Friday Five // April 4, 2014

There are so many things to do this weekend in the Lowcountry. Check out these five events and decide what to do in Charleston this weekend, then get out there and enjoy it!

The 37th Annual Cooper River Bridge Run takes place this Saturday. Every April, about 40,000 runners and walkers participate in the annual 10k race, which runs from the Shem Creek area of Coleman Blvd. in Mt. Pleasant to Marion Square in downtown Charleston. After the race, celebrate your accomplishment at the Finish Festival in Marion Square. If running isn't your forté, cheer on the racers and enjoy the after party!

Lowcountry residents and tourists will celebrate spring at the 42nd Annual Flowertown Festival in Summerville from April 4th-6th. Bring the family out and enjoy fun activities, food, sights, arts and crafts, and more! Admission is free for all. 

Jambalaya, andouille sausage, alligator, étoufée, and crawfish will abound at James Island County Park this Sunday during the Lowcountry Cajun Festival. In its 23rd year, the festival features a crawfish eating contest, live music, a crafts market, carnival rides, and games for kids. Admission is $10 for those over 12 years of age. Kids 12 and under get in free. 

Every spring, students at the College of Charleston are invited to submit their recent works of art to Young Contemporaries, a juried student exhibition that takes place at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. This year's juror is artist Bill Dunlap, who must choose the students who will exhibit their work from among hundreds of entries. The work will be available for viewing the the Halsey Institute from Friday, April 4 through May 3. 

The Family Circle Cup wraps up this weekend with its semi-final and final matches. Enjoy concessions from food trucks and local restaurants, wine and beer gardens, and live music, and live music between matches. Visit their website (here) for ticket prices and packages. 

With so many activities to choose from, we know you'll have a great time! Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wishes you a safe and happy weekend.

A Brief History of Summerville's Flowertown Festival

The first weekend in April is a favorite time of year for many residents of Summerville thanks to the spring weather, the beautifully blooming azaleas, and the loads of family fun provided by the Summerville YMCA's Flowertown Festival. This weekend, April 4-6, 2014, South Carolina natives and tourists alike will flock to historic Summerville for the 42nd annual festival. 

The Flowertown Festival is a long-standing tradition dating back to 1972, when two volunteers for the Young Women's Christian Organization, or the YWCO, visualized a springtime event that would celebrate the blooming azaleas and help raise funds for the YWCO. The first festival was a great success, featuring arts and crafts booths, carriage tours, hayrides, pony rides, bicycle races, a tennis tournament, a square dance exhibition, a parade, and a beauty pageant to crown Miss Azalea Queen. 

Today, the Flowertown Festival is ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the top 20 events in the Southeast. The festival still offers something for everyone: booths featuring fine art, crafts, and vendors, a Children's Jubilee with carnival rides and activities, exhibitions from various clubs and organizations, and delicious foods and beverages from the Taste of Summerville. A new event. dubbed KidsFest, has been added this year as well. It features Blooming Artists, where kids can "develop their artistic potential through personal expression by selling their individuall crafted, original objects," says the website. Also included in KidsFest is ChalkFest, an event in which kids aged 14 and under can create works of art using sidewalk chalk on a 5'x5' area at the Cuthbert Center Tennis Courts. A panel of judges, which includes News 2's chief meteorologist Rob Fowler, will award prizes to three winners from each age group.

All proceeds from the festival go toward the furthering and continuation of the YMCA's philanthropic mission by "offering programs at an affordable rate and helping families in need who cannot afford to pay program or membership fees," states the festival's official website. "Over 15,000 people in Summerville and its surrounding communities participate in YMCA sponsored programs and membership."

If you're looking for some family-friendly fun, one-of-a-kind purchases, and delicious food from local restaurants, head on out to the 2014 Flowertown Festival this weekend and participate in some major family fun. We hope to see you there!



How-To Tuesday: Staging Ideas

You love your home. You adore the colorful walls, the plush furniture, and the gorgeous family photos that grace the walls. Your house is neat, tidy, and has plenty of room for movement. Why wouldn’t any prospective buyers fall in love with it, too?

Well, here’s the thing. Buyers couldn’t care less about your design tastes or your family photos. Ouch, right? Don’t take offense. A potential buyer’s reaction has everything to do with their personality and individual taste. So let’s talk about home staging. Have you seen those TV shows where design and construction crews come in, demolish and rebuild the kitchen, repaint the entire home, and refinish the hardwood floors? In reality, it doesn’t take that much effort to stage your home for showings. Instead of going all out, try these simple, inexpensive staging ideas that are sure to appeal to any buyer’s taste. 

Toss the clutter. Getting rid of clutter is the number one thing you can do to help buyers envision themselves in your home. Ask yourself what you can live without, and box it up or donate it.

Finish unfinished projects. Come on. Admit it. You know you have at least one. That uncovered light fixture you never got around to replacing? The half-painted guest room? Take care of those now.

Change your paint. Seeing a very bright or dark color as soon as they walk in can be off-putting to buyers. Switch to a neutral color. That doesn’t mean you have to paint everything a boring white or beige. Neutral colors can be anything from a simple taupe or dove gray to a beautiful light blue or a touch of sage.

Create the illusion of space. There are a number of ways to do this. Paint adjacent rooms the same color to open up the area. Do the same with flooring. It joins the two rooms together, effectively opening up the space. Arrange furniture in conversation groups to show the function and flow of the room.

Appease both genders. If you’re dealing with both genders, keep the master bedroom neutral. You might think your frilly curtains and abundance of throw pillows are inviting, but that tough-guy buyer might not.

Lighten up. Let in as much natural light as possible. In areas that don’t see much sunlight, the key to remember is 100 watts of light for each 50 square feet. Combine ambient light (general overhead lighting) with task lighting (pendant, under-cabinet lights) and accent lighting (table/floor lamps). Table lamps give a warmer, more intimate feel for nighttime.

Replace outdated flooring. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on this. If your kitchen laminate is worn out or your tiles are cracked, you can replace it with vinyl tiles or planks, which have become very popular and are way less expensive than the real thing. Another option is to stain the concrete underneath. Stained concrete can give a modern, custom feel to a room.

Show off storage space. Clean and organize all storage areas, such as closets, kitchen cabinets, under-sink storage, and pantries. You don’t want potential buyers to see your cluttered mess. You want them to see how much storage space you have!

Do a quick update. Replace old hardware on any cabinets, drawers, or other fixtures with pull knobs and switches. Don’t forget light switch plates. These can get pretty grimy and yellowed over the years.

Repaint doors and frames. A new coat of white paint here will create a clean, modern feel.

Give nooks purpose. You know that odd 4’x4’ nook at the top of the stairs? Stick a comfy chair and a floor lamp there and transform it into a reading area. And that odd little niche space in the living room could be a great place for a built-in bookshelf or a little table.

Give bathrooms ambience. Roll up some fresh towels. Put out pretty soaps and accessories. Frame a boring mirror with painted molding. Hide any personal items. Doing this can give a bathroom a spa-like feel.

Display art creatively. A bunch of framed pictures hanging at eye level can honestly be kind of boring. Make sure you don’t have an abundance of family photos on the walls. Stagger your paintings and prints. Hang a bunch of small frames in a large grouping. Just don’t line them up around the walls in a straight line.

Don’t forget to stage the exterior! Make sure sidewalks and driveways are clean. Mow the lawn regularly. Plant colorful flowers or place them in pots on the front porch. Scrub the patio down, pressure wash the siding, and clean the windows. Hang an attractive yet neutral wreath on the front door, and voila! Pretty and inviting.

Bring the outdoors indoors. Seasonal flowers or greenery gives a finishing touch and brings a little sunshine to any room.

Choose just a few of these little projects, or use our tips as a checklist to help you get your home ready all of those showing appointments that are sure to come your way. Happy selling!


Friday Five // March 28, 2014

It's time again for our Friday Five, in which we bring you five links to posts, videos, and articles we think you'll find interesting and informative. Included in this week's lineup are a video on home design, information on the kickoff to Charleston Eat Local Month, and an inspiring article about a few special entrepreneurs.

Home Advisor presents a video in which top kitchen and bath industry brands talk about Spring design trends.

Want to be motivated to start your own business? Read this article from American Express about three teenagers who all founded successful companies before they turned 18!

Find out how to participate in the Eat Local Month challenge beginning on April 1st.

Check out this article from Inman News about Fannie Mae's extension of a 3.5 percent closing-cost assistance incentive for newly listed HomePath properties in its REO inventory.

Pick up a copy of the Charleston City Paper to see the results of their Best of Charleston 2014 Awards, or see them on their website.

All the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!




What Exactly is a Short Sale?

In recent years, it has become common for homebuyers and investors to look toward distressed properties for great deals on homes. Often, buyers can get homes via short sale or foreclosure for much less than the home's original purchase price. You're probably already familiar with the definition of foreclosure, but what about short sales?  

As a general definition, a short sale involves the sale of a house that is no longer worth the amount of the mortgage loan. Short sales keep owners from going into foreclosure, which is detrimental to their credit scores. While the situation is not ideal for either the owner or the bank, it just might be the only economical option they have.

As an example, let's consider the hypothetical Smith family. The Smiths bought their home for $200,000. Five years later, they have paid $40,000 in principle, which means they have $160,000 left on their mortgage. Mr. Smith has lost his job and has not been able to find more work. The Smiths cannot afford to make their mortgage payments anymore, but they know that going into foreclosure will hurt their credit and make it more difficult to buy another home in the future. They decide that selling is their only option. The real estate market been in a major slump in their area, leading to a drop in property values. As a result, their home now appraises for $130,000. The Smiths do not have $30,000 to make up the difference in what they owe, so they approach the bank about a short sale. What happens next?

 First, the bank must approve the home for a short sale. To demonstrate their circumstances, the Smiths send the bank a hardship letter, explaining that Mr.    Smith has lost his job. With the letter, they send paystubs, bank statements, and proof of other assets. Now, it's up to the bank to decide whether a short sale or a foreclosure will present  less of a loss. Luckily, the  bank approves the short sale.

But as those in the real estate business like to say, there's nothing short about a short sale. Because the owner and buyer must wait for the bank to approve an offer, a short  sale takes much longer than a private sale would. The buyer must have patience and time to wait for the third party's approval process. Though the bank takes a loss, and the owners  lose any future equity they might have been able to accrue in the house, the buyer gets a great deal on a home that's usually in good condition.

Oh, and after the sale of their home, the hypothetical Smiths move to a new state, where Mr. Smith lands a great job, and they all live happily ever after. 

What is your opinion of short sales? Have you ever participated in one? Was the process smooth, or were there a lot of roadblocks along the way? Let us know in the comments below!


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