Charleston sales and median prices continue to increase

It looks like summer is ending on a high note in the Charleston real estate market. August numbers revealed that in the Charleston area sales are up by 24% and the median price is up by 7.6%, compared to this time last year. In Charleston County alone there were 731 sales at a median price of $270,000 with homes spending about 77 days on the market, which is the lowest average recorded this year. James Island was the county’s most active area, and Mount Pleasant also had strong numbers where 250 homes sold at a median price of $381,125. Take a look at the latest market reports for each area below and see for yourself!

Historic Charleston (below Crosstown)

Downtown Charleston (above Crosstown)

Isle of Palms

Sullivan’s Island

Mount Pleasant (South of IOP Connector)

Mount Pleasant (North of IOP Connector)


NBC’s “TODAY” Filming in Charleston!

Hosts of the TODAY show, Kathie Lee and Hoda, filmed two episodes this morning on the College of Charleston’s campus at the Cistern. One was live that aired this morning, and the other was filmed for tomorrow’s show. During their stay they have pretty much covered all of the activities that anyone visiting the city must do. They also had some great how-to’s with window boxes and guest appearances from owners of local stores on King St. that discussed Charleston‘s southern attire.

The Cistern, where the filming took place, was crammed full of excited college students and locals. The Cistern is the focal point of the College of Charleston’s campus. Numerous events are held here, small and large, ranging from an Alumni event called A Charleston Affair to performances put on for students before finals to help them cool down. It consists of a large grassy oval adjacent to Randolph Hall and was constructed in 1857 to control flooding and provide water for fighting fires. Later, it was covered and planted with grass and is now part of the campus. Spring Commencement is held here, which I was lucky enough to be a part of and think is the most unique graduation around.


Kathie Lee and Hoda were brought into The Cistern by a horse-drawn carriage through Porter’s Lodge, which is very rare. Porters Lodge was the home to the College’s porter, or custodian. On its George St. façade, it bears the Greek inscription for “Know Thyself.” Today, the structure houses several faculty offices.



I thought that NBC filmed a great portrayal of Charleston. For the live show, the girls began by having some gentlemen from The Cocktail Club make them a Firefly Sweet Tea concoction, a vodka that was created in SC. Then, Graham Dailey, the chef at Peninsula Grill, brought out the restaurant’s famous coconut cake. This cake is raved about all over the country and is something that every visitor should try when they are here. The Battery and East Bay Street were featured while Kathie Lee and Hoda went on a carriage tour, where they asked the guide what Charleston is best known for, which she promptly told them was Hospitality. I can’t argue with that.

They also ventured outside of downtown and gave audiences a view of Drayton Hall, one of the plantation houses. The editor of Southern Living Magazine gave a great tutorial on window boxes. Many historic homes that are lucky enough to have a yard have limited space, so the window boxes are a colorful and easy way to have your own petite garden right in front of your home.

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The owner of Hampden Clothing on King St. was also featured and discussed all different types of common southern trends. In particular, very colorful Vineyard Vines bow ties, needlepoint belts, and jewelry from local store Copper Penny. She also mentioned a few popular local items such as Callie’s Biscuits and sweetgrass baskets as things you shouldn’t leave Charleston without.

It was fun seeing our beloved city and all of the amazing things it has to offer, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow’s episode will feature. Tune it at 10 AM Friday morning to see for yourself!

Buying 44% Cheaper than Renting; 53% Cheaper in Charleston

Trulia released a study yesterday showing that right now in today’s market, buying a home is 44% cheaper than renting a home, despite rising home prices. As a renter who is in real estate sales, I found this article and the statistics very interesting, and helpful. For those of you that will eventually be first-time home buyers, this is great information to give you an idea of how much more money you are going to spend in 2013 by renting compared to owning a house. Charleston was one of the cities included in this study and showed that buying is 53% cheaper here than renting.

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The biggest reason why owning is so much less expensive in certain areas is because of low mortgage rates, which has made homeownership almost as affordable as renting in all 100 large metros, according to Trulia. Since February 2012 the 30-year fixed rate dropped to 3.5%. Now, you might be asking yourself how this is all possible. First, you want to look at the average rent and for-sale price for an identical set of properties Then, the most important part, is to calculate the different initial and future monthly costs for owning and renting. For owning, this includes maintenance, taxes, and insurance. Then there are also your one time costs, which are usually just a security deposit and monthly utilities for renters and closing costs, down payments, and sales proceeds for owners.

This is all assuming that buyers will get a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at a 3.5% mortgage rate with 20% down, will live in their home for at least 7 years, and reside in a 25% tax bracket. If you change these factors, for example, and plan on living in your home for less than 5-7 years and mortgage rates rise, then you would probably be looking at a different scenario. Right now mortgage prices are “low enough relative to rents that buying would beat renting even if mortgage rates rose two full points.” However, this will not last forever and mortgage rates will inevitably rise. And if you are renting because you know you will be moving around, then buying probably wouldn’t be more affordable. And sometimes there are  going to be uncertainties with owning a home, such as unforeseen maintenance and upkeep costs, or an unexpected move.

The bottom line is that this trend will not be constant, as mortgage rates and home prices will eventually rise. Within the next year, this could all look dramatically different with this combination of prices outpacing rents and higher mortgage rates. This will more than likely make buying “less affordable  relative to renting than it is now.” What does this all mean? If you’re renting and plan to be a first-time home buyer, this is the time to do it!