August 2017

Changing how you should approach Real Estate: The Bradford Group’s Lowcountry roots run deep

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

If you’re looking for savvy investment advice, you could probably find worse sources than Warren Buffett. The billionaire has made his reputation on reliably predicting the next big thing, so when he talks, you listen.

And right now, you’d better believe Matthew Bradford is listening. “Warren Buffett said, ‘If you want to do something smart, buy anything commercial in the Southeast, because the whole country’s moving that way.’”

As advice goes, this may be one pointer that Buffett could have almost cribbed from The Bradford Group. Part of Charter One Realty, The Bradford Group has specialized in residential and commercial real estate throughout our region since 2000, but it wasn’t until five years ago that commercial real estate became a major factor in the Bradford Group business plan.

“We’re serving all these people residentially who want to diversify their portfolios, who have worked their tail off their entire lives,” Bradford said. “Commercial real estate should be a part of their portfolio. I thought to myself, ‘Why are we not introducing this to our own clients?’ It was a real lightbulb moment for me.” The main focus of their residential business is Bluffton’s gated communities.

Because the Bradford Group offers so many luxury properties through their residential work, their client base consisted largely of wealthier clients who were looking for low-risk avenues in which to invest their money. As Warren Buffett would tell you, commercial real estate is the place to be.

“When we introduce the concept to our clients, they get really excited,” Bradford said. And what’s not to get excited about? The Buffett bump aside, commercial real estate is proving itself to be a solid investment, especially compared against the volatility of the stock market. As Bradford points out, commercial real estate flourished during the economic downturn, with many pulling their money out of the stock market to invest it in commercial income producing real estate.

And now, with the worst of the downturn behind us, it still represents the easiest way to see returns. “With most of our clients, we introduce them to what we call NNN (triple net) ‘mailbox investments,’” Bradford said. “There are zero landlord obligations. They’re literally just going to the mailbox and picking up a check every month.” Commercial investments can range from the low 100,000’s to over 10 million, depending on comfort level. Net returns can range from 5% to 10%.

And the locations run the gamut, from a project they’re currently working on in Greenville to the site of a project on the Bluffton Parkway. “We’ve done everything from ground-up development to build-to-suits for single units to full-blown shopping centers,” Bradford said.

Having grown up in the Hilton Head Island area, Matthew and Michelle Bradford’s local roots run deep. And they’ve only flourished as their business here in the Lowcountry has grown along with their family. Daughter Parker is a student at Hilton Head Prep, which has given the couple an entirely new avenue to give back. “We’re very passionate about helping out at her school,” Bradford said. Michelle’s family ran Benny’s Shoe Express on Hilton Head in the early 80’s and her family was one of the first owners in Rose Hill Plantation.

It’s a passion that the couple has demonstrated time and time again as they’ve created a name for themselves in Lowcountry real estate. In a market saturated with agents, The Bradford Group has made a point to build their proficiency at every turn, entrenching themselves firmly in the market and positioning themselves as experts.

31 Oldfield Way: $899,000.00
18 Colonel Hazzard: $752,900.00

For Bradford, real estate is truly a calling, as evidenced by the fact he majored and studied Real Estate and Urban Analysis as well as Business Law at Appalachian State University. He also boasts over 400 hours in commercial real estate education. “We’re extremely dedicated to our profession,” he said. “I have 22 years’ experience and my wife has 17 years.” And that experience is tempered further still by the energy and creativity the couple brings to their work. Plus, there’s the not-insignificant fact that they just straight out enjoy what they are doing.

It helps, too, that the couple has found a mutually beneficial home as part of Charter One Realty. As Bradford put it, “I’ve been in real estate for 22 years and I’ve never had the support and access to mentors like I’ve had at Charter One Realty.”

That’s saying a lot, when you consider the impressive résumé he has built over those 22 years. Beginning his career with Boddie Noell Enterprises, one of the largest privately held companies in North Carolina, Bradford quickly proved successful in selling million-dollar Outer Banks homes, while developing his interest in selling income-producing rentals. His real start in commercial real estate came when he founded a general real estate company with his father in Corolla, North Carolina.

And that’s to say nothing of Michelle’s vast experience with a B.A. in sociology and a minor in psychology from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C. A licensed Realtor since 2002, Michelle began with Trademark Properties in Charleston before moving to the Outer Banks to work alongside Matthew at Boddie Noell. Apart from sharing in Matthew’s passion for real estate, Michelle also manages the group’s marketing and social media channels (their Instagram channel is a fantastic vision board for anyone looking to move to the Lowcountry, by the way). “I give my wife huge credit to our success because marketing and social media are a major facet of the business,” said Matthew.

But it wasn’t long before the Lowcountry called the two of them home. “We both grew up here,” Matthew said. “So, the Lowcountry is near and dear to our hearts.”

And for those fortunate enough to work with the Bradford Group in finding their own path to the Lowcountry, not to mention those who have discovered a profitable and painless investment avenue in commercial real estate, our area is vastly richer for their presence.

Learn more about the Bradford Group at Or follow them on Instagram—you’ll be glad you did.

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