•Darby Development exec named U.S. apartment advocate of year•

From speaking at local gatherings to face-to-face talks with politicians, Victoria Cowart champions the cause of the apartment home trade, peers say.

Such full-fledged intensity led the Charleston businesswoman this month to garner the 2013 AIMS Grassroots Member Advocate of the Year award.

The Arlington, Va.-based National Apartment Association presented the trophy. AIMS stands for Apartment Industry Mobilization Service, a grassroots network made up of 58,000 multifamily housing advocates, according to the apartment association.

Cowart, a certified property manager, holds down the vice president of property management position for Darby Development in the Charleston area.

“If we don’t lobby and fight for our industry, our owners and our customers, who will?” says Cowart, member of the NAA as well as South Carolina Apartment Association and Charleston Apartment Association.

“Our members of Congress want to hear what we have to say and offer. We are the subject-matter experts they need to hear from in order to have a full understanding of our needs and the impact that past and future legislation can have in our industry.”

Cowart became involved in the grassroots movement after she attended her first national association Capitol Conference in 2000. She says she soon understood the importance of speaking up on behalf of the industry. Cowart also learned that advocacy isn’t reserved for Washington, D.C., doesn’t happen only once a year and often proves most successful at home, according to the association.

“Victoria has always been a relentless advocate for the apartment industry at the local, state and federal levels,” says Mike Holmes, of Easlan Management and the association’s legislative chair.

“She writes letters, makes phone calls and shows up, whether it be Lobby Day at the Capitol Conference, local town hall meetings, legislative committees or one-on-one in the office of a public official. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award,” he says.

Cowart stands as one of the first winners of the yearly award. The National Apartment Association launched the honor last year to showcase association members for their advocacy work on behalf of the industry.

The Apartment Industry Mobilization Service operates through the joint legislative program of the apartment association and National Multi Housing Council.

The association credits itself as the country’s leading advocate for quality rental housing. It strives to serve the interests of multifamily housing owners, managers, developers and suppliers and to maintain a “high level of professionalism” in the industry to better serve the public’s rental housing needs.

For more information, go to www.naahq.org or to Lauren Boston at 703-797-0678 or lauren@naahq.org.

•Re/Max adds agents in Summerville Main Street office•

Two real estate professionals who moved to the Lowcountry from out of state recently joined the new Dorchester County office of a large national brokerage.

Carey Taylor and Dawn Hartman signed on with Re/Max Main Street Realty in Summerville.

Taylor relocated from Arizona to join Re/Max in Summerville. She has nine years of experience in the real estate field.

Meanwhile, Hartman also comes to Re/Max with nine years’ real estate background, in her case as a licensed agent in New Jersey.

Re/Max Main Street Realty opened on North Main Street in September 2013. The office says it’s excited that Hartman and Taylor joined the Re/Max team.

For more information, contact Sheila Watts, office manager at 843-879-8377.

•New local builder starts work on Colony North properties•

The first houses from Hunter Quinn Homes at an established neighborhood off Ashley Phosphate Road should be available for occupancy early next year.

Crews began construction this month on the houses in North Charleston-based Colony North, according to Carolina One New Homes.

The real estate division exclusively markets the Hunter Quinn homes. Carolina One says that two new residences should be completed by the end of January and two more homes another month later.

Homes include the three-bedroom Newberry model. Ranging in size from 1,365 to 1,925 square feet, the floor plan will feature stainless steel appliances, two car garages and 100 square feet of “tranquil and private” pond views. Prices range from the low $150,000s to the low $160,000s. Buyers can add many upgrades.

Hunter Quinn Homes provides a 10-year warranty as well as energy efficient designs to control utility costs and protect the environment.

The Newberry includes HERS (Home Energy Rating system) and Energy Star appliances, she says, as well as Low-E (“low emissivity” to reflect more sun) windows and tight construction that reduces air infiltration, according to Carolina One New Homes marketing representative Julia Cunningham.

“Hunter Quinn Homes’ goal is to provide long term affordability at fantastic new home pricing,” she says. For more, contact Cunningham at 843-864-9111 or via e-mail at jcunningham@carolinaone.com.

Carolina One New Homes, a division of Carolina One Real Estate, dates to 1994. It represents more than 30 new-home communities.

•Scrughan gains military relocation certification•

Looking long-term, a Century 21 Properties Plus agent says she’s prepared herself to help active military and veterans in selling or buying a home.

Jackie Scrughan, Realtor with the Century 21 office in Mount Pleasant, earned the Military Relocation Professional certification. She says that real estate education needs to be a career-long endeavor for today’s real estate professional.

The MRP designation provides Scrughan with the tools to accommodate current and former military service members on homeowners needs throughout their careers.

“By earning this Military Relocation Professional certification, I have enhanced my services to provide for those who have served our country.” Scrughan says she also ensures that Century 21 Properties Plus clients “receive the professional real estate services they expect and deserve.”

•Mortgage servicer names Ellis as manager in North Charleston•

A veteran real estate broker has joined a Charleston area mortgage office as manager, where she will team with builders and agents to build the company.

ResMac Charleston recently hired Christina Ellis as sales and relationship manager for the region.

The company describes itself as a “direct Fannie Mae servicer-seller of residential mortgage loans.” According to ResMac, the real estate professional “will handle all aspects of sales and relationship management for the entire Charleston market.”

Ellis joins the company after years of real estate experience and a “distinguished (real estate) career. She brings her dynamic personality and drive” to deliver the best customer service, according to the mortgage company.

“I have known Christina for almost 10 years and she is one of the most respected names in the real estate community in Charleston,” says Jay Byars, South Carolina regional manager for ResMac.

“I am looking forward to working closely with her and helping her to expand our market,” Byars says. The office wants to ensure it delivers “unparalleled customer service” to clients and referral partners, he says.

Ellis will team with ResMac’s builder and real estate partners “to deliver a strong, competitive, and hassle free home buying experience,” according to the venture.

The company says her marketing and relationship management background should “help build solid relationships with partners and clients” in the greater Charleston market.

•Special incentives offered by Hunley Waters through the holidays•

Home shoppers have until Christmas to secure price breaks on a handful of new houses in an upwardly mobile North Charleston neighborhood.

Hunley Waters “green” community just south of Park Circle introduces four new homes, all touting incentives.

The community’s backer Cobalt Developments LLC publicized a new package of perks for prospective buyers of the quartet of Hunley Waters homes.

The incentive offers, which expire Dec. 25, include financial assistance towards closing costs and a furniture allowance for qualified buyers.

According to Cobalt Developments, the homes and their individual financial breaks include:

• 1019 Hunley Waters Circle: Ashepoo model with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths, 1,518 square feet on two floors and a two-car garage. It’s priced at $199,000. The incentive amounts to $4,000 towards closing costs if using a preferred lender and a $2,000 gift card to a furniture chain.

• 1031 Hunley Waters Circle: Ashepoo model priced at $200,000. The perk amounts to $4,000 towards closing costs with a preferred lender.

• 1022 Hunley Waters Circle: Ashepoo floor plan with marsh view, costing $209,999. Buyers can choose $2,000 towards closing costs with a preferred lender, or a screened-in patio.

• 1050 Hunley Waters Circle: Ashley floor plan with large wraparound porch and marsh views priced at $279,999. Granite counters are an option, and the incentive comes to $2,000 towards closing costs.

“These incentives offer a great start for a prospective buyer looking for a waterfront home,” says Chris Swan, chief executive of Cobalt.

Hunley Waters offers buyers an “unsurpassed” package of amenities and waterfront views in its price range, compared with similar homes in the Charleston area, Swan says.

The gated neighborhood, a block away from the East Montague Business Corridor, features waterfront access to Noisette Creek and a dock and pavilion for kayakers. As a sustainable residential development, Hunley Waters features homes with National Association of Home Builders green certification.

Hunley Waters sales agents consist of Valarie Frasier and Neil Bansil, each of Carolina Elite Real Estate.

Frasier’s web site is www.ValarieSellsCharleston.com. She also can be contacted at 843-276-8614 or by e-mail at Valarie.Frasier@CarolineEliteRE.com.

Bansil maintains a popular website and blog at www.realdealwithneil.com. He can be reached at 843-714-3855 or neil.bansil@carolinaeliteRE.com.

For more information on the neighborhood, visit www.hunleywaters.com.

•Carolina One Real Estate singles out nonprofits for contributions•

A varied group of five nonprofits each received $1,500 this month from one of the region’s largest real estate agencies.

Carolina One Real Estate presented checks at its second awards distribution ceremony of 2013. The brokerage’s Charitable Contributions Committee selected the groups. They are the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, East Cooper Meals on Wheels, Lowcountry Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy, Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach and the Roscoe Reading Program.

Carolina One sales associates make up the committee, chaired by Kris Kordonowy and Tom Tillery.

The agency established the charitable contributions committee in 2006 to dole out grants to Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester county non-profit organizations. The committee stands comprised of one Carolina One Real Estate agent from each of the 10 greater Charleston offices.

According to Carolina One, the committee’s goal is to improve the quality of life in each of the three counties by supporting organizations that serve the communities. To date, the company’s donations total $165,000.

Applications are accepted from nonprofit organizations that serve people who live in Berkeley, Charleston or Dorchester counties.

Organizations must complete an application and include a copy of the IRS letter certifying their 501(c) 3 status or submit an IRS letter of eligibility.

For the next funding round, applications should be faxed to 843-577-6274 no later than March 31, 2014.

Any questions should be directed to Tillery, the committee chairman, at 843-577-0001.

For more information, visit www.CarolinaOne.com.

•Lennar making moves in Moncks Corner•

A new cove and an acquired grove will help Lennar grab a foothold near the Berkeley County seat.

The national builder purchased property at Moss Grove near Moncks Corner, to be ready by next spring.

Meanwhile, Lennar held a grand opening for its Jacobs Cove neighborhood last weekend. Houses are available.

“Moncks Corner is quickly growing and flourishing with its own history and character, and Lennar is excited to be a part of that growth,” says Jason Byham, the builder’s Coastal Carolinas Division director of sales and marketing.

Both communities will feature large open floor plans and more “included” features — Lennar’s term for installing higher-end attractions as standard equipment.

Jacobs Cove showcases houses starting in the low $100,000s. Bought by Lennar’s Coastal Carolina Division, the Moss Grove property will offer three home collections consisting of the Sandpiper, Arbor and Coastal series. The homes, available in early to mid 2014, will be priced from the high $100,000s to high $200,000s. The neighborhood also will include an amenity center.

“These two communities bring new homes to the market that include more features and open floor plans,” Byham says. “With early and excited interest in both Jacobs Cove and Moss Grove, we expect homes to go quickly and bring great neighborhoods to this unique town.”

For more information, visit www.LennarCharleston.com or call 843-513-8295.

Founded in 1954 and headquartered in Miami, Lennar Corp. says it stands among the leading builders of quality homes across generations. The company builds affordable, move-up and retirement homes in 18 states.

To learn more, visit www.Lennar.com.

•Ortiz joins Century 21 Properties Plus•

A veteran paralegal this month made the switch to real estate.

Nicole Ortiz joined Trina Woods & Associates, Century 21 Properties Plus as a licensed assistant.

She spent four years serving the real estate market in upstate New York and recently became licensed in South Carolina. Ortiz graduated from Syracuse University, where she studied music and paralegal studies, then worked as a paralegal for more than 14 years. The agent lives in historic Summerville with her husband, Abe, and 4-year-old daughter, Sofia.

“I’m thrilled to be part of Trina’s team at Century 21 Properties Plus,” Ortiz says. “We will serve our clients in this charming town where our sense of community abounds.”