I found this 2006 article from writer Tom Austin in Travel & Leisure Magazine that contains a very interesting and vivid description of the juxtaposition of the old and the new in Charleston, SC.
Charleston Ranked #4 in US & Canada!Mon, Aug 3rd 2009 6:45 pm by Alan Donald General
The popular Travel and Leisure Magazine World's Best Award has just ranked Charleston (SC) their No. 4 city in the U.S. and Canada (behind New York, San Francisco and Chicago). This is not the first time our Holy City receives such an award, in 2007, Charleston had already ranked #6 and in 2006 it had also ranked #4.
This is a great honor for such a small city to be compared against some of the biggest and most cosmopolitan cities in the continent!
Travel & Leisure comes up with the ranking after an online survey is posted for three months, where respondents rate services like hotels, spas, cruise lines and restaurants on value, ambience and customer service. A minimum number of entries...
Buying Foreclosures (Part 1)Sat, Aug 1st 2009 9:51 pm by Alan Donald Short Sales
BUYING FORECLOSURES (Part 1)
Foreclosure is the legal process by which lenders (lien holders) recover the amount owed on a loan that is in default by exercising their right to repossess the property that secured the loan as collateral ("no pay, no stay clause").
The foreclosure process varies slightly from state to state, but it usually has the following steps:
1.The homeowner (borrower) stops paying the mortgage
2.The lenders send the borrower a default notice, explaining the consequence if the borrower does not pay the owed amount plus late payment penalty.
3.The lenders hire an attorney to process the foreclosure and file a public notice ("lis pendens") announcing thei...
Got $23 Million to Spare?Fri, Jul 31st 2009 2:19 pm by Alan Donald Real Estate
An incredibly expensive home just hit the Charleston MLS:
32 LEGARE ST. South of Broad (Downtown Charleston) was just listed for $23 Million! Maybe this is not a big deal in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, but for Charleston this is a huge price! More details here...
First Time Home Buyers $8,000 Tax Credit - URGENT ACTION REQUIREDFri, Jul 31st 2009 6:33 am by Alan Donald Buyers
The National Association of Realtors has sent us an interesting article answering many of the most common questions we are being asked about the Tax Credit for first-home buyers. I decided to copy it here to make it available to my clients:
Bringing the Dream of Homeownership Within Reach
As part of its plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market and address the economic challenges facing our nation, Congress has passed legislation that grants a tax credit of up to $8,000 to first-time home buyers.
Here is more information about how the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit can help prospective home buyers become part of the American dream.
First-time home buyers who purchas...
Great News! Showings are Up in the Charleston Area!Wed, Jul 29th 2009 3:16 pm by Alan Donald Real Estate
Showings are at an 18-month high in Mt. Pleasant and also in Dorchester County (Summerville), according to data compiled by Centralized Showing Service, which records all showings booked for REALTORS via the MLS. Charleston (West Ashley) and areas of Berkeley County also exhibit a similar patter (see graphs). Because showings are an indicator of the level of buyer interest in the market, it can be used as a predictor for future sales, which will normally show up 2-3 months later. Many factors may be contributing to this uptick in showings: Families are back from summer holidays, interest rates are still low, prices have continued to drop, and the $8,000 First-time Home Buyers' Tax Credit ...
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 5)Tue, Jul 28th 2009 6:54 pm by Alan Donald Buyers
This is the last part of our brief guide for first-time home buyers in South Carolina. Once you have closed on the purchase of your home, you will still need to take care of some very important details (in addition to your move):
1.Change all the utilities in your name. Usually sellers stop their accounts as of the closing date, sometimes they give you 1-2 days grace. The last thing you want is to get to your newly purchased home and find the power is off, and the temperature outside is 98F...
2.Re-key all exterior doors. Although the sellers may have seemed very nice, you never know who else has keys for the home. Don't forget to re-program the garage door openers!
3.If there was a tr...
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 4)Fri, Jul 24th 2009 2:30 pm by Alan Donald Buyers
The Real Estate Closing
You have finished performing your Buyer's Due Diligence and everything's lined up for a closing on a specific date and time (usually at the attorney's office). What happens at this "closing"?
A "real estate closing" is the name given to a completion of the real estate transaction, including legal (title) and financial (loans & mortgages) aspects. It is an event that normally takes about an hour, in which normally all the parties are present (the sellers and their listing agent, the buyers and their buyer's agent, the closing attorney, and in some instances the loan originator). The parties each sit facing each other, and the attorney will explain the process and...
922 BLUE CRAB WAY - $499,000Wed, Jul 22nd 2009 1:10 pm by Alan Donald Alans Listings
Great central location, 8 minutes to Downtown Charleston and yet away from it all! Solid brick home with traditional floorplan on quiet, marshfront,on quiet, marshfront, cul-de-sac lot in smaller, friendly neighborhood. As you walk in you will see the living and dining areas with hardwood floors and wainscoting. Facing the marsh you have the upgraded kitchen - with tiled floor, new granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, connecting with ample eat-in area and the family room with a fireplace and built-ins. Home was just repainted upstairs. The roof was upgraded this year with architectural grade shingles, and the top floor air conditioning unit had the coil just replaced. Bath...
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 3)Tue, Jul 21st 2009 9:45 pm by Alan Donald Buyers
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 3)
You found a home, negotiated a favorable contract ("ratified" = signed & delivered). You are supposed to close in 30 days. What now?
This period from contract to closing (also known as "escrow" in some states) is critical for the buyers to do their due diligence. This means investigating everything they want about the home including the bricks and mortar, the title, the neighborhood, etc. to their satisfaction. It is also the time to formally apply for the loan (you may have shopped around with different lenders before you got pre-approved by one of them. You do not necessarily have to use the same lender, but cannot hesitate to submit a formal applicat...
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 2)Sun, Jul 19th 2009 8:30 am by Alan Donald Buyers
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 2)
by Alan Donald, BuyHomesInCharleston.com
OK - so you've hired a REALTOR, discussed your needs and buying criteria and got preapproved by a lender. Now it's time to go see homes! Although it is a relatively small city, the Charleston Metro Area is very large, with hundreds of neighborhoods, areas and subdivisions each with a different style, construction, lot size and price point.
Step 4 - The Home Search
The home search is a collaborative effort between you and your REALTOR. If you are comfortable "sharing the news", make sure that you mention to everyone in your sphere of influence that you are looking to buy a home. It is impossible to know where y...
The A-Z of Buying a Home (Part 1)Sat, Jul 18th 2009 9:30 am by Alan Donald Buyers
This guide for first-time home buyers is intended to provide general information to help buyers be aware of the buying process, and to dispel any myths about buying a home. Please discuss your particular situation with the appropriate professionals before making any decisions.
So, You want to Buy a Home?
Since buying a home is a BIG financial commitment, many first-home buyers (and some repeat buyers) feel very intimidated by the whole process, which, in itself is rather uncomplicated, but it involves a lot of small steps, that, if not done right, can produce expensive mistakes.
In my 12 years in Real Estate I have dealt with many types of buyers and different scenarios, so I have deve...
The Flip Flop BallFri, Jul 17th 2009 4:30 pm by Alan Donald General
The 4th annual Flip-Flop Ball benefiting Wings for Kids is a local event (min. age 21) that has all the markings of the Lowcountry: Flip-flops, dancing, all-you-can-eat barbecue, open bar and live music (Two Three Ways and Kim Lhuillier & Tom Diettrich).
When: Sat, Jul 18, 2009 7-11 PM
Where: Goldbug Island, 1560 Ben Sawyer Blvd., Mount Pleasant, SC.
Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. For more info or to purchase a ticket, go online.
Have you ever danced in your flip-flops?
Australian Treat at Boone Hall PlantationThu, Jul 16th 2009 6:12 pm by Alan Donald General
Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant holds the Boone Hall Summer Concert Series.
This Sunday, July 19th at 5:30 pm (music starts at 7 pm) The Little River Band will animate the beautiful oaks and gardens of this Southern plantation.
You can come buy wine, beer and food, and enjoy a picnic-concert in a joyful summer evening setting under the oaks.
Tickets are $20 if you purchase them in advance, or $25 at the gate. You can also reserve seats. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.
A Loan With No Income Verification? In Today's Market?Thu, Jul 16th 2009 9:45 am by Alan Donald General
I thought that we had seen the last of the loans without income verification!
I just received a promo email advertising a "Stock Loan" for those who have a stock portfolio but don't have two years' tax returns as independent contractors, or lack the ability to show supporting income from employment or investments.
Has your stock portfolio tanked? You may still be able to use it to make some savvy investments!
With the recent tightening of the "traditional" mortgage loan markets, this could be the perfect solution for people seeking bridge loans, new construction purchase, lot purchase, home purchase, refinancing, investment property purchase, commercial property purchase & develop...
Mt. Pleasant Executive Marshfront Home $475KWed, Jul 15th 2009 9:15 am by Alan Donald General
This 4-br. elevated home facing the marsh has great advantages!
- Quiet and serene natural setting;
- Close to schools and shopping;
- Within 30-min. drive of Downtown Charleston;
- Right across from new hospital (under construction)
Golf community with pools, clubhouse, tennis courts, walking trails. Very close to the beach!
HVCC, HERA, HOEPA - New Regulations for Mortgage IndustryWed, Jul 15th 2009 5:45 am by Alan Donald Mortgages
The Federal Government has been busy trying to regulate the mortgage industry to try to avoid the continuing debacle caused by the sub-prime mortgage debacle. In 2008, Congress passed the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA). In addition, semi-public Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac adopted the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC). While better regulation is welcome (Canada, for example, had a better regulated banking/mortgage industry and as a result they are not experiencing the same problems the US is experiencing), but their implementation timing may affect (adversely) the swift recovery of the real estate industry. Here is a bri...
Buying A Home For Your Son/Daughter?Mon, Jul 13th 2009 5:30 am by Alan Donald Personal Finance
Many parents would like to help their offspring become homeowners and realize the "American Dream". Here are a few tips that may help:
- When they go off to college: Parents can buy a condo or home as an investment. Set up their child in one bedroom, rent out the other rooms to other students and get the benefits of owning an investment property. Even better: Instead of sending their son/daughter pocket money, hire him/her as the property manager - responsible for upkeep and rent collection - and pay them tax-deductible compensation..
- When the children are ready to own their place:
- You can give them a cash gift. Individuals are allowed a maximum gift of $13,000 per year tax-free. ...
Are We Attuned to Our Market Reality?Sat, Jul 11th 2009 7:00 am by Alan Donald Real Estate
REALTOR.com just completed a quarterly national homeownership survey that uncovered interesting findings that may be useful to know:
• 76.4% of consumers think a median-income family can only afford 50% or fewer of the homes for sale in their area. In reality, a family earning the national median income can afford nearly 75% of the homes for sale today on Realtor.com.
• 20.1% who say they or someone they know may be facing foreclosure haven't taken steps to resolve their situation, while 22.4% haven't taken steps but plan to before the Administration's refinance program expires next year.
• While 66.3% of respondents said they...
Renters Beware!Thu, Jul 9th 2009 4:30 pm by Alan Donald Renters
I just learned of a new version of a scam targeting prospective tenants and using real listings - here is how it works:
Scene 1: A Realtor lists an REO (lender-owned) vacant home for sale online (MLS, REALTOR.com, etc.)
Scene 2: The scammer picks up the pictures and address of the property, and uses them to place a "For Rent" ad on Craigslist or another online marketplace, at a below-market rental, saying they are the owners, that they were transferred out of town for work, that they tried selling, but since the economy is so bad, they are just going to rent it out.
They even send full applications and real contracts by email, ask the prospective tenants to email the application, act ...