How-To Tuesday: 5 Tips For Taking Great Listing Photos

Believe it or not, photography is a very important aspect of listing a home for sale. Pictures can either entice buyers or turn them off completely. You could have the most beautifully written description of a home, but if unattractive photos accompany that description, there's a chance that  buyers will dismiss your listing without even seeing it in person. To ensure that you present your home in the best possible way on the MLS or other real estate search sites, follow these tips for take photographs of your listing.  

1. Be sure to include multiple photos on your listing. One picture of the outside of a home is not representative of what it has to offer. Buyers like to see photos of the main living areas. Include pictures of the kitchen, living room, master bedroom and bath, and any other rooms that might be especially attractive.

2. Lighting is key! Natural light is best, but sometimes, the weather doesn't cooperate. It's a good idea to bring a secondary light source with you just in case there isn't another source already in the home. Make sure to avoid backlighting. When your subject is placed in front of a light source, the picture will come out too dark. If there are blinds in the room, play around with angles: open them halfway or close them completely. Take some test photos and work with what you have, but if there's no avoiding it, you might want to go back on a less sunny day to take photos of that specific room.

3. Clear the clutter. Before you snap a photo, remove any items from the room that could draw attention or make it look messy. Clean off tables and counters. Remove things like playpens or other baby items. Make sure any clothing is put away, including coats or purses hanging on hooks. Move cars from driveway and garage. All of these items can be put back as soon as the pictures are taken.

4. Pay attention to details. If there are areas or details that are especially interesting, make sure to shoot those, too. In addition to the main living areas, snap pictures of bathrooms, secondary bedrooms, dining rooms, closets, storage spaces, outdoor living spaces, and any unique add-ons and upgrades.

5. Photoshop is your friend. You'll probably need to adjust or touch up a few (if not not all) of your photos when you get back to the office. If you're not sure how to use Photoshop, there are lots of tutorial on the Internet.

If you haven't been following these key steps when photographing your listing, do so now! We promise you'll see a huge difference in how a home for sale is presented to the public.


April 2014 Charleston Real Estate Market Report

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors (CTAR) has released preliminary data for April 2014 Charleston real estate market activity. 1,143 homes were sold in April in the Charleston area at a median price of $215,000. These numbers are up from last April, when 1,028 homes sold at a median price of $200,000.

Breakdown by County

In Berkeley County, 222 homes sold at a median price of $176,000.

In Charleston County, 656 homes sold at a median price of $268,500.

In Dorchester County, 225 homes sold at a median price of $173,000.

7 Ways to Combat Pollen In The Home

The fight against springtime allergens is one that seems to be never-ending, especially in South Carolina homes. Come early spring, when some states are still dealing with snow-covered streets, we're battling that bright yellow layer of pollen that settles over everything during spring in Charleston. We're walking sneezing and wheezing and complaining about congestion. While you can't completely combat allergens (unless you lock yourself up in an airtight chamber for the season), there are some steps you can take to reduce the amount of pollen that gets tracked into the home.

1. Anything you touch outside affects you. Your car, patio furniture, yard tools, and outdoor toys are all huge pollen catchers. Turn to storage solutions to cut down on the yellow stuff. Park in the garage. Cover or store outdoor furniture, and put toys and tools in a shed or garage.

2. Make sure to wipe your feet on an outdoor mat, and then take your shoes off as soon as you enter the house.

3. When doing yardwork, make sure to "decontaminate" when you go back inside. Put clothes in a hamper or straight into the wash, and shower as soon as possible.

4. Similarly, if you've been outside for a while, be sure to wash your hair before bedtime. The last thing you want is pollen on your pillow. Even trace amounts can affect your allergies. Another solution: wear a hat when you're outside.

5. Be vigilant about dusting! This one's sort of a no-brainer, but it's a step that can be overlooked due to busy schedules. Dust and vacuum often, and be sure to empty vacuum containers outdoors.

6. As tempting as it can be to leave doors and windows open when the weather gets warmer, those allergens will blow right in with the breeze. Keep them closed, and change your HVAC filters regularly.

7. Pets are a definite culprit when it comes to tracking in pollen. Brush or wipe their paws down when they come inside and bathe them regularly throughout the season.

While it's not possible to get rid of all traces of pollen during the springtime, following these steps will make it a little easier on you and your family!

How-To Tuesday: Childproof Your Kitchen

Safety is always a concern when little ones are present in a home. Kitchens and bathrooms usually pose the most risk for mischief and injury. This week, let's look at a few ways to childproof your kitchen. No matter how well you supervise children in your home, it only takes a split second of having your back turned for an accident to occur. In any given kitchen, you'll find fire, heat, toxins, and sharp tools. Since this room is the one where families spend a lot of their time (whether eating, working, socializing, or just hanging out), it's imperative to take certain steps to ensure the safety of your little ones. 

The key to babyproofing is organization! When everything is in its place, and everyone knows what goes where, it's easier for little ones to understand which areas are dangerous. Here are a few organization tips to help you keep your kiddos safe.

  • Keep small items out of babies' reach. Don't leave items on counters or tables that could be potential choking hazard; put them in a designated drawer or cabinet. Take small magnets off the fridge. As a rule, anything that can fit inside an empty toilet paper roll is considered a choking hazard.
  • Stow small appliances (mixer, toaster, can opener, etc.) in a cabinet or pantry. While it can be annoying to have to take them out every time you need them, it's worth knowing that your young ones can't get to them.
  • Designate a special place for trash. It might not occur to you that a trash can could pose a threat. Think about building a slide-out cabinet to house your trash can, or simply keep it under the kitchen sink.
  • To organize sharp tools, install a magnetic strip in a high place above the stove or counter. It's a great way to keep knives out of reach and have them close to your food prep area and allows you to keep tabs on them at all times.
  • As pretty as they might look, even tablecloths and runners pose a risk. Toddlers are known for yanking on hanging items! One tug on a tablecloth, and a heavy object or hot liquid could come tumbling down. Keep the temptation away by stowing table linens when not in immediate use.
  • Store potentially toxic or harmful substances together on a high shelf in a locking/latched cabinet or pantry. 

Safety epuipment doesn't have to be an eyesore. Two basic babyproofing tools that are at the top of most parents' lists are latches and baby gates. But some people consider these tools unsightly and sometimes confusing. These days, though, there are a lot more options for safety features than there were in the past. Latches, which go on doors, cabinets, and drawers, come in lots of different styles and colors. There are even choices that will match your stainless steel appliances. Just like latches, safety gates don't have to be ugly and cumbersome. There are tons of sleeker options these days, including custom styles. If you still don't like the idea of gates and don't have an open kitchen, consider going with custom dutch doors.

Prevention is the best remedy for home injuries, but they do happen from time to time. Knowing in advance what to do when an accident occurs is important. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen at all times, and make sure family members and visitors know where it is. Have a first aid kit in a kitchen drawer; it should include items like bandages, ointments, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, tweezers, etc. Last, designate an area for emergency phone numbers, preferably one that can be seen at a quick glance. Doing so can help keep panic to a minimum if an accident does occur.

Do you have any other babyproofing tips to share? Let us know in the comments below!

7 Unique Buildings Made From Repurposed Shipping Containers

According to Wikipedia, there are approximately seventeen million intermodal freight containers (A.K.A. shipping containers) in the world. Yes, you read that right. We're talking about the big metal rectangles that travel on the backs of semi-trucks, trains, and ships to transport goods across cities, states, countries, even oceans. Today, we want to talk a little bit about the second life these industrial containers have been getting after their "retirement". The recycling and repurposing of shipping containers, known as "Cargotecture," isn't exactly news. For years now, they've been used to build to homes, commercial buildings, and housing additions. Today, we're taking a look at a few ways some brilliant people and companies have repurposed shipping containers.

 General Motors is collaborating with the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative, which takes vacant land and repurposes it for better use. GM has built Detriot's first homestead made of recycled materials. The home (pictured in an artist's rendering above) will be occupied by a college student studying urban agriculture. The student conducting the urban farm study will serve as caretaker and will maintain the farmland around the property.


Seven colorful containers found new life as a library in Batu, Indonesia. The library is home to 6,000 books, and each of the containers acts as a different section. The green one is the main lobby, the red houses science and technology texts, the blue has entertainment books, and the yellow acts as a women's reading room. One of the best parts? These containers were only about $820 each.


Starbucks erected a drive-through cafe in Tukwila, Washington from four containers, which equals about 450 square feet of interior space. The space is enough to house three baristas in an area comparable to the size of the working area in a regular Starbucks store. We applaud large companies who come up with unique ways to increase sustainability and reduce environmental and operating costs.


This Ecopod pied-a-terre in Toronto acts as a mini retreat built to function off the grid. With flooring made from recycled rubber and thermal insulation consisting of soy-based products, this Ecopod is truly eco-friendly.


You'd probably never guess upon first glance that the Redondo Beach House in Manhattan Beach, California, is fabricated from eight shipping containers. This is a shining example of how repurposed containers don't have to give a home an industrial look. This elegant, clean-looking beach house has even won coveted architectural awards.


Les Grandes Tables, a restaurant in Paris, has been designed to maximize light and air and also contains a greenhouse and garden, which provides the chef with fresh produce. The construction of this restaurant complements the sustainability focus on sourcing organiz food and wines from renewable resources.


 Container-based construction isn't limited to residential and commercial buildings. Israeli architect Yoav Messer is in the final design stages of his Ecotainer Bridge which will be located in Ariel Sharon Park in Israel, an urban nature park centered on environmental ecology and sustainability.


Do you have any experience with repurposed shipping containers? What other brilliant examples have you seen of this unique type of architecture?





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