Real Estate News — Realtors join volunteer effort; builder brings on new Internet associate

Students from James Simons Elementary and their Realtor mentors visit the College of Charleston.

Agents give back during Realtors Care week

In a five day blitz, close to 200 volunteers toted hammers, donned oyster gloves, joined kids on a tour and doled out heaping helpings of food.

They were real estate professionals taking part in the 2nd annual Charleston Realtors Care Week. Sponsored by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, the event brought out dozens of willing workers to take part in four varied projects Nov. 14-18.

Agents delivered meals for East Cooper Meals on Wheels, took a field trip with underserved youth from James Simons Elementary School, held an oyster roast to raise money for an affordable housing fund and helped Charleston Habitat for Humanity rebuild a downtown home, says Meghan Weinreich, the association’s spokesperson.

Realtors on Nov. 15 got together with East Cooper Meals on Wheels to package and deliver more than 350 meals to homebound residents of Mount Pleasant, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms and Cainhoy.

The next day, agents in the Reading with Realtors program visited the College of Charleston with a group of students from James Simons Elementary.

“The visit was designed to engage the students in a college environment and encourage them to begin taking the steps toward a college education,” Weinreich says.

On Thursday, more than 100 Realtors sponsored an oyster roast and chili cook-off at Salty Mike’s Deck Bar. All the proceeds benefited the Realtors Housing Opportunities Fund. RHOF supports the work of Rural Mission, Habitat for Humanity, Operation Home and other local organizations assisting Lowcountry residents in need of safe, affordable housing. The funds it distributes can ease repair and reconstruction costs for people living in substandard housing.

Then Friday, Realtors volunteered for a Build Day with Charleston Habitat for Humanity. They joined in renovating the downtown home of Sandra Miller, whose property is in severe disrepair with holes in the walls and a tarp covering the roof.

The fund donated $1,000 through Habitat for Humanity to support the project.

Realtors Care Week was a partner of the broader Lowcountry Philanthropy Week.

Lennar hires local online administrator

A national builder has brought on someone to oversee its cyberspace efforts locally.

Rebekah Saatzer has joined Lennar’s Coastal Carolinas team as an Internet administrator. The company’s online administrators are able to connect with clients in real-time and assist in their home searches from the beginning, according to Lennar.

“For the homebuyer on the go — from those who need to find answers during the few free moments they have in the morning or while browsing the Internet during their lunch break at the office — working with Lennar’s Internet administrator is the ultimate in convenience,” the company says.

Whether a potential homeowner wants to know about the area schools that Lennar communities are zoned for or coastal attractions, the administrator can provide answers right away. The information can also include home plans, pricing and community amenities.

“As Lennar’s Coastal Carolinas division continues to grow, it is important that we find new ways to provide the best customer service possible,” says Ann Ivey, the division’s Director of Sales.

Saatzer earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin – Stoot. She has been a Charleston resident for a few years and is a Lennar homeowner.

For more information, contact Saatzer by visiting www.LennarCharleston.com and clicking on “live chat” to begin a conversation.

Charleston rental market improving

Property leasing could be headed for a record year locally in 2011, the rental management arm of a major brokerage says.

In the first nine months of the year, the Charleston area real estate market has seen rented units increase 11.7 percent from a year earlier, according to Carolina One Real Estate, citing figures from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Through September, 3,945 apartments and other dwellings have rented in Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties. Leases are on pace to surpass 5,000 rented units this year, which would be a record.

More than half of the rentals, 54 percent, are single-family homes.

Condominiums account for 17 percent of rentals, followed by townhomes at 15 percent.

With more than 775 rental units under management locally, Carolina One Property Management is the leading provider of single-family residential property management services in the area, says Eric Wetherington, director/broker of Carolina One Property Management.

Modular builder develops cottage for disabled, elderly

The concept is to design residences where the infirmed can live at home near their family rather than move into an assisted living facility.

Such dwellings are called “Care-Cottages,” according to Sanford, N.C.-based Homes by Vanderbuilt. The company — which is licensed in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia — says it will be the first modular home dealer in the mid-Atlantic region to offer the cottages.

“It’s a whole new concept, an alternative to assisted living,” says Chris Van de Reit, sales manager and product director for Homes by Vanderbuilt.

“The idea is to set these units up on or near the caregiver’s property, so that elderly or disabled family members can enjoy a feeling of independence and privacy while still having loved ones close by,” he says.

Martinsburg, Va.-based Nationwide Homes developed the wheelchair accessible dwellings. They can be custom-designed to include counter height appliances, accessible shelves and storage and barrier free showers, vanities and commodes, Van de Reit says.

“They’re awesome,” says Angie Plager, a 29-year-old disabled Iowa native who recently moved into a Care-Cottage that her parents set up next to their home.

According to Van de Reit, Plager was paralyzed from the chest down after an automobile accident eight years ago. She previously resided in her mother’s living room, since all of the bedrooms in her family’s two-story home are upstairs. “The Care-Cottage has increased my independence, improved my accessibility and enhanced my quality of life,” she says.

Care-Cottages typically retail for $69,000. By comparison, assisted living facilities charge an average of $3,500 per month, or $42,000 per year, Van de Reit says.

“Given the high cost of assisted living facilities, it doesn’t take long for a Care-Cottage to pay for itself,” he says.

Homes By Vanderbuilt is Nationwide Homes’ largest dealer, offering the largest on-site selection of modular homes in the country with 35 units on display.

For more information, visit www.ncmodulars.com.