Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Karen moved to the Charleston area in 2018 with her husband and three children after spending years researching the “best places to live”. Being a southerner at heart, Karen knew she found her home the moment she stepped foot on South Carolina soil.
Karen worked as the Chief Marketing Officer for a Chicago-based financial planning firm for nearly ten years before making the life-changing career move into real estate. Since moving from Chicago, Karen missed the personal interaction she once had with her clients. Getting to know others on a more personal level is something Karen craved to return to in her career. Having always had a passion for real estate, a desire to work with clients and meet new people, having deep interest in architectural and interior design, and a drive to deliver exceptional customer service, Karen realized her calling as a real estate professional. Within the first twelve months as an active Realtor Karen had closed nearly five and a half million dollars in sales. Karen prides her connection with her clients as her means to success, as she understands that buying and selling a home is a very personal experience.
Karen also believes that building relationships with the many faces involved in a real estate transaction is extremely beneficial to her clients. Getting to know other Realtors, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, home builders, inspectors, appraisers, and home improvement professionals is crucial when working as a team to bring these transactions to a smooth closing. After all, Karen understands that for many, buying and selling a home is one of the largest financial transactions they will ever experience.
Karen loves spending time with her family, she enjoys walks on the beach, has a passion for photography, and is an avid animal lover. Karen has been involved with Blue Cap, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the past fifteen years, where she has been active in organizing and participating in yearly fundraisers.
The Origin of TeamWork Realty
TeamWork Realty, LLC is owned and ran by Terry and Aimee Peterson. The Peterson’s professional career is a story filled with twists and turns. Always interested in real estate, and having bought his first investment property in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business, Terry was interested in digging further into the real estate path. Being a numbers / analytical oriented person, he saw appraisal as the path best fit for him. It didn’t take long into appraisal classes to realize that the CG appraiser path grabbed his attention (often referred to as a commercial appraiser), with the in-depth analysis of income producing properties and unique industrial properties providing a greater academic challenge. Once finished with classes, Terry started his apprenticeship with Integra Realty Resources with an office located in Columbia. Once licensed, Terry had the privilege to also consult for a real estate research firm, Greenfield Advisors on a litigation-based project. During this time Terry met Charleston-native Aimee.
A highly motivated individual, Aimee completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology at 19 from the University of South Carolina, and two years later completed her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling from the Medical Univ. of SC. After a few years of working as a Medical Case Manager, she moved into a Medical Sales Rep position where she found sales to be her forte. During that time, Aimee also had the opportunity to get her hands dirty in new residential construction.
As Aimee and Terry were dating, they discussed and planned a cliché future of Terry staying in his corporate role while Aimee stayed home to raise a family. That plan barely lasted a minute.
After marrying and having their first boy, Britt; the commercial real estate market wasn’t quite enough to sustain the Peterson’s. Prior to appraisal, Terry had spent several years as an IT PMP (Project Management Professional), which he fell back on to support the family.
While Britt was still a toddler, Aimee started a hobby of making custom engraved items for friends which is where the story gets interesting. The Peterson’s had purchased a $20,000 CNC laser engraver before they were even married for projects and hobbies, which they still own today. That hobby turned into a legitimate side-hustle, until Terry quit his job to turn Aimee’s venture into a full-time career. For the next six years together, we ran a whole jewelry manufacturing company, selling into over 1,000 stores across the United States. Across these years we had a second boy, Brice; then moved from Terry’s hometown, Columbia, to buy their 5th home in moving to Charleston. Ultimately, they decided to sell the business due to the stress of keeping up production and promptly had two buyers bidding on the business when they put it on the market with business broker, Marc Williams.
Next they had a brief venture into a cocktail mix company branded as Envies and HERmixer, which failed to get off the ground. This left them deciding where to direct their efforts next. Terry began interviewing for corporate positions, most including a fair amount of travel. December that year, Terry received the call with the offer from a Netherlands-based company’s CEO. After finding out the news, and that Terry would have to travel, Aimee pulled a 180 degree turn for their future. While sitting in car line to pick up their sons, Aimee turned to Terry to say, I just signed us up for real estate school. It was a move that would bring their passions and experience in real estate together for the first time.
Starting out as a small husband-and-wife partnership, a team organically grew with us. Two friends-turned-clients asked to join our team, creating the Charleston Agent team.
Then the challenge became, how do you stand out in a crowded market. We learned many times over in the jewelry business that you do not have to be the first to market to succeed. But you do have to differentiate, brand yourself, and then get the word out. As a small team, we put effort towards truly functioning as a cohesive unit leveraging each other’s talents. Aimee would provide mentoring, assist with contract negotiations, and drive leads from social media to the team. Terry would help with property valuations, commercial clients, run lead generation, and obtained a drone pilot’s license for creating listing videos. We also hired a full-time assistant, Devan, one of Aimee’s best friends from high school and absolutely perfect for the role, to help with document workflow and to pick up all the pieces that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks. We’re very proud of our small group was the top producing team for both the local brokerage office and in state of South Carolina for the franchise for several years. Thankfully, that brokerage and the wonderful people we met there gave us a great head-start in the business. The family we met there will forever mean the world to us.
Through our experiences we developed our own culture and methodology of how we wanted to add value to our team and to the industry in how we serve clients and our own agents. We always seek a means to help all the team members drive as much production as they want, without pushing our own goals on them. We have always said we want our team members as successful as they want to be. They were never going to be pressured by having a goal hanging over their head; we were going to show them the daily habits it takes to be successful. Terry frequently states, “Goals are failures because they haven’t been achieved yet, or they are in the past and no longer matter. Habits make success.” Find what works and do more of it. For the Peterson’s, that meant opening their own brokerage. In-line with the Kaizen-focused approach to daily improvement which is even written into our policy manual
Being entrepreneurial kindred spirits, it was the only option. Herein came the launch of TeamWork Realty with the mission to be the Brokerage for All Agents. For one career path, we aim to remove the glass ceiling from roles in the real estate sales business, by providing the framework for great agents to become team leads, team leads to become brokers, and brokers to eventually own their own franchise. Likewise, for individual producers and high-volume agents, we have specific roles design as well as a special role carved out for referral-only agents who still want a piece of the real estate pie, but do not intend to actively work deals.
From seeing how many real estate companies operate, it is generally a two-tier system. You are either an agent or the owner/broker-in-charge. Many brokers allow you to grow a team, but it is a financially limiting business plan while under another broker. Aimee did a Facebook survey of where agents see themselves in 5 years, and the most common answer from agents was basically to be doing higher production than they are today.
They have been down the start-up path multiple times, and know how to wear all the hats required, and utilize that experience to help agents see more of a future than just ‘sell more’. If you are doing open houses and showings most weekends now, how do you become more successful? By giving 100% of your personal time to real estate? The Peterson’s believe the real estate industry is capable of providing better plans for personal growth and business development than just work harder, sell more. Some decent agents may find they are much better team leaders and can drive success in others. Some who have never held a management position, may find they thrive in a broker’s role. Some with a large social network may find full-time income in referral business without being stuck in the weeds of the business.
Another nod to the name, TeamWork Realty, is that culture happens in small packages. Once any company grows past a certain size, culture becomes a corporate figurehead in vinyl letters on the office wall and generic social media posts. Culture is characteristic of a group of people, not a slogan or trademark. This is why TeamWork Realty not only supports, but strongly encourage the growth of teams; and as team are where culture is created and becomes the logical spin-off for new TeamWork Realty offices. To help team leads, which TeamWork Realty calls Team Captains, write their team contracts, as well as to provide all the office support and technology to each team member as is provided to Team Captains and ProAgents (individual agents). The brokerage model even allows Team Captains to bring on new agents at a reduced costs.
Though the Charleston Agent team had operated remotely since inception, the Peterson’s knew to execute these far-reaching goals would require more than a few conference calls and Zoom sessions. So the January just prior to launch the Peterson’s purchased what is now the first real estate office on Clements Ferry, complete with agent workspaces, private offices, a broker-in-charge office, a video/media room, a small conference/meeting room, and a large conference/training room with twelve desks, TVs, and kitchen.
As Aimee always say, “God has us on a path. One we don’t see at the time we are on it, but when we look back it is clear that He has put us on that path for a reason.” This is what brought about TeamWork Realty.