Local Realtors to take part in national open house event

From upper Berkeley County to the coast, dozens of homes will be open to the public June 4-5 as part of the 2011 Lowcountry Open House Weekend.

Sponsoring the event are the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors and The Post and Courier.

“The range of homes represented will be impressive,” said Rob Woodul, 2011 president of the Realtors association.

“The list is really diverse this year—there will be open houses at every price point, in every corner of the Lowcountry,” he says.

There are close to 200 homes participating in the open house weekend, spanning from Bonneau on Lake Moultrie to Folly Beach and Kiawah Island at the ocean. The largest number of open houses are concentrated in Mount Pleasant, James Island, West Ashley and Summerville.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for those at every stage in the buying process — whether you’re just browsing or those already working with a Realtor — to see a large number of properties in one weekend, in a stress-free environment,” says Meghan Weinreich, the association’s communications director.

Prospective buyers can find a searchable list of participating homes at LowcountryOpenHouseWeekend.com. They can RSVP for the event on Facebook.

Lowcountry Open House Weekend, meanwhile is a partner in the Nationwide Open House Weekend, which is a collaborative effort sponsored by Realtor associations around the country. The event is designed to drive buyers' attention and interest to homes for sale and offers opportunities to educate the public about the benefits of home ownership.

Carolina One brings on new agents

Specialists in mortgage lending, insurance, decorative concrete and real estate have joined area offices of a major local broker.

Martha Flanagin Cole, Crystal Kornahrens and Andrea Ulmer are agents in Carolina One Real Estate’s Mount Pleasant location on Long Point Road. Tonja Evans, meanwhile, selected the Summerville Main Street spot.

Cole was employed for 31 years as a mortgage lender with First Federal of Charleston.

The Charleston native received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Charleston and has an interior design certificate from Trident Technical College.

Born in Jesup, Ga., Kornahrens worked as a Realtor for INVESTAR Realty in Houston before moving to Charleston. She attended Trident Tech before joining Carolina One.

Ulmer, born in Tripoli, Libya, grew up in Beaufort.

She was employed by State Farm Insurance for 24 years including as field executive.

She has earned her CLU, ChFC and CPCU insurance designations. She graduated from Furman University with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Evans and her husband have owned and operated Decorative Concrete of SC since 1995. Born in Wadesboro, N.C., she and has lived in Summerville since 1974.

After graduating from Summerville High School, she enrolled at DeVry University.

She attends Northwood Assembly Church and is a member of the Cane Bay High School PTSA.

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.carolinaone.com.

Study: foreclosure rates rise, delinquencies drop

Although metro Charleston ranked second-highest statewide in its foreclosure rate, South Carolina cities as a whole placed in the middle nationwide.

Foreclosures showed an increase across the country although seriously delinquent mortgage rates eased.

The nine metro areas in South Carolina saw foreclosure rates — the number of loans in foreclosure as a percentage of all mortgages — range from 3.6 percent in Greenville-Mauldin-Easley to 5.4 percent in Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway. Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville was 4.5 percent.

By rank, the Myrtle Beach area was 93rd highest nationwide followed by greater Charleston at 143; Spartanburg, 149; Columbia, 155; Sumter, 163; Florence, 191; Anderson, 200: and greater Greenville, 228. There are 366 metro areas in the U.S.

The findings were released by Foreclosure-Response.org, a joint project of the Center for Housing Policy, Local Initiatives Support Corp. and the Urban Institute to track mortgage and foreclosure data. The figures are from December 2010.

“Serious delinquency rates stabilized for most metropolitan areas nationally even as the average rate for the nation’s 100 largest metro areas remained quite high,” the group says.

At the same time, the foreclosure rate in the U.S. rose from 4.9 percent to 5.6 percent. “Taken together, these statistics suggest that the foreclosure problem remains severe but the pipeline of troubled loans may be slowly shrinking,” according to Foreclosure-Response.org.

A detailed analysis of the largest 100 metropolitan areas, information on the methodology, and a complete ranking of all 366 U.S. metropolitan areas are available at foreclosure-response.org.

Foreclosure-Response.org is funded through grants from the Ford Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation and Fannie Mae.

Builder picks rep for Berkeley County neighborhood

In its new Moncks Corner community, Lennar has brought in real estate veteran to focus on sales.

Sherry Dunaway has been named a new home consultant at The Abbey at Spring Grove Plantation. She brings a wealth of real estate experience to the builder, according to Lennar. In the new neighborhood she will work with potential homebuyers to find the home that suits their needs.

Dunaway is member of the Beaufort and Hilton Head chambers of commerce. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Charleston in Charleston, W. Va.

“At Lennar we look for individuals who not only have relevant experience but also know how to take care of homebuyers and their needs,” says Ann Ivey, the builder’s Coastal Carolinas Division director of sales.

Buyers at The Abbey at Spring Grove Plantation have access to the community’s pool, picnic pavilion, tot lot and green space. Homes start from the $140,000s. They feature Lennar’s signature Everything’s Included program. Standard features of every home are a full kitchen appliance package with refrigerator; hardwoods in the foyer; master bath featuring garden tub and separate shower; and cultured marble vanities in bathrooms.

Dunaway will be located in the company’s Welcome Home Center at The Abbey at Spring Grove Plantation, which is at 1027 Plantation Grove Blvd. The center is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on Saturday and noon-6 p.m. on Friday and Sunday.

For more information, visit www.lennar.com.

Broker earns distressed property certification

An agent with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors is now considered a specialist on helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.

Herb Uthlaut recently earned the Certified Distressed Property Expert designation. He completed extensive training in foreclosure avoidance and short sales. The designation comes as financially “distressed” homes land on the market. Short sales allow the cash-strapped seller to repay the mortgage at the price that the home sells for, even though it is lower than what is owed on the property, according to Uthlaut. This can save people from foreclosure and bankruptcy, even as property values fall.

“This CDPE designation has been invaluable as I work with sellers and lenders on complicated short sales,” Uthlaut says. “It is so rewarding to be able to help sellers save their homes from foreclosure.”

Alex Charfen, founder of the Distressed Property Institute in Boca Raton, Fla., says Realtors such as Uthlaut have valuable training in short sales that can offer the homeowner alternatives to foreclosure.

The experts also may better understand market conditions and can help sellers through the emotional experience, Charfen says.

The Distressed Property Institute opened in January 2008 and provides training on-site and online.

“Our goal is to educate as many people as possible so we can help as many homeowners as possible,” Charfen said.

Sales assistant joins Ryland

A former school teacher has been hired by Ryland Homes to assist home shoppers in the company’s new community in Ladson.

Sarah McMichael was appointed sales assistant in the Charleston region.

McMichael holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Tennessee. Prior to entering real estate and new home sales, she was a preschool teacher, says Brian Cartwright, vice president of sales and marketing for Ryland Homes in Charleston.

McMichael will be stationed at the Bellwood neighborhood, located off Miles Jamison Road.

Venture to hold ‘boot camp’ on credit, home buying

A motivational training program on money matters sponsored by Carolina Housing Services is going on though July 29.

The multiweek financial training session will cover budgeting, credit improvement, home purchasing and debt negotiation. The group says it will work with attendees and their creditors to bring about successful results.

Vonnie Judge, who formed Carolina Housing Services, is a local Realtor who grew up on Johns Island. The “Financial Boot Camp” seminars will be once a week 6-7:30 p.m. For more information, call 843-597-8657 or 843-364-3603 or visit www.carolinahousingservices.com.

Sales fluctuate in spring selling season

While the numbers don’t look strong, spring home sales are actually picking up, according an executive with a California-based real estate research consultant.

“Generally, the 2011 spring selling season has been a disappointment, but look closely and you'll find year-over-year sales comparisons at the metro level are revealing some surprising patterns,” says Jody Kahn, vice president with John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

Each month, the group surveys 250 to 350 public and private builder executives about conditions at more than 1,800 communities they manage nationwide. In March, some stronger markets are seeing lower net sales this year due to increased competition. At the same time, some of the presumed stronger markets, which have seen job growth return, are seeing net sales per community below last year's levels.

“Last year's very low sales are driving percentage increases in some distressed metros,” she says.