Is This a Good Time to Buy? Have We Seen The Bottom in Charleston?

There’s a new leading indicator in the MLS stats that is an equalizer.  It’s the average price per square foot.  It was tricky trying to base home prices based on the average or median price because, what if most buyers are spending their bugdet and getting more home for their dollar?  In May, the average price per square foot was $128 vs $159 May last year, and $130 in April.

Cash In on Tax Credits While Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

You can qualify for 30% toward materials up to $1,500 for roofing, siding, heat pumps, air conditioning and so on.  http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=products.pr_tax_credits#c3.  It just takes a little research, an estimate and the right forms and you’re all set.  It’s best to consult with your tax professional before making any final purchase decisions.  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5695.pdf is the link to the form you will need.  There you are.  You have the two references you need so go ahead and call your contractor.  Oh, yes there is a catch.  You’ll have to wait until tax time next year before your credit materializes.  I wouldn’t wait since you never know how long we’re going to keep on funding programs out of any empty bucket.  Hope this helps folks.

Top Business Managers Looking for a Challenge? How About Becoming A Business Consultant?

This may seem a bit off topic for Charleson, but times are tough, and there are people looking for opportunity.  I have been working with the Business Management Consulting Firm IPA since 2000, and thought it would be a good idea to put the word out via this blog that employment opportunities exist for Savvy Business Managers with superior leadership skills.  I’ll give you the bad news first.  The job is 100% travel where leave Sunday night and come home for the weekend Friday evening.  Many people that attempt to get started with IPA are unsuccessful, mostly because the job requires tremendous flexibility and adaptability.  The work can be very gratifying to the point of being addictive, explaining why many consultants stick around in spite of the crazy travel.  Anyway, here are the qualifications for a Business Consultant:

10 Years Senior Management Experience

Bachelors Degree

Ability to work freely with MS Excel and Word

You have to survive a 10 day training/selection process.  My class started with 23 and ended with 13.  The work is very challenging and rewarding for those that have the business and leadership skills to affect change in small businesses, most of which are under $2 million in annual revenue and less than 15 employees. 

If you’re interested, please get in touch with me so I can introduce you to the corporate recruiter.  My email is jim@signaturesgroup.com.  I’ll happily provide you with candid answers to your questions about what it’s really like, the good the bad, and the ugly.  Happy job hunting.

Still Looking For That Ray Of Hope? Keep Looking.

March unit sales were 33% off of last year.  Inventory levels and days on market are still ridiculously high and unchanging in any significant way.

Our Insurance Company Is Paying For Most of Our New Roof

For you Charlestonians, there was a hale storm around March 1, 2009.  This storm did some damage to our roof, which we would not have known about it, had it not been for Progressive Roofing.  We were sceptical when we received the card in the mail, but then they followed up by knocking on our door.  They had all the right answers to all of my wife’s questions.  It all sounded too good to be true of course, but they assured us this was the real deal.  Well….we have received the checks as they said we would.  We have to pay the deductible as well as a little extra because we wanted architectural shingles.  We bought our home four years ago, and one of the things that helped us was that the last roof installation they didn’t tear off the old shingles.  This meant that it was not possible to repair the roof. 

Let us know if you have an older roof and we’ll help put you in touch with our new friends.  This IS the real deal.

The Three Most Cost Effective Ways To Lower Your Energy Bills, Make Your Home More Comfortable, AND Improve the Quality of The Air You Breath

1.    Seal Your Attic.  As you know, your attic space gets VERY hot in the summer time, the time of year when energy costs are highest in the Charleston SC area.  There are several access points for this super heated air to enter your living area.  Anywhere pipes and wiring passes through your attic into your living space, you have HOT air leaking into your home.  Also, by adding a foil-like cover to your insulation, you can reduce the temperature of the surface area in contact with your ceiling drywall.  This temperature can be reduced by 30 to 40 degrees, thereby requiring your air conditioner to work less to maintain your home at a comfortable temperature.

 

2.    Seal and Enclose Your Crawlspace.  Particularly if you have a musty odor, enclosing your crawlspace from the outside, while also ceiling any leaks through plumbing and wiring access points will result in energy savings similarly to ceiling your attic.  An improved moisture barrier can be applied that will further reduce crawl space moisture levels.  If you have mold in your crawlspace already, this can be treated and then sealed with a non-toxic product that has a lifetime warranty. 

 

3.    Bring in Outside Air Pressure Into Your Air Conditioning System.  There are a couple of concerns with conventional air conditioning systems.  First, if you have leaks, even small ones, in the air ducts in either your attic or your crawlspace, you’re sucking in un-conditioned air into your system.  This air could be extremely hot or extremely damp, neither of which are good.  Second, if your system is either neutral, or is creating a vacuum, there are un-filtered drafts coming in from outside through your windows, doors, and even your siding/walls.  The fix for this is a Filter Fresh Air Ventilation System (provided by Indoor Environmental Systems, Inc), which brings in outdoor air, rather than crawl space or attic air, filters it, and then increases the pressure from within your home so you don’t have outside air coming in.  With newer, tighter homes, it’s important to have a supply of fresh air so you aren’t just re-circulating the same stale air over and over. 

 

If you have musty odors in your crawl space, or have family members complaining of allergy symptoms, particularly persistent headaches, your crawlspace and duct work could be the biggest culprit.  Certainly pollen is a huge contributor, but eliminating mold from your home can drastically reduce the most severe allergy symptoms, particularly headaches.  Many mold remediation companies recommend and install de-humidifiers in the crawlspace.  The cost is typically high, and they have to be replaced after 3 to 5 years depending on how much they are running. 

 

According to the EPA, homes experience a “Stack Effect” where air flows from bottom to top in the Summer time.  For further explanation of the “Stack Effect”, visit www.indoorenviron.com

What’s Changing With Charleston Real Estate?

An article in Forbes Magazine, January 2009 listed Charelston as one of the top 25 strongest housing markets in the country.  One of the key indicators is when a particular market is projected to hit bottom.  The article says that Charleston will hit bottom in late 2009.  So what’s happening right now?  I can tell you.  Inventory is still increasing along with days on market while monthly sales are at an all time low, sub 500 per month.  Woh, that’s bad.  January was 415 and February – 388.  There may be a few unposted sales for February, but not many I don’t think. 

I’m very glad to see that someone thinks things are going to get better soon.  Charleston is a great place to live.  Prices have finally started to come down significantly, at least from an average and median price standpoint.  The average is down $42,000 and the median $20,000.  This could be that more expensive houses aren’t selling so you have to be careful what to conclude from these averages.  They don’t necessarily mean that you can expect to buy the same home for $20,000-$40,000 less. 

There are opportunities out there for those that are in a position to buy.  While there are many sellers that are still unrealistic about what they can expect a buyer to pay, there should be enough that are seeing the light that you should be able to get a deal.  I’ve been saying this  every since 2007 when things started going down hill.  If you work with a sharper harder working agent, you can definately find deals.  I’m not on the bandwagon with the “This is a great time to buy” crowd.  I know I certainly wouldn’t be happy if I purchased a home and watched it drop in value by $20,000.  We don’t know where the bottom is going to be, or how long it is going to take. 

If you can’t stomach an extra move, and you’re going to be in your house awhile, the interest rates are low, and we probably are close to reaching our bottom.  No one can tell you, however, what that bottom is going to look like.  Interest rates are a huge part of the equation over 10 years or more, so definately keep a close eye out if you’re in a position to buy.  Also, definately make sure you are working with a skilled and hardworking agent.  If you need  a referral, please get in touch with us.