Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS®

Margaret Rudd Bishop, a Southern adventurer, vacationed with her family in Long Beach and once lived on a boat, all before putting firm roots down in Oak Island where she established her highly successful real estate company, Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS® in the early ’80s. What began as a half-ownership emerged into a rather large agency specializing in a full range of services including sales, resort rentals, development, land sales, commercial properties, relocation services and long-term rentals.

Here we share with you Margaret’s story, from biking nearly 4,000 miles in one trip to recalling her historic version of Southport and Oak Island—plus the start of her very own company. For more information regarding Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS®, visit or call 1-800-486-5441.

Southport Magazine (SM): How did you become interested in real estate? How did you establish your large company in the area?
Margaret Rudd Bishop (MRB): A native North Carolinian, I first visited Long Beach in the 1950s when our family vacation location shifted from Murrell’s Inlet. I always enjoyed the beach and remember walking up to the little bandstand where there was a jukebox in the Yaupon Beach section.

To get to the beachfront from the modest cottage that my grandmother built in the wooded section called Tranquil Harbor, we had to zig and zag south and west to get to the water because the streets did not go straight to the ocean like they do now. There were wetlands and marshy areas that mandated this curious route.

At that time the streets were not numbered, but named after college teams, or towns, and lots of families from these towns would gravitate to “their” street for a vacation home. Since the streets were separated by four 60’ lots plus the 60’ Right of Way, you were in danger of whiplash to be quick enough to read the various street names as you drove past since they were only 300’ apart.

Margaret Rudd founded Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS® in 1981. Photo by Kris Beasley

Margaret Rudd Bishop founded Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS® in 1981. Photo by Kris Beasley

When I first moved to Brunswick County in 1970 I lived on a boat. I traveled the Intracoastal Waterway north to Washington, DC, and south as far as Riviera Beach, Florida. In 1969 I traveled across Florida on the Okeechobee Canal to bring the boat north from the Ruskin Beach, Florida, marina where it was docked when we bought it. In 1971 I moved into a “proper” home fronting the Oak Island Golf Course prior to having the first of my three daughters in June.

I was very curious about what the interiors of the beach houses looked like. In 1973 I signed up for the real estate pre-licensing course, which at the time consisted of 30 classroom hours. I also felt like the course content would be helpful to me in making personal investment decisions. I still have my composition book that I took to class.

Once licensed, I started working part-time for Ferrell Real Estate, trying to get pre-sales on a proposed two-building, five-story condominium project that was planned for the oceanfront on Caswell Beach. The Oak Island Beach Villas are located there now, across from the Oak Island Golf Course at Caswell Beach, so the lack of success in this first job is apparent.

The firm office was located at 40th Street and East Beach Drive and had the best location for listing and selling beach houses, but probably the worst location for selling primary residences. For this reason I opened the 1023 North Howe Street office near Dosher Hospital in Southport, initially in a 50-percent ownership position with one of the principals of Ferrell Real Estate, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1981. I was overwhelmed with the welcome from the local business community, and I still remember counting the 17 flower arrangements sent to us on the occasion of our grand opening.

My partner, Don Ferrell, and I each threw $5,000 in a business checking account, and negotiated the purchase of the original building for $43,500, with owner financing, and a five-year note at 12-percent interest with annual payments of just under $10,000.

Two years later, in 1983, I told Don that I wanted to “buy him out while I could still afford to do it.” So I bought the other 50 percent of the business paying $12,500 for his share. I rented a building on Oak Island until the completion of the middle part of our Oak Island location at 210 Country Club Drive in what was Yaupon Beach at the time.

S.R. “Buddy” Rudd, Jr., Vice President, joined the firm in 1986. In 1999 I transferred an ownership interest to Vice President Rudd to facilitate the transition of this business to our next generation, a succession plan.

We may be considered a large company in Brunswick County now, but we certainly started small and grew the business gradually. The Oak Island office has been expanded three times, we added a second storage building, and we also purchased additional adjacent land. The original Southport office was doubled in size. Also, we have leased two locations, one in downtown Southport and one in Holden Beach. I have never been confused about what I wanted to do “when I grew up” after discovering the real estate business.

SM: How much of the rental market would you say Margaret Rudd and Associates, Inc., REALTORS, holds in the area and why do you enjoy helping visitors find a great place on the beach for their vacation?
MRB: While we manage over 400 properties in our rental department, we measure our success in the Property Management Department by the quality and consistency of our service to both the property owners and the visitors to their properties. It is a real pleasure to welcome back the many families that have made our properties their family vacation destination year after year.

We still manage properties for owners who have been with us from the 1980s and they feel like family to us when they return to the area.

While its routine now, our firm was the first entity in Brunswick County that had information and photos on the internet, and the website was shown as an example across the state at travel and economic development conferences in the 1990s. We have produced an attractive rental brochure since 1985. This year we produced a 68-page all-color vacation rental brochure for 2014, and of course you can use our website for information and booking if you prefer.

We recently backed away from a real-estate reality show that was looking for a business with five related family members. We have six but determined internally that it would simply be a distraction and not add any value to our services.

Each year we have an annual property owners event and it reminds me of a church homecoming, with great food and the opportunity to enjoy visiting with our client base on an informal fun basis. After all, our slogan “the fun starts here” reflects our commitment to provide our clients and customers with lifetime memories with their friends and families.

SM: You expect your realtors to go above and beyond for their clients. What sets Margaret Rudd and Associates, Inc., REALTORS apart from the competition?
MRB: We service Brunswick County exclusively. We are the largest independent agency in Brunswick County and we pride ourselves on knowing this county like the back of our hand. We eat, breath, and sleep real estate—it’s our passion. We are successful in an extremely competitive industry because of our commitment to serving the client and our highly regarded reputation.

All companies may look the same on the outside, but once you walk through our doors you know the difference. We bring our brand of professional, personalized service and trustworthiness to every real estate transaction. In today’s market, clients expect results and expertise. We deliver both.

We recruit and train the very best professional brokers. We are committed to constant and never-ending improvement. This means that at Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS®, we push ourselves to improve, and we believe that good enough is never good enough.

We are positive and look at the bright side.  We set big goals for ourselves to keep us inspired. We hire people with ambition, initiative, persistence and enthusiasm. We hire real estate professionals that are passionate about their work.

We believe in uncompromising honesty.  Simply put, we do what we say we are going to do.

We also give back to the communities we service through volunteer work and charitable donations. Last year we supported over 30 local charities. Locally owned and operated means whether selling or buying from the Cape Fear River to Calabash we know real estate. We know Brunswick County.

Lastly, we have fun! We have a positive, upbeat attitude and the very best team of people. We enjoy working with each other and have a work hard, play hard attitude.  This is a fun place to work!

SM: What services does Margaret Rudd and Associates, Inc., REALTORS offer that customers may not be aware of?
MRB: We are local but have global connections. Our affiliation with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® provides us a network of over 3,500 offices in nearly 50 countries. As an affiliate of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World,® our company is a global—not just local—real estate company working on your behalf. Leading Real Estate provides world-class marketing and resources, allowing us to provide the very best service. Our organization produced more home sales volume in 2013 than any other national real estate network, $314 billion, representing over one million transactions.

In addition, our affiliation with Luxury Portfolio gives our listings exposure to the largest sphere of international buyers and sellers. This exposure increases the likelihood that international buyers will be attracted to our area.

Favorite food: Seafood—with shrimp, scallops, oysters and fish all being favorites, I am living in the right place to get fresh seafood seven days a week!

Favorite book: I love to read and I really enjoy fiction. A good “murdering book” would be my choice, a “beach” book, light but entertaining and suspenseful. “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben is a great book in this genre.

My favorite historical novel is “The Agony and the Ecstasy” by Irving Stone, regarding the life and art of Michelangelo. I bought this book in the museum in Florence, Italy, where I saw the magnificent sculpture of Michelangelo’s David.

Favorite musician: My favorite musician is Carrie Underwood, with Miranda Lambert also a favorite because of her kickin’ lyrics. The Zac Brown Band and the Dixie Chicks are both favorite groups. As a kid I thought I was being punished to have to listen to country music and now I love it. In college I remember loving the music of the Beatles, the Kingston Trio, and Bob Dylan, which illustrates the fact that I graduated from NC State University in 1967.

Favorite place to travel: I have skied at 25 different ski resorts in the last 15 years and own a vacation rental condominium at Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Rental income at this property has increased this summer over last summer and I’m wondering if it has to do with the changing laws in Colorado! I’m looking forward to skiing Telluride, Colorado this next ski season, since this will be my first trip there.
When I was first enticed into the sport of bicycling as an adult I was lured by the prospect of the bright colorful clothing and unlimited ice cream.

My favorite bicycle trip is the 2011 cross-country ride that nine of us started in Bar Harbor, Maine, and that seven of us finished in Anacortes, Washington State, with us crossing the border into Canada at Niagra Falls. We traveled a combination of the Adventure Cycling Northern Tier and their Lake Erie Connector route and accomplished our goal after 3,963 miles and 76 days, 10 of which were rest days.

I bicycled from Basel, Switzerland to Florence, Italy in 2008, and from Brugge, Belgium to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2013, and recently returned from cycling 8 days in Ireland.

North Carolina Amateur Sports in conjunction with the Department of Travel and Tourism sponsors an annual ride from a mountain town to a beach community to highlight the beauty and diversity of our state. I’ve done several of these, with the first one I did ending on Oak Island.

Favorite thing about Southport and Oak Island: My favorite thing about Oak Island and Southport is that I will never have to move anywhere else! I love the beach on Oak Island and riding my bicycle by the Intracoastal Waterway, Atlantic Ocean, Oak Island Lighthouse, and the Oak Island Golf Club.

Southport is a “real” town and I love it today, but I also remember seeing the ladies heading the shrimp in the 1950s at the docks and the “Idle On” charter boats coming in with their daily catches on display. I went out on a menhaden boat as a guest of the captain in the 1970s and was able to see firsthand the fishing operation that was so much a part of the areas past utilizing “purse boats” to secure the catch in their nets. I remember counting the blasts of the horn of these boats when they came into Southport. The first three blasts meant “Hello Southport,” and each blast after that was reporting the catch of 100,000 fish.

So I now enjoy this area for its quality of life, which blends into my memories of being here as a child. I grew up in a mill town in the piedmont section of the state, Haw River, but this will always be my home. I’m fond of saying that I wasn’t born here but I got here as soon as I could!

One Response to Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS®

  1. Thank you for this nice article on Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc., REALTORS and me personally. I added Bishop as a last name 14 years ago, but its not unusual to be called Margaret Rudd. I’ve even got agents that people say “Hi Margaret” to, and they just say “hello” in reply! After 33 years with the firm I am proud to be Margaret Rudd, just as I’m proud to be Margaret Rudd Bishop.

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