Friday Five // August 8, 2014


Say it with us: TGIF! Do you have big plans for the weekend? If not, and you're looking for some fun things to do in Charleston, you've come to the right place.

This weekend is the return of the Charleston Custom Home and Remodel Show at Johnson Hagood Stadium. The event takes place Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Admission is free on Friday or $7 Saturday and Sunday. Highlights at this event include a myriad of vendors, a drawing for a $22,000 backyard makeovr, a hurricane and disaster expo, free grilling demonstrations, a gallery of custom homes, and a mystery celebrity backyard challenge.

On Sunday at 6pm, head over to Middleton Place for the 2nd Annual Hot Nights & Holy City Dinner, hosted by Middleton Place Restaurant and Holy City Brewing. The cost is $85 per adult. Details from Middleton Place: "Executive Chef Brandon Buck has reached out to regional farmers for their freshest and finest to create his five-course summer dinner. South Carolina’s Manchester Farms quail, North Carolina’s Ashley Farms guinea hen and Heritage Farms pork belly, along with a Carolina shrimp bouillabaisse, will heat up the sultry night." 

Need a fun family event? Try the Charleston Pirate Festival, co-hosted by the Charleston Maritime Center and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Activities include a meet and greet, craft tables, story-telling, a costume contest, pirate artwork and artifacts, a sword-fighting demonstration, and various vendors. Landlubbers and seadogs alike can swing by the Maritime Center at 11am on Sunday to participate in the fun.

If you're looking for something quiet and low-key, Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is offering buy-one-get-one-free tickets through the month of August "for garden lovers who want to enjoy the warm summer sun in America's last romantic-style garden." Click here to be taken directly to the page where you can register for your BOGO coupon.

This weekend, we've got not just one, but THREE free outdoor movie showings. On Friday night, you can view the newly released Divergent at Gahagan Park at 8:30pm in Summerville, Also on Friday, The Ponds in Summerville hosts an entire event built around movie night. Enjoy food trucks and jump castles beginning at 6pm, and kick back on your lawn chair or blanket at watch Raiders of the Lost Ark at dusk. Popcorn and bottled water are free. If you're up for a Saturday movie, check out Wannamaker Park's offering. They'll be showing The Lego Movie at 8:15. Admission for all three is free for adults, kids, and dogs on leashes.

As always, there's so much going on in the Lowcountry this weekend. Get out there and enjoy it!


6 Remodeling Projects That Add Value To Your Home (...and 4 That Don't!)

Remember the children's book If You Give A Mouse A Cookie...? As the title suggests, the book is based on a snowball of activity that all begins with giving a mouse a cookie. Well, we've found that home remodeling projects tend to go the same way. For instance, let's say you've decided to replace your flooring. While the old flooring is up and the subfloors are exposed, you might decide that it's the perfect time to paint the walls. When you paint the walls, you might decide to take the color into the kitchen. When you repaint the kitchen, you might decide that the cabinets need a makeover as well. It could go on and on and on! Our point is that it's easy to get carried away with home remodeling once you start. All of this time and money spent on remodeling is great if you're working toward making the perfect home for yourself. But if you plan on selling your home soon, there are some projects that aren't worth the time and money they cost. Below are seven remodeling projects that will improve the value of your home. So put on your blinders, avoid all other distractions, and get to work!

1. Create a great first impression. While adding curb appeal via landscaping is definitely important when you try to sell your home, we're talking doors here. A new front door (especially an upgraded steel or fiberglass door) is certain to catch the attention of future buyers. Go ahead and think about installing a new garage door, too, if yours looks worn or outdated.

2. Add useable square footage. You don't have to add on entire new rooms to accomplish this. Take any underutilized space in your house and turn it into something new. An attic can be converted into a really cool bedroom or office. The space under the stairs can easily become a half bathroom.

3. Update the kitchen. Think minor upgrades to recoup the most cost. This is one of the best improvements you can make to increase the value of your home. Update the cabinet fronts and hardware, install a new mid-priced sink and faucets, replace the counter tops if needed, and add a coat of fresh paint. Little details go a long way. If you're willing to spend a little more, energy-efficient appliances are a great and very appealing upgrade.

4. Add a deck. Outdoor entertaining has become increasingly popular, especially here in the South. A deck or nice patio at the back of the home is a nice addition that's sure to catch buyers' eyes. Because you can do this on a low budget, it's easy to recoup the cost.

5. Install energy-efficient windows. Smart buyers are interested in anything that will save them money in the long run. According to Energy Star, replacing older windows with new, energy-efficient ones can save about $500 a year on heating and cooling. In addition, some electric companies give rebates or other incentives to homeowners with energy-efficient features. This might sound like a big expense, but HGTV says that you can recoup anywhere from 60% to 90% on this upgrade.

6. Take care of other updates. Many sellers assume that buyers would rather do minor updates themselves, but a home that has been well cared for is much more attractive than one that needs new carpeting or has a minor mold issue that needs to be cleaned up.

While you're working on improving the value of your home, beware these four projects that more than likely won't recoup costs at resale.

1. In-ground swimming pool. While pools are enjoyable and fun, they aren't attractive to all buyers. They require a lot of upkeep and increase energy costs and homeowner's insurance. If you plan to live in your house for several years and would like to install a pool for your own enjoyment, by all means, go for it! But if you plan on selling in the next two or so years, it's not really worth the effort.

2. Major kitchen upgrades. We know, we know. Kitchens are huge selling points. But before you add that dream gourmet kitchen, make sure that you aren't making an overimprovement. While minor kitchen remodels bring about 83% return on investment, major ones ($50,000 +) only tend to net around 74%.

3. Extravagant landscaping. Sure, that backyard paradise will appeal to buyers, but it won't do anything to add to your home's price per square foot. Make more affordable, classic, subtle changes instead.

4. A rand new roof. While this might be a necessity in some cases, it won't increase the value of your home (unless it's falling apart). New roofs
are great selling points, but you won't recoup the cost of a brand new roof at sale.

What experiences have you had with improvements that add (or don't add) value to your home? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Tell us in the comments below!


How-To Tuesday: Create a Household Budget

Whether you live paycheck to paycheck or pinch pennies and save like crazy, it's always a good idea to have a household budget. Here's how to set up a standard budget and stick to it.

1. First, decide what you'd like to achieve through setting up a budget. Do you to pay off your car loan? Quit your job? Have a baby? Save for a vacation? Build your savings account? Having a goal to work toward helps you make wise spending choices when you're faced with temptation. Every time you want to stray from the budget, ask yourself, "Would I rather go out to eat or go on that European vacation next year?" It might sound overly dramatic, but reminding yourself of the positive things you're saving for keeps things in perspective.

2. Put your budget in writing. Write down your entire monthly income and all of your expenses. Money left over after all required expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) should be spread out over smaller categories that cover every possible expense. A list of categories might look something like this:

  • Mortgage or rent
  • Utilities (electric, gas, water)
  • Gas for vehicles
  • Internet and Cable
  • Cell phones
  • Groceries
  • Monthly services (pest control, lawn care)
  • Childcare
  • Medications
  • Entertainment (dining out, movies)
  • Clothing
  • Individual spending money (pocket money)
  • Misc. (for incidentals like postage, gifts)

You might have completely different categories, but this is a good example of an average family's expenses. Every dollar should be accounted for within these categories. How much goes into each category is entirely up to you. Is entertainment more important than clothing? This is also a good opportunity to look at how much you're actually spending each month on things that might not matter that much. If there are any categories you can get rid of, go for it! For example, many people are getting rid of cable these days and watching their favorite TV shows through online providers. The beauty of the budget is that it's highly customizable and can be adjusted anytime.

3. Use whatever method works for you. One of our favorites is the envelope system. Label one envelope for each category in your budget. Each time you get paid, divide cash among the envelopes according to the budget. This makes a much better visual than a standard bank ledger. Whenever an envelope is empty, that category is out of cash until you get paid again.

4. Use direct deposit wisely. Saving is much easier if you never see the money in the first place. Instead of transferring money from checking to savings every time you get paid, have your employer divide your check between the two. For example, $2,000 per paycheck goes into checking, and whatever's left over goes straight into savings. Your savings account will build exponentially, and you won't even feel the difference.

5. Adjust the budget as needed. You'll need to account for occasions like Christmas and birthdays ahead of time.

6. Realize that a budget is based on trial and error. You won't get it right the first time. (If you do, please tell us how you did it!) But if you keep at it and have a common goal to work toward, sticking to a household budget will become second nature.

What are your best tips for creating a household budgets? Tell us in the comments section below!


Friday Five // August 1, 2014


It's time once again for the Friday Five, where we bring you five fun and interesting things to do around the Lowcountry for the weekend. Check out an artists' market, enjoy Gullah culture, shop tax-free, and more! Read on for details.

Charleston Culinary Tours is hosting a Fresh at the Farm Dinner Series, and this weekend marks the second of the series. On Sunday, August 3rd, attendees can enjoy a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres hour from 5:30 to 6:30pm. Family-style dinner will be served from 6:30 to 8:30pm. The cost is $75 per person.

The Music Farm is the place to be this Saturday from 10am to 3pm for the Lowcountry Artist Market. Come see handmade and vintage items like jewelry, clothing, stationery, decor, art, and more. Admission is free, but bring your wallet! You won't be able to turn down some of the amazing wares vendors have on display.

On Saturday from 12pm to 7pm, learn all about Gullah/Geechee culture at the Gullah-Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival. The event takes place at the Charleston Maritime Center and features visual art, music performances, and a living Gullah/Geechee marketplace.

Reptiles take over the Omar Shrine Auditorium at Patriots Point during ReptiDay this Saturday from 10am to 5pm. View snakes, lizards, and exotic animals on display and available for purchase. Live seminars and demonstrations will show you that these animals are much more than creepy crawly critters! Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids aged 5-12. Children under 4 get in free.

Don't forget about tax-free weekend in South Carolina! This Friday through Sunday is the perfect time to get your shiny new school supplies, back-to-school wardrobe, and college necessities. For information on what items are exempt from sales tax this weekend, click here. Hint: It's a long list!

That's it from Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company this week. Have a fun, safe weekend!


Tips For Making A Move Easier On Pets

Moving is usually stressul for everyone, but it can be especially vexing for the furriest members of the family. If you're moving with pets, there are a few things you can do to help them stay calm and acclimate to their new environment more easily.

 Before the move:
 -Request your pet's records from the veterinarian. Having those handy when  you visit a new vet will help make the switch seamless. There won't be any  question about medication names or due dates for vaccines.

 -Buy a new collar with updated tags. You'll need to make sure you have your  new address and phone number printed clearly.

 -Check to see whether the county or state you're moving to requires pet licenses. If so, register them in advance so you'll have the tags ready for the new collar.

-Take your time with packing. The more of a "norm" it becomes for pets, the less stressed they'll be when they see their home being upended from top to bottom.

-Make sure you have a refill of any medications so you don't run out during the move or before you can find a new vet.

During the move:
-Keep your pet in its crate. Even though it might seem cramped and uncomfortable, it will actually bring them a little comfort during the stress of travel. It'll also keep pets and other travelers safe.

-Make sure food, water, medications, toys, etc., are easily accessible.

-If you're driving, don't forget to make regular stops for bathroom breaks!

After the move:
-Lay out your pet's essentials before unpacking so he or she has a few familiar items in a strange new house.

-Start a new routine right away. Pets need routine to feel comfortable. Allow them to familiarize themselves with the neighborhood or surrounding area.

-Seek out a new vet right away if you haven't already done so, and find out where to take pets in the event of an emergency.

Do you have other tips for helping make a move go smoothly for family pets? Let us know in the comments section!





A friend of ours who recently bought a house enthusiastically referred us to Johnson & Wilson. Our friend's recommendation was top notch - Johnson & Wilson. is AWESOME! - Brian
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