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Friday Five // February 9, 2018

We’ve got a possibly rainy weekend in the forecast, but there’s still tons of fun to be had around the Lowcountry. Celebrate your Irish heritage, attend the comfiest party of the year, see your favorite Disney characters on ice, and more! Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a happy and safe weekend.

If you’re of Irish descent, or if you just have of love of all things related to the Emerald Isle, you’ll want to check out Lowcountry Irish Fest this weekend. This family-friendly, two-day festival takes place at the Omar Shrine Convention Center at Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant on Saturday and Sunday. The Lowcountry Irish Festival is a musical and cultural festival celebrating all things uniquely Irish in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Charleston’s history is rich in Irish culture, from some of the city’s founding fathers, to Irish plantation owners and laborers, and the Irishmen who powered the H.L. Hunley with their bare hands. Come out and enjoy live music and dance on four different stages and treat your tastebuds to some traditional Irish cuisine.

Doggie Days are back at the Isle of Palms Saturday morning. Man’s best friends will take over the IOP Recreation Center from 9am until noon for the award-winning Doggie Day event. Mingle with other dogs and their humans, have your dog’s photo taken for free, and take advantage of some great offers. Veterinarian Dr. Jose Biascoechea will offer rabies vaccinations for $10 and microchipping for $30 from 9-11am. Isle of Palms Animal Control will sell dog licenses for $5 and will be happy to answer any questions concerning pets on the island.

Get comfy-cozy in your favorite onesie pajamas and head downtown Saturday evening for the Valentine’s Day Weekend Onesie Bar Crawl. Check in at Tommy Condon’s from 3-6pm and grab the scorecard you’ll need for the rest of the crawl. The official after party starts at 8pm at NV and will feature a DJ, Best Onesie contest, and more. Although this is a "bar crawl,” participants are not required to imbibe. Get your scorecard stamped and earn your event t-shirt by simply showing up at each location.

If you have little ones (or even grown-up ones!) who are fond of all things Disney, The Wonderful World of Disney on Ice is the event for you this weekend! Celebrate magic and family fun and take a stroll down memory lane with Minnie and Mickey Mouse. Travel to Arendelle with Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. Go on an ocean adventure with Dory, Nemo, and Marlin. Dance along with Buzz and Woody. Make unforgettable memories with your favorite Disney Princesses, and more! Performances take place throughout the weekend. Check the website for times and tickets.

Sunday is the day for one of our favorite events, Second Sunday on King Street! King Street will be closed to traffic from 1pm until 5pm, allowing locals and tourists to stroll the street and enjoy shopping, dining, entertainment, and fellowship. Click here to view a few specials and newcomers, and to get your free two-hour parking voucher, good at most City of Charleston parking garages this Sunday only.

 

The DIY-er's Tool Kit // How to Be Prepared for Almost Any Project at a Moment's Notice

Whether you’re hanging wall art, assembling a crib, or doing some heavy-duty building, having a well-stocked toolbox is key to doing-it-yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned veteran or are new to the DIY club. You need at least a basic toolkit so you won’t have to stop in the middle of your project to borrow or run out to the store and buy what you need. Here are some essential tools to keep on hand for all your DIY projects.

Two Hammers

Yes, you can get away with having one multipurpose hammer, but ideally you need two hammers in your toolkit. A lightweight hammer will do for smaller projects like putting a small nail in drywall or adding trim work to furnishings. Have a heavy duty hammer on hand as well for projects that take a little more “oomph,” like nailing into a stud.

Screwdriver Set

Of course you know you need the standard Phillips head and flat-head screwdrivers for most jobs around the house. Thing about buying a screwdriver set that has various magnetic tips in different sizes that can be switched out for different jobs.

Tape Measure

Don’t settle for a cheap one. Get a well-made, sturdy tape measure that’s at least 25 feet long and has a locking mechanism. It’ll be good for pretty much any project you can think of.  

Vise Grip Pliers

This is an extremely versatile tool that you’ll be glad to have when you need an extra hand. Vise grip pliers lock into place and can be used as pliers, a pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench, wire cutters, a ratchet, or a clamp. The most common version is 5-10WR, which should work for just about any job around the house.

Level

Whether you’re hanging pictures on the wall or building a bookcase, you need a level in your life. Get a fancy laser level or use our favorite—the good old standard with the bubble indicators.

Flashlight or Headlamp

A flashlight is a necessity when you need to get into small, dark space like attic spaces, under cabinets, or behind large appliances and furniture. A headlamp or work lamp will come in handy when you’re doing a smaller job in dim light without extra hands around to hold a flashlight.

A Really Good Drill

While corded versions are less expensive and don’t require battery replacements, cordless drills are obviously more portable and convenient. Get one that has multiple speeds and is reversible. Invest in a really good, powerful cordless drill, and you shouldn’t need to replace it for a long time. You can go up to 18 volts, but that makes the drill much heavier. A 12-volt drill will work just fine for most of the items on your honey-do list.  

Jigsaw

A jigsaw is safer and more versatile than other saws. Table saws can be dangerous if you’re a newbie, plus they’re not really portable. Jigsaws are light enough to carry around and use wherever you need to make your cuts. They can do delicate jobs as well as more heavy duty ones and can even cut curves. Go ahead and add on a set a set of blades that will allow you to cut materials like metal and PVC too. At about $10 for a combo pack, they won’t bust your budget at all.

Safety Glasses

It’s a good idea to keep more than one pair of safety glasses handy. One pair could break, or you might have a helper on the job who’ll need a pair as well. Keeping your eyes protected is extremely important, so don’t skimp on this.

Shop-Vac

A Shop-Vac is a great all-purpose tool to keep on hand. It sucks up sawdust and other construction debris with ease and won’t cost an arm and a leg. We recommend getting a Wet/Dry version so you can handle all manner of messes without a care.

Outdoor Extension Cord

Your regular around-the-house extension cord won’t cut it. Look for an outdoor extension cord that’s at least fifty feet long. To power your Shop-Vac and other electric tools, grab a 12-amp cord with three-prong plug.

A Can of WD-40

Did you know that there are over 2,000 uses for a simple can of WD-40? Seriously, this stuff is so amazingly versatile. Use it to lubricate a lock, stop a squeak, or remove crayon from almost any surface in your home. Trust us. You want to keep a can around at all times.

A Container for All Those Tools

Any sturdy container will work. If you want to use your grandfather’s vintage toolbox, go for it. Need more space? A Rubbermaid container will do the job.

What other tools do you recommend for the everyday, average-joe DIYer?

9 Ways to Save for a Down Payment

There are loans out there that cover 100% of a home’s purchase price, there are other loans that require a down payment from the buyer. If you don’t qualify for a 100% loan and don’t have much in the way of savings, finding the money to make a down payment on a home can be tough. Don’t let a lack of cash stand in the way of homeownership. Instead, try these nine tried and true ways to save for a down payment. You’ll be surprised at how the little things can add up.

Lower Expenses

Sit down and take a look at your budget. (If you don’t have a budget, now is a good time to get organized and create one!) Where can you cut or lower monthly expenses? What can you eliminate or reduce? You don’t have to deprive yourself of life’s little pleasures—just cut back on them for a little while. For example, if you usually buy coffee on your way to work, try making it at home most days of the week and treat yourself every few days. Take a look at what other monthly expenses can be scaled back. Apps and services like Truebill, Hiatus, and SubscriptMe are good tools to help you keep track of how much you pay for monthly subscriptions and paid memberships. Some other good apps to use for tracking and managing your money include Clarity, Mint, Wally, and You Need a Budget.

Crowdfunding

You’ve seen crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter for business ventures and GoFundMe for personal fundraising. Now you can crowdsource money for your down payment through HomeFundMe. Through this service, which is the only platform approved for helping crowdsource a down payment, qualifying homebuyers can receive up to 1% of their total down payment or closing costs. In addition, the platform’s approved lender CMG Financial will contribute $2 for every $1 raised, up to $2,5000.

Direct Deposit

If you have a problem with saving, try setting up a direct deposit that puts a portion of your paycheck straight into your savings account. Saving is so much easier when you don’t even see that money in the first place. If you don’t qualify for direct deposit through your workplace, you can also set up an automatic draft from your checking account weekly, monthly, or however often you’d like. It’s a highly customizable option.

Skip Vacations

Hear us out. We’re not talking about work overload with no vacation at all. Just challenge yourself to become creative when it comes to your vacations. Try smaller breaks like camping, short road trips, or a staycation. The money you’ll save by refraining from taking big trips for a while can really help boost your down payment. Once you’ve bought your house and are all settled in, you can treat yourself to a big, relaxing vacay to celebrate.

Reduce High Interest Debt

Credit card debt—especially those with high interest rates—can really put a limit on how much you’re able to save monthly. Start by paying off the credit cards with the highest interest rates. Once you’ve paid the highest one off, close that account and pay off the next. If you have the option to transfer the balance of a high-interest card to one with a lower interest rate, take advantage of that.

Borrow From Your Retirement Plan

Your 401(K) or IRA could be the perfect place to find a little extra money for your down payment. You’ll have to check to make sure that your particular retirement savings plan allows you to borrow against it. If so, you might be able to borrow up to $50,000 or 50% of your 401(K) balance, and first-time home buyers could qualify for an exemption of up to $10,000 from IRA early withdrawal penalties.

Sell Some Investments

If you have other investments, consider selling them to raise funding for your down payment. Don’t think of it as losing an investment; think of it as moving those funds into a different investment. When you buy a home and make your mortgage payments, you build up equity in that home. As the value of the home increases, so does your equity and the return on your investment.

Get a Side Hustle

A second job can help you add a good bit to your savings account. Some people deliver pizzas, drive for Uber or Lyft, wait tables, sell arts and crafts, or babysit as a temporary job to make a little extra money on the side. This is a great and honest way to earn extra income that you can set aside specifically for a down payment on a new house. The best part is you don’t have to pay it back! Bonus points if you can make some extra money on something you like doing, like painting or pet-sitting.

Challenge Yourself

Make saving money a game. Instead of looking at reducing expenses as a loss or hardship, look at it as a personal challenge. See how many days in a row you can go without that latte from your local coffee shop. Challenge your work friends to see who can go the longest without going out to eat for lunch. Create a little club where you all brown-bag it and eat together in the break room. The money you save in these little ways make sound like pocket change, but they can really add up over time.

 

5 Things TV Shows Don’t Tell You About Tackling a Fixer Upper

We won’t lie. The home improvement shows that have taken over the airwaves in the last few years can be pretty entertaining. In fact, we’ll admit to getting sucked into a five-hour marathon session of HGTV’s Property Brothers once or twice. (Hey, those guys are funny and endearing!) The problem is that some home improvement shows can be misleading at best, and downright deceiving at worst. There are quite a few aspects of buying, selling, flipping, fixing, and renovating that they don’t address on television.

1. Buying is more complex than it looks on television.

Finding a home isn’t usually as easy as viewing three houses and choosing the one you like best. Things might work out that way once in a blue moon if you’re lucky. But in reality, it can take a month or more to find that perfect home to call your own. The journey to the closing table often gets left out of the process as well. When a buyer’s offer gets accepted, they celebrate like the home is already theirs. The buyers on many of these programs have already chosen or already own the homes they end up with. That’s because what happens between presenting an offer and actually owning the home can take around thirty days or more, and producers typically don’t have that kind of time to invest in the filming of one episode.

2. Renovation takes time.

Some home improvement shows are good about giving realistic timelines. Others make it look like an entire kitchen renovation gets completed in no time at all. Through the magic of television, three people are able to complete the work of thirty in one weekend, which is completely unrealistic. What they don’t show is just how many contractors are working on a project behind the scenes or the fact that they might be working round the clock to make their deadline. This is their full-time job. Unless you have a ton of free time, expect your reno to take much longer than they do on TV.

3. It also takes more money than you think.

Renovation budgets aren’t necessarily realistic either. Sometimes the contractors and homeowners get discounts or freebies for featuring or talking up a certain product. Some talk about needing a contingency set aside for emergencies or unexpected issues that might arise, but most do not. It’s crucial to have some room in your budget for things you might discover during the course of your renovation, such as a damaged foundation, faulty wiring, or other things that absolutely must be fixed. Another thing they don’t tell you: all those fancy furnishings and decor used to stage the home don’t normally get left behind after filming wraps up. The homeowners have the option to buy the staging decor after the fact, but it seems to come at a premium.

4. Flipping a house is not "easy money."

Sure, there’s money to be made in flipping. But by no means is it easy money. There’s the issue of finding the right deal. And then there’s always the risk of over-improving the home and not making a profit—or worse, not even covering the materials and labor you put into it. Maybe you didn’t do enough improvement or the work isn’t up to par, and you can’t find any buyers. Flipping can be a tricky job, and it’s one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just because a flip house is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a good deal. You have to take into consideration the house’s location, how much work it needs, and its resale value based on comps in the area. It’s best for a beginner to team up with an experienced mentor to learn how to do it properly.

5. The drama is ramped up for ratings.

Obviously, the most important thing for a television show is ratings. They can’t make money if viewers don’t find their show interesting. Home improvement shows have been known to crank up the drama to keep their audiences engaged. They make some issues that are actually quick, inexpensive fixes look like a huge deal. Here’s an example.

Contractor: This wall that we wanted to remove is a load-bearing wall, and that is the WORST POSSIBLE THING THAT COULD HAPPEN. Plus, the flooring we wanted is discontinued, and this box of tiles I bought has one that is cracked.

Homeowners: (near tears) Oh, no! How are we going to afford all of this? Now we’ll never have the home of our dreams. This is a nightmare. We should never have bought this home.

The show cuts to a commercial, and we come back to find that the contractor has come up with a simple solution to the ordeal.

Okay, so that example might be a little bit hyperbolic. But so are a lot of the emotions on television. Storylines are embellished, and sometimes "sob stories" are created by producers to create an emotional attachment for viewers.

If you do the job right, tackling a fixer upper shouldn’t be quite as drama-filled as it looks on TV. There’s certainly no harm in watching home improvement shows as long as you realize they aren’t always realistic. Just take these five points into consideration and hopefully you won’t have any unwelcome surprises when it comes time to do your own renovation.

 

 

Friday Five // February 2nd, 2018

Got any plans this weekend? Well, you do now! Attend a nostalgic prom, celebrate a beloved book series, watch the Big Game with friends, and more. Read on below to find out what’s in store in the Lowcountry this weekend. As always, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a very happy and safe weekend!

On Friday evening, the Charleston RiverDogs host their 14th Annual Hot Stove Banquet, featuring Atlanta Braves and NY Yankees great Andruw Jones with Braves World Series Champion, Ryan Klesko. The event takes place at the Crystal Ballroom at Charleston Marriott and features a cocktail hour and cash bar, photo and autograph session beginning at 6pm, a silent auction, dinner, and a collectible table gift. The Hot Stove Banquet benefits the College of Charleston, Citadel, and Charleston Southern University Baseball Scholarship Funds. See the link above for ticket prices and other information.

This Saturday, science, technology, engineering, and math enthusiasts will take over Brittlebank Park for the 5th annual Charleston STEM Festival. The festival is a ”highly visible outdoor event that provides opportunity for engagement and exchange between children, teens, families, and local STEM professionals.” The event runs from 10am until 3pm on February 3rd. Roughly 80 exhibitors will provide hands-on activities, interactive demonstrations, live performances, and family-oriented STEM entertainment. The Charleston STEM Festival is an initiative of the Lowcountry STEM Collaborative managed by South Carolina’s Coalition for Mathematics and Science (SCCMS) at Clemson University.

Saturday night, don your best vintage formal wear and head down to The Royal American for the 1950s Winter Prom! Twist and shout the night away to live music provided by Grace Joyner & Gold Light, who will be playing your favorite hits from the ‘50s as well as their own original tunes. Then DJ Lanatron will take over playing the best dance-worthy oldies. Practice your best “cheese” face, because there will also be a photo booth for those nostalgic prom pics. Doors open at 8:30pm, and tickets are $10 and can be reserved at the link above.

Also on Saturday evening, Barnes & Noble will host Harry Potter Book Night at its Rivers Avenue location from 6pm until 8pm. Wear your best Hogwarts finery and participate in lots of Harry Potter-themed activities. There will be a maze, a Transmogrification Game, a wand-making station, and a bowtruckle-making station, along with coloring and other activities throughout the store. Call the North Charleston Barnes & Noble for more details.

Don’t worry—we haven’t forgotten about this weekend’s big game! Super Bowl LII is a must-watch for many Lowcountry residents, and there will be lots of Super Bowl Specials going on around town. Watch the Philadelphia Eagles battle it out with the New England Patriots at any of the following locations:

Mellow Mushroom Avondale

Frothy Beard Brewing Company

Edmund’s Oast Brewing Co.

Bay Street Biergarten

The Alley Charleston

Buffalo Wild Wings (Multiple Locations)

These are just a few local places hosting Super Bowl watch parties and specials throughout the Lowcountry. There are many more! A quick Facebook Events search will lead you to the perfect place in your neighborhood to watch the big game.

 

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