Sunday, December 21, 2008

Myrtle Beach Real Estate Market Update


As the entire country tries to deal with our flattened economy, resorts everywhere are doing what they can to keep the vacationers coming and the buyers buying. The Grand Strand is no exception, and the state of South Carolina is reported to have the highest unemployment rates since 1983. Out of all the cities in the state, however...and probably North Carolina as well, Myrtle Beach is managing to hold its own the best. We haven't seen a lack of vacation rentals, and during this season, winter rentals and Myrtle Beach golf packages have always kept the bills paid.

For many reasons, our strongest property management companies such as CondoLux fare better when it comes to Myrtle Beach real estate, and that extends to golf course condos, homes and property close to the beach. More recently, the Waterway condominium resorts such as Barefoot Resort and Grande Dunes have gotten popular. With only a couple of strong condo rental companies in the area that have proven track records and longtime customer loyalty, CondoLux in particular is better able to market the properties to a built-in customer base and have access to the best condos to sell. Because of this, many of the stand-alone real estate agencies are in trouble, while Myrtle Beach condo rentals keep the beach's economy going.

The owners of Condolux are now expanding to Myrtle Beach, opening a new sales and rental office, and putting a lot of money into websites and marketing. By doing so even when the other agencies can't, it will actually increase even its own productivity and income.

The internet has become the most important of all marketing methods in real estate and vacation rentals. The ones that invested in an excellent website and search engine marketing early on have the advantage now. Again, Condolux has exceeded them all in the number of powerful websites promoting real estate sales, vacation rentals, luxury condo specialties, golf packages, beach houses, and even restaurants and attractions. They are joining forces with some of Myrtle Beach's other website empires as they go, and becoming giants in the field. This will benefit their property management customers and real estate sales more than anyone can imagine.

Look for more expansion and greater things to come from Condolux. There are no question that they have become the Grand Strand's leading real estate experts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Cosmopolitan Condo Hotel Project Continues Forward


Cosmopolitan Condo Hotel Project Continues Forward
by Diann Tonnesen

Many proposed high rise condo projects around the country have had the plug pulled in the past two years due to cost overruns and tightening credit. Since Deutsche Bank announced they were beginning foreclosure proceedings on the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan condo hotel project at the beginning of 2008 on their $760 million dollar loan, over 1800 contract owners were holding their breath, wondering if the development would be completed. Or if they would get their money back in full if the development was canceled.

There were many "interested parties" making bids to purchase the project, but Deutsche Bank finally took over full ownership of the Cosmopolitan under an affiliate, Nevada Property I. Deutsche Bank was the high bidder, paying $1 billion at a recent foreclosure sale to acquire ownership of the project. Those still hoping to own a piece of the Las Vegas real estate market on the Strip breathed a bit easier.

And Deutsche Bank didn't let any grass grow under its feet to make sure the project went forward. It had already inked contracts with Related Companies to take over as the resort's new developer. In addition Perini Corp. signed a new contract to complete construction work on the project. Perini had been working on the project from the beginning, and was being paid under an interim agreement since March 2008 when Deutsche Bank began foreclosing after the original developer, Bruce Eichner, failed to complete a deal to secure more financing. Increased construction costs helped drive the Cosmopolitan's construction budget from its original $2 billion price in early 2006 to its current $3.9 billion price, and Eichner was unable to find a new partner with enough capital to infuse into the project.

A letter was drafted to contract owners by the resort's new developer, Related Companies, letting them know of the management changes and informing them of progress to date. This went out to almost 1825 contract holders, assuring them of the project's completion. To date over 50% of the Cosmopolitan's exterior construction has been completed, and it is anticipated that by December of 2008 owners will be celebrating the "topping off" of both towers, including the penthouse units. The new proposed completion date for the entire project is estimated for the second quarter of 2010.

Along with a rebounding resale housing market, this is great news for the local Las Vegas real estate market. For four months straight (July, August, September and October) statistics have shown a significant rise in Las Vegas homes sales, with multiple offers on lower end properties, especially in the segment of Las Vegas foreclosures.
###
About the Author
Diann Tonnesen has been selling real estate in the Las Vegas valley for more than 25 years and is considered one the city's foremost high rise specialists.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Advance Auto is a Savior for Women

This is going to be a little off-topic, but I know there are a lot of single women Realtors, and probably plenty of mechanically "challenged" males as well. I wanted to tell you all about a national company that everyone has heard of, but many people don't realize what a godsend they can be - Advance Auto Parts Store.

Most people think of Advance Auto as a vague place to go buy a headlight or a carburator if you want to save a bit of money and not shop at the car dealer. But this store and these people are SO MUCH MORE.

I've been using AAP since I first moved to Myrtle Beach about 17 years ago. For several years I was living on practically minimum wage, driving a 10 year old Pontiac Fiero, and eating bologna sandwiches more often than I like to think about.

North Myrtle Beach in many ways is like the usual small town. Back in those days, more so than now, if you lived here, you eventually met the business owners, the police, the restaurant waittresses and others that seemed to help each other as much as the residents of Mayberry. One of the earliest things I learned from men that I met along the way (men LOVE to advise single women about car stuff) was that AAP was the place to buy things like windshield wipers, antennas (antennae?) and lights for the car.

There is a local garage in Cherry Grove that was so kind to me as to let me buy parts from AAP and bring them up there to install and repair my car. Now this is not something most garages will do, but in "North Mayberry Beach", so many people go out of their way to help people who work at hotels and restaurants. Most grew up here and worked at these jobs as teenagers, so they know what it's like to get by on $5.00 an hour.

Anyway, I've always known you could save money by shopping at AAP. And I quickly learned that when you buy windshield wipers from them, THEY will come out of the store and put them on for you - FREE! Now it's customary to tip the boy who does this. He's probably living on $8-9 an hour himself. But if any of you women have ever tried to put wipers on yourself, you know that it's worth every bit of $3-5 to let somebody else get their hands black.

I suppose many women have boyfriends or husbands that do this for you. But for those of us who don't, little things like this mean so much. Is your car running funny? Before you go drop it off to the GM dealership and spend a fortune, run it by AAP and let them hook you up to their diagnostic machine that might just save you a bundle. Buy a new battery there for about as much as you'd pay at Walmart...and these guys will install it for you, right in the parking lot. Got a headlight out? In most cases they will put it in for you at no charge and with no wait. Where else in the world can you expect service like that? Granted, they probably do more for a woman than they'd be inclined to do for a man, but I don't really know this for a fact either. They may well do it for every customer that walks in the door.

But today, this company amazed me beyond anything that's happened since I moved here.

Last night I must have left something on in the car from the day before. I still haven't figured it out, but when I went to go grab a burger for dinner, my car was as dead as a doornail. No horn, no lights, remote doesn't work...just dead. And I'm thinking, CRAP. It's Saturday night. Tomorrow is Sunday. Will I have to call a tow-truck or maybe I can find a neighbor to jump me off....which I hate to ask. People are funny about giving you a jump with today's new cars. I'm thinking on Sunday everything will be closed...what if I have to buy a battery? I went to bed just beside myself worrying about it. I can't stand to be without transportation.

This morning about 8am I decide to call AAP and ask if (A) they are open, which I doubt...and (B) will they loan me one of those battery chargers if I can find a ride up there.

First amazement, they answered the phone. The LADY manager (that's pretty amazing too) explains to me that they don't open until 9am, but yes, they are open. And yes, if I want to leave them a charge card or something as a deposit, they will give me a battery jumper.

BUT...she says, why not just let me send my guy to your house to help you and jump the car? I ask her how much that will cost and she tells me NOTHING. "It's our customer service", she says.

Can you imagine in this day and time (and gas prices) that any company would do this? I might add that this is a new Advance Auto that just recently opened about 3 miles from me in Little River. I've always dealt with the one in North Myrtle Beach before. These people did not know me, nor did she ask my name.

She goes on to say that since it's Sunday, they won't be busy, so as soon as they open, she'll send one of the boys to help me. And if I want to tip him something, that's up to me, but there is no charge for the service.

About an hour later, a very nice older man rides up in a yellow truck, jumps me off, and then because I'm smart, I follow him back to the store to have the diagnostic done. It shows my alternator is fine, and the battery is just low but good, and advises to recharge. This has taken about 6 miles of driving, maybe an hour of their time, and they don't charge me a dime or sell me a thing. AND ARE HAPPY TO DO IT!

Yes, I tipped the man...and well. I saved a tow-truck fee, possibly being sold a battery I didn't need, and received the kind of service most people just dream of. So girls, (and guys too!) the next time you have a car problem, remember there is a company out there that wrote the book on customer service. Advance Auto Parts is the BOMB. I can't brag on them enough.

And to the home office AAP, I hope you give the manager and all the employees at 1661 Highway 17, Little River, SC a RAISE. They do more to brand your store as a winner than all the advertising in the world.
****

Saturday, November 08, 2008

8 Tips to Selling Your Home Now

Jim Remley, writer for "Realty Times" and author of Sell Your Home in Any Market, recently wrote a synopsis article for Bottom Line Secrets, with quick tips on the selling your home in this slow market we are experiencing. Here's a summary of his tips and advice...
  1. Don't start with a higher price. Negotiating back and forth over price does not work in this market. Mr. Remley advises that you should price your home towards the lower end of the comparable homes for sale in the neighborhood. Real estate agents that may show your home will pay the most attention to a new listing. Once the home has been listed for a while, you miss this initial attention, and they probably will not even bother to show an overpriced house at all. He also advises you to recheck comparable asking prices every several weeks if the house does not sell. If you do have to lower the price, make it a LARGE reduction so that it will attract notice and even be a "best buy" in the category. **Note: Do not even THINK about what homes in the neighborhood sold for a year or so back. The market was entirely different and prices were also. If your home is listed and isn't being shown, the problem is more than likely the price.
  2. Repair and fix up the home before you offer it for sale. In this market, fixer-uppers are most often ignored. Do all important repairs before listing.
  3. Beautify your home's face. Remley advises to spend the money for landscaping, flowers, exterior repainting, outdoor lighting, the sidewalk, and even new doorknobs. Buying a home is an emotional purchase, and these small things will make a buyer "fall in love".
  4. Refresh the inside, and especially when it comes to any odors. New paint, carpet, tiles, or hardwood floors can help, but if a smoker or pet owner lived there, it may be necessary to hire a "building restoration company" to do whatever it takes to remove all the smells that linger behind.
  5. Think of any special amenities that your home can boast, and include it in the MLS listing, SPELLED OUT. Remley suggests rather than saying "inground pool" your agent should write it up as "inground pool with waterfall and hot tub".
  6. Negotiating Real Estate Commissions
  7. Offer incentives to buyers. There are many home sales made by "bribing" the buyers with cash, cars, tv's or a plethora of other offers. Of the most effective, Remley says that helping with closing costs, or paying to buy down the interest rate (purchasing points with the mortgage) work the best. Be sure these are listed on the MLS as well as any advertising that you do for the potential sale. *In florida, helping with home or condo insurance would be a good incentive!
  8. Offer incentives to brokers and sales agents. Mention the bonus in the MLS listing (not the original commissions) and be sure to disclose it on the sales contract. A lender could possibly claim fraud in the sales price if anything is hidden in cash negotiations.
  9. Don't play the negotiation game this time. If the buyer offers a reasonable price, consider accepting it without making a counter-offer. Better to take an offer you can live with then to take a chance of the buyer making an offer elsewhere. If you are getting lots of offers, this may not be in issue, but losing a sale over a few thousand dollars is not worth the chance.

These tips are particularly important with resort areas like Florida, and real estate in Myrtle Beach SC. Areas such as Greenville SC real estate markets may not have the glut of foreclosure homes that trendier areas suffer from. All oceanfront property will benefit from attention to the tips that Remley suggested, and if you are trying to sell this type of real estate, his book could prove invaluable.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Maggie Mileski, Teacher and Mentor

Having been on the internet now for over eight \ fourteen \ eighteen years, you would think that I would stop being surprised at the unusual people I meet, the friendships I find, and how much I still learn. I am very lucky to have a career that allows me to spend so much time on the computer, and I'm doubly blessed to be able to write well enough to convey my thoughts and feelings at the same time I'm doing my job. In fact, the skills I learned in high school in spelling, grammar, and communication are what enabled me to work at something I enjoy so much and find so rewarding every day.

In 1972, the innocent part of the Age of Aquarius was fading. The sweet bubblegum music of the early Beatles and the Monkees had changed into hard, drug-promoting, disillusioned songs like "Taxi" and "A Horse With No Name". The Beatles had broken up, Nixon was elected as President, the war in Vietnam was still raging, and it seemed like half the young people were either dead, bombed out their minds, or disgusted with everything society had to offer.

I was only 16 years old, but I considered myself an adult and a "hippie". I reveled in the same anger that the older kids who had been so affected by the war were feeling. I never fit in with the popular group - the cheerleaders, athletes and rich kids that seemed to be immune to the world outside of Ragsdale High School and the society that we hippies loved to hate.



The "Socs" actually produced, at least, one prodigy - Pat McCrory. Anyone remember the movie called The Outsiders? Even in the south, much of that movie was truly the way it was in those days. Anyway, he made it all the way to Governor of NC. I think the southern Republicans were priming him for a Presidential run...wouldn't have surprised me. Pat and a few of his friends were squeaky clean, unfailingly rah-rah and optimistic, and went through their high school years seemingly oblivious to the drugs, protest marching, and anarchy that the Woodstock generation was going through.

He and his brother Phil were class presidents about the entire time we were in school. Though it seemed he was destined, I think he became a little too ambitious and enamored with Donald Trump, and some true colors started to show. When his term was up, he ran again and was soundly voted out. I haven't heard his name mentioned in several years now. I hope 2020 will see all of the Republican cancer removed from our government.

Anyway, a huge influence in my life entered the scene in '72. Mrs. Maggie Mileski, teacher of English, Grammar, and Literature. She was about 5 ft tall, had a bit of an accent, brooked no nonsense, had a sparkle in her eyes and loved her chosen profession. She may have even loved those rebellious teenagers that sulked into her class with huge bell bottoms, fringed vests, bells tinkling, and often glazed-over eyes. She didn't seem to distinguish between the rich ones with the Izod labels and the misfits, either. She was determined we were going to learn how to spell and write, and she was going to teach us.

And I think I can honestly say that even the worst kids that came through her class did learn. I would bet that any kid who spent a year or so with Mrs. Mileski has better English skills to this day than half the population.

I was good at all things language anyway. My mother did huge crossword puzzles every day for fun, and my father was a math whiz. Unfortunately, I inherited none of his skills, but I did get hers. So having the best English teacher in the U.S. was exciting and inspiring for me. She was as tough as nails and even the meanest overgrown young hulks came to respect her very quickly. She was also extremely smart, and you knew it and felt it. And her non-discriminating interest in her students presented us with an adult authority figure that we couldn't complain about or dislike!

An entire generation of kids that attended Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina learned how to spell, how to speak less like a typical southerner, how to diagram sentences, and how to write better during the years that this tiny little ball of fire taught English in high school. I give her credit for most of the skills that gave me a better life and calmed my rebellious spirit with self-respect and a sense of accomplishment.

I once had an email correspondence with a rather famous lady.

Jane Straus was the "Miss Manners" of grammar and punctuation in America. A life coach as well as an English teacher, Jane wrote the "Blue Book of Grammar", one of the best reference books a writer can have. She's been interviewed on many television shows and used to put out a great free newsletter with tips and rules about punctuation, word usage, and common spelling errors. After her death, the family continued her legacy. I would recommend anyone who blogs or works with a professional website to sign up for that newsletter. In several back-and-forth emails with Jane, I mentioned Mrs. Mileski. This prompted me to Google her and perhaps find a way to show her this article I am now writing.

Much to my sorrow and disappointment, the first thing I found was her eulogy, written by a Catholic Priest that was also one of her students in the 80's, and came to love her as I did. His tribute to Maggie Mileski made me cry, but also made me see how truly fortunate I was to have been one of the privileged ones who knew this amazing lady. There's no telling how many lives she touched, and she may well have been part of the reason that Pat McCrory found his success in politics. When he was at the top and in his hey-day,  Mrs. Mileski's sparkling brown eyes were looking down on him with pride for having done her job well and making a difference in so many lives. I hope her influence will guide him better than his chosen political party.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Investing in Foreclosures

By Michael Perl, from the Bottom Line Newsletter

Rising interest rates and the proliferation of high-risk variable-rate mortgages have pushed foreclosures to record levels.

Opportunity: Agile investors can buy foreclosed homes for as little as 80% or even 70% of fair market value (the price the home might normally sell for) from home owners seeking to avoid a public auction... from lenders wanting to get foreclosed properties off their books fast... or at a public auction.
A careful study of the foreclosure process can lead to great bargains, whether you are seeking a home to live in... to rent out... or to sell quickly for a profit.
Danger: Foreclosed homes are not always a good deal. A buyer who moves too fast can end up with a money pit.
Among the questions to consider...
*How much will it cost to fix up and maintain the home, including insurance and taxes?
*How long will it take to find a new buyer if you view the home as a short-term investment?
If you still want to buy a foreclosure property once you have considered the challenges, here's how to get the best deal...

UNDERSTAND THE FORECLOSURE PROCESS
It is important to know the steps leading to foreclosure...
The home owner “defaults” on mortgage payments, typically after falling 90 days behind.
The lender serves the home owner with a summons, and the property enters “pre-foreclosure.” Attorneys for the lender detail the debt owed in court.
A “final judgment” hearing is held, and an auction date is set.
The owner can sell the property at any point before it is sold at auction. Or the lender could take ownership, either through an agreement with the owner during pre-foreclosure or by winning the auction. The property is then known as an REO property (real estate owned by the lender).

GETTING STARTED
Consult with your bank or a mortgage broker to determine how much of a loan you could comfortably handle, and look for properties in that price range. If the home is an investment that you intend to sell, the most profitable neighborhoods often are up-and-coming areas, where about 80% of residents are renters.

Check foreclosure filings. Ask for the most recent foreclosure filings at the county courthouse. In many counties, there will be dozens or even hundreds of listings every week or two. You also could use a foreclosure tracking service, such as First American CoreLogic (800-345-7334. Typical cost: $100 to $150 per month per county.
After spotting a potential bargain, check recent sale prices of homes in the same neighborhood, making sure that the houses are comparable based on such factors as size and condition. The free Website is a useful resource.

BEST TIME IS BEFORE AUCTION
Some of the best foreclosure bargains are found before the auction removes the sales decision from the home owner. Contact home owners of prospective properties as soon as a notice of foreclosure appears. You might send a letter to introduce yourself and express interest, but don't expect the average home owner in foreclosure to respond to your letter until about a month before a public auction would take place. By then, the owner may welcome an offer to buy the property quickly for a price that allows him/her to pay off the mortgage and perhaps end up with a little extra cash. That might mean 75% of the property’s fair market value.

If the home owner doesn't agree to sell until less than a month remains before the auction, you might not have time to arrange a mortgage. In that case, both you and the home owner should file a motion with the court for an emergency hearing (possible court fee: about $50) and a delay of the auction so you can secure financing.
Even if you can't work out a deal with the home owner, approaching him prior to the auction might give you an opportunity to inspect the house -- which may no longer be possible once a lender takes possession.

If you decide to take this route...Be ultrasensitive to the home owner's situation. Don’t use the word “foreclosure.” Say you're interested in buying if the owner “decides” to sell.

Ask if the owner has looked into “forbearance” from the mortgage lender. Home owners sometimes can bring their loans up-to-date by making a relatively small forbearance payment to the lender. You will lose out on the house if the home owner does get forbearance, but your helpful suggestion should build some goodwill and raise your chances of a purchase if forbearance is not granted, as is usually the case.

Many home owners in foreclosure these days owe lenders more money on properties than the properties would be worth if sold. To get a great deal, you could arrange something called a “short sale” -- the bank agrees to take less for the property than is owed. In the current real estate market, banks often are willing to accept as little as 60% to 75% of the amount owed, particularly in states such as Florida, where home values have fallen substantially.

AUCTIONS ARE TRICKY
It is not easy for a buyer to get a great deal at a foreclosure auction. There are experienced real estate investors at most auctions, ready to snap up any bargains. At most auctions, the lender will bid the amount owed on the property to keep the sale price from going too low. If no one bids more, the lender -- which does not yet own the property -- will end up buying it at auction.
Auction winners generally must pay with cash or by certified check before the close of the business day -- leaving no time to arrange financing. There may not be much time before an auction to research the title and arrange a professional inspection, and auctioned homes are sold “as is,” so once you buy the property, you get it in whatever condition it is in. It's a good idea to attend a few auctions, just as an observer. I would not recommend auction bidding for the novice foreclosure buyer.

BUYING FROM THE BANK
If the bank ends up owning the home, it will try to sell it as quickly as possible, especially in today's depressed real estate market. A bank won’t give you a great deal, but it might give you a very good deal, perhaps as little as 80% to 85% of fair market value. The bank typically will make sure the title is clear of liens (which use the property as collateral) and other barriers to transfer and do some basic repairs to make the property more appealing to prospective buyers.
To find REO properties in your area, call real estate agencies and ask if any of their agents specialize in REO homes. The bank will pay the agent's commission if you eventually buy a property through him. Or call area banks and say you're interested in seeing their lists of foreclosed properties.

GREATEST DANGERS
Liens. The buyer of a foreclosed home may not know that it carries one or more liens. Some liens, such as those filed by tradespeople, are wiped away by the foreclosure process, but when it's a government agency, such as the IRS, or a home owner’s association that is owed money, the debt typically passes to the new owner. A title search performed after the foreclosure or an attorney with experience in this field can tell you what liens remain.
Cost: A title company might charge $100 to $150 to search a title for liens... a real estate attorney costs a bit more.
Condition. The property you buy might be in worse shape than you realized. Example: The previous occupants trashed the inside of the home to get back at the bank for the eviction. Try to inspect before you buy.
###
Bottom Line/Personal interviewed Michael Perl, owner of Equity Res-Q, West Palm Beach, Florida. The company has bought and sold more than 400 foreclosures and pre-foreclosures over a six-year period.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Before You Chain Your Dog - Dogs on Chains, Why It's Not a Good Idea

This is from a newsletter that I received from my favorite animal charity, http://www.itsmeowornever.org/ . I feel deeply about this subject and thought it was worthy of spreading the article. If you want to donate to a wonderful animal (especially CATS) sanctuary, this is one of the best!


Dogs who are chained run a much higher risk of biting and are more likely to be the dogs that run off and don't come back when called.

Why? Chaining a dog goes against its natural instincts. Dogs were not meant to be chained. Most become protective of the area around them and in some cases, down right mean, even to their owners. They feel confined, trapped and it drives them crazy. They are harder to train and some appear to be literally un-trainable when really they are just going stir crazy. Most chained dogs will take off on you any chance they can get off the chain.

And why not? Coming back means they have to go back on the chain and they want to enjoy the freedom if even for a little while. Not all dogs will be biters and runners if chained, but all dogs would be happier, with a better temperament, if they were not chained.

Not to mention it’s cruel and how can anyone say they love their dog if it’s chained.

One example of this is the story my neighbor told me about a Keeshond she had as a child. Her parents did not have much time for the dog and the kids were getting older and did not have very much interest in it. As a result the Keeshond ended up on a clothes-line run, chained up in the backyard. It got to the point were you could not go near the dog without it growling at you and trying to bite. After a while the parents decided it was not worth the liability. They feared the dog was going to eventually really hurt someone. They found the dog a new home and hoped for the best.

A few months later they received a phone call from the new owners. Fear shot though the mother as she answered the phone expecting to hear the dog had bitten someone. Instead they heard how nice and sweet the dog was. Friendly as can be, loves everyone. The new owners were calling to say just how happy they were and that they loved their new Keeshond.

Turned out the new owners did not chain the dog. They were in a situation were the dog could be free to walk around the yard. For those who know the breed, you know that Keeshonden are not the type of dog to be mean or to bite. They love everyone and everything. It was THE CHAIN that drove the dog to this point. The good thing was it was reversible, the chain was taken away and the dog no longer felt the need to defend and protect, no longer felt trapped and confined.

Another case is an acquaintance that owned an English Bulldog. He had the dog tied up in the back yard. One day the dog got off of the chain. One of the neighbor kids tried to bring him home. When the boy grabbed his collar the dog bit the boy in the face. Why? The dog was confused. He was suddenly free and he did not know how to handle it. Going home meant back on the chain.

The owner of the Bulldog had told the neighbor kids not to go near the dog if he ever got free and to come and get him instead. Once again, the English Bulldog is excellent with children and loves people, but even a Bulldog will go crazy tied up on a chain all day. In fact, English Bulldogs are one of the worst breeds to chain. They have a strong desire to be by your side. Chaining them all the time drives them Crazy. Confined, restricted and trapped, it is not in a dogs nature to be tied up.

I am not talking about the occasional time when you need to tie your dog up in the park for a little while. We once went to a picnic with our dogs and our English Bulldog wanted to "kill" the Rottweiler that was there. We had to tie our Bulldog to a tree. There will be times where you will need to tie your dog. I am talking about the Back Yard Dogs. The ones with the dog house and a chain. The ones that spend the majority of their time and life chained, sitting and waiting, with nothing else to do but wait and protect.
###

It's Meow Or Never Animal Sanctuary

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Outstanding Photography by Ed Carreon

I have a good friend, Los Angeles photographer Ed Carreon, who has just revamped one of his websites and I wanted to bring it to public attention.

With the advent of digital cameras, we are all taking photos right and left, and you can find a myriad of images on the internet. But there is still a difference between a camera buff and a true PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER. Ed is the latter, and an artist.

Ed has worked for newspapers, freelanced for major magazines, and covered issues from the Los Angeles riots to stories about Mexican immigrants. If I'm not mistaken, he's worked for the Discovery Channel before.

Look through his "collections" and be prepared to be moved and amazed at some of them.
www.EdCarreon.com



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Relocating To Myrtle Beach? Do Your Research on Home Insurance

Located along the edge of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, the city of Myrtle Beach is a lovely place to call home. Also a tourist destination, Myrtle Beach is known for its white sand beaches and great shopping, entertainment, and dining. After just one visit, many people never want to leave. If you plan on relocating to Myrtle Beach however, it is extremely important to do your homework when it comes to real estate, especially as it pertains to home insurance.

Flood ProtectionAccording to the official website for the City of Myrtle Beach, the average home insurance policy just for flood protection is $348.00 per year. Though not every home owner needs flood protection home insurance, many do. Therefore, it is important to research this with any Myrtle Beach real estate property that you are interested in buying.

Standard Home Insurance in Myrtle BeachAs with most things in life, you get what you pay for. After you have found the perfect home for sale in Myrtle Beach, you will want to obtain home insurance quotes and do some research to find a policy that is right for you. Take the time to really shop around and ask a lot of questions to find out what type of home insurance coverage you can expect in the event that you need to make a claim. You can get home insurance quotes online and through local home insurance agents, or you can even check South Carolina’s state insurance department for a recommendation.

What You Can DoOnce you have purchased your home in Myrtle Beach and have obtained home insurance for your new property, do your part to ensure your policy will cover your losses. Most home insurance companies recommend taking an inventory of your home and its belongings in the event that something happens such as a fire or other disaster.

Having a list of inventory already prepared, along with pictures to document your belongings, can speed up the process of getting your home insurance claim paid in a timely manner. Trying to remember everything you own after the things are gone can be difficult in a stressful time.

It helps to find a level of trust and comfort with your home insurance company because in the event that a storm passes through Myrtle Beach and damages your home, a good home insurance policy can make a big difference. Many homeowners who faced this problem with a poor home insurance policy ended up facing financial disasters when the policy would not cover the damage.

As they say, “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”. When it comes to home insurance policies for your new Myrtle Beach home, this is an important rule to live by.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Myrtle Beach Holiday To Be Given Back Families?

Licentious (adjective)
Synonyms: amoral, carnal, depraved, dissolute, free, immoral, lascivious, lewd, libertine, libidinous, loose, lustful, obscene, profligate, promiscuous, satyric, uncontrolled, unprincipled, unrestrained, unruly, wanton, and motorcycle rallies.

In an extraordinary and unexpected (at least by me) move Tuesday, the Myrtle Beach City Council voted to end the two plague-ridden motorcycle rallies and get the month of May back to what hasn't been "normal" for many years now.

Like teachers in grade school or Gomer Pyle's Sgt Carter in the 60's tv show, the one bad event has put an end to both, and the whole platoon may pay the price...not a minute too soon for most residents.

While Harley week was little more than a nuisance, Memorial Day weekend has been nearly unbearable to locals and businesses on the north end. The police and even the state itself have done everything humanly possible to control it and keep the beach "G-rated" during black biker week. Attempts to harness Atlantic Beach's ever-growing crowds brought the NAACP in to punish the city's efforts. Residents in the two-block township took advantage and have threatened to sue the county taxpayers for the lack of it.
Nobody could win.

Control of the participants proved impossible. Sex, drugs, and Rap 'n' Roll refused to be restrained, and in return, will have to find a more tolerant vacation spot from now on. (In theory, anyway)

With the death of a young man resulting from the tension this year, Myrtle Beach officials finally drew a line in the sand and not only passed a property tax hike for planning both rallies' demise, but actually started the process to enact ordinances aimed at preventing vendors from promoting it. Usage of the Convention Center or other facilities during the month of May will be prohibited, and If there are no events to attend or crowd control to be given, will that put a stop to the Memorial Day mess?

It remains to be seen. After all, Memorial Day never was Myrtle Beach's problem. North Myrtle Beach is the one that suffers from Atlantic Beach's profitable and uncontrollable black biker week. Myrtle Beach has little or no input on it. They gather in the two block township of Atlantic Beach that even North Myrtle has no jurisdiction over, although it's dead in the middle of the city itself. The fact that North Myrtle Beach never dared to annex this strip of expensive oceanfront area is amazing in itself.

But maybe it will start the ball rolling on the north end, preventing discrimination lawsuits and paving the way to making Memorial Day into a family holiday again. The south's "bible belt" may win one battle against the country's so-called moral decay.

The Grand Strand is fighting to lose its nickname of "Redneck Riviera" and become South Carolina's version of Boca Raton.

This is necessary to maintain the pricey Myrtle Beach real estate market and new luxury resorts resulting from the building boom of several years ago. Cheap oceanfront property and accommodations will soon become a thing of the past.

Even most of us liberals will be backing out of this fight with relieved smiles. It takes a lot of energy to fight for global warming intervention, gay marriages, and pro-choice. Time to conserve energy for the important arguments...:-)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Baby Boomers Like Single Life


AARP put out a bulletin recently that offered some surprising statistics about Baby Boomers and our living arrangements.

Only about one in four baby boomers are still married, living together, and have adult children out on their own. The numbers show that our of 17,000 baby boomers surveyed, 37 percent still had children under 18, and another 5 million had grown children who moved BACK home in the last year. Better them than me!

Others have taken in their parents to help, and a whopping 23 million baby boomers are single.
8 million of the mentioned singles never married, 4 million live with a partner outside of marriage, and the rest are divorced or widowed.

With numbers of singles like that, the condo market can do nothing if not grow and thrive. It would have been interesting to see where the survey respondants lived. I would think probably the metro areas would be the choice of the majority, at least until they retire. Condos for sale should soar everywhere, eventually.

It may be a good thing that the midwest and west coast aren't all that aware of life in Myrtle Beach, or we'd be swamped with retired boomers and prices would jump twice as high as they already have.

I can't imagine living in some place like Chicago when you can have the beach, the warm weather, and still enjoy all the amenities that are found in big cities.

For those who would like to explore our wonderful (and affordable) lifestyle, visit our  North Myrtle Beach real estate sites, and, in particular, check out the condos we have for sale.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Condo Living-Pets or Problems

I ran across a blog posting in a Chicago Metro Area real estate blog today about some condos that had rules about having a dog (or more than one) and it brought to mind an issue that I recently brought up with my own condo HOA.

We have a girl living here in what I understand is a one bedroom condo, which is what I have as well. She has 3 pekinese type dogs and a cat which terrorizes the neighborhood everytime it gets out to wander. There had been complaints about her dogs barking and that prompted the board to make a new rule limiting the number of pets to 2 per condo.

Then it went a step further and they made a rule that the only pets allowed were dogs, cats, and fish, I think. One of my neighbors had mentioned that one, and was concerned because she used to raise parrots. She found it objectionable, and I sort of do myself. I used to love having pet mice, and have even had an iguana. I would hate to think someone on the board would try and prevent me from having a cage with a gerbil or mouse running around endlessly in one of those little wheels.

Then again, would I be comfortable with a neighbor who had a pet tarantula or maybe a snake that could possibly get loose? No, I wouldn't. So I can see the point in some of the rules that might sound ridiculous at first.

Condo living can present some obstacle sometimes, and it's a good idea to investigate the rules before you go look at a condo for sale and get your heart set on it.

I know many of the resort oceanfront condos in Myrtle Beach don't allow pets at all. It could really present a problem if you buy something without checking the by-laws and find you've moved into a pet free complex when you have a couple of cats or dogs that are family members and could end up at the local animal shelter because of it.

I myself would go to jail before I'd abandon a pet...but the shelters are full of unfortunate bodies whose owners don't care enough to fight and keep them.

I think pet ownership is a private thing, yet when you live on top and right beside of other people, there are issues with everything. I love condo living, but it sure pays to dig deeply into the way things are managed before you buy a condominium or townhouse.

Visit my blog on Active Rain too!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Myrtle Beach Retirement Communities

-------------Litchfield Lakes Retirement Community

My family is largely comprised of baby-boomers. Myself, my brother and his second wife, my oldest sister, and even my nieces and nephews are all between the ages of 45-70.

The oldest members of the family have all invested in senior citizen communities which provide luxury living from good health all the way to nursing facilities to the end of life.

I have an aunt and uncle, another aunt, and my brother all living in these types of communities. I myself, would prefer to live in a gated area without small children and be surrounded by quiet and BORING retirees! I've got a ways to go yet, in age as well as being financially able to afford such a neighborhood, but I hope to find myself there one day.

I have read that seniors 65 and over will comprise 36 percent of the population in the Grand Strand by 2025. Although we don't have a large number of retirement and assisted living neighborhoods at this time, I would bet we will see a big increase in them in the next 10 years or so.

In Myrtle Beach, we have several retirement communities to choose from...

In Carolina Forest, a new senior development called Brightwater has popped up off International Drive and River Oaks Dr. Brightwater will have 110 single family homes for independent retirees, 48 assisted living homes, 24 available beds in a nursing home provided, and another 24 units assigned to the unfortunate Alzheimer's patients.

Ranging from around $275K to $475K, the houses are affordable and offer every amenity. Apartments or condos will be priced at just over $100K to $325K. A clubhouse is included, providing meals, activities, housekeeping and a 24/7 emergency service. The services are bundled with the cost of the homes and apartments, and helps to take the worry out of growing older gracefully and securely.

Eagle Crest is located on Robert Grissom Highway in Myrtle Beach, between 17 business and 17 Bypass. Pet friendly, smoker friendly, and with the average resident age of 80, Eagle Crest seems geared to the more traditional type of retirement community. With accommodations ranging from studios to 2 bedroom suites, this is an apartment/condo type setting, as versus the single family home look of Brighwater.They boast an excutive chef, paid utilities, around the clock resident manager, housekeeping, meals to include special diet requirments, and the regular amenities of any hotel. They are a part of a chain of retirement facilities under the name of Holiday Retirement. The website doesn't list pricing, unfortunately. They advertise giving you a tour and a free lunch to visit and learn more.

Located amongst the elegant settings of Pawleys Island real estate, the Lakes at Litchfield is the luxury version of Brighwater. Private luxury homes, 2 bedroom exclusive apartments and a luxurious clubhouse make this the place to retire. Again, they have independent living, 57 beds in assisted living, skilled nursing, and Alzheimer's care.

They list their mission statement as being dedicated professionals providing peace of mind, fun, safety, honor, dignity and integrity. Their purpose is listed as being a light in the world, making a difference in the quality of others' lives, and to treat the residents like their own parents.

That's a pretty impressive resume.

Again, there seems to be no way to find pricing on the web. Perhaps someone from the community will read this and provide this information?

Folks in our generation that can afford it seem to have more to look forward to than our parents and grandparents. As more boomers reach the age of needing these services, hopefully more Myrtle Beach retirement communities will be built.

See these sites for more information about Myrtle Beach condos, and Myrtle Beach Foreclosures..

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Website for Oceanfront Real Estate

Oceanfront Real EstateI just put up a brand new website to showcase Cheap Oceanfront Property.

Hopefully I'll find some sellers that are interested in listing their property and buyers who'd like to be on our mailing list as we find them. Do check it out and if you have an interest, be sure and contact me from the form provided! Visit at www.oceanfrontinvestments.com .

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Left behind - Pets and Foreclosure

April 16, 2008 : 6:04 PM ET

No one will forget the lost looks on the faces of pets abandoned after Hurricane Katrina. Best Friends Animal Society came to the rescue of thousands of them. Today, Best Friends is helping victims of another disaster – an economic disaster. For many people and their pets, the current mortgage crisis is every bit as devastating as a natural disaster.

Across the country, animals are being found abandoned in foreclosed homes. Other pet owners who’ve fallen victim to the subprime mortgage mess, finding themselves just days or even hours from being homeless, are desperately trying to find someone to take in the furry and feathered members of their families.

Some have tearfully left their pets at shelters, not knowing what would become of them, but believing they could at least give them some chance of being adopted.

“We’re seeing more and more cases of people leaving their homes and dropping the dog off at the shelter and the cat in the local park,” says Michael Mountain, president of Best Friends Animal Society. “Sometimes they even just tie the dog up outside and drive off.”

It is never OK to leave the family pet to fend for himself. Many people have been calling Best Friends’ Animal Help department for advice on how to keep their pets as they weather the economic storm. Department manager Liz Finch says she’s seeing an increase in calls and e-mails from people facing foreclosure.

“If there is a short time-frame, we coach them on ways to find temporary care for their animals through kenneling, boarding at a vet's office, fostering with a friend – anything to give them more time to look for the right home for their pet,” Liz says. “They may have the ability to keep their animal if they can find this temporary care, to tide them over until they find a pet-friendly home for themselves.”

Best Friends Animal Help specialists also provide resources to help people re-home their pets, giving them valuable information on how to network in their communities and how to contact rescue organizations.

“If the animal has special needs, we give them more specialized advice and resources,” Liz says. “We want to offer them as many options as possible. The more people who are aware of an animal in need of a home, the more likely you'll be able to find that home.”

A crisis has a way of bringing out the best in human beings, and Best Friends has also been receiving calls from people wanting to help. Mindy Mason, a real estate agent with Prudential Utah in Salt Lake City and a member of that city’s Board of Realtors, wanted to take action after hearing her colleagues talk about animals they’d found abandoned in foreclosed homes. She’s looking into how she and her fellow real-estate agents can donate proceeds from an annual fundraiser to Best Friends. “I just love what Best Friends does,” she says.

Mindy has some advice for people facing foreclosure – they should get in touch with their lenders. She says many lenders are willing to lower interest rates to help people stay in their homes.

“Lenders are being flexible,” Mindy says. “They will definitely work with you.” She says real-estate agents can help if people don’t know how to contact their lenders.

Meanwhile, Best Friends’ Animal Help specialists will continue to help however they can. The ultimate goal is to find some way to help people keep their pets. The next best thing is to help people place their pets in new forever homes.

“It's a very sad reality that people are being put in this position, where they essentially have to give up a member of their family,” Liz says. “We do whatever we can to give them hope for their animals’ future.” ~Written by Sandy Miller

Note from editor: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is one of the most worthwhile animal charities in existance today. I encourage you to visit their website, volunteer at the sancutary, and donate to the cause. Many who have gone to the compound and spent a week with the animals have come home with wonderful memories, and continue to spend their vacations there helping out. This is a wonderful organization.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Carolina coast | High-rise heaven?


Condo towers won’t get tougher rules despite perils, costsBy SAMMY FRETWELL - sfretwell@thestate.com

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH — State regulators Tuesday decided against toughening rules that allow high-rise condominiums on one of the most flood-prone beaches in South Carolina.

The decision at Cherry Grove — where condominium towers dominate a 20-block area once reserved for beach cottages — solidifies a state policy of letting less-restrictive oceanfront building codes stand even after taxpayers pay to renourish beaches.

The government has spent more than $100 million in the past two decades to widen South Carolina’s eroding seashore, the foundation of the state’s tourism economy. It spent some $20 million replenishing the shore at North Myrtle Beach in the 1990s and is preparing another multimillion dollar renourishment project this July. The $30 million project also includes other Grand Strand beaches.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s proposal for North Myrtle Beach is the first in a series of building regulation reviews during the next two years that will look at most South Carolina beaches to determine whether building restrictions should be changed.

Since the state first eased building restrictions in the heart of Cherry Grove eight years ago, two high-rise condominium projects containing thousands of rooms have been launched along the oceanfront.

A third, smaller condominium building also was built as a result of the state-approved changes at Cherry Grove. Before the rules changed in 2000, people wanting to develop from 20th to 40th avenues north were largely restricted to construction of new beach houses.

Bill Eiser, a DHEC oceanographer, said his agency saw no reason to reverse a decision it made eight years ago to loosen oceanfront construction regulations after the 1990s renourishment. State law allows building rules to be tightened if beaches erode, but to be eased if the seashore builds up, whether through natural or artificial renourishment.

Even though waves cover the dry-sand beach in many areas of Cherry Grove at high tide, Eiser said North Myrtle Beach hasn’t suffered major erosion since the 2000 decision. Erosion there is less than one foot per year, a low rate when compared to rates of 8 to 15 feet at some beaches in Beaufort County, he said.

“Our survey data shows not much less sand than when we last did this,” Eiser said. He added that the state could have eased building restrictions further on other parts of the beach where the shore is stable, but chose not to.

While the state’s policy is cause for rejoicing among developers and seaside landowners at North Myrtle Beach, some scientists and beachgoers said DHEC’s decision reflects an ominous trend in the face of more intense hurricanes and rising sea levels. Renourished beaches eventually will wash away, leaving buildings vulnerable, critics say.

Dave Huster, a Michigan truck driver vacationing in Cherry Grove, said South Carolinians should worry about footing the bill in the event of a storm.

“Who is going to pay to fix that building when the ocean goes over the berm?” Huster asked. “Who knows where the ocean will go?”

Tim Hall and Paul Conrads, federal officials who serve on a state shoreline advisory panel, are among those who question the wisdom of DHEC’s policy at Cherry Grove and other beaches.
Later this year, the state-appointed committee is to recommend changes in South Carolina’s beach management act, which many say is not working as intended. The law, adopted first in 1988, calls for a gradual “retreat” from the seashore of new development.

“It’s hard to look at barrier islands that need to be renourished and think this is a wise policy,” said Conrads, a U.S. Geological Survey official in Columbia. “It doesn’t seem like the prudent thing to do.”

That’s of particular concern in North Myrtle Beach, which has led the state’s coastal cities in the number of repeat flood insurance losses under the federally backed program. The city’s Cherry Grove section — an easily flooded narrow sand spit between a marsh and the Atlantic Ocean — typically takes the worst pounding during storms.

Paul Blust, zoning administrator for North Myrtle Beach, said some seaside landowners were concerned that DHEC might tighten the rules on oceanfront building. After viewing a series of maps at DHEC’s office in Myrtle Beach, Blust said many property owners will be relieved. If the economy improves, Blust expects more high-rise condo towers in Cherry Grove.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t,” he said.

At issue are building restrictions known as “setback lines.” These are imaginary lines that prevent development close to the beach. In 2000, DHEC moved setback lines 25 to 100 feet seaward along a 20-block stretch of oceanfront in Cherry Grove.

DHEC released a series of satellite maps Tuesday showing the lines’ location. Most stayed where they were set in 2000, although the agency did move them seaward in a few spots. One place is near a 20-story condo tower under construction south of Sea Mountain Highway. Developers of the project, Towers on the Grove, have said they’re simply going by state rules.

The building boom started after 2000 with a 17-story Prince Resort condo tower at the Cherry Grove Pier, where setback lines were moved seaward about 50 feet. The lines were extended seaward about another 25 feet in 2006 so the project could have swimming pools along the oceanfront.

Reach Fretwell at (803) 771-8537.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Democrats to the Rescue (Hopefully)

According to an article on CNN Money today, Democratic Senators are going to try and force a vote on legislation designed to help with the foreclosure crisis.

They have come up with a plan called the Foreclosure Prevention Act, which will help families avoid foreclosure and hopefully aid some of the communities that are already hurting from the backlash of the problem.

As usual, Republicans are trying to block the attempt, hoping to pull off the miracle themselves and get the credit for it...never mind the families that are hurt because of whatever delay that causes.

Senator Christopher Dodd, Connecticutt Democrat is quoted as saying,

"This is a pivotal week. Failure is not an option. The problem is growing more serious by the hour and any delay is putting more homeowners in jeopardy."

Senator Dodd is the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. The article says "Republicans agree that the legislation is in play." I don't have any idea what that statement means. If anyone does, I would like to be enlightened.

A member of the banking panel is a Republican Senator named Wayne Allard, R-Colo. and an aid states that he has always worked well with the Chair...I assume meaning that perhaps he will help to pass this Democratic initiative.

The Senate majority leader Harry Reid states that the White House is unresponsive, and persists in calling for the lenders to take on the task instead of the government. Well, folks, it seems to be pretty clear that this is not going to happen.

I was in a deep argument recently with a friend who is a Republican about the differences in our philosophies. She, like most, feels like the government should stand back and let the chips fall where they may. If people don't work, let them starve. If their kids starve too, then that's the way it is. If folks were stupid enough or greedy enough to be sucked into the sub-prime loans, then they deserve what they get, and it's not up to her tax money to bail them out.

My counter was, fine...we can be like China. If someone is born with no arms or paralyzed, let them sit on a blanket in the street and beg for pennies. It's THEIR problem.

My point is that our country is the greatest in the world BECAUSE our government steps in and forces EVERYONE to take care of those who can't or won't take care of themselves.

Our argument escalated when I voiced my puzzled opinion as to why those who have the most money (often or usually Republicans) are the ones who most begrudge helping others.

It hurts someone in the bare middle class more to take more taxes than it does a multi-millionaire. Yet, I, and most Democrats, feel the need is warranted and welcome the government control to aid in problems like this foreclosure mess. And someone with more money than they can possibly ever spend thinks we should leave these people to be put on the street.

I just don't understand the reasoning. What makes it worse is that a good many of these Republicans who feel this way are in the real estate industry. They PROFITTED from the very loans that are now going into foreclosure.

Whatever happened to "He ain't heavy - He's my brother"?

Oh, wait...that was a song written and sung by us liberals even way back then. Just like the 60's all over again, we've got the "hippies" (liberals) that care and the "establishment" (Republicans and Conservatives) that don't seem to.

This is the worst rant I've ever made, I think...but every day I get more incensed towards our horrible president, the war, and how it seems we have no say-so against a tyrant in the White House.

Senator Dodd's proposal calls for forcing the mortgage companies to lower balances down to what the homes are worth, and taking a loss. As Dodd is quoted as saying,

"In essence, the plan gives lenders the chance to take a quick hit, versus the slow bleed that could end in foreclosure."

I hope the Republicans will see how important this issue is, and let go of their reticence against government long enough to try and save the economy.

Thanks to Richard Brooks D-SC - for passing this article along to me.

Myrtle Beach real estate

Monday, March 24, 2008

More Atlantic Beach Problems

Once again, the other cities and taxpayers are expected to pay this town's expenses and pick up the tab for "history"...

AB's mayor, salaries out
Charges at top sink in as town left in limbo
Posted on Sat, Mar. 22, 2008
By Kurt Knapek and Lorena Anderson -
kknapek@thesunnews.com
landerson@thesunnews.com

Gov. Mark Sanford issued the order after Thursday's indictment of Irene Armstrong on bribery and misconduct charges. The town manager, Marcia Conner, was indicted on misconduct charges. Neither woman was available for comment Friday.

City workers - including the five-member police force - did not receive paychecks as scheduled Friday, and the acting police chief said he will look to Horry County law enforcement to protect Atlantic Beach, at least for this weekend.

"I'm not even sure I'm going to work," said Capt. Randy Rizzo. "I, too, have bills, and we cannot have employees working for free. They missed payroll, and the funds are not there."

Mixed responses
Reaction to the indictments ranged from sad resignation to a commitment to move past the current problems.

"No, I'm not surprised," said oceanfront property owner David O'Connell.
"I think it's a shame, but change will be the best thing in the world for Atlantic Beach."

Sanford's executive order read

"I hereby suspend Irene Evans Armstrong from the office of Mayor of Atlantic Beach until such a time that she shall formally be acquitted or convicted."

"We're letting the legal system take its course, but it's not something we're proud of right now," said Councilman Donnell Thompson. "We're trying to move the town forward. We're in a crisis right now."

The four remaining council members couldn't resolve their dispute Friday on how to pay the police force. Retha Pierce and Thompson said they were in favor of paying the force, Mayor Pro Tem Charlene Taylor and Councilman Jake Evans refused to approve the spending.

"We need to make sure we have police protection," Pierce said. "We want the town to move forward and keep doors open and not shut things down."

Taylor and Evans would not comment.
"I need to hear from my lawyer," Taylor said. (HAHA!)

The whole situation is up in the air now, and Rizzo said he has no idea what might happen.
"It's going to be interesting," he said.

Resident Paul Curry said he wasn't surprised. Curry is suing the town, alleging officials have refused to notify him of public meetings - which state law requires - despite his requests.

"These are merely allegations, and I hope she is treated fairly in court," Curry said of Armstrong, "but that said, I think there is truth to these charges."

Disputed electionArmstrong lost the mayoral election in November by one vote to Pierce, but appealed the election, which allowed her to hold her seat until the matter is settled. A circuit court judge is expected to decide next week whether Atlantic Beach should hold its mayoral election again.

Pierce said Friday she's unsure how Armstrong's indictment will affect Judge J. Michael Baxley's ruling on the election.

"We're awaiting some information at this point," she said.

Pierce has her own legal issues to tend to after being charged with resisting arrest on Christmas night after a traffic stop. She told the officer she needed to use the bathroom, got out of her car and started to walk toward a nearby hotel.

"I'm not worried about that," Pierce said. "I'm not guilty of resisting arrest. I just wanted to use the restroom. I want us to get through this. I want us to keep a positive outlook and try to work together to move forward."

Conner, 50, faces two counts of misconduct in office and one count of violating an employer's obligations to police retirement funds.

Conner previously served as the city manager in Durham, N.C., where she resigned after council members there became increasingly dissatisfied about her tenure, which included two failed searches for a police chief and problems with project oversight and spending delays in the city housing department.

What's nextArmstrong and Conner have until Monday to turn themselves in to authorities at J. Reuben Long Detention Center or the State Law Enforcement Division will issue arrest warrants.

The women police say accepted the bribes from Armstrong will not be charged, 15th Judicial Court Solicitor Greg Hembree said.

"They came forward and fully cooperated," Hembree said. "Had they not, we would not have been charging the others. The offering of the bribe is the more serious offense. I wouldn't want to punish those who are doing the right thing."

Councilman Thompson said he "feels comfortable" the annual Memorial Day Bike Fest, a source of revenue for the city, will go on as planned May 23-26.

"I think things will be worked out by then," Thompson said.

So What's the Latest Atlantic Beach Scourge?

Atlantic Beach's excuse for a mayorWell, the dirty soap opera that is Atlantic Beach and its mayor continues. Here's the latest on her recent arrest. It appears she stirred up alot more than her penchant for thinking she can tell the police what to do.

I would be happier if the Sun News would be very explicit to let people know that Atlantic Beach is NOT A PART OF NORTH MYRTLE BEACH!!

NMB has an outstanding government and its officials and police department are the best in the state as far as I'm concerned. It sickens me to think this can taint the reputation of such a beautiful beach town. We have NOTHING to do with what goes on in this town.

Please see the Atlantic Beach Website so you can better understand the dynamics here!
See the Original Posting of the Mayor being arrested.

Governor suspends indicted Atlantic Beach mayorThursday, Mar 20, 2008 - 08:11 PM Updated: 04:14 PM

Thursday afternoon, the 15th Circuit solicitor's office released an Horry County Grand Jury's verdict charging the Atlantic Beach mayor, Irene Armstrong, and town manager, Marcia Conner, with a list of crimes.

Friday morning, Governor Mark Sanford signed an executive order suspending the three-term mayor from office, according to the governor's press secretary, Joel Sawyer.

The indictments are a result of an investigation into the town's finances, according to the solicitor's office release.

Armstrong faces three counts of bribery of elections and two counts of misconduct in office.
Town manager Conner faces two counts of misconduct in office and one count of violation of Employer's Obligation to the Police Retirement Fund.

The indictment claims Armstrong bribed three voters in the town's November elections by paying the three for votes.

Agents charge that on election day, Armstrong paid Monique E. Pointer of Atlantic Beach $20 for her vote in the mayoral election, and another $20 for Pointer's vote for councilman, Jake Evans, Armstrong's brother.

The indictment also claims Armstrong bought another vote for herself from Rose Marie Lambert for $10 in the mayoral election.

Armstrong lost the November mayoral election by one vote to councilwoman Retha Pierce, but appealed for a new election.

A circuit court judge heard arguments Monday from Pierce and Armstrong, but did not make a decision in the case as to whether or not to uphold the town's election commission's decision to hold a new election.

Armstrong faces two counts of misconduct in office stemming from illegally transferring town money from the town's pending drug seizure account into the town's general fund account, which the indictment states is a violation of state law.

The second count against Armstrong deals with the illegal transfer of the town's municipal court account into the town's general fund.

Two of the three charges against town manager Conner include illegal transfer of money between the same accounts charged against Armstrong; the third charge agents claim Conner collected retirement fund money from the town's police officers, transferred that money into the town's general fund, then used that money to pay for other services.

The indictment alleges the crimes of misconduct happened between April 9, 2006 and May 2, 2007.

State Law Enforcement Division agents took several financial documents from Atlantic Beach town hall back in July of 2007, but SLED would not release any details about what agents took, or why agents are investigating.

News13 checked with SLED Thursday and agents said the July 2007 investigation remained open and active.

If convicted, mayor Armstrong faces up to 35 years in prison, and Conner faces up to 30 years behind bars if a jury finds her guilty.

Town council members Retha Pierce and Donnell Thompson changed the locks on town hall this afternoon to keep Armstrong and Conner from entering the building.

Governor Mark Sanford issued a statement Thursday evening through his press office,

"We have not reviewed the indictment in detail, but based upon what we understand about the charges, we have every reason to believe we would suspend the mayor once our office reviews the indictment."

SLED agents allowed the pair to surrender themselves to authorities sometime early next week.
##

***This story is so dirty that I won't even put links in it to our websites.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

1031 Exchange Makes the News in Myrtle Beach

The below article in the Sun News was taken from an articale originally done by myself as a press release about 1031 Exchanges on PRWeb. It was done as an adjunct to our 1031 Tax Exchange website called 1031Commercial.com. I noted most of the exact information in my press release as to owners wanting to use their investment condos and real estate for personal vacations and how the IRS was now specifically going to allow it.

Today, the article below appeared in the Sun News, and to add insult to injury, the auther actually telephoned David O'Connell, whose number and reference was in my original press release, and spent a good bit of his time answering her questions about 1031's and the IRS regulations, as well as the differences in using Myrtle Beach real estate to save capital gains taxes.

Not only was no credit given to the original article, which was taken from a similar but generic mention in Forbes Magazine, but the author of the Sun News article didn't give any mention to her conversations with David, his insight and knowledge about 1031's or even a link to his website.

I feel rather offended by this, and wanted it to be known.

Here is the Sun News Article that I feel was offensively done without giving just due to the both of us.

Posted on Wed, Mar. 12, 2008
Tax break available for some investors
JESSICA FOSTER

Real estate investors looking for ways to dodge taxes on capital gains have clearer guidelines as to whether they qualify for a popular tax break.

Many Myrtle Beach investors buy condos and houses in hopes of spending some vacation time in the property - a move that might have disqualified them from a tax-free 1031 exchange before this week.

Now, they still qualify if they vacation there for up to 14 days or no more than 10 percent of the number of days the unit is rented out, according to an Internal Revenue Service bulletin.

That could be a plus for the investor-heavy coast, said Tom Maeser, market analyst for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. The exchange, made possible through Section 1031 of the tax code, lets people swap their property for a new one without being taxed on the gains as long as the property is used for investment or business. The personal use rules mean real estate buyers don't have to wonder whether they're eligible for the exchange if they vacation in their investment property for a few days.

"You never knew whether you were going to be in trouble or not because they never spelled it out very clearly," Maeser said. "So many of our investors now are going from the old flippers to the baby boomers that are buying second homes now and will put them in a rental program. This just gives them a lot more assurance that they're not going to be challenged by the IRS."

The change comes after a recent U.S. Tax Court case, Moore v. Commissioner, in which taxpayers tried to do an exchange on two properties they used solely for personal purposes.
They said the properties should qualify as investments because the values were expected to appreciate.
The court ruled that the "mere hope or expectation that property may be sold at a gain cannot establish an investment intent if the taxpayer uses the property as a residence."

Other than being an investment property, there are additional requirements for the exchange: the investor has 45 days to identify potential replacement properties and the exchange must be done within 180 days. A qualified intermediary also has to be used.

Buyers should also keep in mind that the exchange only defers paying the taxes until the property is sold. "Unless you're lucky enough to die before you sell it, you're not saving the tax, you're deferring the tax," said Myrtle Beach attorney and CPA Tone Trask.

That could mean that investors pay more in taxes if the federal tax rate rises from its current 15 percent on capital gains.

Though some Realtors say 1031 exchanges are relatively common among local investors, Trask said he hasn't done many in recent years because of the market downturn.
###

Friday, March 07, 2008

$100K More to live at the North Pole instead of Myrtle Beach

CNN Money had an article that showed Coldwell Banker's annual Home Price Comparison Index, which compared selling prices of similar homes in similar neighborhoods of different states and markets.

It was an interesting comparison to see, and very surprising to find some areas (such as Alaska - ACK!) that were incredibly expensive, while considered almost undesirable. Here's a sampling of the areas and prices they gave. I was also rather surprised to find that Myrtle Beach real estate was definitely in the low to middle range of pricing, and in fact, quite a bit lower than Charleston.
We are way lower than most of Florida, and I think condos for sale in Myrtle Beach as versus Miami would bear that out. But ALASKA????????? Come on!

Other surprises include Fairfield, CT, Boston, and Maryland. Wow. It really costs alot to freeze to death! Makes me very happy to be right where I am.

The criteria was a 2200 sq ft house with 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a family room, and 2-car garage. The neighborhood is described as "typical for corporate middle-management transferees".


City-----------------Avg Price of homeHuntsville, AL................$194,466

Juneau, AK ................$443,000

Little Rock, AR..... ........$181,395

Tucson, AZ ...................$250,833
Phoenix, AZ ..................$295,334
Scottsdale, AZ ..............$478,833

San Diego, CA .............$627,938
San Fransisco, CA ..$1,300,000
Beverly Hills, CA ......$1,656,500

Colorado Springs, CO ..$211,667
Denver, CO ....................$336,433

Torrington, CT ..............$233,331
Fairfield, CT ...................$737,738

Washington, DC .............$727,250

Pensacola, FL ...............$222,258
Orlando, FL .....................$312,000
Daytona Beach, FL ........$349,650
Sarasota, FL ...................$387,375
Boca Raton, FL ...............$521,412
Key West, FL .................$949,375

Macon, GA .......................$167,850
Atlanta, GA .......................$303,000

Honolulu, HI .......................$737,625
Des Moines, IA .................$247,000

Boise, ID ...........................$213,808

Springfield, IL .................$205,950
Naperville, IL .....................$346,250
Chicago, IL ......................$815,000

South Bend, IN ..................$173,600
Munster, IN .........................$329,300

Wichita, KS ........................$151,275
Lawrence, KS ....................$237,237

Louisville, KY .....................$243,634

Shreveport, LA ..................$210,250

Springfield, MA .................$389,283
Boston, MA ....................$1,260,000

Hagerstown, MD ............$283,175
Baltimore, MD ..................$513,425
Bethesda, MD .................$829,750

Bangor, ME .......................$253,750

Grayling, MI ........................$149,600
Ann Arbor, MI .....................$346,250

Rochester, MN ...................$217,675
Minneapolis, ................MN $397,133

St Louis, MO .......................$254,700
Tupelo, MS ..........................$163,485

Helena, MT ..........................$177,950

Greensboro, NC ...............$181,166
Charlotte, NC ....................$204,336
Wilmington, NC ................$286,650

Bismarck, ND .....................$171,438

Norfolk, NE .........................$176,450

Turnersville, NJ ...............$257,385
Clinton, NJ ..........................$527,700
Madison, NJ .......................$677,250
Ridgewood, NJ ...............$829,500

Albuquerque, NM ...........$243,034
Santa Fe, NM ...................$511,026

Las Vegas, NV .................$359,500

Binghamton, NY .............$152,875
Rochester, NY ...................$256,333
Long Island, NY .................$584,497
Queens, NY .......................$701,000
Rye, NY .............................$869,125

Cincinnati, OH ...................$244,250

Oklahoma City, OK ...........$185,000

Eugene, OR ......................$327,000

Erie, PA ............................$193,975
Harrisburg, PA .................$276,566
Philadelphia, PA ............$574,567

Columbia, SC .................$190,058
Myrtle Beach, SC ..........$191,584
Charleston, SC ..............$307,400

Sioux Falls, SD ................$171,470

Nashville, TN .....................$209,300

Arlington, TX .....................$139,510
Dallas, TX .........................$261,325

Salt Lake City, UT ............$262,117

Roanoke, VA ...................$220,942
Virginia Beach, VA ..........$334,425
Alexandria City, VA .......$776,399

Burlington, VT ..................$338,750

Spokane, WA .................$238,418
Seattle, WA ......................$386,600
Bellevue, WA ..................$566,330

Eau Claire, WI ..................$164,225
Milwaukee, WI ..................$331,000

Charleston, WV ................$179,050
Would you pay $400K for this house in Alaska?