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Date Archives: July 2018

BHHS Bay Street Realty Group Cora Bett Thomas Realty Blog Home

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July
25

savannah canoe and kayak

As we've already mentioned, we've been bitten by the kayaking bug. An awesome kayaking tour through Jack's Cut and Little Tybee is what started it, but what sealed the deal was a Sunday afternoon spent at Savannah Canoe and Kayak checking out gear and getting about a million questions answered. Not to mention sitting in some boats at the store. After spending some time with Nigel Law, the owner of SC&K, we decided to find out just exactly how this little hidden gem of a shop wound up over by Bonaventure Cemetery. 

A Long Journey

Nigel and his wife Kristin paddled from Wisconsin to the Florida Keys, and after that, had to decide what to do next. After some research on coastal areas they settled on Tybee Island. After a couple phone calls Nigel scored an interview at a canoe/kayak shop on Tybee Island. He got that job. The natural beauty of the Lowcountry beckoned, and Tybee's proximity to Savannah was a bonus for Nigel so could easily purchase photography equipment as needed. Tybee also provided an ideal location for Nigel and Kristin to continue their adventures kayaking and canoeing without as many tourists as they seemed to encounter while living in the Keys.

savannah canoe and kayak savannah canoe and kayak

Nigel enjoyed the work he was doing at the Tybee shop, but grew tired of interacting mainly with tourists, which seemed to be the case as time passed. He and Kristin also looked to do more with avid kayakers and the community. Especially in terms of bringing people closer to nature. They created a kayak program working with the city's youth, but as time passed they realized that there was a lack of a dedicated kayak outfitting store with a focus on locals. Eventually, they opened their own business, and Savannah Canoe and Kayak was born.

A Brick and Mortar

The shop was initially an online store and was run out of Nigel and Kristin's home, but seven years ago they found the building on Bonaventure Road. SC&K has been housed in this location since that time, and has proven to be a great location for those heading out to the water or back home from a day on the water. In the store you fill gear for kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing and camping. There is gear for day trips, long expeditions and casual paddling. 

Our favorite thing about Savannah Canoe & Kayak is its people. Is it easy to see Nigel and Kristin's passion for kayaking, but it is also apparent in all the SC&K team members. From helping customers to running tours, the SC&K crew is patient, professional and welcoming. You never feel out of place or intimidated at SC&K — which is amazing considering the amount of experience that the guys and gals have at the shop.

It is truly a place where those who love nature and being on the water can stop in, hang out, pick up gear, or just say hello and move on to the next adventure. With Savannah Canoe and Kayak, Nigel and Kristin have definitely achieved their goal of being not just a place that encourages community, but one that is a fixture of the community. 

Savannah Canoe & Kayak

414 Bonaventure Rd
Savannah, GA 31404

Tuesday - Saturday:10-5
Sunday: 12-5
Closed Mondays

Call 912.341.9502 or Visit Online for more information.

July
25

retirement

As more and more baby boomers enter retirement age, the question of whether or not to sell their homes and move will become a hot topic. In today's housing market climate, with low available inventory in the starter and trade-up home categories, it makes sense to evaluate your home's ability to adapt to your needs in retirement.

According to the National Association of Exclusive Buyers Agents (NAEBA), there are 7 factors that you should consider when choosing your retirement home.1

1. Affordability

"It may be easy enough to afford your home today but think long-term about your monthly costs. Account for property taxes, insurance, HOA fees, utilities – all the things that will be due whether or not you have a mortgage on the property."

Would moving to a complex with homeowner association (HOA) fees actually be cheaper than having to hire all the contractors you would need to maintain your home, lawn, etc.? Would your taxes go down significantly if you relocated? What is your monthly income going to be like in retirement?

2. Equity

"If you have equity in your current home, you may be able to apply it to the purchase of your next home. Maintaining a healthy amount of home equity gives you a source of emergency funds to tap, via a home equity loan or reverse mortgage."

The equity you have in your current home may be enough to purchase your retirement home with little to no mortgage. Homeowners in the US gained an average of over $16,300 in equity last year.

3. Maintenance

"As we age, our tolerance for cleaning gutters, raking leaves and shoveling snow can go right out the window. A condominium with low-maintenance needs can be a literal lifesaver, if your health or physical abilities decline."

As we mentioned earlier, would a condo with an HOA fee be worth the added peace of mind in knowing that you do not have to do the maintenance work yourself?

4. Security

"Elderly homeowners can be targets for scams or break-ins. Living in a home with security features, such as a manned gate house, resident-only access and a security system can bring peace of mind."

As scary as that thought may be, any additional security and an extra set of eyes looking out for you always adds to peace of mind.

5. Pets

"Renting won't do if the dog can't come too! The companionship of pets can provide emotional and physical benefits."

Evaluate all of your options when it comes to bringing your 'furever' friend with you to a new home. Will there be necessary additional deposits if you are renting or moving in to a condo? Is the backyard fenced in? How far are you from your favorite veterinarian?

6. Mobility

"No one wants to picture themselves in a wheelchair or a walker, but the home layout must be able to accommodate limited mobility."

Sixty is the new 40, right? People are living longer and are more active in retirement, but that doesn't mean that down the road you won't need your home to be more accessible. Having to install handrails and make sure that your hallways and doorways are wide enough may be a good reason to look for a home that was built to accommodate these needs.

7. Convenience

"Is the new home close to the golf course, or to shopping and dining? Do you have amenities within easy walking distance? This can add to home value!"

How close are you to your children and grandchildren? Would relocating to a new area make visits with family easier or more frequent? Beyond being close to your favorite stores and restaurants, there are a lot of factors to consider.

Bottom Line

When it comes to your forever home, evaluating your current house for its ability to adapt with you as you age can be the first step to guaranteeing your comfort in retirement. If after considering all these factors you find yourself curious about your options, let's get together to evaluate your ability to sell your house in today's market and get you into your dream retirement home!

From KCM

July
21

Getting Started Kayaking.

Kayaking

Savannah, Georgia is a beautiful place to live and to play, especially for those that love the outdoors. The coastline and the tidal marshlands of the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry make it ideal for those who want to explore. One of the best ways to get out and truly experience the beauty of the 100 Mile Coast is certainly kayaking. 

Why It's Special Here

There are a number of aspects of our region that make it an outstanding kayaking destination. The geology of the Georgia coast is unique and has an amazing geologic story you can read more about here. First, the most notable feature you will discover once you get on the water is not its beauty. It's the large tide range that occurs here on the coastal plain. The tide fills and empties the marshes and creeks, changes water direction, and more simply, gives kayakers a dynamic natural playground. From kayaking through Jack's Cut into the interior of Little Tybee Island or traversing the many creeks and rivers, there is plenty of reason to get out and explore in a kayak.  

Kayaking

Get Educated

"The better prepared you are, the more you can really enjoy being in your kayak and taking in the natural beauty of your surroundings."

Nigel Law, Owner
Savannah Canoe & Kayak

The key to making the most of your kayaking experiences is education and preparation. Luckily there are some passionate kayaking and outdoors-loving-people around here. We talked to our friends at Savannah Canoe and Kayak, and picked their brains on tips for those of us just starting out in a kayak.

Here's what we learned:

  1. Take a tour. I can vouch for this. Taking a half-day kayaking tour to Little Tybee and Jack's Cut got me hooked on kayaking. Savannah Canoe and Kayak offer a variety of tours: private, groups, half-day, full-day, the coast or inland. The crew is knowledgeable and will provide you with everything you need for a fantastic day on the water. Check out their website for dates and times of various tours.
  2. Stop by the store. Savannah Canoe and Kayak offers tours and classes as well as a slew of equipment for kayakers, canoers, and paddleboarders of all levels. So, don't go to the shop planing to buy everything right off the bat. Rather, walk around, check out equipment. See what fits you and your goals, and above all, ask questions. 
  3. Pack a kit of necessities. Remember, whether you decide to take on a placid lake, a lazy river, or a little bit of rolling surf, you are on the water, and that means practicing good common sense and safety measures. Some key items you must include in your kit for any trip on the water are a bilge pump, a personal floatation device and plenty of drinking water. Other items you will wan to have are a sponge, a dry bag, a safety whistle, sunscreen, and bug spray.

This is just a guide to getting started. Do some research. Take a tour. Get out there and enjoy the 100 Mile Coast. 

July
20

Mortgage Process

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don't have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.
July
18

Husk Savannah

Few restaurants have been greeted as eagerly as Husk Savannah. The work that has gone into remodeling the restaurant's space at 12 West Oglethorpe was enough to pique the neighborhood's interest. Add to that the notoriety of Husk's founder, Sean Brock, and the rapidly improving and evolving Savannah food scene, and you have all the ingredients for super high expectations. And believe me, the results were worth the wait. The building was beautifully restored, especially the upstairs level featuring a large u-shaped bar and high ceilings. Conveniently, Husk's raw bar is also on the second floor.  

We decided to pay Husk a visit on this weeknight for a round of celebratory drinks and to try a few of the menu's offerings. We had been waiting to visit Husk after it first opened — mostly due in part to the previously mentioned expectations — and  also we had heard that there were some adjustments occurring internally. We are glad we waited. Upon arriving we were greeted by a number of familiar Savannah faces. We opted for seats at the bar and I immediately remembered that it was Negroni Week. Husk decided to take simple yet sophisticated approaches to their takes on Negronis: the classic Negroni and a frozen Negroni slush. I opted for the classic, which did not disappoint. The hubs elected to try one of Husks's original cocktails, the Boogie Shoes, a tequila-based drink featuring egg white, melon liqueur, Chartreuse and shiso. Let me state that the beverage program at Husk is on point. 

Husk Savannah

Husk Savannah

We started our  menu sampling with some offerings from the raw bar, with, of course, raw oysters (that were delightfully delicate and briny). The oysters were accompanied by the some of the best homemade cocktail sauce that I've ever had. We also decided to sample the swordfish crudo — after the rave review of our bartender Eric — which is topped by peaches and padron peppers. Divine, especially with the Cava we had with the course. 

Next we tried General Tso's pork belly lettuce wraps, which did not disappoint. We also tried, again at Eric's suggestion, the Carolina ham with pepper biscuits. This ham is cured and served in paper-thin strips, much like proscuitto, and the biscuit was dense yet still fluffy — just the way I like them. We also discovered that rosé pairs really well with this ham and the peppery biscuits. 

For dinner we decided to share an entreé: the duo of beef with peas, sweet peppers and horseradish. Both cuts of beef were cooked perfectly, and the glasses of Slovenian red wine enhanced the flavors of the beef. A couple of amari, and slice of buttermilk pie, and we headed out into the Savannah twilight with full bellies and an air of satisfaction.

Husk Savannah

12 W. Oglethorpe Ave.

Savannah, GA 31401

912.349.2600

July
10

seller tenure

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of their data points, which has changed dramatically, is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving.

As the graph below shows, over the last twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2014, that average is almost ten years – an increase of almost 50%.

seller tenure

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 95.3% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situationaccording to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light by NAR in their 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends ReportAccording to the report,

"Sellers 37 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…"

These homeowners, who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts to do the same, are likely to move more often (compared to typical sellers who stayed in their homes for 10 years). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations, resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstance; they could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family. These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.

Are You Ready to List Your Home?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM

July
6

Be Prepared for Bidding Wars.

Bidding War

Summer is traditionally a busy season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on those buyers who are looking to purchase before the new school year. This year will be no different!

Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way. The challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has led to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.

A recent article by the National Association of Realtors touched on the current market conditions:

"Realtors® in areas with strong job markets report that consumer frustration is rising. Home shoppers are increasingly struggling to find an affordable property to buy, and the prevalence of multiple bids is pushing prices further out of reach."

Realtor.com went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in such big numbers:

"A booming economy and stable employment in most parts of the country have created a new generation of eager home buyers – and led to fevered price battles spilling over into some unexpected, smaller markets."

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for Realtor.com had this to say about competition:

"Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved to the usual big, fast-moving markets…demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country."

Realtor.com looked at the number of homes that were selling above asking price to determine which markets were heating up. Below are the Top 10:

  • Akron, OH
  • Worcester, MA
  • Lexington, KY
  • Irvine, CA
  • Greensboro, NC
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Madison, WI
  • Louisville, KY
  • Tacoma, WA
  • Little Rock, AR

Bottom Line

Contact us to discuss our exact market conditions so that we can help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere. We're here to help you get into your dream home. 

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

July
3

Starland

The Starland District of Savannah has been growing for some time now, but in the last few years this beloved neighborhood has truly started coming into its own. With a reputation for the eclectic and a nod to the concept of responsible consumerism, Starland is gaining popularity with visitors and is beloved by local Savannahians. 

Starland embraces quirkiness and eschews conventional labels. This attitude extends to the location of this neighborhood. There are no established boundaries for the Starland District, although it is commonly considered to be comprised of the blocks centered around Bull Street and north of Victory Drive. These blocks, numbering about 35, are those bordered by Barnard, Drayton, and 37th streets. However, there are many who consider the streets beyond these boundaries to be included in the Starland District, as they embrace the free-spirited attitude that is prevalent in this neighborhood. 

The Starland District's origins can be traced back to over a 100 years ago, with the founding of The Starland Dairy. The boom and bust of this milk processing factory had a significant impact on the neighborhood, which saw a decline with the closing of the dairy in the 1980s. Restoration of the dairy began in 2000, and is still in progress. 

Starland

Some of Starland's popular places include Bull Street Taco, Back in the Day Bakery, Atlantic, El Coyote, and Two Tides Brewing. Starland also hosts a First Friday Art March — a celebration of culture, art, food and music that is accessible by trolley. First Friday Art March emphasizes the importance that art has in Starland. This movement, coupled with the support that Savannahians continue to give to businesses in the Starland District, show that the Starland District will continue to grow and develop as a vital part of the city of Savannah. 

Are You Looking for Homes in Starland?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

July
3

Two Cora Bett Thomas Realty Listings Featured on HGTV Ultimate House Hunt. 

HGTV.com editors recently chose not one, but two Cora Bett Thomas Real Estate listings as finalists for its online contest, the Ultimate House Hunt.

The month-long contest, held now through July 17 features 88 homes from around the world in eight different categories. Visitors to the site are asked to vote for their favorite for a chance to win $10,000.

Both listings, one in Savannah and one in Beaufort, are featured in the Homes with History category. Editors selected these homes based on striking photographs of their extraordinary features and inspirational design. Other categories include Amazing Kitchens, Curb Appeal, Extreme Homes, Global Homes, Modern Masterpieces, Urban Digs and Waterfront Homes.

Voters can vote for one house in each category once per day at www.HGTV.com/househunt

"I am so honored the editors at HGTV.com chose both of these beautiful, historic homes," said Cora Bett Thomas. "I am excited for the world to see the beauty and charm of Historic Savannah and the South Carolina Lowcountry and how we preserve nostalgic classic architecture without sacrificing modern conveniences. Please go out and vote for our beautiful homes!"

This is the seventh consecutive year HGTV has aligned exclusively with Cora Bett Thomas Real Estate's global real estate network Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and its luxury marketing division Luxury Portfolio International® to host the Ultimate House Hunt, which is one of the most popular contests on HGTV.com.

The Savannah finalist is a Federal-style townhome in the desirable Jones Street neighborhood. Built in 1853, the three-story, brick home has housed a number of high-profile individuals, including August Coppola, brother of director Francis Ford Coppola.

The 4,000-square-foot home has several unique features including high ceilings, six fireplaces, exposed brick walls, and stained glass windows, combined with a recently renovated and thoroughly modern kitchen. The first floor, with its own private entrance, can function as additional bedroom space or be rented as an apartment, vacation rental, or business. A second-floor balcony overlooks a private courtyard complete with a fountain and an iron gate that leads to three parking spaces in the rear lane.

The Beaufort finalist is the Robert Smalls House, a National Historic Landmark built in 1843. The house is named for Robert Smalls, an enslaved African American man who commandeered a Confederate ship and delivered its passengers to freedom during the Civil War. Smalls later returned to Beaufort, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and bought the house, which had been owned by his slave master.

The two-story, antebellum home features a wood frame structure, gable roof and two porches. Palmetto and magnolia trees shade sitting areas and brick walkways in the formal front garden. Around the back of the house waits a two-story guest cottage with a full kitchen, one and a half baths and a loft. The 4,264-square-foot house features six fireplaces, hardwood floors, crown molding, built-in bookshelves, a butler's pantry and a recently renovated modern kitchen with a large island, granite counters and a green subway tile backsplash.

About Cora Bett Thomas Realty

Cora Bett Thomas and Associates has more than 35 years of experience helping clients buy and sell, both residential and commercial properties in Savannah and its surrounding areas, Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island, Palmetto Bluff and the Lowcountry. 

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