Beaufort County-based real estate companies Gateway, Charter One to merge

Two major players in the local real estate market are set to join forces in the new year.

Hilton Head Island-based Charter One Realty announced Friday that Bluffton-based Gateway Realty is merging with Charter One. The merge, effective Jan. 1, will create a total of 11 Charter One offices in the Hilton Head, Bluffton and Okatie areas.

Tom Reed, Charter One partner and broker-in-charge, said the merge made sense for the companies and the combined client base.

"One of the great benefits of the (Gateway) addition is its strength on the mainland," Reed said.

He cited Gateway's presence at the front gates of Colleton River, Belfair, Berkeley Hall and Oldfield as being particular assets for the real estate company and its clients.

"Those are some of the premier communities in our market," Reed added.

Charter One, established in 1985, currently has seven offices, with heavy presence on Hilton Head. There are two offices on the mainland, one in Bluffton and one in Sun City Hilton Head. It has more than 70 agents.

Initial talks began about a month ago, Gateway managing partner Johnny Ussery said, after one of the three Gateway partners, Reggie Bray, left the company to work in development in Blowing Rock, N.C., leaving Ussery and broker-in-charge Tom Jackson as the remaining partners.

"They wanted to figure out a succession plan," Reed said.

Reed's brother and Charter One business partner, Rich, started his real estate career at Gateway. He met with Ussery and Jackson to decide whether a merger made sense financially.

Ussery said there was a "natural fit" between the two companies.

"Ultimately, it's going to be a service-oriented company," he said, adding the culture and mentality is like-minded among both companies.

Gateway, established in 2001, employs 35 registered agents. Ussery and Jackson will remain active partners following the merge.

Reed said that beyond the name, he doesn't anticipate many changes once the two companies are combined.

"I think the merger secures the future of Charter One in our local market," Reed said. "It really impacts and improves the reach we have for our clients."

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