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Nonprofit Seeks to Rebuild Chicora-Cherokee from the Inside

Last week, the Charleston Regional Business Journal featured an article about a local nonprofit's efforts to improve and rebuild the Chicora-Cherokee area of Charleston, SC. As companies and residents have begun to come into lower income or delapidated neighborhoods in Charleston, many people have expressed concern for the current residents of those neighborhoods. As we all know, neighborhoods go through cycles. They start out new and usually decline in value, often gaining an increase in crime, until eventually, residents or outsiders come in to clean things up and make it a once again desireable area. Everyone gets excited about the area as it is made new again, but others worry that the individuals who have made those areas their home will be pushed out as value rises, making them unable to afford to live in the area any longer. This is where the Reverend Bill Stanfield comes in.

Chicora-Cherokee, a roughly 4-square-mile area of the city, is home to about 3,500 residents. It was once a hotbed for crime, where more violent crimes were committed than in any other neighborhood in the city. But those numbers are on the decline.

Stanfield and his nonprofit Metanoia Community Development Corp. have been working for more than a decade to rebuild Chicora-Cherokee from within. Stanfield "We are thinking more and more about the economic development of the community," says Stanfield. "We want to manage that process of redevlopment so that we can prevent mass gentrification." In other words, these efforts are mainly to benefit the residents of Chicora-Cherokee, inviting businesses in and encouraging homeownership.

Before the Navy base was closed, the area was bustling with commercial and residential activity. Currently, it is home to several delapidated, abandoned commercial buildings. Residents don't even have access to a grocery store in their neighborhood. This is something Stanfield and North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey are looking to change. The decrease in crime and the beginnings of increase in community involvement is sure to attract businesses to the area. In fact, one of the purposes of the nonprofit Metanoia is to purchase land with delapidated buildings and turn them into affordable houses or commercial space. The city of North Charleston plans to invest in the area as well by recruiting businesses including a grocery store. An Intermodal Rail Facility has also been planned for the area, which will also bring more employment and businesses.

"In America, who decides what happens in a community is whoever owns the land there," says Stanfield. "We want development to benefit the community here." Kudos to Reverend Stanfield for looking from within to rebuild the community and doing what is best for its residents.

How-To Tuesday: Get Inspired to Decorate or Remodel

 

Have you recently bought a new home? Are you a long-time homeowner who just needs a change? Before you go about decorating or remodeling your home, you need to get inspired. A lot of homeowners just want to get things over with without having to live with in-progress projects for an extended amount of time. They dive head-first into decorating and remodeling without having a real plan or end goal. This usually leaves them feeling unsatisfied or finding themselves craving a change again a short time later. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent "decorator's remorse."

1. First, take a long, hard look at your house and decide what it is you like most about it. What do you dislike? This will help you figure out what you would like to accent and what you'd like to play down.

2. Think about what's important to you. Are you heavily influenced by the aesthetics of a room? Is comfort level more important to you? What about fabrics? Colors? Styles?

3. Make a wish list. Write down everything you would do to your home if money were no object. Then break that list up into smaller lists of what is feasible and what is not, and what has to be done now and what can wait. This will give you a good idea of where to start.

4. Make an inspiration board. Collect photos from magazines, websites, or friends' homes that inspire you. This step is easy to do now if you use Pinterest to your advantage! Create several boards for decorating ideas: kitchen, living room, outdoor spaces, etc. Don't do this all at one time. It's easy to go pin-crazy, but that will only confuse you further. Take your time. Don't rush it. If you need an example, take a look at our Pinterest page here.

5. Don't forget to consult your other half. Even if he or she says to do whatever you want, they more than likely have an opinion to share. So don't go painting the budoir walls bright red without asking first.

6. Decide what current items should stay or go. And before you throw out that tired old armchair, don't forget that it can be reupholstered. Likewise, other objects can be repurposed or upcycled. Think before you toss!

7. One more decision: do you want to knock it all out at once or decorate/remodel in stages? Weigh your options. Maybe you'd like to finish one room before you move on to the next. Maybe you want to paint all the rooms and then go back to the first room to continue the decorating process.

8. Plan, plan, plan! Write out your budget. Calculate the time needed and whether it needs to be limited or finished by a specific date. Make detailed to-do lists that can also be easily edited if you change your mind about any details in the future.

Now that you have a decorating plan, go for it! You'll find that things go much more smoothly and the headaches and indecision will be kept at a minimum.

 

Kitchen Design 101

There's much more to designing a kitchen than picking out counter tops, tile, and appliances. Before you get down to those kinds of details, you need to consider the layout of your kitchen. Allow us to introduce you to the kitchen work triangle.

The work triangle is a standard "equation" for the best way to lay out a kitchen. At each point of the triangle sits one of the major kitchen features: the sink, the refrigerator, and the stove/oven. This layout allows for better flow and more efficient usage of space. Once the work triangle is established, you'll find that it's much easier to decide how to organize other kitchen components in an equally efficient way. Let's take a look at three categories for organization within the work triangle.


Storage

First, ask yourself what you will need within arm's reach of each area. You'll probably want to keep your silverware and other utensils near the dishwasher and sink. This makes easy work of putting them away after washing. Store pots and pans in a cabinet or drawer near the stove. Keep zip-top bags and other storage items near the refrigerator. Carefully consider what you'll need in each area and plan accordingly. Those items that are used less often should be stored outside of the work triangle (like in a pantry).


Preparation 

The most ideal area for prep work is near the sink. Make the most of this area by allowing 18-36 inches of counterspace on one or each side of the sink. If you don't have much counter room to spare, an island is a great way to extend your preparation area. This is why kitchen islands are so popular! Situated in the middle of the triangle, the island can serve as additional space for whichever area needs it at any given time.


Cooking

All cooking tools and appliances should be arranged around the stove and oven. Keeping these related items together will also help you keep your prep areas clear of clutter. You should ideally leave 21-36 inches on either side of the cooktop as well. Have plenty of storage nearby to hold things like spices, potholders, and cutting boards.

Now that you have a rudimentary idea of how a kitchen should be laid out, you should be able to customize the work triangle "equation" to suit your needs. Do you have other ideas for setting up an efficient kitchen?

Dress Up the Front Stoop for Summer

Curb appeal doesn't just apply to landscaping. The first impression potential buyers or visitors get of your home is your front entryway. Why not dress it up and make it beautiful? During the fall and winter, it's easy to come up with a way to add interest to the front stoop: folk-inspired scarecrows, pumpkins, miniature christmas trees, beautiful wreaths... But it's not quite as easy to think of a way to decorate the stoop during the warmer months beyond adding a few flower pots or a cute doormat. Here are just a few ideas we've come up with:

* Add a quirky planter. Think outside of the terracotta or ceramic pot! Use "found objects" to create an interesting planter that draws attention to the flora. For example, paint an unused umbrella stand and use it to house your flowers or greenery. Take a stroll through your local vintage shop or Goodwill. You'll be surprised at what you'll find for your purpose!

* If you'd rather go with traditional pots for plants and flowers, paint all of the pots the same color. This is especially interesting if the pots are all different shapes and sizes.

* Paint the front door a bright color. Red? Yes. Yellow? Sure. Turquoise? Even better. Just go for it! If you want, you can even use the same color to paint the aforementioned plant pots.

* Instead of a doormat, use a full-sized outdoor rug on the porch. It's unexpected, and it lends interest and color to the area.

* Buy or build a simple trellis or pergola to frame your front entrance and plant a vine that will crawl up and add beauty.

* Position fragrant flora next to the front door. Jasmine, honeysuckle, and gardenias smell especially delightful!

What do you do to dress up your stoop for the summer?

 

Flippers Beware: What You DON'T Say Could Cost You!

Allow me to introduce you to a hypothetical character named Joe. Joe is a real estate investor who focuses on buying foreclosures and short sales and flipping them to sell again in a short period of time. This isn't an uncommon practice among real estate investors. There are even multiple television shows about the topic. Joe, however, was recently caught in a sticky situation concerning one of his flipped properties. He purchased a foreclosure. Before the original owner vacated the property after foreclosure, he decided to get his "revenge" by trashing the home. When Joe bought the property, he hired a handyman to help him fix it up. Six weeks later, Joe's house went on the market and was snatched up by the O'Donnell family at a great price. After the O'Donnells had been living in the house for a month, they began to have problems with their plumbing and discovered mold inside the walls. When they spoke with a neighbor, the O'Donnells were surprised to hear that the home had been trashed by the original owner. This fact had not been disclosed when they bought the home. Not only did Joe have some explaining to do, but he and the listing and selling agents also had a lawsuit on their hands! 

According to Realtor Magazine, "This case is an example of a growing number of lawsuits in California and elsewhere involving short sales and foreclosures that are quickly fixed up and then flipped." When dealing with a flipped property, all parties involved in the transaction should take care to do their part to ensure that no unforeseen problems crop up due to undisclosed material facts. What can you as a seller, buyer, or real estate agent do to protect yourself from these issues?

"First, parties who flip foreclosed or short-sale properties are not exempt from making disclosures just because they haven't lived there, especially if repair or remodeling work has been done on the properties," states Realtor Magazine. No matter if a seller has or has not lived in a property, that seller must fill out completely whatever disclosure forms his or her state requires. This disclosure must include any and all known material facts about the property, even if the issues have been repaired. Sellers who flip should also know that any work that requires a permit must be performed by a licensed contractor. Don't try to cut corners and costs by hiring a non-licensed handyman to repair problems that could be more serious than they appear.

As a buyer, you are responsible for making your wants and needs known. If you prefer not to buy a property that was previously a foreclosure or short sale, make sure your Realtor researches to make sure the property you're looking at was not flipped from either one of those. It won't take much work for him or her to find that information. In addition, be sure to ask about any disclosures that have been made regarding the property. 

If you are the buyer's agent, ask the listing agent of seller about the property's previous condition, what repairs have been done, what defects might not have been repaired, and whether the work was done by a licensed contractor. It's also important to make sure the seller can back up claims that repairs were done the correct way (through receipts, permits, etc.). The seller's agent should be sure that he or she can answer these questions efficiently by asking the seller firsthand before any contact is made with other agents or potential buyers. Ensure that the seller fills out disclosure forms fully and accurately.

Do you have experienced with flipping properties, or with buying flipped properties? Are you an agent who has represented a buyer or seller in this type of transaction? Have these types of transactions always gone smoothly, or have you hit snags along the way? What are some of the problems you've had concerning flipped homes? Let us know in the comments section below!

*Information Source: Realtor Magazine, May/June2014

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