Real Estate News — Noted Realtor company lines up new agents; Hanahan single-family community to open in first quarter

Donna Landry (Provided).

A former medical-sales pro from Louisiana and a veteran agent with countrywide connections recently joined Coldwell Banker United, Realtors locally.

The associates are John Merritt and Donna Landry.

Originally from the Midwest, Landry spent 25 years in southern Louisiana before relocating to Charleston. She works out of Coldwell Banker’s downtown Charleston office.

According to the agency, Landry was certain about her decision to switch from health care sales to real estate in South Carolina.

“I knew right away I wanted to share the beauty, history, beaches, food, festivals and everything else Charleston has to offer with everyone,” she says.

Landry likes to work with clients planning to move here and those who are selling and buying locally, the agency says. She also enjoys showing houses. The agent has made a “high level commitment” to real estate education.

“You will get the expertise and knowledge you deserve when buying or selling a home,” Coldwell Banker notes.

Her interests include family and friends, “a good happy hour,” and taking her dog to the beach, the agency says. Her contractor-developer husband is a “great resource,” according to Coldwell Banker. They live on Daniel Island.

Landry can be reached at 225-921-2111, or her website at

Merritt is also stationed at the agency’s Charleston office. He was raised and educated in Charleston.

“Like Homer my travels have been nothing less than an odyssey,” he says. “I have enjoyed working and meeting with many talented people from around the country and from around the world.”

Merritt says he has a “proven ability to negotiate through deals.” He describes the real estate business as “no less than a calling” to him.

“I have done this with my father as I grew through the years. So many aspects of buying and selling property were passed on to me,” he says, noting that working with his father in greater Charleston proved to be more than rewarding.

He says the reasons compelling him to affiliate with Coldwell Banker United are the agency’s “fine, just and upright group of ladies and gentlemen who are eager to share their knowledge and professionalism, spirited by leadership that provides education and cutting edge technology, that inspires and empowers agents as myself to provide you with every facet of your real estate needs.”

Merritt can be reached at 843-489-5553, or

The homes will be “stunning,” location prime and prices in the high $200,000s. So says the builder of the new Timbercrest Village in Hanahan.

David Weekley Homes plans to launch the community by the end of March in Tanner Plantation.

According to the company, homebuyers can take advantage of shopping, restaurants, childcare and a gym at adjacent Tanner Station shopping plaza. Also proximate are interstates 526 and 26; Charleston International Airport; and Wannamaker Park, which boasts playgrounds, walking trails and a water park. Residents can also boat on the nearby Goose Creek Reservoir; a boat launch is just down the road, according to the home builder.

Meanwhile, The Brooklands model home will open soon, David Weekley Homes says. The two-story house sports four bedrooms, four full baths and a half bath. Sporting 2,930 square feet of living space, the property features “a keeping room off the family room, and an upstairs retreat area,” the builder says.

David Weekley Homes says its Charleston area houses are energy-efficient, EnergySaver certified and backed by the Environments for Living Program’s heating and cooling energy usage guarantee.

In addition, buyers can select from “thousands” of Custom Choices in the Charleston design center to personalize their David Weekley home, the company says.

The Houston-based venture, founded in 1976, describes itself as the nation’s largest privately held home builder. It crafts houses locally in Charleston, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Mount Pleasant and Moncks Corner.

For more information, call Kelly Maloney at 800-399-7079 or visit the company’s website at

The Lowcountry housing market surged last year in terms of sales and prices, local Realtor Doug Holmes says.

“And 2015 looks to be even better,” he notes.

The Keller Williams Realty agent, who has a master’s degree in mathematics, touts that metro Charleston property holders sold more than 13,500 homes last year with a median sales price of $222,000.

“That was a 7.4 percent increase in transactions over 2013, which was also a great year,” he says. “And the $222,000 median sales price”— up 5.7 percent from 2013 — “was the highest ever for the Charleston area.”

Another sign of economic health, Holmes says, is that short sales and foreclosures are now a “very small insignificant part of the market here.”

New construction, Holmes says, is on the rise and has induced “competition for sellers” in some specific markets.

The Charleston peninsula and surrounding suburbs Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley and Johns Island “continue to do extremely well due to their proximity to downtown and the beaches,” he says.

“Summerville and Goose Creek are very popular because of the lower prices,” he says. Daniel Island, meanwhile, has grown into an alluring place for Boeing executives.

“Sales are very good there,” Holmes says.

At the same time, Park Circle in North Charleston “has become a popular place to buy rental investment property because of the proximity to Boeing,” according to Holmes.

Looking ahead, the market should continue to pulsate.

“Real estate sales tend to drop off here in January and February, but not this year,” Holmes says.

“There are tons of buyers out there,” he says, “and we are putting record numbers of homes under contract each week.”

A Carolinas mountain group of resorts has landed at the top of a host of select real estate properties chosen by a specialty publication.

The Cliffs, headquartered in Travelers Rest, scored in the “The Best of the Best” category in Links Magazine’s Premier Properties awards.

Just 41 communities out of hundreds profiled earned “The Best of the Best” distinction in the 2015 Premier Properties Guide, according to The Cliffs.

To be selected, a community required first-class amenities “not just for the golfer, but for the entire family.” The “Best of the Best” properties, meanwhile, must also provide “unique experiences and lasting memories.”

Historically, golf was considered to be the top activity a community could offer; now, it’s one of the many amenities buyers are seeking, The Cliffs says.

“Eight years ago, 60 percent of our target buyers listed golf as the main reason for choosing where to buy a second home,” says David Sawyer, managing partner of Cliffs Clubs. “Today, 52 percent of our buyers list health and wellness as a top priority.”

The Cliffs, which boasts seven championship golf courses, gained Premier Property status by also emphasizing programs and experiences related to health, fitness, recreation, culinary and wine.

Recently, the resort group made investments in developing its amenities and team of experts.

Among the moves, The Cliffs:

- Saw its “wellness managers” graduate from the Gray Institute as GIFT Fellows, an elite training program.

- Expanded wine culture by promoting sommelier education and new wine programs.

- Opened its seventh golf course, an 18-hole award-winning Gary Player Signature design at The Cliffs at Mountain Park.

- Developed the Mountain Park Cabin, a modern take on the traditional clubhouse.

- Completed a $450,000 enhancement and upgrade project at The Cliffs at Keowee Falls’ Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course.

- Devised a single membership that provides access to the exclusive amenities and services across all seven communities.

The Cliffs champions itself as a “collection of seven premier private, luxury mountain and lake communities” in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western South Carolina and North Carolina.

Homes at The Cliffs range in price from $500,000 to more than $4 million, and home sites start at $150,000.

For more information, visit or call 866-411-5771.

A management professional with Harvard MBA and notable hospitality graduate recently joined the Charleston office of a national commercial real estate firm.

Lee & Associates’ local operation recently hired Ellen Villard as property management assistant.

Her “combined set of strong organizational and communication skills” will help the company’s property management team hold onto its positive reputation for comprehensive customer service and tenant relations, the firm says.

Villard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from the University of South Carolina.

At the same time, LeGrand Elebash joined the company as an associate. The Charleston native brings “extensive experience and contacts in the local real estate community,” according to Lee & Associates.

He also brings international experience, managing the launch of a 2,500-acre luxury resort in the Caribbean and creation of a successful “investor immigration services” company on the island of St. Kitts in the West Indies.

Elebash earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and his Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Formed more than 36 years ago, Lee & Associates bills itself as one of the largest broker-owned commercial brokerage firms in the country. It has 800 brokers spread around 52 locations in 19 states nationwide.


Keeping up a trend dating back years, the total number of homes locally in the process of being taken over by lenders declined in November 2014 from a year earlier.

The findings stem from a monthly report that California-based CoreLogic analytics company compiles.

According to CoreLogic, foreclosures in the Charleston-North Charleston area as a share of outstanding mortgage loans hit 1.54 percent in November, down 0.95 percentage points from a 2.49 percent rate at the same point in 2013.

Foreclosure activity in Charleston-North Charleston was higher than the national foreclosure rate, which was 1.48 percent for last November after falling 0.75 points from 2.23 percent a year earlier.

In addition, the local foreclosure figure was slightly loftier than South Carolina’s 1.45 percent rate. The state’s mark was off 0.81 percentage points from 2.26 percent a year earlier.

Meanwhile, the mortgage delinquency rate dropped in Charleston-North Charleston, the state and the U.S.

According to CoreLogic data, 3.85 percent of mortgage loans in the Lowcountry were 90 days or more delinquent as of November. The local rate compared with 5.03 percent for the same period last year, representing a decrease of 1.18 percentage points.

By comparison, the state delinquency rate fell to 4.04 percent from 4.93 percent a year earlier, a 0.89 percent slide. And the U.S. delinquency rate was 4.11, down 1 percentage point from 5.11 percent the year before.

Financial backing for a large commercial and apartment development that a Charleston group is involved with in Jackson, Miss., has been finalized.

SKD Development, which includes locally based Kassinger Development Group as a partner for The Meridian at Fondren, says it has closed financing.

The $33 million project calls for a mixed-use building comprised of 240 luxury apartment homes as well as retail, restaurant and office space on Lakeland Drive in Mississippi’s largest city.

Kassinger Development Group, which lists itself as a privately owned real estate developer, says it’s “separately in development or construction” of more than 1,000 residential units in metro Charleston; Richmond, Va.; and Wilmington and Asheville in North Carolina.

The Fondren neighborhood, known as the arts district in metro Jackson, graces the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places. The Meridian at Fondren sits within the designated “growing health care corridor” three miles north of downtown Jackson.

“You can put away the car keys and walk to dinner or work in five minutes,” says Tyler Kassinger, who heads up Kassinger Development Group.

Work continues on the 4.4-acre development site just across from the northern edge of the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus. Passersby can see the five-story Meridian’s progress. Demolition of existing structures began in late 2014, the Kassinger group says. The Meridian at Fondren is slated for completion by early to mid-2016.

“We anticipate that the Meridian will attract not only UMMC personnel and others from the larger medical community, but anyone and everyone who appreciates the walkable, vibrant environment of Fondren,” Kassinger says.

“This is the very best location for something like this,” says Stewart Speed, a partner in SKD Development.

When building is complete, the Meridian’s art deco architecture will be set off by a signature vertical sign along Lakeland Drive, bearing the name “Meridian.” The top four stories are residential units comprised of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes, Kassinger Development notes. Monthly rentals will range from $900 to $1,600.

Tyler Kassinger says every apartment will have a balcony, residents can choose from surface or garage parking, and they can work out in an aerobics and yoga studio at a high-end fitness center. There will also be a pool area with sun deck; outdoor kitchen with grilling pavilion and televisions; and a swimming pool “water curtain” similar to a constant waterfall.

“The Meridian will bring over 400 new residents to the Fondren neighborhood,” says John Ditto, a partner of SKD and president of StateStreetGroup LLC developer.

Pre-leasing for The Meridian at Fondren should begin in late spring or early summer.

Kassinger Development Group’s other projects include Sweetwater in the Charleston area.