Many renters are now in the position where they are realizing it may just make better financial sense to buy a home rather than continue leasing. Some renters have no choice but to rent due to career uncertainty, income uncertainty, or bad credit. But for those that know they are going to live in an area for at least 5 years, they should do the math and see which option will save them more money.

Reasons why buying is better than renting:
• Equity you will accumulate with each mortgage payment. A general rule is that if you intend to stay in your property for at least five to seven years, the costs of purchasing the home are more likely to be offset by accrued equity and increased housing value. In the event that equity in the home grows to more than a 20-to-80 percent loan-to-value ratio, you will be able to borrow against your equity in the home. Or you can set the goal to pay off your mortgage and live house payment free in retirement!

• Tax deductions on mortgage interest as well as property taxes.

• Freedom to renovate or decorate any way you want. It’s your house!

NYTimes.com provides this rent vs buy calculator which is a useful tool for comparing the numbers.. Rent vs Buy Calculator

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Mar

19

Many renters are now in the position where they are realizing it may just make better financial sense to buy a home rather than continue leasing. Some renters have no choice but to rent due to career uncertainty, income uncertainty, bad credit. But for those that know they are going to live in an area for at least 5 years, they should do the math and see which option will save them more money.

NYTimes.com provides this rent vs buy calculator to help you figure it out.
Rent vs Buy Calculator

Reasons why buying is better than renting:
• Equity you will accumulate with each mortgage payment. A general rule is that if you intend to stay in your property for at least five to seven years, the costs of purchasing the home are more likely to be offset by accrued equity and increased housing value. In the event that equity in the home grows to more than a 20-to-80 percent loan-to-value ratio, you will be able to borrow against your equity in the home. Or you can set the goal to pay off your mortgage and live house payment free in retirement!

• Tax deductions on mortgage interest as well as property taxes.

• Freedom to renovate or decorate any way you want. It’s your house!

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Featured Listing and Neighborhood
368 Evian Way, Belle Hall ~ Mt. Pleasant

List Price $833,000

Listing Information and More Photos

Just off I-526 and Long Point Rd. in the center of Mount Pleasant, lies Belle Hall Plantation. This community has a home for just about anyone wanting to live East of the Cooper. With seven neighborhoods, Belle Hall has single-family homes priced as low as mid $200,000?s and as high as over $1M, depending on which subsection and lot you choose. Amenities include ponds, walking trails, play parks, marsh trails, two neighborhood pools, tennis courts, basketball courts, volleyball court, and a clubhouse that can be rented by residents. Great shopping and restaurants are just across the way at Belle Hall Shopping Center that include Stein Mart, Harris Teeter, Moe’s, Ross’, and CVS. Belle Hall Elementary is a huge attraction to families living here because it is within walking and biking distance from the neighborhood.

BELLE HALL NEIGHBORHOODS

Veranda, Rice Bay and Courtyard were the first neighborhoods to be built in the early 1990s and consist of spec. homes built by Beazer and Centex with mostly vinyl siding for the exterior appearance. These homes are currently priced in the mid $200,000?s to upper $300,000?s. The Veranda section has a small size pool, playground, and basketball courts. The pool is open to all Belle Hall residents. The larger pool is located behind the clubhouse on Belle Hall Pkwy.

Battery Point is a pocket neighborhood with less than 80 homes ranging in size from 2,000 to 3,500 square feet. It is comprised of a mixture of spec. homes and custom-built homes on nice size lots. Prices are typically in the mid $400,000?s to low $500,000’s.

The Island consists of about 30 custom homes, many of which are located on pristine land with beautiful marsh views. These antebellum, raised homes range in price from upper $600,000’s to over $1 million. This is a close-knit community in itself, but they also enjoy the amenities that the rest of Belle Hall enjoys.

Evian homes offer custom designs and finishes with beautiful views of the marsh as well. This is a small gated community that retains its own covenants separate from Belle Hall. Prices range from mid $600,000?s to over $1 million. There are about 35 existing homes here, and still a few lots available.


The Hibben is a unique neo-traditional style neighborhood that will have 300 homes when complete. It used to be a working plantation in the 1700?s. At more than 2/3 of the way built-out, the developer has almost completed Phase 5 lots which consist of cottage style homes sized in the low to mid 2,000 sq. foot range. Other homes from previous phases are much larger in size up to about 5,000 square feet. The last phase, Phase 6, will consist of about half of the lots being premium lots with marsh views. Currently, prices range from upper $500,000?s to over $1 million. Each home is custom built by local preferred contractors on small lots typically less than .20 acres in size. Most of the homes have back alley living just like you’ll find in downtown Charleston. The neighborhood has its own play park, crabbing dock, beautiful oak and pine trees, ponds, sidewalks and marsh trails, and the developer plans to build a pool for Hibben residents in the near future.

Belle Hall.net

That’s So Hibben

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DANIEL ISLAND

Median home sales price: $502,500

Number of sales: 312

Avg. days on market: 80

DOWNTOWN CHARLESTON

Median home sales price: $377,000

Number of sales: 645

Avg. days on market: 139

FOLLY BEACH

Median home sales price: $375,000

Number of sales: 121

Avg. days on market: 160

ISLE OF PALMS/WILD DUNES

Median home sales price: $591,457

Number of sales: 262

Avg. days on market: 222

JAMES ISLAND

Median home sales price: $229,500

Number of sales: 739

Avg. days on market: 73

JOHNS ISLAND

Median home sales price: $218,274

Number of sales: 417

Avg. days on market: 66

KIAWAH ISLAND/SEABROOK ISLAND

Median home sales price: $503,000

Number of sales: 95

Avg. days on market: 205

MONCKS CORNER

Median home sales price: $162,550

Number of sales: 1663

Avg. days on market: 66

MOUNT PLEASANT

Median home sales price: $339,000

Number of sales: 2306

Avg. days on market: 64

NORTH CHARLESTON

Median home sales price: $131,450

Number of sales: 1053

Avg. days on market: 62

SULLIVAN’S ISLAND

Median home sales price: $1,447,500

Number of sales: 42

Avg. days on market: 167

SUMMERVILLE

Median home sales price: $168,000

Number of sales: 1542

Avg. days on market: 70

WEST ASHLEY

Median home sales price: $198,000

Number of sales: 1424

Avg. days on market: 62

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The Post and Courier reported on January 18, 2014, that two expert economists agreed that homes sales in the Charleston area will continue to rise about 3-5% this year, a modest increase when compared to the 21.5% increase in 2013. Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, research economist at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, and Steve Slifer of Charleston-based NumberNomics presented their staticstically-backed forecast at the 2013 Year in Review Residential Market Update to the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors on January 14, 2014.

Last year, Slifer predicted that 30-year mortgage rates would dip down to 3 percent in 2013. And, Von Nessen said home sales had already hit bottom. These two predictions came true as evidenced by the dramatic increase in homes sales in 2013. According to the Association, 12,573 homes sold in 2013, almost matching homes sales in 2007. The median home price last year increased 8% over that of 2012 to $208,000. According to an article published by U-T San Diego on January 2, 2014, “The average 30-year-fixed mortgage rate began 2013 at an average 3.34%, only to climb to 4.53% as of Thursday, Freddie Mac reports.”

Von Nessen advised realtors to keep the momentum going in home sales in 2014 by creating a sense of urgency to their buyers. “There is a good reason. Mortgage rates are rising, and home prices are up. Buyers need to act now,” says Von Nessen. “Shoppers can’t get a better deal a year from now,” he says.

Von Nessen’s Outlook on South Carolina and Charleston Area:

• In the past two years, South Carolina has topped all states in leading economic indicator growth. The state’s economy is expanding…more stability, more consumer spending, more job creation, more momentum.

• Ten South Carolina counties including Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston are expanding beyond pre-recession rates and six more are expected to within a year.

• Metro Charleston has led the state in growth over the past three years.

Read full slide presentation

Read full Post and Courier article

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Yes, those are my girls when Tropical Storm Debby flooded us in while vacationing in Sarasota, FL. We had one day of sunshine while there! Our motel was a block away from the beach.

Property owners will soon find that their flood insurance premiums will start rising in the next year or two. How much they will go up depends on in which flood zone the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) places their property. FEMA will be updating the current flood hazard maps by late 2014 or 2015, according to Ryan Castle, Government Affairs Director for the Charleston Trident Association for Realtors (CTAR). Mr. Castle recently provided a brief summary of FEMA’s changes at a Flood Insurance class he led for area realtors. According to Mr Castle, homeowners will either find their flood zones may be mapped into a lower risk flood zone, a higher risk flood zone, or discover that their Base Flood Elevation has changed. “All of these changes will affect flood insurance premiums, but it’s too soon to tell how flood mapping will affect properties,” he added.

The following information was provided by

BREAKDOWN OF THE CHANGES
Elevation certificates are needed for all properties. The only clear way to know how your rate will be affected is to provide your insurance agent with an elevation certificate. Depending on the age and use of your structure, it will vary. It’s important to note each property – even those side by side – are unique and you will not know actual flood insurance costs until you talk to an insurance agent.

SUBSIDIZED PROPERTIES
This includes Pre-FIRM properties below Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Pre-FIRM in Charleston County means start of construction or substantial improvement was before 1975. Pre-FIRM in Dorchester County was before 1982. And, Pre-FIRM in Berkeley County was before 1983.

Primary residences:
Beginning when the policy renews starting October 1, 2013, rates will move to full actuarial rates at the time the property sells (this will apply retroactively to all properties sold since July 6, 2012).

Non-primary residences, commercial properties and repetitive loss properties:
Beginning October 1, 2013 rates move to actuarial rates and premiums will increase 25% per year. The only way to know your full actuarial rate and to find your maximum premium is to have a current elevation certificate. Access FEMA’s 2013 Rate Schedule for second/vacation homes here (which includes the first 25% step increase)

Note: Rates are per $100 of coverage.

GRANDFATHERED PROPERTIES
This includes post-FIRM properties that were built at Base Flood Elevation, but BFE has since been raised since construction OR the property was mapped into a different flood zone.

Rates will be phased out and be brought to new actuarial rates only after the new flood rate maps are adopted. This is expected to be completed in South Carolina in late 2014 or early 2015.

ALL OTHER PROPERTIES REQUIRING FLOOD INSURANCE
All other properties will see rate increases of at least 5%, but possibly higher (in the 20% range), but each property is different. Before buying any property, speak to an insurance agent!

LAWMAKERS PUSH TO DELAY FLOOD INSURANCE CHANGES
The Post and Courier published an article on October 30, 2013 about a group of lawmakers who are trying to delay the changes to the flood insurance program for about four years because it is a threat to many homeowners who won’t be able to afford the premium hikes and because home values have started to go down as a result of uncertainty over insurance rates. To read this article, go to
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20131030/PC16/131039979/1006/lawmakers-push-to-delay-huge-flood-insurance-hikes&source=RSS

For more information, www.MichelleWhitbeck.com

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Sep

26

The Post and Courier recently reported that South Carolina first-time homebuyers who are below a certain income level may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $2,000 every year you they own the home. Potential homebuyers who receive a S.C. Mortgage Tax Credit Certificate (MCC) when they purchase a home will qualify for the tax credit. The article states, “In most South Carolina counties, including Berkeley and Dorchester, being a first-time buyer simply means that you don’t own a home on the day you close the loan for the home you are buying. In others, including Charleston, the requirement means you can’t have owned a home during the past three years.” The income limits vary county to county as well. According to the article, “In Berkeley and Dorchester counties, a couple (or single buyer) could earn up to $74,560, and buy a home costing up to $255,000. A family of three could have income up to $85,820. In Charleston County, the income limit is $61,300 for one or two, and $70,495 for three or more. The home price limit is also $255,000.

In order to obtain an MCC, buyers work with a participating lender, obtain a 30-year mortgage, and pay a fee of about $700 when closing on the mortgage loan. This fee covers administration and processing costs by the state and the participating bank. Each year, the homeowner will be allowed to claim a federal tax credit for 30% of the mortgage interest paid the previous year, up to $2,000. If the homeowner sells the home after less than nine years, at a profit, and their income has increased beyond the guidelines to qualify for the program, they could owe “recapture” money to the federal government. There will be no recapture cost if the homeowner lives in the house at least nine years, or still meets the income guidelines when they sell in less than nine years.

For more Charleston real estate information, www.MichelleWhitbeck.com

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The Fed decided last week to continue buying treasuries and mortgage-backed securities at the rate of $85 billion per month. According to New York Fed President, William Dudley, they will continue with the program until sustainable long-term economic growth is clearly evident. On CNN Money, Dudley said, “I’d like to see economic news that makes me more confident that we will see continued improvement in the labor market.” For home buyers, this is good news! It means that interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future and this stimulus package will continue to spur housing sales and economic growth. For home sellers, it is also good news. As long as buyers have good incentives to finance homes, they will continue to put in offers.

For more Charleston real estate information, www.MichelleWhitbeck.com

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Snee Farm homes average is $161/sf., a 23% increase over the past two years.
Median Price sold this past year is $336,000.
Snee Farm Gardens average is $150/sf.
Snee Farm Lakes and Ventura Villas average is $96/sf

A well-established neighborhood with beautiful, huge oak trees and space between neighbors is what you’ll find at Snee Farm. Snee Farm, located off of Hwy. 17 North in Mt. Pleasant, dates back to the late 1600’s when King William, III granted the 100 acres of land to Nathaniel Law. According to the Snee Farm Community Foundation, the land changed hands many times over the years, but the most notable owner was Charles Pinckney, four-term governor of South Carolina and signer of the U.S. Constitution. In 1791, George Washington ate breakfast under an oak tree on the plantation. Snee Farm Golf Club purchased the plantation in 1966, and the land and original house were restored. In 1974, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark. Then in the 1980’s, the Friends of Snee Farm purchased the house and 28 acres. The core of Snee Farm is now known as the Charles Pinckney National Historic Site, a unit of the National Park Service.

Today, Snee Farm consists of over 780 single family detached homes and over 275 townhomes (Snee Farm Lakes and Ventura Villas). Patio homes, known as Snee Farm Gardens, are also included. It is a beautiful country club golf course community just minutes from Isle of Palms beach, Palmetto Island County Park, shopping at Towne Center, and I-526. Snee Farm Country Club offers private golf, tennis, and swim facilities. The Clubhouse features a Golf Pro Shop, Cafe, Bar, and Dining Room which often hosts Holiday Parties, Themed Dinners, and other Social Events for members. The neighborhood has several entrances making its central location so convenient to many. The main entrance is on Hwy. 17 North, a side entrance off of Whipple Road, and two other entrances off of Longpoint Road near Snee Farm Gardens and Snee Farm Lakes.

For more Charleston real estate information, www.MichelleWhitbeck.com

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It’s no secret that the Charleston area real estate market is doing well. Throughout the area prices are on the upswing, houses are selling quickly, and new construction has started to make a comeback. There are less distress sales on the market which have caused many sellers to hold tight to their list prices, and investors are finding it more difficult to find that “sweet” deal. Although interest rates are increasing, they are still relatively low and buyers can still buy affordable property. But this may not last long. Monthly mortgages are quickly edging closer to rental prices causing housing to become less affordable for some buyers. Sellers, beware that new construction and spec homes will increase and make competition for resales difficult over the coming years. The following is a breakdown of stats for each specific area. The information was provided from Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Multiple Listings Service.

Charleston

Closed sales are up 23% with 6730 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 7.5% compared to this time last year at $241,765.
Inventory is down 17% with 3532 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 26% at average of 85 DOM.

Daniel Island
Closed sales are up 14% with 276 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 4% compared to this time last year at $464,000.
Inventory is down 37% with 92 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 24% at average of 87 DOM.

Goose Creek
Closed sales are up 10% with 697 closings in the past year.
Median price is down 5% compared to this time last year at $136,000.
Inventory is down 20% with 257 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 20% at average of 66 DOM.

James Island
Closed sales are up 28% with 68 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 15% compared to this time last year at $218,000.
Inventory is down 26% with 33 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 16% at average of 90 DOM.

Mt. Pleasant
Closed sales are up 30% with 2065 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 1% compared to this time last year at $315,000.
Inventory is down 21% with 684 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 29% at average of 70 DOM.

N. Charleston
Closed sales are up 13% with 993 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 11% compared to this time last year at $130,000.
Inventory is down 16% with 495 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 23% at average of 80 DOM.

Summerville
Closed sales are up 23% with 2262 closings in the past year.
Median price is up 2% compared to this time last year at $169,675.
Inventory is down 17% with 879 homes currently for sale on MLS.
Days on the market is down 23% at average of 70 DOM.

For more Charleston real estate information, www.MichelleWhitbeck.com

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