IRS Clarifies What's Needed to Claim Tax Credit

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

IRS Clarifies What's Needed to Claim Tax Credit

The Internal Revenue Service has clarified which documentation taxpayers need to submit to claim the first-time and move-up homebuyer tax credit.

While the IRS is still requiring the filing of Form 5405, it is not demanding that all parties’ signatures be on the HUD-1 settlement document in areas where requiring both the buyer and the seller to sign the document isn’t common.

The IRS clarification says: "In areas where signatures are not required on the settlement document, the IRS has clarified that it will accept a settlement statement if it is completed and valid according to local law. … The IRS encourages those buyers to sign the settlement statement prior to attaching it to the tax return.”

For repeat buyers, the IRS is seeking documentation that home buyers have lived in the previous property for a consecutive five of the past eight years. Proof can include property tax records, home owner insurance records, or mortgage interest statements.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: Washington Post (02/20/2010)
 

Charleston, South Carolina, 8th Best area in U. S. for Housing Recovery

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Charleston, South Carolina, 8th Best area in U. S. for Housing Recovery

Median home price: $192,000

Value lost since 2006: 14.1%

Forecast gain through 2011: 2.9%

According to CNN Charleston, South Carolina is poised to become the 8th best bet for housing recovery in the nation.

Lovely, historic Charleston has a lot going for it but, for decades, growth wasn't one of them.

The core city lost population for decades until things started turning around in the 1960s. Since then the number of residents has increased to 100,000 from a low of about 60,000.

Economically, the city has ridden a tourism surge; it has added large numbers of hotels, bed-and-breakfast inns and restaurants over the past 40 years. And there has also been a jump in tech jobs along with the new Boeing 787 construction facility.

Job losses have been a problem lately, however, with an unemployment rate of 10.2% in December, higher than the national average.

After recording modest home price declines over the past three years, Charleston is poised for a comeback, according to Fiserv and Moody's Economy.com. Prices will climb an average of 2.9% between now and September 2011.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Shadow Inventory Unlikely to Hurt Market

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Shadow Inventory Unlikely to Hurt Market

Nearly 5 million houses and condos, of which the mortgages are delinquent, will go through foreclosure over the next few years, a new study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting Inc. concludes.

This represents more than half of the 7.7 million households now behind on their mortgage payments. The situation is worst in Arizona, California, Florida, and Nevada. Burns calculates that there is an inventory equivalent to 27 months of sales in Orlando, 24 months in Miami, and 18 months in Las Vegas.

Consulting firm CEO John Burns says there is strong investor demand for these properties, so as long as employment continues to recover and interest rates remain moderate; these sales won’t have much impact on overall prices.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: The Wall Street Journal, James R. Hagerty (02/16/2010)

 

Foreclosure Prevention Has Aided 116,000

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Foreclosure Prevention Has Aided 116,000

The federal foreclosure prevention program has helped about 12 percent of borrowers who applied for help since the plans were announced a year ago, the Treasury Department says.

About 1 million borrowers initiated the application process, and as of January, about 116,000 home owners–12 percent–had their loans modified. But administration officials say another 76,000 applications have been approved and are awaiting signatures.

Another 830,500 home owners are currently in a trial modification review period during which banks make sure payments are feasible for the borrower and ensure the qualifications of the assistance program are met.

For those who qualify, the Home Affordable Modification Program brings monthly loan payments down to 31 percent of home owners' pre-tax income.

Nearly 60,500 people have been denied permanent modifications.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: CNNMoney, Tami Luhby (02/17/2010) and USA TODAY, Stephanie Armour (02/17/2010)

Construction Up Along With Builder Confidence

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Construction Up Along With Builder Confidence

Construction of new homes rose to an annual rate of 591,000 in January, up 2.8 percent from December when the revised rate was 575,000, the Commerce Department announced Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the monthly home builder confidence scale rose two points in February to 17.

The National Association of Home Builders Chair Bob Jones said, "Builders are slightly more optimistic that the housing recovery is finally beginning to take root.”

Builder confidence was highest in the Northeast and the South, weaker in the West and lowest in the Midwest.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Meena Thiruvengadam (02/16/2010) and CNN, Blake Ellis (02/17/2010)
 

2010 Charleston Symphony Designer Showhouses

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

2010 Charleston Symphony Designer Showhouses

The 2010 Symphony Designer Showhouses are being presented by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra League, Inc. in participation with the Charleston Home magazine.  All proceeds to benefit the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

This year there are two homes on the tour are 54 Gibbs Street and 120 S. Battery.  The tour dates are March 18th thru April 18th daily (except for Easter). 

In addition to the beautifully decorated rooms in two houses, the DSH Committee has planned a series of special events for your further enjoyment and to appeal to a wider audience including one event especially for children. We believe you will be tempted to join in the fun and attend one or more of the following interesting and entertaining activities:
 
Thirsty Thursdays

Every Thursday wine served in the Café Musique will be half-price during the hours the café is open. 
 
Children Story Telling Time

On Sunday afternoon, March 21 and 28 at 2:00 PM, Gail Howell, local author of children’s stories, will read to the children of our guests from selected stories in her books on the porch at 54 Gibbes. 
 
Ladies Hats Fashion Show

Thirsty Thursday, March 25 at 2:00PM includes live models displaying the latest in ladies hats. With Easter & Kentucky Derby Parties just around the corner, ladies are sure to find a very special hat. Hats are provided by Phyllis at 233 King St.
 
Sunday Afternoon Mother-Daughter Tea

Wear your Sunday best on April 11 and bring your daughters or granddaughters to our first ever Mother-Daughter Tea. Come to the secret garden of 120 South Battery beginning at 2:30pm for a delightful afternoon with your girls. Reservations appreciated.
 
Pet Fashion Show

On Saturday, April 17 at 2:00PM some of the best dressed dogs in Charleston will create a lot of excitement as they proudly stroll in a Sidewalk Promenade at 54 Gibbes in their doggie ensembles. Of course, they will all be on their best behavior. What a fun afternoon for pet owners and guests. Our thanks to Jenny of Harry Winston’s for coordinating this event.

Advance tickets are $15, door tickets are $20.  Order tickets for the Charleston Symphony Designer Showhouses at http://www.csolinc.org.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Vacant Lots Become Hot Property

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Vacant Lots Become Hot Property

Vacant residential lots are looking better and better to real estate investors.

The cost of a finished, ready to build lot, can cost a developer about 25 percent of the finished home price. There are a number of these ready-to-go lots on the market at about half what they actually cost to prepare. Investor groups are snapping them up, figuring that the time will come soon when they will be in demand.

"The country needs 1.2 million new units for the next 10 years just because of population growth," says Scott Clark, president of American Development Partners, which has bought thousands of vacant lots all over the West. "[U.S. builders] built about 500,000 units in 2009 and 600,000 units in 2008, so there eventually will be pent-up demand. We want to get as many of those finished lots as we can because as demand begins to rise, the need for housing will become painfully obvious. The delta (ratio of change to value of underlying asset) in this investment will be significant."

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: Inman News, Scott Bergsman (02/12/2010)
 

"Carolina Joe" Just Sold Another One!!!

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties.
 

"CAROLINA JOE", YOUR REALTOR TO KNOW!

16 GROVE ST CHARLESTON, SC 29403-3706 LP: $59,000

MLS#: 2923592md – RES – SFA Status: Sold
Area: (52) CHS-Peninsula Chas. outside of crosstown
Municipality: (11) CITY OF CHARLESTON
Bedrooms: 3 Apx SqFt: 1,188
Bths Ful/Hlf: 2/0 Tax Map#: 463-12-03-149
Stories: 2 Story Apx YrBlt: 1972
Address: 16 GROVE ST
City: CHARLESTON Zip: 29403-3706
Lot Size: 18' X 100' Acres: 0.04
Subdiv: ROMNEY VILLAGE Subsec:  
Grade Sch: BURNS Middle Sch: BURKE
High Sch: BURKE
Possessn: At Closing, Tnts Rights New/Owned: Pre-owned
Legal Desc: LOT 8

Style: Townhouse Fireplace:   Special:  
Roof: Asphalt Shng Foundation: Slab Floors: W/w Carpet, Wood, Vinyl
Cooling: Window Unit Heat: Elec Basebrd Utilities:  
Parking: Off-st Prkng        
        SqFt Source: Tax Records   $/Sqft: $44.61
Auction:   Auction Type:   Reserve Amt:  
Lot Desc:  
Exterior: Wood Siding, Brick – front
Master BR: Upstairs, W/i Closet
Other Rms:  
Misc. Int:  
Misc. Extt:  
Wat/Sew: Public Water, Public Sewer
Amenities: Cable Available, Trash Pickup
Appliances: Elec Range, Refrigerator, Washer Conn, Ceiling Fan
Green Features:

Click on Photo to Enlarge

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

 

Start a Community Garden: Get the Community Involved

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Start a Community Garden: Get the Community Involved

 
Sow a community garden to save money on produce, eat better, and build relationships with neighbors.
 
A community garden can provide a fulfilling and useful way to bond with your neighbors, promote healthier lifestyles, add urban green space, and save money on food. A 4 x 16-foot raised bed within a larger community garden can provide $200 to $600 in produce annually, depending on climate, says Bobby Wilson, president of the American Community Gardening Association. But gardening is also hard work, not to mention the hassle of finding and coordinating hundreds of volunteer hours over the course of a growing season. Before you dig in, step back and look at what's involved.

Your time commitment

As an organizer, you can expect to spend about 20 to 30 hours a month for six to eight months to get a garden going, says Bill Maynard, vice president of ACGA. And you'll probably need at least two other people working almost as much time as you to look for grants and donations.

Once established, the work will ease up, especially if you have committees helping out, says Charlie Nardozzi, a horticulturist and spokesperson for the NGA (http://www.garden.org/home). "It's not the total time that's important, but the consistency."

Develop a vision for your garden

A good way to involve the community and get buy in is to hold an open meeting to discuss your garden goals, says Laura Berman, author of How Does Our Garden Grow: A Guide to Starting a Community Garden (http://www.foodshare.ca/publications_03.htm). Do you want to produce food-to eat better, feed the needy-teach children about food, or just make an ugly space more attractive?

Take special care to involve neighbors near the garden site, who can turn out to be your best friends or your biggest headaches. Many cities require community meetings before issuing permits to garden in public spaces.

Find volunteers

Before you break ground, identify a committee of at least 10 volunteers and two leaders, says Kirsten Saylor, executive director of Gardening Matters (http://www.gardeningmatters.org ) in Minneapolis/St.Paul. Look for a range of talent. A community garden needs bookkeepers, marketers, and fundraisers, as well as farmers. You'll also need to decide who can participate. Must volunteers live in a specific area near the garden? Can children volunteer? If so, are there age limits?

Deciding how many volunteers you'll need depends on the size of the garden and how much time each gardener wants to volunteer. About 20 volunteers is a workable number for a garden of 15,000 square feet. More volunteers than that are also hard to manage, says Saylor.

Post flyers near the garden; ask a local newspaper, radio, or TV station to run an announcement; and send brochures or e-mails to local clubs. Many cities that have community gardening programs also have a sign-up area on their Web sites.

Extra volunteers can come in handy for one-time jobs, such as soil preparation and planting in the spring and harvesting in the fall. Try tapping into existing organizations-corporations and civic groups, Scout troops, or school classes-to help with these projects.

Keep volunteers motivated

Keep interest high by making every day in the garden a party-even cheap snacks will do, says Sally McCabe, community education project coordinator for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (http://www.pennsylvaniahorticulturalsociety.org/home/index.html). Celebrate spring planting or the first harvest and invite the neighborhood.

Regular weekly communication, such as e-mailed gardening tips and tasks, are also good motivators. Berman suggests designating one day a week for volunteers to meet to discuss concerns.
Rules, legal issues, and insurance.

Once you have a core of volunteers, discuss the rules-working hours, care of tools, and the use of pesticides. Rules can also spell out how much produce each participant gets and how much work is required of each volunteer.

Consider whether to buy liability insurance to cover injuries to non-volunteers on the site. The owner of the property where you'll be gardening may require insurance. Other owners may agree to add a rider onto their liability insurance to cover you. Liability insurance can cost anywhere from $750 to $2,000 a year, depending on your location and the size of your property, says Bill Maynard, vice president of the American Community Gardening Association (http://www.communitygarden.org).

In many cases, gardeners and visitors will be covered under an umbrella liability policy held by the church, office park, or residential property where the garden is located, says Dick Luedke, a spokesperson for State Farm Insurance (http://www.statefarm.com/). A landowner may also ask that you provide a "hold harmless" clause, which states that the owner isn't responsible for injuries on the property. Get waivers of liability from volunteers and parental consent forms if you allow children to volunteer.

If you're planning to garden on public land like a city park, you'll likely need a permit. This process can be lengthy and require public hearings and a site plan, so start early.

Fund your garden

Initial costs could run about $3,750 to $7,500 if you have a nearby source of water, says Maynard, higher, if not. A large garden in a public park with city fees and prevailing wages for contractors could run as high as $30,000. (Gardeners can expect to spend about $50-$100 per year to maintain their individual plot.)

Seed money can come from volunteer donations or local business sponsors. Contact nurseries and home improvement centers to see if they'll donate tools, fertilizers, or seeds. Areas with active community gardens or neighborhood associations may be willing to share equipment or plants. Ask your local park district what it can loan or give.

Maynard charges volunteers at his Sacramento, Calif., community garden $25 to $50 a year, depending on the size of their plot. Some gardeners also sell their extra produce on site or at farmers' markets or share it with local charities.

Grants are sometimes available from local government through Community Development Block Grants, a federal program that gives local governments money to improve struggling urban areas, or from businesses, such as national gardening and home improvement retailers. Gardenburger (http://www.gardenburger.com/Grants.aspx), which makes vegetarian food, is another source.

You may need nonprofit tax status to qualify for some grants, but it may be possible to partner with a house of worship or neighborhood association that already has nonprofit status.

Your grant request doesn't have to just be about gardens, says McCabe. "You can focus it on community improvement, nutrition, or keeping kids off the streets."

Garden size

Community gardens vary in size greatly because of local land availability. Some are as large as 25,000 square feet. Others fall in the 2,000 to 4,000-square-foot range, says Maynard.

If you're not sure you want to the responsibility of managing a community garden, get a preview by volunteering. ACGA maintains a searchable database of community gardens (right on its home page) that would be happy to have you.

Mariwyn Evans has spent 25 years writing about commercial and residential real estate, but if she had her way, she would've spent all that time in the garden. She's the author of several books, including Opportunities in Real Estate Careers, as well as too many magazine articles to count. These days, she spends part of her week trying to grow tomatoes and volunteering as a weed puller at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Her next goal: become a Master Gardener.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Article from HouseLogic.com
 

8 Ways to Help Your Watershed

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

8 Ways to Help Your Watershed

 
A clean and well-managed watershed doesn't just mean clean drinking water. Do your part to keep land and water clean and you could reap financial benefits too.
 
For most of us, the water at home comes from a municipal tap, so it's easy to forget how much the quality of a community's watershed affects water quality and the people, wildlife, and plants that depend on that water. Well-managed watersheds serve as recreational magnets for humans and critical habitat for wildlife, but they also reduce flooding, making your home safer and reducing insurance costs.

What's a watershed?

Here's the funny thing about watersheds: They are more about land than water. A watershed is all the terrain in a given area that drains to a single point-a lake, stream, wetland, or even the ocean.

Your yard is part of a watershed. "Nature doesn't see the world in terms of municipal or site boundaries," says Center for Watershed Protection (CWP) (http://www.cwp.org/) Program Manager Greg Hoffman. "Anything you do affects everyone else who lives in your watershed. That includes the people, but also the animals and plants."
Some watershed challenges, such as irresponsible construction practices, are beyond your immediate control. However, many proven solutions lie just inside your front gate.

Community benefits

Healthy, restored, and well-managed waterways offer multiple community-wide benefits, including improved property values, according to research from the Clean Water Partnership (http://www.pca.state.mn.us/water/cwp.html) in Minnesota.

For example, a rainwater management system, which keeps rainwater in a neighborhood by allowing it to sink slowly into the ground, can raise property values when it creates great views.

A Clean Water Partnership study found prices for Minnesota homes with constructed wetland views were nearly a third higher than those without views and sold at prices on par with those fronting a high-quality urban lake.

What you can do to protect the watershed

You have much more control over what happens to the water on your own property. Here are nine ways you can preserve and protect local watersheds:

1. Plant a rain garden. Excess runoff can cause flooding and stream-bank erosion during rainstorms. Creating a rain garden with native grasses, trees, and shrubs gives runoff from your home's downspouts a chance to soak naturally into the ground. Add a rain barrel to save water for later use.

2. Limit fertilizer. If you must fertilize your lawn, choose a product without phosphorous, which along with nitrogen, upsets the balance of nutrients in local waterways.

3. Service your septic system every three years. Failing septics send "plumes" of nitrogen, phosphorous, and bacteria to nearby streams and shores.

4. Avoid pesticides. Though most pesticides break down in soil, a storm can wash them into nearby streams. Instead, explore biological pest control methods such as species-specific bacteria, predator stocking (think ladybugs), and pheromone lures, which attract and trap pests.

5. Pick up pet waste. In a 20-square-mile watershed draining to a small coastal bay, two to three days of droppings from a 100 dogs would contribute enough E.coli bacteria to temporarily close the bay to swimming.

6. Buffer streams. If you have a stream on your property, provide a natural buffer of native trees, shrubs, and plants around its banks to filter dirty storm water runoff.

7. Use commercial car washes. The best place to wash your car is at a commercial car wash, many of which filter their water before directing it to treatment plants. If you must wash your vehicle at home, park it on the grass first, so your lawn absorbs some of the detergent runoff and contaminants.

8. Avoid paving. If you must pave, consider stone pavers for a patio, rather than concrete, and gravel for a driveway, rather than asphalt.

In short, it can be easy and tempting to think of watershed stewardship as someone else's problem. But the responsibility for our most precious resource begins right at home.

James Glave, author of "Almost Green: How I Saved 1/6th of a Billionth of the Planet," is a writer, consultant, and community activist fighting climate change at the regional and local level.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/
 
View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Article from HouseLogic.com

Plant a Tree, Save Energy, and Grow Value

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Plant a Tree, Save Energy, and Grow Value

 
Plant a tree to add value to your home and have a positive impact on the environment.
 
Trees don't ask for much-dirt, water, sunlight. Yet they provide a wealth of benefits: They improve the air you breathe, cut your energy bills with their shade, provide a home to wildlife, and add beauty and value to your home.
But every year, 3.2 million acres of forest are cut down, according to the Nature Conservancy (http://www.nature.org/initiatives/forests/misc/art22113.html). Several million more acres are lost to fire, storm, and disease. That's why planting new trees and protecting the ones we have is so important.

You can do your part by:

Caring for the trees in your yard

Supporting tree-planting activities in your community

Donating to organizations, such as The Nature Conservancy, which works to preserve the world's trees and forests, and American Forests (http://www.americanforests.org), which offers a unique way to take action. First, use its online Climate Change Calculator (http://www.americanforests.org/resources/ccc/) to determine your carbon footprint. Then, make up for your emissions by donating to a forest restoration project.

Why should you care about trees? Bankable benefits

The most tangible bang from your bark comes from energy savings. Three properly placed trees could save you between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (http://www.energy.gov). Trees save energy two main ways. Their shade cuts cooling costs in the summer. In winter, they serve as windbreak and help hold down heating costs.

The National Tree Calculator (http://www.treebenefits.com) estimates that a 12-inch elm in an Omaha yard can save $32.43 a year on your energy bills; the same tree in Atlanta would save you $11.89 annually. The calculator also breaks down other dollars and cents benefits of your tree, like decreasing storm water runoff, removing carbon dioxide from the air, and increasing property values.

In our elm example, the 12-inch tree adds $40.23 to the Omaha home's value and a $57.33 to the one in Atlanta. And as trees grow larger, they can add even more value.

A 2002 study by the USDA Forest Service pegs the value a single tree adds to a property of about $630. Of course, tree value depends on size, species, location, and condition.

Adds Frank Lucco, a real estate appraiser with IRR-Residential in Houston, "On a $100,000 home [in my market], as much as $10,000 of its value could be associated with mature trees."

That's peanuts compared with the role trees play as the lungs of the planet. A report by the Trust for Public Land (http://www.coloradotrees.org/benefits.htm) estimated that one mature tree takes 48 pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere each year and returns enough oxygen for two human beings.

Plant your tree in the right spot

To get the full benefits from your trees, choose the right one and put it in the right location. Planting a deciduous tree on the west side of a house provides cooling shade in the summer. In winter, after it loses its leaves, the same tree lets in sunlight that cuts heating and lighting bills. On the other hand, an evergreen on the west side blocks sun all year long, making a home colder and darker in winter. Rather plant evergreens, a great choice for blocking icy winter winds, on the north side of your home.

If you're planting a new tree, think about its fully grown size and shape before you dig. Branches from a tree located below power lines can cause outages as it grows. Roots from a tree located too close to a home can damage the foundation or block sewer lines. The wrong tree in the wrong place could actually lower your home's appraised value if it's deemed hazardous, says Frank Lucco, a real estate appraiser with IRR-Residential in Houston.

Tree costs

Expect to pay $50 to $100 for a 6- to 7-foot decidious tree, such as a katsura or evergreen. The same tree at 15 feet will cost $100 to $200, according to Brad Swank of Molbak's Nursery in Woodinville, Wash. The Arbor Day Foundation sells saplings for as little as $8-$15, or less if you're a member.

Since trees cost money, be cautious about any home construction work. "Tree failure can happen seven to 10 years after construction, primarily because the root system fails when the soil is compacted," says Thomas Hanson, a member of the American Society of Consulting Arborists (http://www.asca-consultants.org) from Kirkland, Wash. Also watch for diseases or pests (http://forestry.about.com/od/diseases/tp/An-Index-of-Common-Tree-Diseas.htm) that can threaten trees in your yard and community.

Become a tree advocate

Ensuring that your community has lots of healthy trees doesn't have to be more complicated than a trip to the nursery and a hole in your backyard. Dig it twice as wide as deep. Let kids push in the dirt and help water weekly until the tree is two years old. The Arbor Day Foundation (http://www.arborday.org) will tell you how to select the right tree for your needs and climate, where to plant it, and how to maintain it.

The foundation also is a great place to look for community and educational programs.
Its Tree City USA (http://www.arborday.org/programs/treeCityUSA/) initiative provides expert advice and national recognition to cities and towns that want to establish tree-management plans.

Its Arbor Day Poster Contest (http://www.arborday.org/kids/postercontest/index.cfm) for fifth-graders gives teachers a fun way to help students learn the importance of trees.

Its nationwide list of volunteer organizations (http://www.arborday.org/programs/volunteers/index.cfm) lets you search for tree care opportunities in your state.

Considering everything trees do for you, it's the least you can do for them.

Brad Broberg is a freelance writer from Federal Way, Wash. A former newspaper reporter and editor, he writes about business, health care, and real estate for REALTOR Magazine, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and Seattle Children's Hospital, among others. He's lived in the same home for 22 years-a home he shares with seven towering Douglas Firs.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.
 
To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

From HouseLogic.com

Small Steps Let You Live More Sustainably

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Small Steps Let You Live More Sustainably

 
Making little lifestyle changes will do a lot to enhance sustainability for the planet–and make every day Earth Day.
 
It's a great feeling every Earth Day to bike to work and show your love of the planet. But sustainable practices-managing how you use resources to ensure that there will enough for future generations-doesn't have to be limited to once a year. With a few adjustments, sustainable practices can easily become a part of daily life and save you money while you help improve the planet.

What is sustainability?

Sustainable living is an umbrella term that covers many different ideas and programs. It can be as simple as recycling and using less water or as complex as changing state and federal policies to promote wind and solar power and high-speed rail transportation. Local planning commissions can promote sustainability by allowing higher density housing that uses less land.

If you want to support some of these public sustainability programs, you can contact your government representative (http://www.congress.org) to express support. You could also support a non-profit group like the Edible Schoolyard (http://www.edibleschoolyard.org/) program, which teaches kids how to grow and eat locally.

Opposition to sustainable practices

Not everyone is a fan of sustainable practices. Some people worry that conservation efforts produce more government regulation, increase living costs, and reduce corporate profits. Not sure where you stand on these major policies. Why not start small and see?

Eat locally. One of the biggest impacts a family has on the environment is what it eats. It takes around 10 calories of fossil fuel-in the form of fertilizers, processing, and transportation-to produce a single calorie of supermarket food, according to Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma (http://www.michaelpollan.com/omnivore.php). Cut down on your food's energy impact by eating food grown near your home.

A 2001 study conducted by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (http://www.leopold.iastate.edu/pubs/staff/ppp/food_mil.pdf), Iowa State University, found that the cost of transporting food from the region or the local area was four and 17 times less, respectively, than buying from national distributors.

Finding local food isn't difficult

Local Harvest (http://www.localharvest.org) will help you find farmers markets as well as farms in your region that offer subscription programs. Signing up for a subscription means you pay up front, so there's a risk if the harvest fails. Costs vary depending on the size of the share and your part of the country. A good estimate from Local Harvest is that you'll spend about $600 to cover produce for a family of four during a four or five month growing season.

Keep food even closer to home by growing your own, either in your backyard or in a shared community space (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/start-a-community-garden-get-the-community-involved/). Expect to spend several hours a week seeding, weeding, and harvesting. Gardening is also a great way to teach kids about healthy eating.
The downside of eating locally is that food from a farmer's market often costs more than the same from the supermarket. And in winter, you may eat a lot of cabbage and potatoes if you stick to local eating.

Buy gently used

Everyone likes something new once in a while-and fast-growing kids require it. Consumer spending is also a big contributor to a healthy economy. But producing and transporting new products from the factory to you also uses lots of resources. One way to get new stuff and still promote sustainability is to trade something you no longer want for what you need.

Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org) is a 7 million-strong global network of people who share their possessions-for free. Once you join online, you'll receive regular email about used items that you can request and pick up. Eva Schmoock, a student nurse and mother of two in Carrboro, N.C., is an avid user. She's found new homes for everything, including paint and kids' bathing suits.

A low-tech option: Organize swap meets with neighbors to lessen your environmental footprint without opening your wallet. Get your kids to put flyers in mailboxes to promote the swap. Or try a consignment shop.

Reduce trash by composting

It isn't just what you buy that has an impact on the world's resources, it's what you throw away. The average American is responsible for almost 5 pounds of garbage a day, 12.5% of which is food scraps, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/pubs/msw07-rpt.pdf). That trash clogs landfills and pollutes ground water.

Want to reduce waste? Consider composting. Just put those peels and pods (but no meat or dairy products) in a separate container instead of the garbage can. When the container is full, carry it to your compost pile.
A $10 plastic bucket with a lid will work; fancier models have charcoal filters that cut down on smells but cost two or three times as much. Let your kids scrape plates into the compost pail or empty the full container.

You'll find a compost bin for every budget. You can fence off a small (out-of-sight) section of your yard with less than $50 worth of mesh wire and poles. Plastic bins and barrels are neater, but can cost several times more. The best part of composting: In six months, nature will convert your waste into terrific fertilizer to sustain your vegetable or flower garden.

Amanda Abrams is a Washington, D.C.-based writer who spent many years planning to be an organic farmer. Now she writes about how to make the world a better place for papers like The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for Charleston SC Real Estate homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours of Charleston SC Real Estate homes at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

From HouseLogic.com
 

Conduct Your Own Energy Audit

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Conduct Your Own Energy Audit

 A do-it-yourself energy audit can teach you how to be more energy efficient and make you a more-educated consumer should you decide to hire an expert.
 
Self-starters don't necessarily need a pro to assess their home's energy deficiencies. With a little elbow grease and one of several free do-it-yourself guides to home energy auditing, you can get a good sense of where your home is leaking hot and cool air, and how your choice of appliances and your energy use contributes to energy loss.

What you'll save on fixes

By following up on problems, you can lower energy bills by 5% to 30% annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov). With annual energy bills averaging $2,200, according to Energy Star (http://www.energystar.gov), investing in fixes or energy-efficient replacement products could save you up to $660 within a year.

And self-audits can cost virtually nothing if you already own a flashlight, ladder, measuring stick, candles, eye protection, work clothes, dust mask, and a screwdriver-or roughly $150 if you're starting from scratch. As for time commitment, expect to spend two to four hours to investigate home systems, refer to utility bills, and conduct research about local norms for products, such as insulation, say experts.

Types of DIY audits

Since there are a variety of ways to conduct a do-it-yourself audit, you'll need to know your tolerance for the tasks involved.

Some require you play home inspector, climbing into attics and crawlspaces on fact-finding missions and delving into unfinished portions of your home to look at duct work. Questionnaire-based audits rely the assumption that you can answer such questions as how many gallons of water your toilet tank holds to the R-value (thickness) of insulation in your home.

If you don't have time to familiarize yourself with your home's systems or confidence about diagnosing problems, are disabled, are squeamish on ladders and in crawlspaces, or are already planning to invest in a major remodel, you may benefit from hiring a pro (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/paid-energy-audits-the-costs-and-benefits/).
Even homeowners who complete a self-audit often hire a professional to double-check their diagnoses. A self-audit may reveal drafts but not their exact source, such as ducts or insulation, for instance. Because the costs to address a draft can range from minor to major, investing in a paid audit may be justifiable.

What should you check?

All the home systems and appliances that contribute to energy costs. Here's the breakdown of a typical home's energy usage that Energy Star references:
 1. Heating (29%)
 2. Cooling (17%)
 3. Water heating (14%)
 4. Appliances (13%)
 5. Lighting (12%)
 6. Computers and electronics (4%)
 7. Other (11%)

Self-audits hone in on details pros may not.  While the pros use special equipment to focus on hard-to-research aspects of a home's building envelope and indoor air circulation, DIY audits can teach you-based on the questions they ask-to identify and address the numerous small ways in which your home wastes energy.

Since lighting, electronics, and appliances collectively account for nearly 30% of the average home's energy costs, you can make an impact on your bills by replacing old appliances with energy-efficient replacements and simple fixes-plugging appliances into power strips versus wall outlets, making sure refrigerator doors are properly sealed and don't leak air, and opting for a programmable thermostat.

How to spot common energy leaks

1. Check your home's exterior envelope-the windows, doors, walls, and roof exposed to outdoor air. Hold a candle or stick of incense near windows, doors, electrical outlets, range hoods, plumbing and ceiling fixtures, attic hatches, and ceiling fans in bathrooms. When smoke blows, you've got a draft from a source that may need caulking, sealant, weather stripping, or insulation.

2. Check insulation R-value or thickness. Where insulation is exposed (in an attic, unfinished basement, or around ducts, water heaters, and appliances), use a ruler to measure, recommends the DOE. Compare your results against those suggested for your region via an insulation calculator (http://www.ornl.gov/~roofs/Zip/ZipHome.html).
Although examining in-wall insulation is difficult, you can remove electrical outlet covers, turn off electricity, and probe inside the wall, the DOE notes in its DIY audit guide. However, only a professional's thermographic scan can reveal if insulation coverage is consistent within a wall. Insulation can settle or may not be uniformly installed.

3. Look for stains on insulation. These often indicate air leaks from a hole behind the insulation, such as a duct hole or crack in an exterior wall.

4. Inspect exposed ducts. They may not work efficiently if they're dirty, have small holes, or if they pass through unfinished portions of the home and aren't insulated. Look for obvious holes and whether intersections of duct pipe are joined correctly. Since ducts are typically made out of thin metal that easily conducts heat, uninsulated or poorly insulated ducts in unconditioned spaces can lose 10% to 30% of the energy used to heat and cool your home, says DOE.

When should a professional make repairs?

The DOE recommends calling a contractor before insulating ducts in basements or crawlspaces, as doing so will make these spaces cooler and could impact other home systems, such as water pipes. Plus, these ducts might release noxious air. DOE also recommends you hire professionals to clean ducts periodically. If you've noticed that some rooms get disproportionately hot or cold, bring that to a pro's attention. It could be duct related.

In addition, some DIY audits-like the City of Seattle's free online audit guide (http://www.seattle.gov/light/printdocs/DoItYourselfHome.pdf), suggest hiring a pro if you suspect asbestos materials have been used in insulation or around pipes, ducts, or heating equipment. Airborne or crumbling asbestos particles are a health hazard. And a pro might be the right choice when dealing with insulation around or near electrical or examining electrical systems with bare wires.

A self-audit, like a paid audit, serves as a jumping-off point to help you set priorities (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/prioritize-tasks-after-an-energy-audit/) for making your home more efficient. Whether or not you choose to make repairs yourself, one thing's for sure: You'll come away knowing more about your home's strengths and weaknesses than you did before.

Jane Hodges has written about real estate for more than half of her 16-year journalism career, for publications including MSNBC.com, Seattle Magazine, The Seattle Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2007 she won a Bivins Fellowship from the National Association of Real Estate Editors to pursue a book on women and real estate. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, CBS's BNET, and Fortune. She lives in Seattle in a 1966 raised rancher with an excellent retro granite fireplace. Latest home project: remodeling a basement bathroom.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210
 
Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Article from HouseLogic.com

Will Rewarding Borrowers Prevent Defaults?

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Will Rewarding Borrowers Prevent Defaults?

Will paying underwater borrowers to keep meeting their mortgage obligations prevent them from walking away?

Loan Value Group LLC says it is working with a major mortgage lender to test this theory.

Here’s the plan: The mortgage investor offers a cash reward to borrowers to keep paying. The amount varies by borrower based on income, negative equity, geography, and other risk factors. The more likely a borrower will default, the bigger the carrot.

The borrower can’t collect the payment until the mortgage is paid, although the rewards can be used to help pay off the mortgage if the property is sold.

The plan keeps lenders from having to mark properties to market and take big losses. Frank Pallotta, a founder of Loan Value Group and former executive at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, says the program will pay for itself if only a few borrowers stay put and keep paying.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: The Wall Street Journal, Nick Timiaros (02/08/2010)
 

4 Reasons to Sell Now

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

4 Reasons to Sell Now

Selling a property in this tough market can seem like a challenge. Here are four factors that actually make this a good time to post a For-Sale sign.

1. Sell low and buy low. Because all property values are down, the loss on the property a home owner sells is really only a paper loss because the next property he buys also will be a bargain. If he buys smartly, when prices come back up in a few years, he’ll be in better shape.

2. Down-payment help is widely available. While nothing-down loans have disappeared, it is easy to find down-payment assistance for lower-income and first-time home buyers. Programs vary all over the country, but one good way to find them is to search online for “down-payment assistance programs” and the name of your region.

3. Your uncle has money to share. Besides the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 move-up credit, there are an array of energy tax credits that can make home improvements pay off in cash.

4. Good help is available. Really talented real estate practitioners, contractors, and designers are available and eager for business.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: McClatchy Tribune, Kate Forgach (02/07/2010)
 

15 Top Retirement Cities

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

15 Top Retirement Cities

Our state of South Carolina is nice enough to have to of the top 15 retirement cities for Baby Boomers; they are Greenville at #5 and Charleston at #13.  Boomers are willing to move farther than previous generations when they retire, and they are choosing places unlike stereotypical retirement hotspots, says Tom Brokaw in his report on Boomer retirement, airing on CNBC, Thursday, March 4 at 9 p.m. ET.

The top places listed by AARP and explored on the show are:

1. Loveland/Fort Collins, Colo.
2. Las Cruces, N.M
3. Rehoboth Beach, Del.
4. Portland, Ore.
5. Greenville, S.C.
6. Sarasota, Fla.
7. Ann Arbor, Mich.
8. Tucson, Ariz.
9. Montpelier, Vt.
10. Honolulu
11. Santa Fe, N.M
12. Atlanta
13. Charleston, S.C
14. Northampton, Mass.
15. San Diego, Calif.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: CNBC, Paul Toscano (02/05/2010)

Green Cleaning Products for the Kitchen

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Green Cleaning Products for the Kitchen

 
Going green in the kitchen doesn't mean going broke as long as you choose the right eco-friendly cleaners for your countertops and appliances.
 
From meat juices to milk spills, the kitchen can be a messy place. But don't reach for caustic cleaners or synthetic air sprays to give your countertops and appliances a fresher feeling. Many environmentally sustainable products are just as effective at sanitizing your kitchen as conventional cleaners, and they get the job done without relying on harmful chemicals.

Not too long ago you had to scour the backroads of the Internet to find non-toxic alternatives, but no more: Many green cleaners are now available at mainstream retailers. Looks for brands such as Method, Seventh Generation, and Holy Cow. What's more, some of the greenest of green kitchen cleaners can probably already be found in your pantry-and cost a fraction of what you'd pay for commercial cleaners, whether conventional or eco-friendly.

Countertops

Toss out those anti-microbial wipes and sprays when you're cleaning your countertops. Most contain chemicals like sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or ammonium chlorides, which are listed as hazardous to the health of humans and pets by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, says Gary Pien, an allergist and immunologist with Summit Medical Group in Berkeley Heights, N.J. "These chemicals can cause eye and skin irritation on contact, and if mixed with other cleaning products, can release toxic gases," Pien says.

Combine equal parts vinegar and tap water to make your own non-toxic mix. Warm it in a glass bowl in the microwave to boost cleaning power. A 64-ounce bottle of food-grade vinegar costs about $4, so it'll set you back a buck to stir up a 32-ounce batch of homemade countertop cleaner. You won't have to dip too far into your pocketbook to buy a greener all-purpose cleaner. A 32-ounce bottle of Seventh Generation's kitchen cleaner (http://www.theconsumerlink.com/SeventhGeneration/detail/TCL+100333/13) costs about $5, while the same size conventional cleaner costs about $4.50.

Refrigerators

If you have a stainless steel fridge, add a few drops of a natural dishwashing liquid such as Mrs. Meyer's (http://www.drugstore.com/products/prod.asp?pid=84968&catid=13769) ($4.49 for 16 ounces) or Method (http://www.methodhome.com/product.aspx?page=555) ($4 for 25 ounces) to warm water to wipe off greasy fingerprints instead of shelling out the $7-$10 a store-bought stainless cleaner will cost. And when you're wiping, remember stainless steel has a grain, just like wood, and you need to clean in the same direction it runs, says Mary Findley, author of"The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Cleaning." (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Idiots-Guide-Green-Cleaning/dp/159257856X)

On the inside, use the tried-and-true remedy for foul fridge smells: a box of baking soda. It costs about $1. Save even more by buying baking soda in bulk: a 12-pound bag costs about $7. For sticky spills, a vinegar and water mix should clean it right up, Findley says.

Sinks & drains

Liquid dishwashing soaps with bio-based ingredients like aloe and essential oils are a good bet here as well. You'll pay a bit more than the $2-$3 the cheapest conventional soaps will cost, but when you consider this is what's going onto the surfaces you eat off of, the potential health value outweighs the extra dollar or two. If nothing else at least skip synthetically scented cleaners, which can irritate the skin and respiratory tract, says Martin Wolf, director of research and development for Seventh Generation.

If your sink stinks, try cleaning your drain with a paste made of vinegar and baking soda. Give it time to work overnight. Drain cleaners are some of the nastiest chemicals around, and at $7 for a 32-ounce bottle, they're not cheap. Enzyme-based cleaners like Nature's Miracle (http://www.naturemakesitwork.com/home/index.php) are another option: Findley says they'll eat away at odor-causing bacteria and any bits of food clogging the drain or disposal. Nature's Miracle costs more at $12 for a 32-ounce bottle, but it has multiple uses beyond the kitchen. If neither approach works, sprinkle some baking soda on a halved lemon or orange and scrub out your sink basin, then toss the citrus in the disposal for a fresh scent.

Dishwashers

Many dishwasher detergents contain chemicals called phosphates that suck oxygen out of waterways, killing aquatic fish and plant life. Bio- and natural enzyme-based dishwasher detergents like Ecover get the job done without affecting water systems, and are comparable in cost: 25 Ecover tablets cost about $7, while 20 tablets of conventional cleaner cost about $6.50.

Stovetops & ovens

Baked-on stove stains can be a real pain. "Grease-cutting" cleaners may make your stove shine, but they have decidedly less attractive health effects. Most contain glycol ethers, which Wolf says have been implicated in health problems ranging from reproductive damage to eye and respiratory-tract irritation. Instead, start by cleaning your stovetop after every meal before food bits and sauces are baked on. If you don't, you may have to combine some elbow grease with a homemade mix of vinegar and baking soda. Prefer a green grease fighter in a bottle? Go for Holy Cow (http://holycowstore.elsstore.com/view/product/?id=12909&cid=47). It's comparable to conventional cleaners at about $3 for 32 ounces.

A baking soda-vinegar paste should do the job in the oven, as well. If you can, find a natural orange-based cleaner that contains no petroleum distillates like Earth Friendly Products Orange Plus (http://www.ecos.com/orange.html) ($6 for 32 ounces). According to Findley, mixing that with baking soda can give your green oven cleaner extra oomph. Just spread the baking soda mixture in the oven, and let it sit overnight. Re-wet it in the morning. A few hours later wipe it out. It beats shelling out the $6.50 for a fume-filled chemical cleaner.

Microwaves

To scrub stubborn microwave stains, just grab a super-absorbent sponge, wet it, and heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds. The steam from the sponge will soften the food bits, and the hot water inside it will make it easier to wipe off and disinfect your microwave's interior, all for the cost of a single sponge.

Alyson McNutt English has written about the joy of green cleaning for publications like Pregnancy, Conceive, and BobVila.com. She buys her baking soda and vinegar in bulk and uses them liberally for everything from disinfecting laundry to soaking up her kids' food stains.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.
 
To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Article from HouseLogic.com
 

10 Home Features Buyers Want

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

10 Home Features Buyers Want

Home designers and builders speaking at the recent International Builders Show in Las Vegas say that buyers are seeking cost-effective features and rejecting things that don’t have lasting value.

“It's all about family togetherness – casual living, entertaining and flexible spaces," says Carol Lavender, president of the Lavender Design Group in San Antonio.

Paul Cardis, CEO of Avid Ratings, which conducts an annual survey of buyer preferences, identified these must-haves in new homes:

1. Large kitchens with islands
2. Energy efficiency features including energy-efficient appliances, super insulation, and high-efficiency windows.
3. Home offices
4. Main-floor master suite
5. Outdoor living space
6. Ceiling fans
7. Soaking tub in the master suite and/or an oversize shower with a seating area
8. Stone and brick exteriors rather than stucco or vinyl
9. Community walking paths and playgrounds
10. Two-car garages, but three-car garages are even more desirable

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: MarketWatch, Steve Kerch (01/30/2010)
 

Lifeline Needed for Underwater Home Owners

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

Lifeline Needed for Underwater Home Owners

An estimated 4.5 million home owners owe 75 percent more than their homes are worth. That number is likely to peak at 5.1 million in June, affecting 10 percent of home owners and making them increasingly likely to just walk away.

''We're now at the point of maximum vulnerability,'' says Sam Khater, a senior economist with First American CoreLogic, the firm that conducted the recent research. ''People's emotional attachment to their property is melting into the air.''

Consultants at Oliver Wyman calculated that 17 percent of owners defaulting in 2008 –about 588,000– chose to default even though they could pay.

First American estimates that it would cost about $745 billion – about the same as the original 2008 bank bailout – to restore all underwater borrowers to the break-even point.

Doing so would be seen as highly unfair by many taxpayers, says Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions, but doing nothing would be another blow to a fragile economy.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: The New York Times, David Streitfeld (02/022010)

FHA Relaxes Anti-Flipping Rule

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

FHA Relaxes Anti-Flipping Rule

Beginning Feb. 1, the Federal Housing Administration will provide mortgage insurance for some purchases in which the seller bought the property and held it for fewer than 90 days.

The agency is changing what is known as the “anti-flipping rule” to speed up sales of renovated homes in communities with too many bank-owned and foreclosed homes, says FHA Commissioner David H. Stevens.

Waiving the 90-day rule will encourage private investors to buy vacant properties, fix them up, and quickly sell them to buyers who will be eligible to buy them using FHA financing.

FHA's change "is going to be absolutely terrific" for first-time home buyers hoping to take advantage of the tax credit, says Bobby Taylor, an associate with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate in Salem, Ore.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Source: Washington Post (01/30/2010)
 

2010 Southeastern Wildlife Exposition

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home. The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country. It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique. I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

2010 Southeastern wildlife Exposition

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, South Carolina is the largest wildlife art and nature event in the U.S. Over 35,000 people come to Charleston to enjoy a wonderful weekend of wildlife activities. There will be over 120 wildlife artists, birds of prey demonstrations, dog competitions, special guest Jack Hanna, and many outdoor outfitters and guides. See the calendar of events to find something that interests you.
2010 Southeastern wildlife Exposition Calendar of Events
 
Wednesday, February 10
 
5:30 PM: Opening Reception The Mills House Hotel
7:30 PM: Game Dinner at Halls Chophouse Halls Chophouse
 
Thursday, February 11
 
1 PM: Preview Afternoon Charleston Place
7 PM: Preview Gala and Auction Charleston Place
 
Friday, February 12
 
9:30 AM: Dock Dogs Brittlebank Park
10 AM: ALL EXHIBITS OPEN Multiple Locations
11 AM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
11 AM: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Show Gaillard Auditorium
11:30 AM: Birds of Prey Flight Demo Marion Square Park
12 PM: Fly Fishing Demonstration Brittlebank Park
3 PM: Jack Hanna Presentation Gaillard Auditorium
3 PM: Quick Draw / Speed Sculpt Charleston Place
3:30 PM: Birds of Prey Flight Demo Marion Square Park
3:30 PM: Cast Net Demonstration Brittlebank Park
4 PM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
5 PM: SEWE King Street Stroll King Street
6 PM: Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast Charleston Visitor Center
 
Saturday, February 13
 
9 AM: Early Bird Viewing Hour Charleston Place
9 AM: Brunch with Center for Birds of Prey Francis Marion Hotel
9:30 AM: Dock Dogs Brittlebank Park
10 AM: ALL EXHIBITS OPEN Multiple Locations
11 AM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
11:30 AM: Birds of Prey Flight Demo Marion Square Park
11:30 AM: Registration for Casting Rodeo Brittlebank Park
12 PM: Casting Rodeo Brittlebank Park
1 PM: Jack Hanna Presentation Gaillard Auditorium
1 PM: Celebrity Story Reading Charleston County Library
3 PM: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Show Gaillard Auditorium
3 PM: Fly Fishing Demonstration Brittlebank Park
3:30 PM: Birds of Prey Flight Demo Marion Square Park
4 PM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
7 PM: SEWE Soiree Charleston Visitor Center
 
Sunday, February 14
 
9:30 AM: Dock Dogs Brittlebank Park
10 AM: ALL EXHIBITS OPEN Multiple Locations
11:30 AM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
12 PM: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Show Gaillard Auditorium
12 PM: Ceasar Guerini Gun Raffle Charleston Place
12:30 PM: Cast Net Demonstration Brittlebank Park
1 PM: Birds of Prey Flight Demo Marion Square Park
2 PM: Fly Fishing Demonstration Brittlebank Park
3 PM: Retriever Demonstration Brittlebank Park
3 PM: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary Show Gaillard Auditorium
 
As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.
 
To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 
 
View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 
 
Sincerely,
"CarolinaJoe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

How to Negotiate a Contract on Your Home

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

How to Negotiate a Contract on Your Home

When an offer is presented on your home, you will have three basic choices in deciding how to respond:

1. Accept the offer.

2. Reject the offer.

3. Make a counter offer.  Together with your REALTOR thoroughly analyze the offer, and discuss its strengths and weaknesses.  Ask your REALTOR for his recommendations and then YOU decide how you want to respond.

This is where a competent REALTOR can be worth their weight in gold, because having the right wording or contingency clause in the contract can mean the difference between a smooth transaction and a messy court battle.

Your REALTOR is intricately familiar with real estate contracts, and knows how to protect your best interests. A REALTORS’ experience in contracts and negotiation will benefit you!

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

8 Drawbacks of Overpricing Your Home

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

8 Drawbacks of Overpricing Your Home

Here are the consequences of overpricing you home:

1.  REDUCES ACTIVITY: Agents won’t show the property if they feel it is priced too high.

2.  LOWER ADVERTISING RESPONSE: Buyer excitement will be with other properties that offer better value.

3.  LOSS OF INTERESTED BUYERS: The property will seem inferior in amenities to other properties in the same price range that are correctly priced.

4.  ATTRACTS THE WRONG PROSPECTS: Serious buyers will feel that they should be getting more for their money.

5.  HELPS THE COMPETITION: The high price makes the others look like a good deal.

6.  ELIMINATES OFFERS: Since a fair priced offer will be lower than asking price and may insult the seller, many buyers will just move on to another property.

7.  CAUSES APPRAISAL PROBLEMS: Appraisers must base their value on what comparable properties have sold for.

8.  LOWER NET PROCEEDS: Most of the time an overpriced property will eventually end up selling for less than if it had been properly priced to begin with, not to mention the extra carrying costs.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

 

7 Benefits of Proper Pricing

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:

7 Benefits of Proper Pricing


Here is why it is critical to price you home correctly:

1.  FASTER SALE:  The proper price gets a faster sale, which means you save on mortgage payments, real estate taxes, insurance, and other carrying costs.

2.  LESS INCONVENIENCE: As you may know, it takes a lot of time and energy to prepare your home for showings, keep the property clean, make arrangements for children and pets, and generally alter your lifestyle. Proper pricing shortens market time.

3.  INCREASED SALESPERSON RESPONSE: When salespeople are excited about a property and its price, they make special efforts to contact all their potential buyers and show the property whenever possible.

4.  EXPOSURE TO MORE PROSPECTS: Pricing at market value will open your home up to more people who can afford it.

5.  BETTER RESPONSE FROM ADVERTISING: Buyer inquiry calls are more readily converted into showing appointments when the price is not a deterrent.

6.  HIGHER OFFERS: When a property is priced right, buyers are much less likely to make a low offer, for fear of losing out on a great value.

7.  MORE MONEY TO SELLERS: When a property is priced right, the excitement of the market produces a higher sales price in less time. You NET more due to the higher sales price and lower carrying costs.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

How to Price Your Home

The Charleston, South Carolina area is a great place to live or have a vacation home.  The weather is great, the beaches are fantastic, golf courses are abundant, there are many historical sites, the architecture is unbelievable, the dining is unbeatable, and the people are the friendliest in the country.  It is because of these reasons that I believe Charleston SC Real Estate is truly unique.  I look forward to helping you with any of your real estate needs in Charleston, Berkeley, or Dorchester counties. Today’s article is titled:
 

How to Price Your Home

1.  What you paid for your property does not affect its value.

2.  The amount of money you need to get out of the sale of your property does not affect its value.

3.  What you think it should be worth has no effect on value.

4.  What another real estate agent says your property is worth does not affect its value.

5.  An appraisal does not always indicate what your property is worth on the open market.

The value of your property is determined by what a ready willing and able buyer will pay for it in the open market, which will be based upon the value of other recent closed sales. BUYERS DETERMINE VALUE!!

The next best way to determine the value of your home is to request a market analysis from a Realtor you know or that is referred to you by a friend.  If you do not know any Realtors I suggest interviewing two or more by requesting a market analysis of your and discussing how they will market your home.  Select the agent who you most feel comfortable with and answers all your concerns the best.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

To look for homes anywhere in the tri-county area go to my website at http://www.carolinajoe.com/mls/ 

View my entire inventory of VisualTours at http://www.visualtour.com/inventory.asp?U=182210 

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com