Time to Find That Perfect Home!

Town home, apartment, or house? It’s a question many first-time home buyers face first!

When looking for your next move, it’s hard to know what’s right for you, your family, and your pets! I find that clients often go back and forth on what type of housing will provide the best means for them, so I have outlined what I find to be the pros and cons to each. Now granted, we can always go walk through anything, but this guide can help narrow down what you’re looking for, so when we find that magical, perfect place to call home, we can hop on it!




  • Condos usually have the lowest maintenance because everything can *usually* be handled for you! Leaky roof? Don’t worry about that, the handyman is on his way!
  • They are also typically maintained by your HOA’s (Homeowners Association) so you don’t have to worry about purchasing that lawn mower or weed eater!
  • Also, if there is an HOA, you can count on your neighborhood always looking spiffy and cleaned up! 
  • They are also great options for older homeowners, those who travel, or overall just want lower maintenance in general. 
  • Overall, you own the inside walls of the condo. 


  • Condos usually have a pool, gym, dog park, and other amenities that are included in your purchase price. 
  • They also might have daily trash pick up, which is super handy. 


  • Many condos have security when you pull into the property. There is either a guard gate or key code to help stop intruders from possibly lurking through your development. 


  • Honestly, this is what it comes down to, right? For a lot of first time home buyers, a condo can be on the lower end of a budget. They are typically in great areas close to shops, restaurants, and more for a great price. 



  • Since there is such an appeal to keeping everything consistent and clean in the neighborhood, you can be restricted to what you can do to the exterior of your condo. 
  • External appearance such as painting or lawn care will be kept to a community standard.

HOA Fees 

  • Some can get a little pricey, but worth it if you’re fan of the convenience! 


  • You could potentially have neighbors all around you – above, below, and side-to-side. If you’re looking to have some space these might not be the right fit for you! 

Smaller Outdoor Space 

  • If you’re looking for a large yard, these are not for you. However, some may come with a small fenced-in yard or porch.




  • Townhomes will also have low maintenance because of the size of your structure and yard. 
  • There might also be an HOA fee, so your neighborhood will always look maintained.
  • Overall, you own the structure on the outside and the inside! 


  • Similar to a condo, townhomes may have the extra amenities included in the purchase price. 


  • Some townhomes have a guard gate or key code that will also add that extra step of security!   


  • Townhomes fall in the middle of the price point when looking to buy. Much like their size, they are a bit bigger than a condo but still smaller than a home. Therefore, right in the middle.  



  • Just like a condo, the vibe to keep everything consistent and clean in the neighborhood could potentially prevent you from having your own flair on the external appearance.


  • Townhomes are usually built attached to one another, so  you’re typically wall-to-wall with your neighbors. Therefore they provide a bit more privacy than in a condo, but possibly still not enough. 

Smaller Outdoor Space 

  • Again, if you’re looking for a yard, these might not be for you. However, some may come with a small fenced-in yard or porch.




  • When you purchase a home, you have the freedom to decorate, maintain, and do whatever you like to your home. (Unless you must adhere to an HOA – which I will get to later.) 


  • A single family house does not share walls with neighbors, meaning you will definitely have more privacy. 


  • Most houses also have a yard, which is a fantastic plus for pets and kids! 



  • While you do have the freedom, owning a home does mean you are responsible for all maintenance repairs, etc. Think HVAC, appliances, lawn care, etc. 


  • This could be a pro or a con, depending on how you view it. They can help keep your neighborhood looking great, or they can be an extra expense you are not willing to spend. 

Each type of property has it’s pros and cons, and if you have any questions I am happy to talk through them all with you! House hunting can be fun, and it’s good to be informed on what type of housing you are looking to purchase before diving into the market. I hope this has been helpful, and let’s set up some tours! 

A look ahead at 2020 (and a quick peek behind)

Is there anyone else that can’t believe it is the year 2020? I can’t believe how fast time flies! Despite some “expert” opinions the Charleston and national real estate market remained strong and grew in 2019. Unemployment is very low,the stock market is performing well, and interest rates declined significantly from 2018 helping to offset rising prices. All these factors and more improved the overall asset bases of millions of Americans. The end result for the Charleston market was an increase in the median sales price by 4.2% and closed sales were up a healthy 2.1% from 2018.

More importantly, let’s look ahead at 2020. All the ingredients are here for another great real estate year. Mortgage rates are forecast to remain very low and a healthy economy should continue to fuel a HEALTHY real estate market. As always, the key word being healthy and not irresponsible growth. Charleston continues to boom as more people call it home and companies continue to invest in the Charleston area.

Like most people my goals for 2020 are first to have a healthy happy family followed by continued growth of my profession. To me, real estate is more than a job. I truly enjoy getting to know new people and helping them find a new family home. Everything happens at home and it is not a decision to be made lightly. In just the past several weeks I have made two new friends that are starting new lives here in Charleston. Their situations are very different but their desire to find the perfect new home was the same. It’s humbling that people trust me to help guide them with such a big decision.

To all my past and future clients, thank you and here’s to a great 2020!

What Makes A Good Renovation?

I often talk with people that are struggling whether to move or renovate their current home. It can be a difficult decision but regardless of the short term term decision, everyone wants to make sound financial choices when doing a renovation. Statistically, most people end up selling their home at some point. So where is your money best spent?

Good bones are always important to both the livability and resale of a house. While not as fun as the latest trends it is far more important.

A quality roof is important for obvious reasons and an old patched roof or one that is stained and dirty hurt both the aesthetics and resale value. Working gutters and good drainage will also prevent a host of problems from rot and insects to foundation problems. These issues will ultimately cost you much more to correct whether it is for you or as a result of a home inspection.

A modern HVAC will reap huge returns with both your monthly electric bill and resale. Buyers have become much pickier about these units in recent years. What was the standard in HVAC just a few years ago is now considered obsolete. Modern units along with modern duct work will save the user a fortune in utility bills. Also, with the increased costs of older refrigerants it can now cost hundreds or thousands of dollars just to add gas to an older unit. Don’t forget to properly maintain that new unit to keep it in top working condition. Also, consider a tank less hot water heater especially if space is a premium. Tank less heaters are far more efficient than the older tank style.

Crawl space issues are by far the most common we see in inspection reports especially when the duct work is under a home. It’s simple science, cold HVAC air surrounded by hot humid Charleston weather. The result is high moisture which results in wood decay and the dreaded mold/fungi. New modern duct work will go along way towards correcting many of those problems, but also check all the plumbing fixtures for leaks. If needed, spend the money now on crawl space ventilation or encapsulation. The result is a cleaner more efficient home to live in and an inspection that won’t scare off a buyer and cost you much more in the long run.

Take care of the exterior of your home. A fresh coat of paint if needed not only beautifies your home, it also protects it from our extreme weather. Pay attention to any details and fix them now before they become major problems. Landscape your yard and keep it looking nice. Buyers will assume if the yard is a mess then so is the home.

Finally, don’t go overboard with the latest trends. You want a modern home but not one that will be outdated in a few short years. Remember, pink toilets, plywood paneling, vinyl floors, and popcorn ceiling used to be all the rage! Certain things are timeless so stick with more proven time tested decorating techniques. Use a more neutral theme that will appeal to most buyers and is easier to eventually update again. Going too bold will just cost more later. Keep it simple and classy!

Summer is just around the corner!!!!!

In just a few short weeks full blown summer will be upon us. School will be out and a more relaxed atmosphere takes hold of Charleston. It’s the time of year that a business man can be seen wearing shorts on Broad Street and people leave the office a little early on Friday! It’s why we live in this little slice of heaven known as the Low Country.

Yes summer brings the heat and humidity, but it also brings the boat and the beach which are two of my favorite things. There are plenty of other great activities this summer for the entire family. Let’s look at a few that are in the sand or on the water.

The Party at the Park is most Friday nights at the Charleston Harbor Resort and Marina in Mt. Pleasant. It’s a family friendly event with great music and atmosphere.

Just down the street every Tuesday in June is the WEZL Party In The Parks at the Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park. This is also a family friendly event with great music and fun for the entire family.

All the Charleston County water parks are a must do for families. There is Whirlin Waters in North Charleston, which I hear has a new water slide, Splash Zone on James Island, and Splash Island in Mt. Pleasant. All great family fun!

Of course this is just a small sampling of the great things to do this summer. All that is really important is that you get out there and enjoy this wonderful time of year. Before you know, fall will be upon us and that opens the door to a new list of great things to do in this wonderful area we call home. Have fun!

Some reasons why it’s a good time to sell and buy!

It may sound wrong but now is a good time to both sell your home and buy a new one and here’s why.

Inventory is still low which means that buyers have fewer homes to choose from. Yes, it’s not as low as it once was and seems to ticking up but historically it is still very low. Most of the experts seem to think that the market will transition at some point in the future to more of a buyers market.

Buyers are out there looking for quality homes to purchase. There is strong demand for quality fairly priced homes. Sellers are still able to command top dollar for the good homes but the market clearly shows that buyers are cautious and not willing to pay unfair expectorant prices. In most cases we are not seeing the feeding frenzy we once were, but the properly prepared and priced homes sell very quickly and the ones that are not tend to sit, which could present an opportunity for a deal for a buyer at some point.

If you have owned your home for some time or purchased during the economic crisis, you should stand to make a healthy profit on your home which in turn will allow you to purchase a new home with less out of pocket pain.

Finally, two biggest reasons you should both sell and buy now….

Interest rates –  they help buyers buy your home and help you purchase one. Interest rates have actually dropped and are still just above the historical low. The nation wide average is about 4.5% but people are finding rates in the mid and high 3% range. These low rates allow people tremendous buying power. Low rates allow everyone to buy more house for less money. The cost to borrow money is extremely cheap.

Your family – What are you waiting for. the house was great when you purchased it but now it is simply to small. Your family is cramped and sharing space and you are bursting at the seams. Life is too short to live this way. We live in Charleston because of the great lifestyle, your home should exemplify that life style and not be a source of stress.

Get out there and enjoy all the Low Country has to offer!

Why February is a great month in Charleston


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!