Staying on Top of Everything that there is to See and Do in the Charleston area!

Charleston is great city for a lot of reasons: Outstanding restaurants; Great beaches; Lots of Water; Tremendous History; An emerging Tech industry with Charleston being characterized as "Silicon Harbor"; Nightlife; Friendly people and Great weather.

Our intent it to provide a view into all the interesting activities that are possible in Charleston. Whether you a local resident, tourist or considering relocation, this will be a great resource to get tips on activities to make your visits to Charleston and the surrounding areas even more memorable!

June 16, 2020

Mortgage Rates Edging Higher

Mortgage Rates Edging Higher So Far This Week
June 16, 2020

Mortgage rates moved higher for the 3rd straight business day.  That said, last Friday is better described as being a "2nd consecutive day of all-time lows."  Even yesterday, the average lender was able to quote rates under 3% for top tier conventional 30yr fixed scenarios.  Today's upward pressure was a bit more noticeable as markets cheered a Retail Sales report that was much stronger than expected.  In general, stronger data is good for stocks and bad for bonds (and when bonds are weaker, rates move higher).

There's a particular concern to be aware of in the world of mortgage rates--especially for those who are counting on additional improvements.  Simply put, the underlying bond market hasn't really been making  a case for additional improvement.  If anything, the case is for gradually higher rates.  It's only because mortgage rates were late to the low rate party (relative to Treasuries) that they've been able to hit all-time lows so recently.  Treasuries, meanwhile, are already sounding the alarm by trending slightly higher in yield for at least 6 weeks.

None of the above means that rates can't or won't hit another all-time low in the near or distant future--just that the prevailing trends make it decreasingly likely for the time being.  A significant deterioration in economic data or the coronavirus outlook could change things. Conversely a significant improvement in either of those factors could serve to accelerate a rising rate trend.

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage

 

Posted in Real Estate Trends
Dec. 19, 2018

5 Simple Steps for a Better Home Appraisal

5 Simple Steps for a Better Home Appraisal

If you’re looking to refinance your home or possibly sell, you’ll need a killer appraisal. A bank will not refinance a home for more than it is worth, and a potential buyer will not pay more than the recognized value of the home.

Here are 5 simple steps for a better home appraisal.

Tidy your space Make sure your yard looks well-groomed and the interior of your home is clean clutter-free. It is well worth the investment to have the home professionally cleaned and have your yard serviced.

Invest in the right types of renovations Kitchens and bathrooms are the best types of renovations. They will typically provide 80% ROI. High-efficiency appliances and upgrades that improve the overall efficiency of the home are well worth the investment.

Document your upgrades Provide the appraiser with a list and documentation of all upgrades, renovations, and improvements to the home.

Do your homework Research and provide your own comparable valuations for similar properties in the area. Note your tone. You don’t want to come off as defensive but rather helpful.

Be available but not in the way Be present to assist with the process but don’t be the appraiser’s shadow. You want to appear helpful, not nervous that he’ll find something wrong!

Appraisals can be helpful in increasing the sale of your home or assisting in refinancing your mortgage. Use these tips and you’ll get a better value for your home.

July 22, 2017

Food & Wine picks Charleston as one of world's 10 most exciting food cities

Charleston has picked up one more “best food city” prize to add to its crowded trophy case.

Food & Wine on Friday named Charleston one of “the 10 most exciting cities for food around the world.” The city will be featured in the August issue of the magazine, along with Florence, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Paris, Tokyo and Toronto.

This is the first time that Food & Wine has compiled such a list.

Over the past year, Charleston’s dining scene has been celebrated by outlets including Conde Nast Traveler, which put the city atop its list of “Best Food Cities in the U.S.” It finished second to New Orleans in Travel + Leisure’s survey, and also appeared on unranked lists of leading food cities created by Zagat, Food Republic and the Travel Channel, as well as earning Southern Living's title for best city overall.

The only lists of food-showcase cities from major publications that Charleston hasn’t recently cracked are those which impose criteria related to population size or affordability.

To accompany the listing in the magazine, Food & Wine is running a feature on Sean Brock’s favorite restaurants and the heirloom ingredients on their menus.

July 20, 2017

Kiawah Island home sells for $15.25M

https://bloximages.newyork1.vip.townnews.com/postandcourier.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/4/76/476313e2-6d6d-11e7-ac7f-fbd76d093b02/5970e2caf1e92.image.jpg?resize=1200%2C798

Though not a record, a secluded Kiawah Island house sold for a hefty sum this week at about half the asking price from seven years ago.

The 15,322-square-foot home at 85 Blue Heron Pond Road on a private, 11.7-acre peninsula in The Preserve neighborhood sold for $15.25 million, according to luxury real estate firm Daniel Ravenel Sotheby's International of Charleston. The pricey pad features seven bedrooms, 12 bathrooms, a deep-water dock, infinity pool and separate guest house.

The firm declined to release the buyer's name.

The home, designed by world-renowned architects Shope Reno Wharton, was built by Russ Cooper and Associates in 2005.

Full article details: http://www.postandcourier.com/business/kiawah-island-home-sells-for-m/article_0c8e13ec-6d5f-11e7-af3d-238a7c44320c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=user-share

April 3, 2017

Study: Charleston ranks No. 25 on 'startup economy index,' poised to grow

Charleston Startup Economy - Charleston, SC Digital CorridorA new study of up-and-coming tech hubs says Charleston is poised to pop.

TechNet, a Washington-based innovation advocacy group, says the Lowcountry ranks No. 25 on its "startup economy index." The measure looked at what proportion of job postings in an area used the word "startup."

Michael Mandel, the Progressive Policy Institute researcher who came up with the index, says it offers an insight into how many tech companies are hiring. And while not every employer calling itself a startup actually is one, it gives an indication of how locals think about the tech economy.

Charleston landed relatively high on the list, on the same tier as cities like Houston, Pittsburgh and Richmond, Va. At the top of the list were traditional tech hubs like San Francisco and Seattle.

Linda Moore, chief executive of TechNet, praised the region's colleges, economic-development efforts and quality of life. She said the city has a good mix of big employers such as Blackbaud, Benefitfocus and Booz Allen Hamilton, and a slew of startups angling to match them one day.

But like several other cities with nascent tech sectors, she said it still has work to do on helping entrepreneurs find talented workers and funding to pay for their ideas. Much of the policy work that could help ease those shortfalls, she says, is done at the state and local level.

Ernest Andrade, director of the tech economic-development initiative Charleston Digital Corridor, cheered the news, calling it "gratifying external validation to what we have accomplished in Charleston over the past 15 years."

"The key to accelerating our start-up economy is to further coordinate and align the state, regional and local efforts to tease out additional economic value," Andrade said in an email.

Link to original Post & Courier article: http://www.postandcourier.com/business/study-charleston-ranks-no-on-startup-economy-index-poised-to/article_96aa4d50-155a-11e7-b71b-ef876188965d.html

April 3, 2017

Downtown hotel will soon offer what may be the most expensive room in Charleston

St. Philip Suite, Planters Inn, Charleston, SCThose wanting the biggest and most expensive hotel room in historic Charleston may soon have another choice.

The new St. Philip Suite at the Planters Inn in the City Market is expected to rent for more than $2,000 a night when the price is finalized. It’s likely to cost more than the presidential suite at Charleston Place, which was renting for $2,115 a night last week.

"This has got to be the nicest room in the city,” owner Hank Holliday said during a recent tour. "My sense is that the St. Philip Suite will become one of the most sought-after rooms in the city and in all likelihood the most expensive."

The Charleston native has been buying and upgrading properties for years and has has been one of the forces moving the City Market more upscale.

The St. Philip Suite boasts 1,400 square feet of space, compared to 1,195 square feet at Charleston Place. Three windows, with remote-controlled blinds, overlook the Market and the steeple of St. Philip's Church, the room's namesake.

The floors are walnut and the east and south walls the original brick. The dining room table can seat 10 guests in historic Charleston style, with the meal either by prepared in the full kitchen or catered from the hotel’s Peninsula Grill, one of the city's highest rated eateries.

The bedroom is set back from the street behind thick walls to keep it quiet. It’s on the third floor of the hotel’s piazza wing, where rooms have their own entrances overlooking a courtyard.

The St. Philip Suite is the biggest of 11 rooms that are being renovated for a more demanding and affluent clientele.

"We did it to distinguish ourselves from the competition," Holliday said. "There is an ample supply of hotel rooms coming on the market, and we want to make sure we got the nicest show in town."

Guests include referrals from Relais & Chateaux, an exclusive network of luxury hotels and gourmet restaurants in 55 countries. The Planters Inn is the only hotel in the state that's part of the network.

The renovation also includes the 1,100-square-foot City Market Suite, which features a separate bridal dressing room. The living area also has three windows facing the Market. That suite will rent for about $1,100 a night, according to Sergio Roa, Holliday’s company president who has been overseeing the renovations.

Nine 700-square-foot rooms called the Garden Courtyard Suites should start around $569 a night. They have high ceilings, white oak floors, sliding barn doors on the bathrooms and a separate door on the water closet.

One of the hardest parts of the renovation was opening up eight windows that had been bricked over when the space was a nightclub, Holliday said. He added that he was glad to see many of the bars moving from the Market to northern King Street and being replaced by nicer restaurants.

"Noise was major issue." he said. "An upscale client does not enjoy having a drunk outside at 2 a.m."

Holliday bought the Planters Inn in 1994, refurbished it and opened the Peninsula Grill. He bought the two buildings to the east to bring the number of rooms to 64.

He ended up buying and upgrading 19 properties in the Market. He and partner Steve Varn, who owns the nearby Andrew Pinckney Inn, finished the renovation of the City Market’s retail spaces in 2011.

Other hotels in the Market are also renovating for a more demanding clientele. 

Holliday owned the 212-room DoubleTree Inn at North Market and Church streets until he sold it in 2015 to Rockbridge, a real-estate investment firm based in Columbus, Ohio. At the time, Rockbridge CEO Jim Merkel said in a written statement that his firm plans to reinvest in the hotel "to enhance the strength of its location and physical attributes."

Both Holliday and Varn said Rockbridge is planning to invest more than $20 million in a major renovation, although the plans have not been disclosed yet.

"The owners prefer to keep the renovation plans confidential until they have decided on the entire scope and time frame," Michael Tall, CEO of Charlestowne Hotels, which manages the property, said in an email.

Video U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley Says Russia Wa…

Varn is also planning a significant renovation of his hotel.

"Some of this is just the result of normal wear and tear, but we will go to a higher-end renovation as a result of what we’re seeing in the marketplace," Varn said. "The Market area is going upscale, not just the hotels but also the restaurants."

The Spectator raised the bar when it opened in 2015. Now at least half a dozen other new boutique hotels are planned within a couple blocks of the Planters Inn.

"The Market area is really becoming an upscale location, versus what it used to be, which was the tacky tourist district," Varn said. "I think the renovation of the Market was one of the catalysts for this change."

The city has been working to improve the flooding with a new drainage system. A renovation of the streetscape is expected to start in a couple years.

Jay Keenan and Batson Hewitt, partners with Palmetto Commercial Properties, developed The Spectator, as well as the French Quarter Inn and the HarbourView Inn. Keenan says the high-end market has certainly been growing, although he's not sure how much.

"If you’re going to charge the kind of rent that Hank is talking about, it’s going to be a very discerning traveler," he said. "I hope he does well with it. If he does, then we will."

What concerns him is whether there is really enough demand for all the new hotels in the Charleston area.

“I know if Batson and I were going to do another hotel, we’d be scratching our heads and saying we’d better wait and see what’s going on in this market," he said. "Is there enough demand to handle all this new product? I’m doubtful. I’m doubtful about that."

For original Post & Courier article, click here: http://www.postandcourier.com/business/most-expensive-hotel-room-in-charleston/article_5fe41f22-0e74-11e7-bddf-fb35bd81b06f.html

 

Feb. 8, 2017

Charleston, SC Ranked 27 out of 100 as Best Place to Live!

Rankings

U.S. News analyzed 100 metro areas in the United States to find the best places to live based on quality of life and the job market in each metro area, as well as the value of living there and people's desire to live there. Charleston ranks as #27 with an overall score of 6.8 out of 10.

What's the cost of living in Charleston, SC?

The average Charleston resident earns less than the average American. Also, the region's cost of living is noticeably higher than the national average, which makes Charleston a difficult place to live for those on a budget. Housing costs are fairly high in the area, and Charlestonians tend to pay more for everyday expenses – such as food and transportation – than residents of other U.S. metro areas.

What kind of jobs are there in Charleston, SC?

Charleston's tourism industry is booming. The influx of travelers – particularly during the summer months – creates a variety of jobs, especially in the hospitality and service industries.

The technology industry is also big in Charleston, and downtown offices continue bustling even in tourism's off-season. The sales, advertising, marketing and art professionals also contribute to Charleston's year-round livelihood. Some of the metro area's largest employers are manufacturing companies, including Boeing and Nucor Steel.

The region's unemployment rate is roughly equal to the national average.

What's the weather like in Charleston, SC?

Heat and humidity sometimes make it tough to enjoy Charleston's outdoor spaces, generally between May and September. These summer months can prove unbearably hot, soupy and mosquito-filled. The other three seasons offer comfortable temperatures that residents enjoy; however, Charleston's location on the Atlantic Ocean makes it susceptible to hurricanes and tropical storms.

What's the best way to get around Charleston, SC?

Downtown Charleston is small, covering just under 8 square miles. Most people drive to get around and, unfortunately, this leads to traffic congestion. Traffic is a particularly large problem in the summer when the region teems with tourists.

Public parking is available almost everywhere; however, there are usually high costs or long walks involved. There is no metro rail or subway, but there is a trolley and public bus service offered through Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority. Biking is also a viable means of transportation, and because the region is very flat, it makes it easier to get somewhere by bike. 

The Charleston International Airport is only about 12 miles from downtown Charleston. Amtrak trains stop in North Charleston (about 10 miles northwest of downtown), while Greyhound buses stop about halfway between the city center and the airport.

Who lives in Charleston, SC?

Charleston's median age skews slightly older, though the downtown area features large pockets of younger residents, particularly around the College of Charleston. The region also bursts with youth during the summer months, as the service industry hires extra employees to handle the influx of seasonal tourism.

Charleston, nicknamed the Holy City, is home to more than 400 places of worship for various religions and different denominations. When it comes to politics, the metro area is pretty evenly split between liberal and conservative views, though Democrats hold a slight majority.

Downtown Charleston caters more to millennials and residents without children at home, though there are families who call the region home. Neighboring communities like Mount Pleasant, James Island and Daniel Island are popular among families who need more space without the premium cost.

Similar to most metro areas, homelessness remains an issue in Charleston, and the area offers several emergency shelters for these individuals.

What is there to do in Charleston, SC?

Charleston is a foodie's heaven. The booming food and beverage industry provides countless places to eat, drink and be entertained. After a delicious meal, residents can catch a performance at the area's new Gaillard Center, or they might walk off their calories with a stroll at the waterfront Battery Park.

Speaking of exercise, the town is very active. Outdoor yoga classes are quite popular, as are water sports like surfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing. The surrounding towns – Mount Pleasant, Folly Beach and Isle of the Palms – offer additional outlets for such outdoor activities, too.

Charleston also has a long, intriguing past, leaving many historic places to tour and visit: Fort Sumter, various plantations and historic homes, Charleston City Market, Charles Towne Landing and the famous Angel Oak Tree are just a few of the must-see places.

Complete Report

To read the complete US News and World Report on Charleston, SC click here: http://realestate.usnews.com/places/south-carolina/charleston

Dec. 21, 2016

S.C. was among fastest-growing states in U.S. during past year

South Carolina’s population was the 10th-fastest growing in the nation over the past year and will likely top 5 million in 2017, statistics released by the Census Bureau Tuesday show.

Having eclipsed Alabama's population last year, South Carolina is now closing in on Minnesota, currently the 22nd-largest state.

“I just can’t believe South Carolina has that many people," said Minnesota native David Wood, 49, who moved to South Carolina in 2000. “It’s incredible that we have that many people here, without a major metropolitan area."

Minneapolis has a population larger than South Carolina's three largest cities, combined.

Jonathan Maze, 46, used to live in West Ashley but returned to his native Minnesota more than 10 years ago and lives in the Minneapolis suburbs. Maze, a former Post and Courier reporter, said traffic in the Charleston area was "very annoying" even a decade ago, and he can't imagine how the area is coping with rapid growth.

“My concern would be, it’s not very easy to adapt that area to a rising population," said Maze, now senior financial editor at Nations Restaurant News. 

Minnesota's population has been growing, but not as much as South Carolina's. Maze said older people tend to leave for warmer climates.

"It’s not uncommon for people to retire to other states, because the winters are pretty brutal here," he said. “This weekend it was 24 below zero."

Wood, who now lives with his family in Mount Pleasant and is a partner and the creative director at digital brand agency Blue Ion in Charleston, said if South Carolina does become larger than Minnesota, he doesn't think residents of his native state would really care.

“Up in Minnesota there’s a saying — ‘Minnesota nice’ — so even if they did care, they wouldn’t say so," said Wood.

During the 12 months ending July 1, South Carolina State gained 66,285 residents. More than two-thirds of the growth was due to people moving in from other states.

Only six states gained more population from domestic migration — the difference between the numbers of people moving in from other states and moving out to other parts of the nation. For South Carolina, that's a continuation of a long-running growth trend.

Much of the state's growth has been concentrated along the coast, and nearly all has been in urban and suburban areas.

Last year, census data showed that the three most rapidly growing metropolitan areas on the U.S. Atlantic Coast were all in the Palmetto State — for the third year in a row. Those areas were the multi-county Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston metro areas.

And within the Charleston metro area, the town of Mount Pleasant was the fastest-growing city east of the Mississippi River in 2015, among those with at least 50,000 residents.

Link to original article:  http://www.postandcourier.com/news/s-c-was-among-fastest-growing-states-in-u-s/article_71a479fc-c6ce-11e6-a489-ab0ccb86424f.html

Dec. 15, 2016

2017 FHA Loan Limits Increasing

For the first time since 2006, maximum loan limits have increased on Conventional loans. Effective January 1, the maximum base limit for Conventional loans is $424,100 in most of the country (all but 87 counties), including Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley counties, up from $417,000. The ceiling limit in most of the country will be $636,150.

 

The VA mortgage loan limit is increasing to $424,100.

The ‘Floor’ and ‘Ceiling’ Lending Caps

 

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the maximum FHA lending amount for high-cost metropolitan areas will go up to $636,150 for calendar year 2017. In areas with lower housing costs, the FHA limit can be as low as $275,665. Obviously, there’s a broad spectrum in between.

 

Property SizeLow-Cost Area “Floor”High-Cost Area “Ceiling”
One Unit $275,665 $636,150
Two Units $352,950 $814,500
Three Units $426,625 $984,525
Four Units $530,150 $1,223,475

 

Posted in Real Estate Trends
Dec. 13, 2016

Rental Demand Stays Strong in Charleston, SC

Rising rents

Apartment rental rates climbed 5 percent in the Charleston-North Charleston area during the 12 months ending in September, according to a recent report from the commercial real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap.

The average rental rate for housing overall rose to $1,038 in September, the report said.

Strong demand lowered vacancy to 3.5 percent in September, the second-lowest level in more than six years.

Driving the increase in rental rates is the surge of people pouring into the region, which has the highest job growth rate in the Carolinas, the report said.

The Charleston area's population swelled by nearly 11,700 during the previous four quarters, resulting in the formation of 5,400 households, according Marcus & Millichap.

About 11,800 new jobs in the area contributed to the growth in residents and increased demand for housing. To meet the need, builders have 4,000 rentals underway with completions due by 2018.

The average rent for units built since 2010 is $300 per month more.

The report said investors are bullish on the long-term outlook of assets in the Charleston region due in part to the strong economy.

Buyers desire properties in the downtown and North Charleston areas, with more investors willing to consider suburban complexes in areas such as Mount Pleasant or Summerville, according to the report.

http://www.postandcourier.com/business/investor-buys-calhoun-street-lots-in-downtown-charleston-from-church/article_c4c4d918-b8b6-11e6-8608-df6daf7944cb.html