Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Will You Need Long-Term Care Insurance?

The National Real Estate Investor website reports that many seniors are having difficulties paying rent, even in housing that is specially for seniors.

According to the article, the mediun annual income for seniors is $18,000 to $20,000. The average cost of assisted living is $35,000. Also, seniors who remain in their own homes have higher mediun incomes, from $22,000 to $30,000, and a higher net worth. Still this is a shockingly low amount to live on with prices what they have become in the last few years.

For the first time, the continuing care communities which had huge upfront fees offer a better financial solution. They go on to say that it is unclear how the seniors are managing to make ends meet. Less than 8% receive help from their adult children.

Long-term care insurance has helped a number of them to survive, with 9 to 14% of of them paying all or part of their assisted living costs with it. This makes such an insurance policy very useful, and may be something to consider for us baby boomers as our time to be concerned about this is imminent.

For more information about Long Term care insurance, SC Homeowners insurance or car insurance for Myrtle Beach, visit www.carolinapolicies.com or contact Scott Todd's Allstate office in North Myrtle Beach.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Demand for Pet Friendly Condos and Hotels Increases

As more people buy vacation homes, and with more "snowbirds" coming down every year, the demand for pet friendly condos in Myrtle Beach has grown, too. Doggy parks are not as rare as they once were, and seldom can you look out on the beach without seeing several dogs enjoying the sand and water as much as their owners. Several of the Myrtle Beach car insurance companies are offering free pet coverage, and funeral homes now pick up beloved pets from the vet's office for cremation, complete with urns and sympathy. We love our pets dearly, and Myrtle Beach is aware of the fact.

More condos are starting to offer pet options, especially for smaller dogs, cats, and in the off-season.  The website mentioned above has a list of every one we've heard of, as well as hotels for kids and Myrtle Beach Boardwalk condos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Myrtle Beach Condos and Homes Sell With Cash

The local Board of Realtors reports that October broke records for the numbers of Myrtle Beach oceanfront condos and real estate sold in cash transactions.

Agents all over the Strand have complained that getting a condo financed now is extremely difficult. Banks are so tight on investment-only purchases that resorts known more as "condo-hotels" are nearly impossible to sell except as a cash deal.

As foreclosures become less in numbers, HOA fees should stabilize, which may make rental income more adequate to pay expenses. This should help bring more investors in, even paying cash - if monthly expenses are met from vacation rentals.

The MLS statistics for October showed home sales had increase 8 percent for the month and 31% over October of 2008. These kinds of numbers are phenomenal for an off-season month as well. Cash purchases increased from the normal 15% to a whopping 41% of the total purchases for the month.

Prices for Myrtle Beach real estate have continued to drop, but only in the 10% range. Single-family home prices dropped another 12%. September saw prices dropping much less than last year, but again, that was the final month of summer tourism. The prices of Myrtle Beach oceanfront property is almost always higher during vacation season.

Buyers with a good credit record and bank relationship can usually get a home equity line on their primary homes when they want to buy an vacation condo, and with prices so low, they really should do it now. Intracoastal waterway condos in Myrtle Beach are going to be another best-bet for long-term investing, and SC homeowners insurance should be more reasonable for waterway property that isn't so vulnerable to hurricane damage.

Buyers everywhere are going to see some huge profits over the coming years as real estate prices return to a normal high, and those that can buy beachfront property now will be awfully happy they did!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Manufactured Home Nightmares? Where do you turn for help?

I ran across a website just now that almost made me chuckle, except for the fact that the people who made it were obviously quite serious, and it wasn't a joke. It's a situation that is presenting itself with several of the newest Myrtle Beach condo resorts that were "slapped up" during the condo boom several years ago.
What do you do when you buy a manufactured home, condo or single family housing, that is defective and shoddily built? Can you seek regress from the builder? What if the company has filed bankruptcy or gone out of business? Homeowners insurance likely will not cover it.

This guy is so frustrated with his unsatisfactory KB Home manufactured home that he has designed an elaborate website to voice his complaints. Titled "A KB Home Sucks" or http://www.akbhomesucks.com/, the website has a long list of his complaints, news about the company, a blog for other homeowners to add to the publicity, and all kinds of other information that should really make somebody at KB Home stand up and take notice.

Some of the complaints the homeowner mentions includes:
  • Too many construction defects in the home
  • Enormous number of repairs necessary
  • Home not built to code
  • Too many leaks
  • Continual invasion of privacy from workmen and disruption of the home required for re-construction and repairs.
  • Dampness and toxic fumes causing serious health problems
  • Only two homes built on this phase when KB Home abandoned the sub-division.
And there were many more. They provide photos to back up the claims, and an amazing number of pages and effort to showcase the home they are so displeased with. I ran across the site from the same KB Homes Suck TWITTER page, when they invited me to follow them. Pretty amazing stuff!

In this day of the internet, it is becoming harder and harder for companies to take advantage of those who purchase the products, even though many times disgruntled customers unfairly post complaints about a service provider hoping to make money or just cause trouble. In this case, it appears they want KB Home to buy the house back and allow them to move on with their life. It may end up being the best solution for all concerned. ###

Visit our sites:
Virginia Beach Oceanfront Condos
Allstate Insurance Myrtle Beach
Albuquerque MLS

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New Laws Reduce SC Homeowners Insurance Costs and Risk

According to the South Carolina Insurance News Service, Hurricane Hugo in 1989 was one of the most costly hurricanes that ever hit in the United States. It made landfall near Charleston, SC and nearly leveled the oceanfront homes from that point to the south end of Myrtle Beach.

Damages were reported to be $4.2 billion at that time. It became less devastating north of Myrtle Beach, but still did millions of dollars of damage before leaving the area to move northwest and into other states.
Fast forward to the years of 2004-2006, and all the hotel-condo conversions and luxury Myrtle Beach condo resorts that were built along the Grand Strand. The total insured property along our coast is now more than $200 billion.

Allison Dean Love, executive director of SCINS NEWS estimates that another hurricane of that strength could cause as much as $15 to $20 billion in damages. She does say that property insurance has improved and victims may have less overall loss from another storm.

Building codes have been strenthened to include extra protection for windows and doors...and impact resistant glass or storm shutters are required. Inspectors must now be certified and registered with the state to provide a better authority for code enforcement.

A new upgraded project designation is called the"Fortified for Safer Living®" program. Only one builder in South Carolina has earned the designation, but it's hoped more will follow. The houses are strengthened at roof and walls, doors, glazed openings, and even the foundation.

A new law was passed in 2007 that increased the availability of private insurance and has brought many new insurance companies to South Carolina. However, it requires insurers to give discounts to owners that have made their homes more storm resistant - with upgrades such as storm shutters, roof tie-downs and other safety procedures.

It also provides tax credits for property owners that purchase materials to make these improvements, as well as flood protection materials. Low income owners get a tax credit if their SC homeowners insurance is more than 5 percent of their income.

Homeowners can also set up savings accounts labeled as "catastrophe savings" that will pay insurance deductibles or or other costs that come with a hurricane, windstorm, or flooding. Depending on the deductible, a homeowner can contribute up to $15,000 that will be free from state taxes. Be as conscientious about insuring your home as you are about your own health when buying a health insurance policy.

There is also a new "SC Safe Home" grant program set up to offer help for homeowners to beef up their property in preparation for natural disasters. For information about these grants, visit http://www.scsafehome.com/

Our friends at Todd Insurance Agency strive to do all they can to help their policy holders with both North Carolina homeowners insurance and property protection in South Carolina.

Giving you timely information about available coverage and helpful tips is one way they try to get you the best rates - from ways to discount car insurance premiums to reducing the cost of national flood insurance or rental insurance in SC.

Scott Todd kindly contributed this article to our blog.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Acting Talent Found In Myrtle Beach

Ran across this impressive video that stars three of Myrtle Beach's most distinguished real estate and resort gurus...

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Pet Friendly Condos Wanted

Annette Smith and Snuffy
Because we have snowbirds staying for months at the time during the fall and winter, there's an amazing number of people that search Google for Myrtle Beach Pet Friendly Condos. It's understandable - nobody wants to spend 3 months in paradise and leave their best friend behind!

There are several websites that have this information, and it's in bits and pieces on all the big websites. However for our new website "The Best Myrtle Beach Condos" at http://www.myrtlebeachcondos.cc, I went out and gathered the most up to date and complete information I could find on the condos and hotels in Myrtle Beach that allow pets.

Basically there are several types of accommodations available. You have hotels, such as Staybridge Suites out on Hwy 501, and the Laquinta at Broadway at the beach. Then you have condos, both oceanfront and inland, that the owners themselves permit pets...usually because they bring their own when they use it. Then there are some of the older beach houses that allow pets, many of which are handled by Elliott Realty in North Myrtle Beach.

We've listed them all, and tried to keep them organized to make it easy. There are phone numbers on all, and some that have online booking. In the case of finding a place to stay with your pet for several months, I would advise calling and talking with someone, and ask as many questions as you can. It's bad to be in a less than perfect condo for the week. The last thing you want to do is be somewhere you don't like for a month, or two, or three.

Anyway, if you're interested in finding a Pet-Friendly place to stay in Myrtle Beach, be sure and check our page!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Myrtle Beach Real Estate Auction Thursday

This Thursday, June 25th, will bring a big bank-owned real estate auction in Myrtle Beach.

According to the announcement in the local paper, there will be fifteen properties auctioned, including North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach condos, and some single family homes in Georgetown, Longs, and Shallotte, North Carolina. Shallotte is about 35 miles north of the state line in Little River, straight up Highway 17. Located in Brunswick County, it's convenient to Ocean Isle, Holden, and Sunset Beaches on the NC coast.

Prospective buyers should come early to view the properties before the auction, and will need $2500 in cash or certified check to buy. The sales will close between 30 to 45 days from the sale, according to a firm spokesperson.

This week is bringing around 120 foreclosed homes to auction in both Carolinas, with the majority of them in Charlotte (26) and Raleigh NC. (24)

Also included in the auctions are Charleston, Hilton Head, and Greenville. SC.

Myrtle Beach foreclosures are starting to level off, and the time to buy for the best deals is quickly running out.

For representation and more information on the Myrtle Beach real estate auctions, contact Richard Brooks at 843-333-0470.
Greenville home buyers can contact Lee Cunningham at 864-679-0707.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Perils of Condo HOA's

Having gone through my own trials and tribulations with the HOA of the condo complex I bought into, I can sympathize with this story anyway. But in this case, with the media getting this into the public eye, this is one HOA president that is likely to be very sorry he let his power go to his head.

I've seen problems come up repeatedly with condo boards. It seems no matter how well-meaning each board starts out, something comes up that is ridiculous to most people, but there will be one or two board members that feel strongly about it, or just find the need to prove they have the ability to pick on somebody. Like kids on a playground, it is inevitable. But this one really pushes the wrong buttons at the wrong time.

A Dallas HOA president sent a notice to one Frank Larison, a disabled veteran with more than 14 years of service, that the Marine Corp decals on his SUV represented advertisements, which was against their bylaws. He's been instructed to remove them, or face a fine and the vehicle being removed from the property by a tow truck.

Fox 4 reports that "Otherwise, the homeowners association for The Woodlands II on The Creek -- where Larison has lived for eight years --- says in a letter it will tow the car at Larison's expense. The board also threatens to fine him $50 for any future incident."

I would not want to be in this board member's shoes after this gets out. And he deserves whatever he gets, too. Watch the video.

Let our Myrtle Beach real estate experts help you choose the right condo for your vacation needs.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Real Estate Mortgage Help for Homeowners

Mortgage fraud and bad practices have become such a problem in South Carolina that the SC Dept of Consumer Affairs has opened a hotline to handle complaints and investigate shady companies for those struggling to repay a difficult mortgage.

Not only have the ARM loans gone up to ridiculous rates with people who often never should have been approved for the amount of home they bought, but it seems that often times the mortgage companies themselves have closed offices and are not responding to borrowers who are desperately trying to negotiate and keep their homes.

Charles Knight, an attorney with Consumer Affairs advises that our Attorney General, Henry McMaster has set up, staffed, and funded an investigative unit for mortgage company consumer problems.

More information can be found at the Mortgage Fraud Hotline.

Keep up with Myrtle Beach Real Estate news with the Myrtle Beach Condo Store website.

Monday, February 23, 2009

10 Real Estate Trends That Buyers Like to See

Builder's Magazine had an interesting article about trends that prospective buyers either look for or appreciate enough that it makes them choose to buy a home. They interviewed builders, architects, real estate agents, and interior designers across the nation, and created a top 10 list.

1. Increased ceiling heights from 8 to 9 feet, and moving to more upstairs bedrooms instead of large, hard to heat and cool great rooms.

2. Low-maintenance exteriors and interiors such as brick, tile floors, and little exposed wood. Alternatives are homes in a sub-division that provides home upkeep in the maintenance agreements.

3. Large laundry rooms with space to move around, fold clothes, and even use as storage. According to the article, a larger laundry room is the number one request in America. Wow!

4. Natural materials used for exterior and interior. Granite countertops, ceramic tile flooring, hardwood floors, brick exteriors, tile bathrooms and similar things are preferable now to man-made materials. and carpeting. Surprisingly, wooden porches attract and evoke childhood memories which tend to make a property sell better.

5. Special rooms and nooks for privacy in the home, such as a computer room, library, or personal space.

6. Replacing a formal living room with a den, study, gameroom, or family room.

7. Advanced technology is demanded these days, such as wireless internet, surround-sound across the home, keyless entry, lighting controls, and kitchen gadgetry. Computerized security systems are very popular.

8. Outdoor entertainment areas such as porches and gazebos that can be used for sleeping and parties. Outdoor fireplaces, large pools, jacuzzis and other extras are now demanded instead of being considered a rarity.

9. Master-planned communities which include homes, condos, clubhouses, and other buildings that get rid of the "Pleasant Valley Sunday" look of the 70's 80's and 90's.

10. Having larger garage buildings and putting them behind the house to free up the window views and improve the street appearance of the homes is proving to be a big seller.

With Myrtle Beach real estate sales proving a little more difficult, and vacation homes in Myrtle Beach competing with so many luxurious oceanfront condos, adding extras to the outdoor space could make a huge difference in deciding between the two.
Many of the Myrtle Beach golf communities have thought about extras such as granite, tile, and mixing homes and condos in the same neighborhoods. Fireplaces are more common now in our newer developments, although we probably don't have enough cold weather to give them proper usage.

My friend in Las Vegas lives in a neighborhood that refuses to allow palm trees and the "Florida" look, instead, going with the traditional brick homes. Of course all the desert states like Nevada and Arizona consider pools a backyard necessity, too.

The trendy small towns in states like Texas are big on 2 story stone houses with high ceilings, along with backyard garages with cultured and landscaped yards. Denton, Frisco, and Flower Mound TX homes and communities have gorgeous neighborhoods whose houses include many of the featured trends. Anxious sellers everywhere would do well to think about adding some of these features that get their homes more attention.

The National Board of Realtors tells us that the number of vacation homes being turned into rental properties is on the rise... Myrtle Beach Vacation Homes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Trump Team Offers Solution for Real Estate Woes

The Trump Real Estate BlogBrett Carmen, a seasoned veteran in the real estate industry for over 17 years, and a member of Donald Trump's team of experts, posted a blog on the Trump U site today offering his ideas for solving the real estate crisis. He holds active licenses in real estate, mortgage finance, and property & casualty insurance, so he knows the business from all aspects. I think they would be wise to listen to him. Obama would be damn smart to get some of Trump's people on his panel of advisors, for that matter.

He worries that the people responsible for the problem (and the ones able to correct it) are too concerned with blaming everyone else and need to get over it and work on a fix, instead of passing the buck.

His ideas are:

1. Create jobs
2. Keep interest rates low
3. Stop the banks from making mortgage requirements that keep the majority from purchasing.

Brett agrees that the requirements were too slack before, but now they have over-compensated and that is just adding to the problem. I know this is true for Myrtle Beach real estate. Our Realtors tell us that when they get a customer who is finally ready to buy, they can't qualify them anywhere for the mortgage.

Brett also says that many of the banks are trying to eliminate mortgage brokers entirely, and this would be a huge mistake. He says that brokers did 70% of the loans several years ago, and are an important part of our country's business market. They didn't create the faulty loans either, although the banks want to blame them. All they did was follow the requirements the banks set forth. Like the doctor blaming the nurse for giving the medicine he prescribed, this is not only unfair, but simply untrue.

His final advice is to lower the debt-to-income ratio for the time being so that the majority of America can still own a home, but they don't over-extend themselves in the process.
The Trump Blog is a great read, and everyone should listen to the guys that know real estate more than anybody.

Other really good real estate resources include the Cunningham team and homes for sale in Greenville SC, and my friend Jack Ragsdale who is an expert in Flower Mound Texas real estate and Frisco Texas real estate.