Agent Spotlight: Thomas Bennett

Thomas Bennett is a name many locals are likely familiar with, but how many know anything about this energetic and somewhat eccentric man? Named after South Carolina’s 48th governor, Thomas Bennett is an original member of Charleston’s high society, and formerly served on the board for the Gibbes Museum and the Nathaniel Russell House. For those familiar with Bravo’s Southern Charm, Thomas was one of the original cast members; due to conflicts, he pulled out of filming and continued focusing on real estate and his personal life. Carriage Properties, LLC has been so lucky to have Thomas as one of our top agents, especially considering he is one of six founding members of the company. In a rare moment, I was able to pull Thomas away from his phone calls and altogether busy life in order to ask him a few questions about his life and career.

 

K: How long have you been working in the real estate business?

T: “Too long! No, it has been about 40 years–somewhere around 36 not counting the few years I spent in during the college years.”

K: Tell me a little bit about those college years.

T: “Well I spent a few years working around colleges, but not many people know that I eventually flunked out as a result of dyslexia. I think that is an important story to tell because it shows that you do not need to spend years in school to be successful.”

K: What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment to-date?

T: “I think I have made a lot of lives nicer by being able to listen to them and get a feel for what they are interested in and what would make them happiest. You should always try to be nicer to people, because eventually money will disappear, but the genuine friends you make tend to stay. It is great having nice things, but it is better to surround yourself with nice people.”

K: What has been your favorite travel destination?

T: “Italy is beautiful, but I really think the United States is beautiful too. I have lived all over, so I have been able to see a lot of the world. I have owned homes right outside of Versailles, Savannah (GA), I once owned a residential/shop-front on Royal Street in New Orleans, and I have owned multiple houses on the Peninsula. Some of these houses include the Jenkins Mikell House, the Branford-Horry House, and the Simmons-Edwards House (also known as the Pineapple Gate House). When you have seen so much beauty, it is really hard to pick just one place.”

The Simmons-Edwards House (Pineapple Gate House) in Downtown Charleston, SC. Photo courtesy of the Glenn Keyes Architects website.

K: What advice would you give young professionals who may have an interest in the world of real estate?

T: “For one, specialize in something–you have to be a little bit different to be successful. It is also important to know that it is very difficult to live off of commission. If you are spending money, just remember that you have to work hard to make money too. What you give really is what you get, and that goes for both personal and business relationships. I have spent a lot of time avoiding confrontation where possible, because once you mistreat someone or go head-to-head with someone, it can change your relationship for good.”

K: What is a random fact that very few people know about you?

T: “I’ve got a few interesting things about me that I love sharing: The first thing is that I have a vast knowledge of Charleston Architecture and period architecture’s evolution, as well as knowledge of decorative arts–this comes in handy as a real estate agent in this area. The second thing is that I am very involved in the antique business; my grandmother taught me a lot about auctions and antiques during my childhood, and it has followed me through adulthood. I have had experience finding hidden treasures and I have furniture sold in auctions that are now in very prestigious places! For example, I had a royal Prussian urn that is now in the Metropolitan in New York City, and I had one of a set of mirrors from Ireland that I purchased for $16,000, and was able to sell for almost $90,000. That mirror is back with its pair in New Orleans.”

K: What do you think you would be doing if you were not in the real estate business?

T: “I will tell you now, if I had never gone into the real estate business and started selling my personally-owned real estate, I would be worth millions! People don’t know what they have until they lose it, and I will tell you that I do often regret selling some of the beautiful homes I’ve owned. You would probably see me out on the streets in a convertible, going on adventures and seeing as much of the world as possible.”

 

A phone call drew Thomas back into his busy lifestyle, ending our fun little interview on the image of him riding around Charleston in a convertible. If he keeps working as hard as he does, this dream of his will soon be a reality!

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