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September
21

5 Tips for Frugal Urban Living

Urban living is expensive—especially for recent college graduates who are living their dream of getting a good first job in the big city. But successful urban living, financial advisors say, is all about being thoughtful and learning to spend wisely and well.

  • Know the 3 Ns: Necessities, Nest Egg and Non-Essentials – Necessities, like rent, food, clothing and transportation, should take no more than 50% of your income. Aim for a nest egg—savings in an interest-bearing account that includes cash enough for three month's expenses or emergencies, plus a chunk of your monthly income going into a retirement account—and designate no more than 20% of your income for discretionary items such as entertainment, dining out, vacations and other non-essentials.
  • Know the 4 Rs: Reduce, Repair, Reuse, Recycle – Before you buy something, ask yourself: Do I really need it? Can I buy it second-hand or trade for it? Can I recycle or repurpose something I already have? Can I find it on the cheap? Get acquainted with local websites devoted to buying and trading used merchandise.
  • Stick to a List – Resist impulsive buying. Whether it's groceries, clothing, household goods or non-essentials, make a list of what you need and do your best to stick to it when you shop. And a good piece of advice…never do your grocery shopping on an empty stomach!
  • Try Not to Pay Full Price – Clip coupons, download apps and sign up for loyalty programs. Check the internet for books and tips on purchasing almost anything you need at a discount. Facebook Marketplace is a good place to start looking for preowned items at affordable prices.
  • Put People Over Things – Money can't buy relationships. Even casual conversations can lead to friendships, and friends can be your greatest asset. Apart from the emotional support that friends provide, you can live more frugally by cooking together instead of eating out, playing games at home instead of spending on expensive entertainment, and keeping each other on the straight and narrow when it comes to spending wisely.
June
14

Tips for Tree Risk Assessment and Limb Failure.

Tree Risk Assessment

While not a perfect science — given the unpredictability of nature — there are many signs to look for that could indicate the potential for tree failure. Some caused by improper pruning practices, and others occur naturally. In this article we will discuss signs and growth patterns that may indicate a trees potential likelihood for failure, along with how you — as the manager of your own little slice of our urban forest — can be educated when hiring a tree service contractor in hopes of mitigating these potential risks.

It's easy and understandable to be concerned about large trees near or over your home with the annual threat of hurricanes. As long as your house is within striking distance of a tree, there is the potential for impact if such a storm does occur; or, if structural problems with the tree go unnoticed or untreated. The goal of this article is to familiarize you with some common defects so you can be informed and are able to address potential issues. Also knowing how to identify some of these problems and understanding mitigation options will help you weed out potential "tree choppers."  These individuals may feed off of your fear of property damage and make unnecessary recommendations that can cost you significant money and oftentimes be damaging to your trees.

Tree Risk Assessment

First off, check to see if your tree is over or within striking distance to any targets. These include structures, high traffic areas, playgrounds, etc. If it isn't, move on to others. If it is, let's take a closer look:

Does the tree have any large, dead limbs? These are most easily spotted in summer when healthy limbs generally have leaves.

Do you notice a lean in the tree? Has the lean noticeably worsened over time? You could see heaving of the ground/roots on the opposing side of the lean. Are the majority of the limbs (weight) on the side of the lean, or does the canopy balance out the lean?

Now let's look at the larger branches, leads (large tree parts that grow from the truck off of which branches are attached), and trunk. Do you see any decay on these? Binoculars may be helpful. Keep an eye out for cavity dwellers: bees, raccoons, etc.. These are an obvious sign of hollow areas. Look at the "forks" of the large limbs. This is the area where the trunk branches out to smaller sized leads and limbs and often times where limbs break in high wind. The optimal fork will have somewhat of a "U" shape on the top side. Spread your fingers wide, and look at the base where they meet your hand. Notice the small webbing like appearance — that is what we are looking for in an optimal tree fork. This is the strongest growth form. If you instead see a harder, more "V" like connection, often times with swollen or discolored bark — this could be included bark.

Included bark will cause a weakened attachment of the leads predisposing them to possible failure. A supplemental support system (Cables and/or braces) may be necessary to prevent failure.

Moving on, let's look at the trunk and base of the trunk, "root flare" (Root flare is the base of the trunk where the trunk meets the roots)- do you see any cracks, cavities, loose or missing bark, conks or water Stains? Do you see flat areas as opposed to the mostly uniform roundness? Do you see any deep recesses or ridges at the lower portion of the trunk near the root flare? These are often times an indicator that the trunk may be hollow. If you don't spot any of these, let's move on to the roots.

Do you see any mushrooms or other such fruiting bodies? These could indicate root rot issues. Has there been a driveway recently installed, or other such disturbances that may have damaged the anchoring system of the tree? Do you see any lifted areas of soil or roots? Is the area a low spot? Oversaturated soil due to poor drainage could cause a tree to uproot easier in high winds and is also a breeding ground for root rot causing pathogens further weakening roots.

Risk Assessing Multiple Trees on Your Property

Now let's take a broader look at all of the trees on your property that could be a risk. Here is a list of potential hazardous trees and the risks they pose.

  1. Trees left after development. Often densely wooded lots are cleared with the exception of just a few trees. These trees are more likely to fail in high winds, given they previously shared wind load with other trees. They are usually tall with very thin trunks, low live-crown ratio, and lack a root flare. Root flare is swelling at the base of the trunk caused by added structural wood as a result of wind loading and is a desirable structural feature.
  2. Water Oaks and Laurel Oaks. These trees have a short life span and often develop decay and included bark with age. Keep in mind that just because the leaves are green and appear healthy, the trunk may still be largely hollow. Further inspection may be necessary by an ISA Certified Arborist if the tree is in a critical location.
  3. Trees that have previously been topped or lions tailed. We will dive further into this later in this article.
  4. Large limbs that extend well past the crown of the tree.
  5. Trees in low lying areas. Soil may provide poor anchoring, upping the potential for uprooting in high winds.
  6. Trees with excessive leans.
  7. Trees with low live-crown ratio - usually Pines. Live-crown is measured from the lowest limb to the top of the tree. Optimally this just be about ⅔ of the total height of the tree. The more limbs are concentrated above the halfway mark of the tree, a lever arm action is created in high winds.
  8. Bradford Pears. These are the perfect candidate for limb failure given all of the limbs generally grow from the same area on the trunk, resulting in weak attachment.

How Improper Pruning Practices May Result in Tree Hazards

Topping

Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree limbs to stubs or to lateral limbs that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Often times people assume that by shortening a tree they are ensuring it is receiving less wind load or is less of a hazard because it now won't reach the target if it falls. While the immediate result of topping is just that, many more problems arise down the road. Depending on the severity of the hack job, the tree may die shortly after. Remember — trees need leaves to supply food to sustain. If the tree does survive this travesty, it will sprout out numerous shoots all from one area at the end of the nubbed off limbs. These shoots grow to large limbs over a few years and are weakly attached and prone to break much more than before. Compounding this issue is the trees reaction to topping. It will allocate all of its energy to putting out new shoots/leaves and very little energy to the sealing process, leaving the end of these limbs open for decay. The newly grown limbs will be even more prone to failure. Avoid topping trees.

Lions Tailing

Lions Tailing is when all of the inner limbs of a tree are removed, leaving only the foliage near the ends of the large limbs - resembling a lion tail. The misunderstanding is that by doing this the wind will more easily flow through the tree reducing its wind resistance; however there is actually the adverse effect. Now that all of the wind resistance is at the tip of the limb, a lever arm is created and forces are amplified. Instead of removing this interior growth, weight/limbs should be shortened. As an example, try holding a 5-pound weight with your arm fully extended. Now rest the 5-pound weight directly on your bicep. The latter is much easier. Furthermore, the tree will react to lions tailing by exponential sprouting where the limbs were just removed in an effort to replace lost leaf area. You will hire someone to do it all over again and again. Avoid lions tailing limbs.

Making Large Pruning Cuts on Mature Trees

Large limbs/leads of trees over your house or valuables can be nerve wracking. The first thought is often to remove the entire tree part (i.e limb or lead) all the way back to the trunk. This may not be the best choice. It's important to know that every cut is a wound. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to seal - if ever. Open wounds from large cuts are the perfect opportunity for decay causing pathogens to enter the tree. Instead of having large limbs removed, consider removing weight/limbs from the tip to lighten the load.

Hiring a Tree Professional

Now that you are informed, this should be much easier. Avoid "point and cut" companies. These are the ones who know little about arboricultural practices but have a chainsaw and are willing to cut wherever you point. Find an ISA Certified Arborist — preferably with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. They have the knowledge to guide you on what is best for both you and your trees. Yes the initial cost may be a little more, but the results will save you far more down the road. My hope is that this brief "do it yourself" tree risk assessment is helpful. Importantly, this is a very watered down version as a guide to help you spot defects and hazards and should not be a substitute for a tree professionals thorough inspection and advice.

By Shem Kendrick
ISA Certified Arborist SO-7151A
Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
TCIA Tree Care Specialist

Coastal Arbor Care

912-272-0175
www.Coastalarbor.biz

June
10

summer maintenance tips

Technically, the first day of summer is June 21st, but as we in the Lowcountry know, summer has already arrived. Long days of sunshine, heat, and humidity are already upon us. No need to worry, though — with these easy summer home maintenance tips, you can have your home ready for summer in less time than it takes to heat up the grill. 

Indoor Summer Home Maintenance Tips:

1. Check your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detectors. 

  • Replace the batteries if needed.

2. Get your cooling system ready.

  • Consider getting your air-conditioning system serviced. Proper air conditioner maintenance can help your AC last longer and prevent air conditioner fires. In Savannah and the Lowcountry, life without AC is just about unthinkable. Don't wait until the dog days of summer to make sure your cooling system is up to par.

3. Dust the ceiling fan blades and check that the fan is balanced and working properly.

  • Attach a dryer sheet to a paint roller so you can reach easily and dust away. Or, my personal favorite, grab an old sock (b/c how often do you need socks in Savannah, anyway?) and dust the blades. After you use it, toss it in the washing machine and it's as good as new.

4. Get your chimney cleaned.

  • This isn't applicable to everyone, but many homes in the Historic District have chimneys, and they shouldn't be neglected. Yes, you might not use your fireplace again until fall or winter, but that's exactly why this is the perfect time to call a chimney cleaning service. They won't be as busy!

5. Clean or replace your shower heads. 

  • Most shower heads can be easily cleaned. Don't be deterred by scaling from hard water, vinegar can easily take care of that problem for you.

6. Clean bathroom drains.

  • Whatever method you choose, clean them! With so many affordable options available, there's no excuse to put this chore off another day.

7. Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans.

  • If your fans spin counterclockwise, they'll push the air straight down to your home will stay nice and cool. To do this, turn off the fan, wait for it to stop, and find the direction switch and check that your fans are spinning counterclockwise.

8. Clean the baseboards of your home. 

  • Use a damp cloth and wipe away all the dust and grime. Disclaimer: I will be the first to admit, this is one of my least favorite chores. But man, is it satisfying once I've done it!

9. Check your attic and basement.

  • In your attic, look for signs of dampness, mildew, leaks, holes in the roof, and pests.
  • Basements are uncommon in the Lowcountry, but if you have one check for leaks, pests, mold, and mildew.

10. Clean the vents of your bathroom fans.

11. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust duct.

  • Clean out all of the dust and lint trapped in the vent and exhaust duct. Call in a professional to clean and service your washer and dryer if needed. Clothes dryers can be a fire hazard if they're not cleaned and maintained.

12. Change the filter in the air conditioner.

  • If you have a smart thermostat, such as Nest, it should be automatically reminding you when it's time to change the filter. Pay attention to that reminder. Also, make sure to keep the vents around your air filters clean.

Outdoor Summer Home Maintenance Tips:

13. It's grillin' time! Are you and your grill ready?

  • Charcoal grills: Empty the grill and wipe away any dust or residue. Use hot water, dish soap, and a scrub brush or sponge to clean both the outside and inside of the grill. Be sure to let your grill dry off before using it next.
  • Gas grills: Close the lid, turn the heat up high, and let the grill cook for about half an hour. Let the grill cool. Use a grill brush to sweep the grill. Wipe down the outside with a sponge and cleaner. Then clean out all of the drip trays.

14. Wash down your porch. You should sweep the porch thoroughly, then wash it with a cleaner. Remove any embedded dirt by scrubbing with soap and water.

15. Give your deck a once-over. This is a summer home maintenance must, especially with the amount of late-afternoon thunderstorms we experience here in Savannah and the Lowcountry.

  • Check your deck to see if there are any boards that look like they're rotting, loose, or feel soft. If they appear to be any of these, replace them now. Summertime weather conditions will only make them worse.
  • Hammer any loose nails.
  • You can also check if your deck needs to be resealed by pouring a little water on it. If the water beads into little puddles, you're good. If it sinks into the wood, you should get your deck resealed against water.

16. Wash the windows.

  • Why not? Clean windows are nice. Use warm water and soap to get those windows sparkling, or go old school with vinegar and newspaper. 

17. Wash or change your window screens.

  • Use hot soapy water and a brush to gently wash your window screens.

18. Add a layer of mulch.

  • If you have plants, the extra mulch will help fight off weeds and help your soil retain moisture during these scorching summer months.

19. Check for outdoor leaks. 

  • Go on a hunt for leaks by checking all outdoor faucets. Then look at your hose. You can waste a lot of water if there's even a tiny hole in your hose. Use electrical tape to repair any small holes in your hose.

20. Check your outdoor play equipment. 

  •  Repair or replace anything that's damaged or possibly hazardous and make sure that the structure is still sturdy and strong. This includes rust, missing pieces, or tears in any parts of your play equipment. Safety is key.

21. Protect your home against unwanted guests. 

  • Yes, unfortunately sometimes critters decide that your house is the place to be. From snakes to squirrels, take steps to close off your home to non-pet animals.
  • Cover any holes that are more than a quarter-inch wide.
  • Get your tree branches trimmed back so they don't create a highway for squirrels to your attic. Branches should be at least 8 feet from your roof.
  • Make sure your outdoor trash bins are tightly sealed to prevent a buffet for pests.
  • Do away with yard debris. Leaves and twigs are a haven for animals that might decide to invade your home.
  • Tend to your lawn frequently by mowing.

22. Clean out the gutters and downspouts. 

  • You should clean the gutters at least once a year, perhaps twice if you have a lot of trees around your home.

23. Inspect the caulking around the windows and doors of your home. 

  • Keep ants and bugs at bay in the kitchen by adding fresh caulking to your windows and doors.

24. Consider having your driveway and walkway pressure washed.

25. Repair cracks or holes in your driveway and front steps.

26. Trim bushes and plants. 

  • Pay special attention to the area around the AC unit.

27. Touch up the paint on the outside of your home.

28. Check over your fence. 

  • Have it repainted, resealed, or repaired as needed.

29. Look at the outside of your house. 

  • Check for rotted, dirty, or loose siding.

30. Consider getting your roof inspected.

This summer home maintenance tips list may seem daunting, but honestly, most of these tasks take no time at all. Preventative maintenance will pay off by helping you avoid costly home repairs later. The priceless peace of mind that you can enjoy knowing that your home is ready for the summer is also invaluable, and will make that piña colada you're enjoying on your porch even more delicious.

March
6

Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens

Savannah is a wonderful place to explore, especially historical homes and architecture. For those who appreciate history and architecture, The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens is a perfect way to take in the beauty of Savannah's historic homes and gardens.

The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens affords visitors and locals alike a rare opportunity to appreciate the beautiful architecture, interiors, and gardens of Savannah's Historic Landmark District and Historic Ardsley Park.  Participants of the tour can visit private homes and gardens that are usually not open to the public.

Home & Garden Walking Tours are self-guided and feature a different historic neighborhood each of the four days.  Each Home & Garden Walking Tour offers five to eight homes and/or garden sites.  What each homeowner has offered to share is different. Some sites are one floor of the home or only a garden. Other sites might include multiple floors and a garden.  Occasionally, businesses are included in the tour. But they are typically in addition to the homes and gardens, and are listed as a Point of Interest on the Tour.

Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens

Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens

Each guest will receive an Official Tour Guidebook with their tickets.  The address of each site is included in the Guidebook and marked on a color-coded map. Volunteer Street Guides will be on hand to assist with direction. These guides will be located throughout the neighborhoods and can be identified by their red sashes. Each Home and Garden Tour site and Special Event has a sign and balloons to mark the entrance. Docents will be greeting participants at each tour site. Docents will have additional information about the home and furnishings.  

The Tour is presented by the Women of Christ Church Anglican, in cooperation with the Ardsley Park-Chatham Crescent Garden Club. The 84th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens will be held Thursday March 28, through Sunday, March 31, 2019. Whether you're visiting Savannah or a local, The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens is a great way to see some of the most beautiful homes in Savannah.

The 84th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes & Gardens

Thursday, March 28 – Sunday, March 31, 2019.

Tickets are on sale online now.

March
5

Azaleas Mean Spring in the Lowcountry. 

Azaleas

The South is known for its variety of flora, and few flowers say "Savannah" quite like azaleas. This evergreen shrub thrives in areas with partial sun making it common underneath trees. It is an ideal inhabitant of the squares in Historic Downtown Savannah. Azalea bushes can be pruned to smaller sizes, or can be larger, covering areas of quite a few feet. Smaller azalea bushes can be spotted along Savannah sidewalks, while larger versions inhabit the squares of the Downtown area.  

Botanically, azaleas are members of the Ericaceae (Heath) family. The Heath family includes blueberries and mountain laurel. Several species of azaleas are native to Georgia and the Southeast. Their flower color ranges from white to pink, yellow, orange, scarlet or crimson, with several shades in between. Plant size is also variable, ranging from 3 feet to more than 20 feet. Although native azaleas are considered more adaptable and more hardy than introduced species, it is important to approximate their native growing environment if they are to be grown successfully.

Most people associate blooming azaleas with spring, but several varieties bloom in summer and fall. This means by selecting certain varieties, it's possible to have azaleas blooming all year long. Azaleas can be grouped by whether they bloom early, mid-season or late. Early flowering types generally bloom from mid-February through March, mid-season types bloom in late April and May, and late-flowering types bloom from June through October. 

Looking for tips on growing and caring for azaleas?

Here's a great article on Southern Living

The larger azalea bushes can be found in the medians of Liberty and Oglethorpe Streets in Historic Downtown Savannah. Azaleas of all sizes and colors can also be found in many of the squares, including Columbia Square and Monterey Square. But, azaleas are not exclusive to the downtown area. Their vivid displays of color can be appreciated in Forsyth Park and in Bonaventure Cemetery

Looking to Buy or Sell a Home This Spring?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

March
5

During Springtime, Savannah Comes Alive With Bursts of Color.

springtime flowers

Visitors to Savannah come from all over the world to admire the charm of the city. The appeal of Savannah's historic architecture draws admiration from tourists and locals alike. Savannah's elegant homes and cobblestone streets are enhanced by the botanical beauty that abounds in the Historic District of downtown Savannah.

As the the weather warms up, the natural beauty of Savannah awakens. The budding and blooming flowers infuse the squares and sidewalks of Historic Downtown Savannah with bursts of color. While many of the springtime flowers in Savannah are not unique to the South, there is something about them that is undeniably Savannah. Better still, Savannah's springtime flowers tend to start blooming at the beginning of the year, giving the feeling that spring is just around the corner here in the Lowcountry.

Camellias are one of the most distinctive flowers in the South, occupying many of the squares in the Historic District. These shrubs feature glossy leaves and large blooms. Some of the most popular camellia flowers in Savannah are white, pale pink, and ruby red. 

Savannah's springtime flowers

Azaleas are also distinctively southern plants. Like camellias, azaleas are shrubs of varying sizes. Also like camellias, azalea bushes burst into a profusion of colorful blossoms. Azalea blooms are also colorful, and it is not uncommon to see groups of different-colored azaleas bushes in yards, medians, and squares of the Historic Downtown District. One of our favorite places to enjoy azaleas is Bonaventure Cemetery.

Japanese magnolia trees may not be shrubs like camellias and azaleas. But, this tree puts out blooms at the same time that camellias and azaleas begin to blossom, and the flowers of this delicate tree are no less striking. The most common shades for the flowers of  Japanese magnolia trees put out blossoms are deep glossy fuschia, or white with a deeper purple center. 

The beauty of Savannah's springtime flowers is by no means restricted to these 3 flowers. But, they bloom around the same time to herald the approach of spring. And these plants are often spotted throughout the Historic and Victorian Districts, as well as popular spots like Bonaventure Cemetery and Thunderbolt. It is nearly impossible to see camellias, azaleas and Japanese magnolias and not think of springtime in Savannah. 

Looking to Buy or Sell a Home This Spring?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

February
21

Prepare Your Home For Sale

Ready, Set ... For Sale!

BY ANN TOHILL

It's time to upgrade, find a better school district, move cities for a new job, or make room for more! Whatever the case may be, selling your home should be an exciting time. It's out with the old, and in with the new. It's time for a reset. But for some homeowners, it can be overwhelming. To ease stress ahead of one of the hottest home selling seasons, here are some tips for preparing your home… so that "For Sale" sign can be added to the front yard.

1. Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is so important — and so are first impressions! Start with the lawn. Freshen up the mulch/pine straw, add colorful flowers to the flower beds, mow the lawn, get rid of those pesky weeds, sweep off the pollen from the front porch, and make sure your front door is sparkling from afar. Catch their attention right away.

2. Take a Deep Breath

When you open your door, take a deep breath in… What does it smell like? Wet dog, cigarettes, food, bleach, cleaning supplies, or too much air freshener? You want that fresh scent, but nothing that's too overbearing. The smell of your home will make or break the deal. Diffusers are a wonderful investment or throw a batch of cookies in the oven just before a showing.

3. The Details

Make sure batteries are replaced in your smoke alarm and all light bulbs are working. You want the potential buyer to get a true feel for your home!

4. Clean, Clean, Clean

Wipe down your baseboards, wash your walls, clean your carpets, scrub your bathrooms, dust your fans, and don't forget your curtains and blinds.

5. De-personalize Your Space

Potential buyers want to be able to picture themselves in your home. Take down personal photos, artwork, and collectibles. Declutter your space, but don't throw items in a closet or the oven... people will look in all of those places when touring your home.

6. Touch up Your Paint

Think about using only neutral colors. Consider painting your daughter's hot pink room or your bright orange kitchen, a light tan or a faded gray. That's an easy fix for new home buyers, but some can't picture the potential, they actually want to see it.

7. Give Your Home an Easy Flow

Make sure your furniture is moved around so that it's comfortable. If you can afford it, think about renting a storage unit for excess furniture.

8. Set the Stage

It's good to have your home staged. You can hire a stager and get them to spruce up your home, so people can dream up what it can look like.

9. Make Repairs

That loose handle, the faucet that always drips, or the closet door that doesn't shut all the way… fix that!

10. Hire a Home Inspector 

If you've lived there a while, it's a good idea for you, as the seller, to hire a home inspector before putting your home on the market. This is to make sure it passes all inspections and is 100% ready to sell.

Are You Ready to Sell?

These 10 steps are all affordable and worth the time and effort. The homes with neutral colors that are sparkling clean and inviting to a stranger, don't last long on the market. There's no specific ideal time to sell your home, but if you're considering attracting springtime buyers, now is the time to start to prepare your home for sale.

If you have any additional questions or are looking to sell, visit our website at www.corabettthomas.com or call us at 912.233.6000 and we will connect you with a licensed agent.

February
15

A Southern Beauty for Over 200 Years

Savannah doesn't lack for natural beauty. A number of varieties of flowers and plants make the Historic Downtown District sparkle. None so much as the camellia embody the genteel beauty of Savannah. These evergreen shrubs boast large and colorful blossoms and adorn Downtown Savannah like jewels.  

Camellias have been a part of the southern landscape for over 200 years. The plants were first introduced to the United States by way of Charleston, South Carolina in 1786. Camellias can serve several functions in landscape planting. They are staples in most of the squares in the Historic District. Camellia bushes can be used for foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings and hedges. 

The colors of the camellia blossoms found in Savannah range from snowy white to deep ruby red. Camellia bushes can grow to a height of up to six feet tall and two feet wide. Some of the most beautiful variations of camellia blossoms include pale pink blossoms with darker pink stripes. The broad, glossy dark green leaves of the camellia contrast beautifully with the lush and fragile blossoms of the camellia's blossoms. When the camellias come into full bloom in the winter, their stately and refined elegance call to mind the Southern belles of Savannah's history. 

Some of our favorite squares to admire these Savannah belles are along Bull Street: Chippewa Square and Wright Square. Both of these squares are dotted with artfully spaced camellia bushes. Calhoun Square, on Abercorn Street also hosts photo-worthy camellia bushes. Although these bushes in this square are a bit shorter than their sisters in Chippewa and Wright Squares, they are no less stunning.

The natural beauty afforded by the camellia shrubs and blossoms is something that Savannah visitors and locals alike can enjoy. The camellia blooms add a dash of color to our occasionally gray winter days, and remind us of the promise of warmer weather just ahead.

January
25

A Few of Our Favorite Places for Date Night.

Valentine's Day

Eating is always a good time in Savannah. Most Savannahians will use any special occasion or holiday as an excuse to go out and good meal. Valentine's Day is no exception. Before you know it, Valentine's Day will be here, so it's not too early to start planning. Read on to discover some of our favorite places to enjoy a meal with that special someone on Valentine's Day (or any other day, for that matter). 

The Hot Spots

The Grey 

This beautiful space occupies what was once a Greyhound bus station. The menu, lovingly crafted by beloved chef Mashama Bailey, offers sophisticated dishes such as foie and grits, king mackerel, and smoked collards. These offerings feature the best local meats and produce, and are a nod to Chef Bailey's Southern roots. If you're looking for just a bite and a drink, check out the Diner Bar. The Diner Bar is cozy and nostalgic and offers a pared-down version of The Grey's menu. Whether you decide to go all in and make reservations in the main dining room, or stop in for a quick sip at The Diner Bar, you will definitely enjoy time spent at The Grey

Collins Quarter

Collins Quarter is located in the heart of the Historic District of Downtown Savannah. The menus is simple, and many dishes give a nod to owner Anthony Debreceny's Australian heritage and travels. But, every dish is designed to showcase fresh and local ingredients. A carefully curated wine list and cocktail menu, as well as an invitingly intimate dining space make for a memorable meal. And we challenge you to find a restaurant with more romantic lighting than an evening at CQ.

Husk

The Savannah location of this Charleston-based restaurant group does not disappoint. Husk Savannah is located on Oglethorpe Avenue in a renovated historic mansion. Husk prides itself on working with local farmers and purveyors to get the freshest ingredients and showcase them in dishes that are elevated versions of Southern classics. The Warm Octopus Salad and the Bear Creek Farm Beef with Bone Marrow are 2 of our favorite dishes. Husk's raw bar is also amazing, and you know what they say about oysters ...

The Classics

Noble Fare 

Locally owned and operated by husband and wife team Patrick and Jenny McNamara, this restaurant is ideal if you're looking to get away from the crowds. Noble Fare is in the rapidly-expanding North of Gaston (NOG) neighborhood, and is a favorite spot for locals to grab a meal that is a much more than ordinary. The menu at Noble Fare changes on an almost daily basis, but some of the more popular dishes include Diver Scallops and the Braised Beef Short Rib. 

Elizabeth on 37th

Elizabeth on 37th, located between the Historic District and Ardsley Park, has long set the standard in Savannah for fine dining. The 1900s Southern mansion oozes refinement. And romance. The sense of elegance is echoed in the hospitality and efficient service of the dedicated staff, as well as in the dishes offered in the Southern coastal menu. 

Garibaldi 

One of our personal favorites. Locals go way back with Garibaldi — Cora Bett herself has used the restaurant's busy bar to network on may occasion. It's no surprise that Garibaldi, with its dimly-lit dining room, filled with tufted leather banquettes, is a popular romantic dining spot. The menu at Garibaldi features seafood and pasta dishes. Furthermore, the daily specials really are, well, special. The Diamond-Scored Flounder is always a popular dish, and pasta lovers relish the Lobster Rabini. 

The Non-Traditional

Atlantic 

This popular neighborhood eatery has an extensive wine selection (and a knowledgeable staff), and a menu that never fails to disappoint. Atlantic doesn't take reservations, and it has a laid-back, albeit effortlessly elegant, vibe. If you're looking to enjoy a great meal without the special occasion expectation, Atlantic is the place. Here, every meal is a special occasion, so there is no pressure. 

1540 Room 

Ditch tradition and the idea of "couples only" and grab a group of friends for family dinner. Head over to the 1540 Room (located in The DeSoto) and grab one of their large family tables. An extensive menu of shareable plates and sides make for great evening of tasting and passing plates. Show up early — or stay late — and get a cocktail at the bar at Edgar's Proof and Provisions and have a toast an evening among friends.

And of Course ...

Lulu's Chocolate Bar 

This dessert bar has been a downtown staple for over 10 years. One visit and you'll know why. Lulu's normally doesn't take reservations but makes an exception for Valentine's Day. You cannot go wrong with any one of the homemade desserts, such as the Strawberry Suspension Cake (pictured) or the Triple Chocolate Mousse Tower. Or, keep it simple and opt for Hand-Dipped Chocolate Strawberries. The bar offers a selection of dessert martinis and champagne cocktails for liquid refreshments. Whether you begin here with a cocktail, or end the evening with a coffee and slice of pie, you'll leave feeling satisfied. 

These are only a few of our favorite places to visit for Valentine's Day dining in Downtown Savannah. Each are special in their own way, and each and every one of them are worth visiting, again and again. And, each of them fully embrace the idea of enjoying good food and fun, that spirit which is the heartbeat of Savannah.

January
24

Whether you are thinking of selling your house or buying a home, today's real estate headlines can be confusing – perhaps even concerning. What is actually happening with mortgage rates? Are home values dropping or are they just rising at a slower pace? What impact will the economy have on the housing market?

If you are either a buyer or seller (or both), you need to know what it will mean to your family if you go ahead with the move. You need to understand three things:

1. What is happening in the housing market right now?

Consumers must get past those fear-mongering headlines and gain a deep understanding of what is truly happening. How strong is buyer demand right now? How much competition do listings have today compared to what they will have in the spring? People want to make an educated decision on what is probably their family's greatest financial asset.

2. Why is it happening?

Understanding the individual pieces that impact the sale or purchase of real estate is important. Understanding how those pieces impact each other is critical. How does the amount of a down payment impact the mortgage rate a buyer will be offered? Can you still price your house a 'little ahead' of the market and still be sure it will sell?

3. How do the first two affect your local market?

Basically, you want an understanding of the overall housing market and a simple and effective explanation of how it will impact your personal real estate goals.

Bottom Line

The best way to get all three is to work with a professional at Cora Bett Thomas Realty who understands this shifting real estate market and can expertly guide you on the journey to reach your housing goals. Let's get together to discuss what today's market means for you.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates today.

From KCM 

December
17

Holiday Shopping Along the 100 Mile Coast.

The holiday season has officially begun, and many folks have already started their holiday shopping. The 100 Mile Coast  is filled with shops and boutiques. These places offer unique gifts, and create a shopping experience that is as enjoyable as giving the gift itself. We've asked the Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates team for their favorite places to do their holiday shopping in Savannah, Bluffton, and Beaufort. Check out our list of our top shops in Savannah. 

Satchel.

A leather-goods shop located in the heart of Historic Downtown Savannah, on Liberty Street. Satchel. is locally owned and operated and offers both ready and custom made leather bags and accessories. The studio is no longer taking orders for the 2018 holiday season. But, there are still plenty of dazzling bags  in a number of styles, hides and colors available for purchase.

One Fish, Two Fish 

This boutique is located in the Downtown Design District and is practically a one-stop shop that sells jewelry, accessories, clothing and home decor. One Fish, Two Fish is an ideal place to pick up a gift, whether it is a necklace or an oyster shell Christmas ornament. Don't miss the other shops in the Downtown Design District either!

PW Short General Store

Owner Scot Hinson wanted to recreate the feeling of a small town community meeting place where you could find everything from French copper pots to smart phone chargers with utilitarian design in mind. This shop has a great selection of goods to furnish your home bar and is also a great place if you are looking for unique gear for a picnic in the park. The vibe is eclectic with a good dose of Midcentury Modern.  

The Paris Market   

This elegant market and brocante is located on Broughton Street. One part boutique, one part flea market, and one part museum, this shop is an ideal place to stop in and "take a look." But if you walk out of The Paris Market empty-handed, then you weren't looking hard enough. Lower levels feature home decor and furnishings, including custom-made lighting. The upper level features all manners of treasures and troves, including perfumes, jewelry, and paper goods. 

Smith Brothers Butcher Shop

Smith Brothers Butcher Shop 

One of our favorite places to get both gifts and holiday dinner supplies. Smith Brothers is located on Liberty Street in Historic Downtown Savannah. An affordable wine, deli, and fresh meat selection make for fuss-free holiday party planning. Better still, Smith Brothers offers unique and local gifts such as handmade oyster knives and etched glassware from local artisans. 

Le Chai 

Speaking of planning for parties, no party in Savannah is complete without the perfect bottle. Le Chai galerie du vin is located off of Forsyth Park. This wine shop is a local favorite and truly embodies Savannah. The polished facade of Le Chai belies the accessibility of the wines it houses. Le Chai does specialize strictly in Old World wines, but these wines are available in every price point and for every palate. We recently stopped by to get owner Christian Depken's recommendations for wines this holiday season.

E. Shaver, Book Seller 

Savannah's oldest bookstore, located on Madison Square in Historic Downtown Savannah. E. Shaver has seven rooms devoted to all things books, including local and regional topics. If you can't find what you are looking for at E. Shaver's, then they will be happy to order it for you. E. Shaver also offers non-book gifts, such as bags, mugs, stationery and journals. E. Shaver also houses The Savannah Tea Room. The Savannah Tea Room sells tea by the cup, as well as prepackaged tea and handmade mugs. 

The Book Lady Bookstore

The Book Lady, located on Liberty Street next to Satchel., is a local favorite. The book Lady has been offering new and "gently used" books to Savannians since 1978. They have every genre you can think of as well as a nice collection of harder to find and first editions. This is a cozy shop with a great selection of Savannah based literature and rare finds to spend an afternoon exploring. This is one of Cora Bett's favorite shops and you can find several tomes from the Book Lady on her shelves at home. 

This list is some of the holiday shopping that can be done in Downtown Savannah. See a list of some of our other favorites places to shop in the 100 Mile Coast below. Shopping at these stores will not only support local merchants but will also prove to be a pleasant shopping experience for you and put you at the top of the "Best Gift-Giver Ever" list. 

Beaufort Favorites

Don't let the size and serenity of Beaufort fool you — there are some places that you absolutely have to visit, and there's a good chance that you'll enjoy one so much that you might not make it to the others in one go. Here are some of our favorite places in downtown Beaufort, and we think you'll love them too.

Scout Southern Market
M Home & Garden & Interiors
Carolina Me Crazy
Grayco Hardware and Home
Island Lavender Company

Bluffton Favorites

It's common knowledge that Bluffton is a great place to live. It turns out, it's a pretty great place to shop for gifts, too. 

Markel's Card & Gifts
Corner Perk
Gigi's Boutique 
Bluffton General Store
Al-Harry Furniture Design
May River Excursions
May River Gallery

Happy Holidays!

November
30

Walking into the dimly-lit interior of the bar at Circa 1875 is an escape from the outside world. At both the front and the back of the space, plump banquettes beckon and encourage long conversations and lingering glances. The smell of fresh bread softly permeates the air, as does the melody of jazz and French music.

A glass of Cotes du Rhone, from the Famille Perrin, drinks easily, pairs well with almost everything on the menu, and is affordable enough that 2 or 3 glasses won't break the bank. A bread basket's bundled napkin is opened to reveal slices of rustic French bread and warm brioche rolls. A side of herb butter is provided but seems almost unnecessary. 

Circa 1875

The Plateau du Chef, literally a platter of meat and cheeses, can serve as an appetizer or as a meal in itself. The flavors may vary based on seasonal availability, but some of the favorites include pork rillette, saucisson sec, Port Salut, and Red Dragon. Accompanying the meat and cheeses are more bread and fresh preserves. This is a platter made for sharing, as one finds it easy to engage in conversation, or even just thought, while savoring the flavors.  

An order of the Foies de Poulet is a perfect blend of Paris and Southern cuisine, as fried chicken livers are served atop brioche and topped with apple demi-glace and caramelized onions. The meat is tender and juicy, while the brioche manages to absorb the demi-glace without ever becoming unattractively soggy. 

Ordering a burger in a place like Circa 1875 may seem, to the uninitiated, like a rookie move. Rest assured, it is quite the opposite. The 1875 Hamburger Au Poivre is one of the best hamburgers in Savannah. This burger is cooked to perfection and covered with a green peppercorn brandy mustard sauce. The decadent  flavor of the burger is enough to have it serve as the final course of the evening. Follow it up with a digestif, or one more glass of wine, and suddenly you're fortified enough to face the evening once again. 

Circa 1875

48 Whitaker St,

Savannah, GA 31401

November
15

Circa Lighting

Lighting can make all the difference in the space you inhabit. And while the right amount of light can infuse you with a good mood, the right amount of light from just the right light fixture will make your good mood great. A truly stylish home focuses on the details, and lighting is one of those inherent details that must always be just right.

Circa Lighting was founded in Savannah in 1998 by Gale Singer. Gale had a vision for a curated lighting selection presented in a boutique-like showroom. Through the first showroom Gail reached out to interior designers, architects and builders to have a similar experience locally and online with well curated offerings.

Located in Savannah's Downtown Design District, Circa offers lamps and fixtures of all kinds, for both interior and exterior lighting uses. Floor lamps, table lamps, and ceiling lamps are all available, as well as wall-mounted lighting fixtures. Circa Lighting also offers fans, also for both interior and exteriors. And to help keep the air circulating in your home or business, fans and floor fans are available too.

Floor to Ceiling

Ceiling lamps include chandeliers, flush mounted lamps, lanterns, hanging shades, and linear lamps. A ceiling lamp is a great way to make a statement with your lighting, without sacrificing living or surface space. Both table and floor lamps are divided into 2 categories, decorative and task. Table and floor lamps come in any number of shapes, sizes and materials. In most cases, the only limitation to what you can have is either what you can afford or what can fit into your home.

Wall-mounted lighting fixtures include decorative, bath, task and picture lamps. Most wall-mounted lighting is more functional than fun, but the pieces at Circa still, nonetheless, have pizazz. The same goes for fans, which are more of a necessity than a luxury in Savannah. The fans at Circa can very nearly be considered art, and can add panache to any dwelling. 

Whatever style of lighting you are looking for, Circa has it. Understated, overstated, modern, traditional, dramatic, if you can think of it, Circa has something that will fit your description. Better still, if you are struggling to come up with what exactly you do want, Circa can help with that, too. Circa Lighting's expansive and beautifully designed showrooms are full of inspiration, and their knowledgeable staff are there to help you. 

Circa Lighting |  Savannah Showroom
405 Whitaker St
(912) 447-1008

October
9

Fall Home Maintenance

Fall is here! Well, at least according to the calendar, fall is here. The weather in Savannah may not feel like summer's over, but now is the time to get to work on some colder-weather maintenance for your home. This way, you can have everything ready before the weather changes. Read on for our handy list of home maintenance to-dos for fall home maintenance.

Exterior Fixes

Regularly clean gutters and downspouts.

Fall is when gutters can fill up quickly and we still have a few weeks of hurricane season so keep them clean to protect your property. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.

Check for rotting wood.

Check for soft spots, which can indicate rotting wood. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around your windows, doors, railings and deck. Use caulk to fill the holes, or completely replace the wood if it is rotted.

Paint.

Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.

Roof.

Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it's time to consider replacing  the entire roof.

Garden

Split.

Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove your dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials.

Clean.

Clean your gardening tools before storing for the winter. Better still, make sure your storage area/shed is clean before storing your tools.

Trim.

Cut dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a late tropical storm or future winter storm. Wait until late winter to prune healthy trees and shrubs though.

Fertilize.

Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you're done, spread fertilizer then grass seed. It's also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.

Interior

Pest prevention.

Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. If you have gable vents that lead into your attic, it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.

Check the important gadgets.

Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home and their importance can't be overstated. Check your furnace filters and check for drafts.

fall home maintenance

Clean out your fireplace and chimney.

A wood burning fireplace is a wonderful feature to have in your home. However, unless you are well versed in chimney construction, contact a reputable chimney sweep service to do a check before the cold weather sets in. Items such as bird or animal nests built during the summer, as well as excessive soot deposits from the previous winter, can easily obstruct flues and dampers, thereby increasing the chances of chimney fires. 

Take a few hours here and there for some basic fall home maintenance. It will help you spot developing problems, and, consequently, prevent costly repairs. For best results, use the tasks above as a guide; everyone's home is different and over time you will develop a fall home maintenance routine specific to your property.

August
9

HERB CREEK

Along the 100 Mile Coast, there is no shortage of natural beauty. Many plants, flowers, shrubs and trees native to the Southeast readily pop up on lawns and require little attention. But, if you are someone looking to exercise a little more devotion to your yard, then Herb Creek Landscape Supply is the place for you. Herb Creek is locally owned and operated, and has two locations, one in Sandfly and one in Thunderbolt. Both locations offer shrubs, plants, trees and flowers of all kinds, as well as gardening tools and accessories. 

The staff at Herb Creek are highly knowledgeable of plants specific to the Lowcountry. More importantly, they understand the differences in what a resident of Historic Downtown Savannah would need in their garden, as opposed to what someone who lives on Isle of Hope might need. We recently visited Herb Creek (in Thunderbolt) to try and find out what exactly we could put in the small flower beds which line the sidewalk in front of our house. 

After visiting Herb Creek and talking to Lori, we decided that barberry bushes would be perfect. Barberry bushes have vibrant red leaves, as well as spines--ideal for deterring those who may want to take shortcuts. Lori assured us that while barberry bushes can grow large in size, the ones we chose would remain smaller and would only require minimal pruning. She's right. They look great!

We still have one more, larger flower bed to fill, so a trip back to Herb Creek is coming up soon. We know that the folks at Herb Creek will help us choose some great additions. Stay tuned!

Herb Creek Locations

Downtown Sandfly

Monday - Saturday

7:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Closed Sunday

Historic Victory Drive

Monday - Saturday

8:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Closed Sunday

Visit Herb Creek online for more information.

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.

June
30

Two Tides Brewing

The Starland District is becoming more and more popular in Savannah. Two Tides Brewing Company is one of the many places to open recently in this neighborhood. Two Tides Brewing has been open for only a short time but has rapidly become a popular destination for beer lovers. Two Tides Brewing is located on West 41st street in a 2-story house that has been renovated. The brewery itself is located on the ground floor, while customers can head upstairs via an outdoor staircase to enjoy the taproom.

The taproom is charming and radiates classic Savannah with a touch of modernity. Hardwood floors, tiled fireplaces and clean white tiled walls make the second floor inviting and intimate. Murals and other artwork from local Savannah artists adorn the walls. You can walk in, grab a beer, and then grab a seat on the front balcony. Or, if you prefer, cozy up in one of the chairs in the back room. If you're feeling like a little more action, Two Tides also has pinball machines. 

 

The brewery specializes in small batches of handcrafted beers that are fresh takes on modern classics. The menu features a core group of flavors, such as TanLines, which is a dry-hopped pilsner, or Chromatose, a blackberry sour ale. Two Tides also rotates seasonal flavors. For those looking to try a little variety, the taproom offers flights, served in branded tasting glasses on a terracotta tray and accompanied by a "Flight Manifesto." 

The laid-back atmosphere, combined with Two Tides Brewing Company's attention to detail, makes this brewery a welcome addition to Starland. As a neighborhood gathering spot, it can't be beat. Whether you stop in for one brew or a few, you'll be glad that you swing by and check out Two Tides for some summertime refreshment.

Two Tides Brewing

12 West 41st Street

(912)667-0706

  • Tuesday & Wednesday: 5pm-10pm
  • Thursday & Friday: 5pm-12am
  • Saturday: 12pm-12am
  • Sunday-Monday: Closed

Visit Cora Bett Thomas for  Homes Around Two Tides Brewing!

June
21

Protect Your Dog on Hot Pavement.

Dog on Hot Pavement

Summertime is nearly here in the Lowcountry. This means longer days full of sunshine, which is great if you're at the beach, but not so great if you're trekking across hot pavement. It's always fun to go shoe shopping for summer sandals, but don't forget about your four-legged friends' feet. Sure, shoes are available for dogs, but those can be uncomfortable (and hot!) in the summer. A cheaper and more comfortable option is a paw protection wax . 

Paw protection wax is an all-natural product that forms a barrier on dog's paws. Formulated with vitamin E to moisturize, help soothe wounds and keep paws healthy paw wax is nontoxic, hypoallergenic, and easy to apply. The wax is absorbed into the paws and forms a semipermeable shield, which allows perspiration to escape through the toes. In addition to snow, ice, and hot pavement, paw protection wax also protects from irritants such as sand, salt, and rough terrain. 

Paw protection waxes are made from food-grade waxes that are non-toxic and non-allergenic, so it's ok if your dog licks their paws after an application of the balm. You can even use it on yourself as a protective balm against windburn. 

One of our favorite paw protection waxes is Musher's Secret, a dense, but breathable wax originally developed in Canada for sled dog races and it's ideal for protecting your dog's paws from extreme temperatures — hot or cold. While any paw protection wax will need to be reapplied depending on your dog's activity, a little bit of the product goes a long way. Just a small amount on each paw is good for a week's worth of walking.

Make the most of the summer days in Savannah for you and your pooch, and keep their paws protected. 

Where to Find Paw Protection Wax

Locally, find paw protection wax at Woof Gang Bakery locations. But just call ahead to make sure paw protection wax is in stock at your nearest location because of its popularity. Find your nearest store here.

You can find Musher's Secret online at Amazon.

And don't forget to pick up a travel dog bowl to keep your pal hydrated too!

May
31

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin on June 1, 2018, and end on November 30, 2018. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin. However, the formation of tropical cyclones is possible at any time of the year, as shown by the formation of Subtropical Storm Alberto this spring. Alberto marked the fourth consecutive year a storm developed before the official start of the season.

2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Last year's season ended with 10 hurricanes and six major hurricanes. The Atlantic basin annually averages 12 named storms, with six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has stated that there is a 75% chance that the 2018 season will see near or more than the average number of storms in the basin. In addition to the NOAA prediction, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. The 2017 hurricane season was very active, in part, because of a weak La Niña that developed last year.

La Niña is a natural weather phenomenon defined by cooler than normal water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region. Despite occurring in the Pacific, La Niña affects global weather patterns. One affect is decreased wind shear across the tropical Atlantic, which creates conditions more favorable for tropical storm development. 

The La Niña has since disappeared and according to NOAA some weather suggest that the opposite phenomenon of La Niña, El Niño could possibly develop later in the season. El Niño features warmer water in the eastern Pacific equatorial region, creating greater wind shear in the Atlantic and fewer tropical storms.

Even though there is appears to be a small chance we will see El Niño and subsequently have below average Hurricane Season, most meteorologists agree that the 2018 season will be near or above average. Historically, Savannah has been spared direct hits from hurricanes. As you can see from our map, the frequency of hurricanes directly impacting the 100 Mile Coast is very low. However, we did have to deal with Hurricane Matthew, a Category 2 storm in 2016. There was an evacuation, and Savannah residents, politicians and emergency workers learned many lessons. But rather than just hoping that a hurricane doesn't make landfall on our fair coastline, go ahead and prepare yourself and your property for severe weather.

Home Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

What We Learned in 2016

May
21

Home maintenance reminders

Owning your own home is an investment as well as a big responsibility. By identifying and addressing a few routine and simple maintenance issues, you can ensure you and your family's safety, as well as save time and money on costly repairs.

AC Service and Filter

Make sure to change your AC filter regularly. Better still, spend a few extra bucks and spring for quality filters that are designed to filter allergens. If you are using a smart thermostat such as Nest, the system will give you reminders when you're due to change your filter. It's also important to make sure that you keep the grate around the filter clean and as free of dust and dirt as possible.

Dryer Duct 

By keeping your dryer duct clean, you not only reduce the risk of a lint fire, you can also reduce the risk of mold buildup. The U.S. Fire Administration reports that every year more than 2,900 home fires are started by clothes dryers, and the leading cause of these fires is a buildup of lint due to lack of simple maintenance on the part of the owner. 

Lint Trap

This seems like a no-brainer, right? And yet, people overlook this easy step, or either put it off for far too long, leaving dryers with lint traps that are full to the brim. An overfilled lint trap, like a clogged and dirty dryer duct, can be dangerous, not to mention a waste of energy. A lint trap that is too full prevents your dryer from working to its full capacity, which means your dryer is using more energy and costing you more money.

Wood-burning Fireplace

If your home has a wood-burning fireplace, it's a good idea to have both the fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional. A professional will have the necessary tools for inspecting your flue and making sure that no debris or animals are in your chimney.

Pressure Washing

Regularly scheduled pressure washings will prevent grime and mildew from breaking down your home's exterior, causing you to worry less about having to replace rotted wood, chipped paint and premature aging of your home. It will also raise your home's curb appeal and can help addd value to your home.

These items are by no means a comprehensive list. But, by including these things in your maintenance routine, you can avoid possibly costly repair bills in the future and ensure a positive impact on your health, safety and wallet.

Thinking About Selling Your Home?

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty if you are looking to get your home on the market this spring. 

May
17

Tax reform and the housing market.

tax reform and the housing market

Starting late last year, some predicted that the 2018 tax changes would cripple the housing market. Headlines warned of the potential for double-digit price depreciation and suggested that buyer demand could drop like a rock. There was even sentiment that homeownership could lose its coveted status as a major component of the American Dream.

Now that the first quarter numbers are in, we can begin to decipher the actual impact that tax reform has had on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand? 

The answer is "NO."

According to the Showing Time Index which "tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis" and is a "highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends," buyer demand has increased each month over the last three months and is HIGHER than it was for the same months last year. Buyer demand is not down. It is up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America's belief in real estate as a long-term investment? 

The answer is "NO."

Two weeks ago, Gallup released its annual survey which asks Americans which asset they believed to be the best long-term investment. The survey revealed:

"More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds." 

The survey also showed that the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is the best long-term investment was unchanged from a year ago.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes?

The answer is "NO."

Not only did the homeownership rate not crash, it increased when compared to the first quarter of last year according to data released by the Census Bureau.

In her latest "Z Report,Ivy Zelman explains that tax reform didn't hurt the homeownership rate, but instead, enhanced it:

"We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case."

4. Has the upper-end market been crushed by new State and Local Taxes (SALT) limitations? 

The answer is "NO."

In the National Association of Realtors latest Existing Home Sales Report it was revealed that:

  • Sales between $500,000 and $750,000 were up 4.5% year-over-year
  • Sales between $750,000 and $1M were up 15.1% year-over-year
  • Sales over $1M were up 17.3% year-over-year

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months? 

The answer is "NO."

According to CoreLogic's latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

Bottom Line

The doomsday scenarios that some predicted based on tax reform fears seem to have already blown over based on the early housing industry numbers being reported.

Contact Us Today!

April
23

Savannah's New Tex-Mex Spot

Many people may recognize the location of El Coyote as the former home of The Florence, which was a place that Savannah either loved or barely regarded. These 2 restaurants have shared a building, and that is where the similarities end.

El coyote savanna

El Coyote is brought to you by the team that has been providing delicious food with a view at the Wyld Dock Bar the past several years. El Coyote's interior is nicer than that of your typical Savannah Mexican restaurant, but not so nice that you feel underdressed in shorts and a T-shirt. Think large, open dining room with the over-popular exposed-filament-edison bulbs, dark and distressed wood and stone. This along with Tex-Mex curated knickknacks and a retro, 70s-style multicolored graphic  visually tie it all together. Nothing terribly original, but it works well, giving the space a livelier feel than the previous inhabitant. And to be honest, I prefer a restaurant with less emphasis on style and more on the delicious food rather than vice versa.

An extensive list of tequilas and mezcals dominate half of the drink menu. The Mezcal Old Fashioned is not be missed. Those looking for something milder can indulge in a glass of Spanish wine or choose from a nice selection of Mexican beers. Margaritas and craft cocktails are of course, also available. I will say that the $8 I paid for the best paloma I've recently had the pleasure of drinking, was well worth it. 

El coyote savanna

Many of the appetizers are in the $3-$10 range and feature classics such as corn elote (aka street corn) and queso fundido. Another must-have appetizer are the Sappelo Bay Clams. For $15, you are served a heaping mound of clams in a michelada broth flavored with chorizo and sofrito. Also not to be missed is the Philli Relleno, El Coyote's cheeky take on a chile relleno and consists of a local blistered poblano pepper stuffed with cheesesteak and topped with mushroom mole.

The street tacos are $4 each and are served a la carte, mostly because there is no need for these tacos to be accompanied by a heap of gluey beans or dry rice. For those with larger appetites, traditional and seasonal sides such rice and black beans — or charred spring onions — are available and they are neither gluey nor dry. A tasty and unexpected side dish is Pam's Hot Pickled Mexican Carrots — for $2, you get a spicy condiment that tastes great with anything else on the menu.

The fajitas, a classic Tex-Mex dish, was hands down better than anywhere in the city. The steak version was an actual grilled steak, cooked medium rare and then cut and served on a hot cast iron plate. Accompanied by roasted poblanos, onions, portabella mushrooms, blistered tomatoes and house made tortillas, this was a welcome return to steak fajitas' roots.

We see El Coyote becoming a local favorite and a new staple for many in Midtown and Downtown Savannah. The cost of grabbing a delicious taco and a cold beer at El Coyote may not be the cheapest taco and beer you've ever seen, but it is without a doubt among the tastiest in Savannah.

El Coyote

1 W Victory Drive

Savannah, GA 31405

www.elcoyotesav.com

March
30

Neighborhood Eatery and Imbibery

Few places have so rapidly earned the love of local Savannahians like Atlantic. Located at the corner of Victory and Drayton Street, this cozy neighborhood restaurant appeals to residents of Ardsley Park and Historic Downtown Savannah alike.

Large windows add the impression of a large dining space, when in reality the entire is building is quite small. Don't be fooled, though — all of the available space is efficiently used and none is wasted. An excellent example of this are the two outdoor patio areas flanking the building. Small dining tables dominate the main space of the area. A large white marble bar seats about 8 diners, while another bar, with no seats, allow diners to casually lounge with a beverage.

In addition to lovingly curated wine list, the bar boasts an impressive list of craft cocktails, liquors, and local craft beers. Our favorite feature of Atlantic is the wine by the glass selection that changes daily. Owner, and Savannah wine guru, Jason Restivo, always has some interesting picks on the board that you rarely find by the glass. 

Local and seasonal ingredients are the foundation of Atlantic's menu. The menu is ideal for sharing — we usually order several dishes and share, and this night was no exception. We started out with a local cheese plate and the mushroom paté, both of which paired nicely with my "Champagne of the Day" selection and the various reds my dining companions were enjoying.  

ATLANTIC

ATLANTIC

Savannah should not be overlooked for its seafood offerings. And Atlantic delivered with a crab toast that was a thing of beautiful. Simple, with luscious fresh crabmeat and peppers topping Chef Lauren's homemade bread, and seasoned with only a bit of herbs and citrus. Equally simple, yet still incredibly decadent was the five spice pork belly confit with brussels sprouts and roasted grapes.

In fact, the pork belly was so good that we had no reservations in ordering an entreé that also featured pork belly along with scallops. The scallops and pork belly were perfectly cooked and served simply over a pea purée.  We also ordered the beef tenderloin with broccolini and garlic mash. The tenderloin was perfectly cooked and juicy, and its flavor was not at all distracted by the tangy mustard sauce that accompanied it. 

Each dish seemed to taste better than the next, which seems an impossible feat in and of itself. Every wine we sipped paired perfectly with the food. The shareable food, the accessible wine list and pours, incredible value, attentive service, and the atmosphere of community within the space itself truly lend to Atlantic's image as a neighborhood eatery and bar. And one of Savannah's best. 

Atlantic

102 E Victory Dr Savannah, Georgia
(912) 417-8887
 
 
March
15

Choosing Your Home for 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. Affordability

"It may be easy enough to purchase 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 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 $14,000 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 of not having 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 in 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. Installing handrails and making sure 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!

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

January
12

What Did You Discover During the Snowpocalypse?

Winterizing Your Home | Cora Bett Southern Realty News

Savannah doesn't always experience winters that are as harsh as other parts of the country. Every winter in Savannah there will be a few days when you discover an extra draft or two around the house. But as this season has already shown us, it's always good to have strong plan to winterize your home. A draft or two during a typical cold snap is pretty tolerable, but a few days and nights well below freezing can make a older Southern home more uncomfortable. Here are a few tips for making sure your home is ready for whatever the rest of this winter throws at you.

4 Easy Post Storm Winterizing Your Home Tips

Winterizing Your Home | Cora Bett Southern Realty News

Run Fans in Reverse

Many homes in Savannah have ceiling fans, which are absolutely necessary in the sultry summer weather. But many people don't realize that running fans clockwise will change the distribution of the air in your house produce a warming effect. Most ceiling fans come with a handy little switch that will reverse the direction of the fan blades from counterclockwise (cooling by driving air down) to clockwise (warming by drawing air up).  Just don't forget to switch them back!

Reduce Drafts

Drafts can waste anywhere from 5%-30% of your home energy use. This is a problem that can be easily remedied with a draft snake. Make one of your own by using a rolled bath towel, or get creative with scraps of cloth and fillings such as sand or kitty litter for added heft.

Mind Your Thermostat

It's easy to forget to turn down the heat when you're leaving your house, but doing so is one of the easiest ways to save money. Most houses shell out 50%-70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling. For every degree that you lower your thermostat during the winter, you will save between 1% and 3% on your heating bill. Better still, invest in a programmable thermostat such as a Nest.

Put Up Some Plastic

Like the draft snake, this is an easy and inexpensive and temporary method for winterizing your home. Pick up a window insulation kit at your local discount or hardware store. If properly installed, the plastic will be virtually invisible. A little patience, the kit and a hair dryer and you will have less drafty and more efficient home. Speaking from experience, you will notice a difference in the amount of heat that your home retains from insulating your windows with one of these easy-to-use kits. 

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