Why February is a great month in Charleston

SEWE

The annual Southeastern Wildlife Expo will be held February 15, 16, 17. This year marks the 37th anniversary of the the largest wildlife event of its kind in the United States. The event celebrates wildlife and nature through fine art, conservation education, sporting demonstrations, and food and fun. The three day event draws more than 40,000 people every year and offers something for everyone. Fine art ranges from very expensive original paintings, sculptures, and carvings to affordable art that everyone can enjoy. There are numerous exhibits throughout downtown Charleston featuring art work, lectures, wildlife demonstrations, and vendors selling everything from handmade knives and decoys to exotic trips. Brittlebank park is always a favorite featuring the dock dog demonstrations and numerous vendors. Tickets range from $25 for a single day ticket up to several thousand for VIP tickets (VIP tickets offer many perks and make a great long weekend even better). SEWE is a not to be missed event celebrated throughout South Carolina and the country. For more information visit www.sewe.com

In addition to SEWE the weather looks great for the month of February. If Punxsutawney Phil is correct we will have an early spring which is already the case here in Charleston. We have had an extremely mild winter and that trend looks to continue for February. Much of the month is forecast to be in the 60’s and 70’s. No polar vortex here! Please give us a call if we can help with any of your Charleston real estate needs.

Photos courtesy of SEWE

Charleston Real Estate Market Outlook for 2019

With a new year comes new goals and outlook for what the future holds. It’s no question that the real estate market in Charleston has been hot the last couple of years. People have seen home prices nearly double and grow at exponential rates. If you’re thinking about buying or selling in Charleston, we’ve outlined what to expect in this coming year for 2019.

Current Home Values in Charleston

According to the most recent Zillow Home Value Index, the median list price is $332,000 and the median home value is $319,700. In parts of Charleston however, like Mt. Pleasant, the median home average is as high as $447,300. You can read our blog post about schools in the Charleston area to learn how this plays a vital role in Mt. Pleasants high quality of living and in turn, higher home values. 

Interest rates have also climbed to as high as 5.0% in some cases but are still historically low. Some think that this will hold steady for the coming year given the recent performance of the stock market but only time will tell. Inventory in Charleston is still low—making it a seller’s market. Time will also tell if more inventory coming in 2019 combined with higher rates brings a slight ease to the sellers market with buyers gaining some traction.

Increasing Real Estate Values in Charleston 

According to the same Zillow report, Charleston is staying on par with the national real estate growth average at a rate of 7%. The city is experiencing steady economic growth with large manufacturing and tech companies establishing a home base. Some locals are worried about the rate of which hotels and apartment developments are popping up around the city and local officials are coming under more scrutiny and pressure to regulate stable growth. 

What’s next for the Charleston real estate market in 2019 

While Zillow is a great resource when you’re just getting started, it’s crucial to link up with a seasoned real estate professional who can provide insight into the market and guide you along the right path when buying or selling a home. If you’d like to know more about what lies in store for Charleston’s hot real estate market and receive a free home value estimate, please feel free to give me a call at 843.224.7997 or email me at frank@askfrankrealestate.com.

Top Reasons to Move to Charleston


Charleston has been voted the Top US City by Conde Nast Traveler for the past 8 years and it’s not hard to see why. With a bustling economy, clean beaches and a red-hot culinary scene—Charleston is a well-rounded and fun place to work, live, play and call home. Below we’ve outlined just a few reasons why buying real estate in Charleston is a good investment.

Increasing Home Values

Real estate in Charleston has fully recovered from the 2008 recession and has shown a steady rate of growth each year. In the past couple of months, experts speculate that with the rising interest rates—prices are starting to level out a little bit but there is nothing to indicate that home values won’t continue to increase at a healthy rate.

The current interest rate is 4.625% with an expected increase to around 5% in the spring. Historically spring is the busiest season in real estate for Charleston when weather is great and tourists flock to experience the city’s many attractions. Retirees are also discovering the extremely low property taxes in Charleston and are flocking to the south to enjoy a better quality of life and stretch their retirement savings further.

Growing Job Market

Due to low income and property taxes, manufacturers such as Volvo and Mercedes are flocking to the state of South Carolina. Both companies are currently building large facilities just outside of Charleston and the suburbs around those areas are already experiencing the positive economic impacts from it.

Boeing also offers quality employment opportunities and has done a nice job partnering with the community to recruit and train employees. Charleston has always been a port city, so with deep ties to trade and commerce, the community is happy to see other economic foundations established outside the tourism industry.

Close-Knit Communities

Jobs and home values are undeniably important factors when analyzing quality of life in Charleston but it’s the people that make the Holy City the special place that it is. Some say people come to Charleston for the food but stay for the people and it’s not hard to see why. Charleston is a place that exudes southern charm and hospitality with “yes m’am” and “y’all” still overhead on every corner. The clip clop of horse carriages and church bells fill the air on Sunday mornings as people hurry down the street in their Sunday best. People hold the door open for each other and get to know their neighbor. It’s a place where people move to raise their children and establish a name for themselves through hard work and relationship building. If mild winters, a slower pace of living coupled with a vibrant cultural scene sound like your style—then give me a call and I’d be happy to show you around our beautiful city.

-Frank Thornhill
Charleston native with over 25 years of experience in the Charleston real estate market

Fall Events in Charleston

Photo Credit: Charleston Visitor’s Bureau

Looking for things to do in Charleston this fall? We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to enjoy the cooler temps (and by cooler, we mean 80 degrees) in the Lowcountry!

1. Pumpkin Patch.

Nothing says fall like exploring the many pumpkin patches in Charleston! Two popular ones are Boone Hall Plantation and Legare Farms.

Boone Hall offers a corn maze, face painting station, hay ride (two versions for younger and older kids at night) and offers a huge pumpkin patch.

Legare Farms is a family owned and operated farm on John’s Island and offers a petting zoo, horse rides, hay rides and a large pumpkin patch with a wide array of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes.

2. Fright Night at Magnolia Plantation

If you’re looking for some family fun–Magnolia Plantation goes all out to put on a family night of fun. They have a hay ride geared towards the young children from 6-8pm and then someting for the older kids after 8pm. Costumes are encouraged and little goblins can get their fair share of candy, face painting, corn mazes and other games throughout the night. The event is from 6pm-10pm and is open the two weekends before Halloween.

3. Ghost Tour

Explore the Holy City by night and go on a guided tour through the cemeteries and cobblestoned streets of Charleston. Learn stories behind the historic houses that have long been talks of the town and see which brothels turned homes are the most haunted.

4. Fall Tour of Homes in Charleston, SC

The Preservation Society hosts their annual Fall Tour of Homes–going on now until October 28th. Get a sneak peek inside historic homes in downtown, Charleston and tour famous streets such as Tradd–one of the original streets of the city! There is also a garden tour and photography tour. Visit the Preservation Society’s website for more details.

5. Beaches in Charleston, SC

Now is the time when locals hit the beach! Temperatures drop to the perfect 80 degrees and residents take advantage of the less crowded beaches. Also, the humidity has disappeared and it makes for the perfect beach day! Sullivan’s Island and Kiawah Island are family favorite beaches, rich in history and wildlife.

Browse Charleston Real Estate Listings Here.

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.