•Mauch, Firestone sign on with homebuilder•

A real estate finance veteran and a specialist in home sales have joined national builder Lennar, they say, because of its growing presence in metro Charleston.

Robert Mauch and Missy Firestone are part of the company’s Coastal Carolinas division. Mauch will be the division controller and Firestone, a new-homes consultant.

“We are very excited to have both (Mauch and Firestone) join the team,” says Sam Sparks, president of the Coastal Carolinas division. “Robert brings a wealth of experience to our finance team, and Missy has the experience and passion to help and guide our homebuyers as they look for their new home.”

Mauch has amassed more than 12 years’ experience in real estate finance and operations within the residential development industry, according to Lennar.

In his new role, he will manage the division’s financial planning.

His extensive background includes stints with Centex Homes and Pulte Homes as vice president of finance and as division controller.

“Lennar is quickly expanding, responding to customer needs with new homes in areas of growth, and I am excited to join the team,” Mauch says. He says his financial planning and operations background will help Lennar achieve its goals and continue to bring quality communities to local homebuyers.

Originally from Sterling Heights, Mich., Mauch is a graduate of Oakland University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. He has a Master’s in Business Administration degree from Walsh College.

Mauch, who lives in West Ashley, will work out of Lennar’s division office west of the Ashley.

Firestone, meanwhile, will be stationed at Lindera Preserve at Cane Bay Plantation.

She joins Lennar with 14 years’ experience in the residential homebuilding industry, previously selling houses for Beazer Homes and D.R. Horton.

Firestone says she is excited about being part of the Lennar team, noting the growth in the economy and opportunities for the builder’s new communities.

“I am looking forward to helping homebuyers find the perfect home for them and help to introduce a new and more local Lennar to the area,” she says.

A graduate of Radford University in Virginia, Firestone moved to the Charleston area in 1992. She lives in Mount Pleasant. Her real estate accolades include Prism awards from the Charleston Home Builders Association, Million Dollar Producer Award, Rookie of the Year and Salesperson of the Year.

For more information about Lennar locally, visit www.LennarCharleston.com.

•Kiawah Island brokerage: Transactions reach highest point in six years•

For anyone not convinced that the vacation home business is recovering, then take a look in particular at one exclusive resort southwest of Charleston.

That’s the pitch from the largest real estate company on Kiawah Island. The community posted more than $46 million in closed sales in May as higher-end buyers again are flocking to the luxury real estate segment.

According to Kiawah Island Real Estate, the residential village epitomizes the reinvigorated second-home market nationwide. The island’s sales volume has returned to levels not seen since pre-recession June 2007, the agency says.

Two months ago, the real estate brokerage reported its best single month of sales closings in six years. In all, buyers and sellers clinched deals on 30 properties worth more than $46 million, or an average of at least $1.5 million per residence.

The vibrant May activity, coupled with first quarter sales increasing 23 percent from the same time frame in 2012, jibes with a recent report in Barron’s financial publication, Kiawah Island Real Estate says.

The report notes that the second-home market is “showing signs of health at almost all price points, in almost every market considered.” Such a trend is taking shape at Kiawah Island, the real estate brokerage says.

“The sales momentum is clearly on the upswing nationally, but particularly in this higher-end segment,” says Chris Drury, president and broker-in-charge of Kiawah Island Real Estate.

“Already this year, we are experiencing inventory moving at a much faster rate, properties with multiple offers and selling above asking price, as well as three oceanfront home sites each selling for more than $4 million in a 48-hour time frame,” he says.

The brokerage, citing a positive economic forecast and U.S. jobless figures at a four-year low, says Kiawah Island’s sales activity indicates client confidence in the improved economic climate nationally. Real estate sales executives affirm that assessment, the agency notes.

Those executives credit Kiawah Island’s hosting of the 2012 PGA Championship and increased resort occupancy as factors in the sales boost. According to the agency, its property sales to date in 2013 total more than $124 million.

For more information, visit www.KiawahIsland.com or call 843-768-3400.

•Upscale neighborhood underway off Wappoo, Ashley Hall roads•

Lowcountry designs, plush features and sites close to shops highlight a local builder’s “intimate” new enclave in West Ashley, its marketing group says.

The neighborhood, Fairfield Place, is a “collection” of nine homes. Catalyst Builders plans to craft the houses in line with its cottage-style models.

Fairfield Place is on the corner of Ashley Hall and Wappoo roads not far from Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and S.C. Highway 61. It’s the nearest new-home development to downtown Charleston, according to sales and marketing backer Carolina One New Homes.

The community’s location is “close to abundant shopping, dining, entertainment and offices,” the new homes group says. It will allow “short commutes for new homeowners to work and play.”

Fairfield Place will feature Catalyst Builders’ Charleston Cottage series of floor plans, which the builder has “built and improved upon in nearly 40 years of construction in the Lowcountry,” according to Carolina One New Homes.

The home interiors show off 9-foot smooth ceilings on the first floor, hardwood floors in the foyers, stain- and fade-resistant carpet, brushed-nickel-finished lighting fixtures, General Electric appliances and a special first year warranty program, the sales group notes.

Catalyst Builders will take on numerous upgrades to allow buyers the chance to customize their home “to fit their lifestyle,” Carolina One New Homes points out.

Many of the floor plans include the owner’s suite on the ground floor, while detached garages in various sizes are available as upgrades, according to the marketing group.

For more information about Fairfield Place, contact Wendell Lucas with Carolina One New Homes at 843-442-4963 or by email at wlucas@carolinaone.com.

Founded in 1994, Carolina One New Homes currently represents more than 30 new-homes communities. It is a division of Carolina One Real Estate.

•Home prices jump locally in May•

The typical $200,000 house in metro Charleston last year would have sold for $219,600 this spring based on newly released home price figures.

In greater Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville, housing values increased 9.8 percent in May from the same period of 2012. That works out to $9,800 for each $100,000 in home price. They rose just 0.1 percent in May from April.

The numbers, which take into account distressed sales such as foreclosed properties and short sales, stem from California-based CoreLogic’s monthly Home Price Index.

When distressed sales are excluded, prices grew 8.2 percent year-over-year in May. They decreased 0.6 percent month-over-month.

Home prices in metro Charleston showed a stronger climb than in South Carolina as a whole but lagged the U.S. overall.

CoreLogic, self-proclaimed provider of information, analytics and services for residential properties, reports that home prices including distressed sales increased 12.2 percent nationwide in May from a year previous.

According to the company, it’s the biggest year-over-year increase since February 2006. Meanwhile home values including distressed sales rose 2.6 percent in May from April. The last time prices didn’t increase month-over-month was in early 2012.

Excluding foreclosures and short sales, home prices escalated 11.6 percent in May from a year ago and climbed 2.3 percent from the previous month.

“It’s been more than seven years since the housing market last experienced the increases that we saw in May, with indications that the summer months will continue to see significant gains,” says Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “As we approach the half-way point of 2013, home prices continue to respond positively to the reductions in home inventory thus far,” he says.

A relatively new feature for the analytics firm, the CoreLogic Pending HPI, indicates that June home prices, including distressed sales, will rise 13.2 percent from a year before and 2.9 percent from a month earlier.

Setting aside distressed sales, home prices are poised to rise 12 percent year-over-year and by 2 percent month-over-month, according to CoreLogic.

“Home price appreciation, particularly in much of the western half of the U.S., is increasing at a torrid pace,” says Anand Nallathambi, chief executive of CoreLogic.

“Across the country, pent up demand and continued low interest rates are fueling strong demand for a limited inventory of properties,” he says. “We expect that trend to continue to drive up prices throughout the balance of the summer months.”

•Three real estate professionals join Healthy Realty•

One was a home maker, another majored in math and a third graduated with a corporate communications degree.

Now, they all call Healthy Realty their place of business. The start-up real estate brokerage is based in the Charleston area.

Regan Miller, a licensed real estate agent from Charlotte, joined Healthy Realty this year. She earned a degree in corporate communications from the College of Charleston. After graduating, she decided to stay and work in the area.

Miller, the daughter of a home builder, “has always had an interest in the real estate market and is excited to start her career in the field,” according to Healthy Realty.

Another new agent, Lauren Laplante, is “thrilled to be a part of the Healthy Realty team as she works hard to assist her clients in making smart, healthy real estate decisions,” the brokerage says.

Laplante, a licensed real estate agent in South Carolina, received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the College of Charleston. She remained in Charleston and found a job at Blackbaud. Two years later, she started working for an architect and real estate developer on Johns Island and Kiawah Island. That’s “when her love for real estate truly blossomed,” the company says.

Also signing on with Healthy Realty as an agent was Angie Esposito. She vacationed in Charleston for years before moving here. She was a stay-at-home mom, raising three children, for nine years. After that, Esposito chose to “combine her love of design and passion for helping people fulfill the American Dream,” according to Healthy Realty.

For more information, call 843-814-8279 or 843-881-9662, or visit www.megan-marshall.com.

•Wertan team named one of top realty groups by Journal•

It’s not quite like college football’s top 25, but a Charleston area real estate “team” cracked the leading 250 such groups in the U.S. in a recent ranking.

The Mount Pleasant-based Wertan Team of Re/Max agents ranked 230 on the Top 250 teams list. The Wall Street Journal and REAL Trends publishes rankings of real estate teams and individual sales professionals. They’re included in the 2013 list of the top 1,000 real estate sales professionals in the U.S. as measured by the number of properties sold per agent, according to Re/Max.

“The Thousand” ranked the top 250 agents and top 250 teams based on transaction sides and sales volume.

The Wertan Team has more than 30 years’ experience in the greater Charleston real estate market and sold more than 3,000 homes. David Wertan heads the team.

“Our number one goal is to help our clients have the best possible experience when buying or selling a home. With our extensive knowledge of the Charleston market, we quickly and accurately help our clients accomplish their real estate goals.”

According to Re/Max, the brokerage claims one out of every five agents in the top 250 – more than any other real estate brand in the report. The rankings of participating agents are based on 2012 production.

“We’re proud of these Re/Max agents for their outstanding professionalism and commitment,” says Margaret Kelly, company chief executive. “Their dedication to their clients is why – year in and year out – Re/Max sells more real estate than any other real estate franchise,” she says.

For more information about the Wertan Team, call 843-330-2500 or visit www.davidwertan.com/Charleston-Real-Estate-Team.