Wachovia building sold for little more t…
2009/04/15, 2:28 pm
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Wachovia building sold for little more than its price in 2000

A New York-based firm has sold the Wachovia building at the corner of Meeting and Market streets to Jupiter Holdings for just a smidgen more than its 2000 selling price, The Post and Courier reports.

Terms of UseHead over to The paper for details about the sale.

The sale includes the newer 177 Meeting Street (across from the Charleston Place), and the historic 175 Meeting Street (which is home to a cigar shop, bar, and restaurant).


College of Charleston develops more specific housing index
2009/04/14, 12:25 pm
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The College of Charleston has found a new way to estimate Charleston area home values, which could help the local business community figure out how severely the recession has put a damper on local real estate prices.

The College of Charleston Home Value Index, which will be unveiled tonight, is meant to provide an objective look at how home prices fluctuate from month to month throughout the region, said Tim Allen, director of the college’s Carter Real Estate Center.

Allen, who hopes to start forecasting home prices by June, plans to release the monthly home price index on the same day that the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors releases its statistics. He’ll also release quarterly estimates of home values by region.

“This home value index provides a more statistically rigorous set of home value trends than what’s currently available,” he said.

The local real estate association releases the median sales price for all homes that sold during a given month, creating a trend line for home values. But that method doesn’t take into account the fact that each pool of sold homes has different characteristics.

“The median prices (methodology) ignores the fact that different homes sell from period to period,” Allen said.

Other groups have developed alternative ways to measure housing values. The Case-Shiller index, for example, is best known for its monthly report on how national housing prices change in the top 20 metropolitan areas.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which owns mortgage insurance giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, also keeps a price index based on the purchase price of homes that were guaranteed by the two groups.

Allen’s model is different.

For every month starting in 1989, he plugged in information about every Charleston-area home sale, including its price and 60 factors — from the number of bedrooms to ceiling height to location. His program then gives a value to each of those features.

So based on the batches of data entered into the system, Allen will ask for the price of an imaginary home that has specific features. The price of that fictitious home pulled each month generates the housing price index’s trend line.

The housing index isn’t meant for homeowners who want to figure out their own property’s worth, Allen said. Instead, it’s supposed to help consumers understand the latest market trends and provide more data to the business community.

“If it helps somebody make a better decision, I’m fine with that,” said Gettys Glaze, an agent with Coldwell Banker United who also is president of the Realtors association’s Multiple Listing Service. “The consumer needs to be educated on what’s going on so sellers can price their homes correctly and we can get some inventory off the market.”

Planning Commission rejects Johns Island rezoning request
2009/04/14, 12:16 pm
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A proposal to build 73 homes on a large Johns Island property, rather than the maximum of 14 homes allowed by zoning rules, was rejected Monday evening by the Charleston County Planning Commission.

The commission recommended denying the zoning change requested by the developer, Canal Land & Timber LLC, but the final decision will be up to County Council in the coming months.

Opponents of the Saltpond Pointe development far outnumbered supporters at the Planning Commission meeting, prompting Jonathan Yates, an attorney for the developer, to say the issue shouldn’t become a popularity contest.

Yates said all the properties surrounding his client’s 118-acre tract on Chisolm Road have zoning that allows at least one house per acre, rather than the 8 acres per house required on his client’s land.

Several neighbors of the property spoke in favor of the plan, while nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition.

A zoning change can make a property more valuable, by allowing more intense development, and some opponents said granting a zoning change for Saltpond Pointe would encourage more developers to seek similar treatment.

“It’s a beautiful plan, but it belongs west of the Ashley, and not on Johns Island,” Planning Commissioner Charlie Smith said.

The county planning staff recommended against the zoning change, noting that the property is outside the county’s “urban growth boundary” that marks the end of suburban-style development and that the proposed development would conflict with the county’s comprehensive plan for growth.

The city of Charleston and the Coastal Conservation League also opposed the rezoning. City Planning Division Director Christopher Morgan said Charleston has rejected five or six requests to annex the property and change the zoning.

The county Planning Commission voted 6-1-1 against the rezoning, with Commissioner Paul Speights voting against the majority and Commissioner Jerome Murray abstaining because he said he couldn’t make up his mind.

Commissioner Samuella Holmes was absent from the meeting.

County Council will take up the issue at a public hearing May 5.

Carter Real Estate Center Releases New H…
2009/04/13, 7:20 pm
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Carter Real Estate Center Releases New Home Value Index

The Carter Real Estate Center at the College of Charleston is hosting a reception Tuesday called “Twenty Years of Charleston Home Values: Trends and Forecast.”

The event starts at 6 p.m. in the Wachovia Auditorium, located in the Beatty Center for the School of Business and Economics at 5 Liberty St. The Post and Courier is sponsoring the welcome reception.

At the event, the center’s director, Tim Allen, will explain the new home value index, a statistically rigorous measure of home value trends in the tri-county region. The index will be updated on the 10th of each month and will serve as a supplement to the monthly sales and median price figures released by the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.

The index was developed by Allen in cooperation with the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Home sales tick upward in March Tri-cou…
2009/04/13, 7:07 pm
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Home sales tick upward in March

Tri-county home sales ticked upward in March, and a new batch of first-time homebuyers indicates “consumer confidence is on the rise,” said Gettys Glaze, president of the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service.

Last month, 568 homes closed in the region, compared with 363 in February, for a 37% increase.

The median sales price also increased 3% compared to February to $185,000 in March.

The Charleston Trident Association of Realtors released its monthly housing report Friday, saying the numbers have led to “cautious optimism among industry leaders.”

“People are realizing the incredible selection and value in this market and making the smart decision to invest in real property,” Glaze said.

But sales are still down considerably from the same period a year ago. In March 2008, 752 homes sold, compared with the 568 last month. And the median price of homes a year ago was $197,500.

Charleston County sales led the pack last Month, with 288 homes sold in March, compared with 180 sales in February. Most of the market activity was concentrated in the northern portion of Mount Pleasant, which includes the Park West development. The area saw 52 sales and a median price of $321,250.

In Dorchester County, 112 closings were recorded last month. Nearly half of the county’s activity was in the Ridgeville area, where a total of 50 sales closed with a median price of $171,300.

Sales increased 32% in Berkeley County in March, with 137 closings at a median price of $165,000. The majority of those sales were concentrated in the Goose Creek area near U.S. Highway 52 and Oakley Road.