December 2018

Finding The Right Key: The beat never stops for David Carroll, Hilton Head Island’s rock ’n’ roll Realtor®.

Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

David Carroll and his daughter Emma Carroll jam with Julia Clark of J X Rose in the front yard of their home in Port Royal with dog Koda.

There are a few noticeable differences between David Carroll’s office and the other spaces scattered around the Charter One offices on the north end. While other Realtors may display lush photos of sandy beaches or crisply manicured golf courses, Carroll’s office feels a little more … hip. Between the guitars and the CDs proudly displayed in framed mattes, it’s clear this is not your typical Realtor.

“One of my clients who’s a musician saw me at one of my shows and pulled me aside after and told me, ‘You know what? You’re not a Realtor who makes music; you’re a musician who sells real estate,’” Carroll said with a laugh. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m here to help.”

The truth is, Carroll is both. As a musician, he’s effortlessly talented, with a stage presence that has made him a mainstay of the island’s music scene. As a Realtor, he has spent nearly 30 years developing an unparalleled knowledge of the island’s industry, framed by a driving ethos he calls “real estate with heart.”

“I look at it like this—I’m helping people with one of the most important things in their life. To be able to cradle that need … anyone can sell a house; but when you take care of people’s needs, it takes it to another level,” he said.

It can be tricky to separate yourself from the pack as a Realtor on highly competitive Hilton Head Island, even without walls adorned in rock ’n’ roll credentials. Carroll does so by placing his focus on his clients’ success, sometimes above his own. “I’ve had other agents tell me I care too much,” he said.

That dedication was developed early on in his real estate career. When other Realtors were selling property to far-flung clients on a few photos and a promise, Carroll was mailing VHS tapes of home tours he’d film using then-state-of-the-art technology. “I had this big honking camera I could hold on my shoulder for about eight minutes at a time,” he said.

These days, he’s hung up the camera (much to his shoulder’s relief), but his dedication to giving his clients the full experience continues. It’s just easier on his back.

“I’m working with Trevor Harden, who did music videos for some of my songs. He’s been hired by Charter One to do some of our video walkthroughs and drone shots,” Carroll said. “Now, instead of me getting this heavy thing on my shoulder, I just call Trevor.”

Filming houses with the creative force behind his music videos is just one way the lives of David Carroll, Realtor and David Carroll, musician intersect. He recorded his second CD, Reign, with famed local producer Greg Critchley, and ultimately their business relationship became a brotherhood. So naturally, when Critchley left the Lowcountry briefly, he knew where to go when he returned. “He moved back, and now I’m his Realtor.”

Carroll’s music career began long before he moved to Hilton Head Island from Pittsburgh, where he put himself through college playing clubs around Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Following one particular gig where the Pittsburgh chill actually froze the hair on his head, Carroll decided to seek a warmer climate. That’s when he happened across a want ad advertising work on Hilton Head Island.

“I had to actually get an atlas out to find Hilton Head Island,” he said. “I remember finding it and thinking, ‘Well, it’s on the beach. Sounds good.’”

He wasn’t here long before the stage beckoned, as he joined a music scene that was just beginning to come into its own. “Back then, there weren’t a lot of drummers,” he said with a laugh. He landed his first gig with the Chilly Willy Band, whose drummer couldn’t make their Tiki Hut shows due to conflicts with his day job as a postman. That led to spots at the Old Post Office with some of the biggest names at the time, from David Wingo to Jason D. Williams.

“I still perform with Chilly Willy Band, but when I started having children, it became harder to stay out,” he said. “That’s when I turned to songwriting.”

Those songs filled three albums so far, Peace One Day, Living Legacy, and Reign. And in a case of the apple not falling far from the tree, Carroll’s daughter Emma is one half of songwriting duo J X Rose. It’s not every Realtor who has a discography and a family legacy of making music, but David Carroll is not every Realtor.
“At first I used to keep the two worlds separate,” he said. Ultimately, he found that the creativity and guts it took to get up on stage and perform fueled his real estate business in a symbiotic relationship that enriched both sides of his persona. “It’s a whole different gift you have to honor.”

And it’s a gift he’s shared with the island in more ways than one. As someone with a foot in the arts and real estate, it helped him back when a few intrepid islanders were looking to launch an arts center on the island. “I was on the Cross-Easement Governance and Management Task Force for what was then the Self Family Arts Center,” he said. “It was my job to convince the board presidents of all the nearby condo associations that this was something the island needed.”

His efforts bore fruit, and thanks to his diligence, the island now has a world-class performing venue in the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. It’s a level of community involvement he’s continued as a former Rotarian, American Red Cross volunteer, cancer fundraiser, and founding board member of the St. Francis School; he continues to volunteer for organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Pockets Full of Sunshine.

Ultimately, this is David Carroll’s home. It’s where he and his wife Beth have raised a family and where he has built his career as a Realtor and a musician. It’s a deep love he has for this island, lifted by a simple concept he calls real estate with heart.

To learn more, visit, and check out his music on iTunes and YouTube.

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