Myrtle Beach Home Staging: What Exactly is Feng Shui?

flower pots with plants and flowers on window
flower pots with plants and flowers on window

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese practice of arranging furniture and belongings to encourage a positive flow of energy (chi) through the home. The term translates to wind (feng) and water (shui). In feng shui, all objects and spaces have different energy, and those energies can impact each other in different ways depending on their placement from each other and from features of the home, such as doors and windows. While it takes years to master all the different facets of the practice of feng shui, there are several basics you can use to improve the flow of positive chi in your Myrtle Beach home.

* Front entrance – The front entrance of the home is very important as it is the primary source of fresh chi into your home. Make sure your front entrance is inviting for both visitors and good chi by first making sure that the walkway leading up to the door is swept clean of grass, leaves and debris. The door should be a bold, contrasting color that draws the eye, with a large welcome mat and an equal balance of round-leaved plants on each side of the entrance (whether in the ground or in planters). Avoid using plants with pointed leaves which are sharp and aggressive and repel chi (both outside and inside the home).

* Bathrooms – Always keep doors to bathrooms closed, toilet lids down, and shower curtains or doors pulled shut. Drains and toilets pull chi down and out of the home. Keeping doors closed and drains or toilets closed off prevents good chi from being drained away. Bathrooms should always be clean and refreshing with all clutter and non-essentials organized and stowed out of sight. Encourage a spa-like feeling with a basket of rolled fresh white towels and natural objects like a few seashells for decoration.

* Bedrooms – Bedrooms are meant to be a place of healing and relaxation. Electronics like televisions and computers disrupt the flow of chi and should be kept out of the bedroom whenever possible. Beds and headboards should rest against a sturdy wall, however, avoid placing the bed right under a window or in direct line with (or facing) the doorway. When the bed is in the direct line of the door, the strongest flow of chi into the room hits the bed first. The strength of that chi can cause restless sleep or even insomnia. The bed should have a night stand on either side and while they don’t have to be the same, the size and shape of them should be similar.

* General good chi practices – A few general principles will help you best align the flow of chi through the rest of your home. Avoid having the backs of chairs or sofas face an entryway – instead, have the furniture face the entry to welcome people and chi into the space. Avoid clutter and keep decoration simple. Clutter scatters chi and creates a feeling of chaos, both for you and your guests. Avoid having too much furniture or furniture that is too large for the room as chi needs open space to flow properly.

Whether you have just moved into your dream home in Myrtle Beach, or you are staging your home to sell, using a few key principles from the practice of feng shui will help you organize your home for a strong flow of positive chi. Good flow of positive chi creates feelings of comfort, confidence, creativity and prosperity.

Home Buying Forecast for Second Half of 2017

Home Buying Forecast Myrtle BeachIf buying a home is in your future, you may be wondering what experts predict for the housing market in the second half of 2017. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) collects information from 225 metropolitan areas across the United States every quarter about the affordability of the average home for families earning the median income in each of those areas. They use this information to track housing affordability using their Housing Opportunity Index (HOI). An HOI score above 50% is considered positive as it means at least 50% of families can buy a home that is affordable.

Factors influencing Q1 2017 affordability
A variety of factors can influence the HOI, including changes in home prices and changes in mortgage rates. Significant changes in these factors shift the HOI score from quarter to quarter. The first quarter of 2017 revealed that 60.3% of families should reasonably be able to buy a home that is affordable for them. Many industry experts found the score surprising as mortgage rates increased sharply leading into Q1 of this year, which would typically decrease affordability because higher mortgage rates mean higher mortgage payments for buyers. Despite the biggest leap in mortgage rates in a single quarter since 2013, the HOI score actually increased – opposite of what experts anticipated. What they didn’t anticipate was that home prices dropped during the first quarter, balancing out the hike in mortgage rates and keeping homes affordable for buyers.

Affordability predictions for 2nd half of 2017
While all predictions in real estate are naturally a best educated guess, the surprising results from the first quarter of the year could be a sign of good things for affordability in the second half of the year. The forecast looks even better when comparing Q1 2017 to the previous three quarters as it shows a trend where affordability is staying stable, in spite of the up-tick in mortgage rates. Home prices have steadily increased since bottoming out in 2011. The historically low mortgage rates helped home values rebound as the housing industry recovered from the recession. Industry insiders anticipate the recent rise in mortgage rates will now slow down and stabilize home prices.

What this means for buyers is that 2017 is still a great year to buy a home. While mortgage rates have increased and will likely continue to creep upward, they are still comparatively low compared to pre-recession rates. If the rise in mortgage rates reins in the swift rise of home prices as the first quarter of 2017 appears to indicate, buying a home will continue to be affordable for a majority of families in the U.S. through at least the end of the year. If you are looking to buy this year, now is the time!

Community News: What is the Myrtle Beach Shore Protection Project?

Myrtle Beach community newsThe Myrtle Beach Shore Protection Project is a beach renourishment project including not only the city of Myrtle Beach, but also several other communities along the Grand Strand like North Myrtle Beach, Garden City and Surfside Beach. The project is federally funded through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and recently saw an additional $16 million earmarked specifically for the beaches in the city of Myrtle Beach. The additional funds are separate from a previous allotment of $35 million for renourishment of beaches in North Myrtle Beach, Surfside Beach and Garden City.

What is beach renourishment?
Tropical storms, hurricanes and other coastal conditions pull sand from the shore out to sea, over time eroding beaches and encroaching on protective sand dunes and buildings like homes and hotels. Beach renourishment brings in sand to replace what has been eroded and re-establish the shoreline back to its previous boundaries. Tropical storms and hurricanes from the last few years have resulted in erosion of the beaches in the Grand Strand faster than natural processes can restore them. Most recently, Hurricane Matthew significantly impacted beaches along the coast, making renourishment a more necessary measure.

The importance of our beaches
Myrtle Beach and communities along the Grand Strand draw an average of more than 14 million visitors every year to experience the beauty of our beaches. Tourism is the largest industry in the area and vital to the local economy. Protecting the beaches of the Grand Strand is essential to preserving business and jobs the people of our community depend on. Our beaches are also important to area wildlife such as sea turtles who come ashore to create nests deep in the sand to lay their eggs in before heading back out to sea. Beach erosion reduces the area available for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

The first phase of the Myrtle Beach Shore Protection Project is expected to start this fall in the communities of Surfside Beach, Garden City and North Myrtle Beach. Planning for the additional $16 million for beaches in the city of Myrtle Beach is expected to begin and open up for bids later this year. Remax agent, James Haas, is your local realtor source for important Myrtle Beach community news and information

Buying a Home? 5 Things to Check Before Finalizing the Sale

Buying A Home Myrtle BeachWhen buying a home, you want to make sure it’s a good investment that won’t have major repairs waiting for you on move-in day and will withstand the test of time. Here are 5 key things to check before you sign on the dotted line.

1. The Roof – Roof leaks and repairs can be one of the more costly issues you face as a home owner. Have a professional come and inspect the roof for any signs of damage, loose or missing shingles/tiles, curling shingles and extensive wear and tear. Discovering you have a roof leak is the worst kind of surprise during a hurricane or tropical storm. Also, get an estimated life span for the roof in its current state so you can plan ahead and save for future roof upkeep.

2. Drainage System – Along the South Carolina coast, it rains… a lot. It’s important to check the drain system along the roads near your property and on the property itself. Are there downslopes in the landscaping that help move water away from your home and toward run-offs, ponds and drains? Are drains in driveways and along curbs clear and free of debris? Ensuring the drainage system around your home is up to par helps prevent unforeseen flooding issues later on.

3. Location! – Make sure you have a good feel for the neighborhood you are planning to move into. Drive around look at the upkeep of the homes and yards in the area. Check out the schools in the neighborhood – where they are located and what quality rating they have. Proximity to a top rated school is a boost for home appreciation values. Also, keep in mind your commute to work from your new home. Living in one of the world’s favorite summer travel destinations means extra traffic from May through September that you’ll want to be prepared for.

4. The Plumbing – Hire a pro to inspect all aspects of the plumbing system in the new home, both indoor and outdoor plumbing like sprinkler systems. Plumbing leaks can easily turn into expensive repair bills! The plumbing inspection should look at all visible plumbing, connections (under sinks and appliance connections), evaluate water pressure, examine wear and tear on faucets, estimate the remaining life span of the hot water heater, and check all plumbing related to outdoor water use for outdoor kitchens, outdoor showers, sprinkler systems and hose connections.

5. Termite Damage – The humid climate of the Myrtle Beach area is a favorite of termites. Termite damage that has gone unchecked for many years can cause structural instability in the framework of a home that can be dangerous. It’s a good idea to have a CL-100 Wood Inspection done to assess potential termite damage before you finalize the sale, especially if the home is more than 10 years old.

When buying a home, you want peace of mind that it is safe and structurally sound. Check these 5 key issues to make sure your new home doesn’t come with a hefty side of unexpected repair bills when you move in.  Your Myrtle Beach Remax agent, James Hass, can help steer you in the right direction.

Low Property Tax- A Great Reason To Buy A Home in South Carolina

Low Property Tax“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

In Benjamin Franklin’s day, he likely could not have imagined all the different kinds of taxes we deal with today or the many variations in taxation throughout the United States. In areas where property taxes are high and local sales taxes are high or state income taxes are high, home ownership can be out of reach for many potential buyers simply because of all the taxes.

With a general property tax rate around .57% of average home value, South Carolina is one of the states with the lowest property tax rates in the country. While the property taxes alone are a great reason to consider buying a home in South Carolina, additional factors along the Grand Strand make this real estate market an even better bang for your buck. The large amount of new home construction and available inventory have kept home prices more reasonable than markets with less inventory available for buyers. The Grand Strand also has lower than average home prices when compared to other major housing markets along the east coast, making it among the most affordable markets in the coastal real estate category.

As with any major decision, it is important to do your homework! Connect with existing residents, join social media groups for communities of interest to learn about the area, review state websites and also read local community websites. James Haas, Your REMAX agent in Myrtle Beach, can help you explore your best low property tax home buying options in the communities that interest you most and will save you money.

New and Notable In Myrtle Beach

New in Myrtle Beach Exciting things are happening all along the Grand Strand! Here are a few of the current and upcoming area changes to keep you in the know!

Broadway at the Beach
Long known as a local hot spot for shopping, dining and entertainment, Broadway at the Beach is undergoing a major revival. Among the changes and new attractions are a new 118 foot tall Ferris wheel, several new specialty shops. the Myrtle Beach area’s first Wahlburgers location, the opening of the American Tap House, the area’s first Dave & Busters location (former Hard Rock Cafe site) and the upcoming Carolina Ale House location (former Planet Hollywood site).

Downtown Myrtle Beach
As the actual city of Myrtle Beach continues to reinvent itself, a couple of major changes aim to shift the dynamic of the downtown area. The Chapin Memorial Library will be relocating to a newly-constructed building in the “superblock” area at 9th and Nance Street. Joining the library will be the Children’s Museum of South Carolina, which will also be getting a newly constructed facility that includes the latest accessibility options to allow children of all different abilities to enjoy the museum.

Bay Tree Area in Little River
On the north end of the Grand Strand, residents are excited to finally see the closed and abandoned Bay Tree Golf Course area moving forward in a fresh direction. After a previous developer bought the land with the intention of redeveloping it before the plan stalled out, the new developer is poised to breathe new life into the community. The redevelopment of the former golf course area will include at least 1,500 new homes and a new community park sprawling over more than 19 acres.

These are just a few of the exciting changes and upcoming efforts to provide new and updated options for our residents and seasonal guests.  For more information on Myrtle Beach real estate, commercial or residential, contact REMAX agent, James Haas today at (843) 602-7246.

Buying Versus Renting in Myrtle Beach- Which is Better?

Buying Versus Renting Myrtle BeachThe question of whether to buy or whether to rent is often complex with many issues factoring into the decision. One of the primary factors is affordability – whether buying will be more affordable than renting. The 2017 Rental Affordability Report by ATTOM Data Solutions indicates that in 66% of major U.S. housing markets, buying is the more affordable choice. That means that in 34% of these markets, renting is the more affordable option.

Influencing Factors
Housing experts anticipate that renting is likely to grow as the more affordable option in many housing markets. But why? Mortgage rates have been increasing and that trend is expected to continue. When combined with a shortage of available inventory driving up home prices in many markets, the option to even consider buying will be out of reach for more and more renters looking to make the switch to home ownership.
Another influencing factor in the choice between renting and buying is that while cost of living has increased, mortgage rates have increased and home prices have increased, wages and income have remained fairly stuck and frozen over the last several years and are not expected to “catch up” anytime soon.

Buying Versus Renting in Myrtle Beach
In the overall Myrtle Beach and Grand Strand housing market, buying remains a more affordable option in many area communities. With the amount of new home construction and a fair amount of available inventory for homebuyers, buying is the more affordable option for many people. However, the Myrtle Beach area is currently one of the fastest-growing housing markets in the country. As the demand and number of buyers begins to reduce inventory, prices will rise and the balance is likely to eventually shift.

If you have been considering making the leap from renting to buying, now may be the best time to make the switch in Myrtle Beach.  Contact James Haas today for more information on the Myrtle Beach real estate market.

Higher Home Values in Zip Codes with Good Schools

Home Values Myrtle BeachAll parents want what is best for their children and it should come as no surprise that homes in zip codes with top-rated schools would be in high demand. This high demand results in higher home values and more steady appreciation of home values over the long term. Not only does choosing a home in an area with good-rated schools benefit your children with a higher quality education, it benefits your family’s financial future over time.

How much of a difference do schools with good ratings make? Home values in zip codes with at least one good-rated elementary school (at minimum) were found to be an average of 77% higher than in zip codes with no schools with good ratings, according to the 2016 Schools and Housing Report by ATTOM Data Solutions. The report also highlighted that over the previous 10-year period (2006-2016), homes in districts with a good-rated school appreciated in value an average of 4.5% more than homes in districts with no top-rated schools, despite the recession.

Top Rated School Districts in Horry County
As the largest county in South Carolina, Horry County has a decent share of school districts with consistently good-rated schools. Here are a few to consider in your home search.

29579 – Carolina Forest: Perhaps one of the fastest growing communities in the Grand Strand, Carolina Forest boasts several highly-rated schools. Top-rated schools in this master-planned community include Carolina Forest Elementary, Ocean Bay Elementary and Carolina Forest High School. The median home value of $310,000 can be deceptive though as this zip code has a very large range of home values from under $200,000 to over $1,000,000. This large range means more options for homebuyers searching for different price points.

29588 – Socastee: The historic and laid-back community of Socastee is a great choice for homebuyers looking for reasonable home prices while still enjoying the benefits of a top-rated school. Socastee High School is consistently among the highest rated high schools in the county, yet the median home value is a modest $156,500 – for now. Renewed interest in this community is expected to push up home values in the coming years.

29576 – South Strand (Murrells Inlet, Garden City Beach, Surfside Beach, Burgess): Several communities in the South Strand region of Horry County are served by St. James High School, recipient of the Palmetto Finest School Award in 2016. Located in Murrells Inlet (zip code 29576), where the median home value is $212,750, this top-rated high school serves a student population spanning a fairly large area along the Grand Strand to the south of Myrtle Beach.

Homebuyers looking for good-rated schools in Horry County will find a variety of options in the areas of Carolina Forest, Socastee and the communities of the South Strand. James Hass, your Myrtle Beach ReMAX agent, is your local expert on the zip codes with the best schools and greatest home value and appreciation value potential.

Home Pricing Myrtle Beach and Surrounding Areas

 Home Pricing Myrtle Beach.Home PricingHappy New Year to everyone! You may be considering putting your home on the market in 2017, and there’s many variables to consider to getting it sold. Cleaning, de-cluttering, and getting the exterior of home ready are just a few items that need to be done, but how much do I price my home for? Is it not the best on the block?
Pricing your home can be a tricky thing to do. Sellers want as much as possible for their home, and want maximum exposure to the home as well. Pricing your home too high to leave room for negotiating can sometimes turn away potential buyers. Sellers also fear of pricing their home too low feeling that they’ve left money on the table. Similar homes sold within your area is the best way to determine your homes worth. While working with a real estate professional, access to these homes is easily obtained. Contact James Haas at 843-602-7246 to schedule a listing appointment.

Rising Momentum in Myrtle Beach Real Estate

What Can We Expect With Myrtle Beach Real Estate?

For the past year, inventory shortages for existing-home sales have continued, and the momentum has moved higher for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. A jump in sales in the Midwest and a decent increase in the Northeast offset smaller declines in the South and West. The total existing home sales for single family, condominiums & townhouses are up 1.7%. NAR chief economist, Lawrence Yun, says that the increase in Spring sales shows a sign of momentum for the Spring & Summer. Yun explains that  three year low interest rates is a big reason for the preservation of affordable housing for Spring of 2016, but also fears that the lack of increase of wages will eliminate a lot of inventory for some. Freddie Mac reports that a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage dropped from 3.69 percent in March to 3.61 percent in April, which is the lowest since May 2013 (3.54 percent).