The ABC's of Real Estate

Like most types of business, the real estate industry has a lot of jargon that you might not be familiar with. With that in mind, we bring to you today a short list of the ABC's of real estate. How many of the following real estate terms do you recognize?


Appraisal: an expert estimate of the value of a property as determined by one of three methods: comparable sales (residential), replacement cost (insurance), or income approach (commercial).

Broker: a person who acts as a mediator between two or more parties for the purpose of negotiating a transaction agreeable to all parties.

Closing: the formal meeting where loan documents are signed, funds are disbursed, and keys are exchanged.

Deed: conveys or transfers title to land or other real property.

Earnest money: a monetary amount or something of value given by a prospective buyer of real property as evidence of good faith.

Foreclosure: the process of terminating an owner's rights to property due to delinquent payments.

Gain: an increase in money or property value.

HOA (Homeowners Association): organization of homeowners in a subdivision, planned use development, or condominium created to enforce deed restrictions and manage common elements of the development.

Interest rate: percentage of loan amount charged for borrowing money.

Joint tenancy: ownership of real estate by two or more persons, each of whome has an undivided interest.

Kickout clause: seller contingency that allows the seller to accept a buyer's contingent offer to purchase, while allowing the seller to continue to market the property and take backup offers. Also known as the 72-hour clause.

Lien: claim on a property of another as security for money owed. Example: judgments, mechanic's liens, mortgages, and unpaid taxes.

Mortgage loan: loan secured by a lien against real property given by borrower to a lender.

Net cash flow: investment income after expenses such as principle, interest, taxes, and insurance are subtracted.

Ordinance: municipal rules governing the use of land.

PITI (principle, interest, taxes, and insurance): monthly payments required by an amortizing loan that includes escrow deposits for taxes and insurance in addition to principle and interest.

Quiet enjoyment: an owner's or tenant's right to use and possession of property without interference.

Realtor: designation given to licensed real estate agents who are members of the National Association of Realtors.

Section 8: privately owned rental swelling units participating in the low-income rental assistance program created by 1974 amendments to section 8 of the 1937 Housing Act.

Title insurance: an insurance policy that protects the holder from loss sustained by defects in the title, which is evidence of ownership.

Undivided interest: ownership right to use and possession of property shared among co-owners, with no one co-owner having exclusive rights to any portion of the property.

VA Loan: a home loan guaranteed by the U.S. Veteran's Administration under the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 and later to compensate the lender in the event of default.

Warranty Deed: deed that contains covenant that the grantor protects the grantee against any and all claims and ensures good title, freedom from encumbrances, and quiet enjoyment.

Regulation X: also known as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures ACT (RESPA). Concerned with the process of completing real estate sales. Monitored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Yield: effective return on investment

Zoning: a legal mechanism for local governments to divide an area into zones as to restrict the number and types of buildings and their uses.


How-To Tuesday: Make Your Own Natural, Homemade Cleaning Products

Modern households have gone retro. In a complicated world, it seems many families are striving to make things simple and natural whenever they can. When you think "simple," making your own homemade household cleaners might not top your list of first thoughts. But believe it or not, you can whip up your own natural cleaners with just a few ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen or bathroom! Check out our best recipes for natural, homemade cleaners.

All-Purpose Cleaner
1 cup vinegar
1 cup water
Mix in a spray bottle and use to clean kitchens, bathrooms, etc.

All-Purpose Cleaner 2
3 parts filtereted water
1 part vinegar
1/2 tsp. lemon juise
5-7 drops lemon essential oil
Put in spray bottle and fill the rest of the way with hot water.

Glass Cleaner
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. vinegar

Furniture Polish
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice

Stainless Steel Cleaner/Polish
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar
Dab oil on one side of a soft cloth. Rub steel appliances to remove smudges. Dab vinegar on the other side of the cloth and wipe down.

Homemade Reusable Cleaning Cloths
Soak cotton fabric squares in a mixture of the following:
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. dish soap
8-10 drops lemon essential oil
Recycle an old container of cleaning wipes (like Clorox Clean-Ups) to hold the cloths.

Bleach Alternative
1 cup hydrogen peroxide
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
15 c. water
Mix in a large jug. Fill spray bottles if desired.

Produce Wash
1/2 c. vinegar
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 c. filtered or distilled water

Dusting Spray (similar to Pledge)
1 Tbsp. natural dish soap
15 drops lemon essential oil
2 c. water

Deodorizing Spray (similar to Febreeze)
Fill a spray bottle with vinegar until almost full. Add 10 drops of lemon essential oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil. Feel free to replace those oils with any others you desire.

Pots and Pans Scrub
Combine equal parts salt and flour, then add just enough vinegar to make a paste.

Do you have any great recipes for cleaning products we should know about? Are there any we missed that you'd like to see? Tell us in the comments below!


Hurricane Preparation Tips For Your Home

Hurricane season is upon us! While many of us living in the Lowcountry are seasoned pros in hurricane preparedness, it never hurts to refresh the memory and make a list of "to-do's" to keep on hand. If you're NOT familiar with how to prepare for a hurricane, don't panic. As long as you take certain precautions, you and your home should weather the storm just fine. Before you do anything else, decide whether you will evacuate or stay and ride out the storm. If you live in a flood zone that could suffer from a storm surge, the best thing to do is evacuate. If city officials tell you to evacuate, DO IT. Don't learn the hard way.

Whether you stay or evacuate, you'll need to prepare your home for intense wind and rain. Check out our hurricane preparation to-do list below!


Contrary to what you may have heard or done in the past, don't tape your windows. It's a waste of time. It might keep glass from flying everywhere in the event that the window does break, but there's no guarantee. It certainly won't keep the window from breaking in the first place.

If you have hurricane shutters, put them up a day or two before the hurricane is expected to make landfall.

If you decide that plywood is the way to go, make sure you don't wait until the last minute to buy it. Do so early in the season and have it and the necessary tools on hand in advance. You'll thank yourself later. Buy 3/4-inch thick plywood and enough screws to place 18 inches apart all the way around.

Block all views of the inside of your home if you decide not to cover the windows. Hang drapes and make sure blinds are closed, etc. You never know when looters will show up to take a peek inside post-storm.


Move any outdoor items into the garage or the house. This includes grills, patio furniture, lawnmowers, garden hoses, toys and playsets, trash cans, and decorative items. Ask your neighbors to do the same to lower the risk of someone else's belongings blowing over and knocking out one of your windows.

Examine the landscaping around your home. Trim any dead limbs and branches from surrounding trees and bushes. They're sure to break off in heavy winds and can damage roofs, windows, and cars. If there are any large, weaker trees (pines, for example) close to the house, consider cutting them down.

Check gutters to make sure they're clear of leaves and other debris. You'll want them in working order once the heavy rains start to fall!


If you decide not to evacuate, prepare a room for your family to take shelter in during the storm. This room should ideally have no windows or exterior doors and only one interior door. If you don't have a room without windows, a hallway will work in a pinch. Stock the room with bedding, a radio, batteries, flashlights/glow sticks, and enough food and water to last your family for about twelve hours. If you have pets, don't forget to include their necessities as well. Candles can go into the mix if you don't have gas lines that could possibly be compromised.

Store valuables and important documents in a waterproof container that you can keep with you. Take pictures or videos of valuables for the insurance company.

Check expiration dates on all items in your hurricane kit. If you don't have a hurricane kit, MAKE ONE NOW.

What to include in a hurricane preparedness kit:
Enough non-perishable (dried, canned, boxed) foods and water to last at least three days.
Battery-operated radio
Plenty of extra batteries
Necessary medications
First aid kit
Non-electric can opener
Paper plates and plastic cups and utensils
Trash bags and duct tape
Hygiene items
Waterless soap
Pet ID, collars, and leashes

For a more comprehensive list on how to prepare your hurricane kit, visit   

What other hurricane preparation tips do you have? Tell us in the comments section below!

City of Charleston Addresses Traffic Concerns

Charleston traffic solution has been a big topic here in the Lowcountry lately. With tourism even bigger and better than ever, and with the population expected to reach one million by the year 2027, it's no wonder that traffic is on everyone's mind. As reported by the Charleston Regional Business Journal, the City of Charleston has listened to residents' concerns and has partnered with the Historic Charleston Foundation to hire Gabe Klein, the former transportation director for Chicago and Washington, D.C., to help develop a transportation strategy.

"We have 18th- and 19th-century streets; that's all we're going to have, 18th- and 19th-century streets in downtown Charleston, so it makes a big challenge in a growing city and region to handle transportation," says Charleston planning director Tim Keane. "We think that the that you have to drive less. If you live downtown, more and more people can drive less, and more and more people can live without a car." The solution, says Keane, is public transportation that residents and visitors will be happy to use, and better bike facilities and safer sidewalks for pedestrians.

In order to enforce new and existing transportation rules for carriages, bike taxis, and buses, the city is also hiring three new tourism enforcement officers under the Department of Planning, Preservation, and Sustainability.

Though we have no current solution to traffic issues, concerned residents can rest easy knowing that the city is actively working to resolve the problem.

The committee formed to update the city's Tourism Management Plan is expected to finish by the end of the year and present recommendations to the tourism commission and City Council in early 2015.

How-To Tuesday: Sell Your Home Quickly

The Charleston real estate market is hot right now, and sellers are sitting pretty. Buyers are plentiful, and inventory is lower than it was this time last year. If you're thinking about selling your home, now is the time to do it. The first thing you have to do before putting your home on the market is to get it into shape for selling. There are several things to consider before you let potential buyers into your home. It takes a little bit of planning and elbow grease, but striking off a few items on the following to-do list is sure to help you sell a house fast.

Before Listing

1. Declutter. It's hard for most buyers to look past an abundance of "stuff." That collection of mugs from your world travels might be precious to you, but potential buyers aren't interested in seeing it. Minimalize knickknacks and other decorative items, making things look more streamlined. This is also a good time to weed out those items you won't be taking to your new residence. Take a look around and decide what you can sell or donate before your home goes on the market.

2. Give the house a deep clean. This means the outside, too! Pressure wash the siding and clean windows inside and out. Inside, make sure the kitchen and bathrooms are spotless and all furniture and baseboards are dusted. Give any spots on the wall a little touch-up with paint. Have floors steam cleaned if carpeted or mopped and waxed if wood.

3. Repair any issues you haven't gotten around to. Closet doors that have come off their tracks, wonky drawers that don't quite close all the way, carpet that has pulled up in one corner... All of these are small details that will be noticed, believe it or not. Potential buyers catalogue all of these little issues and will have a mental list of things that need to be fixed. Nip this in the bud by taking care of them in advance.

4. Neutralize decor. Not everyone likes dark or bright colors. Giving buyers a blank canvas to work with will help them visualize their exact preferences in decor. Paint the walls with neutral colors. This doesn't have to be boring. You can even use different neutrals in different rooms. Ecru for the living room, a dove gray for the bedroom, etc. Keep furnishings as neutral as possible, too, so buyers won't have a hard time seeing their own belongings in the home.

5. Create curb appeal. This doesn't mean you have to entirely overhaul your front yard. Just give it a bit of a facelift. Make sure the grass is always mowed. Trim any unruly trees or bushes. Plant a few colorful flowers. Paint the mailbox or install a new one. Pressure wash the driveway if there are stains. Little touches here and there do wonders for curb appeal. Make sure the back yard is tidy as well.

On Showing Day

1. Do a quick sweep of all rooms to make sure they're clean and neat. Pick up any stray clothing or shoes, and stow personal items like toiletries.

2. Make the house smell good. This is especially important if you have pets. Make sure any pet odors are neutralized. Light a candle that isn't overpowering or use an air freshener.

3. Let in natural light. Open the curtains and blinds to let buyers see how much sun the home gets during the day.

4. Leave! Under no circumstances should you stay home while your house is being shown to buyers. Having the seller there makes potential buyers uncomfortable, and they're less likely to look at everything they want to see. No offense, but they just don't want to see you there.

5. Take pets with you. Barking dogs, stalking cats, and chirping birds can be pretty annoying and disruptive to buyers. Take them with you when you leave the home for the showing.

What other tips do you have that have helped your home sell quickly?





A friend of ours who recently bought a house enthusiastically referred us to Johnson & Wilson. Our friend's recommendation was top notch - Johnson & Wilson. is AWESOME! - Brian
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