December 2015

Realtor Brad Wilson: Hilton Head’s Humble Ambassador

Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

When you’re good at something, you don’t have to tell anybody about it; they know it. And if you don’t say anything about it, they appreciate you more than if you try to build yourself up.” Hilton Head Island, Charter One Realtor Brad Wilson received this advice from his father back in his hometown of Mayfield, Kentucky. At the time, Wilson was playing high school football. “I was decent,” he said… When his dad heard him touting his accomplishments a little too much, he shared this wisdom—the same wisdom Wilson has followed throughout his 37 successful years in Lowcountry real estate, most recently adding the title “Island Ambassador” to his résumé because of his role in three episodes of Home and Garden Television’s house-hunting show Island Life.

Meandering his way to Hilton Head via Louisville, Kentucky, then Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Wilson moved to the island at the encouragement of his brother Jeff Wilson, who in the mid-1970s had established his own foothold in the island’s emerging real estate business. Graduating from Western Kentucky University with a degree in marketing and advertising, Wilson had sold Bibles door to door, and at the time was working for a wholesale hardware distributor. “My first thought was, ‘I can’t sell real estate.’” His brother gave him a piece of valuable advice, “Brad, you’ve been selling your whole life. The only difference between selling a family Bible and selling a house is the price.”

That was 1978, however. When people ask him today, “What brought you to Hilton Head?” he is still likely to reply, “A 1978 Toyota station wagon.” With a successful career hallmarked by humor, humbleness, knowing the market, and providing unparalleled customer service, Wilson understands that, “If you put your client first, and you provide them with great service, then you’ll get them saying positive things about you, which means referrals. Probably 75 percent of my business is from referrals,” he said.
That referral business brought HGTV to his doorstep. “I have a happy client from New Jersey who got displaced by Hurricane Sandy,” Wilson said. The client’s daughter had decided to relocate to Hilton Head Island and was referred to Wilson by her mother. That particular client had contacted HGTV, and when they learned she was moving to Hilton Head Island, Wilson said they jumped at the opportunity to bring the show here.

“I believe that a lot of success is dependent upon timing. Being at the right place at the right time; that’s what happened,” Wilson said. He didn’t take the prospect of becoming the island’s real estate ambassador too seriously until after a telephone interview with one of the show’s producers. “They offered me three to five episodes. Claudia [the producer] said she had never heard of them ever offering what they offered me.” He agreed to three episodes that were filmed in July of this year and first aired in November.


Brad Wilson is featured on an upcoming issue of HGTV’s Island Life, which will air in December.

“Island Life is a huge promotion for the island. The Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce was the first place I called when I accepted the offer,” Wilson said. “I have never experienced so many acknowledgements than what people are doing now. I have a belief in building the brand, a belief in customer service, and a belief in timing—and sometimes that lucky timing happens.” Local residents and realtors are calling with congratulations, telling Wilson he is the perfect Hilton Head ambassador. “I really didn’t have any expectations, but it is phenomenal for Hilton Head Island,” he said.

Wilson began his real estate career with Moss Creek. “They had one 18-hole golf course and were just getting started on the North Course. I saw the opportunity to sell all those great pieces of property,” he said. He recalled one particularly special transaction. “It was a marsh-front home site, and it was beautiful. This lot had a southeastern exposure, and not many marsh-front properties in the whole area offer a southeastern exposure. I was real apprehensive about even telling them the $43,900 price; there’s no way you could touch that today. The client said, ‘That seems very good. I’ll take it.’”

Still on the lookout for those rare southeastern facing properties, Wilson said, “The longer you stay here, you begin to love the marsh and you love the changes of the color through the seasons. The tides come and go. The marsh catches the fish that the tide brought in and creates a feeding ground for all the birds. It’s absolutely gorgeous.”

Following Moss Creek, Wilson joined the Hilton Head Plantation Company; and in 1995, he, his brother, and a group of real estate professionals formed the Pinnacle Group, which ultimately lead him to his current role as partner with Charter One Realty. The desire to find just the right property for his clients is still strong. “I’m going to get excited about what they’re looking for. In 37 years, I don’t think I have ever sold a piece of property that I wouldn’t have bought myself.” Wilson added with a twinkle, “There may actually be one where I told the buyers, ‘Y’all are crazy,’ because the place needed so much work. It’s a showplace now. It is gorgeous.”

One of Wilson’s current listings is a home on Seabrook Landing with Spectacular views of the Intra-Coastal Waterway, Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge and Colleton River. Listed for $1,975,000, Wilson says that there is a lot to love about the varied views throughout the Lowcountry. “I get turned on by all the different views. The home we live in now overlooks a freshwater lagoon, and I love it.”

Charter One Realty complements Wilson’s unofficial status as island ambassador nicely. Most recently a diamond-level sponsor for the Volunteers in Medicine Circle of Caring Gala in November, non-profit organizations and charitable events throughout the community benefit from Charter One’s commitment to its hometown. Wilson personally brought Memory Matters to the attention of his partners, and Charter One Realty has backed his commitment to the local organization that assists individuals and families dealing with all forms of dementia.

Brad Wilson has plenty to brag about. However, much to his father’s credit, he has kept his accomplishments pretty close to the vest, which has served him quite well. Nice job Mr. Ambassador. 

For more information, please call (843) 681-3307 or (843) 384.9995, visit bradwilsonhomes.com or e-mail brad@charteronerealty.com.

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