Here’s the long-anticipated Park Circle Post. “I want a home with some character where I can walk to parks, restaurants and shopping.” “Can you find me an investment property that will experience better than average appreciation?” Both of these are available in Park Circle. Those familiar with the Charleston Market know this, but I wanted to go explore for myself. I don’t get paid to be a reporter, but being in my third year in real estate, and having had some success of my own, I’ll be looking to gain some tax advantages and use my real estate knowledge to my own advantage. So, I had just a couple of hours to learn as much as I could. Investors typically want something that will provide positive cash flow, which in Charleston means that it needs to be priced around $160k and rent for $975/mo. Here is what I learned. There are several sections in Park Circle, some of which are very nice, and others, not so much. The homes in areas not so nice didn’t seem to priced that much lower…it’s as if they thought the “Park Circle” brand name would carry them. The homes currently in the MLS for the most part, are leftovers. What do I mean by leftovers? There is something clearly lacking that explains why no one has bought it yet. Things that can’t be changed, or not very easily. For example, one home, which was on a nice street by the way, had four bedrooms, but two of them where in an area over the garage where you had to walk through one bedroom to get to the other two, and through the second bedroom to get to the third. In another case, the home had been added onto in such a way that it was just way overpriced. People tend to search around for advice and find someone that will tell them what they want to hear. So they find someone that says, “Oh, your home is 1400 square feet, we can easily get you $190,000.” What they don’t say, is that six months later, they’ll be looking for another agent, because they picked the agent based on price, instead of picking the agent based on their integrity, and discussing price later. A much wiser approach if you think about it. A third case, the home had been completely rehabbed, and was right across the street from a park. They were asking $179,000 for an 803 square foot 2 bedroom one bath. A little ambitious possibly, the owners are obviously willing to wait to get top dollar. Someone will eventually fall in love with it, even though some of the improvements were done, “on the cheap”. Some homes I didn’t even bother going into. I wouldn’t want my sister or mother living there, and will let someone more adventurous take them on. There is money to be made in blighted neighborhoods, but not by me. At least not at this point. So, what’s the answer? Having driven by dozens of houses, and going inside a few in just a couple of hours, I had a theory. Maybe the best homes, the ones that are priced realistically and are good opportunities either for families to live, or investors to make a fair profit are sold very quickly. Sure enough, I checked the MLS, and properties in Park Circle under $200,000 were more typically under contract in under a week, and in many cases were sold before they were listed. You have two scenarios. First, there are about 100 (of the five thousand) real estate agents in the Charleston area that make six figure incomes, and need tax shelters. They have access to the MLS real time, and are poised to jump on opportunities. I’m not quite there yet, but well on the way. The second scenario is that experienced investors who are direct clients of real estate agents that are too busy to do the down and dirty work of searching for properties. They have agents working for them, and a plan to strike quickly when opportunities arise. If you’re serious about finding a high demand property, you need to be prepared, and you need to have a plan to strike quickly That plan needs to have these critical components: You need an agent you can trust implicitly to help you make good decisions, that will never “sell” you.You need to be prepared to view the property the day it hits the MLS.You need to be prepared financially with bank information, or a pre-approval letter. You need to be prepared to deliver a solid offer, that makes it easy for the seller to say yes…preferably “as-is” with a free look period. Once you have a “ratified” contract, I suggest having the property inspected immediately, so you can clear the inspection contingency, or obtain a release from the contract. Basically, you just want to know that the property is structurally sound, and whether or not costly repairs will be needed. I hope this helps you. Some of the things you learned here can apply to any home purchase. If something online seems too good to be true, it probably is. Investor/agents are always on the lookout for the best deals, and they area gone in days. Your agent needs to be up to speed on technology to take care of you properly. They also need to know the market in which you’re looking. They need to know why properties on one street tend to be worth more than those on another and why. The Move2Charleston Team has agents assigned to different areas so you always get someone that knows the area in which you’re looking. I will help you sort through the different parts of town with the pros and cons of each and assign a local expert to you.