Stephen Beeson has been named President of our Your Lot Division. Steve has 30 years’ experience in the residential housing industry. His experience spans the Carolinas as well as Virginia markets. He is well versed in all phases of home building with experience in sales and sales management, construction and construction management, warranty management and division management. He takes great pleasure in working with customers and incorporating their ideas and wishes into homes that reflect their dreams and lifestyle. Steve’s addition rounds out the Mcguinn team to ensure market success. Contact the Your Lot Division today to get started on building your home your way!
We’re excited to announce Bruce Stevens has joined McGuinn Homes as the Community Sales Manager of Harvest Glen and Indigo Place. Bruce has been a successful new homes sales agent for the last 12 years in the Columbia area.
Bruce is a native of Loris, South Carolina and is a graduate of North Carolina State University. He is married to Donna Stevens and they have one son, Todd Stevens. Real Estate sales runs in the family as Donna and Todd are also experienced sales agents.
Bruce and Donna are thrilled that their son, Todd, his wife, Karly and their two children have recently moved to Columbia from Manhattan Beach, California. Needless to say, Bruce and Donna love spending time with their beautiful grandchildren, Parker (3 years old) and Beck
We are glad to have Bruce’s experience and passion for real estate on the McGuinn Homes team as he serves in our Harvest Glen and Indigo Place communities. Be sure to use him as a resource for any of your new home needs in the West Columbia area or visit him at the Harvest Glen model Mondays through Saturdays.
Everybody knows which Carolina is the best Carolina; the one with the beaches, forest, those hot summer temperatures. The one with the variety of things to do, people to meet, and places to see. You know the one, right?
Fortunately, though, we don’t have to reawaken any dormant rivalries here (We’re looking at you, Tar Heels and Gamecocks), because this post is not about picking which Carolina is the best; it is about picking which places within South Carolina are the best.
Just like we did with North Carolina before, we conducted an analysis to find out just which places in South Carolina were the best. The winner? Five Forks. Of course this wasn’t without some serious competition, though, so without further ado, here are the 10 best places in SC, clearly one of the two best Carolinas around:
1. CDP of Five Forks 2. Town of Hilton Head Island 2. City of Charleston 4. City of Mauldin 5. Town of Mount Pleasant 6. City of Greenville 6. Town of Lexington 8. City of Beaufort 9. Fort Mill Township 10. City of Goose CreekClearly, the old saying is true: Five Forks are better than one, and a Hilton Head always beats a Goose Creek. Okay, it’s not exactly a saying, and it doesn’t actually make a lick of sense, but if you read on we’ll explain the order of our list, the method of our analysis, and just why each of these places beat out the competition.
As much as we’d have liked to base our analysis around which South Carolina places had the best beaches (Hilton Head, by the way) or which places were best for sports fans (we’ve already done that), to find the flat out best places in the state, we needed something a bit more universal. So, we relied on the following seven criteria:
Once we settled on our criteria, we looked at the U.S. Census data for all of the places in South Carolina with populations over 10,000, leaving us with a total of 50 locales. Then, with the criteria above, we ranked each place from 1 to 50, with one being the best possible score. After that, we averaged each ranking for an overall Big Deal Score; the lower the score, the better a place fared.
For a complete list all the places in our study, scroll to the bottom of the post. Otherwise, we’ll head over to Five Forks and see just what makes this place so special.
Looking at our data, Five Forks is simply. awesome. It had one of the highest overall quality of life scores in our analysis. That’s because with a median household income of $97,161, Five Forks is easily the most affluent on our list, plus, it has some really pricey real estate, with a median home price of $245,500 and a rent price of $1,313. Of course, all of this contributes to its high cost of living (102, where the national average is 100), but it’s also a good indicator of the area’s desirability.
And desirable it is. Not only is this Greenville suburb one of the safest on our list, but it also has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state– just 6 percent. I mean, sure, it doesn’t have as many amenities as, Beaufort (No. 8 on our list), but after all, it is just a short drive from Greenville.
If this ranking had anything to do with the most beautiful white, sandy beaches, stretching for as far as the eye could see, Hilton Head Island would have won. Even without the 12 miles of coastline taken into account, though, this Beaufort County town still made it to the top of our list, thanks to its high quality of life. What does a good quality of life look like in Hilton Head? The median household income is one of the highest in the state at $67,629. Additionally, real estate here is the most valued out of any place in our study, with a median home price of $500,800. Finally, the rent ($1,064) is sky high, an indicator of desirability.
Tied for No. 2 on our list was another beach community, Charleston. Known for its beautiful architecture, variety of restaurants, rich history, and South Carolina charm, Charleston is not new to the world of honors and accolades. It was recently voted America’s Most Friendly City by Travel + Leisure and the “most polite and hospitable city in America” by Southern Living magazine.
All this aside, Charleston scored well in our analysis for a number of reasons–a high number of amenities and high quality of life. For our quality of life ranking, Charleston’s high median home price and low student to teacher ratio were key for its high rank.
Charleston also ranked better than the others when it came to weather, with a relatively cool average summer temperature of 78 (remember, we’re in the south, people) and a low air quality score of 41. Perfect weather for a ride on the Charleston Water Taxi.
This Greenville County city may have a small-town feel to it, but that certainly doesn’t mean that is lacking in things to do; in fact, with its variety of amenities, there seems to be plenty going on.
Mauldin also scored well in our analysis for its high median household income of $56,480, that’s 44 percent higher than South Carolina. This, plus a sales tax of just 6 percent, easily makes Mauldin one of the most affordable places on our list, and with a crime rate of 2,466 per 100,000, it is 43 percent lower than the rest of the state, to boot. And they have Moretti’s Pizzeria and Bar? Some people just have everything.
The most pleasant-sounding place on the list, our No. 5 place ranked well for a number of reasons, but mostly for its high quality of life score.Broken down, that means Mount Pleasant’s median household income is one of the highest in the state at $75,842. It also has some of the highest median home and rent prices around, at $363,500 and $1,203 respectively.
Mount Pleasant truly earned its name, though, when it came to crime: At 2,028 crimes per 100,000 people, it ranked the highest in this criteria.
And did we mention Mount Pleasant also has the best weather in our list? It does. Perfect for enjoying the Osprey Boat Charters or just strolling around Shem Creek Park. Or should we say pleasant?
In recent years, CNN Money has named Greenville one of the Fastest Growing Cities in the U.S., Bloomberg has named it the third Strongest Job Market, and Forbes has called this South Carolina city one of the Best for Young Professionals.
Needless to say, Greenville is accustomed to praise; but for this honor from Movoto, Greenville scored well in nearly all of our criteria. For example, with over a variety of total amenities, Greenville placed among the top 10 when it came to things to do. It also had a low unemployment rate of just 7.4 percent, and one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state, just 6 percent. To top it off, for all those people commuting in this third strongest job market, their drive is a quick 19 minutes on average.
Tied for the No. 6 spot on our list with Greenville was Lexington. This county seat of Lexington started out strong with a high number of amenities, for its population of under 20,000. Aside from tons of restaurants, cafes, bars, and things to do, Lexington also scored well for an overall good quality of life. Specifically, Lexington had a low student to teacher ratio of just 15:1, and an overall high score in quality of life for its high median household income of $58,800, and higher than average rent and home prices. To top it off, Lexington had the lowest unemployment rate in our list, just seven percent.
The city of Beaufort may not be the cheapest on our list, with its cost of living of 96, but it certainly makes up for that with plenty to do and a high salaries. Starting with amenities, Beaufort ranked No. 1 in this category with a variety of businesses for their population of just more than 12,700. And as far as salary goes, Beaufort residents make 25 percent more than the rest of the state, with a median household income of $49,063.
Beaufort also earned points for its low commute time of just 19 minutes and low student to teacher ratio, just 14:1, giving it an overall score in quality of life.
With all of this, plus the beautiful scenic atmosphere, the art scene, the old historic buildings, and the sense of community, it is no wonder Beaufort has been named the Best Small Southern Town by Southern Living.
Fort Mill is a delightful town of just over 11,000 residents, making it the smallest on our list. But, according to the Fort Mill website, it is one of the fastest growing communities in the state, and for good reason. Fort Mill has all the educational, cultural, and dining benefits of being close to the Charlotte metropolitan area, but it also acts as its own, close-knit community. In fact, with so many amenities in Fort Mill, you don’t really have to venture outside of town unless you want to.
Fort Mill is also the most affordable place in our top 10, with a cost of living of just 89, and yet residents here make well above average with a median household income of $64,924.
To top it off, Fort Mill also ranked No. 1 in weather, with a low average summer temperature of 76 degrees and an air quality score of 41.
The final place on our list was Goose Creek, mostly for its high overall quality of life. In this case, a high quality of life meant a high median household income of over $60,000; a high median home price of $169,600, and some of the highest rent prices in the state, a median price of $985, indicating the area’s high desirability.
Also, with just 2,613 crimes per 100,000 people, Goose Creek was also one of the safest communities in our list. All of this, plus some of the most beautiful scenery, homes, and, for you golfers out there, some of the nicest golf courses around, it is no wonder people are flocking to this Berkely County city.
Well, there you have it, South Carolina: the 10 best places in your fine state. Of course there was a Mount of Pleasant places to choose from, but in the end, the No. 1 spot went to Five Forks. And as far as which Carolina is the best of the two– well, that is up to you to decide. Take it to the comments, people.
In a major victory for NAHB and housing, Congress passed a Farm Bill that includes an important provision championed by NAHB that will help members living and working in rural areas across the nation. President Obama signed the bill into law on Feb. 7.
The legislation allows more than 900 communities nationwide to retain their status as “rural” areas where residents have access to important rural housing programs that help low- and very-low income households obtain homeownership or suitable rental housing. This will enable millions of Americans to maintain access to critical rural housing programs.
The law does not provide more U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding for rural areas. But by “grandfathering” these existing rural communities, they will maintain access to USDA rural housing programs.
NAHB estimates that in 2014 alone, this will generate $1.2 billion more investment in housing in these areas, including construction of new single-family and multifamily homes and remodeling. Breaking this down even further, it means that each of these 900-plus communities will receive on average more than $1 million in economic activity this year in USDA loans and grants for new construction and remodeling — funding that would have been lost had the law not been passed.
One NAHB member summed up the legislation this way: “The Farm Bill alone will keep many small builders in business.”
The USDA redraws its maps defining rural areas following every census, and the maps drawn after the 2010 census would have removed these communities from the program due to their population.
NAHB’s action to insert the rural housing provision into the Farm Bill provides a long-term solution because the legislation keeps the current maps and extends the population definition for these rural areas to 35,000 until after the 2020 census.
NAHB has been working on this issue for three years, ever since it was brought to the association’s attention in early 2011 by members from Kentucky and several other states.
On the regulatory side, NAHB was able to delay the release of revised USDA maps.
In the legislative arena, NAHB worked with several members of Congress to move various pieces of legislation forward, including appropriations, a stand-alone 10-year bill, and ultimately, this Farm Bill fix.
Further, NAHB put the power of its grassroots to work, contacting members of Congress and telling them how important it is for these 900 communities to retain their rural status.
There are also thousands of other rural communities that use and rely on USDA housing programs.
“The Farm Bill is a great victory for NAHB, and a great example of how the federation works together to address important issues,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly.
It looks as if the housing market is making a broad-based recovery, As of April homes stayed on the market for 81 days down 11% since this time last year.
“The home buying season shifted into high gear in April as housing inventory and home list prices increased by 4.12% and 2.63% month-over-month, respectively, according to data released by Realtor.com.”
Nationally inventory has declined year after year in all but 11 of 146 markets that were monitored by Realtor.com. While some markets registered less listings of 20% or more.
“Due to increased demand for homes and more confidence in the job market — we are beginning to see more and more buyers entering the housing market,” said Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Move.
37 markets saw a decrease in list price last year, Now we are seeing a national median list price of $194,900. In the month of April 109 markets saw a median list price increase.
When the housing market imploded in 2007 and took the economy with it, experts said the real estate market would never look the same again. Now, nearly six years after the crash, the dust has finally cleared and we have a true picture of the new housing landscape.
While investors may still be leery of hopping back into the market, housing starts, prices and confidence are on an upward trend and the tide may be turning this year to favor homesellers.
Homebuyers can expect a more competitive market in 2013, and should start the mortgage lending process at least three months before they plan to start seriously looking because experts expect the process to take several months under new lending standards. House hunters should be ready to deal right away as inventory is expected to remain at low levels throughout the year.
Homesellers are shifting into the driver’s seat with experts expecting bidding wars to break out in certain markets due to the low inventory. While homes will sell quicker this year, they still have to be priced right.
“The mobility rate has been at a very low rate, meaning that people really did not move during the recessionary years, so there is pent up demand — but sellers need to price correctly,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.
Here’s a rundown of what experts expect from the market:
Mortgage Rates and New Rules
The Federal Reserve has held interest rates steady at near-record lows over the last several years in an effort to entice buyers into the market, and experts don’t expect significant jumps in the rate this year. In fact, the central bank said it would not raise short-term interest rates until the unemployment rate drops below 6.5%.
“Mortgage rates were essentially at a generational low last year — they could move modestly higher this year, but it will be the second-lowest [rate] in 40-plus years,” says Yun. “I anticipate by year end that mortgage rates may be close to 4%, but still one of the lowest in a generation.”
In early 2012 the nation’s largest banks agreed to put aside $25 billion in the robo-signing settlement to help fund loan and foreclosure modifications and compensate homeowners who claimed they were given unfair lending terms. Experts expect more mortgage rules to be handed down this year to help prevent reckless lending that led to the meltdown.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued new qualified mortgage standards last week that detail criteria lenders must use to determine if a borrower qualifies for a loan.
The rule states a qualified mortgage cannot include risky features such as extending beyond 30 years or include exotic terms like interest-only payments or negative-amortization payments, where the principal amount increases. Loans can’t carry fees and points above 3% of the total mortgage and limits the total debt-to-income ratio at 43% — which some worry will restrict credit and discourage homebuyers at the lower-end of the income scale from seeking a mortgage.
“In many markets sellers are in the driver’s seat because of low inventories. With inventories falling so dramatically in the last year, buyers are competing for a fairly small inventory of for-sale homes and that helps sellers.”
– Jed Kolko, chief economist from Truilia
Additional mortgage rules are aimed at curbing over-borrowing, but could make the process longer for potential homebuyers and could prevent some potential buyers from being able to qualify for a loan.
“The mortgage rates are very low, but only a few people are able to access that low rate,” says Yun. “A modest increase in mortgage rates may not be harmful, provided that there is a return to more normal underwriting standards.”
Over the last two years the big question hanging over the market was how much lower home prices could drop, but home pricing indexes started to rise last year and are expected to continue the upward trajectory in 2013.
Increasing home prices will bring reluctant homeowners off the sidelines and will encourage homebuyers waiting for rock-bottom prices to jump in. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications for new-home loans are expected to increase 55% this year.
Earlier this week CoreLogic reported it expects home prices to jump 6% this year compared to 7.5% in 2012. Markets experiencing a stronger labor market will seeing prices increase even more.
In reaction to the housing oversupply, housing inventories fell more than 40% across the nation since 2007 and experts say below-normal inventory will hold back sales and impede the market’s recovery in 2013 if not corrected.
If home prices continue to rise it will help increase inventories, which will bolster the housing market even more, according to Jed Kolko, chief economist from Truilia, who says housing construction is up 60% in the last two years, but is still far from normal levels.
“Rising prices… encourage developers to build more and also lift more borrowers back above water and encourage some of them to sell,” he says. “They’ve wanted to sell and haven’t been able to, but now they will start thinking about it. The biggest question is whether it means inventory will expand or shrink less than last year, this could be the year.”
In 2012, the total number of units constructed stood at 600,000, far less than what’s necessary to keep up with the demand. This year experts forecast around 750,000 units to be constructed, far less than the 1.4-1.6 million units needed.
“In many markets sellers are in the driver’s seat because of low inventories,” says Kolko. “With inventories falling so dramatically in the last year, buyers are competing for a fairly small inventory of for-sale homes and that helps sellers.”
The Fate of the Interest Rate Deduction?
This popular incentive to attract consumers to become homeowners may be on the chopping block as both Democratic and Republican lawmakers continue to look for ways to close the ballooning federal deficit and budget.
The mortgage interest deduction costs Uncle Sam nearly $100 million in revenue a year, but eliminating it could weigh on housing activity.
“Over the years one of the advantages of buying is getting that interest deduction,” says Sam Davis, a real estate agent in Washington, D.C. “When we are trying to convince renters to purchase a home we can say: ‘If you pay $1,500 a month on rent and you buy a home with a $2,000 mortgage, if you got that interest rate that would basically make the spending even, yet you aren’t getting the advantage of appreciation and the right to own your own home.”
According to Kolko, there are currently more than a million homes in the foreclosure process across the country, but the crisis on a nation level is over. However, he says foreclosures in the most-battered markets including Florida, Illinois, New Jersey and New York are still high, and regulators have been considering state-level foreclosure reform.
He adds that the housing price rebound is stronger in states with a quicker foreclosure process and less of a backlog, while states with a hefty backlog are holding back the price recovery.
As investors become increasingly more comfortable with the real estate market, Chris Boston, mortgage banker with the Fitz Gerald Financial Group Division of Monarch Bank, says he is seeing more people taking advantage of foreclosures and short sales. “Investors are taking advantage of the market, they are buying homes at 50 cents on the dollar and they are renovating them to where they should be, which will help the market this year.”
Low interest rates caused a wave of refinancing in 2012, but experts forecast a much slower pace in 2013.
“Refinancing is less about helping the housing market and more about boosting the economy by reducing payments and giving homeowners more money to spend,” explains Kolko. He adds that only if rates drop further, or the eligibility requirements expand, will refi activity pick up this year.
Existing home sales continued to climb in February, further evidence of a continuing recovery in the housing market.
Home sales rose 0.8% in February from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million, 10.2% above last year’s level, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.
The sales rate was the highest since November 2009 when a federal tax credit was propping up home sales.
January’s sales rate was also revised up to 4.94 million.
Total inventory, which had been dropping for months, rose 9.6% at the end of the February to 1.94 million homes for sale, a 4.7-month supply at the current sales pace. That’s up from 4.3 months in January.
Listed inventory was 19% below a year ago and the supply is especially tight in certain areas of the country, such as in the West. With limited supply, bidding wars have broken out as buyers have little to choose from and agents have little to sell.
But last month’s inventory expansion was a strong one, says Jed Kolko, economist for website Trulia.
Inventory has been tightening because construction levels are still low, adding little new housing stock, and homeowners are waiting to sell until they have more positive equity, Kolko says.
He says inventory is likely to rise now through the summer because of seasonality, bringing some relief to buyers and helping boost sales. The February jump “is an early hint that the inventory crunch may finally be easing for good,” Kolko says.
Another issue is credit conditions, which remain too restrictive, says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.
Interest rates have also edged up, climbing recently to an average of 3.82% for a 30-year-fixed rate loan, a seven-month high, the Mortgage Bankers Association said Wednesday.
But rates are still low and, along with job growth and pent-up demand, are helping to fuel stronger home sales.
For February, sales of distressed homes — foreclosures and short sales — accounted for 25% of sales, down from 34% a year ago.
Homes were on the market for a median of 74 days, 24% below year-ago levels, NAR says.
The association said the national median price for existing homes rose 11.6% from a year ago to $173,600. The February gain was the strongest since November 2005 when the median was 12.9% above a year earlier.
In a separate report Thursday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency — the regulator for mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — said home prices rose 0.6% from December to January. For the 12 months ending in January, prices rose 6.5%.
More up-to-date data from real estate website Zillow shows home values rose for the 16th straight month in February, up 0.1% from January and up almost 6% year-over-year.
All 30 of the largest metro areas covered by Zillow registered both monthly and annual appreciation.
“The housing market recovery has continued to gain momentum over the past several months and looks firmly entrenched as we enter the 2013 spring home shopping season,” says Zillow economist Stan Humphries.
Rising prices will “help cure” many of the ills facing the market, including big numbers of underwater homeowners. As prices rise, more homeowners will list homes for sale, which will ease supply constraints, Humphries says.
A shortage of homes for sale, especially in the lower price ranges, hurt California home sales in February, the California Association of Realtors says.
Sales of existing single-family homes there dipped 0.9% for the month from January and were down almost 6% from a year ago, CAR says.
Still, sales of single-family homes priced above $500,000 were up 31% year-over-year. Meanwhile, sales of homes below $300,000 were down 27% year-over-year, CAR says.
Fewer sales of distressed homes, including short sales and foreclosures, are expected as the foreclosure crisis recedes, says Patrick Newport, IHS Global Insight economist. Meanwhile, more regular sales will increase.
Newport expects existing home sales to come in this year at about 5 million. In a healthy market, sales would be close to 6 million, he says.
“The market is slowly picking up but it’s not a great one,” Newport says
Published March 15, 2013
The pace of home sales quickened in South Carolina markets where second homes are a major portion of the inventory, led by markets in Beaufort, Charleston and Hilton Head.
Increases in the number of homes sold in Charleston rose 16% to 718 homes in February, compared with February 2012; 24.6% to 86 homes in Beaufort; and 26.5% to 229 homes in Hilton Head.
In Charleston, homes also sold much quicker in February than a year earlier, with the number of days on the market shrinking 25.8% to 91 days, from 122 days a year earlier.
“It appears buyers are motivated by an attractive affordability environment, while more and more sellers are receiving near top dollar for their homes,” S.C. Realtors said in announcing the February data on Friday.
The data show a generally improving market statewide. New listings in South Carolina increased 2.8% to 8,676 homes. Pending sales were up 8.4% to 4,863 homes. Inventory levels shrank 11.3% to 45,173 units.
Prices were up and the median sales price increased 3.6% to $145,500.
Average days on the market shrank 10.6% to 132 days.
“The economy continues to grow at a snail’s pace,” S.C. Realtors said. “But there’s significant pent-up demand from renters, first-timers and investors to counteract it.”
Source: S.C. Realtors