The Convenience Conundrum

We live in a world where all of the knowledge of the world is a few keystrokes away on a device that we can carry around in our pocket. Anything you can imagine can be ordered and delivered to your door within two days. There is a near-infinite amount of streaming content to entertain us. We know more about “friends” we haven’t seen since college than some of our own family members. Your gourmet coffee maker can brew an individual cup of coffee that’s ready for you when your alarm goes off, your fridge can add milk to your shopping list, an automated robot vacuums your house when you walk out the door, Alexa can adjust the temperature in your house or suggest an umbrella if there is a chance of rain, and your car tells you a better route to take to work because of a wreck. There is an abundance of convenience at our home and in the cities we are surrounded by options for local shopping, dining, entertainment, high-speed internet, cable, employment, schools, housing, and more. We also know that these modern conveniences come at a cost. As we’ve witnessed in nearby Mount Pleasant, which has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US since the downturn in the economy, people flocking to the area to enjoy these conveniences have brought with them a higher cost of living and housing, 24/7 traffic jams, out of control homeowners association rules and costs, and a departure from traditional Southern values.

Just up the road in “L.A.” (that’s Lower Awendaw), residents get a taste of affordable houses with a little space between them and their neighbors with just a short drive to many of these aforementioned conveniences. The farther you drive north, the farther these conveniences get and the more often I am asked by buyers “Where do you do your grocery shopping?”, “What is internet service like?”, or “What do people around here do for fun?”. These are fair questions. Questions from someone who has lived a life of convenience. My wife was one such person who gave me a puzzled look when I explained that where I grew up I had to drive 30 minutes to see a movie or buy groceries and she’s now called McClellanville home since 2006. These type of questions really get to the heart of measuring the conveniences of someone’s current life to an unknown life they may experience if they decide to pull the trigger and move outside of the hustle and bustle of city life.

I’ll be the first to admit that this “alternative lifestyle” is not for everyone. If you can’t survive without a Starbucks umbilical cord, it may be a rough transition. It took my wife some time to adjust after living in a city her whole life. Buyers willing to step outside of their comfort zone and discover true country life in Awendaw, McClellanville, and the surrounding rural areas, begin to learn that there is more to life than modern conveniences. When you skip the drive-thru window and sit down in a local restaurant you meet neighbors and form lasting relationships. When you stop cutting down every tree in sight to build homes you start co-existing with nature and witness it in your own back yard. When you get rid of all the traffic you can actually enjoy the peace and quiet and make it more enjoyable to walk, bike, or even take a golf cart for a spin. When your beaches are only accessible by boat you find a sanctuary with miles of uninhabited shell-covered beaches for yourself. When you trade your planned parks and paved “nature trails” for hundreds of thousands of acres of protected forests you witness the glory of nature. When you’re out of sugar or eggs you ask your neighbor rather than going to the store. You take a step toward self-sufficiency where conveniences take a back seat to things, meaning-of-life kind of things, that you might have missed if you were sitting at the drive-thru or staring at a phone.

I’ll leave you with this final thought that I enjoy sharing with visitors to the area that may sound odd coming from a real estate agent trying to “sell the area”: Nobody HAS to live in McClellanville! There is no Boeing or Volvo factory attracting workers that have to live nearby. Housing isn’t incredibly affordable and there isn’t a fantastic public transportation system ready to whisk them to work. Our school system isn’t ranked #1 in the country (but check out CREECS, we love it). There are even times that the mosquitoes will dang near carry you off (rare, but it happens). If we “solved” all of those problems, we wouldn’t be the unique community that we are today. You see, it’s these inconveniences that help us keep it just the way we like it. It sorts out the people who can truly appreciate everything that the area has to offer and place a higher value on these resources. These people, whether they were born here or just moved here yesterday, are the key to fighting for its preservation for future generations.

Growth and the Future of The Bulls Bay Area to be Determined by Awendaw

Fear of growth and development is on the minds of Bulls Bay area residents as urban sprawl creeps outward from Mount Pleasant (watch the growth of the area using the Growth Tool below). Builder D.R. Horton has begun work on their latest development known as Bee’s Crossing which plans to squeeze 90 homes onto 32 acres. While the postal service originally issued this area an Awendaw zip code, it has long been annexed by the Town of Mount Pleasant and is located in what is now commonly called “North Mount Pleasant”. Traveling further north, you encounter the low-density communities of Sewee Preserve followed by the Bulls Bay Golf Club. This is the farthest property annexed by the Town of Mount Pleasant and the beginning of the Town of Awendaw, the proverbial line in the sand.

Mt. Pleasant has recently passed legislation limiting the number and type of building permits that will be issued each year. Those fed-up with the growth of Mount Pleasant (every one that I have talked to) see it as too little, too late. While it will have a slight effect on slowing growth in their area, Awendaw may actually be more affected by the passage of this bill. Developers that were perfectly content with continuing to squeeze housing projects into the few remaining spaces in Mt. Pleasant are going to have to sideline some projects for future years and look outside of Mt. Pleasant for greener pastures. The abundant land in Awendaw seems to be just what they are looking for.

Awendaw’s residential zoning hinges on the presence of public water or sewage which permits a minimum lot size as small as 0.29 acres while it reverts to 0.69 acres without them. The Town of Awendaw has put in place a small public water system with lines running outward from its town hall water tower. To make the project financially feasible it must really be scaled to many more customers. Public sewage has also been discussed with the latest negotiations to incorporate the system in with the building of public schools and a residential development and have the final treated effluent dispersed in the town’s park.

The difficulty of public utilities in Awendaw lies in its decentralized rural nature. While McClellanville formed along the banks of Jeremy Creek and grew outward gradually as a more centralized community, Awendaw has large swaths of the Francis Marion National Forest slicing through it. There is also a large amount of land which has been strategically preserved from development through the placement of conservation easements. However, there also exist numerous large acreage tracts that have been patiently growing pine trees and waiting for the demand that seems to be building.

Developers have broken ground on a new development called Awendaw Village. The proposed 1/2 acre lots sparked concern but on closer inspection, the overall density of the community turns out to be less than 1 home for every two acres because of green spaces and wetlands. The developer is beginning with just 14 of 41 planned homes in the first phase. Chalk it up as a “win” for the type of controlled growth that could maintain the rural way of life, but this hundred-acre tract is dwarfed in comparison to some of the larger undeveloped parcels. If any of these other tracts were allowed to be developed at close to 1/4 acre-sized home sites it could double the population of the town and forever transform the rural face of Awendaw. Most of the residents that I know are opposed to this transformation and taking a stand against the uncontrolled growth they witnessed in Mount Pleasant. Organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Coastal Conservation League have also joined in to prevent disruption in this keystone community situated between the National Forest and the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge.

Aerial Shot of Awendaw Village under construction

In contrast to Awendaw’s zoning, unincorporated Charleston County surrounding Bulls Bay provides for mostly 1 home for every 1 to 10 acres and the Town of McClellanville allows for only 1 home per acre or 3/4 acre in the Historic District. McClellanville is also blissfully encumbered by its geographic distance from the growth of the Charleston Metro area and separated by larger undevelopable tracts of the Francis Marion National Forest. The residents, town council, and mayor are unified with a preservationist mindset and a consolidated effort to reject public sewer and water, multi-family and high-density zoning. There are certainly some larger tracts of land that will be subdivided and vacant lots between homes which have slowly been filling in with homes, but the underlying zoning and mood of the community working together gives hope against it losing its small-town feeling.

McClellanville’s First Spec Home in a Decade Sells Before C.O. Granted

That title may not make sense to everyone so let me define a couple of terms here. A “Spec Home” is one built as a speculative venture. It is a new construction home built for sale by the builder without having a specific buyer in mind and is sold for profit. “C.O.” stands for Certificate of Occupancy and is the document granted when a home passes its final building inspection; in other words, it has been approved to be lived in.

In 2018, MCVL Realty entered into a listing agreement with Longfield Residential to list for sale a spec home they were to construct in McClellanville. While Awendaw has seen many spec homes built and sold, this was a big deal in McClellanville because the last spec home built was listed for sale in 2007 but never sold by the builder due to the downturn in the economy. Sadly, the bank ended up foreclosing on the builder’s home before finally selling it in 2010 for significantly less than the builder had put into the beautiful home. We explained these facts to the father and son builders, Daes and McLain Manning, but convinced them that the market was ready for this type of property as well as the success others were having in Awendaw. Oliver Thames assisted them in locating and acquiring the land at 325 Mercantile Road as well as the features and pricing of the project. The property was initially listed using only home plans, but once the home was close enough to completion that people could tour the property interest really began to build. Oliver hosted multiple open houses in these final stages and was ultimately able to sell the home for $540,000 before the home was even completed and the C.O. issued.

The relevance of this from a builder and investor standpoint is that once a home is finished and has not sold it is costing them money and tying up their resources. We look forward to working with Deas and McLain on future projects and would love to work with other great builders. If you aren’t a builder but would like to invest in speculative building in the area we are happy to help match you with local builders and assist in that manner.

MCVL Realty Sells McClellanville’s Most Expensive Home

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On March 25th, 2019, 642 Thomas Pinckney Court sold for $1,580,000. The property was listed by Daniel Bates of MCVL Realty and went under contract after 24 days on the market. Excluding large acreage plantation tracts, this is the second highest valued sale in McClellanville history topped only by the previous owners purchasing this same home new in 2005. It was purchased at that time for $1,695,000 showing that the luxury market has done well to recover since the downturn. Prior to the sale, MCVL Realty managed the property as a vacation rental known as “Point of View” and the new owners will continue to welcome vacation renters through MCVL Realty.

The home features 6 bedrooms and 7.5 bathrooms but its greatest asset is the most incredible view that I have ever seen from a property in my life! As I wrote in the listing description, “Resting at the confluence of Jeremy Creek and the Intracoastal Waterway, this lowcountry home offers breath-taking panoramic views of the protected creeks, marshes, and barrier islands that make up the Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge and Bulls Bay. Enjoy the daily passage of shrimp boats on their journey down Jeremy Creek and out Five Fathom Creek to the Atlantic ocean and back again with their day’s haul each evening, as well as yachts and sailboats traveling on the ICW.”

Spring 2019 Market Update

As I write this report we have yet to have that perfect week with temperatures above 70° that typically marks the official spring real estate rally. In truth, there really hasn’t been a tremendous seasonal slowdown, to speak of. The market just kept humming along right through winter but I expect that we are on the verge of things really heating up just as soon as the temperature does! Despite the political dysfunction in Washington
we’re experiencing record low unemployment and high consumer confidence. The stock market is said to be on the longest bull run in US history with the Dow Jones quadrupling in the last 10 years, but it has wavered in recent months. US real estate markets have also been consistently appreciating during this same 10 year period. Some coastal markets, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York have seen such rapid appreciation that outpaced wage increases that it has finally led to stagnant growth and even declines in the form of a market correction.

Regionally, the Charleston Metro area has seen healthy market increases led by Mount Pleasant, which has been one of the fastest growing cities in the US since 2009, but it too has been experiencing a market slow down and pricing push-back. Comparing year-to-year sales in Mount Pleasant from 2017 to 2018 we see that the average sales price increased 5% but the number of sales decreased by 8% despite roughly the same amount of new listings in each year.

It’s hard to compare markets as diverse in size as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and McClellanville/Awendaw, but one measuring stick we can use is to look at the number of “months of inventory” in each market. This data takes the total number of listings in an area and divides it by the number of sales in that area in a given month. It’s basically a gauge of supply and demand, so a high number of months of inventory would tell you that there is a large supply of property with limited demand resulting in a buyer’s market. A low number of months of inventory would tell you that the demand is high and indicate a seller’s market. The chart shows the average annual months of inventory in each market over the last decade. In 2009, the market was at its worst and we had a backlog of properties listed for sale and nobody to buy them. As the market improved you can see that all 3 markets saw improving
months of inventory. Charleston leveled off between 2016 and 2017 and then actually increased last year. Mount Pleasant has been ever-so-slightly inching up each of the last 3 years indicating that their market has been slowing down. In McClellanville and Awendaw the number of months of inventory continues to decrease showing a strong and healthy market.

As a sub-market, we often see that our indicators are trailing behind those that we see in the rest of the Lowcountry, which itself is typically trailing major markets on the west coast, Florida and the northeast. The Bulls Bay area has still not fully rebounded to the pre-recession property values, but this moderate “slow and steady wins the race” market appreciation also means that buyers can still find value in our market and that we’re less likely to experience any market corrections. Awendaw continues to show
stability with a balanced market providing land and homes at prices that buyers are willing to pay but clear push-back on
unrealistic listing prices. In McClellanville, the vacant land market has been demonstrating a recent flurry of activity after little growth over the last few years. Home values continue to appreciate with homes under 1500 sq.ft. fetching record prices. In both McClellanville and Awendaw there is a clear favor for newer and updated homes fetching a significantly higher price while homes with deferred maintenance are showing longer days on market to find the right buyer.

The massive growth and change in appearance of Mount Pleasant from a small town to a bustling city has had the unintended consequence of driving a lot of residents out of town. We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of buyers coming from Mount Pleasant to our market over the last 3 years and they now represent roughly half of our buyer pool. They are trading traffic jams for Awendaw Green’s “Barn Jams”, 1/4 acre lots for acreage, and HOA gym cards for back-yard chickens. A strong supply of buyers from a city the size of Mount Pleasant can provide a landslide of
volume for a place with as few listings as McClellanville and Awendaw. These buyers, however, are proving more particular than the average buyer in their preference for turn-key homes with modern finishes. Nearly everyone that we have worked with moving from Mount Pleasant has gained quite a bit of equity in their home and are getting so much more for their money in our market. Should Mount Pleasant experience a market correction it should have little impact on our market because they would still be able to sell for a profit and at the end of the day, Mount Pleasant buyers aren’t moving up or down, they are moving over. They are driven by the fact that they no longer recognize the town they fell in love with.
Another big factor driving sales are the incredibly low interest rates. When I closed on my house last November, I was rushing to lock in an interest rate below 5% and the consensus was that they would keep rising. Fast forward just a few short months and we’re back down in the low 4’s and the Fed chairman has said that there are no plans for rate increases for the rest of the year. Combine these low rates with the high number of buyers in their 20’s and 30’s finding success in the economy and beginning the home-ownership phase of their life and you have a recipe for a successful housing market for the rest of the year.

MCVL Realty Blows the Lid Off McClellanville’s Luxury Market

In August of 2017, MCVL Realty represented the sellers of a waterfront home at 508 Romain Road in McClellanville. The property closed with a sales price of $1.25M,
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97% of the 1.29M list price after just 3 months on the market. The average for homes over $1M in the area is 90.8% sale-to-original-list-price ratio and 430 cumulative days on market.
MCVL Realty has sold a majority of the waterfront homes and land in the area in the last 5 years, but this sale set an important mark as the first residential sale in McClellanville over $1 million in a decade and symbolizes a resurgence in the luxury end of the market. This is not to say that there are no other homes in McClellanville in this price range, but this sale’s importance is as a “stepping stone” sale. That is to say, it’s difficult to jump from homes selling in the $6, $7, and $800,000’s to above $1.5M with nothing in between. In fact, since this sale another home in the area sold at $1.35M and MCVL Realty has pocket listings for two other homes above $1.7M from sellers who prefer to maintain their privacy and withhold their properties from the MLS. As the saying goes, you have to crawl before you can walk and this was McClellanville’s luxury market taking its first baby steps in a decade. Now buyers have at least one reasonable comparable sale in the immediate area to provide them confidence in market’s stability and we should see more similar sales in the near future.

Spring 2018 Market Update

The Law of Supply and Demand in Bulls Bay

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One trend that continues is the increasing number of sales and the decreas-ing inventory of property for sale. We’re starting to see new listings put on the market at fair market value receiving multiple offers in the first few days where in the past they were not. You can see in the chart on the left that the number of sales of homes and land in McClellanville and Awendaw has been steadily increasing. Sales doubled in the area from 2010 through 2013 and then almost doubled again the following year. Since 2014, we’ve held fairly constant at these sales levels.
From an inventory perspective, there is a direct correlation between these increased number of sales. The chart on the right shows
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how the number of homes and land for sale in the area remained fairly consistent from 2010 through 2014, meaning that for every property sold
another person would list theirs for sale. But in 2014 we can see that both the number of homes and land has been decreasing. This
decreasing inventory creates a greater feeling of scarcity and without scarcity, you can not see price increases.
It takes a little time for that scarcity to sink in and reach across the pool of buyers. Some buyers have to lose out on a couple of opportunities in which they either underbid a property and lose to a better offer or drag their feet making an offer only to find that someone else has already scooped up their dream property. It doesn’t take long to feel that burn of regret until you are ready to pounce when new listings hit the market and that is the point that we have finally reached. If you’ve been sitting on the fence to buy, get more
involved and let us know what you’re looking for so we can keep an eye out for you in this quick moving market. If you’re looking to sell, let us properly market your property and negotiate offers so that you can ensure you get top-dollar!

Building Boom

With every builder that I know in McClellanville committed to projects for the next 6 to 12 months, it’s safe to say that we are in the midst of a building boom the likes of which we haven’t seen since 2005-2006. Nearly every neighborhood has a house being built and a lot being cleared for another to start. It’s a lagging effect that I predicted from the land sales boom that we saw in 2016 and 2017. There is a shortage of turn-key homes on the market that buyers, such as those from Mount Pleasant (read more on op- posite page), are in search of. The spec home we have listed at 325 Mercantile is nearing completion and its sale will undoubtedly lead a few more investor/builders to start spec home projects of their own. We have seen that this building boom has started to increase the price per square foot of construction, due in part to both an increase in material costs as well as the higher demand of skilled workers and builders having enough jobs that they are no longer having to bid jobs as competitively.
I have previously mentioned the extremely high demand for long-term rentals and predicted investors even coming into the area to build rentals. I personally acquired a piece of land last month for future rental investments and have worked with numerous other buyers who have bought or are buying fixer-uppers or land to build rentals. A lot of these investors are pulling their money out of the stock market with fears that it can only rally for so long. With people ready to rent or buy, you really can’t go wrong investing right now. Keep in mind that “building” doesn’t just have to mean on-site stick-built construction. New or used mobile homes can create great rental or sales opportunities when placed in a desirable area. Modular homes can also be a way to reduce building time and costs and end up with the same product. These homes are sometimes confused with mobile homes, but are constructed much the same as a traditional custom-built home but are simply built in a factory located in areas where the labor and cost of living is lower and are then trucked here to be set and finished.

The Draw of Rural Life

For the past few years, Mount Pleasant residents have been the overwhelmingly largest demographic of buyers in McClellanville and Awendaw. This demograph- ic was less than 5% when I started in real estate more than a decade ago, but has risen to roughly 50% in recent years and doesn’t show any signs of lessening.  Rarely does a week go by that someone living in Mount Pleasant  doesn’t walk into our office and begin to tell us about how they want to move to get away from the traffic congestion, overcrowding, and rampant development. It doesn’t seem to matter whether they moved there 5 years ago or 50, for many it seems to have reached a tipping point where the conveniences of city living and proximity to work have become outweighed by these constant annoyances.  Not only are people wanting to escape the growth of the area, but they also want to start a new chapter in their life. They are coming from yards that are just a fraction of an acre or no yard at all in the case of apartment and townhome dwellers and they want to spread out and have a little room to breath. They often talk about finally getting a dog, growing a garden and even hav- ing chickens, horses, or livestock. There is a whimsical romance of country life that makes people feel more free, more alive.  Sometimes it’s the simplest thing that are taken for granted my whole life, like the ability to park a boat in your own yard. I’ve also heard nightmares of one crazy person on a homeowners association board with nothing better to do than going around looking for ways to pester people and wreak havoc on their daily lives.
I joke about the time that I was working with a client that came to me adamantly stating that he wanted at least a 5-acre lot for his new home. As we were on our way to the first listing, we passed a nice cleared lot with a for sale sign on it. “What about that one?” he asked. I was puzzled, knowing that the lot was only an acre in size. Before I could answer he said, “Let’s go look at that one”. We walked around the property for a moment and he exclaimed, “This is more than enough space!” “OK”, I said, “Well this lot is an acre, so maybe we should expand our search parameters going forward”. He knew how big his small fenced lot in the city was and he just couldn’t imagine that if you put five of them together it would amount to much space at all, but he had never really seen one cleared acre! He also overestimated the amount of buffer you need between yourself and your neighbors to enjoy a little privacy. Just 20 or 30 feet of woods can really block out your neighbors and change the entire way you feel about the solitude enjoyed from your personal space.

Fall 2017 Market Update

2017 showed steady sales throughout the year matching our performance to this point last year. Following the rollercoaster ride of the last decade, it gives me confidence to see stability returning to the market. That stability will be reflected in consumer confidence. As the stock market soars, many are looking to pull out some of those gains and diversify them into the real estate market. I am a big believer in the long-term holding of land as an asset as well as long-term rental properties which are fetching great returns right now. As inventory slowly diminishes the values increase in the region across all areas and types of property. Volume9charta.jpg
Looking forward, we expect the typical holiday lull that often occurs when buyers stray from home shopping and focus on their families between Thanksgiving and New Years. However, the last few years have all seen huge spring buying rallies that have begun as soon as February if the weather warmed up. The land-buying boom that began in 2016 is starting to have an effect on the area as many of the people that bought are moving into their new homes. So don’t be surprised to see more new smiling faces around town!
In examining the market data this issue, I want to focus on a single measuring stick, known as “Months of Inventory”. This data takes the number of active listings at a point (I chose the 1st of each month for consistency) and divides that by the number of sales per month. I have used the average of each year to normalize the data and show the simple trends. Months of Inventory is commonly used to gauge the health of real estate markets. It’s a snapshot statistic and obviously changes as the number of properties being listed (supply) and the number of properties being bought (demand) fluctuate.
If we look back at 2012 we will see that there was an average of 48 active lots for sale in Awendaw and only 8 sales that year or 0.67 sales per month. 48 ÷ 0.67 gives us 72 months of inventory, meaning that if that pattern continued it would take 72 months (6 years) to sell off all of the current active land inventory in Awendaw.
We use Months of Inventory data to label markets as a “buyer’s market”, “seller’s market”, or “balanced market”. As a general rule, 5 to 6 months of inventory is considered to be a balanced market. Inventory over 6 months is defined as a buyer’s market and less than 5 months is a seller’s market. Whoever’s market it is is generally in the driver’s seat and calling the shots. Back in 2012, we had some very strong buyer’s markets, especially with land. So at that time buyers were dictating greater concessions from sell- ers. After all, if the seller didn’t accept their terms, they could go next door and offer the next seller the same thing and probably get it. The trend has been consistently moving down but we’re still in a buyer’s market across the 4 major segments of the market; homes and land sales in McClellanville and Awendaw. In the chart, you will see that homes are hovering close to a balanced market with months of inventory currently around 8.5 for both McClellanville and Awendaw. Volume9chartb.jpg
In our area, land will probably always read higher than homes for the simple fact that it’s easy to list a piece of land for sale. Call any agent, they put a sign in the yard, snap a picture and put it in the MLS. At MCVL Realty, we add a lot more steps, but I’m simplifying for the sake of this example. and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Many people own their land free of a mortgage, so the only time they may even think about it is when they get a tax bill once a year. Listing a home, however, is much more complex as the home must be kept in good showing condition, repairs made, and mortgage payments made every month. Because selling a house is much less of a “set it and forget it” process, you won’t see fewer overpriced listings and people “testing the market”.
While the first graph shows the months of inventory across the major segments, the second chart breaks down home sales in the area by price range (the trend tracked fairly consistently between Awendaw and McClellanville, so I used both combined). So while I indicated that we’re in a buyer’s market for homes in McClellanville, that really isn’t the case across the board for all homes. Homes under $100,000 (which aren’t very common in our area and are typically mobile homes) were at just 1.71 months of inventory and homes for sale between $100,000 and $200,000 had just 3 months of inventory placing them squarely in the seller’s market category along with homes $300-500K. Homes in the $200-300K range came in this year with 6 months of inventory, which we would call a balanced market. Only homes above $500,000 were actually in a buyer’s market with their 12 months of inventory. So you can see that the supply and demand within a particular price range also plays a vital roll in the answer to the question, “How’s the Market?”

What Does All of this Mean to Me?

If you’re selling, you need to understand that you may have significant competition within the market. We don’t only analyze sold data, but active competition as well when determining our listing price recommendations for clients. Pricing is crucial but price alone won’t sell a property. You must also take steps to maximize interest in your property by improving marketability. If you are selling your land, clearing it of underbrush and obtaining a septic permit are often our first recommendations. Homes need great curb appeal and decluttering on the inside. Hiring MCVL Realty to properly market your home is also an excellent step. We will take professional photos, write an intriguing property description and get your listing in front of every possible buyer through our comprehensive marketing system, proven to sell more properties in McClellanville and Awendaw than anyone else. Just because you are in a seller’s market and can sell your home quickly on your own doesn’t mean that you can’t come out much better with the help of an agent. MCVL Realty properties sell for an average of 6% more than our competition so our commission is typically paid in full by simply choosing us!
If you’re buying, you need to understand that just because it may be a buyer’s market does not mean that you can go around writing low-ball offers. Most sellers in this area are used to higher than normal months of inventory and a house being on the market for 90 days doesn’t make that seller desperate or mean that there is something wrong with the property. We are in a niche market which will always have fewer buyers than our more urban neighbors and that sometimes means pricing a home at market value and waiting for the right buyer. Strengthen your offer with a pre-approval letter or proof of funds if making a cash offer and reasonable terms. We have seen more and more buyers who must sell their home in order to buy. Understand that a seller is going to be more willing to accept an offer with the contingency of your own home sale if you have already listed your home with an agent and it can be seen in the MLS. If your home is already under contract, that is even better, but be prepared to disclose the terms of the offer, because if your home is contingent on the sale of your buyer’s home, that creates a chain of deals (I refer to them as “piggy-backing”) that many aren’t excited to gamble on. The knowledgeable agents at MCVL Realty will ensure that you find the perfect property for your needs and get the best deal possible for it.

“I Don’t Want a Homeowners Association”

Volume8-articlea.jpgAs more and more people move from the cities and suburbs to McClellanville and Awendaw to find their piece of the country, we are hearing an all too common theme that they do not want to be in a Homeowners Association or HOA. They recite stories of psychotic HOA presidents who hide in the bushes and live to make their life a daily hell, fines for trash cans not being rolled in, grass an inch too tall, or boats temporarily parked in the yard, and rules telling them what color their mailbox must be. Did I forget to mention the fees? The HOA fees in some of the neighborhoods are more than the mortgage on my first home. “BUT”, I tell them, “there’s just one problem… you see, a lot of the listings that match the criteria you gave me, such as being secluded, wooded, and no mobile homes nearby… well those listing do have HOAs”. When creating a neighbor-hood, whether it be just a few homes or several blocks, developers can spend an enormous amount of money to bring the roads up to county standards in order for them to be adopted as public roads or they can keep them private. If they are going to remain private an agreement should be put in place to ensure the future maintenance of the roads so that they don’t deteriorate. You may not even be so worried about the roads, but if you’re financing the purchase, you can bet that your lender will want to see a road maintenance agreement spelling out the upkeep of all common areas.
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Enter what I have coined the “Pass-the-hat HOA”, at least in our area. While some may have a slightly higher accounting process, why I refer to them as such is because in most cases they literally go door to door (perhaps send a letter to land owners) telling them it’s time to pony up for the year. Because the fees only go to maintain a road, which may typically involve buying a load or two of gravel and grading it with a tractor a couple times each year, the fees are commonly between $100-500. Make a note: that’s PER YEAR, not per month. So when one neigh-bor doesn’t pay when they are passing the hat around, everyone else just pitches in a little more and the job gets done. It’s the country, we know how to adapt and overcome and we don’t often need to make a federal case over someone being down on their luck. They aren’t going to slap a lien on your property when you don’t pay your dues, but they might not invite you over for supper if you’re not paying because you’re a jerk. You’ll probably live a pain-free life until perhaps you go to sell your home and the attorney calls the HOA president to verify all fees have been paid and they tell them that you are actually 3 years behind and those dues have to get paid at closing. Being an HOA, these neighborhoods also have rules known as Conditions, Cov-enants and Restrictions, or CC&R for short. Because lawyers are usually involved in this part, the CC&R reads like an operators manual for an unwieldy piece of ma-chinery, but they are the law of the land, so read them carefully. Unfortunately, they are often a boiler plate set of rules that the attorney copied and pasted from their big book of legal documents and you are lucky if the developer actually read them before putting them in place. They often mention architectural review boards, which are rarely ever formed, and prohibit things like satellite dishes in the front yard. No, not your DirecTV dish on the roof, they’re talking about those old-school 10 feet tall metal dishes that no one has seen for 20 years. When you read these rules, what you want to look for is whether the CC&R are really limiting your peaceful enjoyment of the area or your building plans. You should find that they don’t contain rules against parking boats in you yard, the height of your grass, or raising chickens or even horses.  If they don’t, you now have to ask yourself whether you are willing to break your promise to never live in another HOA even if it is the means by which you finally find the peace and quiet of country living.

For a list of neighborhoods in the area with HOAs and their CC&Rs visit MCVL.net/HOAs

Spring 2017 Market Update

Volume8charta.jpg2016 was an incredible year for real estate sales in the Bulls Bay area with activity surpassing pre-recession rates. MCVL Realty led all other offices in the area in sales for the 3rd year in a row and more than doubled last years sales with 53 sides totaling over $7.5 million in sales. These sales represented a 24% share of the McClellanville / Awendaw market, twice that of the closest competitor. A majority of these sales came from within McClel- lanville, where we dominated the market with a commanding 36.7% share. This chart shows the number of sold properties each year bro- ken down by location. While cumulative sales in the area rose from the year before, you can see a slight dip in Awendaw’s sales, though McClellanville’s sales more than made up the difference and showed a 60% increase in sales over the previous year. Awendaw’s decline was due not to a lack of interest, because that market grows hotter by the day, but was brought on only by a lack of inventory.
The next chart shows how the inventory of properties for sale has changed during this same period of time. You can see before the recession, inventory was below 40 properties (that’s homes and land) in each area, but as sales slowed there was a tremendous backlog of properties sitting and sitting on the market. We are still selling off much of this inventory and as prices regain footing, peo-ple are now listing new properties for sale as well. The number of properties for sale in McClellanville has generally hovered between 100 and 125 for the last 5 years with about 80% of that inventory being land for sale. Awendaw, on the other hand, has declined from its high of 128 listings for sale to a recent low of 55, of which land also represented about 80%. This difference between these two markets has led us to see the price of property climb more rapidly in Awendaw than in McClellanville. The law of supply and demand dictates whether we refer to a market as a “buyer’s market” or a “seller’s market” and I would say that for the time being we are still in a “buyer’s market” in McClellanville and Awendaw is fairly bal- anced but leaning toward a seller’s market especially with homes where there were only 11 houses for sale at the time of publication, one below $200K and 2 more in the $200-$300K range.
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The final chart shows the breakdown of sales by property type with residential sales remaining fairly level over the last 3 years, but the area picking up an extra 21 land sales from 2016 over 2015.
So far in 2017 11 lots and 7 homes have sold and 28 properties (14 homes and 14 lots) are under contract. January set an all time record in the area with 10 sold properties. Looking forward to the rest of the year, everything points toward a continued rally in the market which will only be limited by the supply of great proper- ties, so give us a call today to discuss listing your property! Or if you are a buyer, let the local experts help you navigate these tricky waters and still find you an outstanding deal.
 
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