Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Check out this new listing in North Charleston.  This older home has been well taken care of.  It is covered with Old Charleston Brick, and sits on a large corner lot.  Sitting on the back porch is a pleasure as the breezes feel cool and fresh.  The back yard is shaded and peaceful.  The owners have installed a walk in shower in the guest bath, making it easier to use for people with physical limitations.

This listing is just off of Dorchester rd, and close to Ashley Phosphate, and close to all the restaurants found there.  This home brought years of happiness to the family that lived in it, and is now ready to do the same for you!

Can you imagine relaxing in this converted den or enjoying family time in the living  room?

This home comes with a ramp, making the entrance of the home easier to use.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

How to show homes

I have been showing homes for about a year now.  I have seen beautiful homes, messy homes, and everything in between.  I am always conscious of the fact that I am entering another person’s living space.  This is not a model home or an empty building; this is that person’s home.  They live here.  They are trusting me, as the realtor, and my clients, as potential buyers, to enter and walk through their home while they are not there.  They have placed a level of faith in us, and in the system, to protect and respect their place.

I always leave the home as I have found it.  I double-check that doors are locked, lights are on or off as wished, and pets are where they should be.  We do not touch their personal belongings; we do not look through dresser drawers or medicine cabinets.  Children do not play with the toys they find.   At the same time we have to spend some time looking at the size of the closets and the cleanliness of the stove.  We need to see what the refrigerator is like on the inside, if it is included in the offer.  We need to walk around outside, and to check out the garage.  We are not pet sitters, and although we do our best to keep the animals either inside or outside, we can’t guarantee the animal’s behavior.  So far no animals have escaped on my watch, and I hope to keep it that way. 

Just remember, when you are selling a house that many people will be walking through the home and looking at everything.  When you are buying a home, and walking through, treat that home as if it were your own.    Happy House Hunting!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Caw Caw Nature Center


    The Charleston low country has so many wonderful places to visit, it can be easy to overlook the local parks.  Caw Caw Nature Center is located along Highway 17 in Ravenel, SC, and it was created on top of several old rice plantations.  Last year my daughter and I enjoyed a guided bird walk at Caw Caw, and still today the experience is one of our favorite memories.
            Laura and I arrived a few minutes after the walk had started.  We paid our fee in the main office.  The ranger told us, “You can’t go on a bird walk without binoculars,” and he opened a drawer and handed one to each of us.  We joined the group nearby gathered on the trail.  The guide was a young man, but except for my daughter and I, all the participants were of retirement age.  A few had bird books, mostly downloaded on tablets and phones.  Everyone wore binoculars, carried water bottles and bug spray.  One older man joined us on a Segway.  The trails were wide and even, and he had no problems. 
We saw ospreys, herons, ibis, and many red winged blackbirds, but the greatest excitement came from seeing the momma gator and her babies.  On the entire walk I think we counted 9 gators, mostly young.  It was amazing how we could be standing beside a marshy canal, relaxed and listening to birdsong, and the guide would point and say, “Gator number 5.”  We had to learn how to see them, then suddenly gators were everywhere.

            I loved the beauty of the park, the excitement of the alligators, and the help in identifying birds, but I struggled with being in a group and moving so slowly.  I grew impatient every time we heard a new song or rustle of leaves.  Each birdwatcher whipped out his or her phone, pulled up the bird books and began discussing coloration of the crest, size of the beak, and style of the song.   I wanted to say, “the bird is beautiful whether identified, placed on a life list, quantified, or not.  Just enjoy!”  And really, we did enjoy.  My family has been back many times to walk, in various seasons.  And now, I can point out the alligators.

            Caw Caw is open Wednesday through Sunday 9-5.  Admission is $1 per person, and if you want to attend the bird walks on Saturday or Wednesday starting at 8:30 the cost is $5.  Caw Caw is a beautiful and historical place, and worth taking the time to visit.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

How to stage your home to sell, by Shelley Hopkins

Images from Google images

As a Real Estate agent and a homeowner, I have had some interesting experiences previewing and showing homes.  A home is a reflection of those that live there.  The homes can reflect the lifestyle of busy families, or the enthusiasm of sports fans.  Some homes are so beautifully decorated I feel like I am in a photo shoot for a home magazine.  I always return to my house with redecorating plans.  Recently I enjoyed showing the home of an artist.  I loved his painting of a shark shooting through the water, bubbles flying away from the fish.  Twice I have been in homes that had paintings of nudes.  I was not offended, but I will say the memory of the home, the size of the kitchen or the color of the walls, faded in my mind.  This was especially true in the home where the owner stayed to talk with us, and I realized she was the model. 
            Owners should never stay during showings.  The potential buyer doesn’t relax, and really look at the home.  If the owner has to stay, he should go outside, or walk around the block.
            Staging is important.  I don’t believe perfection is necessary but there are several things to consider.  When a potential buyer enters a house for the first time, the buyer looks at the house with many thoughts in his mind.  “Will we be happy here?  Will all of our stuff fit?  Can we afford this?  Can we resale this home someday?” 
            At the same time they are forming first impressions based on all their senses.  How does it look – clean, cluttered, outdated?  How does the home smell?  What can they hear?  First impressions are important, and sometimes hard to overcome.
            When we pull into the driveway they buyer sees either overgrown bushes, weeds, and a dingy front door, or bright freshly planted flowers and a shiny door.  Once inside, if the curtains are closed and the lights off, the house feels dreary.  Sunlight streaming in from the windows makes a home feel cheerful and welcoming.  We all try to see past the decorations and furniture, but this is hard to do.  Cluttered homes full of knick-knacks and large furniture feel smaller.

Images from google images         

   Recently I showed a nice home.  The owners were gone.  They left a dog in the house, and a bone on the table with a note to give the bone to “Fido.”  I did, nervously, and Fido jumped on the couch to enjoy his treat and to keep an eye on us.  The TV was on, commercials sang to us as we looked around the house.  The client and I walked down the hall, and checked out the bedrooms.  As we returned towards the family room, I reached out to open a closet door.  Just then, a male voice boomed, “Don’t go in there!”  I jumped back and looked around fearfully.  No one was around.  Hurrying to leave we walked past the television.  The reality TV show Ghost Hunters was playing, the message to not go in there had not been for me.

            I would suggest not leaving the television on during showings.  It makes the house feel occupied.  Andy Griffith talking to me is OK, but Ghost Hunters yelling at me is not so nice.  It does make for a good story.  And the client didn’t buy that house.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What is a Realtor?

Did you know that as a Realtor representing a client I owe certain duties to the client? 

These duties are part of what we provide in an agency relationship with the client.  This relationship is usually created when the agent has the client sign either a listing agreement or a buyer’s agreement.  These documents are not created to bind the client to the agent, although there is some of that.  We agree to work together, and the client agrees that I am their agent, at least in the specific houses I have shown them or for the specific time we agreed on.

In this relationship with the client, I, as the Realtor, owe certain duties: loyalty, obedience, disclosure, confidentiality, reasonable care and diligence, and accounting.  So, what does this actually mean?

Loyalty states that as your realtor, I will act in your best interests at all times.  In other words, all my actions in our real estate endeavors will be for and in your best interests; not mine, not my friends, not my family.

Obedience:  As an agent I represent you and will follow all lawful instructions in the marketing or buying of real estate.  You are the boss.  Final decisions and directions are determined by you, the client.  An agent should not push you to a more expensive house, or refuse to make an offer because it is too low, for example.  I am the trained professional in Real Estate, and I have trained in order to be your advisor, guide, teacher, and negotiator, but not to make your decisions for you.

Disclosure:  An agent is always honest and I will always be honest with all people, whether they are clients or not.  But, to my clients I must disclose all known and relevant facts that will help you make good decisions.  I owe my loyalty to my client with whom I share my information.  At the same time I cannot keep secret known material facts, this is part of being honest.  And, at the same time I owe the next duty, confidentiality, to my client for all time.

Confidentiality:  I will, and must, keep my clients lawful confidences and secrets.  As an agent I know how low a client is willing to go, or perhaps I know the urgency the client has for selling a house.  This is a confidence I never share.

Accounting:  As an agent I must account for and be responsible for all money and property that has been entrusted to me.

The last duty is reasonable care and diligence.  This means I need to know what I am doing and do it to the best of my ability.  I have taken 90 hours of real estate classes just in the first year.  These classes are in real estate law, ethics, finance, measuring and appraising, and much more.  We have to keep taking classes every two years. 

By the way, there is a difference between real estate agents and a Realtor.  All Realtors are real estate agents, but not all agents are Realtors.  A Realtor is held to a higher standard of ethics and training.

With all the trust and information you give a Realtor, it is good to know we will take care and honor your trust.

So, lets find you a house, or lets get your home sold!  Call me and let me know how I can help.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Listing in Goose Creek


Check out my newest listing in the Fairfax area of Goose Creek.  The location is very good, close to shopping and my favorite library.  The home owners have taken excellent care of this home, and given it numerous upgrades.  The Florida room is bright and sunny, defiantly my favorite room of the house.  This is one of those homes you could move into without any work.

All white cabinets in the kitchen.

Eat in the kitchen, looking out to the Florida room, or Sun room.

The Florida room is heated and cooled, and has tinted windows which helps with energy efficiency.

The house has a two car garage in the back as well as a storage shed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

My husband and I in Nassau at Fort Fincastle

Several months ago my parents and I walked along Waterfront Park in Charleston, enjoying the views of the harbor and the historic homes.  Children played in and by the water fountains.  We walked towards the dock, planning to sit on the swings to enjoy the view and to visit.  For the first time since moving here, the Carnival Cruise Ship was in port.  With its bright colors and red fin smokestack it looked glaringly out of place.  The ship was larger than I expected.  I had seen the billboards debating the effect of the cruise ships on the area but I had not seen the ship in port before.
            My parents and I complained and grumbled a little about the giant colorful ship docked alongside the historical city, then I remembered I had a scheduled vacation on that ship in a few months.  I fell silent.  A large tanker sailed into harbor and deeper along the river, loaded with crates to offload.  Charleston is a port city and many ships pass through the harbor daily, bringing in goods from all over the world.   These tankers dock deeper down the river.  The cruise ship docks in the middle of the tourist area of the city, just down from the City Market.  I visited downtown several times before and after that day without seeing any cruise ships in port.
            Months later my husband and I arrived at port early in the morning, ready for our cruise.  Embarking early, we found the process easy.  In almost no time we were sitting on a back deck, nearly alone, sipping lemonade and enjoying the view of the Ravenel Bridge.  We were able to walk around the ship, enjoying views of Sullivan’s Island, the ocean and the skyline of the city with all the church steeples reaching into the clouds.  Just before launch time we moved to the front of the ship, leaning on a rail.  A few people were waiting on the city dock to see us off.  It was a chilly day, but sunny.  At 5:00, departure time, the ship blew its horn once.  It was so loud I ducked, nearly diving to the floor to the amusement of everyone around me.  The ship slowly pulled from the dock, backed up along the shore until it was lined up with the deeper channel, we turned and headed out to sea.  The passengers were festive, but the wind was brisk and cold.  Quickly we entered a fog and lost sight of land before we had pulled away.  Most passengers quickly tired of the cold wind and moved back inside, but my husband and I enjoyed the thrill of the wind in our faces as we sailed off. 

A quiet place to enjoy our meals,  in Charleston and during the cruise

            Our cruise had begun, and we enjoyed a wonderful 5 days, docking twice in the Bahamas.  We walked around Nassau and rode a moped around Freeport.  Our last day we woke in our homeport and quickly found our favorite deck for coffee and our last moments to enjoy the views.  The sun was barely up.  The fog was thick and all we could see of the Ravenel Bridge was the light at the very top triangle.   As the sun rose and brightened the fog burned off.  The water was golden in the morning sun.  Sea birds skimmed just above the sea, their wings dragging golden ripples across the smooth water.  Dolphins surfaced and dove.  The harbor was breathtaking.  The trip had been great, the ports beautiful, but how wonderful that it was our home port that took my breath away!

Last night, leaving Freeport

            The cruise ship held 2200 passengers during our trip.  The ship had 10 levels, and we were able to explore all but the bottom 3.  Our room was small, with no window, but it was very comfortable.  The only times we felt crowded were when we walked along the promenade deck during the evening.  This was the deck with the casinos and bars, and everyone seemed to be there at night.  We usually hung out on our favorite back deck, looking at the stars and the ocean.  Truly each person on the ship had a different vacation, from the dancing, drinking and gambling group to the families eating and shopping, those that visited the spa and gym, and then us.  We walked the ship during the day, sat and enjoyed views, toured on our own at the ports and enjoyed the excellent dining.  I am glad we went.

 Getting around town on a moped gave us freedom to explore away from crowds

Nature preserve, this is how the Bahamas looked before development        

    As to the controversy about the ships docking in Charleston, I am unsure.  In Nassau the dock was full of giant floating hotels, and these ships could be seen from all scenic spots.  In Freeport the ships docked in an industrial area, and tourists had to take taxis or rent mopeds, as we did.  The effect on the town seemed less obvious.  The water was clear and beautiful in both ports.  There is a lot to read about the cruise ships and I have just started.  Some people are concerned about the black smoke that comes from the generators when the ship is in port.  I can understand that.  Some people do not want the type of tourist they think cruise ships bring into town.  At a City Council meeting this type of tourist was described as “Heavy-drinking, balloon hat, flip flop, fanny pack wearers.”  Is this a cultural judgment on certain types of people?  Many of the tourists on the ship only made it to the shops in each of the ports.  As sad as that is from a travel point of view, they spent money in the port, good for the local economy.  And for every fanny pack wearer shopping, there were others that explored the restaurants, beaches and other attractions.  Travelers are a diverse group, even those on cruise ships.

Quote is from A Look at Charleston’s Cruise Ship Controversy, by Paul Motter.  Fox News.  Nov 1, 2011.