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December 17, 2010
The most recent Advanced Placement test results were just released for Charleston area high schools. Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant had the highest percentage of 3 to 5 test scores in exams taken of all the schools in the Charleston tri-county area. 340 Advanced Placement tests were taken by 307 Wando students. 422 of the exams taken received a test score of between 3 and 5 which was 90% of the total number of tests taken.
November 10, 2010
The town of Mt. Pleasant, SC and the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission reached an agreement with the “Heart of the Town LLC” to purchase 245 acres on Riffle Range Road for athletic fields and a new park at a cost of $20 million . It will be five years before the town will have the funds to develop the land.
October 22, 2010
The town of Mount Pleasant were awarded a $10 million dollar grant to widen highway 17 from the Isle of Palms Connector to Darrell Creek Trail. There will be sidewalks, bike trails and safe areas for the sweetgrass basket ladies to make and sell their goods. Roadway construction will begin sooner than has been expected.
October 20, 2010
Southwest Airlines Announces Baltimore/DC, Chicago & Houston Flights From Charleston
Southwest Airlines will begin service from Charleston to Baltimore/Washington area, Chicago, Nashville and Houston on March 13, 2011 according to a news article in the Post and Courier. The airline will operate seven daily nonstop flights. The airline will operate out of gate B5 at the Charleston International Airport.
The airline announced that the company is offering a special two-day fare sale on Southwest.com through 11:59pm (PDT) on Thursday, 10/21/2010. Customers can find fares as low as $30 one-way to any nonstop market to and from Charleston and Greenville for travel through April 6, 2011. When the sale ends, customers will be able to find fares as low as $59 one-way for every day except Fridays and Sundays March 14, 2011 through May 25, 2011.
October 15, 2010
Real Estate News Update
Ellington Woods Condos at Dunes West
For years, it has been my opinion that the Ellington Woods Condos in the Dunes West subdivision have been some of the nicest, most affordable, spacious and attractive condos in the Charleston area. Prior to the real estate “melt down” these 2 and three bedroom units sold in the $240,000 + price range. Sales prices of these units declined the past few years along with the decline in the general real estate market. The decline in sales prices was accelerated by a law suit filed in 2008 against the developer and contractors alleging defective construction. As a result, most lenders were unwilling to make loans on Ellington Woods condos as was the case in many other condo communities in the Charleston area due to law suits being filed alleging defective construction. As a result, the sales prices of Ellington Woods condos declined to the $140,000 +/- price range due to the fact that most purchases required cash and the concern as to the extent of the alleged defects and whether the home owners association would prevail in the lawsuit.
During the week of October 11, 2010, Ellington Woods homeowners were informed by letter from their plaintiffs attorneys that a proposed settlement agreement has been reached between the plaintiffs and some of the defendants. The overall gross amount of the settlement claims is $2,800,000. Attorney’s fees and expenses will be deducted from this amount.
Assuming that the net settlement proceeds will cover any defective construction issues at Ellington Woods, I feel that the these condos are extremely attractive at “today’s prices.”
October 14, 2010
Photo courtesy of Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines plans to announce details of its first South Carolina flights within a week. The low cost airline will disclose the flight times and destinations for Charleston International airport on October 20, 2010. Charleston International airport is located about a 20 minute drive from Mt. Pleasant.
October 14, 2010
Conde Nast Traveler Magazine has voted Charleston, SC as their second favorite city behind San Francisco and voted Charleston as America’s friendliest city for 2010. The town of Mt. Pleasant, SC is located just minutes from historic Charleston.
October 13, 2010
Mount Pleasant Town Council OKs Plan To Share $20 Million Deal With County Parks
The Mt. Pleasant town council has agreed to spend $10 million in a 50/50 partnership with the Charleston County ark & Recreation Commission to purchase 245 acres to be used for recreation fields in the center of Mt. Pleasant. The land is located between Six-Mile Road and Hamlin Road. There are some unidentified issues that could keep the purchase from happening. The town of Mt. Pleasant is spending $5 million in greenbelt funds and another $5 million from various sources. 93 acres of the land are in the Hamlin and Contentment subdivisions. 87 acres are in the Copahee subdivision and the rest of the land in the Seashore subdivision.
October 6, 2010
I have just finished an analytical report of the high end real estate market in the town of Mt. Pleasant, SC that you may find interesting.
The State Of The High-End Real Estate Market In Mt. Pleasant, SC.
The objective of this short study based on “mls” data, is to evaluate the upper end real estate market in Mt. Pleasant, SC for the 6 month period prior to September 20, 2010. An emphasis will be placed on current inventory of single family homes in the $700,000 to $2,000,000 price range, homes under contract at the end of the study period, new home vs. pre-existing home sales and bank owned and short sales relative to traditional sales by property owners. In addition, I will touch upon the sales activity of deepwater homes.
On September 20, 2010, there were 213 “high-end” single family homes on the market of which 15 of these homes were bank owned property or short sale situations. Of these 15 homes, only 2 are new construction. There were an additional 20 homes under contract, of which 6 were bank owned or short sales. None of these are bank owned or short sale situations. Of the 213 homes on the market, 30 were described as “waterfront – deep”, of which 3 were bank owned or short sale situations.
September 20, 2010 Inventory
High End Homes On The Market – 213
High End Bank Owned Or Short Sale Situations- 15 (7 %)
New Construction – 2 (1 %)
Waterfront Homes – 30 (14 %)
Waterfront Bank Owned Or Short Sale Situations – 3 ( 10 %)
High End Homes Under Contract – 20
High End Bank Owned Or Short Sale Situations – 6
Bank Owned Or Short Sale Deepwater Homes Under Contract – 0
The inventory of high-end homes on September 20, 2010, the end of the study period was certainly high from a historical perspective. However, only about 7% were “distressed properties” and less than 1% of the “distressed properties” were new construction. These statistics/figures seem to contradict the assertion/belief that the high-end home market/inventory primarily consists of “distressed” properties. About 14% of the homes on the market were described as “waterfront-deep” and only 10% were “distressed “ properties. Again, not a particularly high number of these waterfront homes have or may go into foreclosure.
During this six month time frame, 57 high end homes sold/closed of which 6 were bank owned or short sales. 10 of the homes were new construction with 47 being pre-owned homes. The average price per square foot of the homes that sold was $229.45. Of the 57 homes that sold, 10 were described as “waterfront-deep”, none of which were bank owned or short sales. The average price per square foot of the waterfront homes was $280. Of the 57 homes that sold during the study period, 10 ½ % were distressed sales with 17 ½% being new construction. Again, not a particularly high number of homes that sold were distressed properties. These figures seem to contradict the assertion that the only high end homes that are selling are “distressed” properties.
Total Homes Sold During Reporting Period – 57 ($229.45 sqft.)
Bank Owned Or Short Sale Situations – 6 (10 ½%)
New Construction Sold – 10 ( 17 ½%)
Pre-Owned Home Sales – 47 ( 82 ½%)
Deep-Water Home Sales – 10 (17 ½%) ($280 sqft)
Deep-Water Bank Owned Or Short Sales – None
If we use the figure of $200 per square foot for the cost to a buyer to have a custom home built in the Charleston area plus the cost of the lot we see that the cost to build is not appreciatively more than what a buyer will pay for a pre-existing home in the Charleston area, whether the home be on an interior or waterfront lot assuming an interior lot costs $150,000 and a true deepwater lot $450,000 and building a 4000 sqft. home.
Using the $200 sqft. building cost and cost of a deep-water lot, a buyer could have a custom waterfront home built for about $ 1,250,000 plus the cost of the dock. A similar resale deepwater home has sold for about $1,120,000 including dock. The difference is about $130,000 plus dock cost. Assuming a dock cost of about $100,000, the total investment in a custom deep-water home would be about $230,000+/- more than a resale purchase. For this additional $230,000 cost premium the home buyer is getting “the perfect home” for their dollar with just the right floor plan, fixtures, cosmetics, lot, view etc. to meet their needs, not to mention that the home components are new, not used One can make a strong argument that this premium can be recouped at the future sale of the home when offering a home with few if any negatives to a potential buyer.
From previewing and showing property in the $700,000+ range in Mt. Pleasant, I have observed the vast majority of them were either built during the “real estate bubble” where for the most part little attention seemed to be paid to the floor plan, lot site, home placement and/or quality of construction. A large percentage of homes were sold to buyers looking for rapid appreciation and almost out of desperation because of so few homes on the market at any given time. What would not have been a “deal breaker” during the exuberant real estate years, is now a “deal breaker” unless the buyer can get the home “for a steal” and the seller does not have the financial means to hold on to the home until the real estate market turns. Even if the seller is agreeable to selling their home for substantially less than list price, most buyers are not purchasing unless the home is close to meeting all of their needs and preferences.
I speculate that most of the upper end custom homes being built today are built in a manner and of a design that will make them appeal to a large percentage of potential future buyers so as to minimize the downside risk to the new home owner. This is very much the case with one of my clients who are building a custom waterfront home on the Wando River in Mt. Pleasant after being unable to find a resale home to meet their needs and personal preferences. Additionally, the home owners are not paying for excess unusable square footage, unusual decorations and/ or fixtures that need to be replaced or outdated appliances, fixtures and interior finishes. Many of these downsides to the purchase of a pre-owned home are large negatives to the support most list prices and will keep a luxury home from selling regardless of price.
MLS statistics over the past six months seem to confirm that the “luxury home market” has not come to a standstill in Mt. Pleasant, SC. There have been many luxury home sales of new and resale houses (57). In addition, a drive through many of the executive home neighborhoods in Mt. Pleasant will confirm that additional homes are being built and occupied whose sales are not reflected in the mls statistics. This “phantom” number of custom home sales may offset to a large degree the “phantom” number of non mls homes sales that have taken place over the past 6 months. A vast majority of the luxury homes that were sold were not distressed properties, which is contrary to the common belief that the only luxury homes being purchased are be sold at “fire sale” distressed prices. I feel that many of the home owners who are building luxury homes in Mt. Pleasant are doing so because they have been unable to purchase a home to their liking, even when they may be able to purchase it at a substantial discount from “list” price. With lot and construction costs relatively low, I feel that many luxury home owners are building because by doing so they are able to get just what they want and for a historically low price which may minimize their “downside” risks, particularly if they plan on owning for many years and not primarily as a short or medium term investment.
If those 57 buyers who purchased a luxury single family home during the past 6 months got the “most bang for their buck” in this distressed real estate market, we can assume that the “going rate” for the best luxury home is about $230 a square foot. Breaking out deepwater homes from this figure they paid an average of $280 a square foot.
A View Of The Wando River From A Home Under Construction
Based on the sales figures above, I feel that a luxury waterfront home has less downside price risk than a luxury home on an interior lot, given the relative low price, yet limited supply of good waterfront lots available in today’s market. With today’s construction and material costs so low and the low after tax return on ones cash reserves, a strong argument can be made for building a luxury home, particularly a waterfront home even in a deeply depressed real estate market. This is particular true for a buyer who will be using the home as a primary residence or even for a second home buyer who has the adequate cash financial reserves on hand and enjoys water activities and direct water access.
Of the 10 “deepwater” homes sales during this 6 month period, the majority of the homes sold were about 10+ years old and do not appear to have been updated. The newer homes sold for an average of $283 a square foot. Probably the best deepwater “comp” sold for $284 a square foot on 3/29/2010. It was originally listed for $2,350,000 in October of 2007 with price reductions to about $2,000,000 after February of 2008. It was a raised 2 bedroom home on the Wando River with 5000 sqft. The home had a separate covered pier-head dock sharing a “walk-way” with an adjacent lot.
Sold For $284 Per Square Foot
Wando River View
If we use the lower figure of $280 a square foot for a “fair market” value for a “deepwater” home and factor in depreciation for age and/or floor plan deficiencies, I feel an argument can be made that a buyer will come out ahead by building a home on a deepwater lot given a $200 a square foot building cost for a 5000 sqft high quality custom home, if the lot cost is in the $ 400,000 +/- range. This assumes dock construction costs of about $100,000, which would more than likely be substantially less than the cost of updating an older home.
The above evaluation and analysis is based on recent sales statistics, certain assumptions pertaining to construction costs, a stable real estate market and the writer’s knowledge of the homes that sold. If waterfront home prices continue to decline in the Charleston area more than waterfront lot prices and construction costs remain the same or increase, it may make economic sense to purchase a pre-existing waterfront home at some point in the future rather than building.
September 29, 2010
Road Construction/Improvement Map For Johnnie Dodds Blvd.
September 21, 2010
Wando High School Tennis
The Wando High School Girl’s Tennis Team Won It’s 100th Straight Tennis Match With A 6-1 Victory Over Summerville High School. The Team Won It’s Sixth Straight AAAA State Championship Last Year.
Photo Courtesy Of Wando High School
September 13, 2010
2010 Rising Seniors SAT Test Scores For SC, Including Wando High School In Charleston County. (Download)
September 10, 2010
Charles Pinckney Elementary School was selected as one of five schools in the State of S.C. to received the 2010 National Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education. The award was given out to only 254 public schools throughout the country. It recognizes academic achievement by a school in each state measured by their performance on state assessments.
August 26, 2010
Mount Pleasant Old Village Home sells For $7.5 Million
A 7, 015 square foot home on Haddrell Street in the Old Village of Mount Pleasant, SC reportedly sold to the Michigan family of Randolph and Donna Friedman on August 18, 2010. The previous record for a Mt. Pleasant residence was the 2007 sale of 101 New Street, also in the Old Village, for $3.25 million. The sales price of this home on Haddrell Street tops the record for home sales in downtown Charleston where the most expensive home at 37 Meeting Street, James Simmons house, sold in May 2009 for over $7.37 million to a New Jersey couple.
The Haddrell Street home had been listed originally for $10 million by the home seller’s Richard and Sarah Coen. The 5 bedroom home was built in 2003.
August 18, 2010
Patriots Point Design Overhaul Unveiled
Land planners unveiled a design scheme that may transform Patriots Point into a mixed-use development. Three goals for the 367 acres include a golf course, a hotel and a College of Charleston parcel. The plan would include a three mile harbor front trail with multiple parks. The plan calls for at least 2000 homes, upscale hotel and retail town center. The plan and the photo were developed by the international urban design firm AECOM for the town of Mt. Pleasant.
August 18, 2010
The average “Act” test scores were just released by the South Carolina Department of Education. Wando High School had an average “composite” score of 22.1 with 281 students taking the test. The average composite score for the state was 19.7 and the national average 21.0
August 12, 2010
New Whitesides Elementary School Ready To Open
The new “Palmetto Gold” Winner Whitesides Elementary School in Mt. Pleasant is scheduled to open to students next week. The new 91,200 sqft. facility is a two story building and designed for 800 students in grades K-5. Enrollment number are expected to be about 630. It was completed at a cost of $22.8 million dollars.
Visitors must sign in at the front desk after being “buzzed” into the building by a front desk employee.
The school as three computer labs and each hall is color coordinated by grade level. All classrooms have “smart boards” and sound systems. There are classes where first and second graders are combined and stay with the same teacher for two years.
There are 38 classrooms, a multipurpose room, kitchen, cafeteria, courtyards and play areas.
The bus drop-off line is covered with a canopy.
Whitesides is known for offering extensive special needs education, and an entire portion of the building is set aside to provide services to those students.
The 2009 South Carolina State “Report Card” For Whitesides Elementary School.
To contact the school call 843-849-2838
August 11, 2010
A low-slung drawbridge will be built over the Wando River instead of a 55-foot tall fixed span according to the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Construction of the bridge is expected to begin in late 2012 and last about two years.
The new bridge will cost $40 million dollars. As currently designed, the new bridge will have a 14-foot vertical clearance. It would open on demand with 12 hours notice.
August 6, 2010
The 2009 South Carolina “Palmetto Assessment of State Standards” test scores were just released, including those for the schools in Charleston County and the town of Mt. Pleasant. It is interesting to note that 90% or better of those taking the test at Charles Pinckney Elementary School “passed” in all grades and subjects tested.
July 13, 2010
Carolina Park Sold For $50.1 Million
CDM of Charleston, LLC and it’s partner, Grove Properties bought the Carolina Park development in Mt. Pleasant for $50.1 million at a Charleston County foreclosure auction on July 13, 2010.
CDM was the original owner of the 1200 acre development.
Carolina Park is a mixed residential and commercial community in the town of Mount Pleasant SC. Carolina Park is built around the “smart growth” concept where residents may work, shop and play within their own community without having to go out on highway 17. 1745 homes are scheduled to be built over the coming years.
July 12, 2010
The town of Mt. Pleasant SC was just selected as one of the best small cities in the US to live by Money Magazine. It was ranked # 100.
The Historic Old Village Of Mt. Pleasant Overlooking Charleston Harbor Is One Of The Many Communities Found Throughout This Award Winning Town Just Minutes From Historic Charleston & The Beaches Of Sullivan’s Island & The Isle Of Palms.
You Tube Video Of The Old Village Of Mount Pleasant
The town of Mount Pleasant endorsed the idea of a bascule bridge at Highway 41 and are asking the South Carolina Department of Transportation to provide a portion of the old bridge to be used as a fishing pier with an adjacent parking lot and park area. The town has also requested bike lanes to be included on the bridge.
The SCDOT & mount Pleasant officials have recommended a 20 foot draw bridge and the Coast Guard has agreed to this if the bridge does not have to be staffed with a person. Boaters would have to call ahead to have an opening scheduled. It is possible that construction could begin in March or April of 2012 and construction completed in about two years.
The construction of a new highway 41 bridge may very well have a positive impact on the value of waterfront property and homes in such subdivisions as Dunes West.
Current Highway 41 Bridge Connecting Mt. Pleasant (Charleston County) To Berkeley County
June 21, 2010
The 2010 Wando High School Girls Soccer Team
2010 Girls High School Final National Soccer Rankings
The Wando High School Girls Soccer Team Finished The Season Ranked Number 2 In The Nation.
June 18, 2010
New Flash – 9:00 PM
The town of Mount Pleasant has just been selected as one of the 10 U.S. “All-American City” award winners.
The All-America City Award is given by the National Civic League annually to ten cities in the United States.
The oldest community recognition program in the nation, the award recognizes communities whose citizens work together to identify and tackle community-wide challenges and achieve uncommon results.
Since the program’s inception in 1949, more than 4,000 communities have competed and roughly 466 winners have been named All-America Cities. Each year, interested communities submit a comprehensive package based on published criteria that are evaluated in the award selection process. Deserving communities are named as finalists, and the year’s ten award winners are named from that pool of applicants.
The Park West Recreation Athletic Fields Provide Mt. Pleasant Residents With “First Class” Athletic Facilities. Mt. Pleasant Has A Very Popular & Successful Recreation Department. The Wando High School Girls Soccer Team Was Ranked # 2 In The Nation In 2010.
Carolina Park Bankruptcy Update
A judge declared the bankruptcy reorganization request filed by one of Carolina Park’s owners invalid, clearing the way for the Mount Pleasant subdivision’s 1,200-acre footprint to be sold at a foreclosure auction.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David R. Duncan dismissed Carolina Park Associates’ Chapter 11 plea Thursday, determining that it had been filed last month without the consent of one of the developer’s two owners.
June 15, 2010
Mt. Pleasant Waterfront Park
The Town of Mount Pleasant has been named an All-America City Finalist and is traveling to Kansas City, Missouri, today to win the prestigious All-America City Designation. (Update – Won June 18, 2010)
June 13, 2010
The Charleston County School Board has recently approved plans to divide Jennie Moore Elementary School into a primary school that would serve pre-kindergarten through second-graders an elementary school that would serve third through fifth graders. The new Laing Middle school would be built on the same site and continue to serve middle school students.
The new Laing Middle school would be built on the current site of Jennie Moore. The two schools would be connected and share a kitchen but would have separate cafeterias, multipurpose rooms and classrooms.
Many residents of the Gullah Geechee community would like to see the current Jennie Moore School be preserved & used as a community center.
On May 26, 2010, the town of Mount Pleasant approved a new strategic marketing initiative to attract more young families to the town. Without them, 41% of the town will be over 55 years of age by 2025. Demographic report for the town of Mt. Pleasant.
As part of the marketing plan, the town council approved the above logo to replace an older town logo which had represented the town for decades. One goal of the new plan is to build a new business-friendly Town Hall image. The town hopes to achieve at least a 1 percent growth rate by next year.
May 21, 2010
According to Charleston County School District Superintendant Nancy McGinley, schools are improving and East Cooper schools are second to none in the state. McGinley spoke at the monthly Mount Pleasant Business and Professional Association meeting last week.
The old Wando High School building, commonly referred to as Wando South has been used as swing space. That will remain the case for three more years as Buist Academy will move in, due to the seismic dangers of their current building downtown. Laing Middle School will stay there another two years.
A new campus is being constructed on the Jennie Moore Elementary site which will include a primary school, Jennie Moore Elementary School and Laing Middle School. It will be situated on the existing 22 acres at that site as well as adjacent acreage which was purchased to complete a campus of that size.
Currently Cario Middle School and Laurel Hill Primary School, located in Park West are overcrowded and there will be some redistricting to alleviate that. Those students would go to the new Laing and primary school facilities. McGinely said she likes to keep lower grade schools manageable, which means keeping the student population down to about 800 students. There are currently 1100 students at Laurel Hill and 1300 students at Cario.
Two years ago a citizens’ committee determined that the best solution to the overcrowding at Wando would be to create a career high school adjacent to the existing Wando rather than divide the community based on geographic lines and have two high schools. There is currently no money to build the career center.
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