•Atlantic Appraisals part of coast-to-coast property adviser group•

A local firm that makes authorized estimates of land and business valuations has partnered with ventures as far away as California to form a new service.

Atlantic Appraisals LLC, based in Mount Pleasant with an office in Hilton Head Island, says it combined this month with 41 other appraisal firms to create the countrywide Valbridge Property Advisors.

Headquartered in Naples, Fla., and located in 28 states, the new company provides independent valuation and advisory services to local, regional, multi-market and national clients. Specialties include office, industrial, retail, special-purpose, apartments, multifamily, senior living, lodging, hospitality and recreational properties.

Based on publicly available information and company estimates, Valbridge immediately ranks among the Top 3 national commercial real estate valuation and advisory services firms with 59 office locations and 600 staff across the U.S., according to the company.

Atlantic Appraisals, founded in 1984, says it is a regional leader in appraisal services. For a transition period, the firm will be known as Valbridge Property Advisors/Atlantic Appraisals LLC.

Owners of the local entity are Christopher D. Donato, MAI CCIM; G. Hammond Bamberg III; MAI, Gary L. Pruitt, MAI; Pledger “Jody” M. Bishop III, MAI, CRE; Michael C. Tawes SRA; Karl P. Finkelstein, MAI and Mark L. Peterson, MAI. They are now senior managing directors of Valbridge.

Valbridge Property Advisors/Atlantic Appraisals LLC employs 10 people including two more MAIs.

MAI stands for Member of the Appraisal Institute, SRA is Senior Residential Adviser, CCIM is Certified Commercial Investment Memberr and CRE is Counselors of Real Estate.

“Client demand for a strong, independent national commercial-property appraisal-services firm has driven us to combine with dozens of the best and brightest appraisers across the country to launch Valbridge,” says Finkelstein, who is marketing committee chairman.

“But we’re no less committed to being the No. 1 firm in our market known for high standards of accuracy, integrity and reporting. As Valbridge we will, over time, provide expanded services and an even higher level of service to our local clients, while also serving regional and national clients based outside the area,” he says.

South Carolina is one of eight states with more than one appraiser joining the property adviser group. Greenville-based Robinson Co. also is a partner.

Valbridge Property Advisors describes itself as a shareholder-owned national company, with each office run by the local practice leaders.

The offices are led by appraisers holding the MAI designation of the Appraisal Institute, which according to the company signifies deep experience in the valuation and evaluation of commercial, industrial, residential and other types of properties.

Heading the company are a board of directors and officers, including chief executive and president Richard L. Armalavage, MAI.

“It is exciting to be part of such a talented team of experienced appraisers who share a common vision and passion for client service, for the profession and for enhancing the value of the overall Valbridge enterprise,” he says.

•Private homebuilder makes initial move into metro Charleston•

An Atlanta company that specializes in framing high-end residences in large markets has chosen the Lowcountry for its first foray into South Carolina.

Ashton Woods Homes says it is setting up a division in Charleston, which the 24-year-old homebuilder describes as the oldest and second largest city in the state.

The company’s national operation is comprised of 11 divisions, with communities in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Killeen and San Antonio in Texas; Orlando, Sarasota and Tampa, Fla.; Atlanta in Georgia; Phoenix in Arizona; and Raleigh, N.C.

To lead the Charleston area expansion efforts, Ashton Woods Homes has hired Kevin Wadley as vice president of land acquisition.

Wadley will handle administrative and paperwork duties as well as ferret out specific acquisition chances that meet the division’s strategic goals.

Also, he will head up locating, researching, negotiating, purchasing and overseeing development of new neighborhood locations.

Wadley has more than a dozen years of experience in the real estate and home-building fields, having earlier held land acquisition posts for other national builders in the Charleston area.

“I am excited to join the Ashton Woods Home team and begin work on the expansion of our Charleston division,” Wadley says.

“I personally believe finding land is the key to the growth and success of any homebuilding company,” he says, adding that his passion for the job enables him to find properties that turn into longstanding communities and homes for families for many years.

During the development process, Hampton Pitts will oversee Ashton Woods Homes - Charleston as executive vice president. Pitts previously served as the Ashton Woods Homes Raleigh division president, directing the company’s expansion into the North Carolina market.

Pitts says he’s excited about the “booming Charleston real estate market” and is looking forward to continued growth for Ashton Woods Homes. He is confident that Wadley “will lead our expansion.”

Ashton Woods Homes’ move into the Charleston market follows a notable achievement: A new study named the company the Most Trusted Builder in America.

The honor stemmed from the new Lifestory Research Most Trusted Builders in America Study, which included more than 21,500 new home shoppers and 133 homebuilder brands in the largest U.S. housing markets.

The study found that three-fourths of the customers find trust a key factor to evaluate a homebuilder’s quality before deciding on a home to purchase, according to the company.

Ashton Woods Homes says it places a strong emphasis on developing relationships with customers, building sales teams’ with expertise in forging ties with homebuyers and having top-notch architectural and construction teams deliver world-class design.

For more information, visit www.ashtonwoodshomes.com.

•Sustainable homebuilder in Charleston area to offer new solar shingle•

A “powerhouse” product is expected to fit on roofs of eco-friendly houses along the Atlantic Seaboard, thanks to Nexus EnergyHomes Inc.

Nexus EnergyHomes says it is teaming up with The Dow Chemical Co. as the first homebuilder to offer the Dow Powerhouse Solar Shingle to homebuyers on the East Coast.

The shingle, according to Nexus EnergyHomes, is an award-winning solar roofing system that protects the home and generates electricity.

The Maryland-based company is constructing a “geosolar community” within Summerville-based River Birch neighborhood in which homes are designed to use zero net energy.

Nexus EnergyHomes selected the Dow solar shingles because they offer leading-edge high-performance home features. Combining the best in net-zero energy achievable technologies under one roof provides their homes the ability to produce as much energy as they use, and saves their homeowners thousands of dollars per year in utility bills, Nexus EnergyHomes says.

“Dow solar shingles are among the most cutting-edge renewable solutions on the market,” says Paul Zanecki, Nexus EnergyHomes founder and president. “This solar integrated roof product protects the home, uses sunlight to power it, and provides superior aesthetic appeal for our homes’ exterior design.”

The company has accepted accolades lately, such as being named 2012 Energy Value Housing Award Builder of the Year and cited in Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s State of the State speech as “the epitome of innovation” for its 50-home GeoSolar community in Frederick, Md.

Nexus EnergyHomes says it will offer the Powerhouse Solar Shingles to homebuyers in their upcoming neighborhoods as well as luxury custom-home buyers.

Strong demand is anticipated, the company says. It has several home projects underway in Maryland, the first net-zero luxury townhomes in Philadelphia and the Charleston area’s first Nexus GeoSolar village.

“Nexus EnergyHomes is on the leading edge of sustainable innovation in homebuilding, which makes our collaboration a natural fit,” says Dan Pezolt, Dow solar commercial director.

“We are excited to offer East Coast homebuyers the prospect of buying a high-performing home complete with solar technology that looks like it belongs on a roof,” he says.

Made in the U.S. and backed by a 20-year warranty from Dow, the “Powerhouse” solar shingle is certified as both a solar and roofing product. Nexus EnergyHomes designs residences that feature ground sourced heat pumps, photovoltaic solar panels, super insulated building shells, Energy-Star rated appliances, Nexus CleanAir filtration systems and proprietary NexusVision energy performance, monitoring and management smart systems.

To learn more, visit www.nexusenergyhomes.com or call toll-free 855-639-8734.

•Daniel Island sales on increase•

Although the year is barely two months old, Daniel Island is showing encouraging signs in its real estate sales and prices.

An early peek at Daniel Island Real Estate’s sales performance so far this year illustrates the strength of the Daniel Island market, the agency says.

It compared home inventory and sales figures for January and February of this year with the same period of 2012.

Among the findings:

• Sales volume reached $10.3 million in the first two months of 2013, up from $3.9 million in the same time frame last year.

• The number of sales transactions totaled 17, compared with 11 a year ago.

• Available inventory dropped to 82 days from 109 last year at this time.

• The selling price as a comparison of listing price was 95 percent, up from 85 percent last year.

• Average sales price this January and February was $570,000, well up from $360,000 in the same period of 2012.

• The average number of days homes were on the market sank to 94 from 250 days a year before.

According to Daniel Island Real Estate, the numbers represent a sizable shift in the market.

“With $20 million in sales pending as of the end of February, we expect the momentum to continue into the spring,” the agency says.

More builders are returning, and for the first time in more than five years multiple contractors are inquiring about the chances of raising homes on the island.

Eight new builders are rolling out house designs, and resale listings increased recently, the agency notes.

For more information, contact Daniel Island Real Estate at www.danielisland.com.

•Green Building Council to hold statewide conference in Myrtle Beach•

Everything from biomimicry to the LEED rating system will be up for discussion at an annual conference in South Carolina on “green” building.

The 2013 statewide conference, Sustain SC, will take place April 24-26 in Myrtle Beach.

The South Carolina chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council is sponsor of the event.

According to the chapter, SustainSC will focus on educating, training and preparing South Carolina businesses and citizens to build more sustainable communities throughout the state.

Nationally recognized speakers will be on hand, and there will be more than a dozen educational sessions as well as workshops and building tours. An exposition hall featuring more than 50 green building vendors will be open.

Keynote speaker Scott Kelly, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Fellow with re:Vision Architecture, will discuss “whole-systems integrative design.”

Also, Eric Corey Freed, author of Green Building for Dummies and president of Organic Architect, will probe how lessons learned from history, biomimicry, crowdfunding, and collaborative consumption can provide insights into ways to design living, regenerative buildings within decades.

“The messages of our keynote speakers, if implemented locally, have the potential to propel South Carolina forward in the green building movement; one that will create new jobs, better utilize our local resources, and create a healthier environment for future generations,” conference Chair Ben Ward says.

During the three-day event, attendees will learn about the benefits of green building in the state, current and pending legislation, emerging green jobs, and the LEED rating system.

Attendees will include building, design and construction professionals; academics; government officials; nonprofits; utility providers; and financiers.

For more information, visit the U.S. Green Building Council- S.C. chapter website at www.usgbcsc.org.