How to Prepare for a Hurricane in the Lowcountry

Hurricane preparedness and what you need to know…

Hurricane Florence
Photo by NOAA

Hurricane season in the south is defined as June 1st – November 30th but most storms typically occur in September and October. Right now Charleston is keeping on eye on Hurricane Florence which is expected to make landfall sometime later this week.

One of the largest concerns my clients have is flooding and subsequently hurricane season and how to prepare. For people from Charleston–hurricane preparedness becomes almost second nature but if you are new to the area–it can be easy to panic once a storm is named and headed to the coast. The most important thing you can do is remain calm, don’t overreact or underreact and keep an eye on the news.

Here are some time for how to prepare for a hurricane:

1. Devise an evacuation plan:

If the governor declares a mandatory evacuation–you will want to decide where and how you will get out of town. It’s best to not wait until the last minute so you don’t get stuck in traffic. You will want to travel as far inland as possible since hurricanes lose their strength once they hit land and if you have a relative or friend you can stay with–take them up on their offer and develop an exit strategy.

2. Shelters

If evacuating isn’t an option for you or you have pets and don’t have a place to stay (never leave your pets behind!) then there are schools in your local area that will be turned into shelters. There are plenty of animal friendly shelters so be sure to identfy which one would be a good fit for you now and head there sooner rather than later to avoid them filling up.

3. Preparing at Home

Whether you decide to stay or go– you should make sure you put sandbags around your home to help prevent flooding and water getting into your home. Town Hall and Fire Departments in your area normally provide these–10 bags per family–and they are free until they run out. These can be true lifesavers for keeping water out of your house so make sure to get some! It’s like salt on the roads during ice storms–simple but so valuable!

4. Board Up Windows

If you live in a historic house–you will want to board up your windows with plywood. Simply go to Lowes or Home Depot and get plywood cut for the windows you want to protect the most and nail them on the outside of your home. Some people used to tape “X”s on their windows but this really doesn’t do anything as far as protecting your windows and will leave a sticky mess.

5. Water and Food

If you decide to ride out the storm– make sure you have enough food and water for 3 days, batteries, flashlights, candles and a generator with gas in case the power goes out. Keep in mind though, if there is a mandatory evacuation and you decide to stay–emergency personal might not be able to rescue you so you are really taking a risk.

6. Track the Storm

NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) provides regular hurricane tracking updates and will let you know where the storm is heading. NOAA normally gives updates every 3 hours and recently launched a great tool that tells you the storm surge in your particular area..

Hurricane preparedness can be a daunting task but if you devise a plan and follow it through, if will make things easier. Above all else stay safe and remain calm!

Schools in Charleston, SC

Buist Academy

In this article we will explore some of the top public schools in Charleston to give you an idea of where to start looking when house hunting this fall.

House hunting in the Lowcountry can be tricky when looking for the perfect home AND the perfect school to send your little ones to. And there’s no question that having a home in a good school district is always a good investement that will provide steady ROI for years to come.

The top areas in Charleston for the best public schools are Mt. Pleasant and James Island. But there are a number of great school options throughout the Lowcountry. Below we’ve detailed a few schools to keep in mind while doing your research.

Top Public Schools in Charleston:

Buist Academy

Buist won the 2017 National Blue Ribbon School Profile and was voted #1 Elementary and Middle School in South Carolina by Schooldigger.com. Buist is located in downtown Charleston which makes it extremely desirable for those who live downtown but don’t want to pay private school prices. The school has a focus on advanced studies and is known for being “internationally-minded.” Thousands of families apply to the charter school every year but only a few get in–making it more and more competitive each year to get accepted.

Mount Pleasant Academy

Mount Pleasant Academy is another National Blue Ribbon School but is located in a suburb of Charleston, Mt. Pleasant. The school is nestled inside the Old Village neighborhood and has had a wonderful reputation for years. Mt. Pleasant has been a long time place for Charleston residents to raise families because of the proximity to downtown and the award winning school districts.

Stiles Point Elementary

Stiles Point is another award winning elementary school and is located only 10 minutes from downtown. James Island has long been a wonderful place to raise families and Stiles Point Elementary has recieved high marks over the past few years earning it recognition as a top school.

Wando High School

Wando High is currently the largest public high school in the state with over 3,000 students. Expanded in the 1990’s to accomdate the town’s rapid growth, Wando High School continues to expand as the town develops. According to Wando’s website it is one of the top performing schools in the state and offers over 250 courses including honor courses and courses for college credit.

Wherever you decide to send your child, it is most important that it’s a place you feel good about and is the right fit for your child. The increase in real estate value based on school district is always a bonus but obviously not the end game. Contact me today to learn more about the real estate market in Charleston and how I can help guide you to securing your next home!

Staging Tips to Help Sell Your Home Fast

Staging Your Home to Sell in the Fall Market

According to the National Association of Realtors, for every $100 spent on staging your home, you have the potentional to earn up to $400 back. That’s too big of a return to ignore–especially since a few simple tweaks could make a huge difference.

What is Staging Your Home?

There’s no question that the real estate market on Charleston is on fire but if you don’t have your house properly staged…the house could sit for longer than it should on the market. Staging your home means getting it in the best possible showing condition which could mean power washing, fresh paint, new furniture or finally removing those popcorn ceilings because who actually WANTS popcorn ceilings anymore? Staging can seem daunting, but with a few tweaks–you could have your home looking market ready in no time.

Here are five tips you can use to get your house ready for the fall market.

1.) De-clutter your home

I cannot stress this enough. I tell my clients to rent a POD (to be removed before listing of course) or a storage unit if they have to but whatevery they need to do, they should remove about 50% of their clutter. Closets should be half empty and garages should be as neat as possible. The more space that a buyer can see, the larger your home will look. And simple furnishings allow the buyer to imagine the space as their own.

2.) Remove Any Family Photos

It’s hard for a buyer to imagine themselves living in a home when they have a full visual of the family that currently is living there. Also, just for privacy reasons it’s always a good idea to remove the family photos from walls and surrounding areas.

3.) Paint the entire interior one color

Research shows painting the interior of your home the same light color throughout helps the home to feel large and flow smoothly. Greyish white with white trim throughout the home will help open it up tremendously and be less distracting than the hot pink 5 year old’s bedroom.

4.) Landscaping

Never underestimate the power of curb appeal and a first impression. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, simply keeping the lawn mowed (especially during the summer) and the hedges trimmed will go a long way. Buyers can pick up on the fact that if the outside has been negelected–what else has been ignored in the home?

5.) Remove all curtains–especially dark ones

Natural light is your best friend. You want your home to look at bright as possible and with dark curtains (no matter how nice they might look) all of that will be taken away. Also, if the buyer doesn’t like the style of drapes it can be distracting. Invest in nice blinds and always have them open during showings.

Ready to Sell

If all of this seems overwhelming, hiring a professional to come stage your home may be the route to go. I work with several stagers and would be happy to recommened a few to help you get your house ready to sell fast. Contact me to today for a free estimate of what your home is worth and how we can get it market ready together– email frank@askfrankrealestate.com or call 843.224.7997.

Top 5 Rooftop Bars in Charleston, SC

Now that summer is in full swing, it’s critical to patron the cooler parts of Charleston for happy hours and rooftop bars are the place to go. We’ve compiled a list of the top 5 rooftop bars in Charleston that will provide refreshing sea breezes and cocktails to get you through the dog days of summer.

Vendue Rooftop
19 Vendue Range St
Charleston, SC 29401

Vendue Rooftop Bar

Located on the corner of East Bay and Vendue Range Streets above The Vendue Hotel. This classic rooftop bar is in the heart of the historic district in Charleston and is a long time Charleston Favorite. With stunning views of the sun setting over the Ravenel Bridge and only 1 block from Waterfront Park–this rooftop bar is the perfect spot for a cool refreshment after a long day of sight-seeing!

The Watch at The Restoration Hotel
79 Wentworth Street
Charleston, SC 29401

The Watch Rooftop Bar

The Watch is a fairly new rooftop spot located on Wentworth Street above the trendy Restoration Hotel. Just off the very popular shopping district of King Street–this is a great spot to stop for a snack and cocktails between boutique visits. The sleek modern design offers a delicious menu with curated craft cocktails and menu favorites like the truffle fries.

Stars
495 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Stars Rooftop Bar

Stars is located in the Upper King Street district known for its vibrant restaurant scene and nightlife. Once upstairs, you will feel like you are on a rooftop of a friend’s apartment in NYC with intimate seating areas and close up views of neighboring rooftops. Stars is a great spot for an after-dinner cocktail and to soak in the social scene.

The Market Pavilion Hotel Rooftop
225 East Bay Street
Charleston, SC 29401

Market Pavilion Rooftop Bar

The rooftop bar at the Market Pavilion is located atop The Market Pavilion Hotel and is another Charleston classic with a pool and fountain, lights and breathtaking views of the Charleston Market, Customs Building and city skyline. This is great spot if you’re looking for an almost panorama view of the city since you can clearly see the harbor and the city.

Revelry Brewing Company
10 Conroy Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Revelry Brewing Co

If you’re looking for a more laid-back scene—Revelry Brewing Company located in the up and coming “No Mo” (short for North Morrison Avenue) district is a must. Offering unique views of the Charleston Peninsula and Ravenel Bridge with an extensive beer list, live music on the weekends and sushi menu offerings every night.

May Events in Charleston, SC

The 70 degrees and sunny days that Charleston is known for are finally here! Right now the weather is absolutley perfect in Charleston with zero to little humidty so it’s prime time to get outside and enjoy the Lowcountry. We’ve rounded up some events for you to check out over the next few weeks.

Wine Wednesdays at Middleton Place. Every Wednesday now through May 30th, Middleton Plantation is offering a private garden stroll and wine tasting. Each week a different garden will be showcased. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

Party at the Point

Every Friday in May. Party at the Point is a great way to unwind in the Lowcountry after a long week! A younger crowd, but still fun, go and enjoy food trucks, live music and breathtaking sunset views over the Cooper River.

May 10th & May 24th Hops and Vines at McCloud
Plantation. Recently opened to the public, McCloud Plantation is located only 5 minutes from downtown and features a beautifully restored plantation house and grounds. Tickets to the event are only $15/person and that includes 2 drink tickets; enjoy food trucks and live music in a historic plantation setting. 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Shaggin on the Cooper River
May 12th Shaggin on the Cooper River Mt. Pleasant Pier Shagging is a Lowcountry tradition and what better way to do it than under the stars on the Mount Pleasant Pier! With the Ravenel Bridge as the backdrop, it makes for a perfect date night.

May 13th Second Sunday on King is a great chance to enjoy the restaurants and shops on Lower King. The city closes King Street to cars from Calhoun Street to Broad Street and allows pedestrians to leisurely stroll.

May 17th Joseph Manigualt House Tour- A wonderful way to experience Charleston architecutre and history up close is to tour the Joseph Manigault House — don’t miss this limited evening tour that is sure to be enchanting!

May 20th- Lowcountry Boil on Morris Island- Another great Lowcountry tradition is the “Lowcountry Boil” which corn, shrimp (local of course) and red skinned potatoes all boiled in water with Old Bay seasoning. Then, once fully cooked, the spread is dumped on a long table and people crowd around and peel and eat their way through dinner!

The Atlantic Cup

May 22-26th The Atlantic Cup As an avid fisherman myself, this event is not one to be missed!

May 25th – June 10th- The Spoleto Festival with ties to Spoleto, Italy, is a world class arts and music festival with more than 180 events taking place at different venues throughout the Charleston area! The grand opening day at City Hall on Broad Street with the Mayor speaking and confetti swirling about, is a wonderful sight to see.

For more Charleston events, visit The Charleston Visitor’s Bureau website.

Edisto Island: A Local’s Best Kept Secret

Noah Park

Edisto Island is a secluded beachfront community located about 45 minutes south of Charleston, South Carolina.

For centuries, Charlestonians have been escaping to Edisto in the summer months to escape the city and soak up the sun on the pristine beaches of Edisto Island. Many locals have second homes on the island and consider it a true retreat for the fact that it hasn’t pushed for major development. There aren’t any motels or hotels, gift shops or beachwear stores lining the island as you enter. Avoiding development hasn’t been easy but it’s what keeps Edisto the charming, close-knit beach community that it is.

Edisto Island offers a variety of things to do whether you choose it as a summer destination or for a day trip.

Where to Eat

Whaley’s Restaurant
2801 Myrtle Street
Edisto Beach, SC 29438
A self proclaimed dive seafood restaurant. Locally owned and operated. Go for the fried seafood and sushi nachos.

McConkey’s Jungle Shack
108 Jungle Road
Edisto Island, SC 29438
Tropical themed cafe with outdoor seating and casual fare including burgers and hot dogs. Open from 11am-8pm most days. Is a popular spot for brunch on the patio.

Pressley’s at the Marina
3702 Docksite Road
Edisto Island, SC 29438
Classic seafood fare with water views makes the perfect spot for happy hour and sunset watching.

What To Do

Bike Riding
A paved 5 mile bike path trails the island. The flat terrain makes it easy to bike and a perfect afternoon activity.

Golf
The Plantation Course
19 Fairway Drive
Edisto Beach, SC 29438
The Plantation Course at Edisto offers views of the ocean and lake. Private and quiet spot surrounded by nature and wildlife.

Beach
37 public access points to the beach make Edisto very easy to visit. you can find parking alongside the streets at no charge.

Where To Live

Dreaming of island life yet? Check out my listing on Edisto Island and see if this little beach community if the right fit for you! Contact Frank Thornhill at frank@askfrankrealestate.com or 843.224.7996 for any questions or to schedule a showing.

How To Live in Your House – and Maintain Your Sanity – While Showing It

House Picture

There are a few key things that you can do to keep your house ready for showings so that it sells faster while ensuring it’s still comfortable to live in at the same time. “The real balance is having what you need while making sure your home actually looks ready for a new owner,” says real estate news source Redfin. “Once you figure that out, it’s a sure bet you will get your home sold without sacrificing too much comfort.”

With some hard-won tips from my years helping clients and some expert-approved tips from Realtor.com, here’s a guide for how to live in your house (and maintain your sanity) when you can’t really live in your house.

1. Declutter by at least 50%

Look at this a good time to get rid of things you don’t use; plus, you’ll have less stuff to move once your home sells!  Whitney Parrott, lead designer at Everything Creative Designs, suggests this 50% decluttering rule for her clients who choose to stay (at least part of the time) in a staged or listed home. You want your place to look inviting, but not necessarily lived-in. “Take you out of the home,” she says. “Remove your emotional attachment and look at the home as a product you’re selling, which I realize is easier said than done.”

2. Rent storage space.

Even if you aren’t going to have your home professionally staged, you’ll likely need a storage unit for your excess belongings. Get a slightly larger unit than you think you’ll need (we all have more stuff than we think). Plus, it’s a good idea to save yourself the headache and hire professionals to maximize your storage space with their expert packing hacks.

3. Create a cleaning schedule and stick to it.

If you can afford it, invest in a weekly cleaning service. Before each showing, vacuum the floors, dust all furniture, and wipe down all kitchen and bath surfaces.

4. In the kitchen…

Keep countertops clear. Stash paper towels, sponges, and dish soap under the sink when they’re not in use. Make a habit of placing dirty dishes immediately in the dishwasher, and keep most appliances off the countertops. Buyers will open cabinets. Be sure your glasses, plates, pots, and pans are well organized and stacked neatly.

5. In the bathroom …

Use totes or bins to keep daily bathroom items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap out of sight.

6. Mail.

Immediately sort mail when it arrives at your house, and dispose of anything that isn’t vitally necessary. Have a designated (and hidden) place to put magazines, newpapers and bills that need to be paid.

7. Block showings.

Ask your agent to schedule showings in large blocks of time a few afternoons a week to ensure you can get everyone out of the house.

8. Don’t forget the pets.

If you have work outside of the house and have pets, consider boarding the pets on weekdays when showings might occur.

For sure, living in a staged home is not quite easy, especially if you’re juggling children, pets, careers, and more. But it’s most definitely worth the time and investment. The key is to get organized and stay vigilant about keeping it in that way all the time so that it’s ready for showings.

Ready to lighten your load? What it takes to hold a wildly successful yard sale

Yard Sale HelpThere are many good reasons to have a yard sale: you’re getting ready to put your house on the market or move into a new home and you want to clear out the clutter. Maybe “getting organized” was at the top of your New Years Resolutions list. Or perhaps you’re afraid that if you don’t tackle that spare room soon, you’ll wind up on an episode of “Hoarders.”

 

No matter what your motivation, a yard sale, when done right, can help you lighten your load and fatten your wallet. With some insights from Wholefully (who made $1549 in a two day yard sale) and HGTV, here’s some “best of” advice to help you hold an effective yard sale

1. Gather and price your goodies

Simply getting started can be the most intimidating part of the process. Make it easier by taking it room-by-room: sort things into three piles—donate, sell, and keep. When you’re finished with a room, put those three piles into three separate marked boxes. One more thing before you’re done: before you place items in your “sell” box, put prices on them now.

2.  Why you should price things.

It might seem easier to not price things and just let people come up and ask about prices, right? Ask most yard sale regulars and they’ll tell you that if they don’t see prices on items at a sale, they’ll turn around and leave. Here’s why: the thought of asking a price or haggling for every single item is just too much work. So price things. You’ll be more successful and make things easier for your customers, too.

3. What you should price things.

Use whole numbers. Most people don’t carry around a lot of change, so keep items priced in single dollar increments ($1 instead of $1.50).

4. Location, location, location

As a realtor, this is concept I am quite familiar with. As with a home, a yard sale’s location is absolutely everything. But what if you are located in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of foot traffic? Does a family member or friend live near a major road? See if you can “borrow” their yard for your sale and offer a percentage of your profits in return. Even better, combine your efforts and host a two (or even three) family yard sale!

5. Get the word out wisely

Yes, some people will learn about your yard sale on Craigslist (and I do recommend advertising your info on the site), but most people will find out about your sale the old fashioned way: by driving by one of your signs. I believe that signs will be your best marketing tool; but not just any sign will do. You can’t just jot down the details on a piece of paper and staple it to a telephone pole in your neighborhood the morning of your sale. Make sure your signs are simple and easy to read (usually the words “Yard Sale” with an arrow, address, days and times are enough) and can be found on every corner in your neighborhood a week before your sale.

6. Split your sale into two shorter days.

Sell everything half-off the second day – and make sure to advertise your second day sale! You’ll probably end up selling more items and making more money by the time the weekend is over.

Yard Sale Display

I wish you the best in your yard sale. If you have any tips or advice that has worked for you in the past, or if you’ve seen an unbelievably creative idea at a yard sale, please share. I would love to hear your thoughts!

What To Eat For Luck in 2018: a Southern New Years

We humans can be a suspicious bunch – and we’ve got all kinds of traditions to help bring in good luck and ward off the bad. Throughout the ages and in every culture, there are customs and superstitions around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. In the South, those customs usually revolve around something everyone loves dearly: food. If you’re a native Southerner, these customs likely sound familiar. If you’re a transplant, consider this your Southern food primer of what to eat for good luck in 2018.

Black-Eyed Peas

One theory says this tradition began during the Civil War when General Sherman and his troops raided the Confederate food supplies but left the black-eyed peas and salted pork, thinking both were animal foods.  Since it was the only food they had left to eat, Confederate soldiers considered the two items lucky. Others believe that African Americans ate the legume on January 1, 1863, the day the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. A related tradition holds that counting the number of peas predicts the number of lucky days one will have in the coming year (one pea = one day), so perhaps the optimum serving on New Year’s Day is 365 black-eyed peas?

Collard Greens

“Today, anyone with any Southern blood in them at all eats their black-eyed peas on the first day of the new year with some type of greens, as the color signifies money, and a little more of that never hurts,” says George Mahe, editor of St. Louis magazine. While tradition holds that collard greens are said to bring in the cash for the New Year, there’s a more practical reason Southerners eat greens this time of year: they’re a late crop, so they’re still in season.

Cornbread

Yellow is the color of gold, and golden yellow cornbread is said to represent golden opportunities and wealth in the New Year.

Pork

In the South, pigs are considered symbols of good luck and progress for two reasons: they root forward when foraging for their food and because they cannot look backward without completely turning around.

Ready to combine all these Southern customs into a New Year’s feast and exponentially increase your luck in 2018? Here are some recipes to get your started:

http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/new-years-recipes-traditions#good-luck-greens-and-peas-with-ham_2

http://www.deepsouthdish.com/2008/12/new-year-traditional-southern-foods.html#axzz502e80mJT

Finding Your Perfect Christmas Tree in Charleston

What is the one thing that most represents Christmas to you?

If you’re like many, the answer is a Christmas tree. Now, whether that tree is put up the day after Thanksgiving or the night before Christmas, whether it’s grand and glowing with decorations or small and simply adorned, that all varies. But the tree itself, that’s something a lot of us have in common. The finding and decorating of the family Christmas tree may be one of our most ubiquitous holiday traditions.

As you head out to find that perfect tree your family, here’s a roundup of the different types of Christmas trees grown here in South Carolina. Like the homes that host them, each is different in its very own way, with its own strengths, weaknesses and even, in some cases, distinctive scent:

Virginia Pine
One of the most widely grown Christmas trees, the Virginia Pine has short needles, dense foliage and a pleasant pine scent. Its strong branches make it an excellent choice for hanging heavy ornaments.

White Pine
White Pine is a dense, full tree with has soft, blue green needles, a pleasant pine scent and decorates well with lightweight ornaments.

Leyland Cypress
One of the most popular Christmas trees, the Leyland Cypress drops very few needles and with proper care, will easily stay fresh through the entire Christmas season. In addition to being a beautiful tree with soft foliage, it is grown from cuttings and does not produce pollen; therefore enabling many asthma suffers to enjoy a real tree in their home.

Carolina Sapphire
One of the newer species developed for Christmas trees, the Carolina Sapphire has foliage that is blue green in color, soft to the touch and very dense with an outstanding aroma. Because of its tendency to dry out even in water stands, it is recommended not cutting this type of tree until three to four weeks before Christmas.

Eastern Red Cedar
If you grew up in the South, you probably had this type of tree in your home as a child. The traditional native Christmas tree of the South, the Eastern Red Cedar has a wonderful cedar aroma with dense (and sometimes prickly) foliage. Like the Carolina Sapphire, it can dry out even in water stands, so its best not to cut this tree until two to three weeks before Christmas.

In the Charleston area, most Christmas tree yards open shortly after Thanksgiving. And if you want to pick and cut your own tree, you can do that as well. The South Carolina Christmas Tree Association has an online directory of Christmas tree farms in Charleston and nearby counties.

No matter where or how you find your tree, here’s a bit of Christmas trivia to take with you. The first Christmas tree was decorated in Riga, Latvia in 1510. Men of the local merchants’ guild decorated a tree with artificial roses, danced around it in the marketplace and then… set fire to it. Thankfully, some things changed over time.