Hot Charleston, SC properties for April 14th
2009/04/14, 6:51 pm
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Stephen W. Truluck of Coppedge & Tison Commercial Real Estate represented JanPak Inc. of West Virginia in the 7 1/2-year lease of 22,825 square feet in McQueen Business Park in Summerville from Quattlebaum Development Co. LLC.


Here are some recently sold Charleston, …
2009/04/14, 4:56 pm
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Here are some recently sold Charleston, SC properties via Trulia,SC/2p_beds/2p_baths/SINGLE-FAMILY_HOME_type/150000-200000_price/1250p_sqft/

Re/Max removes its opposition to Rehava logo
2009/03/13, 7:33 pm
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Re/Max International has dropped its opposition to the trademark registration of Rehava, a real estate company that opened last year in North Charleston.

Denver-based Re/Max had filed opposition to the Rehava logo through an administrative process with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, saying the mark was similar to its own. In a statement released Thursday, Re/Max officials said public opinion and input from local Re/Max agents led to the decision.

“Re/Max International has always sought to protect its brand and logo in the name of all its franchisees and affiliates,” the company said in a statement. “In this case, local Re/Max broker-owners and affiliates felt that no conflict or threat existed. Considering their opinion and public response, Re/Max International decided that the best course of action was to drop opposition to the Rehava trademark.”

Related coverage:
Rehava to sell homes at Mixson neighborhood
Rehava ads spark ethics complaint

Re/Max officials filed a document Wednesday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to withdraw opposition to the trademark registration, officials said.

“Re/Max recognizes that real estate competition in Charleston will benefit the public interest of the entire community,” the statement said.

Rehava owner Steve deGuzman said he was ecstatic early Thursday morning when he found out about Re/Max’s decision, which he learned about via documents mailed overnight from the company.

“I was really happy that they were so professional in their diligence and follow-up,” deGuzman said.

DeGuzman said he was surprised at the public response to news reports on Re/Max’s opposition to his logo. Earlier this week, local news stories on the matter were picked up by blogs and media nationwide.

“I have never seen something take off so quickly,” deGuzman said. “It was obvious that it struck a chord. If this isn’t Web 2.0, I don’t know what is.”

Doug Kim, attorney for deGuzman, said it is rare to see a company opposing a trademark back off so quickly. The opposition notice was filed Feb. 18.

“This is a very unusual situation,” Kim said.

The logo issue was not the only controversy in which Rehava has been involved since opening last summer. Rehava also caused controversy among some local real estate agents with its recent advertising campaign suggesting that buyers “break up” with their real estate agents and switch to Rehava, which offers half of the agent’s commission as a rebate to the buyer.

Rehava to sell homes at Mixson neighborhood
2009/03/09, 8:10 pm
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The I’On Group decided this year to cease operations of I’On Group Realty to focus on its core mission, the company said. Rehava, the company selected to take over sales, opened last year with a business model different from that of most real estate firms. Since then, Rehava has been caught up in controversies over its advertising campaign and its logo.

Rehava, a local real estate firm that offers buyers half of its agents’ commissions, will take over sales from I’On Group Realty at the I’On Group’s Mixson development in North Charleston.

The I’On Group’s announcement comes about a week after the company said William Means Real Estate would take over sales at the I’On neighborhood in Mount Pleasant. The I’On Group decided this year to cease operations of I’On Group Realty to focus on its core mission, development and management of new urban neighborhoods, the company said.

Since opening last summer, North Charleston-based Rehava has sparked controversy among some local real estate agents because of a recent advertising campaign suggesting that buyers “break up” with their current real estate agents and switch to Rehava for the commission rebate.

Related story: Rehava ads spark ethics complaint.

Some agents said the ads violated the National Association of Realtors’ ethics code by interfering with agent-client relationships. Rehava owner Steve deGuzman has said he planned to take down the ads because of the controversy, though he maintains he did nothing wrong.


Rehava also is battling the international real estate firm Re/Max over its logo. According to documents filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Re/Max has appealed Rehava’s trademark application because it says the logo is too similar to its own.

imageThe company’s trademark appeal explains its opposition, beginning with the prefix “re” in Rehava, pronounced the same as in Re/Max. The vertical stroke on the logo’s “h” and the mark over the “e” could be visually perceived as similar to the slash in the Re/Max logo, the filing says.

The appeal goes on to say that the body of the “h” in Rehava is visually similar to the “m” in Re/Max and the next letter, an “a,” is the same in both logos. Also, the “v” in Rehava is visually similar to the “x” in Re/Max.

DeGuzman said he is fighting the appeal and is frustrated by the money the battle will cost him in legal fees. He does not understand how the logos are similar, he said.

“We went to great pains to be as different as we possibly could from anything in our industry, and I am just blown away,” deGuzman said.

The name “Rehava” came after deGuzman searched for a simple name for his new real estate venture, which he initially called Real Estate Store USA, he said. He wanted to find some combination of “real estate,” “reinvented” and “rebate.”

DeGuzman combined those words with the consonant sound of a Latin word meaning “to live,” he said.

Rehava filed its logo trademark application in March of 2008, deGuzman said. Notice of the opposition came late last year, he said.

Kerron Stokes, Re/Max regional vice president for the Carolinas region, said the Denver-based company has a contractual obligation to protect its offices and the brokers who have invested in its brand. Re/Max regularly appeals logos similar to its own in an effort to prevent confusion among consumers, he said.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Web site shows several other appeals that Re/Max has filed against companies with related names.

“We are continually looking and evaluating in all markets in our industry where those brands or distinctions might need to be clarified,” Stokes said.

The I’On Group said Rehava’s unique approach to real estate is a good fit for sales at Mixson, which the company calls a sustainable urban community. Mixson is located in the historic Park Circle neighborhood of North Charleston.

“Rehava engages buyers who are drawn to Mixson’s high-quality, low-maintenance lifestyle and its green, urbane feel,” said Alys Campaigne, spokeswoman for the I’On Group.

Construction at Mixson began in late 2007. Neighborhood plans call for 950 homes and a mix of shops, civic buildings and parks. So far, 18 homes have been completed.

Plan to buy foreclosures meets with criticism
2009/02/27, 9:29 pm
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Money not allocated equally, some say they are being shut out of process
The Associated Press
updated 7:41 p.m. ET, Mon., Feb. 23, 2009

IRMO, South Carolina – Tucked into the economic stimulus package signed by President Barack Obama last week was $2 billion to expand a nascent and controversial program to help U.S. cities and states buy and fix up foreclosed homes.

Last month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development signed off on hundreds of grants to all 50 states totaling almost $4 billion. The Neighborhood Stabilization Program, as it’s known, was passed last year as part of a housing rescue plan that was regarded at the time as the most significant housing legislation in a generation.

But critics have assailed the program for the lack of money it will send some hard-hit communities, a dearth of oversight and the discontent stirring among residents who want a say in what happens to their neighborhoods.

“What houses are gonna be involved? We still don’t know that and we’re a month away from the funds arriving,” said Mike Aaron, president of the Livingston Avenue Area Commission, a group in a foreclosure-ridden area of the Columbus, Ohio. “That’s what’s making us uneasy right now.”

The total amount coming into Ohio, for example, is $258 million, and Columbus is getting $23 million of that. Those figures do not include new money from the stimulus package and HUD has said it has not yet decided what the guidelines for the new grants will be.

Aaron said Columbus has rebuffed his group’s attempts to talk about the best ways to use money, which has already been awarded to the state.

“We need to be involved in the process,” said Aaron, who is pressing for an oversight board comprised of city officials and residents.

And then there’s back biting about who gets how much.

The first round money is being divvied up based on the number and percentage of foreclosures, number and percentage of homeowners behind on their mortgages, and the concentration of subprime mortgages.

While the formula sounds fair, some of the results aren’t. California and Florida are both getting more than $500 million in federal help, even though California has 500,000 foreclosures — around twice the number as Florida.

Vermont, meanwhile, is getting the minimum of $20 million, even though the state had less than 150 foreclosures last year and the lowest foreclosure rate in the U.S., according to RealtyTrac Inc.

Some city and county officials are also questioning the government’s math.

Almost one in 10 houses in Merced County, California, are in foreclosure, one of the highest rates in the U.S. Yet the county will get just $2 million of the money going to California.

The city, which has a foreclosure rate of 12 percent, will get just $1.4 million.

Economists say lenders will surely benefit from the plan, though it doesn’t include enough money to be considered a significant backdoor bailout for banks.

“In terms of bailing out lenders it’s hardly the biggest thing out there but surely there will be cases where the land purchases will be in least in part to help politically connected lenders,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a Washington-based thinktank.

In many cases, government officials plan to dole out the money to nonprofit organizations and smaller government entities that will purchase homes.


Critics and local housing officials are shaking their heads over the carte blanche grantees have in how they spend the federal funds. One South Carolina county said it would consider proposals to put homeless or HIV/AIDS patients in foreclosed homes eligible for the grant, while officials in Florida’s Miami-Dade County said they plan to snap up foreclosed apartments with grant money despite staunch public comment against it.

Many of the proposals called for renting out the homes to low- to moderate- income families.

On the streets of neighborhoods pockmarked with vacant houses, many residents said they’d welcome new neighbors no matter how they got into the homes.

“I would want to put somebody in it, whether they’re renting it or not. That’s a house that somebody could be in,” said Cheryl Poole, a 51-year-old Irmo resident worried about home values and the empty house across the street from her one-story ranch.

On the other extreme is Debra Oakley, a 55-year-old woman who said she isn’t so sure she wants a new neighbor.

The two houses to the left of her home are vacant, including one that nonprofits are being encouraged to buy using stabilization grant money.

“I’ve often wondered about what kind of people would move over there,” said Oakley. “I like it just like that: vacant.”

Susan Popkin, a researcher at the nonprofit Urban Institute, said many homeowners have grave concerns about their changing neighborhoods and how that might affect their already declining property values.

In major cities nationwide, tensions have risen recently as federally subsidized renters move from housing projects and violence-ridden neighborhoods to nicer communities in suburban areas.

“The fear is real. The reality isn’t,” Popkin said. “The thing they’re anxious about is what’s already happening in their neighborhoods.”

That’s true in Columbus, Ohio, where 84-year-old Walt McKinley said he’d welcome any help to rescue their neighborhoods.

McKinley, who lives in the city’s downtrodden Linden neighborhood, said he worries the spread of foreclosures in his neighborhood will drive up crime and wants the city to use the grant to demolish the house next door to his, which has been vacant since it was foreclosed upon and the owners abandoned it over the summer.

“I told ’em at work that if possible, I would even drive a bulldozer myself and bulldoze it,” McKinley said. “I would be happy to.”

But critics say there’s no guarantees that McKinley’s neighborhood or other hard-hit communities will benefit from the grants. No one is tracking just how the money will be spent and grantees have been tightlipped on their plans.

HUD will monitor how states and cities spend neighborhood stabilization money, but leave it to local governments to monitor how passthrough grants are used by nonprofits and other, smaller government groups.

Many Republicans opposed the first round of stabilization grants and don’t want to increase the program. They say additional money will just give more slush funds to disreputable nonprofit groups.

“Instead of trying to work out troubles in the existing funds, we’re basically doubling the size of the program and potentially doubling the size of the problem,” said Frederick Hill, spokesman for the Republican Oversight and Government Reform Committee, about the House of Representatives’ plan to double neighborhood stabilization grant money.

Some economists also have expressed concerns over a lack of oversight.

“The record of housing authorities are not very good. It’s certainly reasonable to be concerned that the money will end up going to politically connected lenders and developers and not do very much for communities,” Baker said.