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Buying a Home? A Condo Might Be Your Best Option!

So you finally want to buy a house. That’s excellent! Homeownership is a big part of the American Dream, after all. But sometimes your dream includes a house that you aren’t quite ready for, whether that’s financially, logistically, or emotionally. Maybe you don’t feel like a single family home is affordable for you right now. Maybe the responsibility of owning a whole house and its plot of land sounds daunting to you (you’re just not ready to commit to a relationship with yard work!). Or maybe you travel a lot for work, and the thought of leaving an empty house for long periods of time makes you nervous. All of these are perfectly valid reasons for anyone to steer clear of homeownership, but they’re also great reasons to think about something you might not have considered yet: buying a condo.

What exactly is a condo?

If you’ve never quite grasped the idea of what a condo (short for condominium) is, think of it as an apartment that you own. In the most basic of terms, you own everything from the walls in, and everything from the exterior walls and out is taken care of by your homeowners association (HOA) or condo regime. If you’re used to apartment living, purchasing a condo is the perfect segue into homeownership.

Is it really cheaper than buying a house?

Generally speaking, buying a condo is a good bit cheaper than buying a single family home. In fact, in January of 2018, the national median price for a house in the U.S. was $241,700, but the median price for a condo was just $231,600. Take into consideration, however, that just like with single family homes, condos come in a wide variety of flavors. There are the most basic and efficient, one-bedroom, one-bath units; there are sprawling luxury condos in the city; and then there’s everything in between. One caveat: while the total purchase price for a condo will be usually less than a traditional house, keep in mind that you’ll have to factor the monthly HOA dues or regime fees into your budget. Every condo owner pays monthly dues that go into an account that pays for things like exterior maintenance and repairs, insurance covering exterior damage, trash pickup, etc. Check the details of what your dues cover before you decide that they’ll blow your budget. Some dues might include water, utilities, and even cable/internet service. 

Will I have fewer responsibilities?

Yes, you definitely have fewer responsibilities as a homeowner when you buy a condo. As we said above, you are responsible for everything from the walls inside. If you’re used to calling the landlord when something breaks, you might want to invest in a toolkit and get familiar with DIY tutorials—or put together a good list of handymen and contractors. You’ll also need to get homeowner’s insurance for the interior of your home and your belongings. The great thing is that when it comes to mowing the grass, cleaning or painting the exterior, and keeping up with general curb appeal, you won’t have to lift a finger (except to sign those checks for HOA dues). 

What else do my HOA dues cover?

Besides the necessary maintenance and repairs to the exterior of your building, HOA dues also include the awesome amenities many condos offer. A lot of condos will come with amenities like community pools, parking garages or lots, gyms, playgrounds, and tennis courts. Some even boast entertainment features like theater rooms, cafés, and coffee shops. Of course these amenities aren’t technically free; the cost of maintenance and use is included in your dues. Therefore, the more amenities your condo regime offers, the higher the monthly dues will be. 

Does living with an HOA mean I’ll have to follow strict rules? 

There’s honestly no hard and fast answer to this. The goal of any homeowners association is to retain value, keep a neighborhood or building looking nice and cohesive, and keep things safe. This means there may be strict rules about things like exterior decoration, painting, and storage or entertainment areas. For example, there may be rules that say you can’t store your bike on your patio, hang anything from the eaves, or put a doormat outside your door. Little things like this might seem annoying, but the rules are there for a reason. Most planned subdivisions will have rules and guidelines like these, condo or not.

What if I travel a lot? Is it safe to leave my home unattended? 

As with any residence, you take a chance when you leave your home empty for any long period of time. When it comes to condos, however, the HOA usually includes some type of security surveillance or patrol. And since your neighbors are extremely close by, you can always ask them to keep an eye on things when you’re away. Even better, though, is the fact that you might be able to rent your condo out when traveling for an extended period of time. HOA restrictions could possibly put the kibosh on that, but if there aren’t any specific rules against it, leasing your condo to a tenant or putting it on AirBnB is a great option for when you’re not there. 

There are lots more reasons buying a condo might suit you more than buying a single family home, but we hope we’ve provided you with enough to pique your interest. If you’re interested in homeownership, but you just aren’t sure about the level of commitment and responsibility, purchasing a condo is definitely a viable option. Feel free to reach out to one of our knowledgeable and friendly agents anytime with all of your condo vs. house questions and concerns!

 

Friday Five // October 4th, 2019

Happy October! It’s the first weekend of a brand new month, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place throughout the Charleston area this weekend. Celebrate the fall season, close out a local arts festival, learn about fire safety, and more. As always, whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

The Isle of Palms Connecter Run & Walk for the Child takes place this Saturday at 8am, presented by the Exchange Clubs of Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms, the City of Isle of Palms, and the Town of Mount Pleasant. The IOP Connector Run, now in its 27th year, offers a 5k run, a 5k walk, and a 10k run with one of the most scenic views in the South. All funds raised go directly to support local organizations for the prevention of child abuse right here in Charleston. The post-race festival for the whole family will feature a complimentary live band, beer garden, cash prizes, awards ceremony, and vendor exhibits. Last year’s race hosted over 1400 runners and walkers, and this year’s should be even bigger and better!

The Annual Fall Festival at Knightsville General Store takes place this Saturday from 11am until 8pm, and Sunday from 11am until 6pm. Bring the whole family and enjoy fun activities like a petting zoo, hayrides, pony rides, games with prizes, local crafters and small businesses, La’Son Anchor Grill Food Truck, small pumpkins, face painting, music from Tar & Feather on Saturday night, Cow Patty Bingo on Sunday, and much more. Admission to this event is free, and activity tickets are $1 each or $10 for 11. Cow Patty Bingo tickets are $5 per square, and the winner will receive $250. 

On Saturday afternoon, the Summerville Oakbrook Rotary Club and the Summerville Evening Rotary Club present the annual Summerville Rotary Oktoberfest. Admission is free for this family-friendly event, which takes place from noon until 6pm in Hutchinson Square. Enjoy games, music, and family time all afternoon long. Food and beverages will be available for purchase as well. Get your limited-edition glass beer mug for $5 with a 12-ounce pour. The Oktoberfest Committee asks that you drink responsibly, and please leave your pets, coolers, and glassware at home. 

Help close out the 2019 MOJA Arts Festival in style with the MOJA Finale this Sunday in Hampton Park from 4pm until 8pm. The entire family will enjoy the free-to-attend celebration of all everything the MOJA Arts Festival has to offer. From fascinating vendors and fantastic food choices to an evening of live music, brought to you by Motown Throwdown, this party is sure to entertain each and every person who attends! Vendors include The Ashanti Collection, Irie Innovations, LLC, Anthony’s Perspective Drawing, Virginity Naturals, Afrocentric Connection, Roswell’s Souvenirs, Sistah-tude, Heaven Scent Charleston Market, Charleston Caribbean Creole Food Truck, ChuckTown Mobile Seafood Café, Taste of the Islands, We Do Treats & More, Art and Remedies Oisphere Gallery, and more!

This coming week is the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week, and the Charleston Fire Department is putting on a show to kick it off! On Saturday at 9:30am, the 2019 Fire Prevention Week Parade will feature emergency equipment from around the area, traveling from the Charleston Peninsula to the Home Depot in West Ashley. Vehicles will depart President Street and Fishburne Street at 9:30am, travel through the Peninsula, and proceed on Highway 61 to the Home Depot in West Ashley, where they will join a Fire Prevention Week Family Event. The kickoff event takes place from 10am until 2pm and will provide fire safety information and activities for all ages, car seat inspection station, a variety of emergency equipment, and free food and ice cream.

Friday Five // September 27th, 2019

Another weekend is finally upon us, and you know what that means. It’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening throughout the Charleston area this weekend. Celebrate Oktoberfest, take the young folks fishing, attend an oyster roast, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

This Friday evening, Brittlebank Park will play host to a Reggae Block Dance from 6pm until 11pm. Join MOJA Arts Festival to dance the night away with your friends and neighbors to the sounds of Mighty Joshua, the Zion 5, and Keith Porter, founding member of the Itals. Bring your folding chairs and blankets to set up a picnic or enjoy fare from a variety of ethnic and international food vendors. Please note, however, that coolers are not permitted. Come out and share in an authentic Jamaican Roots, Rock, Reggae experience right in the heart of Charleston.

The 4th annual Park Circle Oktoberfest takes place this Saturday at Riverfront Park in North Charleston. This is a free, all-ages event, so bring the whole family, including the dogs! You can expect some great music throughout the day from Hans Schmidt German Band, Josh Roberts & Friends, Red Cedar Review, and The Royal Tinfoil. Plan to leave stuffed with good food and libations from vendors like Lewis Barbecue, Roti Rolls, EVO Pizzeria, Street Bird Westside, Lola, Graze Restaurant, and Baker & Brewer. Plenty of beverages such as beer, cider, wine, and lemonade will be available as well. There will also be a vendor alley showcasing dozens of local artisans and crafty minds, as well as games from Fly Dog Fitness, Blade and Bull Axe Throwing, and The Fun Factory. For those who would like to enjoy the ultimate Oktoberfest experience, join in the SC Brewer’s Guild Tent, a separate ticketed event with unlimited samples from twenty of the top breweries in the South Carolina Brewers Guild. And don’t forget to bring $10 for parking! 

Join City of Charleston Recreation Department and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources on Saturday for the Huck Finn Youth Fishing Festival at Colonial Lake downtown. This festival is a catch-and-release fishing event for children ages 4 through 12. Youth can test their fishing skills, and awards will be given to the top finishers in each age group. Winners’ prizes have been generously donated by West Marine. Registration begins in-person at 8:30am on the day of the event with a cost of $3 per participant. Please note that parents or guardians must accompany children while they are fishing.

Fall is officially here, and while it might not exactly feel like it quite yet, there’s no reason we shouldn’t go ahead and start enjoying oysters and chili now! If you feel the same way we do, head out to Alhambra Hall in Mt. Pleasant on Sunday for the 7th Annual Oyster Roast & Chili Cook-Off to benefit the young mothers and children of Florence Crittenton Programs of SC. This event, which takes place Sunday from 2pm until 5pm, is presented by South Atlantic Bank. Enjoy all-you-can-eat oysters, chicken fingers, and other delicious food, beer, wine, and soda. Sample more than ten different chili recipes and vote for your favorite one. There will also be live entertainment, kids’ activities, raffle prizes, and more. Bring the whole family and have some great Sunday afternoon fun.

Once upon a time, four very special visitors traveled to Charleston and invited YOU to the most magical event ever: Enchanting Princess Storytime. Join Curiouser Entertainment this Sunday at 3pm at 34 West in downtown Charleston to enjoy original, brand new, interactive stories told by Sleeping Beauty, the Snow Queen, and the Arabian Princess. The Frog Princess will also be available during seating and throughout the event for pictures. Children will receive one-on-one, meet-and-greet time with each character, and a professional photographer will be there to capture every moment. Popcorn and other delicious snacks and beverages will be available for purchase at any time during the event. Regular tickets, sold for $15, cover entry into the event, a goodie bag for your child to take home, and downloadable photos from the professional photographer. VIP tickets, priced at $25, include early entry into the event, a special meet and greet with Sleeping Beauty and the Frog Princess, a gift from the princesses, and front row seating, as well as everything included with the regular ticket price. Everyone age 12 months and older is required to have a ticket. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and adults must be accompanied by a child.

 

Avoiding Misrepresentation in Real Estate Photos

The places and things we see on a daily basis always seem so much more attractive and interesting in pictures on the internet, don’t they? Photoshop. Filters. Wide-angle camera lenses. Modern tools like these make it so easy to adjust here, tweak there, and come up with a beautiful image that, well, sometimes looks nothing like real life. Most of the time this is harmless. But when it comes to posting photos of your real estate listing, too much editing could potentially get you into some very real trouble. It’s imperative that you don’t enhance those photos so much that they end up being a misrepresentation of what your home actually looks like. Here are some of the things to be aware of when digitally altering or staging photos for your real estate listing.

Room Dimensions

It’s common practice, and usually preferred, for photographers to use wide-angle camera lenses when photographing a home that’s about to go on the market. Using this type of lens allows you to fit more square footage in one photo rather than taking multiple photos of a room. Unfortunately, doing so can sometimes make a room appear larger than it really is. This is something to be aware of when you’re digitally staging a room, too. For example, don’t place an image of a king-sized bed set or a large sectional sofa in a room that won’t fit one. Prospective buyers will be very disappointed to arrive at the home and find that their beloved king-sized bedroom set won’t fit inside the master suite, unlike the photo they saw online.

Added or Removed Fixtures

Never Photoshop a fixture out of a photo just to make a room seem more appealing. Any item that’s affixed to the walls, floor, or ceiling that will stay with the home when it sells should never be cropped out of the picture. If there’s a ceiling fan, radiator, or shelving unit that sticks out like a sore thumb, it will definitely be noticed when buyers view the home in person, and they’ll wonder why they didn’t see them in the listing photos. Likewise, don’t doctor photos to showcase any fixtures that won’t be included when the house sells. No matter how great the kitchen island would look with a beautiful farmhouse sink, if there’s not actually a sink in that island, resist the urge to add one digitally. 

Outside Scenery

No matter how unappealing the view is from the windows of any given room in the house, it’s important not to alter it to represent something that’s not actually there. Do not, under any circumstances, add in a beachfront view that doesn’t exist, a sunset or sunrise on the wrong side of the house, or even regular landscaping that’s more than a slight enhancement. A buyer may be interested in a house for its gorgeous ocean view, only to book a showing and find that the house is actually four streets back from the ocean. It’s one thing to turn an overcast sky into a sunny day or retouch a picture of a patchy lawn during the winter, but it’s quite another thing to digitally create curb appeal where none exists.

In order to protect yourself, keep photo enhancements and digital staging simple. It’s completely fine to adjust lighting to make sure the house looks its best; and sure, go ahead and add a fire in the fireplace or some beautiful scenery on the television screen. Just don’t add—or take away—anything of substance that might promise a prospective buyer something the house and surrounding property can’t measure up to in real life.

 

Friday Five // September 20th, 2019

 It’s Friday once again, and you know what that means. It’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place throughout the Charleston area over the weekend. Sip some sweet tea, race for the turtles, shop some of the country’s best vintage vendors, and more. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Head to downtown Summerville this Saturday for the 8th Annual Sweet Tea Festival from 3pm until 9pm. What started out as a small event held on the lawn of Hutchinson Square has blossomed into a full-blown festival! Join Summerville Dream and Visit Summerville for live music in the Square, on West Richardson, and on Short Central. Buy a festival mug, sponsored by Raising Cane’s, and use it to sample all the varieties of sweet tea at various tea stops. Be sure to cast your vote in the tea-tasting contest for the People’s Choice for Best Sweet Tea. And be sure to stop by a take a picture with local “celebrity,” Mason, the World’s Largest Sweet Tea Mug. This is a family-friendly event, but pets are not allowed due to the number of people attending the event.

The annual Sea & Sand Festival returns to Folly Beach this weekend for its 29th year, making it Folly’s longest running festival. From the Folly River Park straight to the beach, the Sea & Sand weekend will include the annual Miss Sea & Sand pageant on Friday, an artisan and food-focused street festival on Saturday, and some healthy competition in the sand on Sunday. Saturday’s street festival will include up to 75 arts, crafts, and fashion vendors; live music from four of Charleston’s top bands, two areas with kids’ activities; and the best Folly restaurants serving up delicious food. Get tickets for $6 in advance, $5 cash at the Folly Library, and $10 at the door. Children 12 and under get in free, and Folly Beach residents get in free with a valid ID. 

The South Carolina Aquarium Turtle Trek 5K, a 5K sunset beach run and kids’ fun run, takes place this Saturday on the Isle of Palms. Turtle Trek is presented by Crews Subaru of Charleston and Publix Super Markets Charities. Proceeds from the Turtle Trek support the Sea Turtle Care Center and the Aquarium’s conservation initiatives. To date, they have rehabilitated and released more than 270 sea turtles back into their natural habitats! Registration gets you race entry, a technical t-shirt, and access to the after-party at the Windjammer. The after party will include awards, food for all runners, music, and a raffle with excellent prizes. Remote Runners are also invited to join in supporting in sea turtles! Run the 5K in your own city, share your photos and race time, and receive a race t-shirt and race bib in the mail. 

If you love antiquing, “flea”ing, and all things vintage, the Exchange Park in Ladson is the place to be this weekend! Voted one of Country Living Magazine’s “7 Flea Markets & Barn Sales You Won’t Want to Miss,” Vintage Market Days of Charleston has expanded and planned an even bigger and better event than ever. Join Vintage Market Days for this upscale, vintage-inspired, indoor/outdoor market filled with original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home decor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings, and more. Fill your weekend with live music and shopping from the very best of vintage vendors from across the United States. 

This Saturday morning at Summer’s Corner in Summerville, Acuity Dental presents the Big Obstacle Challenge, an opportunity for healthy fun for the whole family. Participants who conquer the challenge course will complete ten obstacles before they cross the finish line. Fitness enthusiasts who want to test their strength can register for the Ultimate Challenge, in which 18 obstacles stand between you and the bragging rights of a conqueror. Spectators can enjoy the Fan Experience Zone with games, community resources, and local vendors while watching participants take on the challenge. Individual and team participation are both welcome. The Big Obstacle Challenge will raise funds for the Dorchester Two Educational Foundation’s Innovation Awards, which has awarded 36 grants over four years for a total of $122,780 to fund learning opportunities across Dorchester District Two classrooms.

 

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