Thursday, January 29, 2009

Business as Usual Thanks to Friends

Offers, Contracts and Closings Happening Daily

Thanks to all of my awesome friends 2009 has started off with a bang. Amy, Caroline and I have been busy this week with all sorts of things going on.

Just today, we closed on 5970 Hampton Leas Lane. It was sort of a long contract period but at least it was a smooth and clean closing. Everyone seems very happy.

We also put 6443 Briarwood under contract and are supposed to close on the Landrum listing on Friday. Both of these are in Forest Acres. Hopefully these deals will be as smooth as Hampton Leas was. We'll see! Needless to say, we've stayed very busy in spite of the negative news climate we endure every single day.

Thank you for all of your business and referrals. It makes all the difference. Because of our friends, TeamFranklin is probably the best real estate network in South Carolina. Keep it coming.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mayor Bob or Mayor Steve?

Lines Being Drawn in Columbia Asphalt
Columbia may have one humdinger of a fight coming up in the near future. Word is local attorney Steve Benjamin is running to unseat Columbia Mayor Bob Coble. I've heard privately that Steve is definitely running, but hesitated to blog about it until I read Monday's post by

"Mayor Bob," as we all know him, already holds the record for service as mayor as he's in the middle of his fifth term. If Steve runs, it will be Mayor Bob's toughest challenge to date.

Politically, Steve Benjamin made his name when he was the Democratic nominee for Attorney General. Henry McMaster went on to beat Benjamin in the general election.

As I've written before, many times a loss can be a win. Benjamin's loss was a great example of this. Since the election, he has become one of the best P.R. machines that I can think of as local boards, businesses and commissions can't seem to get enough of him. Steve Benjamin is everywhere.
Historically, Mayor Bob has enjoyed the support of Columbia's African-American community. Anyone would be bold to claim that he hasn't earned it. Having Steve in the race changes the dynamics dramatically and makes for unchartered territory for the current mayor.

This race will be fun (but difficult) to watch. If the match up comes to fruition, it will be a battle of local heavyweights and an event that will test friendships throughout Columbia.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The State; "The Big Winner Was..."

The State Finally Localizes Columbia Market
Today's "YOUR HOME" section of The State Newspaper reflected what I've been saying for almost a year and a half. It reads, "The big winner was the downtown-Forest Acres area, which saw the smallest decline in home sales, and the biggest jump in home prices... Homes there were selling quicker...than any of the other major Columbia-area markets." Finally, they said it.

We all know the market is down in the midlands, as it is across the country. However, real estate is very local. The outskirts of Columbia shouldn't be lumped in the same conversation as the downtown market. Although it wasn't pleasant to see a negative story in the newspaper, it was nice to finally see The State decipher the different areas of the midland market. Each area is very different.

Some people think that when I post about real estate, that I'm spinning a positive picture just because I'm a Realtor. Sure I want to report good news, but I'm writing about what's actually happening out there. This weekend alone, I put a Forest Acres home under contract, made and offer one in King's Grant and received one in Lake Katherine.

If you have a house that's ready to move in and priced correctly, it should procure offers. I've seen it time and time again. I have buyers that are ready and able to purchase the right home, it it will just come to market.

Good for The State for localizing their latest article.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Wii Rooms Popular with Buyers

Ample Wii Space in Big Demand For '09 Buyers

The last closing I enjoyed had one thing in common with the last two houses I've introduced to my clients. All three of the buyers were picking where the "Wii Room" was going to be.

I also know ALL too well about playrooms, bonus rooms and FROGS. Many times, none of these can suffice for the demands of a serious Wii family.

You would think that the playroom/FROG would be perfect for Wiis. Many times it is. The hiccup in this theory comes into play because many times, the Wii users are mom and dad. Apparently, an exercising mom doesn't fit well with a squawkin' yute, hollerin' for more "Dora The Explorer."

Since there is so much body movement involved with it, the ideal Wii Room should be on the first floor. The room has to be large enough for any furniture to be spread out or easily movable. Further, hardwood floors are not the perfect surface... especially if you have the Wii "Fit." Hardcore Wii users need a rug or a big foam mat.

I don't own a Wii, but it's been fun to notice these needs/desires as buyers stroll through a house. It was also fun to watch one of our best friends almost rip up a strip of carpet with her pointy toed shoes while perfoming her perfect topspin forehand.

Biparitianship In The Air...We'll See

Love Him or Loathe Him, Today is a Good Day
Weeks before the election was underway, I emailed Columbia attorney and former Democratic Party chair Dick Harpootlian...."Who's running Obama's campaign?". He wrote back, "Obama's not a campaign, he's a movement." Looks like Dick was right.

Tuesday's events are catching some flack regarding how much it's all going to cost. Some folks think that in this time of war and financial strife, that it's not good to put on such a "show." I'm not agreeing or disagreeing either way, but it did remind me of a story that stuck with me from when I was on a field trip in D.C. (many years ago).

As the story goes: during the 'Civil War', construction costs for a new U.S. Capitol dome and other improvements drew critical remarks. However, President Abraham Lincoln stressed the importance of continuing the work. To paraphrase Lincoln..."America is a nation of symbols. If people see the Capitol going on, it is a sign that we intend the union will go on."

Who knows if tomorrow's events are the best way to do things, and who knows if Obama will serve to be a great president. Fact is, we need to support it. It's happening.

I have a lot of friends who made the trip to D.C. for the event. I hope when they get back, they'll be happy they did.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Creative Site Makes Iconic Art Personal

"Paste" Makes Artist's Creation Available to Everyone

As I was on Facebook, I clicked on fellow Realtor Dan Hamilton's (R-Greenville) profile page. In pretty cool fashion, he changed his profile picture to reflect his likeness as it would look if artist Shepard Fairey had created it.

is the guy who created the iconic poster of President Elect Obama in red, white and blue.

Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, Paste Magazine has created this cool tool to submit your own picture to emulate Fairey's art.

Go to if you are interested in creating some cool or funny likenesses. There's some pretty creative stuff on there. Have fun!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Even Simple Things Are a Big Deal

Even Lightbulbs at Tennis Center are Complicated
If you know me, you may have noticed that I've started playing tennis a lot lately. I've actually become quite addicted, as I try to play anytime someone will meet me on the court.

As I was paying my $2.00 today at the Columbia Tennis Center, I made the comment..."This place pretty much has a monopoly on downtown night tennis with these lights." He answered back, "Yeah, I wish we could replace some bulbs."

He proceeded to tell me that it costs Columbia residents about $400.00 to replace a light bulb. I looked at him and said, "What???" Apparently it's just not as easy as throwing a ladder up and screwing in a new bulb. He said that the City of Columbia has to do it, and there has to be a certain number of lights that have burned out before they'll engage a crew to replace the bulbs.

I guess I can't argue with budget experts, but it seems very odd that it's such an undertaking to replace a dang light bulb. If it takes this much red tape to get a light bulb in a socket, no wonder Columbia is rather slow with mid to large projects. Jeeesh.

P.S. - I heard that two of the four guys that replace the bulbs are terrified of heights. I'll bet that doesn't help with the hourly rate on the bill.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Welcome to King's Grant, Columbia, SC

Luxury Builder's Home For Sale in King's Grant

On Monday, I have the pleasure of putting 10 Hobonny Lane on the market. It may be the creme de la creme of one of Columbia's finest communities.

10 Hobonny Lane boasts 6,100 sq.ft. and has 5 BRs, 4 Full baths, & 3 Half baths. It features awesome heart of pine floors, granite throughout, high ceilings (up to 20 ft.) and heavy crown molding. The home also has a grand office and a home theatre for family movie nights

One of the greatest features of this home is that it has an enormous "hang out" area (that we're going to call a "Greatroom" in MLS) which will make you feel indoors... and out. It is truly a great area to watch football, hang out by the raging fire or in the recessed hot tub, or cook tenderloin at the "outdoor" kitchen.

You can see how this home would be at the top of anyone's list, whether it be Boca Raton, Fla. or Charleston, SC. Having said that, it truly is one of Columbia's finest.

This incredible home is offered for $995,000, which is a modest $163/ft.

I use the word "modest" because I closed a few in King's Grant in '08 at $188/ft. Better still, I have an appraisal on hand that has the home worth $1,395,000 (appraisal available upon request).

Congratulations to the next owner of this King's Grant beauty.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Courtroom National Championship?

Utah Attorney General Investigating Antitrust Lawsuit Against BCS : It's About Time!
January 08, 2009 by

BCS Creates Unfair Competition and Financial Benefit to College Football Programs

The University of Utah Utes deserve to be crowned the 2008 National Champions of college football. It is about time that the entire college football playoff system is restructured, so they say every year when one or two college football progams get screwed out of the National Championship title because they are not in the select few conferences that belong to the BCS. The college football playoff system might finally change if the Utah Attorney General gets his way.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is setting out to challenge the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and other state attorneys general are backing his investigation into antitrust law violations by the BCS. President Elect Barack Obama has already said he would like to do what he can to influence a change in the unpopular BCS conference college football ranking system. While most sports enthusiasts agree that a national championship playoff series should be created for all national college football teams, none have legally challenged the BCS financial awards and the unfair competitive advantage they create, until now.

The University of Utah Utes finished the 2008 college football season at 13-0, the only undefeated college football team in the nation. The Utah Utes are the first non-BCS conference college football team since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) started in 1998, to have two undefeated seasons and win two BCS bowl games. The Utah Utes beat Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

In 2008, the Utah Utes beat Alabama, BYU, TCU, and Oregon State, all of which were top 25 ranked teams when the Utes beat them. The Utah Utes beat bowl eligible teams Air Force, Colorado State, Alabama, BYU, TCU, and Oregon State, but under the current BCS system, cannot be considered for the National Championship.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Twelfth Night" Party in Shandon

Gifts Delivered on Twelfth Night...Shandon Style

Tonight we found ourselves on Woodrow St. (between Monroe and Heyward) having a big time at one of the most original reasons to get together of the year.

The annual "Twelfth Night Revelry" is thrown by "The Lord of Misrule,"... Mary Greene.

If you Google these terms, you'll find all sorts of definitions and explanations depending on how far you go back in time. For tonight, I'll go with the "Shakespeare" version...seeing as how he wrote a play about it and all.

The event always turns out a big crowd as a nice collection of Columbia's "Who's Who" celebrates the giving portion of the "Twelfth Night." Of course, the "Lord of Misrule" provided wonderful food, drink and good times.

As for the venue, Mary has turned her traditional Shandon bungalow into an awesome home in which to entertain. Her open kitchen/den area is filled with granite slab, and her private backyard/carport serves as a perfect place to throw such an event.

After all of the tremendous effort, Mary gets the great pleasure of delivering the many gifts to the Ladies at The Women's Shelter. Items such as lotion, laundry detergent and phone cards are emotionally received, and very much appreciated by the ladies at The Shelter.

Thank you for having us Mary, and for being the Lady of Misrule.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Travel and Sofa Sitting Season is Over

First of 52 Week "Sprints" Begins Tomorrow
When Christmas and New Years Day are on a Tues, Wed or Thursday it makes for a VERY long "off season" for many people. Folks obviously have the actual holiday "day" off, but more often than not they also have the day's before and after off as well....which feeds into a weekend. On Monday, all of this is over...and I welcome it.

I actually had a good bit of production during the two weeks, but the emails and calls definitely took a dip. This is all well and good, as I love watching bowl games and movies....but I'm glad it's over.

We are poised and ready to take on 2009 like we have the past four years. Most people in the industry think of their real estate business in "seasons," with the spring and early summer as their big months with Oct, Nov, and December as their down months. Not here. Here, every week is the same for our buyers and sellers.

I like to think of the year as a series of 52, five day sprints...sort of like going through 52 horse races. Every Monday, is the beginning of a new dash to see what we can do for the week. Maybe this is why some of my biggest months have been in November and December. Who knows?

Nevertheless, Monday is a new work year and the start of a new sprint. I'm ready for the gates to open.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"What We Have Here, is Failure to __"

Fill In The _____ Above With Anything You Want.
Coach Should Ask Team If They Want To Go To Bowls
From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on New Year's Day, The University of South Carolina had the nation's full attention as it was playing in the first New Years Day bowl game of 2009. What the country watched was a terrible football effort that was so bad, it turned into a public relations debacle for the states flagship university...not to mention the SEC.

Not only was the game over after USC's first couple of offensive plays (interception and fumble), the team continued on with five turnovers, 100 penalty yards and body language that looked...well, like it did against Clemson.

Beyond the terrible effort on the field, the announcers made it even worse. The guys in the booth wouldn't stop talking about our last two debacles (UF & Clemson). Further, they kept talking about the offensive legend, that can't do anything with the Gamecocks offense.

The guys in the booth told the nation that one of our coaches said that USC is probably the most underachieving program in the country. Even the fact that after 100 years of football, Carolina has lost exactly as many games as it's won was mentioned. No more. For 100+ years, Carolina is below .500 again.

I don't blame the guys in the booth for saying what they did, as it's true. I'm only saying that it's awful to know that the country is hearing all of this negativity, while watching a USC beatdown.

To make matters worse, two juniors told The State that they would not be returning.

I hate to pile it on here, but it doesn't help the shame that Spurrier gets a $100,000 bonus check because of the bowl bonus in his contract. I'm not saying he shouldn't get it, because he's being rewarded for getting the team to a bowl. But dern. It's a little bit of a pill to swallow after such a embarrassment.

I feel sorry for the good fans that went to Tampa. Everyone should have stayed at home, including the team.