Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bluffton a "State of Mind" !!

What is the character of Bluffton? That is what the town has been trying to wrestle with over the past few years. A number of years ago we would see bumper stickers proclaiming Bluffton "State of Mind", and I for one was never sure what that state of mind was. The characters that I knew in Bluffton often had altered state's of mind!! I don't think that is what they had in mind when they made the bumper stickers.

These bumper stickers were all over the place in the early 80's. While at USC there was one Irmo "State of Mind" Irmo is a little town near Lake Norman outside of Columbia, very similar to Bluffton.

Both towns had a mix of eclectic characters ranging from the very wealthy to homeless. You might see the two of them having coffee together, it made no difference where you were in life's cycle. That State of Mind is still in Bluffton, but in 2008 almost 30 years later, it is being commercialized and the town is trying to define it.

So, what is the Bluffton Character? Their is no one answer, but I am sure that the Boudreaux Group will be able to help establish the essence of what is needed today in Bluffton. The residents of Bluffton will need to understand that it is going to cost money to transform the town into the new image that they want. It is not the developers responsibility to foot every brick that residents want to see. Obviously, the developers will need to pay their fair and proportionate share of impact fees, but to revitalize the Historic District to a new image is not the developers responsibility.

The town should have implemented a TIFF program a number of years ago to revitalize the down town area, or implemented a hospitality sales tax or other means to pay for the new "State of Mind"

I for one am understanding and look forward to what becomes of the new character for Bluffton.

Property of Charlie B Fraser 2008
Below is the article from the Island Packet

Draft report on Bluffton's 'character' expected in mid-December
By RENEE DUDLEYrdudley@islandpacket.com843-706-8138
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008

With two hearings Tuesday, Bluffton residents had their final public opportunity to help define the elusive characteristics that make the town unique.
For several months, the town's planning department has held consultant-led workshops to gather opinions on what development should look like as the town continues to expand.
In the past, officials from the Historic Preservation Commission -- the group that approves new development in old town -- and from the Planning Commission have told builders that their structures must have "Bluffton character." Often, those officials are unable to specifically define the term. It is that lack of clarity that leaves developers frustrated.
Now, the Boudreaux Group, led by consultant Irene Tyson, will compile a report based on all the comments from a series of three meetings about town character. Two of those meetings were held Tuesday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Town officials could use the report to point to examples of acceptable
architecture in new developments.
Some attendees at Tuesday's
afternoon session said they were concerned the town might try to enforce a rigid set of guidelines that would limit the diversity of new construction.
As Tyson showed the group pictures of "acceptable" examples of Bluffton character submitted by staff and
residents, those in attendance, including Wallace Milling of the Historic Preservation Commission, said not every new structure needs to resemble a Calhoun Street cottage.
Others agreed, saying Bluffton's old town character includes a mix of residential and commercial uses, and its architecture includes a variety of styles and materials.
Many in the group, which included several architects, said they wanted to see "timeless" architecture and the addition of high-quality parks.
They said they don't want the town to be "overly-landscaped." They also said they don't want to see architectural elements, such as dormers and false shutters, added to buildings just because they're perceived to be Bluffton's style.
The draft report, which will include photographs, will be presented to the town by mid-December, Tyson said. The final report will be completed by the end of January, she said.
The town is paying Tyson's group about $18,200 to lead the study.

What's with Beaufort County !

I'm not one to believe in conspiracies, but it it is getting ridiculous what Beaufort County has been doing to the Roller family. Today I read that the county had a judge put a cease and hold on paving their parking lot. Hence Sea Trawlers restaurant cannot open, because they cannot get a Certificate of Occupancy until their parking lot is completed.

Apparently Mr. Roller paved a strip of land that has been in dispute with the county over ownership. Mr. Roller contends he owns the land where the Buckingham landing is and the county thinks they own it. The case will be heard in January and the judge has ruled that Mr. Roller cannot do any paving until that suit is settled.

Why keep him from finishing his parking lot? Why is the county fighting tooth and nail every step of the way on this project? The county planners are mad that Mr. Roller was able to build the restaurant, and have done everything they can to make him pay. If this is not a conspiracy then I don't know what is.

The county needs to be held accountable to their actions and conduct. We are the citizens of this county and the county government works for us, they are not supposed to work against us. The project was approved, and all the necessary permits, etc have been paid. So why is the county still charging up the hill to try and block this project?

I for one am looking forward to being able to take my boat over for lunch or diner. I personally think the restaurant will be a plus for the neighborhood. It is not going to undermine the prices of Buckingham Landing. When will people see that commercial and residential zoning mixed together are good for the overall neighborhood.

Call your County Representative and tell them you are opposed to this kind of abuse by county staff.
Property of Charlie B Fraser 2008

Below is the article from the Island Packet
County order halts paving work at Sea Trawler Restaurant
By MICHAEL WELLES SHAPIROmshapiro@islandpacket.com843-706-8142
Published Wednesday, November 12, 2008
The chef at the future Sea Trawler Restaurant at Buckingham Landing said he's stopped trying to predict when the seafood restaurant along Mackays Creek will open. A series of delays and legal disputes with Beaufort County have made previous guesses that it would open in July of this year wrong.
"I play tennis on Hilton Head, and everybody's always asking me when's it going to open," Chef Stephen Carmines said Tuesday, standing outside the pagoda-shaped restaurant near the bridges to Hilton Head Island.
But with legal disputes between restaurant owner Wilbert Roller Jr. and Beaufort County still under way,
Carmines is not making any more statements about opening dates.
In the latest legal dustup, the county got a court order Oct. 29 to stop Roller from paving the Buckingham Landing Boat Landing. Roller paved an asphalt strip on the landing, the width of a car, while paving the parking lot.
The county and Roller both claim ownership of the boat landing. County codes enforcement officer Audra Antonacci said a circuit court judge ruled that paving had to stop until the court determines ownership. That hearing is scheduled for January.
Roller and the county also are suing over two other issues:
• Roller alleges he's been treated unfairly by the county's zoning office while trying to get his restaurant off the ground.
• The county is challenging Roller's right to build a 350-foot dock off his property into Mackays Creek.
Meanwhile, Carmines, the brother of Hudson's on the Docks Seafood restaurant owner Brian Carmines, said he's eager to start serving patrons and said the restaurant will be a boon to the area during a tough economy by creating jobs and increasing business for the local seafood industry.
As much as possible, Carmines said, "we're going to serve local shrimp, local oysters and local fish."
That eat-local approach combined with the restaurant's waterfront view could bring success even as many restaurants are struggling, said Anne-Marie Adams-Arrington, executive director of the Hilton Head Area Hospitality Association.
"Their location's going to be a big positive for them," she said.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Here's a Classic Case of the TIME LINE !!

The process for a new development n Beaufort County can takes years to get a project form concept to starting on the actual development. Below are a few articles from the Island Packet reporting the news of just one recent project. Okatie Village. However it does not go into the time and money it took the developers to just get to this stag. The developer had to hire land planners, engineers, environmental consultants to assess wetlands, consult with the Core of Engineers, DHEC, Beaufort County, OCREM, Fire Department, School District and many other government agencies. They would come up with a conceptual idea review it with numerous agencies and then change it based on comments, review again, change based on comments, and change the concept again. The government agencies will not say exactly what they would approve but only what they would like to see. A lot times what they want to see and what the market would buy are not always the same. It is true with the developers, what they think is happening with the market and what is happening by the time they start building could have changed in two years. We are certainly in such a situation now. Our market has slowed down because of a lot of reason, harder to finance, less people moving to the area because their home is not selling, how much they can spend on a new home today has gone down, fortunately for them so have our prices.

So what does this mean for you and me. We as citizens of Beaufort County need to make sure that our local government is looking out for us. We cannot buy up all of the undeveloped land in Beaufort County so we need to make sure what is developed is done in an environmentally sensitive way with the least amount impact on the environment. Less density, more runoff retention, natural filtration in the runoff ponds IE: hire biologist to recommend what kind of natural fish, plant vegetation, and other means will filtrate the water best before it goes into our swamps and rivers. Do not allow clear cutting, require that lots keep the trees that are currently on the property and do your best to build to lot. The constituents of Beaufort County need to make sure our local governments are doing the over site work necessary to make sure the developments are being built correctly. Be a good neighbor and keep your eyes on what is going on.

A better Beaufort County only means a better place for us to all live and the "Lifestyle" is what we have to sell. So lets keep it that way.

Charlie Fraser
Property of and all rights belong to Charlie B. Fraser

County requires developer to make sure all workers are legal
Published Tuesday, September 9, 2008
For the first time, Beaufort County is requiring developers to verify that all workers on a job site are legal as a condition of getting the go-ahead on a project.
County Council on Monday injected the issue of workers' immigration status into agreements with the two developers of the proposed 1,252-home Okatie Village community on S.C. 170. The developers, Hilton Head Island's Jim Robinson and La Casa Real Estate Development, agreed to the requirement.
Several immigration attorneys in the state, county officials and a spokeswoman for the state Chamber of Commerce said the provision is a first in South Carolina.
However, a local attorney said the agreement could be vulnerable to legal challenges.
Council members insisted on the language during negotiations regarding Okatie Village as one of the concessions the developers had to make in exchange for getting permission to build more homes and retail space than is allowable under county zoning rules. Three separate agreements with the same language on worker verification were approved Thursday by the council's Land Management Committee. Those three agreements were approved by the council Monday on the first of three required readings.
"Verification of status may be demanded on the site at any time" by the developers of the property, as well as the county, the agreements states.
The agreements also require "contractors and subcontractors to sign sworn affidavits that all workers in their employ have been verified as to legal status ... "
County administrator Gary Kubic explained the reasoning behind the requirement, saying, "A lot of the situations involving illegal workers are in the residential housing industry. That's why the provision is in there."
Traditionally, verifying the status of workers has been left to employers and federal immigration authorities. Hilton Head immigration attorney Melissa Azallion of Nexsen Pruet Adams Kleemeier said allowing a developer to check the status of workers employed by a construction company is "legally problematic" and raises privacy and discrimination issues.
Kubic said the county's legal representative, McNair Law Firm is still reviewing the development agreements and will weigh in on the legality of the provision by the council's next vote on Okatie Village, which is scheduled for Sept. 22.
Kubic said he has no problem with the county being on the front line of the immigration debate going on in the state. The county has also made waves with a program that audits businesses for federally-required immigration documents.
"We like to consider ourselves in Beaufort County as being on the cutting edge."

Okatie Village developers agree to pay county $10.7 million
Published Friday, September 5, 2008
BLUFFTON -- Developers of a 1,252-home community on S.C. 170 have agreed to pay $10.7 million in fees to Beaufort County.
On Thursday, the County Council's Land Management Committee voted 6-1 to recommend the full council approve the development agreements for Okatie Village.
Basically, a development agreement is a concession from both sides. In this case, the two developers -- Hilton Head Island's Jim Robinson and LaCasa
Real Estate Development -- wanted to build more homes and
commercial property than were allowed under county rules.
To do that, they agreed to give the county $6.7 million for public school construction and an additional $4 million to be used by the county for other costs.
Committee chairman Skeet Von Harten said at least
$1.85 million of the $4 million will go toward road improvements along S.C. 170, since Okatie Village residents would contribute to the increased traffic and
deterioration of the highway.
The developers also agreed to set aside 32 homes and 34 apartments at affordable housing rates, which are set by the federal government. The cheapest of those homes would go for $185,000.
The developers also will allow Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity to build homes on three lots and provide an acre to the county for what will be a public safety building and possibly a fire station at Okatie Village, and a right-of-way that would allow for the widening of S.C. 170
Von Harten, who also sat on a three-person county subcommittee which negotiated the agreements, spoke out strongly in favor of the planned
He called the deal a good one, saying the county had gotten serious concessions from the developer.
"If I were on the side of the (developer) I would have tried to get away with doing less."
He also cited the fast pace of growth of nearby Hardeeville, which has been annexing land at a steady clip in recent months, some of it in Beaufort County.
Okatie Village would include shopping and a grocery store. Robinson has promoted the village as a new type of development that takes cars off the road, promotes walking and biking and is eco-friendly.
In that vein, the developers agreed to extend water and sewer lines to neighbors along nearby Cherry Point Road, a number of whom oppose the Okatie Village plans.
Councilwoman Laura Von Harten, who is not a committee member but attended the meeting, said, "I know this is going to be difficult for some of the local residents to stomach. But we're going to have to make room for folks coming to Beaufort County, and the best way to do that is through orderly planning."
Steve Baer, the lone vote against the agreements, said he took exception to the increased density. The properties, currently zoned to allow for one home per 3 acres, would have 4.4 homes to the acre under the developers' proposals.
"What we're really doing is creating Okatie City along S.C. 170 ... or Bluffton 2, or whatever you want to call it."

Okatie Village wins initial approval
Published Thursday, June 26, 2008
Reversing a stance it took in March, the Beaufort County Planning Commission on Wednesday gave the thumbs up to a proposed Okatie development that would add 1,252 homes to the area.
The commission's 4-to-2 vote means plans for Okatie Village, a mixed-use project along S.C. 170, will come to the Beaufort County Council with a positive recommendation. A firm date for council consideration hasn't been set.
Because of the strain the development could place on the highway and on local public schools, the commission also recommended County Council require the developer to pay fees to cover those costs before giving the project a final go-ahead.
"I need to be made comfortable on the schools. I need to be made comfortable on the road," said commission chairman Jim Hicks, who voted for the proposal.
For one member of the council, location was a sticking point.
"Rural land south of the Broad (River) is kind of like lips on a chicken; it's very hard to find," said Chechessee commissioner Parker Sutler.
Sutler voted against the proposal, pointing out that the vast majority of southern Beaufort County already is developed.
The other vote against the project came from commissioner Brian Flewelling, who on Tuesday won the GOP's nomination for the council seat held by Skeet Von Harten. Flewelling said the county is still catching up to several years of explosive growth that have boosted county infrastructure costs.
The commission normally would vote only once on a development proposal. After the March vote, County Council wanted the panel to review a study presented by the developers that showed it would have a more positive financial impact than county projections suggested.
Developers have promoted the project as a new approach to growth in the county. Neighbors, they say, could shop at a new grocery store, children could walk to nearby Okatie Elementary School and some residents could work at the businesses that would rise in the community.
Several residents from nearby Cherry Point Road, who have persistently trekked to Beaufort for meetings on Okatie Village, did so again Wednesday to ask that the land remain rural.
After the vote, resident Cathy Scott said she'd continue to lobby against the project when it moves to the
County Council's land management committee.
"We don't give up that lightly," Scott said.

More talks set on proposed Okatie development
Published Friday, July 25, 2008
After a two-hour discussion Thursday about a 1,252-home development along S.C. 170 at Okatie, it became clear that more discussion was needed.
Developers of Okatie Village met with a Beaufort County Council subcommittee to hammer out details on issues ranging from school impact fees to how much should be shelled out for widening S.C. 170.
At the end of the meeting of the Development Agreement Subcommittee, all that was certain was that an agreement would be drafted for each of the three parcels in the development -- Okatie Marsh, Osprey Point and River Oaks -- and that the developers and their attorneys would submit draft agreements within 10 days, if possible, to county staff.
One issue was what fees will be paid to the Beaufort County School District. The county is asking for $6,000 per home and $2.50 per square foot of commercial development. The developers' attorneys, Lewis Hammet for River Oaks and Osprey Point and Roberts Vaux for Okatie Marsh, said that fee is too high.
Hammet said the $6,000 figure was reached by the school district at the height of its growth in 2005 and 2006, growth that has fallen off in recent years.
Committee members Skeet Von Harten, Paul Sommerville and Jerry Stewart didn't give their opinions on the fees. Instead, Von Harten told the developers to
include their preferred number in the draft agreements.
The county also has said the developments should pay about $2.3 million to help offset the costs of widening part of S.C. 170. The developers' attorneys said their share of that project should be $1.8 million.
"There's only so many dollars to go around," Vaux said.
Such fees could make some of the homes designated as affordable housing too expensive because the costs would be passed on to property owners, the developers said.
None of the negotiations on Thursday was an endorsement of the project, committee members said. Developer agreements need to be reached so the council can have full information when voting on whether to rezone the area to a planned unit development.
While developers have promoted the project as a place where people can live, work and shop, several nearby residents have lobbied against it, stressing the need to keep the land rural.
The controversial development was rejected at Beaufort County Planning Commission in March before earning a thumbs-up in a new vote in June.
Bluffton sees future in proposed "green" community
Published Monday, September 8, 2008

When Hilton Head Island was first being developed more than 40 years ago, planners in communities like Sea Pines paid close attention to the impact construction had on the environment.
Planners wanted to maintain a natural setting by building around stately trees and fragile wetlands. Homes were designed to blend into the natural setting.
But as more developers came to the island -- and later, to Bluffton -- that philosophy started to fade, some planners have said.
Now, with a certified "green" community likely coming to Bluffton, those original guiding principles may be making a comeback.
Developers of Garvey Preserve, which has received Bluffton Planning Commission approval and a preliminary OK from the Town Council, plan to build 68 homes on 98 acres using closely monitored, environmental standards.
The council will likely give its
final approval later this month to
annex and zone those 98 acres, west of S.C. 46 and S.C. 170 along the New River.
If that approval is granted, Garvey Preserve would become the first community of its kind in South Carolina -- a community former planning commission chairman Don Blair hopes will become a model for the county and the state.
"You can say, 'it's farmland, it's already green,' " said Blair, who still serves on the commission. "But development is going to happen in response to demand. People want to move here. We can't shut the door, obviously. We can try to make the quality of development as high as we possibly can in response to those people's needs."
The project would require third-party certification that each step of the development process is completed according to standards for protecting the environment in a coastal
Each criterion earns points for the project from the EarthCraft Communities Program. The project must earn a minimum number of points to be certified as green.
For example, the site is graded on its proximity to public transportation and bike paths. It would receive points for being connected to public sewers rather than septic systems, for adhering to strict stormwater guidelines and for availability to parks. Points are also earned for preserving trees, minimizing street width and public parking, and maximizing open space, among other things.
Truitt Rabun Jr., a landscape architect involved in the project, said Garvey Preserve already meets the numbers required for certification.
Current Beaufort County zoning of the site allows 39 homes to be built on the land; plans for Garvey Preserve call for 68.
The developer, Quinnco Companies, originally asked Bluffton in December to annex the land and zone it to allow
92 residential lots.
Since that December request, Quinnco has overhauled plans for the site -- designs that members of planning staffs from Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County have approved of in letters sent to Bluffton staff. Both the island and the county were notified of Quinnco's plans as a courtesy. Jasper County
officials were also notified of the plans, but it is unclear if officials there have responded.
Plans now call for the homes to be built in clusters to allow more open space, Rabun said. Quinnco still would be allowed to build more houses in Bluffton than it would have as a part of the county. Blair said after a recent planning commission meeting that the increase in density is justified because of the green building approach.
He also said Bluffton's planning staff would accompany third-party inspectors to periodically review the development process.
Certified green homes cost an average of 5 to 7 percent more to build, according to national estimates. It is not clear how much homes in Garvey Preserve will cost. Its development plan allows it to be a gated community, but it is also unclear if it will be.

Comments property of Charlie Fraser

The above article was in the Island Packet in September. I want to applaud the developers for wanting to use good land planning practices for new developments in the Bluffton area.

I just hope they do not fall in the same category as the large "Track Builders" and come in and clear entire areas to build and then plant a few trees and grow some grass.

The City of Bluffton needs to make sure they are doing all that they can to control and supervise the new developments coming along in Bluffton to make sure they are environmentally sensitive. The better job they do in approval and over site the nicer Bluffton will be for us all.

Citizens of Bluffton need to get and be diligent in making sure the developers do what they say they intended to do.

The City of Bluffton has benefited from the good developers who have the foresight to hire the best land planners, engineers and builders. John Reed and his team have done an excellent job in the communities they have developed.

So make your voice heard and make sure the City follows through with the over site.

Charlie Fraser BIC

cell . 843.290.0807
office . 843.671.3312

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Coastal Insurance Markets Improving, State Insurance Chief Says


Living along the coast we are constantly concerned about Hurricanes, heavy rains, afternoon thunder squalls with 60 mph winds, lighting, and many other disasters that nature throws at us. The last few years we have had some very severe hurricanes make landfall in heavily populated areas, most notably, Hurricane Katrina that nearly destroyed New Orleans and surrounding communities. Some of the smaller communities still have not rebuilt. Florida felt the wrath of three different hurricanes in one season. Some people are still fighting with their insurance companies, or were sadly made aware that the insurance they had was not satisfactory to rebuilding their home or business. We all pay insurance and expect that one day when we need it the insurance company will be there to help us. Unfortunately we forget that insurance companies are in the business of making money and they don’t like to pay out, and will fight tooth and nail to payout. It’s like the TV commercial that depicts a guy checking his insurance policy and finding out the insurance only covers if a ficus tree were to fall on his car.

We have been very lucky living on Hilton Head. The last hurricane to come through here was Hurricane David in 1979 and it was barely a Category 1 storm. However the insurance companies have penalized us because of their losses in other areas. Our insurance rates have tripled over the past few years. We have to carry flood insurance and wind and hail. The wind and hail insurance is what has gone up dramatically.

As a local Realtor selling resort & residential properties it has not been a good thing. Regime fees for condominiums has risen dramatically primarily due to insurance rates. Insurance companies realized that the condominium market was not a good market. There are numerous companies that will not even issue insurance. The state of South Carolina has tried to improve this situation and passed some laws two years ago to address the problems.
It was good news to see that we may have a chance to see our rates come down, as indicated in the article from the island Packet below. copyright@ charlie b fraser

by Charlie B Fraser

By JIM FABERjfaber@islandpacket.com843-706-8137
Published Friday, August 29, 2008The coastal insurance market has loosened up in the past two years as more companies write policies here and prices on some coverage has fallen, insurance experts told a crowd of homebuilders and real estate professionals on Hilton Head Island on Thursday night. State Insurance Commissioner Scott Richardson, a former state senator from the island, said 12 new insurance companies have entered the state since he took over as commissioner in 2007. Another three are expected to enter in the next 90 days, he said.
Insurance prices for condominium buildings have fallen as much as 50 to 60 percent along the coast in that time, Richardson said. But that trend could come to a crashing halt if a powerful storm makes landfall this year -- a storm like Tropical Storm Gustav might become.
"We are rated (for cost) based on our (state) experience," Richardson said, "but don't think the big picture isn't part of it."

That means a significant strike anywhere would bring higher rates here, especially through increases in the cost of reinsurance -- insurance for insurance companies. "If Gustav gets all whipped up and hits Louisiana for another $40 billion, don't think your condo premiums aren't going up, because they are," Richardson said. But, barring Gustav or Hanna, which formed in the Atlantic on Thursday, storming ashore, things are getting better for coastal homeowners, although prices aren't likely to return to pre-Katrina levels.

For one thing, insurance companies have modernized in the past decade so they know exactly what and where they are insuring. In the 1990s, Peter Sparks, one of the panelists and a professor emeritus of civil engineering at Clemson University, worked with an insurance company that thought it was grossly overexposed in a single Miami zip code. It turned out that zip code was a bank of post office boxes. The insurance company didn't even know where all the insured property was, Sparks said. Today, that lack of basic knowledge is long gone, he said.
When asked the best way to hurricane-proof a home, Sparks offered some pragmatic advice.
"The best thing I can tell you in terms of mitigation is move inland," Sparks said to the crowd at the Country Club of Hilton Head. For those unwilling to forego ocean views, Sparks urged sealing up the exterior of the home with improved windows, doors, shutters, shingles and the like. Those improvements are among the most affordable and effective, he said. They also can earn savings on insurance premiums.

In terms of new insurers doing business in South Carolina, they're needed because some of the biggest insurers in the state still aren't writing policies in coastal areas, said Bill Fuge, property and casualty manager of Kinghorn Insurance Services' Hilton Head office. " Allstate has not written a new piece of business in two years (in Bluffton)," Fuge said. "They feel it's too close to the coast." Allstate isn't alone in that decision. Many of the brand-name insurance carriers have stopped writing wind and hail coverage in Bluffton, something that used to be automatic, Fuge said. But, some of the newer companies like Universal Insurance Holdings are writing coverage for wind and hail damage at "phenomenal rates," Fuge said.

Although insurance costs can surprise some potential real estate buyers here, it isn't stopping individual sales. "I can't specifically say I've seen the cost of insurance kill a deal," said Gerry Prud'homme, a broker with Carolina Realty Group and a panelist.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Shout it From the Roof Tops ..... We Have Hit Bottom !!

Why is it a good time to buy? All real estate transaction are based on location,location, and location. Every location is going to have a different scenario of events effecting the market. Sea Pines Resort has a diversified market from multi-million dollar oceanfront homes to smaller residential homes. Sea Pines also offers a variety of villas or as some people like to call condominiums. We prefer villas, and their are definitions differences. Their are three villa complexes in Sea Pines that represent the market quite well.

Beachside Tennis; they are located on the ocean and near the South Beach marina complex. They are nice size (2) bedroom (2) bath villas. A swimming pool is located on the property and the POA does a good job of taking care of the property.
Bluff Villas; they are also located near the South Beach Marina Village. There are efficiencies, (1) bedroom, (2) bedroom & (3) bedroom villas. I use the (2) bedroom villas in my comparison of market conditions. Bluff Villas are located near the beach and are an entry level villa for Sea Pines.
Plantation Club Villas; they are located on the ocean side of the Harbour Town corridor. It's a good location for the beach, Harbour Town and golf and tennis. This villa complex offers (2) bedroom flats or (3) bedroom townhomes. I used the (2) bedroom flats for my market analysis.

The Sea Pines master plan has clusters of resort activity around South Beach and the Harbour Town Beach Club corridor. Meandering around these areas are residential neighborhoods, some high end homes, and others at entry level prices for Hilton Head.

So why is it a good time to buy? If you wait for someone to tell you we have hit the bottom then it it is to late, prices have begun to go up. We experienced a fairly consistent appreciation of around 8.5% between 1999 and 2003. In 2003 to 2005 we had a 21% jump in the average price of the (3) villa complexes. Since 2005 the price has dropped of 14%. If you were to chart a time line of 8.5% growth since 1999 we would be in line with the current average list price in 2008. In other words we have hit bottom but no one is willing to shout it from the roof tops.

Don't wait for the prices to go up again, and remeber that real estate is a long term investment. If you had bought a Bluff Villa in 2002 and sold it in 2007 you would of had a capital gain of $168,600. If you had a magic crystal ball and sold it in 2005 it would have been higher, but the point is real estate is a long term investment.

The graph below illustrates the sales of the three villa complexes, Average Sales of the Three & the 8.5% growth .

These percentages are not necessary reflective of all the different market segments on Hilton Head, but they are a good barometer. So don't wait on someone to tell you it is time to buy, because it is time to buy.

Charlie B. Fraser is President of the CHARLES FRASER REALTY GROUP. He has a collective team of professionals that can help you make the right decision about real estate on Hilton Head Island. Contact the office (843) 671-3312 or email

Visit our website

Copyright 2008 Charlie B Fraser
Statistical information from Hilton Head Multiple Listing Service

Charles Fraser Realty Group is a member of the Hilton Head Multiple Listing Service and the Hilton Head Area of Realtor's. Charlie specializes in Sea Pines, but sells "island wide"

Monday, April 28, 2008

USA Today Article 4/25/2008 Travel/ Destinations

Life on Vacation: Hilton Head homes sport 'natural beauty'

Article from USA Today April 25, 2008 in the Travel; Destinations Section

By Larry Olmsted, Special for USA TODAY
You won't hear phrases such as "up and coming," "trendy" or "newly discovered" around Hilton Head, S.C. The second-largest barrier island on the East Coast has been a premier vacation-home community for decades.
It was created in 1956 by Gen. Joseph Fraser with a novel "master plan," with one developer controlling everything from laying out roads to designing homes, a now-common model. To preserve the island's natural state, strict covenants were enacted and are maintained to this day in all 11 "plantations," as the island's mostly gated communities are known.
"We poll visitors regularly to find out why they come," says the Chamber of Commerce's Charlie Clark. "The answer we get most is 'the natural beauty.' … Fraser was maniacal about blending nature and homes. Today there are still no white houses allowed because they would stand out. No neon signs. No street lights, because they interfere with the night sky. No homes between the dunes and water. No high-rises."
For many homeowners, the appeal here is sports and recreation. The 12-mile-long, 5-mile-wide island has two dozen golf courses, including famed PGA Tour venue Harbour Town, ranked in the nation's top 20. There are five major tennis complexes with more than 100 courts, nature preserves and continuous beach spanning 12 miles. Biking and walking paths crisscross the island, and more than 250 restaurants serve a year-round population of fewer than 40,000.
In February, the island's average home price was $515,238; median, $405,000. Real estate prices are largely driven by proximity to the ocean. Plantations fall into three categories: 1) Resort communities have a mix of homes, condos (called "villas") and hotels. Facilities such as golf courses, beaches and tennis are open to the public. The biggest are Sea Pines and Palmetto Dunes. 2) Semi-private communities allow public access to golf and other amenities, but don't have hotels or allow owners to rent their homes. 3) Private communities have no public access or rentals, often allow only homes, not condos, and require owners to pay club dues for golf and other amenities.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: South Carolina PGA Tour East Coast Atlanta Falcons Chamber of Commerce Harbour Town Sea Pines Home Depot CEO Palmetto Dunes
A look at the three types of plantations
• Sea Pines (resort). The island's original development is the most extensive, with four 18-hole golf courses by top designers, including Harbour Town, a large tennis center, more than 50 shops, 10 restaurants, five miles of beach, two marinas, a yacht club and a hotel. According to Drew Butler of Charter 1 North Realty, the average price is $1.6 million for homes and $545,000 for villas; both start at about $400,000. Arthur Blank, former Home Depot CEO and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, owns a home worth at least $12 million.
• Hilton Head Plantation (semi-private). Homeowners enjoy the privacy that comes with a no-rental policy, but amenities including three golf courses, a marina and restaurants are open to outside use. Homes average $575,000; villas, $560,000, with some starting at just over $300,000.
• Long Cove Club (private). With only single-family homes, no rentals and a relatively small number of lots (570), Long Cove has a private country club aesthetic. Famed for its Pete Dye-designed golf course, it also has the largest yacht club on the Carolina coast, tennis and more. New homeowners pay a $15,000 initiation fee, plus $9,470 in annual fees, which include golf and tennis. Average home price is $965,000; starting price, about $450,000.

Life on Vacation is a weekly look at a second-home market. This week: Hilton Head, S.C.
Best for: Families whose passions are split among beach and water sports, golf and tennis.Claim to fame:Preservation of nature and strict zoning for more than half a century.Don't miss:The unique indigenous Low Country cuisine: Think shrimp and grits, she-crab soup.Getting there:Small on-island Hilton Head Airport has commuter flights from US Airways and Delta Connection, while an array of airlines serve Savannah/Hilton Head International airport, 40 minutes away.Tourism information:800-523-3373,

Nantucket-style in Long Cove Club on a golf lot with lagoon view
High-end price: $1,495,000 Bedrooms: 5 Bathrooms: 6.5 Size: 5,000 square feet Features: All new construction in 2007, separate living room and family room, office/study, each bedroom with private bath, large lawn.

For the latest up to date real estate information contact Charlie Fraser at CHARLES FRASER REALTY GROUP. Charlie grew up on Hilton Head and knows the real estate market as good as anyone if not better that all the agents on the island. The Fraser name is synoumous with the development of Sea Pines and pioneering a new way to develope resort residential communities.

Charlie has a team dedicated to lowcountry from residential on Hilton Head to the commercial needs of our costomers on and off the island.

Visit our website for more information.

or email us for additional inofrmation.
Charlie "Fishing For Real Estate Leads"

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Coming soon:

1] Barometers of the Villa Market in Sea Pines Plantation?

2] How to get the most our your investment rental Property

Monday, February 25, 2008

South Carolina Rides the Wave

Not every market is doom and gloom, not every market is facing a credit crunch, and not every market has mortgages being foreclosed on in the thousands daily. South Carolina has seen it's bruises from the national market trends, but we also have our "Hot Spots". Real Estate along the coast is still a good investment (see the MLS Stats chart below) If you had boght property in 2001 and wanted to sell it today, you would still have made a good investment. The median price in South Carolina rose 30% over that time period or a 5% annual increase per year.

What does this tells us about the SC market:

1. Real Estate is a long term investment five (5) years or more.
2. Location is the key to real estate investing.
3. Some markets are better than others.
a] Coastal and Lake properties over urban properties.

The market has been active in the last month with interest rates going down. We have seen more activity on Hilton Head in recent weeks that we had during the fall. Buyer's are begining to release we are getting close to the bottom of the market, and with inventory high it is a good time to buy, and South Carolina is a good place to buy.

Article from South Carolina Realtor's Association
Statewide growth will boost home sales in 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. (January 2007) — According to the South Carolina REALTORS® (SCR) real estate market data, 2007 was one of the best years on record for South Carolina home sales. With over 61,000 total sales last year, the year-end totals represent a 55% increase in sales and a 32% increase in median price since 2000.
While the total number of homes on the market is consistently higher than recent years, average prices are holding steady and even growing in some areas of the state. A total of 61,678 homes were sold in South Carolina last year, while the median price remained at $159,000. According to Nick Kremydas, SCR's CEO, “Although sales are off from the record peak in 2005, there was a historically high level of home sales taking place this year – one of the best ever. We are looking forward to a great 2008.“
“Look at the population growth, historically low interest rates, and our state’s healthy job market—you can see why we’re optimistic about the housing market in South Carolina,” said Kremydas. South Carolina is the tenth-fastest growing state in the country. The state has grown by 10% (400,000 new residents) over the last seven years for a total estimated population of 4.4 million, according to latest census estimates.

MLS Stats 2007 vs 2006

MLS Stats 1998-2007 Chart

Compared to sales in 2006, total sales in 2007 declined 10.6 percent to 61,585. The Rock Hill area (+8%) continues to lead the state in growth, while the Myrtle Beach area (-29.2%) and Beaufort (-22.7%) reported the largest sales declines. Despite the overall decline, only one of the 15 reporting regions (Southern Midlands) showed significant price declines this quarter, according to “We are already seeing increased activity on the coast, that’s a good sign for the next quarter,“ said Kremydas. Pending sales activity shows that home sales will to hold fairly steady over the next few months. Total sales are expected to rise later in the year and continue to improve in 2009, according to the latest forecast by the National Association of Realtors®.
“The market’s biggest challenge? - A lack of consumer confidence. Too many consumers are focused on the national numbers,” Kremydas said. “The challenge is that national numbers are pretty much irrelevant. Talking about national averages is about as effective as having a national weather forecast. Like the weather, all real estate markets are local. You can count on your REALTOR® to give you the facts regarding your local market.”

Charlie B. Fraser is President and Broker in Charge of Charles Fraser Realty Group specializing in the Hilton Head market. If you are interested in the "Island Lifestyle" contact his team at: or

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Is it Time?

We all want to buy low and sell high. That is the optium in any kind of of investment strategy. In the real estate market, as like in other markets, it is difficult to predict when the market has peaked and when it has hit bottom. The traditional investment strategy for real estate is long term and hence will weather the highs and lows over time. Buyer's in the real estate market between 2005 and 2006 forgot the fundamentals of real estate investing. We were caught up in the price going up over night and kept on buying over inflating the market. As we all should know what goes up comes down.

Real Estate is a long term investment of five years or more. If you had bought a property on Hilton Head in 2004 and still had it today you would still have a good investment. By 2009 this piece of property should end up being a great investment. Why? You purchased your real estate with the guiding principals of owning the property for a minimum of five years.

So where are we today? We are caught up in the pademonia of the press that the "sky is falling". When in fact the real estate market on Hilton Head is doing fine. We have taken our hit in a price correction and with interest rates at near record lows it is time to start buying. We can never predict that one moment in time that the market has changed, we can only look in the past and see when it changed. Because real estate is a long term investment it does not hurt to be early in a changing market. Time will weather the short term change in market.