Real Estate News — Local inspection vet to lead society; appraiser sees market brighten

Bill Jacques

Local home inspector Jacques named to trade group post

The chief of a Charleston area firm that checks houses’ structural integrity is the new president-elect of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Bill Jacques, ACI and president of American Inspection Service Inc., was installed last month at the group’s annual InspectionWorld conference in Phoenix.

The conference, held Jan. 4-7, is a leading exhibition for the home inspection industry.

Jacques is president-elect for 2012. ASHI has a membership of more than 5,000 members in the United States and Canada.

He also received continuing education credits at the four-day conference.

Attendees got to enhance their professional knowledge while networking with industry experts.

Founded in 1976, the American Society of Home Inspectors bills itself as the oldest and most widely recognized non-profit, professional organization of home inspectors in North America. For more information, visit

“ASHI remains committed to offering us the resources and essential tools so I can provide my customers with the services they want and need,” he says.

Jacques, who has run American Inspection Service for more than 22 years, can be contacted at

Agent-appraiser: residential real estate field on mend

Bart Jackson says he spends “the vast majority” of his days examining the Charleston housing market.

There’s a reason, or actually, two: he’s a Buyer Representative for Charleston Preferred Properties and an active residential real estate appraiser.

His assessment of the market thus far is upbeat. “I have to tell you, I really think 2012 is shaping up to be a year of true market stabilization for the Charleston area,” Jackson says. He further believes the market bottomed out in 2010 and last year.

“For the past three years, inventory has steadily declined and activity has shown steady increases,” he says.

“In 2011, we saw the highest number of single-family home sales in Charleston since 2007. We also saw prices decline to the point where buyers appear to be getting comfortable with real estate again,” Jackson adds.

Other signs of stability are a rise in the number of businesses and people moving into the Charleston region, a reemergence of new construction, surge in rents, continued low mortgage rates and an increase in consumer confidence.

Last year, the number of “aggressively priced” distressed foreclosure listings in Charleston declined, Jackson says. “While there remains looming concern about a shadow inventory of foreclosure properties that will be released into the market over the first half of 2012, it is uncertain how many of those properties are allocated to the Charleston area,” he says.

Separately, Jackson cites a study by business school professors Eli Beracha of East Carolina University and Dr. Ken H. Johnson of Florida International University that says homeownership is preferable to renting at least for now.

“There is no doubt that there are still some really hard hit areas around the country that will require additional time to rebound and recover,” Jackson says, “but on a local level, the Charleston area appears to be regaining a measure of normalcy.”

He says, “Buyers need to remember that all real estate is local. Just because it’s raining in Detroit doesn’t mean it can’t be sunny and warm in Charleston at the same time.”

Carolina One taps new associate

A Pacific Northwest native who went to college in North Carolina has joined the area’s largest real estate agency.

Liisa Sewell is the newest sales associate at Carolina One Real Estate Services’ Coleman Boulevard office in Mount Pleasant.

Sewell was born in Portland, Ore., and raised in Seattle. She earned her English and Philosophy degrees from UNC Greensboro.

After 12 years as marketing director of a downtown Charleston real estate company, Sewell decided to switch to selling real estate.

“Liisa brings so much to the table with her long history in Charleston and her background in real estate marketing,” says Dave Sansom, broker-in-charge.

She is married with two children and enjoys tennis, reading and travel.

Carolina One Real Estate has 11 offices across Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties.

For more information, visit the company website at

Delinquencies level off, foreclosures rise in metro Charleston

The percentage of home loans in foreclosure locally headed upward in November from a year earlier, a national researcher says.

Foreclosure rates in Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville rose to 3.84 percent of all outstanding mortgages, up from 3.18 percent in Nov. 2010, according to CoreLogic.

The Charleston area reported a higher rate of foreclosure activity than the national rate, which was 3.41 percent in November.

At the same time, the rate of home loans that are 90 days or more delinquent was essentially flat, 7.05 percent in November and 7.03 percent a year earlier.

Upstate resort hires Livingston again as sales chief

The new director of sales at The Reserve at Lake Keowee is a familiar face around the foothills community.

He’s Rutledge Livingston, who had served in the same position from 2000 to 2008.

“The company is thrilled to have him rejoin its senior management team,” The Reserve at Lake Keowee says.

Livingston, a Hendersonville, N.C., native, has been a top residential real estate agent for more than 25 years.

Prior to his hiring, he worked as a consultant for two years and served as sales director for The Cliffs at High Carolina in Asheville.

At The Reserve at Lake Keowee, Livingston will be responsible for selling homes and homesites and recruiting, hiring and leading the sales team. He will also be involved in new real estate designs and offerings within the community. And he will be an advocate for owners and club members who are reselling their home or homesite.

“He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge of The Reserve, and his enthusiasm and passion for our community is infectious and will undoubtedly excite our team,” says Chuck Pigg, vice president of Greenwood Communities and Resorts and community manager of The Reserve at Lake Keowee.

Greenwood Communities and Resorts developed The Reserve at Lake Keowee in 2000. Attractions include a 200-slip marina, village center, Jack Nicklaus signature golf course and more than 1,400 acres of parks, preserves, trails and green spaces. The Reserve has about 650 members from 30 states.

Homesites at The Reserve start in the $100,000s, and homes are less than $500,000. To learn more, call 877-922-LAKE (5253) or visit

Savannah agency merger spills over to Lowcountry

From the Beaufort area to coastal Georgia, a newly linked real estate company should be able to broaden its scope and expand its services.

That’s according to the agency, Cora Bett Thomas Austin Hill & Associates. It is a combination of Cora Bett Thomas Realty and of Austin Hill & Associates, both launched in Savannah.

According to the new company, Thomas is one of the Southeast’s most esteemed real estate brokers, while Hill is a leading area real estate expert.

The expanded agency covers a larger market base that includes investment property, condominiums, historic property, multimillion dollar homes, land and commercial property.

“We’re more than just a luxury brand,” says Hill, a partner at the new company. “We’re branching out and bringing in talented new agents who specialize in every type of property.”

Cora Bett Thomas Austin Hill & Associates runs a residential sales office at 16 E. Jones St. That’s the historic Savannah townhouse where Cora Bett Thomas Realty originated in 1995. The company also has a property management and commercial real estate office at 15 E. York St.

Meanwhile, the agency’s South Carolina office at 700 Bay St. in Beaufort specializes in residential and commercial properties north and south of the Broad River and Hilton Head.

“We’re bringing in new blood and cutting-edge technology,” says Thomas, the company’s partner and broker-in-charge.

According to the new brokerage, Thomas has been a multimillion dollar producer, listing and selling some of the most exclusive property in the area. She brokered the sale of Hampton Island, a 2,300-acre luxury waterfront community in 2003.

A Savannah native, Hill began his real estate career in 2001, immediately following his education at Stetson University. His grandparents were long-time Beaufort residents. He is a director of the Savannah Board of Realtors and vice chair-elect of the Georgia Association of Realtors.

Cora Bett Thomas Austin Hill & Associates is a member of Luxury Portfolio International, Mayfair International Realty and Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.

For more information, call 912-233-6000 or visit

All-day real estate conference to take place in Asheville

Attendees will learn about real estate in the Southeast and more specifically, the Carolinas, at a Feb. 24 event in Asheville, N.C.

The third annual Southeast Land & Real Estate Conference will take place at the Biltmore DoubleTree hotel. The theme of the event is “Because Knowledge Matters.” Times are 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

Presentations and panel discussions will focus on real estate development, selling and buying residential and commercial properties, local and regional economic forecasting, marketing, design, creative land use, lease and tenancy topics and social networking.

Beverly-Hanks Associates is the sponsor.

There will be 19 sessions and a trade show. The primary purpose of the conference is education, organizers say.

For more, visit or contact Rod Johnston at 828-702-2007.