It’s important to take care of your lawn in all seasons, not just spring and summer. Since the weather in South Carolina doesn’t get cold enough to completely kill off grass, prepping in winter will lead to a greener, healthier lawn come springtime. As winter approaches and your turf looks less and less appealing, you can take some simple steps to return it to health and bring back its color. Just follow these 5 tips, and you’ll have the yard of your dreams year-round.
1. CONTINUE TO MOW
The most important thing you can do for your lawn is continue to mow until it goes dormant. This will keep the grass at a manageable height, as well as remove any excess debris that has built up. Be sure not to scalp your lawn, however; removing too much of the blade can damage your grass and hinder new growth. Warm season grasses found in the Southeast (like Bermuda, Centipede, and Zoysia) should be mowed to around 1-2 inches tall, depending on type. And remember the rule not to cut more than a third of your grass’s height at one time. Your lawn will continue to grow throughout the winter, albeit at a much slower rate, until the temperature drops below 40 degrees.
2. RAKE LEAVES
Raking is no one’s favorite task, but it does create a healthier environment and prevents fungal disease. Always rake before rain is expected. If leaves are left to create a wet mat, they will invite insects that may travel into your home. Be sure your last rake of the year isn’t too early (before all leaves have fallen) or too late (when they’ve started to decompose).
Aerating is the process of punching holes in your lawn to allow nutrients, air, and water to reach the core of your soil. Doing this before applying fertilizer or weed killer helps those products absorb, rather than being washed away.
If you only fertilize your lawn once a year, the best time to do so is fall. This will give your lawn the right amount of nutrients, oxygen, and moisture to grow come spring. If you wait until spring, your lawn will miss out on the nutrients it needs to survive through winter. Be sure to allow enough time for nutrients to absorb into the ground, where grassroots need them most, before watering your lawn, which can wash them away.
5. HIRE A PROFESSIONAL LAWN CARE TECHNICIAN
Maintaining your lawn year-round takes a lot of time and effort, and can be a daunting task. You may prefer to trust a local lawn care company. Coastal Turf, for example, specializes in services including core aeration, sod installation, weed control, and more. If you have questions, call a local technician to discuss specifics in your yard and what you can do to have the best curb appeal in the neighborhood!
BONUS REAL ESTATE TIP
If you’re selling your house in the winter, curb appeal remains crucial. Fortunately, Disher, Hamrick & Myers includes virtual landscaping in all our listing photography. Regardless of the time of year, we keep your yard tidied of leaves, your flowers blooming, and your grass as lush and green as it is during its peak. Take a before-and-after look at the possibilities:
Spring has sprung in Charleston, as evinced by all the beautiful blooms sprouting in area gardens and parks. When planning your own landscape design, be sure to include plants that are well-adapted to the area. They not only blend well aesthetically with other local flora, but more importantly, thrive in the environment.
The South Carolina Lowcountry is conducive to many plant types, from massive Live Oak trees adorned with Spanish moss that add a canopy of shade, to Southern Pines, to a number of spectacular ornamentals and unique grasses. Here are a few excellent choices for plants that not only do well in the Charleston-area climate, but also add beauty to your home.
These moderately tall shrubs boast colorful flowers that bloom in the winter. One of the most appealing attributes of the camellia family is that they are evergreen. In the Lowcountry climate, the leaf portion of stays green year-round.
While there are more than 3000 individual varieties across the US South, the Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) is most popular around Charleston. It was brought to the New World late in the 18th century by French botanist Andre Michaux and earned the name the “Rose of Winter.”
The camellia proves hardy in hot Lowcountry summers, and supplies a vibrant show of color through the winter months. You’ll see versions in hot pink, to pale pink, to white, and combinations of those colors. Many of the shades are the perfect landscape compliment to the primary colors of azaleas. Camellias also come in varieties that produce double flowers.
If you would like to see thousands of camellias in bloom, be sure to attend one of Middleton Place’s camellia walks. These free guided tours take place in early February each year, when the flowers are at their most spectacular. You’ll even visit the 1786 Reine des Fleurs, one of the first camellias planted in America.
Did you know that tea leaves come from a camellia? The Camellia sinensis also grows well in the Lowcountry. You can even tour America’s only tea producer, the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. Here, you’ll see fields of the plants growing – and if you come at the right time, even being harvested. While there, be sure to sample some American Classic Tea.
The azalea has provided the most popular spring color display in South Carolina for centuries. Each spring, thousands of avid fans across the south flock to Summerville’s Flowertown Festival to see the blossoms at their peak.
While some cultivators across Charleston are indigenous, others were imported from the Orient. The azalea finds an ideal home in the shade under native Live Oak trees. The pH soil levels in the Lowcountry are also next to perfect for growing massive clusters of azaleas.
The shallow root systems of nearly all azalea varieties are excellent for providing quick moisture from minimal rainfall. In isolated landscape planters, some irrigation can be helpful during long dry spells. They rarely need pruning, except in situations where shaping or containment are desired.
The crepe myrtle is a flowering shrub that can also grow to heights classified as a tree. Like the camellia and azalea, Lagerstroemia indica has a number of cultivators, many brought to the US from parts of Asia.
The name is indicative of the crepe paper-like bark that covers the tree’s trunk. As a crepe myrtle grows more mature, the light and dark spots on the trunk become an important part of its visual appeal. The pink, purple, or white flowers are equally as breathtaking.
Frequently, crepe myrtles are cut back in the late fall and allowed to winter over with virtually no top portion. During the next spring, shoots of limbs multiply. As the smaller crepe myrtles grows into trees, they provide a color spectacle that can last the better part of the Lowcountry summer.
Another species of flowering landscape foliage prevalent in the Lowcountry is the dogwood tree. Many native species grow wild in surrounding wooded areas. The two most common colors of its flowers are pink and white. Old dogwood trees often have an under layer of azaleas augmenting their spring display. The dogwood’s flowering is a signal of spring.
While not quite as visible as the bark of the crepe myrtle, the dogwood also has a unique texture to its trunk. As the trees mature, definitive bark grain begins to help foretell the years the tree has been alive.
Many historic homes in and around Charleston are as known for their fantastic gardens as they are for the actual house. Next time you are strolling through downtown Charleston, be sure to notice these popular landscape trees. Together with annual and perennial flowers, they keep Charleston blooming in vibrant color.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Now is the opportunity to pamper your loved ones – and yourself – with some of the best that Charleston has to offer. Here are our real estate agents’ recommendations for the most romantic spots to celebrate your Valentine’s Day in Charleston. Just click on each name to be linked to the individual businesses’ websites for more information.
MOST ROMANTIC RESTAURANTS IN CHARLESTON
Tempest– when it opened, this upscale seafood eatery on Market Street was named the #1 Best New Restaurant in the USAToday 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. The historic Harriott Pinckney Home for Sailors building in which they reside has undergone a beautiful transformation, including a custom-designed stained glass ceiling. Try out their special Valentine’s Day prix-fixe menu.
Middleton Place Restaurant – Once the daytime crowds have left, enjoy strolling the moonlit pathways of Middleton Place gardens before or after your traditional Southern meal at the restaurant. Don’t miss the Huguenot Torte for dessert! To top your evening off, book a romantic room in the Middleton Inn where you can enjoy champagne and chocolates in a soaking tub or beside the wood-burning fireplace.
Zero Restaurant + Bar – Located in a boutique hotel in Ansonborough, this small fine dining spot is the reason why Zero George was named one of Conde Nast’s Top 5 Foodie Hotels in the World.
Circa 1886 – Tucked in the former carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion, enjoy the seasonal menu or splurge on the 5-course tasting menu. After dinner, be sure to tour the Wentworth Mansion. If you are lucky, catch a glimpse of the city at twilight from atop their cupola.
Christophe – Treat yourself to handmade chocolates as well as delicious pastries from French Artisan Chocolatier-Pâtissier Christophe Paume.
Market Street Sweets – If chocolate alone isn’t your thing, indulge your sweet tooth with warm pecan pralines and fresh Bear Claws. Originally from River Street in Savannah, this shop also has locations on the Market and King Street. I dare you to walk by the smells wafting out of these shops without stopping for at least a sample!
Lotus Flower – Since 2000, the owners have been making some of the most creative arrangements in Charleston.
Tiger Lily Florist – The converted service station on Spring Street has become one of downtown Charleston’s premier flower shops, plus they deliver throughout the area.
Charleston Flower Market – This long-time shop on Maybank Highway on James Island advertises “uniquely creative” cut flowers and arrangements.
The Spa at Charleston Place– This European-style retreat is located in the Charleston Place Hotel in downtown Charleston. Guests have access to a rooftop pool with retractable glass ceiling. After your appointment, enjoy a poolside lunch. Or have a mommy and me day, treating your daughter to a “Lollipop Manicure.”
Earthling Day Spa – Another stalwart of the downtown spa scene, Earthling also houses a Pilates studio.
While many people enjoy the companionship of pets, animal lovers living in smaller spaces can have a hard finding the right one. Whether you lease or own an apartment, live in a rented room, small home, or even student housing, there’s a lot to keep in mind. You’ll need to consider available space, your building’s restrictions, noise levels, your budget, and time commitment,. In addition to cats and dogs, you may want to look into “exotic” animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, birds, turtles, or even fish.
Per Avery’s suggestion, a domestic rabbit can be the perfect apartment pet. Already the third most popular pet in America, they are well-suited for indoor living. Bunnies are smaller in size that most cats and dogs, weighing as little as 2 pounds. They are quiet, clean, and odorless — making for happy neighbors. You can even easily train them to use a litter box. You will need to rabbit-proof your space until you know your bunny’s personality and behavior. Since they do tend to exhibit natural activities like chewing and digging, you won’t want to be making repairs to your baseboards or risking your security deposit.
Be sure to check out the full article for more options, advice, and tips. And for all your Charleston real estate needs, give DHM a call at 843.577.4115.
Charleston, SC is a highly desirable place to live, with beautiful scenery, rich history, and a strong sense of community. However, the climate and soil in and around the city tend to promote foundation problems, which may lead to costly repair bills. Fortunately, if you know what to lookout for, and with the help a reputable home foundation inspection, you can prevent or remedy these problems.
Below, we’ll discuss common foundation problems, along with the likely underlying cause, the most appropriate solution, and the cost of foundation repair in Charleston. We’ll also point out some red flags that can help you identify problems before they become severe.
COMMON HOME FOUNDATION ISSUES IN CHARLESTON, SC
Cracks appear in nearly every home foundation after construction. Most are the result of ordinary, healthy settling of the concrete. Settling cracks are typically less than ⅛” thick and run vertically on the side of the slab or spread out across the surface. These aren’t cause for alarm in most cases, but many homeowners choose to seal them for cosmetic reasons and to prevent water intrusion.
Wider or uneven gaps in the slab and those crossing over the corners of your foundation are more severe and often indicative of structural damage. They develop because of soil movement. Charleston is underlain by expansive Bohicket soil, which is high in clay content. It swells and shrinks in response to moisture changes, exposing your foundation to uneven support and dangerous shifting.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT FOUNDATION CRACKS
If you have hairline cracks from normal settlement, you can have them sealed to keep water and moisture from coming through. In Charleston, this typically costs around $250 per crack.
If you have structural cracks that are wider, uneven, or spanning the corners of the slab, you likely need stabilization in the form of underpinning. This process involves placing supports, called push piers, under your slab to provide additional support where the soil is shifting. Push piers usually cost between $1000 and $3000 each, depending on the type you need. You can expect your total cost to fall between $3000 and $20,000.
Water intrusion is a the most common type of foundation damage in Charleston. A few factors contribute to this problem.
First, the city receives an average of 48 inches of rain annually, which is more than 1.5x the national average. Rainfall frequently saturates the soil, leaving home foundations exposed to moisture for extended periods. Runoff wicks through foundation cracks or directly through undamaged, porous concrete and enters your home.
Second, Charleston has very shallow groundwater, as it’s located so close to the coast. The average height above sea level throughout the city is just 19 feet, meaning there is little room for runoff to drain before it backs up to the surface.
This low elevation in combination with above-average rainfall leaves the city prone to flooding. Floodwater interacting with your foundation and the surrounding soil can contribute to shifting, and it promote water and moisture issues in your home.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT WATER & MOISTURE
One of the best and most permanent solutions to water and moisture issues is a waterproofing system. In Charleston, these typically include gutter systems, French drains, crack sealing, and soil gradation. For those rare homes with basements, the system may also include sump pumps, other interior drainage systems, or footing drains.
A waterproofing system in Charleston typically costs between $2000 and $7500, depending on the extent of the moisture issue. Your foundation repair specialist might recommend more extensive measures if your property experiences flooding regularly.
HOME FOUNDATION RED FLAGS AND FIXES
Home foundations are under a lot of pressure from the weight of your house and the expansive soil underneath. As such, it’s imperative to identify minor problems and have them professionally repaired before they become severe. Even a DIY foundation inspection can help unearth foundation problems before they develop into structural instability. Of course, you’ll want to follow up with a professional assessment of any concerns you might find.
Foundation cracks are the most prevalent foundation problem in the Charleston area. Most homes in the area are built slab-on-grade with limited access to the concrete. Still, you can inspect the visible strip of concrete under your home from outside. Look for cracks wider than ⅛” or those that wrap around the corners of your home. It’s best to have a structural engineer inspect these larger gaps. They can advise if the issue is structural in nature and requires stabilization.
Even if you don’t notice cracks, keep an eye out for signs of a shifting foundation inside your home. Typical symptoms include cracks in the sheetrock around windows, doors, and the corners of rooms, sloping floors, and nail heads popping through the sheetrock. You may also notice windows and doors that stick when you open or close them, indicating the framing has shifted in response to foundation movement.
MOISTURE IN YOUR HOME
Since most homes in Charleston don’t have basements, identifying water intrusion can be tricky. Homeowners likely won’t find visible water damage, but instead will notice changes in moisture. Moist air typically feels colder in the winter and hotter in the summer, so uncomfortable indoor temperatures can indicate a water intrusion problem.
Moisture trapped between your slab and your flooring can also promote mold growth. You might notice musty odors, non-seasonal allergy symptoms, itchy eyes, or difficulty breathing. These all suggest a moisture issue beneath your home.
Any signs of moisture should trigger you to contact a foundation waterproofer or repair specialist. They can help you decide if a waterproofing system will solve the issue or if simply sealing foundation cracks will rectify the problem.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A HOME FOUNDATION INSPECTION
Owning a home in Charleston, SC is a rewarding experience. Do be aware, though, that the local geology and climate can lend themselves to foundation damage. As such, a foundation inspection should be a part of your home-buying process. Afterward, you should regularly monitor your foundation for symptoms of damage, as outlined in this guide. Keeping a vigilant eye out will allow you to implement a professional fix before the issue becomes more severe and more expensive to repair.
If your daughter or son is attending one of the many colleges in Charleston, SC, you have several housing options. While many students will choose to live in a dormitory or rent an apartment, you should also consider buying a home near campus. Owning a rental home can be a worthwhile financial investment, as well as an educational experience for your child. Purchasing the property your student lives in while attending school offers many benefits:
Stability. Your student will be in the same location during their college years. There will not be a need for yearly apartment hunting.
Storage. Furniture and other belongings can remain in the home while you own it, saving both time and money.
Fixed expenses. Generally, rent in Charleston increases every year. The average rent in the downtown area is nearly $3200 per month. By buying your property with a fixed rate mortgage, the housing expense will be fixed for the duration of ownership. Keep in mind, you will also avoid paying security deposits and moving utility services.
Responsibility. Your child receives a lesson in real estate investing as well as the responsibility that comes with owning property.
Financial benefits. Your financial gains include possible appreciation in value, equity build up and the opportunity to charge rent to housemates.
Of course, there are some things to watch out for when considering buying a home for your student. College students are generally on the move, so staying in one location for four or five years could present a challenge. If you rent rooms in the home, you become landlords and your student may have to deal with irresponsible housemates. General maintenance costs are also something to remember when purchasing an investment property. Be sure to factor additional expenses into your formula.
When it comes to the actual purchase of your investment property, there are many options available for the title and financing. Some parents include the student’s name on the title for owner-occupied tax benefits, while some opt to buy strictly as a rental property. There are several ways to hold the title, so speak with your attorney and tax advisor to determine the best route for you.
When you have decided to move forward with a purchase, your lending institution should offer several strategies. If your student will be named on the title of the property, using a FHA “kiddie condo” loan is a good option. This program allows your student to qualify for the loan as a co-borrower with a blood relative. There is a maximum loan amount, so check here for limits in the location of interest. Another option is to use a non-owner occupied loan with conventional financing. Interest-only loans are also available that may have a lower monthly payment.
Should you wish to rent extra rooms to supplement the mortgage payment and share expenses, have each housemate sign a written agreement. Standard rental agreements can be obtained through your real estate agent or lawyer. The rental document needs to address the term of the lease, rate and due date for payments, security deposit, parking, pets, utility payments, maximum occupancy and notice to vacate.
When your student graduates or is moving on, you have several options. You can keep the property as an investment rental. If you have another child who attends the same school, you can make a similar arrangement with him or her. You can also exchange the home for another investment property in another location in a 1031 exchange. Or you can always sell the property and realize any profits from increased value.
Disher, Hamrick & Myers has homes for sale near the College of Charleston and MUSC that would make ideal student residences or investment properties. Buying a house for your college student has many advantages. To learn more and decide if this is the right strategy for your family, call us at 843.577.4115 today.
Home warranties and homeowner’s insurance share some common features, but they’re definitely not the same thing. Let’s look at some of the similarities and differences between these two products. Once you understand your options and responsibilities as a homeowner, you can choose the products that best suit your needs. And you just may discover you want both.
WHAT’S THE SAME?
Both homeowner’s insurance and home warranties involve paying a monthly or annual premium for protection for a specific amount of time. Both will protect you financially by covering certain kinds of damage to your home and possessions. When you make a claim, you will be charged a deductible, which is generally customizable with both products. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
While they’re commonly referred to as “policies,” home warranties are not insurance plans. Insurance plans are heavily regulated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, a body made up of representatives from all 50 states. Regulations vary from state to state, but the NAIC sets rigorous standards that states must adhere to and provides important consumer protections.
Alternatively, each home warranty company sets its own rules and it’s up to consumers to protect themselves. Be sure to do careful comparison shopping and understand the specific terms of the plan you select when purchasing a home warranty.
The other primary difference between home warranties and insurance is that one is mandatory for any homeowner with a mortgage. The financial institution that lends you money to purchase your house will require that you carry homeowner’s insurance as a condition of borrowing. Purchasing a home warranty, on the other hand, is optional.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROTECTION
Homeowner’s insurance comes in two basic forms: liability insurance and property insurance. Property insurance is closer to a home warranty. Both protect against damage to your home, but for the most part, they cover different things. Homeowner’s insurance protects the structure and contents of your home if it is damaged by such factors as fire, wind, or fallen tree limbs. Home warranties protect certain appliances and systems in your home that need repair.
For example, if a water pipe breaks and damages your carpet, the property insurance section of your homeowner’s policy will cover the cost of replacing the carpet. However, it won’t cover the cost of fixing the broken plumbing. By contrast, a home warranty will pay your plumbing bill, but it won’t pay to replace your carpet. Here, you can begin to see why both types of coverage may be beneficial.
In addition to natural disasters, property insurance covers damage to your home if you are vandalized. It also covers your personal possessions if you are burglarized. Home warranties do not offer protection in those cases. However, unlike homeowner’s insurance, they do cover repairs to items or systems necessary as a result of normal wear and tear. Home warranties also do not provide any liability coverage.
COVERAGE TYPES & DEDUCTIBLES
Both homeowner’s insurance and home warranties allow you to tailor certain policy features to suit your needs. For example, with a home warranty, most companies allow you to select coverage for systems, appliances, or both. Some offer pre-set packages, while others let you pick and choose the items you need covered. For example, if you own a pool, you can elect pool repair coverage. Homeowner’s insurance companies also permit you to add “riders” to your policy to cover items that are not normally covered in a basic policy. If you have expensive jewelry or antiques in your home, it’s a good idea to add riders to be fully protected.
Many home warranty and all homeowner’s insurance companies also allow you to customize your deductible. In the case of a home warranty, the deductible you pay is actually a service call fee. Home warranty deductibles generally range from $60 to $125. Homeowner’s insurance policies usually offer deductible choices between $500 and $2000, but some policies establish your deductible based on a percentage of your home’s value. Choosing a higher deductible will bring the cost of either type of policy down.
With a homeowner’s policy, you can generally choose your coverage limits. Your mortgage lender will require that you carry insurance that meets or exceeds the fair market value of your home. If you live in a home that wouldn’t necessarily fetch a high price on the market, but would cost a great deal of money to rebuild—such as in the case of a historic home that features high-quality or unique craftsmanship—it’s best to choose coverage limits that exceed your home’s value.
There are two types of property insurance: Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Cost Value (RCV). Here’s the difference in the event of a loss. If your home features expensive but older appliances, ACV would cover the depreciated cost of a used gourmet stove. RCV would cover the cost of purchasing a brand-new stove with the same features as your old stove. Similarly, if your home features elaborate plaster molding, ACV would pay to have a store-bought product installed in your home. RCV would pay out enough for you to hire an expert plasterer to rebuild your molding to original specs.
By contrast, RCV coverage is not an option with home warranties They have very specific limits to how much they will pay to repair or replace specific items or systems. Those limits may not cover the entire cost of your specific appliances or systems. Furthermore, many home warranties limit the total amount they will pay out in a single policy term, which is usually one year. You should carefully study the coverage limits of any home warranty to decide if is worth the price.
EXPERT ADVICE: THE BOTTOM LINE
Since home warranties cover items not covered by property insurance, many homeowners decide to carry both. The good news is that home warranties cost less than homeowner’s insurance. A comprehensive systems and appliances plan could cost you as little as $500, while the average cost of homeowner’s insurance on a $250,000 home is around $1400.
Your local real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in helping you make smart financial decisions throughout the home buying process. You even may be able to negotiate including a home warranty in your purchase agreement. Realtors® can also recommend insurance companies.
Your home is likely your largest financial asset. Both home warranties and homeowner’s insurance help you protect it.
If you are looking to relocate to Charleston, you are not alone. Young professionals, couples, and families alike are all flocking to the picturesque South Carolina Lowcountry. Our weather, beaches, job opportunities, and historic charm all draw new residents to Charleston. If you are among them, here are some important considerations when searching for your new home.
DISCOVER CHARLESTON’S NEIGHBORHOODS
The first thing you’ll want to do is narrow your search by exploring Charleston’s neighborhoods and surrounding areas. DHM provides a convenient Neighborhood Guide to help you determine which part of town is right for you. Each location offers its own perks. For example, if you are looking for a historic home, South of Broad is a beautiful, walkable area rich in history. If you prefer a bungalow in an up-and-coming area, North Central may be the right fit. If you want to live on the water or close to the beach, then you are going to want to check out Folly Beach or one of our other coastal islands. Is it important to you to be near a park, a bike path, or a recreational activity? What community amenities does your family want? Charleston has something to offer everyone. So prioritize your lifestyle wishes, then tour the town to find your best fit.
RESEARCH THE COST OF LIVING
The local cost of living is important to consider when moving to Charleston. While the state of South Carolina tends to be less expensive than the national average, Charleston tends to be a bit higher. This is especially true when it comes to housing. Home prices vary greatly depending on the part of town you choose. In order to better determine what you can afford, you’ll want to get preapproved for your mortgage. Completing this process will help you focus your search to areas and homes that fit within your budget. In addition, you’ll need to account for costs that may not be necessary where you live now — such as flood, hurricane, and earthquake insurance, as well as pest control.
WORK WITH AN EXPERIENCED LOCAL REALTOR®
To successfully navigate the busy Charleston market, you’ll want to seek the advice of an experienced local real estate agent. A professional that knows Charleston inside and out will help you find your perfect home with confidence. Especially in a hot seller’s market, working with a local expert is a must. Your Realtor® will present your offer quickly and negotiate on your behalf in the case of a bidding war.
CONNECT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITY GROUPS
A great and often overlooked way to learn about homes in Charleston is to reach out to local social groups, clubs, and organizations. Like-minded members can tell you firsthand what it is like to live in a particular neighborhood. They can also provide personal insights or make suggestions that you might not be able to find otherwise. As an added bonus, once you get here, you’ll already have friends and a social support network to help you quickly become part of the community.
CONSIDER EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION
Don’t forget to think about your new home’s proximity to your job, employment opportunities, and schools. How much of a commute are you willing to trade for outdoor space in the suburbs as opposed to a downtown condo? Also, if you are looking to further your education or have children, be sure to research Charleston’s many great public and private schools, colleges, and universities. You may even want to consider investing in a home or condo for student housing.
When looking for your ideal home in one of America’s most popular cities, it’s essential to do your homework. Charleston has so much to offer, there truly is something for everyone. From historic downtown to the beaches, you’re sure to find your dream home. And DHM is here for you every step of the journey. To get started, give us a call at 843.577.4115 or click here:
Today, Americans are buying homes for new reasons. The recent health crisis has truly reshaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many people to reevaluate what homeownership means and what they find most important in a home.
According to Zillow:
“In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible.”
With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the top reasons people are reconsidering where they live and thinking differently about what they need in a home.
WORKING FROM HOME
Remote work is becoming the new norm, and it’s continuing longer than most initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore, and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside city limits. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:
“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”
If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work and continued productivity challenging.
VIRTUAL & HYBRID SCHOOLING
Many school districts are using a model of virtual or hybrid learning, turning their curriculums into digital formats for students. If you have school-age children, they may need a dedicated learning space. If so, it might be time to find a larger home to provide your children with the same kind of quiet room to focus on their schoolwork, just like you need for your office work.
Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans. With concern around the safety of returning to fitness facilities, dreams of space for a home gym are growing stronger. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans explains:
“For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it’s a mental health issue.”
Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – mentally and physically – may prompt you to consider a new place that includes space for at-home workouts.
Especially for those living in an apartment or a small townhouse, outdoor space is a new priority. Zillow notes the benefits of being able to use your yard throughout the year:
“People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking.”
You may, however, not have the extra square footage today to have these designated areas – indoor or out.
MOVING MAY BE YOUR BEST OPTION
If you’re looking for extra room to accommodate your changing needs, making a move may be your best bet – especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need it most. To find a Charleston home that fits your family’s needs, give us a call at 843.577.4115 or start your search below:
Do you remember imagining the “house of the future” – whether on The Jetsons, or at Disneyland, or on any number of movies or promotional programs? Did you expect it would do all sorts of things for you? From vacuuming your carpet, to mowing your lawn, to making your meals, you likely envisioned an idyllic lifestyle where you could sit back and let technology take care of you. Well, the future is now, and smart homes are not only attainable, they’re growing in popularity every year.
For all their convenience and luxury, smart devices do have some drawbacks. From high upfront costs to security concerns, upgrading to a smart home might not be for everyone. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages before deciding if a smart home is right for you.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SMART TECH
A smart home, as the name suggests, is powered by smart devices. These are electronics, appliances, and other gadgets that you can control, automate, and customize – usually remotely. Smart tech is typically controlled via your smart phone and/or a hub. You’ve likely heard of the major players in the market: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google Assistant. Whichever your preference, the house of the future is only a tap (or command) away!
THE BENEFITS OF A SMART HOME
It’s Convenient & Comfortable
The biggest benefit to smart devices is that they make life more convenient and comfortable. With some upfront installation and programing, a smart-equipped home takes out some of the daily annoyances and chores related to running a home.
There is a lot you can automate, from adjusting the lighting, to changing the channel on your TV via voice command, to asking your smart assistant to look up a recipe. You can also tackle chores like watering your lawn, vacuuming your house, or making a grocery list. While some of these tasks enable an easier lifestyle, others are life-changing, especially for those who may have physical limitations.
Would you like your coffee to be ready and waiting when you wake up in the morning? What about bedroom blinds that open up automatically? Does a fridge that can detect its contents and expiration dates sound good? And what if you could never touch a vacuum again? Imagine the possibilities.
You Save Time
If you’re a busy person – perhaps you’re a parent, a caretaker, or you have a demanding career – you are very familiar with the challenge of finding pockets of time to dedicate to chores and other home-related activities. Sometimes, even getting up to make the coffee can feel like precious minutes taken. Imagine no longer having to dedicate a weekend morning to yard work because the smart mower does it for you. Or not having to make a trip to the grocery store after work because your fridge put in an order for delivery.
Cutting out a minute here and 10 minutes there adds up to more time to sleep in, relax on the couch, socialize, or work on that big project. Time is money, and you’re getting some of it back to use in more productive ways that enrich your life, instead of draining it.
You Save Money
Speaking of money, a big selling point of a smart home is that it saves you money in the long-run. Yes, it can be expensive to set up, but it can also be one of the best investments you’ve ever made for sustainability – both financial and ecological.
Smart lightbulbs don’t use nearly as much energy. Plus, they perfect the amount of light your living space requires, based on the activity, time of day, and number of people. The same goes for smart thermostats. According to Nest, households with smart devices save an estimated 15% on cooling costs and 10%-12% on heating costs in a given year. You could be cool and comfortable in the Charleston heat without feeling guilty about the energy bills, because you’d save over $130 a year. Smart home upgrades are attractive to home buyers as well, and can increase your asking price when it comes time to sell your home.
THE DRAWBACKS OF A SMART HOME
You Rely On Wi-Fi
If you’re excited about the prospect of introducing smart tech into your life, you’ll need strong, reliable Wi-Fi. If your internet is down, so is your house, and you’re back to doing things manually. Fiber internet is recommended because it offers superior speed and stability. Be sure to shop around for the providers in your area that offer the best service at the best price.
A lot of smart devices are sold as a security upgrade – especially smart doorbells and cameras. But because they are inherently reliant on Wi-Fi connections, that can also be a weak security point. For example, Amazon has recently introduced a feature called Sidewalk that, when enabled, allows anyone walking down the street to connect to your network. That poses some security concerns, as not everyone wants to share their broadband.
In addition, any device connected to the internet can be hacked. Perhaps you’ve heard stories about baby monitors or video cameras being accessed by outsiders. Intruders can pull relatively benign tricks like messing with the lighting or thermostat in your home, or more serious ones such as accessing your locks. Always be sure to utilize the utmost security on your network. Also be sure to check your privacy settings according to how much of your personal information you are willing to share in return for functionality.
A smart home is definitely an investment with upfront costs that can be significant. But as the technology becomes more commonplace, more companies produce this type of tech. This increases competition, options, and affordability. In the meantime, the range of products currently available varies greatly in price, so look around to find what fits in your budget.
While some dream of owning a smart home that’s just short of having a live-in maid, it’s not for everyone. While it certainly has a lot of advantages – you’ll love that smart fridge when you forget your shopping list at home – it can also pose some legitimate concerns.
The technology is still young, so there are security issues you need to be wary about. You will also need reliable Wi-Fi, and some upfront investment. But if you do decide to go for it, you’ll enjoy long-term savings on your energy bills and a lifestyle upgrade.
What are your thoughts on a smart home? Tell us in the comments below what concerns you and what smart tech you can’t live without.