•Realtors pick east of the Cooper to sign on with large local brokerage•

One’s a former missionary, another an economics major and a third a public relations pro. They’re also agents who have joined one of Carolina One’s offices.

The new associates in the Highway 17 North center in Mount Pleasant are Del Shaffer, Tim Walter and Sarah Henderson.

Shaffer, a 2001 graduate of The Citadel and lifelong Charleston resident, previously spent three years in Europe as a missionary. He also has had management experience with the Chick-Fil-A franchise.

Born in Camden, Walter has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wofford College. He has worked in both residential and commercial real estate in Charleston since 1997, according to Carolina One.

Henderson, meanwhile, has experience in both public relations and the hospitality industry. The agent, born in Lexington, has a degree in Corporate Communications from the College of Charleston.

“This group of individuals brings youth, knowledge and practical life experience to our office,” says Meaghan Popper, broker in charge. “I am thrilled to have them as members of our team.”

Carolina One Real Estate is the leading residential services firm in metro Charleston handling more than 30 percent of all residential sales transactions as of 2012.

For more information, visit www.carolinaone.com.

•A few more Charleston area homes land ‘upside down’ in autumn•

The share of local borrowers who owe more money on their mortgages than their homes’ values inched up to 19.4 percent at the end of 2012.

So says Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic real estate information service and think tank. In all, 28,324 residential properties were in negative equity, commonly referred to as “underwater” or “upside down,” the company says. By comparison, 28,308 properties, or 19.3 percent were underwater in the previous quarter.

The figures are for the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metropolis, which has about 700,000 people.

Greater Charleston homeowners continue to be more fiscally stable than the country as a whole. CoreLogic figures show that a full 21.5 percent of residences nationwide with a mortgage, or 10.4 million properties, are in negative equity. The yearend figure is down from 10.6 million properties, or 22 percent, at the end of the third quarter. The aggregate value of negative equity in the U.S. dropped from $670 billion to $628 billion between the third and fourth quarters, with rising home prices cited as a chief reason for the decline in upside down properties.

According to CoreLogic, being underwater or upside down can occur because of a slide in home values, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

In related findings, metro Charleston properties that are in “near negative equity,” which is close to upside down but not quite, totaled 9,784, or 6.7 percent of all mortgages, in the fourth quarter. The total compared with a nearly identical number of near negative equity mortgages — 9,824, also 6.7 percent of all home loans — in the third quarter of 2012.

Near negative equity involves properties that have less than 5 percent equity. They are considered at risk should home prices fall, according to CoreLogic. Nationwide at the end of the fourth quarter, 2.3 million residential properties had less than 5 percent equity.

About three in 10 home borrowers hold less than 20 percent equity, leaving them “under-equitied,” CoreLogic says. Borrowers with less than 20 percent equity could face a harder time securing new financing for their homes due to underwriting constraints.

Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic, says, “There is certainly more to do but with fewer borrowers underwater, the fundamentals underpinning the housing market will continue to strengthen. The trend toward more homeowners moving back into positive equity territory should continue in 2013,” he says.

“In the fourth quarter we again saw an improvement in the equity position of households,” says Mark Fleming, the company’s chief economist.

“Housing market improvements, particularly in the hardest hit states, are the catalyst for households to regain equity and become participants in 2013’s housing market,” he says.

By state, Nevada had the highest share of upside down mortgages at 52.4 percent, followed by Florida at 40.2 percent; Arizona with 34.9 percent; Georgia, at 33.8 percent; and Michigan at 31.9 percent. South Carolina ranks 26th highest with 16.2 percent of home loans underwater.

•New agents tout credentials with Elaine Brabham and Associates•

A real estate brokerage based west of the Ashley is showcasing three of its new associates: Darleen Jones, Lisa Burbage and Deborah Rosenbaum.

Jones, of Charleston, is considered a top real estate performer. She is spotlighted for her customer service skills and more than 30 years experience in the banking, accounting and finance industries. She also was a guest relations specialist at MUSC.

According Elaine Brabham and Associates, she places professionalism and integrity at the forefront. That gives her “the passion to go the extra mile when performing due diligence in serving the public in the real estate market arena,” the firm says.

Jones’ approachable style encourages clients to establish a meaningful trustworthy relationship and one that will be maintained over time, according to the agency. She has an optimistic mindset that “always gives her the desire to reach her and her clients’ goals,” the firm notes. She can be reached at darleenj@findyourcharleston.com or at 843-321-3396.

For Burbage, “What I enjoy most about real estate is that people make big decisions, and I help them make the right ones.”

She says that she feels “a strong connection to my clients, therefore my team and I are willing to work tirelessly to assure their satisfaction.”

Burbage says the team’s dedication to clients and continued referrals and repeat business has put her in the top 10 percent of the more than 3,500 Realtors in greater Charleston. Recently, she was selected one of 15 area Realtors to take part in the first class of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors Leadership Development program.

“My real estate business model is geared towards working by referral,” Burbage says. “We are in the business of making lifelong clients and friends,” she says. To reach Burbage, e-mail her lisaburbageteam@gmail.com or call 843-442-8909.

Rosenbaum was raised in a military family and has lived all over the United States. As a result, she is “no stranger to the volatility that dealing with relocating creates,” according to Elaine Brabham and Associates.

Charleston has been Rosenbaum’s steady home since 1990: She and her husband reside in West Ashley.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management/Computer Science from Radford University in Virginia. For the past 14 years, she has worked as an ice skating coach at the Carolina Ice Palace in North Charleston.

“After seeing off her twin sons to The Citadel she is following her next passion in real estate,” the brokerage says.

“Debbie brings her perspective to you from being a private property manager for the past 12 years,” it says. She knows the community, local schools, shopping and businesses, which will help guide home shoppers to make the right choice in their real estate decisions, according to the real estate company. For more information, e-mail Rosenbaum at drosenbaum46@gmail.com or call her at 843-324-8948.

•Foreclosure rates drop in Charleston area, U.S. a month apart•

While not as low as the country as a whole, local foreclosure totals plunged in the past year based on new figures.

Foreclosures fell to 3.35 percent of all mortgages in January compared with 4.10 percent a year earlier in metro Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, according to CoreLogic information and analysis firm.

That’s still higher than the national foreclosure rate of 2.90 percent for January.

Meanwhile, the share of distressed home loans fell as well, according to CoreLogic. In greater Charleston, 6.17 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more delinquent in January, compared with 7.16 percent for the same period last year.

Separately, CoreLogic late last month released state and national figures for February that showed continued declines in “completed foreclosures” — cases where owners actually lost their homes.

In its National Foreclosure Report, CoreLogic notes there were 54,000 completed foreclosures in February, down 19 percent from 67,000 finished foreclosures a year earlier. Completed foreclosures also dropped 7 percent from 58,000 in January.

As a comparison, completed foreclosures averaged 21,000 per month nationwide between 2000 and 2006 during a strong housing market. The market started to slow down in 2007, and the national financial crisis hit in September 2008.

Since then, there have been 4.2 million completed foreclosures countrywide. As of February, another 1.2 million homes were in some stage of foreclosure, what’s known as the “foreclosure inventory.” That was off 21 percent from the 1.5 million homes in the inventory the year before.

The February foreclosure inventory accounted for 2.8 percent of all homes with a mortgage, compared with 3.5 percent a year ago.

“February’s 54,000 completed foreclosures is the lowest level nationally since September 2007, with most major metropolitan areas experiencing improvements,” says Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Even the major Florida markets are benefiting with the foreclosure inventories falling the fastest in major metropolitan areas, although from a very high level.”

Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic, says, ”We continue to see a declining trend in foreclosure activity, with major markets leading the way. The drop in delinquencies and foreclosure starts will help support a resurgence in the home purchase market this year and next,” he says.

The five states with the highest number of completed foreclosures for the year ending in February are Florida with 95,000, California at 90,000, Michigan at 73,000, Texas with 57,000 and Georgia at 49,000.

South Carolina’s foreclosure inventory in February was 3 percent of all loans in February, down 0.8 percent from a year earlier. The share ranks sixth among so-called “judicial states,” those where foreclosures go through court-like proceedings, according to CoreLogic.

•Thomas joins mortgage company in Charleston area•

After lengthy stints at two large banks, a financial veteran has moved to The Jaffee Group at Shelter Mortgage Co. LLC in Charleston.

Dawn Thomas has signed on with the mortgage company as a senior loan officer.

She has 18 years of finance and lending background with BB&T Bank and Wachovia. According to The Jaffee Group, she has been recognized for her success in building solid customer relationships and has been a top producer at both banks.

Thomas, a Lowcountry native, is a member of the Charleston Trident Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Trident Home Builders Association and Seacoast Church.

For further information, contact Thomas at 843-266-2639 or dawn.thomas@sheltermortgage.com.

•New home community kicks off in Murrells Inlet south of Myrtle Beach•

The latest neighborhood from Lennar on the Grand Strand is a mid-sized subdivision in a village known for its relaxed lifestyle.

Late last month, the homebuilder held a weekend grand opening in Murrells Inlet for Brookefield Estates.

At the same time, Lennar is championing new home openings in neighboring communities the Enclave and Fairways at International Club.

With the three developments totaling 135 units, Lennar is helping to lead steady growth in Horry County, the builder says.

“Murrells Inlet is known for its small-town community living and laid back relaxed lifestyle,” says Susan Martin, director of sales for Lennar’s Coastal Carolinas division.

“The positive real estate growth in Horry County and a buyer-friendly market make this the perfect timing for homebuyers to benefit from our signature Everything’s Included program,” she says.

From March 22 to 24, Lennar daily hosted visitors at the Welcome Home Center at 108 Shenandoah Drive in Brookefield Estates. Visitors toured model homes, gobbled down appetizers and had a chance to win a Charleston Weekend Getaway.

Available for a limited time, Lennar will pay up to $4,000 in closing costs for homebuyers at Brookefield Estates and the Enclave. The builder also unveiled townhomes and condos for the Fairways at International Club, which is open for sale.

Lennar has 75 home sites at Brookefield Estates, featuring single-family homes ranging from 1,746 to 2,797 square feet. Prices start in the low $180,000s.

Another 40 home sites are at the Enclave, and 20 townhouses and condos are available at the Fairways at International Club.

All the neighborhoods are close to the International Club Golf Course in Murrells Inlet, which highlights a community picnic area, playground and planned swimming pool. Residences and attractions are minutes from the beach, according to Lennar.

Homebuyers can take advantage of Lennar’s Everything’s Included program, offering desirable luxury features included in the base price, the builder says.

For more information, visit www.LennarMyrtleBeach.com.

•Palmetto Elite launches in Charleston area•

Just from the name, it’s easy to see what one new business is involved with and where it is located.

Palmetto shows it’s in South Carolina, more specifically Charleston. Elite means the venture is eying top-flight assistance for premier developments. Properties, meanwhile, signifies that the company is involved in managing various residential and commercial buildings and homes.

Brian Bell and Bob Williamson, founders of Palmetto Elite Properties LLC, say they have decades of real estate and financial experience. That includes as corporate leaders, financial analysts, real estate investors, landlords and renters.

The venture says it bolsters profit margins through innovative property management techniques and market knowledge.

“We are passionate about our properties,” says Bell, company partner. “At Palmetto Elite Properties, we work hard maximizing potential profits for every client by targeting market trends and effectively promoting the overall individualized strengths of managed properties.”

Among its specialties, Palmetto Elite Properties handles housing association management, vetting potential tenants, managing and caring for commercial and residential properties and creating comparative market and rental analyses with the goal of yielding long-term profits.

“We focus on three things: Ensuring that we understand and are meeting the goals of our property owners, giving our renters a place they enjoy calling home (and) exceptional service to both property owners and renters,” the company says on its website.

For more information, visit www.palmettoelite.com.