Thursday, May 31, 2012

Midtown Realtors Meet The Inn @ USC

I Always Thought It Was Good, But Now Know It
A few days ago, instead of having a regular sales meeting at the office, The Inn at USC hosted Coldwell Banker United, Realtors - Midtown office for a tour and breakfast.   I have to admit, seeing as how "Midtown" dominates downtown real estate sales, I thought it was a pretty smart move, and a great way introduce the hotel to Realtors.   After all, Realtors are on "the front line" for folks moving to Columbia, SC, and our office is only three or four blocks away. 

Friend and client, Ashley Tanner Foster, and her team put on a good show.  The Inn at USC provided a first class banquet style breakfast, and well thought out, informative presentation.  The banquet room was large, the food was good, and the chairs were comfy.  The best part, as expected, was the tour itself.

I don't travel much, but when it comes to hotels, I'm sort of a venue guy.   I LOVE a good view from a big window, preferably as high in the air as I can find.  That said, the rooms at The Inn at USC and the feel of the hotel itself makes up for any lack of height with no problem.   Further, while they're not towering many stories over Columbia, the three large luxury suites at the top of the hotel are well thought out, huge, and pretty freekin awesome!!  I'm telling you, these suites stand up to any in Columbia, and are perfect for any special occasion.  For example, they're over the top for any new couples wedding/pre honeymoon night.

One of best draws to Famously Hot Columbia is our neighborhoods, and everything The University of South Carolina has to offer.  The history, style, and location of The Inn at USC uniquely showcases these two facets of our city.  Actually, it's spot on...

Kudos to The Inn at USC for inviting Coldwell Banker - Midtown Realtors to tour their hotel.   I think both entities will be well served by the staff's presentation.  I'm sure the Realtors at Midtown will have no problem recommending a hotel to clients visiting Columbia, and that's that's the idea.

In sum, The Inn at USC is a perfect introduction to anyone thinking of moving to Columbia, SC.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Litchfield By The Sea Is Family Fun!!!

This Holiday Weekend, we found ourselves at one of our all time favorite vacation spots.  As most Sandlappers know, the Pawleys Island/Litchfield Beach area is hard to beat.

For a while now, I've wanted to spend some time at Litchfield By The Sea.  You know the place.  It's where the huge tree leans extremely to the right (it's now broken), and where the area Starbucks is located.  Love that!

Litchfield By The Sea is as cool as I thought it would be.  When it comes to family fun, this South Carolina resort has just about everything.  For starters, there are swimming pools everywhere, tons of little lakes that seem to feed from the marsh/creeks, and loads of tennis courts.  The smooth and wide walking/biking trails are in perfect condition, and widely used.  Even further, I think there are two "lazy rivers."

Further still, the new beachfront Pavilion boardwalk is first class, and well thought out.  It's a perfect entryway to South Carolina's version of the Atlantic Ocean.

As you can tell from the pics above a golf cart rental is part of the fun, and in my opinion, a must.  In three full days, I'd bet we took the golf cart out no less than 10 times, as the kids enjoyed every moment.   The golf cart rides supplied big fun and lots of memories.  For instance, it was fun to watch Lee Payne and Finley hold hands the entire time they faced backwards.  BIG FUN for anyone paying attention.

To sum up, Litchfield By The Sea is an awesome choice for anyone looking for a beach house or condo.  This place has rentals for groups of all levels, and amenities to please everyone.  Even the grocery store is just across the street.

I've heard a few times Litchfield By The Sea is, "The Poor Mans DeBordieu."    I don't believe this is the case at all.  They're just different, that's all.   As DeBordieu is awesome, Litchfield By The Sea is in the center of everything everyone enjoys about the beach.

In short, I'm ready to go back.

Friday, May 25, 2012

All Politics Is Local. Maybe Too Much

Since we had perhaps one of the Top 5 busiest days of my career (will blog about that later), followed by a fundraiser, followed by a fun birthday party, I'm going to take a liberty and post another blogger's thoughts tonight.

On one of his blogs, my friend, Wesley Donehue, lets out a few thoughts about today's political arena.   While I wouldn't have said it JUST like he did, I get what he's saying.

When you get to his point about traveling, I'm all for it.   While I'm not particularly well traveled, I have been around our state many times over.  To expand or even localize Wesley's thoughts, I think legislators would be well served if they'd travel to counties outside of their political comfort zone.

Now..I'm not talking about an Anderson or Greenville politician just getting gas and a pack of Nip-Chee's in Kingstree on the way to Litchfield/Pawleys, or Colleton on their way to Savannah.  I'm saying they need to turn left off of a state highway, turn right, cruise two miles, turn right again, go one mile, right again, and then left.  After that, if they aren't in a swamp, knock on the door of the first home they see, mansion or shack, and introduce themselves and chat.  

The Williamsburg and Colleton legislators should do the same thing.   I think anyone that took the time to do this would be stunned, and grow a little as a politician, leader, and person.

After all, our lawmakers live in the same state, but in different worlds.

Anyway, take a gander at Wesley's post.  It's a good, quick read, and you'll get what he's saying.  FJ

Day 288 It has been a few weeks since I’ve written. Instead I’ve kept you updated through videos which I will continue to do as we move deeper into the campaign season.

This week has been a real emotional roller-coaster. It is now noon on Friday and since 3 pm yesterday I have found it nearly impossible to do anything. Scattered is the only way to describe my brain today.

Sunday was Mother’s Day, which is always tough. I think about my mother often but I try not to. Those efforts are meaningless on Mother’s Day, especially now that social media is dominating our lives.

The week suddenly took a turn when the Pub Politics Jake Knotts “raghead” video was leaked to the media. Things became even stranger when my friend Phil Bailey made some off-color remarks about Governor Nikki Haley.

I have to tell you with all honesty that I am sick and tired of palmetto state politics. Just this year our company was named one of the top political tribes in South Carolina and things could not be going any better. But the hits keep coming. A shining star is always a target. Controversy surrounds our industry and petty people shoot arrows at every opportunity.

I should not criticize. I’ve been one of those petty people. I’ve shot my share of arrows. Perhaps its just, as they say, what goes around comes around.

If I sound depressed today, trust me when I say that I am not. I’m just scared. I’ve come to realize just how small-minded so many people are. Many of those people lead our state. Many more lead our nation. And that scares the shit out of me.

Instead of leading, so many want to stir up trouble. Instead of debating ideas, so many close their ears. Instead of solving problems, so many become the problems.

Earlier this week the South Carolina Policy Council attacked a few State Senators for taking an all-expenses paid trip to Turkey. In the past I would have sided with the Policy Council. But my thinking has changed because I see that too many of our leaders have never seen anything else.

How can our leaders argue for the best policies when they’ve never seen anything beyond their own close-minded bubble?

I’m not saying that our leaders need to all travel abroad. I’m saying that they need to travel anywhere at all. I am saying that they need to burst the mental bubbles in which they live and realize that the world isn’t always black and white.

Wesley Donehue

PS – Yo Democrats, before you start attacking me for bashing our South Carolina leaders, all of which are Republicans, please know that I’m talking about leaders in terms of all elected officials.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Image 2 Is Up @ Gervais St. Billboard!!

Last week, I posted about our digital billboard that's rotating at the corner of Gervais and Harden.  While the homes on Hillside, Tanglewood, and Delano are completely AWESOME, I surely needed to include other neighborhoods where we have a major presence.

If you pay much attention to the real estate signage in downtown Columbia, SC, or are a regular reader of this blog, you're well aware of our presence in Shandon and King's Grant,... hence the image above.

As I typed earlier, I have the board for a very short time, as I was able to take advantage of a contractual time gap between Lamar's clientele.

If you or anyone you know would like to view any of the homes in Columbia, or if you know anyone thinking of buying or selling, please call or email or .   We'd love to talk with you!

PS:  The Sims Alley/Shandon town home in the pic above has been on the market between 40 & 50 days, and as of Friday, is negotiating multiple (3) offers.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

I See Why Gamecocks Love "The Ray..."

Before I even begin a fleeting thought about the pic above, I have a confession to disclose.  Before Saturday afternoon, I had never attended a game at USC's new world class baseball stadium.  In fact, before Saturday, I hadn't been to a USC baseball game since I was in school.  SHAME!!

My excuse is terrible, but here goes.   In the 90's, my fraternity had the job of selling tickets at the gate.  We had to be at "The Sarge" two hours before the games began, and obligated to stay in our spots as the innings rolled on.  It was not fun....AT ALL.   After all, what college kid wants to sit in a chair for hours on end, three days in a row.  We couldn't see the game from our posts, and no one wanted to do it.  Filling the spots became a challenge and caused lots of internal infighting.

Fast forward to this weekend, and boy do I feel stupid.   I mean seriously, we live about 10 blocks from this awesomeness.

As I was woofing a Groucho's STP Dipper, my good bud, Michael Gunn, texted me asking if I'd like to go to the game vs LSU.  Jennifer and Finley were in Clinton, the weather was perfect, and the stakes were high.  With that, I figured if I didn't jump on this perfect storm, then I'd never go!  I'm so glad I did.

As we arrived, I noticed the parking wasn't as bad as I anticipated.  The crowd was VERY engaged, and baseball savvy.  I was stunned at the amount of fans around us keeping box scores (Not my thing, but kinda think it's cool that fans do it).

The stadium is ridiculously fan friendly.  There's plenty of room to get social, and lot of "knee room" between the rows.  It's clean, top shelf, and an awesome place to pull and yell for the Gamecocks.

Even though we lost in extra innings, I was proud to be there.  I can see why so many friends go to the game and post pics on Facebook.  More importantly, I can see why big talent would want to play baseball at USC.  In short, the whole experience is big time.  Not just, "A big time"...but, "Big Time."

Thanks to Gunn and his dad for having me @ "The Ray."  I'm ready to go back, and anxious to haul Jenn and Finley, too.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Big Splash @ Columbia's Best Billboard

Open House Sun 2-4 @ "Greenbriar" House Above!
This morning, while sipping your Venti at your favorite downtown Columbia traffic light, you may have noticed the image above flip by your windshield.   I sure hope so!

A few years ago, I thought it might be a good move to advertise on the billboard at the corner of Gervais and Harden.  As you might expect, I had a great time with it, and it made a big splash. 

Since that time, this billboard has more than doubled in price, as it's pretty much the crown jewel of the digital boards in downtown Columbia, SC.   If you think about it, you can understand why.  After all, every car must stop at that particular red light, at least once.  I mean, we're all forced to sit through at least one rotation of the billboard.  That said, the price point of this board is now a rung or two over my comfort level. 

Here's why I took the spot:  Since we put together Amanda's "Congratulations!" board on Garner's Ferry, the good (and super nice) Lamar Advertising sales rep knew I'd be a good candidate should an opportunity arise.   Sure enough, the board is experiencing a short contractual gap, and I pounced on it.

Since the board is digital, we can place a few different images to flip through the six second, six image rotation.  I kinda love it, as it's a perfect medium to display some of our downtown Columbia listings, and a fun way to showcase our brand of real estate.

The idea is for the ad to act as sort of a surprise, as ZERO of our sellers know their homes are on the most popular billboard in Columbia.  Amy did the art, and we pulled the trigger without sharing the ad with anyone.   I hope they all like it.

On Sunday, I'm holding an Open House at the "right hand read" house of the pic above.  Hillside Lane, in Greenbriar, is a sharp, polished home in one of Columbia's most esteemed neighborhoods.   Come see me from 2 - 4 on Sunday, and I'll show you a sharp, move in ready home in a great school zone.   Come on over!  :)

If you or anyone you know would like to see any of our listings or take part in some of our fun marketing/advertising campaigns, call or email or .

Most of my friends, clients, and readers of this blog know I enjoy the marketing and advertising facet of this job.  Populating the most viewed digital billboard in the Midlands with some of our listings will hopefully produce some big time results!

PS:  Don't forget to come visit 5158 Hillside Lane on Sunday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

30 Davant Pl. @ King's Grant: Pending

Polished, Custom Home @ King's Grant;  DOM 0
Given today's real estate environment, it's rare to witness a perfect scenario for everyone involved.  30 Davant Place, in King's Grant, happens to be such a transaction.

Here's the stage:  A week and a half ago, the seller of 30 Davant Place summoned me to list their home.   I know the neighborhood, the street, and the house.  I was in their living room within two hours.

Since most Realtors know that I do a lot of business in King's Grant, a friendly competitor happened to call to see if I knew of anything coming up in the neighborhood.  I responded, "I know of a few "secret houses," but give me a day or two, and I may have just the thing."

That Sunday, I happened to hold an Open House at 18 Foot Point (Now Under Contract), where that same Realtor showed up with his clients.    I exposed the house in the pic above, and BOOM, 30 Davant Place was Under Contract.  Good, qualified buyer...Closing in 14 days.   Win/Win/Win.

There are a few story lines here:  1)  While Sunday Open Houses don't really "work" in our market, I'm a big believer in, "Activity generates activity."   Working Foot Point that Sunday, propelled the contract on Davant.  Would it have sold anyway?  Who knows?....But not to these folks, and not this fast.  2)   This is a perfect snapshot of why I embrace the quote, "The best real estate network in South none."   Our network obviously, "works."   3)  I know King's Grant. 

Please pardon the less than impressive photo above.  As it sold before we could have our regular photo "shoot," I happened to snap a quickie while I was there, which was in between rain showers.  

I would have preferred to have waited for Davant to close before I announced the sale.  However, I'm in a rare situation, whereas for a few days, I'll have five King's Grant homes under contract.   Tomorrow the count will change, as 24 W. Tombee is scheduled to close in the morning.

If you or your friends want to be on the front end of the action in King's Grant, please don't hesitate to call or email or .   I'd be happy to keep anyone abreast of the King's Grant real estate market.

PS:  The last time a scenario worked out this perfectly was December, 2011.  The house was 27 Davant Place - King's Grant.  Yes, directly across the street!   Knowledge, hustle, and network all matter, big time, and the buyers and sellers of these two homes are happy beneficiaries.

PSS: "DOM" = "Days On Market"

Monday, May 14, 2012

Delano @Forest Hills Is A Dream Home

A few days ago I received a call from a homeowner ready to sell their property.  I promptly called him back, gathering pertinent information like address, etc.   Given the home was located on Delano Drive in Forest Hills, I was as curious as I was excited, as Delano is a very short street lined with nice homes.

As I drove up to 2927 Delano Dr., I was pumped about the large home I was approaching.  Well, let me tell you, I wasn't pumped nearly enough! 

When you click the link, you're sure to know the house I'm typing about.  I didn't want to post the front facade, nor did I want to post too many pics, as I want your reaction to be as close to mine as I can make it.    To be fair to the house, the pics probably don't do it justice.

Here's what I'm getting at:  I thought I knew this house.   I clearly didn't.

2927 Delano has it all.  With 4,500+ feet this one is complete with 4 beds/5 full baths, and top of the line everything.   For starters, check out the towering Ralph Lauren style, stacked stone fireplace.   Further, please notice the slab surrounded, fully encased, lifted the owner's suite! 

The kitchen is full of heavy, professional grade Viking brand appliances, which says it all.    Each bath almost enjoys it's own theme, as every tile combination is cleverly thought out.  Every bathroom is pretty cool.

The decking on this house is phenomenal, ready for rocking chairs, porch swings, or hammocks.   Call me crazy, but to have the opportunity to wave at traffic, I'd beg someone to install a swing on one side of the front porch, and a hammock on the other. 

The huge fully finished basement is AWESOME!

To help solidify my initial thoughts, when Team Manager, Amy, went in to snap the pics she immediately texted me, "Dream House!"   She's right.

I don't like to overstate by too much, but I'm typing with conviction that this place is spot on beautiful.  Not to mention, it feeds into award winning Satchel Ford Elementary, and only minutes to anything downtown.

2927 Delano Dr. is easy and a pleasure to show.  Please call or email or if you or anyone you know would like to view this premiere, downtown Columbia dwelling.

PS:  Even the hardware is primo.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Palmetto Ballot Drama Is Complicated

Earlier this week I posted about the "ballot drama" happening within South Carolina's political arena.  As always, there are two or more sides to a story, and I get that.   Right or wrong, now or later, something clearly needs to be done on some level.

We keep hearing/reading, including from Sen. Jake Knotts, "If you can't read and understand the law, I don't want you making the law (or you don't deserve to make the law)."   Pretty good line.

The catchy phrase conveniently makes a lot of sense.  It's almost a perfect argument, actually.  However, peel back the layers of past election cycles, and this phrase could backfire and embarrass many current lawmakers.  Think of it.  If almost 200 are guilty in this ONE cycle, how many other candidates (including current lawmakers) are guilty of the same thing since the law was written.   Is there a reason we haven't heard from any of the statewide candidates?   Hmmm......

I've also heard, "The law is the law, and if we don't follow it, then why have it?"  I get that, too.  I also understand when a flaw law exists, contradictions are present, or if they simply want to reverse/amend something, there are mechanisms in place to deal accordingly, and fix things.  After all, the folks that construct the language aren't perfect.   The Amazon reversal quickly comes to mind.

We'll see how all this will end up.  I could've been wrong w/ a some statements in my post, the candidates (past and present) could have filed imperfectly, and the law could be imperfect whereas the candidates in question could have been "wronged."   Who know how all this will end up, but I stick to my thinking, that given the massive sample number, something needs to be done.

In the end we'll all survive, perhaps even better, as when we're wrong it probably means we learned something.  That's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Thank You For Having Us, Brennen...

This post may seem a little abnormal, but I feel like some friends are scratching their heads regarding a couple of events Jennifer and I attended lately.

Here's the stage:  A few weeks ago, Jennifer and I showed up at the "Brennen Auction," held at The Coop near Williams-Brice Stadium.   Given our little girl is only 2 1/2 years old, and many of our friends know we live in Shandon (Not zoned for Brennen), we received a few, "Hey!! Good to see ya!  What are y'all doing here?"  Not in a mean way at all, but more along the lines of pure curiosity.  I can understand.

Here's the answer: We attended because a few weeks earlier, a friend and Brennen Bulldog parent texted me late one night, asking if I'd consider becoming a sponsor of the event.  Given who the "requester" was, I texted back, "Of course!"

As we were having a big time (and it was a BIG TIME!!!), Jennifer and I decided to bid on a Cinco de Mayo Party at Tin Roof.   Fast forward to last Saturday, and Sure 'Nuff!, we were right there with a great group of the Brennen PTO, and family. 

Here's where I feel the need to clear things up.  Most of my friends are well aware that I'm an advertiser, marketer, and networker.  That said, I never want my Brennen friends to think I was there just because there was a big party.   Quite the contrary, actually.

We wanted to attend to support my wife's godchild's school, and because I believe in Brennen Elementary.  Any seasoned downtown Realtor will tell you Brennen is one of downtown Columbia's most requested schools, and I'm proud to support it.  It's no secret that Brennen is one of the major facets of why Lake Katherine and King's Grant are such sought after neighborhoods.

I'd like to thank the Brennen "family" and PTO for making Jennifer and I feel so welcome.  Further, I'd like to congratulate this group for holding such first class events.  It's no wonder why Brennen Elementary continues to collect state and national accolades.

Thank you, Brennen friends!

PS:  It's should be noted that a crazy amount of money was raised at the Brennen Auction event.  Congratulations, and well done!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Political Fail Whale @ South Carolina

As we all strive for a better South Carolina, there are many ways we can improve our state.  Throwing out almost 200 new candidates for office, in my opinion, is not one of them.

Here's an ultra quick snapshot of what's going on.  Many new candidates for office didn't turn in two forms simultaneously, as apparently required.  Also, two laws written at different times, seem to contradict each other.  The result of this has placed the South Carolina electoral process in an all out boondoggle.  It's to be noted, incumbents are immune from having to turn in the two forms. 

Here's where I'm coming from.  If five or 10 folks failed to file properly, I'd get that.  However, if almost 200 candidates across our state fail to file properly, I have to think on some level there's a flaw in the system itself.  Seriously, the sample of now disqualified candidates is simply too large not to recognize there's an imperfection somewhere.

I hear partisan friends all over the place saying things like, " I think he's out because he didn't file paperwork properly.  What a dumb a**."  I say, "Oh, OK.  Have you checked the list?  It's over 100 candidates, and yours are on the list, too."  Response:  "I mean, I'm just sayin....I dunno."  MmmmHmm.....

How interesting would it be to dig up which winning statewide candidates made the same mistake two years ago, but went unnoticed.

I'm not sure if it's the Legislature's or the Supreme Court's duty to deal with this sort of thing.  Either way, someone needs to do something.   For instance, one district now has zero candidates on the ballot, and one fella, who's only running to get back at a judge, now has a clear path to victory. 

Don't get me wrong.  If something isn't done to reverse the decision, I'm sure we'll all survive.  That said, given the vast number of potential candidates eliminated, I have to raise the question:  Who made the mistake(s)?  The writers of the election law, or the readers?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Banner Year For The Junior League!!!

Tonight we were @701 Whaley to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2011-2012 edition of the Junior League of Columbia.  Once again, this group has a lot to celebrate.

The "JLC" is, in my bias, is an unrivaled organization in Columbia, South Carolina.  This year, they raised over $268,000, of which, is generously distributed to other entities throughout the Midlands.  Even more impressive than the monies raised, perhaps, is the sheer "woman power" The League projects.  Compiling thousands of collective work hours, The League is an absolute army of grassroots volunteerism.  I'm not sure any group in the Midlands comes close.

If you know me, or read this blog regularly, you're aware The Junior League honors my late wife, presenting the Kinsey Black Jones Award to the most deserving 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year active member.   For 10 years now, I've stepped to the podium and proudly presented plaques to awesome recipients.   Last year, a new tradition was born, as Jennifer is now involved in the program.  It's a proud moment, and I think Jennifer is happy to stand with me.

In her short adulthood, Kinsey loved being a very active member, and truly believed in the good works The League.  When she fell ill, I remember her friends coming to get her, so she could, "pick up a shift."  It was important to her to fulfill her duty, and she didn't want anyone to have to pick up her slack.  There was no slack...

701 Whaley proved to be a good venue for the event, and President Kristy Ellenberg did a fantastic job navigating through the fun program.   Well done, Junior League of Columbia, and congratulations to the ones recognized.   Once again, this organization proved they are the premier philanthropic organization in the Midlands. 

I'm humbled and proud to be a part of the event, and thankful to The League for the what they've done in Kinsey's memory.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Big Action @Columbia Real Estate Sales

100 Listings & A Lot Pending.  Columbia RE Is Hot!
You may have heard the downtown Columbia real estate market has picked up a bit.  The rumors are true!

Many of my friends tell me that we're probably not the greatest gauge of what's really going on out there, as we really never experienced a slowdown. OK, I get that, and that's probably true. However, I still know a boost when I see it.

The pic above is an updated whiteboard of our current property count (pretty close, anyway). As of last Friday, we proudly represent 103 listings, and enjoyed 33 Pending Contracts. At first glance, you may say, "Well, that looks like a lot, Franklin, but that's not a hundred." If you lean forward and squint a little, you'll see each cell is double booked... and there are two columns.

The reason for the imperfect count is because things are always moving (pardon the pun). For instance, since Friday, quite a few changes have been made. We've had closings in the last few days, which obviously shifts the numbers. Rigby, Alpine, Hampton Trace, S. Holly, and Shady Lane are good examples what's finally "popped." Closing attorney, David Ross @MG&C, knows first hand what's going on, as I've been there every business day since Friday afternoon.

Thank goodness for the closings. Without exaggeration, our office space has been an absolute steam pot of pressure. With so many "Pending," the task/chore list was blowing off the charts, and pulling us all over town. After all, there are only so many hours in the day!  However, thanks to deep breaths, strategy, and patience, we're making it work.

When Amanda joined our team, I envisioned a listing count of around 50 homes. Well, in Feburary, Coldwell Banker held a two-month listing contest, and in the spirit of competition, we recorded 49 listings in that period. #BOOM! (Note: Even though we produced 300+% more than our friendly competitors, we STILL didn't win the iPad drawing. BOOOO. Congrats to CB-Lexington's Terrance Smith!)

What I'm getting at, simply put, is that downtown Columbia real estate is churning at a pretty good clip, and our "board" is a good snapshot of the action.

If you or anyone you know is ready to take advantage of this action packed market, we'd love to be "Your Realtor(s)."  Call or email or

Thank you for your business, referrals, and for being part of the best real estate network in South Carolina!