Real Estate News — Ryland launches model home at large East Cooper development; agent team relocates

The rental business in the Charleston market is on the rise, according to the local Multiple Listing Service and Carolina One Real Estate. One popular place to lease is at the beachfront (Brad Nettles/postandcourier.com).

• Builder breaks ground at Carolina Park •

A long-dormant Mount Pleasant neighborhood is seeing some of its first construction lately, and credit goes to Ryland Homes.

The company says it recently broke ground on two model homes at Carolina Park, located off Carolina Park Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17 North.

Ryland Homes intends to frame 58 luxury houses in the planned community, says Brian Cartwright, the builder’s vice president of sales and marketing in the Charleston-Myrtle Beach region.

The sales models are each two-story. The 3,206-square-foot Coosaw floor plan offers four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths with a detached two-car garage. It is priced at Carolina Park from $360,000. Meanwhile, the 2,446-square-foot Thompson design provides three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths with a bonus room, a downstairs master bedroom and detached two-car garage. The plan is priced from $322,000.

Both models are scheduled to open by the end of September.

Ryland Homes will supply six floor plans at Carolina Park. They range from 2,100 to 2,964 square feet and are priced from the low $300,000s.

Carolina Park will introduce a bevy of attractions, such as a Junior Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, playground and walking and biking trails.

For more information, visit www.Ryland.com.

• Brokerage team moves West Ashley •

A grand opening will take place Wednesday Aug. 1 to showcase the new location of Re/Max Advanced Realty.

The customer appreciation event, which is also open to the public, will be 5-8 p.m. at the new office at 1350-B Ashley River Road.

Lisa Richart, a veteran real estate agent, is broker in charge of the new office. Team members also include Kevin Ortega, Kandi Bower and Julie Tortorici.The team is relocating from Mount Pleasant.

For more information, call 843-414-7167.

• Rate of homes ‘underwater’ in Charleston area on decline •

At least financially speaking, a larger share of Lowcountry homes are staying right side up and above water.

The findings come from CoreLogic, a national analysis and information venture, in its report on mortgages and their relative health.

According to the company, 24.6 percent of mortgages in metro Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville posted negative equity at the end of the first quarter. That amounted to 36,322 houses. Negative equity, CoreLogic says, is where borrowers owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

The local share, which is nearly one in every four homes, is down from 26.6 percent or 39,485 properties in fourth quarter 2011.

An additional 7.3 percent of houses locally were in “near negative equity” for the first quarter compared with 7.2 percent three months earlier.

The Charleston negative equity share is slightly higher than the 23.7 percent national average. In the U.S. 11.4 million residences were in negative equity, often referred to as “underwater,” or “upside down,” totaling $691 billion. The total is down from 12.1 million properties, or 25.1 percent, and $742 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

According to CoreLogic, negative equity can occur because of a decline in value, an increase in mortgage debt or a combination of both.

Nationally, more than 700,000 households moved back into positive equity position in the first quarter.

The $51 billion drop in “underwater” mortgages was primarily due to an improvement in house price levels, CoreLogic says.

“In the first quarter of 2012, rebounding home prices, a healthier balance of real estate supply and demand, and a slowing share of distressed sales activity helped to reduce the negative equity share,” says Mark Fleming, the company’s chief economist.

“This is a meaningful improvement that is driven by quickly improving outlooks in some of the hardest hit markets,” Fleming says. “While the overall stagnating economic recovery will likely slow housing market recovery in the second half of this year, reducing the number of underwater households is an important step toward reducing future mortgage default risk,” he says.

“Although it will still be a slow recovery for U.S. homeowners, we see this improvement as a stabilizing and positive development for the mortgage industry,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and chief executive of CoreLogic.

By state, Nevada had the highest “underwater” share at 61 percent followed by Florida at 45 percent; Arizona, 42 percent; Georgia, 37 percent; and Michigan, 35 percent.

The rate in South Carolina was 19 percent, with 621,051 mortgages “upside down.”

• Snapshot: Local rental market proves strong in first half of year •

The uptick in leasing figures for greater Charleston isn’t dramatic, but it is steady.

Through the first half of the year, 2,798 units have rented in metro Charleston, the Charleston Trident Multiple Listing Service shows. The total is up 10 percent from a year ago.

The findings are included in Carolina One Real Estate’s monthly Rental Market Snapshot. According to the real estate company, “increased demand has driven rental prices higher and shortened days-vacant for most rentals.”

Rising demand has resulted in more investors showing interest in buying properties that they can turn into rentals, the snapshot notes.Specifically, nearly 25 percent of recent sales in the market have been to investors who plan to rent out the properties they are purchasing.

“All indications point to a strong second half for the rental market in 2012,” according to Carolina One in its 30 day report.

• Weichert taps sales director for Carolinas, Virginia •

A veteran corporate manager from Fort Mill is the new Franchise Sales Director for Weichert Real Estate Affliates in its Carolinas/Virginia region.

In her new post, Karen Squires will support the national vice president of Business Development, Kevin Hill, in developing franchise opportunities throughout the Carolinas and Virginia.

Hill’s selection of Squires furthers the “in the trenches” model for Weichert personnel, the company says. The team is made up of people who have been in the field as Realtors, brokers, office owners, managers and sales people “rooted or reared in real estate.”

Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, the franchise arm of Weichert, Realtors, dates to Jan. 2002 and has been steadily expanding its presence in key markets throughout 35 states.

Squires will talk to independent brokerage owners who are seeking the kind of support and opportunities that are part of the franchise organization experience, according to Weichert.

“The Weichert way of doing business is a conversation worth having,” she says.

During the last 15 years, Squires has been part of both global and local sales organizations.For more than a dozen years, Squires was global account manager and then enterprise account manager with Konica Minolta Danka Imaging in Charlotte. She managed international and domestic accounts, as well as training and sales. She has also been a teacher, and prior to joining Weichert, a sales agent for LiveWell Homes.

Squires has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Redlands in California.

To learn more, call Squires at 704-236-2400 or contact her via e-mail at ksquires@weichertrealtors.net.

• HHHunt Homes takes steep move up Builder Magazine list •

Doubling its ranking, HHHunt Corp. jumped to No. 71 nationwide last year from 142 the year before in Builder Magazine’s “2011 Builder 100” list.

The parent of regional homebuilder HHHunt Homes showed the mostimprovement of all homebuilders, according to the company.

HHHunt Corp. closed 369 homes last year, a 45percent increase from its 254 total closings in 2010.

“This achievement reflects the financial commitment from the company to support aggressive growth right through the bottom of a challenging housing market,” says Olin Wilson, vice president of homebuilding for HHHunt Homes. “It takes a lot of players to make a team and HHHunt Homes is part of a great team,” he says.

HHHunt Homes says its national ranking includes 88 residences from HandCrafted Homes.

Founded in 1992 and headquartered in Blacksburg, Va., HHHunt Homes build houses in a variety of metropolitan areas within Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina including greater Charleston.

For more information, visit www.HHHuntHomes.com.