South Carolina’s Lowcountry conjures up visions of shrimp boats and palmetto trees mixed with dreamy front porches filled with rocking chairs and pitchers of sweet tea. For some, the grace and grit of the Southern lifestyle is the ultimate real estate fantasy, where hospitality, culture and a rich ecosystem that encompasses beautiful beaches, rivers and natural wildlife habitats converge. Lifelong Lowcountry native and seven-year real estate veteran Thomas M. Kersey knows his way around the region, which he calls “one of the most unique places on this earth.”
The Coldwell Banker Global Luxury® Property Specialist has a spotless track record when it comes to helping his clients buy and sell in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton areas. He recently closed a landmark listing for $5..6 million — a record for his brokerage, Coldwell Banker Access Realty. He represented both the buyer and the seller in the ratified deal. Since January 2021, he has closed and placed under contract over $31 million in sales volume — a remarkable accomplishment for a market with a luxury threshold of less than $700,000. His wisdom at navigating the market, coupled with his professionalism and go-getter attitude, exceeds his age. He’s barely 30.
“We are very proud of Thomas,” says broker Tom Woiwode. “He is quite an agent and has an incredible future.”
Thomas has the accolades to prove it. In 2015, he was awarded “Rookie of the Year” for the Coldwell Banker® network. In 2016, he was named as one of the Top 30 agents in the World under 30 with Coldwell Banker, among nearly 200,000 agents. He continues to be ranked among the top listing agents. In 2020, he was recognized as the No. 2 agent for Coldwell Banker Access Realty in closed volume and GCI and among the top 1% of all Coldwell Banker-affiliated agents worldwide. Additionally, he holds the International Presidents Elite designation and remains the top listing and selling agent in his market.
To get inside the mind of this bright and rising real estate star, we caught up with Thomas and asked him 10 Questions.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What was your first job?
Thomas M. Kersey Well…I haven’t really held many jobs; I have always been an entrepreneur. My first job at age 14 was a business that I started called Lowcountry Strings. In high school, I was a South Carolina State ranked tennis player and varsity captain. I saw a need for tennis racket stringing, new rackets and accessories at tournaments, so I borrowed enough money from family to buy a professional-quality machine and inventory, opened business accounts with tennis brand suppliers and never looked back. I was busy stringing rackets in between my matches. At the age of 18, I had a client base of over 300 loyal tennis players with consistent business that allowed me to pay my way through college and make my own hours. I became the top salesperson for the Wilson brand and later sold my business before college for profit, and the buyer has now expanded and is still running the business today.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury If you were not a real estate agent, what would you be?
Thomas M. Kersey I can’t imagine a life without real estate, because I eat, sleep and breathe real estate, but I would likely choose something in the super-car automobile industry. Like real estate, I have a passion for luxury sports cars. I would love to be a professional driver, tester or presenter of the newest, hottest and fastest cars in the world.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What’s the next car you want to add to your collection?
Thomas M. Kersey I currently drive a 2021 BMW X5MComp that I absolutely love for work. It is my seventh BMW, and I am a loyal M Series BMW driver. However, my dream car would be a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Cullinan, BMW-made masterpieces, but that may be too farfetched in this rollercoaster of a business. However, If I won the lottery or really picked up on my sales volume, my garage would include my X5M, a Rolls-Royce, a Ferrari 812, a Range Rover, a Porsche Turbo and a Bugatti Chiron. Obviously, I have expensive taste and a love for speed!
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What originally drew you to a career in real estate?
Thomas M. Kersey I have a love for unique architecture, a passion for interior design, a desire to help people and a craving to build a legacy. So, real estate was perfect and my obvious choice. Since I already had an entrepreneurial mindset and loved selling, I quit my successful career in the estate planning and probate law business and jumped head-first into real estate without looking back. I quickly realized that, in real estate, I get the best of everything. I can make as much money as I want, pay ridiculous taxes, make people’s dreams come true and work as much or little as I want, all while enjoying my sports cars. I get to tour, list and sell amazing luxury homes while continuing to advance my education, learn more about myself and create my place in this infinite career each day.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What’s the best piece of advice you ever got?
Thomas M. Kersey While I have been given a lot of great advice, I’d say the best advice was to build and maintain a very high credit standing and to never spend on credit what I can’t pay off each month. I have learned that by doing that, it has taught me how to manage money, spend money, save money and not live above my means. This advice, mixed with my curiosity and desires, makes me a better entrepreneur. It’s what motivates me every day. These are things that are not taught in school but should be. More so than any advice, I give all of the credit to my parents, because without them, I would never be the person I am today. I carry no regrets and always live by the phrase “onwards and upwards.” Life is short and time is precious, so why look back?
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What’s your secret sauce when it comes to selling luxury listings?
Thomas M. Kersey I would say that my secret weapon (as I call it) is my age and my natural ability to understand today’s marketing, digital analytics and social media. How the consumer can be shown what they want before knowing what they want. I embrace the fact that I am 30 years old and that I know how to reach consumers better and faster than my competitors. It allows me to maximize my marketing dollars and market directly to a qualified niche buyer pool, based on various keywords related to the property and its features. In the modern world we live in today, personal connection is key, and as generations continue to age, Millennials are becoming the new affluent buyers of the future. These are the buyers that I have the most in common with, especially in a market where the average competing agent is in his/her 60s or 70s. I have also been told by just about every client that they chose me because they felt an immediate comfort and trust at first contact, and that is something that comes naturally to me and cannot be replicated or faked by competitors.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury If you could change one thing about the real estate industry, what would it be?
Thomas M. Kersey I would make it more difficult to obtain a real estate license and more difficult to maintain a license. I think more education is essential when entering this business than what is required by most state standards. You sit through the classes and then are thrown out on your own to figure it out, and most don’t. Our profession has a significant lack of consumer respect, and I truly believe that most of that is caused by the ease of obtaining a license and the unmonitored mistakes many new agents make. I feel as though we are slowly losing our worth, and technology growth is making it more difficult to prove our worth, while we continue to wear 100 hats each day and work just as hard as all of the top respected professions. Real estate is an aggressive and highly competitive business, which is why 87% of all agents fail. It is not for the faint of heart or the lazy, but what you put in, you will get out. It all just takes time and persistence.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury Looking over your career, which of your sales taught you the most valuable lesson that you still live and work by today?
Thomas M. Kersey The sale of the Belfair Manor would be the one that taught me the most valuable lessons. I had the estate under contract a few times before it closed, and each time, I learned more and more — about myself as an agent, my marketing strengths, my confidence and my ethics. The one lesson that I find most valuable is that not every buyer is the buyer, and sometimes you have to walk away and show strength. Never follow the money and never lose sight of the goal, no matter who or what obstacle is placed in your way. I always hear the old Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler,” when I say this, because it is so true! I have to “know when to hold ´em and when to fold ´em,” because my time is valuable.
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury What is the one thing you hope to accomplish in your lifetime that you haven’t yet?
Thomas M. Kersey The one thing that I hope to accomplish in my life and professional career is to hold the No. 1 share in my market and build a business that will last for generations to come and afford me a comfortable retirement. Isn’t that what we all want as agents and few achieve?
Coldwell Banker Global Luxury If you could go back in time, what would you tell your younger self about real estate?
Thomas M. Kersey That I should have gotten my license and started earlier than I did!