Friday, December 31, 2010

Just A Proud Dad...Being Proud

In the age of Facebook, Flickr and Shutterfly it's difficult to keep photos secret if you intend to wrap them in bows and give them as Christmas presents. Well, now that our moms, grandparents and other family members have their new prizes, Jennifer has 'released' the latest pictures of our sweet girl.

As a proud new dad, you can imagine how I feel about the pics above. I pretty much love them beyond scope, and can't get enough of 'em. Thanks to Stacey Quattlebaum for capturing such awesome images of my little girl. She has done a fantastic job and because of our fondness and relationship, Jennifer and I consider Stacey as a part of our family. In short, she's top shelf and produces a top shelf product. I'll save my full endorsement for another blog post.

Truth be told I wanted to post the popular 'Hotsheet' tonight, but considering we only have one more day in the year, I thought I'd hold off for the 31st to pass. That said, as much as I love posting about real estate, I just had to show off a few pics of my girl.

Thanks for letting a proud dad, be proud. :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow Pics Can 'Postcard' Most Anything

There's no doubt, our Amy takes some of the best pictures in the industry. That said, a home somehow seems most photogenic when it's covered with snow.

Whether it's an old leaning country barn, stately King's Grant stunner or a Heathwood mansion, there's just something about a scene that's filled with snow.

If my little girl wasn't so sick on Sunday, I'd decided Saturday night to cruise by as many listings as possible to snap a 'snow pic' of their front facades. It would've been a fun and productive little project.

The next time it snows, I'm going to ride by as many houses as I can, and even ask my sellers to stand in their streets to capture the temporary image. As far as marketing materials are concerned, we probably shouldn't use the snow scenes as 'Pic #1'. That said, I certainly think there's enough room for one snow pic in the presentation.

Given today's technology, we have the ability to project listings in many ways. However, I can't think of many tools that are as effective as a good picture with a few white inches on the roof.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Heathwood Home Coming To Market

"Franklin, You/Y'all Have The Best Listings In Town"
During a quick 'drive-by,' I snapped this pic on our way to lunch last week...

On Monday, Amanda and I will be putting a sign in front of this awesome house pictured above. I don't know the intricate details of the listing yet, but I do know that it's redone, has an awesome kitchen and a new downstairs owner's suite.

I'll obviously blog more about it when it hits the websites, but since I've heard, "Franklin, you have the best listings" a few times now, I thought I'd inform my blog readers about it before it hits the other websites.

This house is on Adger, in Columbia's downtown Heathwood area. I don't want to type the wrong address, but it's across the street from where 'the top' of Heatherwood crosses into Adger. Primo location.

If you like downtown living and especially Heathwood, be on the lookout for this one to hit the market or give us a call or email at or for info .

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Finally, S.C. Earns A 7th Seat

New Lines Will Produce Lots of Deal Making
As American folklore has it, when Lyndon B. Johnson was born in 1908, his grandfather jumped on a horse and galloped by nearby Texas farms hollaring, "A United States Senator was born today!!!"

As the U.S. government announced the new census numbers today, we learned that South Carolina will be adding a coveted 7th Congressional seat to our delegation. If you don't know politics or policy, you wouldn't know this is a big deal. It is.

In regards to policy, this is a whopper of an announcement as we'll (presumably) have another advocate and vote looking out for our state's interests.

Politically this is going to be a blue whale humdinger as we're going to watch Republicans argue strategy. Will Republicans draw this 7th district to be "solid R," or will they choose to solidify more marginal districts like Wilson and Mulveney?

The map/pics above are two possibilities that may be on the table. I'll save my predictions for another post, but my early inclinations are that the second map just doesn't 'look' right. I simply don't see Horry Co. and York Co. sharing many interests, much less Congressional seat. Further, it will be interesting if Republicans split Greenville County or separate Greenville from Spartanburg. We'll see.

You may be asking what my intro paragraph about Johnson's grandfather's unlikely prediction have to do with our new 7th district. Answer: Not one thing. I'm well aware S.C. will have two senators in Washington, DC . I simply wanted to see if my politically inclined readers would read it and internally whisper, "What a dumba**!"... or (hopefully) give me the benefit of the doubt. ;)

Now that South Carolina's population has bulged enough to warrant a 7th Congressional district, anyone interested in becoming member of the U.S. House of Representatives (or hopes their child will) have finally increased.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"River Street" Homes Always Popular

Wales Garden's Saluda Ave. Produces Solid Sale
In my experience, Wales Garden has always been considered one of the creme ee la creme neighborhoods in Columbia. Perhaps because it's the most traveled, Saluda Ave. serves as the flagship street on the neighborhood.

On Friday Amanda and i closed on the awesome property that is 413 Saluda Avenue. This stately, all brick home has enjoyed the pleasure of being owned by an interior decorator, and the new owners will certainly the beneficiaries. Too often, an older home is sold and the buyers have an instant 'project.' With this home, however, the new owners can liesurely change things instead of out of necessity.

Along with the house itself, the new owners will love the short walk to 5 Points and Devine St, which is clearly an asset of the small and exclusive neighborhood.
Congratulations to the new owners of 413 Saluda.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friend Using Shandon Yard As Voice

Good Friend/Neighbor Unhappy w/ SCE&G Rate Hike
My buddy, Forrest Hairston, has decided to use his front yard as a voice against Belinda Gergel's vote regarding funding Columbia's transit system with an SCE&G rate hike.

While I don't pretend to know the details of the measure, I have to applaud Forrest for sounding off. Throughout the years Forrest and I have enjoyed scores of political discussions whereas many times we agree on an issue, while other times we end up in a healthy rant. Nevertheless, good for Forrest for taking his feelings to 'the street.'

Again, while I don't know much about the bus service system or how it's funded, I do know that every couple of years the issue finds it's way to the local news stations. The last thing I remember hearing about the buses is that SCE&G was going to take care of the transit system if they could 'have' Lake Murray. I know this is a gross oversimplification, but it had something to do with a Lake Murray control swap.

I also remember years ago when the sides of buses were used as giant billboards. Remember seeing the giant red Saturn car scooting around town? Like Saturn's product, I guess the idea didn't produce the revenue to justify the effort.

I can certainly understand Forrest's feelings on the matter, as costs seem to escalate everywhere we turn. From the numbers supplied by WACH FOX, Forrest will see an increase of about $96/year. If he only purchased one sign it probably cost between $50 and $100.

Given the math guesstimate, the sign should be worth the $$$ to him by year two. However, if he shifts the debate such that it moves council to look for another way to fund the buses, his savings could be large....and the effort, to him and others, priceless.

If someone would ask him, I'm sure Forrest, in his mind, has a solution to the dilemma. Actually, I'm certain of it, and the word "cut" will be part of the answer.

Power bill hike stirs strong feelings from both sides

Power bill hike stirs strong feelings from both sides: "It’s a question that doesn’t yet have an answer: how to fund public transportation in Richland County?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Columbia's Latest Closed Transactions

Columbia's Closed Sales: Nov. 11 - Dec. 15, 2010
I have to admit, this report of Columbia's closed transactions is nothing to brag about as there are about 30 homes attached. Interestingly, the number climbs to almost 100 when I include the "Northeast."

We're frequently asked, "What's the best time to put a house on the market?" My answer is usually, "There's no doubt that generally speaking there are more lookers in the spring and early summer. That said, some of my most productive months have been in November and December."

This year is no different. While it may be difficult to top August - October of this year, we're finishing strong. From the looks of our white board, we may close eight to 10 houses in December. We'll see!

Again, the attached list isn't very long. Perhaps most buyers and sellers are saving their 'closings' for the end of the year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We Are REALTORS... And Proud Of It

Friendly Competitors Won't Be REALTORS Anymore
The largest real estate firm in the Midlands has (unofficially, at present) decided to end their relationship with our professional trade organization.

I heard on the street that many agents haven't paid or don't have any interest in paying their 'REALTOR dues,' which isn't uncommon in today's environment. As the rules go, however, the company has to pick up the slack for those who refuse to pay. From the article in The State Newspaper, Russell & Jeffcoat executives tout that the company has 450 agents. Simple math shows that 450 REALTORS x $400 dues = $180,000. No doubt, it's quite a blow.

The argument that the benefits don't justify the cost may not be a great example of 'smoke and mirrors,' but fogged glass sounds appropriate. Focusing on legislative issues alone (for brevity), the REALTOR Association tackles a plethora of issues the 'lay agent' doesn't even think about. The list is endless but a few issues that come to mind in South Carolina are: property taxes, deed stamps, 'takings' legislation, water rights, contract law, 'Point of Sale' legislation, building codes, sprinkler mandates, and eminent domain to name a few.

I enjoy working with my friendly competitors at Russell & Jeffcoat. That said, I can't imagine that this is a popular move amongst their top producers. Further, it's going to be very interesting how long it takes the company to change every sign, web page, and business card within their organization as they can no longer advertise the term "REALTOR."

We'll see how all of this shakes out, or if an alternative measure comes about. In the meantime however, being a (YOUR) REALTOR is part of our brand... and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Codes Are 'What's Next' For Industry

Staying Ahead Of The Game Makes This Job Fun
If you've never seen anything like the pics above, you're not alone. That said, it's only a matter of time before you start noticing these "codes" everywhere you go.

QR Codes (Quick Response) have been around a while but are just becoming popular in the United States. These 2D codes are pretty much the new bar code...for the public. The idea is to snap a picture of the QR Code with your smart phone. As your phone reads the code, it will take you directly to a website, blog, Facebook page, listing page, etc. Snapping an easy pic is far easier than typing in a now pesky URL.

I've been waiting a few weeks to apply this to our real estate practice, but recent Tweets have forced me to pull the trigger on the project. It won't be long before every listing in our inventory will be assigned a a code. In short, it's kind of awesome.

I'm almost glad this has been forced down our pipe. I take great pride in the fact that we stay a half step ahead of the industry. We had one of the first real estate blogs in Columbia, first on Facebook, first to Tweet and now ahead of the game with the QR Code game. Being ahead of the game is one of the reasons this job is so fun for Amy, Amanda and me.

If you want to give a QR Code a spin just download a QR Reader app on your smart phone, snap a pic of a code above....and there you go! It's tech, dead simple, efficient, effective and productive. It's us.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thank You & Welcome To Our State!

County Scraps Blue Laws To Land Deal, 1,000+ Jobs
I was happy to see our state landed a global brand that will produce close to 1,200 jobs. Congratulations to Lexington Co. for being chosen as the new home for our new corporate neighbor. Welcome to South Carolina, .

Think of the millions of books, gadgets other nouns that'll be trucked, packaged and blasted to the world from the Midlands of South Carolina. It's not hydrogen super science, but it's a big deal and I'm ecstatic to hear the news.

I think it's interesting that after years and years of defending Sunday 'Blue Laws,' all it took to change policy was an old fashioned business deal. It's kinda funny on some levels, but interesting to say the least.

This deal is another example of a corporate giant taking advantages of some of South Carolina's greatest assets: a highway system that points all directions, a world class port in Charleston, and competitively low salaries.

This endeavor is also a microcosm of why our state leaders need to get it together regarding the dredging of The Port of Charleston. Earmarks or no earmarks, the Palmetto State better do all it can to dredge Charleston mud before the Panama Canal starts letting the mega tankers through. That's another blog post, though.

Again, congratulations to Lexington County and welcome!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Closing Good For Downtown Complex

Team Effort Gets Tough One Closed @ Parkside
Given today's financial climate, we never know what hurdles a real estate transaction will produce. That said, Friday's closing of a second floor unit in 'Parkside' was a doozy.

Combining the facts that Parkside was originally an apartment complex with notion that a unit hasn't closed in a little while, the complex has never been approved by the US government to qualify for an FHA backed loan. Well, now it has.

After going through what seemed to be a financial game of 'Shoots & Ladders,' the buyers and sellers finally met at 6pm on Friday night to close the unit.

In short, the buyers and sellers of this transaction did a ton of heavy lifting that should pave the way for other units for sale at Parkside.

I'm ecstatic for the players in this transaction, but wow what a tense couple of weeks. All other sales at Parkside should be a breeze. Thanks to the buyers/sellers, John Como at Bank of America and the buyer's agent, Gloria Burnside, on a complete team effort to make it happen.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Three Good Open Houses Sunday 2 - 4!

While an extraordinary amount of my friends will be in Atlanta, GA this weekend, I still haven't made a 100% commitment either way. Since my final decision is beholden largely on when a condo closes Friday, I thought it may be smart to commit two homes to Open Houses this Sunday.

At $199,900, 2936 Stratford Rd. is heck of a house and location. Now that Stratford is sporting this price tag, I think it's just a matter of time and exposure before this cute all brick bungalow pops a contract.

Since "The Flower Box House" is just around the corner from 2936 Stratford, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to tag team an open house. This house speaks for itself. Granite slab, designer colors and a luxury master bath. Come see 2930 Forest Dr.

421 Ravenel St. in Shandon may be the coolest house in Shandon under $250,000. At $199,500, this house looks great from the street and has a more modern touch than most homes in this price range. Just off of Wheat St., 421 Ravenel is smack in the middle of Shandon.

I hope my friends and Gamecock Nation have a blast in Atlanta and bring back an SEC Championship. Unless I'm physically kidnapped to Peachville, I'll be at one of these cool houses Sunday afternoon. Come visit and bring friends!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Balance Between Friends And Followers

Friend, client and Internets expert Wesley Donehue recently Tweeted a notion that I've been thinking about for a while now. A few days ago Wesley Tweeted, "Disconnecting Twitter and Facebook. Hope this worked." Since I've been thinking of doing the same, I wondered where his rational was coming from. Turns out a friend of his wrote an informative post: "Let's Not Be Friends On Facebook" Interesting...

While I agree with Wesley and Mr. All on some levels, our reasons are different. Unlike Mr. All (and most Realtors, by the way), I've been disciplined (w/ intentional and unintentional results) when it comes to "accepting" friends. In short, I know all of my friends on Facebook. Sure, I've had to stare at some pictures for a few minutes while my brain runs into an "Oh, Yeah!!" moment, but for the most part I know my 'friends' and they know me. Conversely, I probably don't know half of my followers on Twitter.

Since I recognize the difference between the social media platforms, I'm conscience too about which 'comments' are better suited to be 'Tweeted' instead of announced to my more intimate friends on Facebook. Any Facebook friend of mine can easily see which medium I chose by the little icon in the bottom left corner of each 'Update.'

I think Mr. All's thoughts are right on, and can see why Wesley unhooked his Tweets from his Facebook posts. However, since I distinguished the differences from the beginning of the social networking world, I'll keep my current course and place my thoughts/tweets/pics in the proper places accordingly. For the time being, that is...