize, luxury is in the historic properties in downtown Charleston. “To me, the most luxurious properties in Charleston are the ones in historic downtown Charleston. I’m a little bit biased growing up there, and having a love of historic properties and architecture.”
Leize’s love of historic properties gives her an interesting perspective on those home sales. Leize sees historic properties, as not just a home, but a responsibility and a hope for the future. “There’s a connection between luxury and stewardship. A person purchasing a downtown historic home, with a commitment to seeing that into the future. It’s not just about what they want right then, or what they are hoping to have their lifestyle look like, in that moment they are also taking on the responsibility of taking on that historic home, taking care of it, and moving it to the next generation. When I think of the most elegant luxury I can think of, it’s that buyer who is taking on a home that has already been here for 200-300 years, and hope will be here for 300 more.”
To contact Leize, or the William Means Real Estate team, please visit https://www.charlestonrealestate.com/