Real Estate News — New neighborhood underway near Upper King district; local agents join Century 21

The Gathering at Morris Square is a new neighborhood off Morris Street that will have 33 residences when completed (Leroy Burnell/

•Detached, single-family homes “gather’ uptown•

Properties are now available at a new village of 33 detached- and attached-homes within what backers call the Charleston peninsula’s “urban core.”

The Gathering at Morris Square is on Morris Street between Felix and Smith streets. Prices start in the mid $400,000s for the 1,400-2,100 square foot residences.

Cuyler Applegate, with William Means Real Estate, has officially listed the first four properties in what the company refers to as an “exciting” community in a prime downtown spot.

“This location is attractive to a wide range of buyers — professionals wanting to live near work, young couples wanting to raise their children in an urban environment and students at both MUSC and College of Charleston who would like to be able to walk to school,” says Applegate, the listing agent.

According to William Means, The Gathering at Morris Square “combines classic Charleston architecture with modern design.”

Buyers can select from eight floor plans. The homes consist of three-to-four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. Perks are metal roofs, cement plank exteriors, bamboo floors, granite counters, ceramic tile bathroom floors and off-street parking, the real estate agency notes.

Complementing the neighborhood will be a new city park.

The Gathering at Morris Square is off Upper King Street, which gives residents access to cocktail bars, dining, shopping and cutting-edge art galleries, according to William Means.

Also close by are MUSC, the College of Charleston and the Charleston School of Law.

Applegate says neighborhood supporters are “excited to bring a new quality construction project to the peninsula in close proximity to the tremendous growth around Upper King. This is a huge bonus for The Gathering at Morris Square and its potential buyers,” he says.

William Means contends the area’s development of new hotels and restaurants will boost attention around an already highly desired area. In a sign of growing demand, more than 15 homes have sold to date this year in the Upper King area, and the most recent sales were on the market for less than 60 days, the agency notes, citing figures from the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors’ Multiple Listing Service as of May 20.

Formed in 1933, William Means Real Estate specializes in buying and selling residential property and real estate in Charleston’s historic peninsula and in surrounding communities and islands. It has more than 25 agents and offices in Charleston and in East Cooper. The agency is also Charleston’s exclusive affiliate with Christie’s International Real Estate.

•Altmans, Tufts join affiliate of nationwide agency•

A father and son have launched a sales team with Century 21 Properties Plus, while a start-up agent is signing on as an associate.

John Altman has 20 years experience as a licensed homebuilder in South Carolina and is president of Home Sweet Home Construction. He and son Pressley are a new team of sales associates with Century 21 Properties Plus, operating under the name Altman & Altman LLC.

The pair will specialize in residential property sales in the Summerville area, according to Century 21.

“We are thrilled to have them join our team,” says Tim Rash, who heads up Century 21 Properties Plus. “It’s an exciting time to be with the Century 21 System as we increase our market presence in Summerville,” Rash says.

The Altmans point out that they know the Charleston area as “lifelong Summerville residents.”

Meanwhile, Danielle Tufts has joined Century 21 Properties Plus as a sales associate, likewise focusing on deals in greater Summerville.

Tufts just completed “extensive training and licensing” through Fortune Academy as well as an eight-week course with Century 21 Properties Plus. Rash says, “We believe training supports growth and professional excellence in the real estate industry.”

Tufts, who lives in the Summerville area, is married with two children. “I am looking forward to beginning my real estate career with such a great company,” she says.

Century 21 Properties Plus started up 15 years ago. It has locations in downtown Summerville at 118 W. Richardson Ave. and east of the Cooper in Park West at 3301 Salterbeck Court.

For more information, visit

•Greater Charleston area sees dip in foreclosure rates•

Extending a streak of fewer local properties in line to be repossessed by the lender, the foreclosure rate locally fell in March to 3.28 percent. The share was 4.05 percent a year ago.

Figures for the Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville metro area came from national real estate analyst CoreLogic.

Although foreclosure activity sank in the Charleston area, the share was higher than the national foreclosure rate of 2.84 percent.

The mortgage delinquency rate, too, declined in Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville. According to CoreLogic information, 5.93 percent of mortgage loans were 90 days or more past due in March compared to 6.87 percent for the same period of 2012. The U.S. delinquency rate in March dropped to 6.01 percent, from 7 percent a year earlier.

CoreLogic says the delinquency rate also includes properties that are in foreclosure or reclaimed by a bank or other lender. The foreclosure rate, meanwhile, refers to loans in some stage of the foreclosure process. Foreclosures are defined as cases where the owner’s right to a property is terminated, usually due to default.

•Hunley Waters to host ‘summer block party’•

New residents of an energy-efficient neighborhood in North Charleston will be feted as a special event today.

The Hunley Waters Summer Block Party is 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

The public is invited to the free housewarming event geared to people who have just moved into the community. The fest will include food, drink and entertainment. There will be an outdoor cookout and music by the Bluegrass duo Green Levels.

Hunley Waters, North Charleston’s only gated waterfront community, is noted for its National Association of Home Builders’-certified green homes.

According to the neigbhorhood’s marketers, the 36-home community perched on Noisette Creek is a block from the bustling East Montague Business Corridor. The neighborhood showcases a community dock and pavilion for recreational kayaking.

Homes tout front porches, ample storage space and the latest Energy Star appliances, according to supporters. The public can tour homes at the block party. Anyone interested can contact Neil Bansil at 843-714-3855 or Valarie Frasier at 843-276-8614.

According to the developer, Hunley Waters features special incentive financing for workers employed at the city of North Charleston, Charleston County, Joint Base Charleston and SPAWAR.

For more information, visit

•Valentine joins NAI Avant as commercial broker•

An agent whose background isin retail leasing has singed on with the Charleston office of a Columbia-based brokerage.

Gordon Valentine is the latest broker to join NAI Avant’s Charleston office. According to the company, “his knowledge and experience provides tenants, owners and investors with a wide range of commercial real estate services.”

Before joining NAI Avant, Valentine worked for Birchin Lane Realty Advisors LLC in Charleston. He specialized in retail leasing and site selection for a national retailer.

Valentine, originally from Richmond, Va., received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia and pursued a concentration in urban planning, real estate development and finance.

NAI Avant’s Charleston office is located in the King & Queen Building at 145 King St., Suite 410.

The company employs more than 65 professionals in comprehensive brokerage, leasing, development, property and project management services. The brokerage is a member of the NAI Global Network.

For more, go online to

•Snapshot of local new-homes market to take place this month•

Contractors in the housing business stand to gain impressions of the local market from a noted economist and a new homes specialist.

The Charleston Home Builders Association is hosting the Charleston New Homes Market Update from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18. The update will take place at Crowne Plaza Hotel, 4831 Tanger Outlet Blvd. in North Charleston.

One Home Builders Association member per company can attned the event for free. Each additional member or non-member is $25. Sponsors are The Post and Courier and SCE&G.

Presenting the update will be Will Jenkinson, broker-in-charge of Carolina One New Homes; and Joey Von Nessen, research economist at RESH Marketing.

For more information, visit

•South strongest in construction backlog index•

A leading national sign of commercial and industrial contractor work slowed in the first quarter but is up solidly from a year before.

The Construction Backlog Indicator is a forward-looking national economic marker that reflects the amount of work that will be performed by commercial and industrial contractors in the months ahead, according to Associated Builders and Contractors, which compiles the report.

The group claims that the data provides “the only reliable leading economic indicator offering this level of specificity focused on the U.S. commercial and institutional, industrial, and infrastructure construction industries.”

According to the organization, the first quarter 2013 indicator dipped 1.1 percent and stands at a 7.9 month backlog.

At the same time the indicator is 7 percent higher than the same period of 2012.

According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, the indicator shows commercial and industrial construction work under contract, but not yet completed.

“As with the broader economic recovery, the rebound of the nation’s nonresidential construction industry remains sporadic and stymied by a myriad factors, including tight credit, heightened caution among private developers and public policymakers, and a still struggling global economy,” ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu says.

“Because a growing number of projects are now in various stages of planning, the expectation is that the backlog will expand moderately later in 2013, but construction volumes will be roughly flat for the balance of the year,” he says.

“Certain nonresidential construction segments, such as energy generation, infrastructure, retail and lodging, appear to be doing well,” Basu says.

By region, the South continues to hold down the most sizable backlog at 9.3 months, which is the highest level in more than a year, the group says.

The Associated Builders and Contractors cited Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia as rapidly expanding states in the South.

Basu says construction spending growth remains constrained nationwide, despite several large infrastructure projects.

“In contrast, the South continues to progress. Major industrial projects have recently broken ground or been announced in Alabama, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere in the region. The energy sector also has continued to support contractors in Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma,” he says.

By sector, the heavy industrial sector construction fell from 6.2 months in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 5.7 months in the first quarter 2013.

Infrastructure continues to be associated with the lengthiest construction backlog among all three industry segments at 9.7 months in the first quarter, according to Basu.

“Because the nation did not fall off of its fiscal cliff, infrastructure-related backlog remains relatively stable,” he says. “However, highly constrained state and local government budgets continue to frustrate substantial improvement in this segment,” he says.

At the same time, ”commercial and institutional construction backlogs continue to expand,” Basu says, “thanks in part to gradually declining office vacancy rates in much of the nation and rising hotel occupancy rates”.

By company size, firms with $100 million or more in annual revenues showed a jump in construction backlog during the first quarter from 10.8 months to 11.2 months. “Backlog among this group has never been longer in the history” of the Construction Backlog Indicators, he says.

In contrast, companies with annual revenues below $30 million experienced a decline in construction backlog during the first quarter, the economist says.

“In general, larger firms enjoy the most solid banking and insurance relationships and are often able to leverage those relationships into comparative advantage,” Basu says. “This seems to be happening now as larger general and subcontractors have widened their advantage over their smaller competitors during the past quarter.”

The Associated Builders and Contractors describes itself as a national trade association representing 22,000 members from more than 19,000 construction and industry-related firms.

For more information, visit the group’s website as