Adaptive Business Strategies Helped Firm to Thrive in the Recession
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Radha Herring, owner and broker-in-charge of Myrtle Beach area firm Watermark Real Estate Group, is the SBA’s 2012 South Carolina Small Business Person of the Year. The SBA selected Herring based on her growth in sales, financial performance, response to adversity and community involvement.
A Myrtle Beach native, Herring started Watermark Real Estate Group in 2007 after a ten-year corporate telecommunications career in Raleigh, N.C. Watermark was the first totally web-based real estate firm in the Myrtle Beach area. Its virtual structure gave the firm the flexibility to help clients buy and sell residential and vacation properties along the 60-mile Grand Strand.
The year that Watermark opened for business was also the year that the housing market imploded and the recession began, deflating the real estate industry. Undeterred, Herring decided to approach the industry’s struggles as business opportunities. For example, while many realtors at the time avoided distress properties, Herring realized a chance for clients to find coastal properties at reduced prices. Watermark quickly began offering potential buyers free access to lists of bank-owned properties.
Herring also realized that the tightening financial markets offered another niche for Watermark to fill. Because cash transactions were now accounting for 50 percent of all real estate sales, Watermark started focusing on the major Myrtle Beach area real estate product that required cash: condominium units within luxury hotels, known as “condotels.” At the same time, Watermark’s agents worked on strengthening relationships with area lenders in order to match clients with the banks best equipped to handle their mortgages.
Herring’s optimistic approach to the recession’s obstacles paid off. In 2009, Watermark’s sales were 15 times higher than the previous year, and sales continued to through 2010 and 2011. Watermark also grew from two agents in 2008 to nine agents today.
Watermark is a member of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, where Herring serves on the Legislative Policy Council. A Clemson University engineering graduate, she also serves on the Clemson Extension advisory board and is a member of the university’s Alumni National Council. In addition, Herring is active in her local Association of Realtors, where she serves on the board of directors and as vice-chair of the Real Estate Leadership Program.