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May
6

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC]

2022 Housing Market Forecast [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

May
3

Beaufort, SC Quarterly Market Update

Click below to read about the current market conditions in Beaufort, SC.

April
23

4 Spring Home Problems (and How to Avoid Them)

Spring brings beautiful blooms and long-awaited sunshine, but for your home, spring can bring unexpected problems if you are not prepared. This season, don't let home issues ruin your fun. Some simple preparation can ensure that your home is ready for all that spring has to offer. Be sure to avoid these four spring home problems.

Unexpected Pests
Spring's weather brings bugs and small critters out of hibernation. While the flurry of scurrying animals may be cute to witness on your next hike, you don't want uninvited guests in your home. Avoid critters coming indoors by sealing any holes or potential entrances. Caulk and seal small access points to keep insects outside. Finally, ensure that you are keeping your home crumb-free to ensure that sugar-seeking ants don't make themselves at home in your kitchen or pantry.

Spring Flooding
Flooding can occur during any season, but certain areas are more prone to spring flooding. Since water damage can easily go undetected, even minimal flooding can wreak havoc on your home. Be prepared for a flood if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water–even a stream. Avoid issues caused by spring floods by waterproofing your basements, clearing debris away from your gutters and downspouts to divert water from your home's foundation, and installing a water alarm to alert you to accumulating dampness in less-trafficked areas.

Strain on Your HVAC
The shifting of seasons can cause undue strain on your HVAC system if you aren't properly prepared. Change your filters and have your system inspected to ensure that as the spring rays turn your home hotter, that you are not facing a damaged system when you need the cool air.

Lack of Curb Appeal
Spring is the perfect season to tackle your home's lack of curb appeal. Winter storms can cause dirt to accumulate on your home's exterior, sidewalks and driveway. Winds and rain can cause debris like leaves and twigs to clutter up your lawn and garden. A good power wash can do wonders for your outdoor surfaces, and a simple clean-up can ensure that your yard looks fresh. Once you have solved the problem of grunge and disarray, focus on the final touches by adding new foliage and blooms that spring can offer.

April
14

On the Fence of Whether or Not To Move This Spring? Consider This.

Beautiful House in Savannah Georgia

If you're thinking of selling your house, it may be because you've heard prices are rising, listings are going fast, and sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes. But why are conditions so good for sellers today? And what can you expect when you move? To help answer both of those questions, let's turn to the data.

Today, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Here are the maps of the latest buyer and seller traffic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help paint the picture of what this looks like:

Buyer Traffic & Seller Traffic Map

Notice how much darker the blues are on the left. This shows buyer traffic is strong today. In contrast, the much lighter blues on the right indicate weak or very weak seller traffic. In a nutshell, the demand for homes is significantly greater than what's available to purchase.

What That Means for You

You have an incredible advantage when you sell your house under these conditions. Since buyer demand is so high at a time when seller traffic is so low, there's a good chance buyers will be competing for your house.

According to NAR, in February, the average home sold got 4.8 offersWhen buyers have to compete with one another like this, they'll do everything they can to make their offer stand out. This could play to your favor and mean you'll see things like waived contingencies, offers over asking price, earnest money deposits, and more. Selling when demand is high and supply is low sets you up for a big win.

If you're also looking to buy a house, you may be tempted to focus more on just the seller traffic map and wonder if it means you'll have trouble finding your next home. But remember this: perspective is key. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.comsays:

"The limited number of homes for sale is a lesson in perspective. This same stat that frustrates would-be homebuyers also means that today's home sellers enjoy more limited competition than last year's home sellers."

If you look at the big picture, the opportunity you have as a seller today is unprecedented. Last year was a hot sellers' market. This year, inventory is even lower, and that means an even bigger opportunity for you. Even though finding your next home in a market with low inventory can be challenging, is that concern worth passing on some of the best conditions sellers have ever seen?

As added peace of mind, remember real estate professionals have been juggling this imbalance of supply and demand for nearly two years, and they know how to help both buyers and sellers find success when they move. A skilled agent can help you capitalize on the great opportunity you have as a seller today and guide you through the buying process until you find the perfect place to call your next home.

Bottom Line

If you're ready to move, you have an incredible opportunity in front of you today. Trust the experts. Let's connect so you have expertise on your side that can help you win when you sell and when you buy.

March
16

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home?

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home? | MyKCM

Every year, many renters ask themselves the same question: Should I continue renting, or is it time to buy a home? If you're a renter, chances are you've asked yourself that question at least once, and it's likely because you've faced an increase in your monthly housing costs over time. After all, according to Census data, rents have risen consistently for decades.

To make an informed and powerful decision, the first step is understanding what's happening in today's housing market so you can determine which option is the better long-term financial decision for you.

Rents Are Going Up Again This Year

Rents are skyrocketing right now. Data from realtor.com shows just how much rental prices are surging throughout the country. The graph below highlights rental unit price increases over the past year:

Are You Wondering if This Is the Year To Buy a Home? | MyKCM

If you're a renter and plan on signing a new lease, your monthly costs are likely to go up when you do. Those rising costs can have a big impact on your financial goals, including any plans you're making to save for a home purchase.

Homeownership Offers Stable Monthly Costs

Of course, one of the key benefits of owning your home is that you're able to lock in and stabilize your payments for the duration of your loan. That's not the case when you rent.

While rents are already on the rise, there's a good chance many people will see their rental costs increase even more this year. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:

"With rents already at a high and expected to keep going up, rental affordability will increasingly challenge many Americans in 2022. For those thinking about making the transition from renting to buying their first home, rising rents will remain a motivating factor. . . ."

So, if you're ready to become a homeowner, waiting any longer may not make financial sense. Instead, escape the cycle of rising rents and enjoy the many benefits that come with homeownership today.

Bottom Line

Starting your journey towards homeownership can pay off significantly this year. If you're financially ready today, let's connect so we can discuss your options.

February
14

How to Fall in Love With a New Neighborhood

Falling in love with a neighborhood can be equally as important as the house when you're home searching. Whether you're looking to socialize with neighbors or you prefer to keep to yourself, selecting a neighborhood you love is essential to your overall contentment. Read on to determine the factors to consider as you search for a new home in a new neighborhood.

Commute Time
Suppose you regularly commute to your place of employment—this distance and time matters. Whether you drive or take the train, knowing the average daily commute time is an essential factor to consider. If you drive, calculate how long the drive will take, and if you take the train, make sure that the local train stop offers express trains.

Recreational Activities
Whether it's a country club, golf club, fitness center or pool, living near the amenities you use regularly is essential. It will result in less commuting time, less stress and afford you more time to engage in the recreational activities you love.

School Ratings
Regardless of if you have school-aged children or not, living near a highly-rated school should be an essential part of the home searching process. In addition to how the schools are rated on sites such as greatschools.org, you can review the school's state test scores, school programming options such as Advanced Placement (AP) classes, extracurricular activities, athletic programs and the Parent Teacher Association.

Access to Nature
If having access to nature is important to you, research the nearby parks, walking trails and hiking areas that are close to the neighborhood. If you enjoy taking long walks closer to home, ensuring the area has sidewalks or walking trails may be necessary.

Quantity and Age of the Trees
Tree-lined streets are an important part of a neighborhood to many home buyers. They signify a more established area and offer a certain charm that newer communities lack. They also provide health benefits, as they clean the air.

Neighborhood Amenities and HOA
Depending on your stance on homeowner's associations (HOA's), they may entice or deter you. For example, if you're looking for a neighborhood with a community feel and amenities such as a pool, clubhouse and other shared spaces, it likely means the neighborhood will have an HOA. On the other hand, an HOA's regulations may be too restrictive. Review the neighborhood's HOA bylaws before making an offer to ensure you're comfortable with the requirements that are in place.

Walkability
If you're someone who enjoys an early morning walk to get your coffee, making sure the local coffee shop is a quick walk away is one of the minor aspects that add up to your overall quality of life. Likewise, suppose you want the ability to walk into town to grab lunch, go shopping or for your hair appointment. In that case, ensuring your neighborhood is close to the town's central business district is an essential factor to add to your list.

Ultimately, the elements of a great neighborhood are the most important factors to you. Whether it's having a short commute time, highly rated schools or tree-lined streets, your requirements are all part of your unique home buying process.

January
26

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change?

Are You a Homeowner Thinking About Climate Change? | MyKCM

Americans are more aware than ever of the effects climate change and natural disasters can have on their homes. According to a report from realtor.com:

"More than 3 in 4 recent buyers, 78%, took [natural disasters] into account when choosing the locations of their homes, . . ."

The study also found that many existing homeowners (34%) have already considered selling their houses and moving to a new location because of the changing climate. If you're like those homeowners and are weighing your options about what to do next, here's some information to keep in mind as you begin the process of selling your existing house and searching for your new home.

Do Your Research and Work with a Real Estate Advisor To Find a Home That Meets Your Needs

As a homeowner, it's impossible to control what types of weather events your home is exposed to. As Maiclaire Bolton Smith, Senior Leader of Research and Content Strategy for CoreLogic, says:

"You can't necessarily remove the location from around you, but there are things you can do to mitigate damage that can happen."

The first step is understanding how to navigate your home sale and purchase with these specific issues in mind. While that can seem like a difficult undertaking at first, with the appropriate resources and experts on your side, you can simplify the process.

The Mortgage Reports provides some tips for purchasing your next house, including, but not limited to:

  • Vetting the location before you buy
  • Researching Climate Action Plans and learning if the city or state has one
  • Working with professionals for additional assessments on the home's ability to withstand natural disasters

Ultimately, your best resource throughout the process is a trusted real estate professional. An agent will help you navigate the sale and required disclosures for your existing home, be your expert advisor on local guidelines and information, and keep your goals and concerns top of mind. Even if your advisor doesn't have the answers to all your questions about how your next home will stand up to natural disasters, they can help connect you with experts and resources who will.

Bottom Line

If you're becoming more mindful about the effects of climate change and you're ready to make a move, you're not alone. Let's connect so you have a trusted advisor on your side to help you navigate the sale of your current house and find the perfect spot for your next home.

January
14

When Is the Right Time To Sell? [INFOGRAPHIC]

When Is the Right Time To Sell [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • If you're trying to decide when to list your house, the time is now. There are plenty of buyers eagerly waiting for your home to hit the market.
  • The latest data indicates home showings are rising. There are more buyers than homes for sale right now. That means you'll likely receive multiple offers, and your home won't be on the market long.
  • Today's market favors sellers. If you're ready to move, let's meet to discuss the benefits you can expect when you sell this season.
January
3

Selling In 2022: What You Can Expect

2021 was a great year for home sellers. Record low inventory combined with low interest rates sparked the hottest seller's market in several decades. It wasn't uncommon to see homes fly off the market in less than a day, while bidding wars often drove sales 10-15% over asking price.

While typical real estate seasonality has cooled things off just a bit over the last couple of months, many sellers are wondering what to expect in 2022. If you weren't ready to list your home this year, you might be wondering if you missed the boat.

While there are most certainly changes ahead in 2022, it's still likely to be a great time to list your home. Here is what to expect:

  • Mortgage Rates Will Rise
    In order to combat record inflation, the Fed is expected to make raise interest rates multiple times throughout 2022. Last year's record low interest rates were a major factor in the heightened level of buyer demand, so it's realistic to expect interest rate changes to slow the market down just a bit, especially in the back half of the year.

  • Price Increases Will Slow Down A Bit
    Homes prices rarely fall, and there is no expectation that they will in 2022; however, it's safe to assume price gains will cool off a bit. The national median home price jumped 16% in 2021, and it's unrealistic to expect we'll see the same type of increase next year. It's probably safe to assume price appreciation will be in the ballpark of 4% to 6%.

  • Strong Demand From First-Time Buyers
    Many first-time homebuyers were priced out of the market in 2021, so it's no surprise that many are looking to try again in 2022. This means competition will be fierce for starter homes at entry-level price points. First-time buyers still likely have some uphill challenges as rates climb and prices remain at all-time highs; however, we expect to see many first-time buyers return to the market in early spring.

  • Inventory Will Start To Increase
    Sellers may face more competition in 2022, as a lot of this year's inventory challenges are likely to abate. The pandemic made some owners more reluctant to sell in 2020-2021, but a lot of those fears have started to dissipate. Additionally, worker shortages and supply chain issues caused major disruptions to the home building market in 2021. As these issues begin to normalize, we'll see an increase in inventory in the coming years.

  • Buyers Will Still Prefer The Suburbs
    As more and more companies adopt a remote work model, employees are no longer tied to a physical location. Consequently, more and more young consumers are migrating to suburbs, rural areas, and even popular vacation destinations. Since remote work is here to stay, we should expect to see this migration continue well into the new year.

How Sellers Can Prepare for 2022
The hot seller's market of 2021 is likely to cool off in 2022. Despite increases in inventory and higher interest rates, we're still likely to see a seller's market next year. As home prices continue to appreciate, it's likely still a great time to list your home. Let's connect when you are ready to list your home!

December
24

4 Quick and Easy DIY Holiday Centerpieces

With the holidays right around the corner, many people are diving into their basements, attics and garages, pulling out their holiday decor. And though you may resume your tree ornaments, lights and wall hangings, changing up some of your decor can truly get you—and your guests—into the holiday spirit. Centerpieces make great DIY projects, bringing joy and creativity to your dinner table. Here are four simple DIY holiday centerpiece ideas you can try this season!

Pine Cones in Vases
Whether you buy them from a store or simply take a walk into your own backyard, pine cones are a great addition to holiday decor. For your new centerpiece, bring the outdoors inside. Spray paint some pinecones silver, white or gold—or add sparkles for an added touch of glamour—and place them in a wide-mouth vase. You can even use vases of different heights to create some visual interest. Dress up the base of the vases with some holiday colored ribbon or twine, and voila! 

Stacks of Mini Presents
Get yourself a package of mini boxes, or make them yourself from old cardboard boxes. Leave them plain white or wrap them in your favorite holiday wrapping paper. Then, simply stack them on top of a cake stand for a festive centerpiece. Add ribbon to each box, creating a look of gifts under the tree, or even add numbers to each box and use them as a countdown. Each day, a box can be opened, filled with surprises leading up to the ultimate gift-giving day!

Upcycled Candle Lanterns
Do you have an old candle lantern that you've been meaning to get rid of? Before you donate it, use it for this year's holiday centerpiece! If you plan to put a candle inside, create a decorative scene on the outside or around it to highlight the candlelight. Use pine cones, greenery, berries and even fake snow around the base and on the edges and top of the lantern. Or, ditch the candle and fill it with these same items, or holiday-themed knick-knacks to showcase on your table. 

Ornaments Galore
If you have extra ornaments left over after decorating your tree, there are many ways you can still use them! For example, set up a long tray in the center of your table, place three to five candles on the tray (depending on the size of the tray) and place your ornaments around the candles on the tray. Or, whip out that old cupcake stand and place an ornament in each cupcake slot to create a truly eye-catching piece of decor. You can even glue together ornaments to create a wreath, but instead of hanging it on your front door, place it on the table with a few candles in the center!

No matter what your style or crafty abilities, you can create a simple and quick DIY holiday centerpiece in no time. Look through the decorations you already have, or take a trip to the dollar store! With a little bit of creativity and a dash of holiday spirit, you can dress up your table with a centerpiece in no time, and no or low cost!

December
7

6 Popular Home Wellness Trends

Incorporating wellness features into the home design process is not only becoming more mainstream, it's becoming more expected in homes, especially in the luxury market. The foundation of health and wellness begins at home, so it's no wonder that these features are becoming more conventional. Below are the home wellness design trends expected to become increasingly more prevalent in the coming year.

Home Air Purifiers
As the country continues to return to a more normal way of living, having proper ventilation and pure indoor air quality is more important than over. An indoor air purifier can lessen air contaminants, bacteria and viruses. Air purification systems can be installed into HVAC systems and take the form of stand-alone units.

Indoor Gardening
Bringing the outdoors in can offer a host of health benefits, from physical to mental. Greenery can be visually calming, air purifying and can contribute to an immunity-boosting diet. Building an indoor garden can deliver all these benefits. Whether you create a stand-alone greenhouse or a more undersized garden stand, you can have fresh fruit and vegetables readily available and the live plants can aid in purifying your air.

Touchless Appliances
Touchless appliances can help curb the spread of germs throughout your home. From motion-activated toilets, kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, light switches, locks or garage door openers, simply waving your hand to activate these high-touch surfaces can help stop germs from spreading.

At-Home Fitness 
Creating a fitness space beyond the Peloton and treadmill makes a well-rounded fitness and wellness routine at home. A heated yoga studio or meditation room facilitates a mind-body wellness routine from the comfort and safety of home. For additional wellness benefits, adding a massage studio lets your masseuse come to you.

Embracing Minimalism
A clutter-free home creates a stress-free oasis that is so important for mental clarity and health. Devising a decluttering system that works for you can be therapeutic and result in long-term psychological and physical health benefits. Aspects of this system may include a more sophisticated custom storage system or hiring a professional organizer. In addition, a lighter physical space can often create a lighter headspace.

Enhanced Outdoor Living
Outdoor living and entertaining increased over the pandemic and don't show any signs of slowing down. From full outdoor kitchens to enhanced lounging areas to additional protection from the elements, equipping your home with the features to host and live comfortably outdoors is essential.

By prioritizing health at home, you're more likely to integrate it into every aspect of your life.

October
23

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC]

Homebuyer Tips for Finding the One [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

  • The best advice carries across multiple areas of life. When it comes to homebuying, a few simple tips can help you stay on track.
  • Because of increased demand, you'll need to be patient and embrace compromises during your search. Then, once you've fallen in love, commit by putting your best offer forward.
  • If you're looking to buy a home this year, let's connect so you have a dedicated partner and teammate to help you find the one.
October
22

Celebrate Fall With Family Fun Activities

Autumn is sometimes that overlooked period between the last of summer's outdoor activities and hectic preparations for the holidays. But fall offers its own opportunities for rewarding family fun. Check out these leisurely ways to make some happy autumn memories.  

  • Check Out the Foliage In most areas of the country, you are no more than a couple hours drive away from some vibrant fall foliage. If you need ideas, get online to find out where you can best view the best of fall's amazing colors. Pack a picnic and head out for an afternoon of splashing about the falling leaves.
  • Pick Pumpkins …but not from the local market. Look for a fall festival or farmer's market where you can get your fill of fun activities and head home with the best of autumn's harvest, including the perfect pumpkins.
  • Go Apple Picking Apple picking season usually starts in August and peaks through September, but there's still time to squeeze in a trip to a nearby apple orchard during the first half of October. You can take photos, pick apples, eat cider doughnuts and stock up on homemade apple cider.
  • Enjoy Oktoberfest Somewhere in your area, you can probably find a commercial or sponsored Oktoberfest celebration, featuring authentic German foods, a beer and/or cider garden, guides in German folk dress and a variety of games and shopping opportunities the whole family can enjoy.
  • Take a Haunted Road Trip For a good, friendly scare, find a haunted house to explore during the month of October. If all else fails, tour a cemetery at night and make up your own ghost tales.
  • Make Costumes Forget the commercially-made costumes at the store and brainstorm some ideas of your own. Find the fabrics and accessories you need and spend some happy family hours making your costume wishes come true.
  • Get Cooking Spend some time in the kitchen together making pumpkin spice muffins, pumpkin pies or even some pumpkin-based soup. You'll be making memories your kids will remember all while enjoying the fruits of your labor.
October
13

What's Causing Today's Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC]

What's Causing Today's Competitive Real Estate Market? [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights

October
1

Don't Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own – an Agent Can Help

Don't Tackle Selling Your Home on Your Own - an Agent Can Help | MyKCM

If you're looking to maximize your sale and minimize your effort, you need to work with a real estate professional. In a sellers' market like today's, it can be tempting to list your house on your own – known as For Sale By Owner (FSBO). But the truth is, a real estate professional can save you time and money by managing every step of the process, from pricing your home to reviewing documents and handling negotiations.

Before you decide to sell your house on your own, here are five reasons why working with an agent is your best bet to maximize the sale of your home.

1. First impressions are everything – and an agent knows how to make a great one.

Prepping a house for sale requires a significant amount of time and effort, even though it may seem simple at first glance. Doing it right so it stands out takes expertise and an understanding of what buyers are looking for. An agent considers things like:

  • Should you take down any personal art or pictures?
  • How much landscaping should you invest in to boost your house's curb appeal?
  • What wall colors are most appealing to buyers?

An expert real estate advisor relies on their experience to answer these questions and more so you don't invest in the wrong things. Your time and money are important – you shouldn't waste either.

2. Agents have tools to maximize the number of views your home gets.

Put plainly, the more buyers that view your house, the better your return will be. In our current market, homes are receiving 3.8 offers on average per sale, according to recent data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). While that's promising for the sale of your home, it's important to understand your agent's role in bringing buyers in.

Agents have multiple tools at their disposal – from social media to agency resources – to ensure your home is viewed by more prospective buyers. Leveraging the tools available to your agent and your agent's expertise may help boost your sale price as well.

3. An agent won't miss anything in the fine print.

Your agent can also save you time by taking any guesswork out of navigating the required documentation. Today, more disclosures and regulations are mandatory, meaning the number of legal documents you need to juggle is growing.

Because there's so much to take care of, it can be hard to truly understand all of the requirements and the fine print. That's where an expert advisor can truly shine. They've been through the process before and can be your guide to avoid any costly missteps.

4. Expert advisors know the market and how to price your home.

Another way your agent maximizes the sale of your home is by making sure it's priced right. Real estate professionals have the experience to compare your house to recently sold homes in your area. They also understand the market at large and can factor in any upgrades you've completed to your home. Combining these factors is the key to making sure your home is priced to move quickly – and at a competitive price.

When you FSBO, you're operating without this expertise. Even with your own research, you may not find the most up-to-date information and could risk setting a price that's inaccurate or unrealistic. If you price your house too high, you could turn buyers away before they're even in the front door. This could also cause problems when it's time for the appraisal.

5. Your agent will be an expert negotiator.

In addition to their experience navigating sales, real estate professionals understand how to negotiate every aspect of a deal. They also know all the parties that will be involved with the sale, including:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible.
  • The buyer's agent, who will use their expertise to advocate for the buyer.
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find concerns with the house.
  • The appraiser, who assesses the property's value to protect the lender.

An agent relies on their experience and training to make the right moves during the negotiation. They'll know what levers to pull, how to address each individual's concerns, and when you may want to get a second opinion. Selling your house as a FSBO means you'll need to be prepared to have these conversations on your own.

Bottom Line

Selling a house takes time, effort, and expertise – don't go at it alone. Let's connect to make sure you have an expert on your side to make the most of your sale

September
22

Little-Known Secrets to Buying a Luxury Home

Buying a home is an involved process, regardless of your price point. However, the luxury market comes with a different set of conditions. From working with a specialized real estate broker, less available inventory and a more discerning list of requirements, investing in a luxury property can be more involved than purchasing a mid-level home. Here are some of the little-known secrets of the luxury home buying process.

Work With a Luxury Broker
Working with a well-versed broker in the luxury market is key to ensuring a smooth home searching and buying process. A luxury broker will be familiar with the areas in which you're looking, will be up to speed on the latest trends, will be able to identify potential issues in properties you view and will know if a property is worth its listing price. Additionally, a luxury broker will have access to homes that might not be listed publicly or on the MLS. Many luxury listings are private to protect the seller's privacy, so only luxury brokers within the inner circle are privy to these listings.

Have a Knowledgeable Team in Place
In addition to working with a broker who specializes in the luxury market, making sure your financial advisor is involved in your purchase decision will ensure you're making an intelligent investment. Taking it a step further and arranging a meeting between your broker and financial advisor will safeguard your purchase.

Exercise Patience
Patience is the name of the game when buying luxury real estate. Because of limited inventory, the time it takes to conduct research and a discerning list of must-have features, it can take longer to find the property that is a perfect match for your specifications.

Know the Neighborhood
Familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood and its future plans is an important part of the luxury home buying process. From the school district to the area's downtown amenities to recreational opportunities, the neighborhood can be just as important as the home. Additionally, suppose you are buying a property for its views. In that case, it's important to understand any plans for the area and any possibilities of new construction that could impact any waterfront, golf course or sunset views.

Don't Discount Properties Based on Photos
Based on the photos, if you don't fall in love with a property, it's still worth an in-person visit to see the home. For example, a house may require interior updates but have one in a million waterfront views. If you discount the house based on the listing photos, you will miss out on your opportunity to own a property with those views.

Have Proof of Funds
Being able to prove you have the funds to purchase a luxury property can be more involved than if you're buying a mid-level home. Therefore, it's important you have the documentation to prove you have the funds before making an offer. You may even need this documentation before you view the property. If you're interested in buying or selling, let's connect!

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.
September
9

When Should You Hire a Surveyor?

A surveyor is a professional who determines the exact location of a property line. Many homeowners don't know the boundaries of their yards and operate under erroneous assumptions. That can lead to disputes between neighbors that are stressful, costly and preventable. 

You Need to Know the Location of the Property Line Before You Build
If you're thinking about building an addition or constructing a fence, you need to know exactly where the property line is so that you don't accidentally encroach on your neighbor's land. If you don't have your property surveyed and you inadvertently build in your neighbor's yard, you can find yourself in legal and financial trouble. You may be required to move a fence or have an addition torn down, or you may have to purchase a piece of land from your neighbor to rectify the situation and avoid a lawsuit.

Local zoning laws typically require that additions and other structures be located a minimum distance from a property line. You'll need to know precisely where that line lies before you begin building, or even designing, an addition. You don't want to spend time and money to develop a plan, then learn that you don't have the legal right to follow through with it.

You Need to Know Who Owns a Tree
Trees are often located on or near property lines. The location of the property line is important because it determines who is responsible for maintaining a tree. It can also impact liability if a tree falls in a storm. If the tree is located in your yard and it falls on your neighbor's property because you failed to have dead branches trimmed, you may be held liable for repair costs.

You Need to Know If There Are Additional Factors That Affect Land Ownership
Sometimes a property owner is granted an easement that gives that party permission to use a portion of someone else's land for a particular purpose. If an easement exists, you may not be aware of it, but it can affect your rights to build in your yard. A surveyor can research the issue and note any easements in a report.

You Need to Know Where Utilities Are Located
Pipes, gas lines and cables are often placed underground. It's critical to know what's beneath your property and where it's located before you or a contractor begins digging for any type of project. A surveyor can find and mark the locations of underground utilities to help you avoid an accident.

Get Accurate Information So You Can Make Informed Decisions and Prevent Disputes
When neighbors get into disagreements about property lines, things can get heated. Often, a dispute stems from a misunderstanding. If you want to build on your property or if you think your neighbor may be violating your rights, hiring a surveyor is a good first step. Once you have accurate, unbiased information, you'll be able to decide how to proceed. 

September
2

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends

What To Do with Your Vacation Home as Summer Ends | MyKCM

As summer comes to a close, is it time to think about selling your vacation home? Based on recent data and expert opinions, it's something you may want to consider. According to research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year for January-April 2021.

If you've taken your last vacation this summer, here are reasons you should consider selling your vacation home this year.

1. Remote work continues to drive demand for vacation homes.

As the report from NAR says, based on continuously evolving work needs, there could be more interest in your second home than you think:

"In 2020, across all nine divisions, the fraction of the workforce that work from home is typically higher in the vacation home counties than in the non-vacation home counties The opportunity to work from home could further raise the demand for vacation homes in future years.

Recent data shows we'll likely see a sustained increase in the rate of remote work over the next five years. That means your vacation home could be highly sought after by certain buyers. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, puts it best, saying:

"Vacation homes are a hot commodity at the moment . . . . With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely to workers, vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers."

2. Selling could allow you to upgrade your vacation spot – or even your day-to-day scenery.

When demand is high, so is buyer competition. When competition is strong, buyers will do everything they can to make their offer on your vacation home as appealing as possible. This can include things like all-cash offers and more. If you sell now, you'll be able to benefit from high buyer competition and pick the offer with the best possible terms for you. That offer could give you the opportunity to purchase the primary residence of your dreams.

Or, if you find that you'll continue working from home, you could consider taking up more permanent residence in your vacation home and selling your primary residence instead. While this isn't a choice everyone can consider, it could be a great option.

No matter what the situation, you don't have to make the decision on your own. Your trusted real estate advisor can help you determine your best option when you're ready to sell.

Bottom Line

Buyers remain interested in vacation homes this year for a number of reasons. Now that summer is winding down, it's time to think about taking advantage of today's demand for vacation homes. Let's connect today if you're ready to give your second home its day in the sun.

August
28

5 High-End Front Porch Ideas

Whether it's a wraparound, screened-in, a loggia or a veranda, porch designs are endless. A porch can be a place to make a first impression on guests, a location for your morning coffee, a destination for sunset cocktails or even a place to enjoy an evening fire. Read on to learn how to create a well-designed front porch that will be sure to wow guests and become your own luxurious oasis.

Fireplace Focal Point
Incorporating a stone fireplace into your front porch design creates both a stunning visual focal point and is a destination to warm up and unwind. Both practical and beautiful, it can be used year-round and will impress anyone who visits your home. Accentuating the space with ambient lighting, comfortable seating and a cozy rug underneath will make this the most used area of the house.

Indoor-Outdoor Inspired Living
A porch isn't solely a place for guests to enter your home, but it can be an additional living space. Creating an outdoor living room on your porch means bringing in a beautiful rug, sofa and chairs, and filling the area with abundant blooming flowers and lush greenery. Spend your evenings lounging with a crisp beverage while watching the sunset or welcome passing neighbors for an impromptu chat.

Private Sitting Space
Since a porch is typically in the front of the house, it doesn't offer the same level of privacy a backyard does. However, you can create a private sitting area with a wall of wall-placed shrubs to create a natural privacy screen without interrupting the existing porch design.

Front Door Technology
Equipping your front porch with the latest home technology trends will give you insight into who's coming and going, even when you're not around. A video doorbell gives you the luxury of seeing who is at your front door, detects motion and provides two-way audio—all from the convenience of your smartphone. Having a keyless entry keypad on your front door gives you the option of distributing the code for anyone who may need easy access, whether it's a dog walker, cleaning service, etc.

Delivery Drop-Off Station
In a world where nearly everything is available with a few taps on a smartphone, having packages pile up on the front steps can be unsightly. A valet closet, a closet designed to drop off packages, dry cleaning, food delivery, groceries or any other items delivered by delivery personnel, can keep parcels secure until you're able to retrieve them. In addition, installing a keyless entry code on the door will allow delivery personnel to safely leave your items if you're unavailable to receive them directly.

Whether you're building a space to rest or adding additional levels of convenience, your front porch is responsible for your home's first impression.

August
5

How to Prepare Your Home for Flooding

While no one ever wants to imagine their home filling with water, for many areas of the country, flooding is a scary reality for many homeowners. Whether a natural disaster is on the way or you simply want to be aware of how to protect your home when flash flood warnings sound, we have five steps to preparing your home for flooding.

Clear gutters. If flooding is predicted in your area, help your home out by clearing all gutters, downspouts and drains so your home can battle the rising water.

Elevate outdoor electric units. Outdoor generators, fuel tanks and air-conditioning units should not be left on ground level outdoors. Elevate them as best you can and securely anchor them so they don't float away if flooding occurs.

Power down. Shut off your electricity via your breaker panel to stay safe.

Move items upstairs. When flooding is likely, take charge by moving items upstairs and further from the flood zone. Furniture, rugs, electronics and important paperwork should all be moved to the highest ground possible. Make copies of important paperwork and store them digitally so you don't lose them.

Raise appliances. While you likely can't lug your refrigerator upstairs, you can elevate your appliances on concrete blocks to minimize damage if only a few inches of water floods in.

July
9

Understanding What Flood Insurance Does and Doesn't Cover

Flooding can happen anywhere—and even an inch of water can cause major damage to your home. If you're looking to take out a mortgage on a house in a high-risk flood zone, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. Before you buy a policy, though, it's important to understand what flood insurance does and doesn't cover.

National Flood Insurance Program 
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers two types of policies. One covers the cost to rebuild a house or its actual cash value, whichever is less, with a maximum coverage amount of $250,000. The second type of policy covers the actual cash value of personal property, up to a maximum of $100,000. You have the option to purchase one or both policies. Be aware that these policies have separate deductibles.

A flood insurance policy will only cover losses that are a direct result of flooding. "Flooding" means that water must cover at least two acres or must have damaged your home and at least one other property.

Federal flood insurance will cover the plumbing and electrical system, furnace, fuel tank and fuel, water heater, heat pump and air conditioner. It will often cover a refrigerator, stove and built-in appliances, such as a dishwasher, as well as permanently installed carpeting, curtains, blinds, damaged cabinets, foundation walls and staircases. These policies can also cover a detached garage and personal property, as well as mudflow, groundwater seepage and a sewer backup.

NFIP limits coverage for a basement, crawlspace or living space with a floor below ground level and will not cover damage caused by mold, mildew or moisture unrelated to flooding or that the homeowner could have prevented. These policies will not pay for damage caused by the movement of the earth, even if the movement was a result of flooding. They will also not cover loss of use, additional living expenses, financial losses due to business interruption, most vehicles or property located outside of an insured building.

Thousands of agents across the country sell NFIP policies, even to homeowners who don't live in a flood plain. Coverage takes effect 30 days after a policy is purchased, meaning if a hurricane is in the forecast, you can't purchase flood insurance at the last minute and expect to be covered. Be sure to be proactive to protect yourself and your home, especially in a high-risk area.

Private Flood Insurance
Some private insurance companies also offer flood insurance policies that can provide supplemental coverage above the federal limits or serve as a primary flood insurance policy. In some cases, private flood insurance may be less expensive than an NFIP policy and it may cover additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable. 

Do You Have the Right Flood Insurance Coverage?
Many homeowners don't think they are at risk of flooding or assume their homeowners insurance policy covers it. A flood insurance policy can cover many of the costs associated with flood damage and is worth the cost if you live in an area where flooding is more common. If you don't have flood insurance coverage, you can discuss your options with your insurance agent, or your Real Estate Agent can offer smart suggestions based on your neighborhood and risk.

July
8

Laundry Tips for After Your Vacation

Vacations may mean family fun and lasting memories, but between travel and cleaning, coming home from a vacation can make you more tired than before you left. After some much-needed time off, no one wants to spend days catching up on dirty laundry. Thankfully, a little planning before and during your vacation can make all the difference when you come home. 

Keep a Laundry Bag in Your Suitcase
Avoid the need to wash clothes unnecessarily by keeping a laundry bag in your suitcase. This will ensure you can easily sort through dirty items during your trip, allowing you to keep your hotel space clean while preventing dirty and clean clothes from mixing together. Going on a beach or waterpark trip? Purchase a waterproof bag to ensure that your soggy clothes don't leak on the rest of your items.

Start a Load of Laundry Right When You Come Home
After a long trip, it can be tempting to relax as soon as you arrive home. Resist this urge and immediately start a load of laundry. This will ensure that you're not bogged down by a huge to-do list in the form of dirty clothes, and if you pack your dirty clothes well, starting a load quickly is a simple task that will have a big impact.

Families Designate One Suitcase for Dirty Clothes
If you're traveling with a few family members, particularly if your party includes children,  dedicate one suitcase at the end of your trip to exclusively put all the dirty clothes into. Once you arrive at home, you can have each family member put their respective suitcases and clean items away, while the suitcase with dirty items is placed in your laundry room. This way, you're not going to each family member requesting their dirty items and a load of laundry can be done upon arrival back home.

Wash Swimsuits First
Wet swimwear can get stale or sour if they're not addressed quickly. When you arrive home, be sure to prioritize any wet or soiled items in the first load. If you must leave any loads for the next day, you've already tackled the items that should be taken care of quickly. If you brought along any beach towels, be sure to include these in the wash with your swimsuits.

Wash Clothes as You Go
If you are taking an extended trip, take advantage of your hotel or rental home's laundry amenities. This can prevent the need for loads of laundry once you've arrived at home, and can also help you pack lighter, which could save on luggage costs. 

July
11

Beaufort Water Festival

Keep the summertime fun going strong after the July 4th holiday by checking out the 64th Annual Beaufort Water Festival. This festival spans 10 days is held in scenic Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort's beautiful Waterfront Park is the hub of the festival. Most of the events that make up the festival will be either in the Waterfront Park, or on the river itself. 

The Beaufort Water Festival begins on Friday, July 12th. The opening ceremonies will feature live music by The Parris Island Marine Band and fireworks. The Festival Arts & Crafts Market will also open on this Friday. The Arts and Crafts Market will be open for the duration of the festival. 

Throughout the week, the festival will host a variety of events. Sporting events include a bocce ball tournament and a badminton tournament. In addition to nightly concerts and The Commodore's Ball, the festival will also host a Teen Dance and a Lowcountry Supper. Other entertainment includes a Ski Show and Shrimp Boat Tours. The festival culminates with the Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats on Sunday, July 21st. 

The Beaufort Water Festival celebrates the spirit of community that makes Beaufort one of the best places to live in the Southeast. Whether you're looking just to visit, or considering a stay that lasts a bit longer, the Beaufort Water Festival is a great way to immerse yourself in the heart and soul of this quintessential Lowcountry town. 

July
2

Vast Connections & Exceptional Experience

CBT Commercial

When we think of real estate, often times we direct our thoughts towards homes and residential property, but there's a lot more than meets the eye. Commercial real estate takes the cake when it comes to complexity: from the longer contracts and higher price tags, to the complicated terminology that the ordinary person might not understand.

But… That's where CBT Commercial comes in! Our boutique firm makes the intricate buying, selling, and leasing process easy and profitable for you. Commercial real estate is simply defined as property used solely for business purposes and intended for profit. This could range from retail properties, office buildings, shopping centers, hotels, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, apartment complexes, and even vacant land.

CBT Commercial utilizes its vast local connections and relationships to broker the best deals for buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants. The Commercial side of Cora Bett Thomas Realty has been around since 1995, and covers coastal Georgia and South Carolina.

Graham Sadler, a commercial real estate expert on the team says, "Our local knowledge, strong local connections, high level of service, and thoroughly experienced team make us trusted and loved in the community." Graham is just one of the many dedicated professionals that cares deeply about the relationships created.

Our expert agents have decades of extensive real estate experience in commercial investment, development, brokerage, negotiation, and management.

CBT Commercial

A very well known, standout property the team has dealt with is 25 Chatham Center South. This 5,000 square footage office space is located within The Woodlands at Chatham Center and is one of Savannah's most beautiful office parks. There are a total of eleven buildings, each uniquely designed with abundant parking and easy access. Some of the professional tenants include: WTOC, SouthCoast Health, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The building that houses the famous Soho South Cafe on Liberty Street, and the one that's home to the delicious East End End Provisions on Broughton Street, are both well-known restaurants that CBT Commercial has helped foster transactions.

Big or small, apartment complex or office space, buying, selling, or leasing… No matter the case, the CBT Commercial team has the connections and knowledge you need to make the process rewarding.

Get to Know Our Agents Today!

June
28

 

Buying a Home is a Big Deal

It's a life event, and it's an important decision. If you're looking to buy, you'll want to find the right neighborhood, right mortgage, and perfect home. If you're looking to sell you'll want to find the right price and the right time to put your home on the market. But this important step is often overlooked … Searching for the perfect agent for yourself.

This person should be someone compatible with you (and your family), but also someone who has the experience to make the process enjoyable. Cora Bett Thomas suggests that you interview your agent, asking them these 5 key questions for finding the perfect agent:

What do you do differently than anybody else?

Find out what sets them apart. What type of Brokerage to do they work for? How are they going to go above and beyond for you and the service you need?

What experience do you have?

Have them tell you about the most interesting listing or sale they've ever made. How long have they been in the business in your area? If they are new to the market they may still be learning the area. Have they helped sell your type of property before? Have they helped a buyer in your situation? All real estate transactions are different, so you want to make sure your agent knows how to guide you through the process, or has the resources behind them to support your needs.

How do you communicate?

Communication is a big deal. Some people prefer phone calls, others a text or an email. The frequency of communication is also a deal breaker. You should have your choice of how you like to be communicated with, but no matter the case they should be communicating with you very often and very clearly.

How active are you as an agent?

Are they actively soliciting listings and going out and finding customers? That is the key. This is not a 9-5 job, this is a smart job. Your agent needs to know more than just the transaction at hand. Are they caught up on the national market as well as your local market? Be sure to ask about community involvement. An agent who has relationships around your town will help get you connected.

How are you going to market my property?

There's more to it than just putting the For Sale sign in the yard. Your agent should be explaining what your property offers to a wide audience. They should be using videos, digital marketing, Instagram, Facebook, and all social media platforms to help sell your home.

Ready to Sell or Buy a Home?

You want the home buying and selling process to be just as important to your agent as it is to you. Come see us at Cora Bett Thomas Realty, because we have the right agent for you!

June
28

South Carolina Fourth of July Events

July 4th fun abounds in the Lowcountry, and not just in Savannah. From Beaufort to Hilton Head Island, there are plenty of Lowcountry fireworks and fun for the whole family to enjoy.

If you're on Hilton Head Island, Check out Shelter Cove Harbour and Marina for the biggest 4th of July fireworks show. Besides a variety of shopping and dining options in the Harbour Town area, you can enjoy the Harbourfest July 4th Festivities. Start the day off with a parade. Decorate your bicycle, wagon, dog or kids in red, white and blue and join the parade. Meet in the parking lot by the lighthouse at 8:30 a.m. to register and pick up decorating supplies — limited to the first 100 participants. The parade will start at 9:30 a.m. You won't want to miss Shannon Tanner's special patriotic family show at 6:30 & 8pm. There's also plenty for the kids to do, including bouncy houses and train rides. 

For a truly patriotic experience, head over towards Beaufort and enjoy Independence Day at Parris Island. Free and open to the public, this family-friendly event will feature a kid's fun zone and The Parris Island Band. And, of course,  an incredible fireworks celebration. Food and beverages will be available. Patriotic glow sticks, bracelets and headbands also will be available for purchase. Gates open at 5 p.m. The Parris Island Band will perform at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks will start at dark, or around 9:20 p.m.

Lowcountry Fireworks

The 4th of July Celebration & Fireworks at The Sands of Port Royal begins at 5 p.m. Fireworks will begin around 9 p.m.  The Port Royal Independence Day celebration will include food booths, refreshments, vendors, entertainment, face painting, a water slide, bounce houses and more. This event is sponsored by The Port Royal Historic Foundation.

Fourth of July Flyover

Another way to truly embrace the pride in our country is to participate in the Salute from the Shore. Every year on July 4th, hundreds of thousands of people gather on the beaches of South Carolina in patriotic attire to wave the red, white and blue and to demonstrate their gratitude to America's finest for their bravery and commitment. The flyover of military aircraft will start at 1 p.m. in Myrtle Beach. Salute from the Shore encourages participants to share their stories about why they love America and those that protect it by posting their own video and images of the event on social networks to be seen by American Armed Forces deployed throughout the world. For a full schedule of flyover times in the Beaufort area, visit salutefromtheshore.org

Keep the Fun Going

And after the 4th, keep the fun going by visiting the May River Shrimp Festival Sunset Party. This event, held in beautiful Bluffton, South Carolina, features an arts and crafts village, as well as a craft beer garden and wine. The Bluffton Sunset Party is a great way to make the most of summertime fun. Come grab a delicious beverage and enjoy the sunset with friends and neighbors at this beloved community event. 

[caption id="attachment_2305" align="alignnone" width="640"]Bluffton Farmers Market Image Credit: Bluffton Farmers Market[/caption]

As long as you're in the Bluffton area, stop in and check out the Bluffton Farmers Market. The BFM is open every Thursday from 1pm to 6pm. The Bluffton Farmers Market is an ideal stop for grabbing fresh produce and wares from local vendors who are passionate about their goods and love sharing their stories. The BFM also features local entertainment. Stop in, grab some goodies and enjoy the company of friends, family and community at the Bluffton Farmers Market. 

The July fun continues in Beaufort as well with the 64th Annual Beaufort Water Festival. This 10-day event is one of the longest running events in the Lowcountry, and features arts and crafts, live music, air shows, and the Grand Parade. If you want to make the most of your summertime fun in South Carolina, then the Beaufort Water Festival should be on your to-do list. 

Harbourfest at Shelter Cove isn't limited to July 4th fun, either. This event runs throughout the summer until Labor Day. The events of Harbourfest will continue to feature live music, fireworks, and plenty of activities for the kiddos all summer long. Check out the schedule and find out more information at the Harbourfest website.

June
28

As we plunge full speed ahead into summertime here in the Lowcountry, it's time to take a look at some Savannah celebrations and happenings. The most popular summertime holiday is July 4th. Savannah has no shortage of fun events for this holiday. Check out our list of upcoming events for the July 4th holiday weekend. 

By far the most popular July 4th Fun in Savannah is in Rousakis Plaza on River Street. In the heart of Downtown Savannah, River Street is home to shops, bars, restaurants, all of which will be open on July 4th. Rousakis Plaza will also be hosting food vendors as well as live music, and the evening will be capped off with a fireworks show over the river. 

If you're looking to take in the fireworks, but don't want to just stand on River Street watching, check out the July 4th Fireworks Cruise. This 2 1/2 hour cruise is hosted by Savannah Riverboat Tours and sets sail at 9pm. The riverboats have outdoor decks that are perfect for viewing the fireworks. Passengers can also music from the riverboat DJs, as well as food and beverages during the cruise. This is great way to experience Savannah, but from a different view than usual.

Another way to enjoy the show without being on River Street is at the Swingin' Savannah River Independence Day Celebration. This event is at the Westin Harbor Lawn (across the river from River Street) and will feature live music by Savannah favorite The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra. Proceeds from this event go to support Companions for Heroes, which pairs shelter dogs with wounded military veterans, law enforcement, and first responders. This event is a great way to enjoy the July 4th festivities and support a great cause.

We've mentioned The Grove before, as it is one of our favorite rooftop bars in Downtown Savannah. This year, The Grove is hosting a 4th of July Rooftop Picnic, with tickets already available for sale. The event ticket includes access to the BYOB bar — that is a Build Your Own Burger bar. The event ticket also includes 3 drink tickets. Picnickers will enjoy people-watching and fireworks-viewing, plus live music and a DJ on the second floor. 

If you're looking to head to the beach, but still want to enjoy some fireworks on the 4th, then head out to Tybee Island. Tybee will be hosting its own July 4th Fireworks show. The fireworks will begin at dark, but we recommend heading out early to snag a parking spot. This is easily one of Tybee Island's busiest days of the year, so make sure to plan accordingly. The show is staged on the pier, but you can easily enjoy the show from any of the island's eastern beaches. If you get to the Island early check out the Tybee island Bike Parade. And afterward, you can visit the National Association of Women in the Arts (NAOWITA) Jazz Festival. The festival is on Tybee Island July 4th through July 6th and will include local and international vendors. So head out to Tybee Island for a day of fun and support a great cause while celebrating our country.

There you have it, a quick list of places and parties to celebrate summer's best holiday. Wherever you end up, make sure to follow our tips for making the most of your July 4th celebration in Savannah and Tybee Island. 

River Street Celebration

Noon-10 p.m. July 4; River Street; More Info

The most popular July 4th Fun in Savannah. Fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Free VIP military seating starting at 6 p.m. in Morrell Park.

Swingin' Savannah River

8-9:30 p.m. July 4; The Westin; More Info

The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra offers a patriotic concert with proceeds to support the Sua Sponte Foundation

Fireworks on Tybee

9:15-10 p.m. July 4; Tybee Pier & Pavilion; More Info

Show staged on pier; viewed from any eastern beach.

Tybee Island Bike Parade

11 a.m. July 4; Memorial Park, Tybee Island; More Info

Decorate your bike in red, white and blue for a family-friendly ride.

4th of July Rooftop Picnic

6-10 p.m. July 4; The Grove; More Info

Watch the Savannah Waterfront fireworks from the rooftop while you enjoy dinner & drinks. 

June
26

The Grey Market

Downtown Savannah has been in desperate need of a "little shop to grab a few things." Most of us who were born and raised in the South might equate this with a grocery store or a five and dime. But, there is a more accurate term for what has been missing in the ever-expanding Downtown Historic District: a bodega. A bodega is, at its simplest, part neighborhood diner and part convenience store. The Grey Market is Savannah's bodega.

The Grey Market 

The Grey Market is the second and latest offering from Johno and Chef Mashama, the geniuses behind Savannah's The Grey. Johno and Mashama, recently awarded a James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast, have taken their love of New York bodegas and created The Grey Market. The Grey Market is located on Jefferson Street and is open Monday-Saturday from 8am to 8pm, and on Sundays from 9am to 5pm. Better still, it's open 30 minutes early for coffee and pastries, which is ideal for those of us who work downtown and want a tasty treat. Besides outdoor seating, a few high top tables are scattered indoors, as well as prime spots at the diner counter. 

The Grey Market offers a bevy of baked goods, courtesy of beloved local baker Natasha Gatskill. The bakery case is filled with sweet and savory croissants, the biscuit of the day, and sweet rolls. Some of our favorites include the blueberry and cream cheese croissant and the pimento cheese biscuit. If you're looking for something  a little more substantial to start off your day, try The NYC or The Smoky Pig. The NYC is a classic breakfast sandwich on a kaiser roll. The Smoky Pig offers the same, but with pulled pork and pickle relish. The Miami is also a great breakfast option if you're looking to fuel up for the day without overdoing it. It is chicken, egg whites, and spinach wrapped on roti bread. 

The Grey Market

For lunch and dinner options, try one of Chef Mashama's take on Southern classics, such as the Blue Plate Special and the Fried Catfish Po'Boy and Fish 'n' Grits. Looking for a little snack? Grab a side of potato wedges and a "pup" of beer. The Grey Market Burger is also a must-try. It made our recently updated list of favorite burgers in Savannah. The lunch and dinner menu features daily specials, including a Melt of the Day.  We have had the Mortadella and it was fantastic. The Grey Market also comes to the rescue for at-home dinner plans. With its Daily Chicken Dinner, you get a rotisserie bird (roasted in-house daily), two sides, bread, and a bottle of red or white wine, all for $39. As stated, it will "feeds two people well."

Thirsty? Besides NYC diner classics such as ice cream floats and egg creams, The Grey Market has a selection of wine, cocktails, and beer. Canned wine and beer are available, too. Grab one to go with one of the fresh deli sandwiches available in the to-go case, and you have yourself a ready-made picnic. The Market also sells baguettes and cheese and meats by the pound. 

Shirts, hats, cookbooks, coffee cups, water bottles, are all available for sale. The Grey Market offers sundries and toiletries for the weary traveler or for the local who might have missed a trip to the store before work. The Grey Market is not one-stop shopping, but regardless of what you need, it's a stop that you definitely need to make. 

The Grey Market

109 Jefferson St, Savannah, GA 31401

 

June
18

Cora Bett Thomas Realty President Heather Booth recently received her broker's license.

Booth, who has served as President of Cora Bett Thomas Realty and Associates since 2006, has helped grow the company steadily over the last 13 years. The company now has over 50 agents  specializing in residential and commercial real estate, luxury vacation rentals and leasing management. 

"This is an exciting new chapter for our office," says Cora Bett  Thomas, CEO and Founder of Cora Bett Thomas Realty and  Associates. "I am thrilled to watch Heather continue to be a  trailblazer in real estate for our clients."   With her broker's license, Booth plans to support Cora Bett  Thomas and agents in any areas they request, and this new  license helps her do so in a larger capacity. 

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.

June
5

Cora Bett Thomas Realty is a Proud Leading RE Member

When you think of Cora Bett Thomas Realty you think of the 100 mile coast and the Low Country, but did you know the agency has a world-wide connection? Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates is the Savannah representative for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World ("Leading RE"). As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides global accessibility with a local focus.

Leading RE has a global membership that spans six continents and 70 countries. Each year, Leading RE connects more than 565 firms and 130,000 sales associates who produce over 1.2 million real estate transactions. Membership to Leading RE is by invitation only, so the network of real estate professionals all uphold the highest standards and strive for exceptional experiences for all clients.

As a member of Leading RE, Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in virtually any market worldwide. Listing your home with Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates connects your for sale sign to firms all around the world, thanks to Leading RE.

Cora Bett Thomas Realty is a charter member of its Luxury Property division, Luxury Portfolio International. Your home will be featured on the very best websites and get exposure from more than 150 websites, because of this connection. Cora Bett Thomas Realty & Associates has set the standard for marketing, professionalism and growth among luxury brokers in the region.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today for more information on what our Membership in Leading RE means for you as a buyer or seller.

May
24

Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market

As we've mentioned before, just because you live in Savannah, doesn't mean that you can't play at being a tourist while being at home. Our favorite way to do this is to stop in at one of the restaurants at the local hotels. Unlike the hotel restaurants of yesteryear, the new kids in the Historic District of Downtown Savannah focus on creative dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients.  

Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market is located in the ground floor of the Perry Lane Hotel. This boutique hotel is located on Drayton Street, in the heart of the Historic District, and is also home the Peregrin Rooftop Bar. The location of  Emporium makes it a hub of the Historic Downtown District. The dining space of the Emporium is usually abuzz with activity, but this makes it no less inviting. Both tables and bar seating are available, and meals can be enjoyed at the bar, too. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Emporium serves breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week, as well as a weekend brunch. The Emporium also offers a Happy Hour menu Monday-Thursday. The menu at Emporium offers signature classic dishes such as Bouillabaisse and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. More eclectic options like mushrooms from local forager Swampy Appleseed, Duck Liver Mousse, and Grilled Octopus are also available. The menu showcases the seafood of the Lowcountry with dishes like Roast Barbecue Oysters, Smoked Fish Rillettes, Pickled White Shrimp, and the Fruits de Mer Tower.

Besides a full bar and a menu of seasonal craft cocktails, Emporium also features local craft beers and wine selection covering a variety of price points and palates. The wine list at Emporium is carefully selected to pair well with the menu. But many of the wines available can also be purchased by the bottle and enjoyed outside the restaurant. 

Besides a memorable dining experience, Emporium also offers cooking classes and wine tastings. Whatever you're looking for, whether it's brunch with some friends, a glass of wine and a cheese board, people watching or dinner for two, Emporium Kitchen and Wine Market is a place worth checking out. 

254 E Perry Street
Savannah, GA 31401

May
6

Hurricane Preparedness Week 

In the Lowcountry, we are less than a month away from the beginning of the 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and now is the time to make sure you are prepared. We have recently had two seasons with close calls and you can read what  we learned about preparing here 

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is an upcoming event in the annual formation of tropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere. The season will officially begin on June 1, 2019, and end on November 30, 2019. These dates historically describe the period each year when most tropical cyclones form in the Atlantic basin and are adopted by convention. 

While predictions right now favor average activity for hurricanes in the Atlantic, it is still important to be ready. Don't wait until the last minute to make preparations. One of the most important things you should do, and do immediately, is to check your homeowner's insurance. Most standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Check your flood zone at the Georgia Department of Natural Resources DFIRM Flood Map. Then, make sure to have adequate flood insurance for your home. Flood insurance coverage usually takes 30 days to go into effect.

Make sure that you are aware of your community's  evacuation plan and evacuation route. A great way to be prepared for a hurricane and to stay informed during a hurricane is to sign up to receive local alerts and warnings.

Pay attention to local weather forecasts. Storm paths change quickly and without much warning, so listen out for local weather alerts. Also listen to local officials for warnings and instructions, such as evacuation orders. Follow the Chatham Emergency Management Agency, or CEMA, on Twitter and Facebook and check in often for updates.

The FEMA mobile app is also a great resource for hurricane preparation, and includes checklists for hurricane preparation. The FEMA mobile app also provides weather alerts from the National Weather Service and maps of open hurricane shelters and recovery centers. 

Create and review your family's emergency communication plan and make sure that your family is all aware of the contents and location of your emergency supplies. Another important way to be prepared is financially. Strengthen your financial preparedness in the event of a hurricane by collecting and securing important financial, insurance, medical, and other personal records. 

Protect Your Investment

If you have an investment and/or rental property, do not neglect it, even if it is vacant. Instead, make sure to conduct a full hurricane preparedness check on the property every year. This ensures that your property is ready to withstand the high winds and heavy rainfall that is common during the Atlantic Hurricane Season. The staff at Cora Bett Thomas Property Management are available to conduct a Full Weather check on your property, which includes:

  • Complete Roof Inspection
  • Siding and Entry Inspection
  • Window inspection
  • Comprehensive Plumbing and HVAC Check

Once the check has been completed, you can approve any work or repairs that need to be done to ensure that your property is ready to withstand the forces of Mother Nature. The peace of mind that comes from having your property ready will be worth the effort and expense.

These are just a few tools and resources that can help you and your family get prepared, and offer some peace of mind as we approach the 2019 Hurricane Season. 

May
6

41st Annual Mayfest This Weekend!

Bluffton Village Festival  

The days are growing longer and the jasmine is blooming. Nature is announcing the arrival of summer in the Lowcountry. In Bluffton, South Carolina, we welcome summer with the Bluffton Village Festival. The Bluffton Village Festival has been going strong for 41 years and is formerly known as Mayfest. But whatever you choose to call it, this local celebration is fun for the whole family, including four-legged family members. 

The Bluffton Village Festival features over 200 food vendors and artists. This year, the festival will be on May 11, 2019 from 10am to 5pm in Old Town Bluffton. The event is organized by the Rotary Club of Bluffton. In addition to free admission to the festival for all, free parking and free shuttle service are also available.  

[caption id="attachment_2218" align="alignnone" width="640"]Bluffton Village Festival Courtesy Bluffton Village Festival[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2220" align="alignnone" width="640"]Bluffton Village Festival Courtesy Bluffton Village Festival[/caption]

The Bluffton Village Festival includes longtime favorite events such as the Pie-Eating Contest and the Ugliest Dog Competition. A recent, but no less popular addition to the festival is the Kids' Donut Eating Contest. Local bakery The Sugaree provides the tasty treats for both the Pie-Eating and Donut-Eating contests. 

If you're a fan of that Lowcountry staple, shrimp salad, then you'll want to try one of the festival's shrimp salad sandwiches. These sandwiches are so famous that some people attend the festival from hundreds of miles away just to get their hands on one. The shrimp salad sandwiches are made and sold by the ladies of The Church of the Cross. Even though these ladies make more and more sandwiches to keep up with the growing demand, be warned. These sandwiches usually sell out quickly and early.

Local musicians are playing all day at venues all over The Bluffton Village Festival, including The Chiggers, Lyn Avenue, and Snowbird Mike. Students from The Bluffton School of Dance are also performing. 

The Bluffton Village Festival has no shortage of shopping opportunities from a variety of vendors and artists. This year's featured artist is Amos Hummell, who has been connected to Bluffton for over 40 years and is an active supporter of arts in education. 

The Bluffton Village Festival brings the town of Bluffton together to celebrate. This celebration has a laid-back attitude that embodies the community and quirkiness of Bluffton itself. The Bluffton Village Festival is a a great way to kick off summer in the Lowcountry. 

See you there!

April
30

Staging a Home is Key to Presenting Properties

By: Catherine James

When selling a home, there are infinite approaches and scenarios. Some sellers completely move out before putting their home on the market, others live there permanently until they sell it, and then there are those that are a brand new build. Whatever the case may be, the goal is the same: to sell the home.

In order to do so, there is one very important step in the process that sometimes gets overlooked: staging. Staging a home is professionally decorating, furnishing, or rearranging so that the buyers can see the potential in the space. It's the secret ingredient that helps a home sell quickly, and at a potentially higher value.

What's not a secret, though, are the numbers. According to the National Association of Realtors, nearly one third (29%) of selling agents believe staging increases the value of a home by 6% to 20%. They also found that staged homes sold 72% more quickly than empty homes.

People don't realize once they put their home on the market, it's no longer their home, it's a commodity. It's time to declutter, depersonalize, and truly make it easier for an outsider to picture themselves living there

This process can be difficult for some homeowners, as they have to detach from the memories and appeal to a larger audience. The bubblegum pink wall they raised their daughter in, the collage of family photos that covers their living room wall, and excessive furniture that shrinks the space … they all have to go.

A professional stager is hired to help you see everything, from curb appeal to the small details that you may have never noticed! They do the research on the area and the current trends. They help you decide color palette, furniture, and props. They get movers to make it happen and help attract your space to more sellers.

So what is the secret to staging? It's not about covering up the negative… it's truly about highlighting the best features in your home. It's all about painting a picture for the lifestyle of a potential home buyer! Show them that they can kick back, relax, and sip a glass of lemonade or a cocktail on their new screened porch. Portray to them that they can wake up to a cup of coffee at their breakfast bar. Set up the space so that it's spacious and they see that they have room for growth.

Staging isn't a secret, it's a necessity.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today for more information on Staging and Selling Your Home. 

April
30

Bonaventure Cemetery

"Looking at these old graves makes me think how generation after generation of the same family are all gathered together. And that makes me think about how life goes on, but not about dying."

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

One of Savannah's must-see places isn't in the Historic District, or even in Downtown Savannah. Bonaventure Cemetery is located in the community of Thunderbolt, between Savannah and Wilmington Island. Bonaventure Cemetery first gained publicity on a worldwide scale when it was featured in John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. But the fact is, Bonaventure has been a part of the fabric of Savannah for as long as anyone can remember. 

Bonaventure Cemetery was originally a private commercial enterprise and was named "Evergreen Cemetery." The cemetery was first established in 1846 on the original Bonaventure Plantation. The cemetery first started out as 70 acres and was created as a result of Savannah's other cemeteries approaching capacity. The Evergreen Cemetery was patterned after the Victorian design of cemeteries, with curving paths, grassy lots, and plenty of shade trees. Evergreen Cemetery was frequented by those who sought solace during times of bereavement. But the cemetery also served as a place for families to meet and gather for picnics.

In 1907, the City of Savannah purchased Evergreen Cemetery, making it the 4th of the 5 cemeteries that the city owns. The City of Savannah had the cemetery redesigned for more efficient maintenance and for more gravesite spaces. Bonaventure Cemetery has also expanded to 103 acres since its purchase. 

Part of what makes Bonaventure Cemetery so special is the natural beauty of the space that it inhabits and that surrounds it. Located on a bluff overlooking the Bull River, Bonaventure Cemetery is home to majestic live oaks draped with Spanish moss and azalea bushes that bloom with riotous color in early spring. 

Trails wind through Bonaventure Cemetery and along the bluff, and benches and seating areas are scattered throughout the cemetery. An entire day can easily be devoted to strolling among the graves and admiring the monuments, some of which are quite ornate and impressive. Bonaventure Cemetery is open year-round, and offers special after-dark tours during the Halloween season. To truly appreciate Savannah's past and present, visit Bonaventure Cemetery.

Bonaventure Cemetery

330 Bonaventure Rd

Thunderbolt, GA 31404

Website

April
9

Savannah Rooftop Bars

Spring is arriving in Savannah. This means longer days full of sunshine and warm weather. This also means that drinking outside tops everyone's list. Historic Downtown Savannah has no shortage of  places to enjoy a beverage alfresco. More and more, locals and visitors alike are seeking higher ground for fun. And Savannah has answered the call with rooftop bars. Besides, of course, beverages, these bars offer comfortable seating and views. Some of the bars below offer views of the Savannah River, while others offer a view of the rooftops of the Historic District. Both are equally lovely in their own way. 

Peregrin Rooftop Lounge 

The Peregrin is located atop the luxurious Perry Lane Hotel. The hotel is on Drayton Street, in the heart of the Historic Downtown District. As such, The Peregrin provides a rich view of the cityscape of Savannah. Besides craft beer and bar snacks, the bar offers cocktails, a carefully curated wine list, and frozen beverages. The Peregrin has a dearth of seating, from barstools to comfy couches. 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Grove

The Grove's Rooftop Bar overlooks City Market--perfect for people watching. With a full food menu and fun beverage options like the shareable The Grand Mule and the Prosecco Pop (a glass of prosecco served with a King of Pops popsicle), The Grove is a great place to kick back and enjoy observing the bustle of Downtown Savannah. Happy Hour specials are available 5 days a week and a brunch menu is offered on the weekends. 

100 Mile Coast, Savannah, The Lowcountry, Coastal Georgia, Downtown, General News, Historic District, Waterfront, weather, Fun
April
8

Trina Gecco

Cora Bett Thomas Realty recently announced the hiring of Office Director, Trina Gecco. In this role, she will enter listings, process commission checks, create and distribute e-blasts, and handle internal and external office communications.

Trina has an extensive background in real estate and hospitality, equipping her with the knowledge and skills to fulfill the responsibilities as Office Director. She has an Associate's Degree in Business and Hospitality Management and has spent over 10 years in the real estate industry.

With roots in Upstate New York, Trina is happy to be living out the Lowcountry lifestyle. She currently lives with her family in Bluffton, South Carolina, where she enjoys fishing, boating, and shopping locally. Trina also spends her time volunteering and is actively involved in her son's school.

Trina's sense of teamwork, leadership skills, business acumen, and real estate experience provide her with the expertise to manage office responsibilities at Cora Bett Thomas Realty.

For more information about Cora Bett Thomas Realty and Associates, visit www.CoraBettThomas.com

April
2

As the winter weather in Savannah slowly gives way to sunny spring days, more and more flowering bushes and trees appear. One of the most noticeable blooming trees in the Historic  District of Downtown Savannah is the Japanese Magnolia.  The Japanese magnolia, or saucer magnolia, opens its fat, furry flower buds in February or March before the rest of its foliage emerges. The branches of the Japanese Magnolia are covered in blooms before they leaf out in late winter, allowing these specimens to stand out in any landscape. The flowers blooming on leafless branches are particularly noticeable and add a distinctive charm to many of the squares in the Historic District.

Japanese Magnolias have a stunning natural structure that is reminiscent of a crepe myrtle. When the flowers are young, the petals are held fairly upright, giving the flowers a distinctively tulip-like appearance. As the flowers age, the petals tend to open more and lay down, creating a more saucer-shaped flower. The flowers of the Japanese Magnolia have the citrusy, musky fragrance that is associated with traditional magnolias. 

The flowers are large and showy and come in a variety of colors, such as white, lavender-pink, rose-purple, dark reddish purple and light yellow. The brightest color is on the outside of the petals, while the inner surface tends to be creamy white. The flowers range in size from about 4 to 6 inches across, sometimes larger. The Japanese magnolias generally grow to be about 15 to 25 feet tall with a spread of 10 to 15 feet.

One of our favorite squares in the Historic District, Troup Square, is home to several Japanese Magnolia trees. Though these trees are smaller in size, especially compared to traditional magnolias, they are no less striking. The blossoms of the Japanese Magnolia provide a welcome wash of color to the winter landscape and signal to Savannah that spring is just around the corner. 

March
26

A Musical Rite of Spring

Every spring, the Savannah Music Festival arrives. Held in various venues throughout Downtown Savannah, the 2019, Savannah Music Festival will be from March 28th to April 13th, and will feature a variety of performers who will playing at all hours of the day

Established in 1989, the Savannah Music Festival is a non-profit organization that is responsible for educational initiatives and musical arts programs throughout Savannah and six surrounding counties, and also includes educational activities such as theater field trips, in-school lessons, and public library performances.

The venues that serve as hosts for these performances are scattered throughout Historic Downtown Savannah, and include the Johnny Mercer Theater (at the Savannah Civic Center), the Lucas Theatre, the Ships of the Sea Museum, the Rousakis Plaza (located on River Street) and Trinity United Methodist Church.

This year is the festival's 30th anniversary, which will be celebrated on March 23, 2019 at the Metal Building at The Trustee's Garden with a cocktail buffet, remarks, and live Gypsy Jazz music.

New for the 2019 Savannah Music Festival

This year, the Savannah Music Festival's Lineup Spotlight is "A Bluegrass Lover's Paradise."

In addition to the myriad of acts making up the Savannah Music Festival, 7 different bluegrass acts will be featured during the festival. These acts include The Punch Brothers, Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, and a double-feature of The Del McCoury Band and The Steep Canyon Rangers. Whether you are a devoted bluegrass fan, or just looking to check out a different sound, any one of these bands will fit the bill.

[caption id="attachment_2170" align="alignnone" width="640"] Fatoumata Diawara; Performing Thursday, March 28 at 8 pm North Garden Assembly Room at Ships of the Sea Museum[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2169" align="alignnone" width="640"] John Medeski's Mad Skillet; Performing Saturday, March 30 4:00 PM at the North Garden Assembly Room at Ships of the Sea Museum[/caption]

 The Savannah Music Festival will feature acts from all over the world and from all genres, including SMF favorite and Associate Artistic Director Daniel Hope, Asleep at the Wheel, Fatoumata Diawara, and Jeff Tweedy. Those looking to do a little dancing while listening should check out the the Late Night Jazz Jam or the Latin Dance party featuring El Septeto Santiaguero.

The Closing Night Party will feature a performance by renowned saxophonist Maceo Parker. Maceo Parker has developed and honed his own sound while performing with the likes of Prince, George Clinton, and James Brown. This is one funk-dance party that you don't want to miss, and is a great way to close out the 2019 Savannah Music Festival.

For More Information Visit the Savannah Music Festival website.

March
19

Our Favorite Off the Beaten Path Outdoor Dining

Th

The weather is warming up and the sun is sticking around a bit longer. Naturally, we start looking around for our favorite outdoor dining spots. The Wyld Dock Bar is one of our favorite places to enjoy the very best of sunny Savannah days. The Wyld is located on the banks of Country Club Creek and is close to both Downtown Savannah, Thunderbolt and Midtown. The restaurant is also accessible by boat.

The Wyld Dock Bar is tucked away at the end of a quiet little road on the southeast edge of Savannah. The restaurant itself is a cozy shack of weathered wood. The front lawn features an oyster roast area and is dotted with wooden picnic tables — perfect for resting with a cold beverage while waiting for a table. Waiting diners can also gather around the fire pit or enjoy a quick game of bocce ball.

The Wyld offers indoor seating and outdoor deck seating. The decks are comfortably shaded and are a great place to watch the changing waters of the tidal creek and the vibrant green marsh grasses. One section of the deck at The Wyld is a designated seating area for diners with their four-legged friends. 

The Wyld Dock Bar offers lunch and dinner, and the menu features fresh and locally caught seafood. The dishes are simply presented New American offerings, but all highlight the natural flavors of the seafood. The scallop corn fritters are lightly breaded and are a tasty twist on plain ol' hushpuppies. Two of our favorite dishes feature fresh caught fish. The local crudo, made with sheepshead and topped with fresh shaved jalepenos, is a perfect snack. The steamed banana leaf fish taco has grouper steamed in a banana leaf and topped with basil-dill chimichurri and spicy tomato jam. The tacos are served with black beans and warm tortillas.    

The Wyld also offers a variety of liquid refreshment, including local craft beers, craft cocktails, and wines. The Wyld also features a frozen slushie with a rotation of flavors. A few sips of a frozen Painkiller, some light breezes over the water, good conversation with friends, and freshly-caught fish tacos. Now that's the way to enjoy a Savannah day. 

The Wyld Dock Bar

2740 Livingston Ave

Savannah, Georgia 31406

www.thewylddockbar.com

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
27

Our Team Member, Beth Bohmert, Named Beaufort-Jasper County Realtors Association 2018 Realtor® of the Year.

Beth Bohmert

Cora Bett Thomas Realty's Beth Bohmert was recently awarded 2018 REALTOR® the Year. The Realtor of the Year is awarded to an individual who is chosen by her peers. She had been described as someone who is generous with her time and a lifelong mentor. Bohmert is a top producing agent in Beaufort. She began as a Realtor in 2002, making real estate her full-time career while she juggling the responsibilities of raising three children. Bohmert brings her business acumen from her career on Wall Street, as a Commodity Broker & a Foreign Currency Trader, to her real estate business.

In 2013, Bohmert was elected to serve her first 3-year term, as a Director, on the Beaufort County Association for Realtors Board of Directors. She subsequently was elected to a second 3-year term, and in 2018, was nominated and elected to serve as the 2019 Secretary of the Beaufort-Jasper County Realtors Association. During her time as a Director, she served on a Task Force that researched and vetted MLS systems which resulted in the Association upgrading to FLEX MLS system. She was also instrumental in helping expand the MLS system to the South of the Broad & spent many hours helping the MLS staff defining the geographic areas.

February
21

2019 Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend

Visitors and local Savannah residents appreciate the unique and storied architecture of our city. The Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend is the perfect way to enjoy a bit of Savannah's sophisticated past and present. Set for the last weekend in February 2019, the events of the Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend celebrate the history of some of the most famous Savannah families and how their homes contributed to the architecture that has made Savannah famous.

The first annual Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend was created in 2017. The Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend was first created to focus on the fascinating connections between the Andrew Low and Green-Meldrim Houses, and the families who occupied them. It was conceived by The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the State of Georgia (NSCDA-GA).  The Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend aims to foster and promote interest in our nation's history through the study of the buildings and objects that are part of our cultural inheritance. The Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend also provides education on historic preservation. 

The NSCDA was founded in 1891 and is an unincorporated association of 44 Corporate Societies with more than 15,000 members. The National Society of Colonial Dames has been a leader in the field of historic preservation, restoration, and the interpretation of historic sites since its New York Society first undertook the preservation of the Van Cortland House in 1897. The Society headquarters is located at Dumbarton House, a Federal period house museum in Washington, D.C.  The association currently owns or operates more historic properties than any other organization in America other than the Federal Government. 

Don't be fooled into thinking that this is a group of the same old Savannah walking tours. The events making up this special weekend include lectures, tours, and live jazz music. The Special Event of the Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend includes a Private Tour celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Armstrong-Kessler mansion.  The magnificent mansion ushered the Jazz Age in to Savannah, and is the inspiration for the title of the 2019 Weekend: "Antiques, Architecture and All That Jazz!"  

Thursday, February 28

Cocktails and book signing with world-renowned Interior Designer, Carleton Varney

Decorator to the stars such as Joan Crawford and to U.S President Jimmy Carter along with many other prestigious clients, Carleton Varney is also the President and Owner of Dorothy Draper & Co. and carries on the amazing legacy of Draper's iconic work in the '30s and '40s.  Author of several books on decorating and great houses, he also hosts a wide line of products on the Home Shopping Network and his regular appearances on the show always sell out!

Friday, March 1

Lunch & Learn Keynote Speaker: Carleton Varney, President of Dorothy Draper & Co., Inc. Dorothy Draper and the Jazz Age followed by book signing

Dorothy Draper was a woman way ahead of her time, taking on huge corporate work for hotels around the world when women were supposed to be at home raising families!  Her work for The Greenbrier Hotel, the Quintandhina in Brazil, the Hampshire House, the Carlyle Hotel and many others in the jazz era is iconic and instantly recognizable.  Her protégé, Carleton Varney, continues her work today as owner of Dorothy Draper & Co..  Like Draper, Varney uses big bold patterns, tons of color and rejects all things drab, uncomfortable and impractical.  

Friday, March 1

The Gala

The glittering Gala honoring our Sponsors, Speakers and Appraisers is always a highpoint of the weekend. Topped off by an exciting Silent Auction, it will be held in the splendid surroundings of the historic Green-Meldrim House.  An evening to remember!

Saturday, March 2

What's in Your Attic? 

Back by popular demand is the "What's In Your Attic?" event with TV Celebrity appraisers and experts in decorative arts and antiques, Lark Mason, Amanda Everard, and Jane Mullino. They will help you Jazz things up at your house when you discover the value of your own treasures. 

2019 Savannah Antiques and Architecture Weekend

Saturday, March 2

VIP Historic Tours

The VIP Historic Tours are being jazzed up as well this year. They will include colorful costumed reincarnations of the Andrew Low and Green-Meldrim families who will bring life to the stories of their lives and times.

The 2019 Events will celebrate the Architecture, Design, and Music of the Jazz Age, so grab your friends and come Jazz It Up in beautiful Savannah, Georgia, February 28 – March 2, 2019!

January
29

Make Your Plans for Super Museum Sunday!

Super Museum Sunday

Georgia, and Savannah in particular, has an impressive variety of museums and historical markers. On Sunday, February 10th, Georgians and visitors alike can experience our state's rich history and cultural life. Historic sites, house museums, art museums, and other points of interest in Savannah and throughout Georgia will open their doors to the public, providing an exceptional opportunity to experience the history in our own backyard.

Check Out the 2019 Super Museum Sunday Printable Map

An impressive list of Savannah's Museums and cultural heritage sites for showcasing knowledge and education will be free to the public from noon to 4 p.m. The Coastal Heritage Society's five museums will participate in the 2019 Georgia History Festival's "Super Museum Sunday" on Feb. 10th. Those sites include Georgia State Railroad Museum, Old Fort Jackson, Pin Point Heritage Museum, Savannah Children's Museum, and Savannah History Museum. Guests can enjoy free interactive exhibits and engaging tours at each site through hands-on, immersive activities that illustrate the narratives of Savannah's past.

In addition to the museums that are part of the Coastal Heritage Society, the Telfair Museums will open all three of their sites — the Owens-Thomas House, the Telfair Academy and the Jepson Center. However, because of the crowds that are expected for Super Museum Sunday, you might want to go ahead and get that visit  to see the French Impressionism exhibition Monet to Matisse taken care of before February 10th (which is also the last day of this unforgettable exhibition).

Super Museum Sunday

Pin Point Heritage Museum, located in the old A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory, is your chance to experience the Gullah/Geechee culture firsthand. For nearly 100 years, the community of Pin Point was quietly isolated on the banks of the Moon River just south of Savannah. Now, you can explore the refurbished museum complex and experience multimedia presentations, exciting exhibits and unparalleled views of the marsh. If you are looking to have a more adventurous  Super Museum Sunday, you can also kayak to the Pin Point Heritage Museum. 

We Love Super Museum Sunday.

Many museums participating on Super Museum Sunday plan to offer free guided tours and live reenactments for the special occasion. The free admission provides the opportunity for those who otherwise  cannot afford the chance to visit one of their local community museums. It is also an affordable way to explore a museum in your neighborhood that you may have never considered visiting before. Below is a list of participating Chatham County Museums. If you won't be in Savannah on Super Museum Sunday, visit the Georgia Historical Society website for more information and the complete list of participating museums, parks and historical sites throughout Georgia.

Super Museum Sunday Chatham County

  • Bloomingdale History Museum & Visitors Center
  • National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force
  • Andrew Low House Museum
  • Beach Institute African American Cultural Center
  • Bonaventure Historical Society
  • Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens
  • Congregation Mickve Israel
  • Davenport House Museum
  • First African Baptist Church
  • First Bryan Baptist Church
  • Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home
  • Fort Pulaski National Monument
  • Georgia State RailRoad Museum
  • Girl Scout First Headquarters Museum and Program Center
  • Green-Meldrim House
  • Harper Fowlkes House
  • Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, National Historic Landmark 
  • King-Tisdell Cottage
  • Massie Heritage Center
  • Mother Mathilda Beasley Cottage
  • Oatland Island Wildlife Center
  • Old Fort Jackson
  • Ossabaw Island
    Call Ossabaw Island for ticket/wait list information.
  • Pin Point Heritage Museum
  • Savannah Children's Museum
  • Savannah History Museum and Battlefield Memorial Park
  • Savannah-Ogeechee Canal Museum & Nature Center
  • Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum
  • St. John's Church
  • Telfair Museums' Jepson Center for the Arts
  • Telfair Museums' Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters
  • Telfair Museums' Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • Thunderbolt Museum
  • Tybee Island Light Station and Museum
  • UGA Marine Education Center & Aquarium
  • Webb Military Museum
  • Wormsloe State Historic Site
January
18

Plantation Carriage Company

One of the first things visitors to Historic Downtown Savannah notice are the horse-drawn carriages. Some carriages are canopied. Some carriages are bedecked in flowers and ribbons. The horses in front are a variety of colors. But, they all share the privilege of being a staple of Historic Downtown Savannah.

The horse-drawn carriages provide a unique mode of transportation for special events. Or, for Savannah visitors, these carriages are a way to tour the Historic Downtown area. Most locals are used to sharing the roads with these proud horses and their carriages. But, just like the folks you may see every day in passing and never really know, most Savannahians know little about the horses and their carriages. So, we sat down and talked with Jennifer Thompson of Plantation Carriage Company to learn a little bit more about our four-legged friends and their jobs. 

Contrary to popular belief, walking on paved roads is not harmful to the horses and is actually easier going for them than dirt paths. In fact, the first paved road in Georgia was in Savannah, and it was created to make the going easier for the horses. All employees at The Plantation Carriage Company are professionals with experience in working with horses.  The staff includes a team of farriers who routinely trim/balance the horses' hooves and shoes. The Plantation team has built deep connections with each horse in the stable.

Draft horse breeds such as Belgian, Percherons, and North American Spotteds are used to pull carriages. These are all breeds of work horse used to pulling heavy loads for long periods of time. Most of the horses at Plantation Carriage are in a second phase of their "careers" now. Many of them have spent the early years of their lives doing work for logging companies or on Amish farms. Now, these horses are able to enjoy a more leisurely schedule and far less strenuous work. These horses usually live into their 30s, but normally work until they are into their 20s. Plantation Carriage conducts general fitness evaluations everyday and more extensive evaluations monthly. 

The company rotates the shifts of the horses to ensure that they are able to take breaks and get plenty of rest, even during the busy season. If you have seen horses on a farm on rainy days you know they don't huddle in the expensive barns. Instead, they play in the rain. So if you see horses out in the rain do not be concerned. However, in the event of storms, tours are cancelled due to the threat of lightning. This means that the team at Plantation Carriage diligently keeps an eye on weather radar forecasts, so as not to put the horses, drivers or tour groups in any danger due to lightning. 

Besides a pretty sweet work schedule, routine medical evaluations and care, and vacations, the horses also get treats. Lots of treats. Of course, the horses get apples year round. But, they also get seasonal treats. In the colder months, the horses are given soft peppermint candies as treats. In the summer, they are given watermelon, which provides much needed hydration. The horses also get their fetlocks on some Guinness a treats. Sound crazy? It's not — the beer helps replenish the B-vitamins that the horses lose through their sweat. 

One of our favorite horses at Plantation Carriage is Cinder. Cinder is a sassy little Percheron, and proof that each of these horses have their own unique personality. Cinder has Arab blood, which, according to Jennifer, is part of why she is so feisty. Everyone loves Cinder. When she passes other horses on the street, they will whinny at her. And Cinder loves Cinder, too — she has been caught more than once staring at her reflection in a window or puddle and giving herself a whinny. 

horse carriage tours

Jennifer and her team at The Plantation Carriage Company do a fantastic job of caring for these horses. They also do a fantastic job of providing hospitality to Savannah visitors, acting as carriage drivers and as tour guides. City ordinances restrict where horse-drawn carriages can pull over. So, if you see them out and about while in your vehicle, be patient and do your best to indicate your direction. The carriage drivers and horses have no desire to hold up traffic, so show these 4-legged ambassadors of Savannah some love. They may be pampered, but they are working just as hard as any of us to make Savannah a great place to visit and to live.

Plantation Carriage Company

Plantation Carriage Company is a wonderful source for carriage rides around Savannah's historic district, weddings, and other special occasions. Tours depart daily from the southeast corner of Ellis Square.

Find out more information or book a tour online here 

(912) 659-9005

info@plantationcarriagecompany.com

December
16

Kelly Foley

Cora Bett Thomas Realty has hired real estate agent, Kelly Foley. As Sales Associate, she will guide buyers or sellers through the negotiations, contractual aspects, and lengthy real estate processes.

Foley has an extensive background in customer service, equipping her with strong negotiation skills for home buying. She spent five years in the U.S. Air Force. Following that, she spent over 20 years in the aerospace industry, traveling the world with airline executives and partnered with the Department of Defense, as Director of Operations.

Foley is happy to be back to her roots in the Southeast, where she spent most of her early life. She now lives with her family in Rincon, where she enjoys spending time with husband, Vincent, and son, Liam. Foley also volunteers her time with PACK, a local organization collecting food donations for underprivileged children, helping ensure have meals over the weekend.

Foley's leadership skills, business acumen, and project management experience provide her with skills to assist buyers and sellers through their real estate transactions.

December
5

paint the town red

Cora Bett Thomas Realty is handing out red, reusable bags to help improve our environment. On November 1, 2018, a new Beaufort County ordinance went into effect banning "single-use" plastic bags commonly used for groceries, takeout meals, and clothing.

Cora Bett Thomas Realty wants to help make the transition to the new ordinance hassle-free for residents. We ask that you help us  "Paint the Town Red" this Friday, at Night on the Town, in Downtown Beaufort. Downtown Beaufort businesses will stay open late, with live music and entertainment, Christmas tree lighting, a visit from Santa, and the Cora Bett Thomas Realty team members will be there handing out their reusable bags to those in attendance for our "Paint the Town Red" initiative.

Beaufort's "Night on the Town" Event

WHO: All community members (especially Beaufort County residents)

WHEN: Friday, December 7, 6-9 p.m.

WHERE: Downtown Beaufort

See you There!

November
5

Commercial Real Estate as an Investment

Home Is Where Is the Heart Is, But Is it Where the Investment Is?

By Graham Sadler, Cora Bett Thomas Realty

The term real estate naturally leads one to think of buying and selling homes or even renting out residential property. While there are many advantages to residential investments, commercial properties have even more financial gain.

The term commercial property refers to buildings such as: retail space, offices, warehouses, industrial buildings, land, and even multi-family housing (such as duplexes or apartment buildings). That ranges from a luxury hotel buildings, to your favorite coffee shop.

Owning real estate, in general, can increase your long-term wealth, but why add specifically commercial to your investment portfolio? There are several benefits: higher incomes, less competition, longer leases, professional relationships, and, of course, tax advantages.  

Advantages Commercial Real Estate as an Investment

Let's start with the most distinct advantage: financial reward. Commercial real estate gives you a better return on your investment. It will allow you to avoid stock market volatility and bring in steadier returns.

The commercial field is also less competitive because it seems unattainable. Investing in a shopping center or a warehouse is a major endeavor and a big expense, thus many assume it is out of their purchasing power. The solution: competitive loan programs. This option is available for nearly all investors, and taking out a loan can be an even greater advantage due to the long term gain and relatively low interest rates.

Vacancy, maintenance, and management issues are a lot less common when it comes to commercial properties than residential. Commercial tenants have a vested interest in keeping up their space, because if they don't, it could have a negative impact on their personal business. However when it comes to tenants renting out a home, the only thing at stake is the loss of a security deposit.

Commercial properties typically have much longer leases (some tenants sign on for multiple years) and most have more than one tenant, which means you benefit from consistent cash flow and multiple streams of income.

There are also tax advantages. With commercial real estate you can write off loan interest, property depreciation, and expenses related to operation of the building. The tax benefits differ from investor to investor.

As for me, I want investments that are close to home, and thankfully Savannah has a strong economy. The growth in our area has been steady, very few highs and lows in comparison to other markets, which means real estate values will appreciate. Thanks to tourism and industry, there's also commercial investment money being brought in from outside of Savannah. And truly, there's no place like home to start investing.

So if you're looking to take the first step, think bigger than renting out a single family home. Diversify your investment portfolio to include commercial real estate, your potential for financial reward is that much greater and the hassle is that much smaller.

Graham Sadler, a commercial real estate market leader with over 18 years' experience in the industry, is an Associate Broker at Cora Bett Thomas Commercial. He can be reached at 912-398-0932 or gsadler@cbtcommercial.com.

September
5

National Preparedness Month. 

Preparing for an emergency

2018 has been a quiet year in general throughout the 100 Mile Coast. However, the rest of country has seen its share of fires, storms and flooding. So, with September being National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to check up on your preparedness level. Although never really wants to sit down and consider worst-case scenarios that we can face, by taking the time to make sure that you and your family are preparing for an emergency, you are giving yourself peace of mind and staying one step ahead. Preparing for an emergency may sound like a daunting task, but it can be reduced to 3 easy steps: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.

Get a Kit.

While most of us automatically reach for bottled water and flashlights in an emergency, there are some other items to consider as necessities in your emergency kit, such as:

  • A stocked first-aid kit (There are many options on Amazon) 
  • A radio (either battery-powered or hand-cranked)
  • A multi-tool
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • An emergency blanket
  • Sanitation and hygiene items
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Copies of personal and important documents (deed/lease, birth certificate, passport, insurance policies, etc.)
  • Medications (7-day supply) and any necessary medical items
  • Extra cash
  • Map(s) of the area

You'll want to make sure that you have these items in an easy-to-carry container that you can use either at home or take with you in case of an evacuation. This is just a list of necessities that you should have on hand in your kit, but it is by no means a definitive list. You will want to make sure that you pack additional items based on the types of natural disasters common to your area (i.e., rain gear, surgical or N95 masks, plastic sheeting, etc.), as well as your family members (extra supplies for infants and the elderly).

Make a Plan.

One of the most important things that you can do to remain safe for an emergency and/or natural disaster is to meet with your family members and discuss how you will respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. This includes:

  • Assigning specific responsibilities to each family member
  • Choosing a place outside of your home to meet, in the event of a sudden emergency such as a fire
  • Choosing a place outside your neighborhood to meet, in the event that you cannot return home and/or must evacuate immediately
  • Choosing an out-of-state emergency contact person, and making sure that each family member has that contact information in writing and/or saved to their cell phones.
  • Planning what to do if you are forced to evacuate: determine whether or not you will stay with friends/relatives in a safe location, go to a hotel/motel, or to an evacuation shelter. You will also want to make sure that you are familiar with not just your evacuation route but also with an alternate evacuation route.
  • Don't forget your pets; you will want to make sure that you have a list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and shelters if you have to evacuate with your pet.

Be Informed.

Don't wait until it's too late. Learn about the types of disasters that are more likely to occur in your area, whether it's something that affects only you and your family, such as a house fire or medical emergency, or something that affects your entire community, such as a hurricane or flood.

  • Identify how local authorities will notify you of a disaster and relay subsequent information — radio, tv, etc.
  • Know the difference between different weather alerts, such as watches or warnings, and the appropriate actions to be taken for each.
  • It's a good idea to make sure that at least one person in your family is familiar with first-aid, especially CPR, and can operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), since disasters can affect emergency response times from ambulances, police officers  and firefighters.

Make good use of the resources available to help you prepare yourself and your family members for disasters/emergencies, such as those offered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), CEMA (Chatham Emergency Management Agency), and the American Red Cross. Preparing both yourself and your family for emergencies and disasters takes only a little bit of your time, and should you ever find yourself in need, that time will have been well worth it.

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. 

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!

June
16

Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planing to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the Return on Investment, or, ROI

Home Renovations for Max ROI

Some Highlights

  • Whether you are selling your home, just purchased your first home or are a homeowner planning to stay put for a while, there is value in knowing which home improvement projects will net you the most Return On Investment (ROI).
  • Minor bathroom renovations can go a long way toward improving the quality of your everyday life and/or impressing potential buyers.
  • Upgrading your landscaping or curb appeal helps get buyers in the door. These upgrades rank as the 2nd and 4th renovations for returns on investment.

From KCM

March
19

Now's the Time!

Luxury Home

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! Recently, the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing released its Luxury Market Report which showed that in today's premium home market, buyers are in control.

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds the number of people searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer or can be found at a discount.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call their house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will help you come up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

A recent Bloomberg article gave some insight into what many millennials are choosing to do:

"A new generation of affluent homebuyers powered by a surge in inherited wealth is driving the luxury-home market, demanding larger spaces and fancier finishes, according to a report heralding 'the rise of the new aristocracy.'"

Bottom Line

The best time to sell anything is when demand is high, and supply is low. If you are currently in a starter or trade-up house that no longer fits your needs and you are looking to step into a luxury home, now's the time to list your house for sale and make your dreams come true.

Contact Cora Bett Thomas Realty Today!

March
5

housing

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon "spring forward!" Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn't happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows. Even with the recent increase in rates, buyers are still able to lock in an affordable monthly payment. Many more buyers are jumping off the fence and into the market to secure a lower rate.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2017 all fell in April, May, or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2018, let's get together to evaluate the opportunities in our market.

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. 

January
8

When to Go Beyond Your Budget

Determining Your Budget

As we've mentioned before, most homebuyers should be conservative when determining your budget. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. These exceptions include:

  • People who have stable employment and have a high probability of remaining stably employed, such as government workers;
  • People who know they will have a big increase in income due to something like a spouse returning to work, or an impending signing bonus/pay raise; and
  • People who are about to get a large amount of cash by selling off their liquid investments.

So, if you already have significant savings and you know your monthly income is going to remain stable and/or increase in the near future, then it is relatively safe for you to push to the high end of your mortgage budget. Of course, this is provided that you a) feel comfortable doing so, and b) you know that you still will have cash on hand every month to make your full mortgage payment. If you decide to push to the high end of your mortgage budget, then you should  make sure to stick to this new limit.

Some lenders will approve you for a mortgage that takes your debt-to-income ratio higher than 43% if they believe that you will be able to make your payments in full and on time. However, other lenders may deny you because they are not confident in your ability to fulfill your loan obligations. If you encounter such a situation, and a lender refuses to approve you for a loan, you may ask if you are "approve eligible." This term means that you are eligible for a loan based on your application, and if you can confirm that you are "approve eligible," then you may be able to find another lender to approve you for a loan. 

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