Greater Columbia, Chapin, Irmo, Lexington and Lake Murray.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year - 2008! Get out your new calendars, remember to write 2008 for all dates AND be sure to make some new year's resolutions! Enjoy your black-eyed peas, hog jowls, hoppin' john and ham and collard greens on New Year's Day.

I've compiled Mel Coker's TOP 10 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS based on my extensive research (not necessarily my personal resolutions):
  1. Lose weight
  2. Get in better physical shape
  3. Spend more quality time with family and friends
  4. Reduce or eliminate debt
  5. Set a budget and/or reduce expenses
  6. Quit smoking
  7. Learn something new / develop a new talent or skill
  8. Drink less alcohol / quit drinking
  9. Find a better job
  10. Get better organized
Tips for making (and completing) effective New Year's Resolutions: set only 1-3 realistic goals; write down your goals; take baby steps (break goals into tasks with deadlines); go public (tell others about your goals); track your progress; reward yourself; if you slip up, recommit!

Great links:

Tips for Making New Year's Resolutions: * * For Kids & Teenagers

Please keep reading my blog in 2008... I'll have interesting blogs on Columbia real estate, Columbia stuff, cool vacations, prize give-aways and much more.

Click here for a FREE subscription to immediate blog updates thru my FeedBurner.

Mel Coker

Chapin Girls Basketball Wins Holiday Tournament!

Congratulations to the Chapin High School girls varsity basketball team for winning the Newberry Classic basketball tournament this past week at Newberry High School. My daughter, Kelly, plays guard on the team. Game victories included: 60-32 over Woodruff on Wednesday; 47-32 over Clinton on Thursday; and, 59-25 over Newberry in the championship game on Friday night.
Grace Kemp (from Chapin) was the tournament MVP and on the all-tournament team along with Layla Neal. Team members (and tournament scoring totals above 20 points): Grace Kemp (35), Ashlee Wilson (33); Amy Lepper (26); Layla Neal (25); Kelly Coker (23); Kelli Carr; Savannah Frick; Becca Gilligan; Haleigh Hipp; Noel Holmes; Lauren Lorick; Stephanie Moose.

The team is coached by Mark Shelley and the team record now stands at 10-3. The Chapin Lady Eagles played in the first round of the state 3A playoffs last season and hope to advance further this season in the state playoffs. Go Lady Eagles!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from the Coker family in Chapin, South Carolina!

We hope you will have a wonderful Christmas day and we offer the very best wishes for a new year in 2008.

Interesting Christmas links:
The Real Story - a new website from the Bible Society
Christmas Story Quiz - 25 questions
Christmas Worldwide
Nativity Art
Top 25 Christmas Songs - ASCAP
Top Selling Christmas Albums

Please keep watching my blog in 2008 for interesting blogs and some cool stuff!

Mel Coker

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Online Shopping!

I've recently done some of my Christmas shopping online. I was able to get great pricing and FREE shipping at . With over 7 Internet domains, I am an authorized affiliate for some of the biggest names in online shopping including: Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Carnival Cruises, Dell, GoDaddy, Kodak Gallery, Sony, Staples, Zappos and more.

Also, check out my Best Deals at Amazon Store - Click Here!

I've also got a webpage up that lists all Columbia area shopping malls and shopping areas with links to their websites:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Community Spotlight - Stoney Pointe / Turkey Pointe

TWO Chapin communities are in the spotlight this time... Stoney Pointe & Turkey Pointe. Turkey Pointe is in Chapin, located just behind the Food Lion shopping area, and Stoney Pointe is located across the road from Chapin Elementary School and adjacent to the shores of Lake Murray.

Both communites currently have NEW homes being built by local builder Rymarc Homes. The motto of Rymarc Homes is "Making the American Dream Affordable." In both Stoney Pointe and Turkey Pointe this is certainly the case. All homes are "build" jobs which allow for a homebuyer to build with base features which are very nice or upgrade with a very nice list of amenities. Both communities feature about 19 floor plans with prices in the $115,000 to $160,000 range. Stoney Pointe features a community center with swimming pool and playground area and a community pond for fishing and a walking trail around the pond.

SPECIAL DEALS... in December only: write a build contract and get $10,000 off all floor plans in Stoney Pointe or Turkey Pointe AND $2150 paid by the Seller towards closing costs. These incentives available only with the use of the approved lender (NVR Mortgage) or cash. Your Realtor, Mel Coker, will also provide a $300 Lowe's shopping certificate with his buyer representation (incentive at closing).

NOW is a great time to buy a NEW home.... Incredible builder incentives, a special incentive when Mel Coker represents you in buying a home and really low mortgage rates. I f you are renting a home, NOW is the time to OWN your home. Call Mel Coker at (803) 318-2007 to discuss these communities or to make an appointment. email


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top 10 Things To Do in Columbia

I've lived in Columbia all of my life and I enjoy getting around Columbia to see the interesting places in our beautiful city. So, I've developed my own Top TEN Things to Do in Columbia list. If you are new to the Columbia area or if you have lived here for many years, you may want to check out my list. Maybe you'll want to print the list and get out soon to check out my top ten. Have comments on my list or wish to share thoughts and experiences on your visits to the places on my list? Share them with a comment on my blog!

Mel's TOP TEN Things to Do in Columbia, South Carolina:
  1. Visit Riverbanks Zoo & Garden
  2. Visit South Carolina State House
  3. Learn about the Palmetto State at the South Carolina State Museum
  4. Visit Another Interesting Museum - choices here or visit them all, including Museum of Art, EdVenture, and more
  5. Visit Historic Homes - more choices... Robert Mills House, Hampton-Preston Mansion, South Carolina Governor's Mansion and more
  6. Experience Lake Murray
  7. Visit a National Park just outside of Columbia - Congaree National Park
  8. Attend a Sports Event - more choices!
  9. Visit a Local Park - many great choices here including: Three Rivers Greenway, Finaly Park, Riverfront Park, Saluda Shoals Park and many more
  10. Day Trip! we're in the geographic center of the state so it's easy to get off for a day or two to another interesting place
Just recently, my wife and I visited (after joining) the historic homes of Historic Columbia Foundation (#5). We had a wonderful tour. Now is a great time to visit the historic Columbia homes with the Christmas decorations. Our pictures: #1 #2 #3 #4

Get out soon and get to know Columbia better with visits to some or all of the places and attractions on my list above. Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Chapin Girls Basketball Tournament

The CLAW CLASSIC basketball tournament will be held November 19th-21st at Chapin High School. Some games will be played at Chapin Middle School. There will be eight area girls varsity teams competing.

High schools included in the tournament are:Batesburg-Leesville * Chapin * Hammond * Heathwood Hall * Irmo * Lugoff-Elgin * Newberry * White Knoll
The Chapin Lady Eagles is the host team and Mel Coker, your RE/MAX Realtor, is the tournament Platinum Sponsor. Other sponsors include: Brandi Companies (Pitt Stop & Burger King); Moore Orthopaedic; Wallick Construction Southeast; State Representative Nathan Ballentine; Crosby Livingston, DMD; Custom Pizza; Flight Deck Restaurant; and, Mid State Roofing.

I'm excited to be the Title Sponsor! Please come out and enjoy a few games and support these girls. They have really worked hard in all of their practices! You'll enjoy the games!
Games start on Monday and Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. and on Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. For a complete schedule with locations and times, please visit the tournament website:

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Community Spotlight - SpringHaven

My community spotlight this time is SpringHaven in the St. Andrews area of Columbia, SC. Springhaven is a gated garden home (patio home) community in a great location near Irmo, Interstates 26 and 20, Lake Murray and downtown Columbia.

New homes feature open floor plans, most with downstairs master bedroom suites, garages, backyard privacy fencing, and a host of available update options. The reasonable monthly HOA fee ($93) covers security monitoring, front yard maintenance, annual power washing and entrance and common area maintenance. These homes are built by Mungo Homes, a Columbia builder since 1954. Mungo Homes holds the Master Builder Certification. Homes are low maintenance vinyl construction with brick fronts available. Homes sites may be chosen to build from a choice of available plans or choose an existing "spec" home.

This community has been very popular with retirees. The community is quiet and peaceful with the entire front area of the community walled. It's convenient to great shopping, Columbiana Centre Mall, dining, hospitals and medical offices.

Closed home sales in this community have ranged in price from $125,095 to $160,000. Current homes for sale range in price from $119,900 to $139,990. The average home price is approximately $139,600. Home sizes range from about 1100 square feet to 1657 square feet (2-3 bedrooms).

For more information or for emailed home listings from this community or to set an appointment to see SpringHaven garden homes, please contact your Columbia Realtor, Mel Coker. Call Mel toll-free at 888-528-2258. Click here to visit Mel's Columbia Real Estate website.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Veterans Day

Veterans Day is coming... November 11th. This federal holiday was initially known as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I on November 11, 1917. The holiday officially began in 1926 and in 1954 the holiday name was changed to Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to United States national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty. PLEASE BE SURE TO THANK A VETERAN FOR THEIR SERVICE TO OUR COUNTRY!

The City of Columbia will observe the annual Veterans Day Parade on November 12th in downtown Columbia (moved to the 12th since the 11th is on a Sunday). This parade is one of the largest Veterans Day parades in the United States.

I've created a webpage with information for the Veterans Day parade and to honor our veterans. Please check the page out as it contains other information such as: Veterans Day links, pictures from our Memorial Park in Columbia, SC and the name of America's most decorated soldier from ANY international/foreign war (HINT: it's not Alvin York or Audie Murphy and he WAS born in South Carolina!).

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Home of Tomorrow

The home of the future, at least looking out to 2015, will be somewhat different than new homes being built today according to research by the National Association of Home Builders. While overall home size has been increasing over the years, from about 1500 square feet in 1973 to 2459 square feet in 2006, the home of 2015 will probably average about 2400 square feet.

A summary of other home changes for new homes: higher ceilings, popular now in new homes, are here to stay; upscale amenities will become more common; formal living rooms will shrink or disapper, while family rooms will get larger; recessed lighting and bold colors will be more common; demand for energy-efficient appliances, HVAC equipment and windows will increase and structured wiring and multi-line phone systems will be standard in most homes.

Outdoor kitchens and second master bedroom suites will become more common in luxury homes.

What will an average new home cost in 2015? I did an analysis of current homes for sale in the Columbia area (as of November 4, 2007): The average home size is 2459 s.f. for 242 new homes for sale in my analysis (all with min. 2 1/2 baths and 2 car garage minimum). The prices ranged from $151,990 to $725,000. The average price is $260,541 with an average price per square foot of $105.95 (this includes the lot). Construction costs can vary greatly depending on construction quality, materials and amenities (and the lot price too). So, going forward, if Columbia new home prices appreciate over the next 8 years at 3.5% per year, the average home of the future will cost about $334,848 (in 2015).

For your home of TODAY, please be sure to contact your Columbia Realtor, Mel Coker. I can show you ANY home, new or resale, for sale in the Greater Columbia area. Call Mel Coker at (803) 318-2007 or visit Mel's website:

Monday, October 29, 2007

BEST Columbia Weather Website

THE BEST Columbia Weather Page is now located at Mel Coker's Columbia websites.

My weather webpage includes and graphics with current conditions, links to other weather websites, and historical weather conditions including average temperatures and rainfall. There is also an up-to-date Columbia weather video available at any time of the day provided with our partnership with AccuWeather. Be sure to check out this new resource for Columbia weather.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Fire Safety Month

October is Fire Safety Month! (this almost got by me)
Did you know that more people die in fires (more than 4000 per year) than in hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and all other natural disasters combined? Or that every year, children start nearly 100,000 fires? Or that approximately 82% of all fire fatalities in the U.S. occur in the home? Or that most home fires start in the kitchen?

Mel's PARTIAL list of important fire safety reminders: 1.) Properly install, maintain, and test smoke detectors on each floor level, outside each sleeping area, and in each bedroom; 2.) Develop and then practice your family's home fire escape plan. Everyone should know exactly what to do if you need to escape from your home; 3.) Be especially careful when using gasoline, cigarettes, space heaters, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves; 4.) Have the appropriate type and number of fire extinguishers in your home.

More tips, information and resources:
Fire Safety Tips
U.S. Fire Administration
Be Fire Smart Wildfires Choose a Fire Extinguisher List of Historic Fires

Monday, October 22, 2007

5 Remodeling Projects with the Biggest Payback

Not all home improvement projects are created equally, with some adding more value than others when it comes time to sell. It makes sense to consider your return on investment (ROI) when considering a home improvement project.

The five projects I've listed here have a typical job cost of less than $20,000. The information is from The 2006 Cost vs. Value Report (a combined effort by Remodeling magazine and REALTOR® Magazine). The home improvement projects with best return on value (South Atlantic Region):
  • Vinyl Siding Replacement - Average ROI 89.3%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel - Average ROI 89.1%
  • Bathroom Remodel - Average ROI 86.8%
  • Window replacement - Average ROI 83.5%
  • Deck addition - Average ROI 83.1%
Lowes Summary Report * Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report
To help you get started, I've included a link on my website for you to obtain a 10% coupon (I have membership in the Lowe's Realtor Benefits Program).

Considering SELLING? Contact Mel Coker for a FREE Market Analysis.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lower TAX Bills Coming Soon!

Lower tax bills are coming soon to a mailbox near you! In June 2006, Governor Mark Sanford signed into law a bill passed by the Legislature that was designed to lower residential property taxes. The law made other changes including: reduced the sales tax on groceries to 3% and capped reassessment increases of taxable value on all classes of property to 15% over a 5 year period. The property tax reduction applies ONLY to your primary residence (with a 4% tax assessment ratio).

Specifically, the new property tax law eliminates the school operating portion of property taxes on primary residences and replaces them with a one-cent statewide sales tax increase to 6% (was effective June 1, 2007).

Of course, if one tax (state sales tax) goes up and another(property tax) goes down, do you really save? Representative Nathan Ballentine explains this very well in a recent blog:
" Simply put here’s how it works:
* Let’s say your tax bill is $200 less this year. (That reduction right there “feels good”).
* If you pay less than $200 in extra sales tax this year on purchases, you came out ahead.
How much “stuff” would you have to purchase this year to pay $200 extra in sales tax (based off the 1% sales tax increase that was part of this legislation)? $20,000 of “stuff”. Think you’re going to do that? " (Thanks Nathan for that blog)

Well, the good news is that for the great majority of S.C. residents, there will be a significant tax reduction.

I analyzed five 2007 tax bills for Richland County and five 2007 tax bills for Lexington County and compared this to actual 2006 bills. The results...
Richland County bills LOWER 47.8% (A 2006 tax bill of $2587 drops to app. $1351 ON AVERAGE).
Lexington County bills LOWER 51.5% (A 2007 tax bill of $2814 drops to app. $1364 ON AVERAGE).
(Please note that my analysis is a random selection of just 5 residential homes in each county - millages, etc. may vary by area of county)

More information on the Internet:
South Carolina Tax Guide
Check Richland County taxes: be sure to click calculate (for 2007 bill) and also click legal residence
Check Lexington County taxes

A TIP from Mel Coker: Make sure when you receive your tax bill in November that you are getting the legal residence exemption (4% assessment ratio) if you own your primary residence.

More good news: A new tax bill passed in 2007 will eliminate grocery taxes all together effective November 1, 2007.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Columbia Real Estate Newsletter

You need to get the Columbia, SC real estate newsletter each month. It's FREE and with no obligation. The newsletter is packed with interesting articles.

Recent articles include: "Could Your Closets Be Turning Off Buyers?" ; "Back to Basic Home Buying Skills" ; "Coping with Higher Summer Energy Costs" ; "Avoiding 7 Costly Mistakes of Selling Your Home" .

Each month I also pick 3-4 random winners from my subscription list to win a nice prize such as a dinner certificate. You have to be a subscriber and read the newsletter to have a chance to win. If you wish to subscribe, please call me or send me an email.

Recently, I had the BIG contest and gave away $300 in Lowes gift certificates and $100 in dinner certificates. Miles Weaver, Apryl Kyzer, Diane Smith, Sally Bealafeld, Gloria Grindley and Rosie Brown all won because they read the Mel Coker real estate newsletter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Columbia, SC Market Update - September 30, 2007

Homes are still SELLING! For the period January 1st through the end of September, the number of residential closings in the Greater Columbia MLS is down only 2.3% compared to the same period in 2006. The average sales price is up 3.7% to $175,125. A slight market slowdown is evidenced by: 1) Average “days on market” is up 9.1% to 84 days; 2) Inventory accumulation is up 25.5% to 7.73 (in months).

Chapin Market Conditions
Lake Murray Market Conditions

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

QUICK BLOG - SC State Fair, Unclaimed Money, Job Expo

The South Carolina State Fair opens this Wednesday, October 10th! The fair runs through Sunday, October 21st. Grandstand entertainment includes: Daughtry, Sara Evans, MercyMe, Josh Turner, The Jonas Brothers, Lee Greenwood, Omarion, and Third Day. Be sure to get out to the S.C. State Fair to enjoy rides, games, food, exhibits and people watching. Click Here for a link to the State Fair website.

Unclaimed MONEY? Yes, the S.C. Treasurer's office is holding nearly $200 million in unclaimed money and property. Millions of dollars (by state law) are transferred to the Program annually by companies who cannot locate the owners. Examples of the type of property covered by the Program include bank accounts, stock certificates, checks, insurance policies and utility deposits. IF you live in South Carolina, you should check the website to see if you are owed money. Do it NOW by click on this link!

Mel Coker is now the exclusive representative of the CyberStars in Columbia, SC. This Realtor group organized by Allen F. Hainge is an invitation only group of Realtors meeting high standards of client service through the use of technology. Click Here to see the list of CyberStars (only 4 in South Carolina).

WIS-TV is sponsoring a JOB FAIR on Tuesday, October 30th in Columbia at the State Museum. This is the BIG Job Fair with several thousand attending previous events. Click Here for more information.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Columbia Attractions

I recently read a report about attendance numbers for the top attractions in the Greater Columbia area. There was a surprise in the order of this attendance list. If you are new to Columbia or planning to visit Columbia soon, you should be aware that there are quite a number of interesting places and attractions to visit. I encourage you to pick some of these outstanding attractions to visit soon.

Leading the list, of course, is Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. Riverbanks is one of America's TOP Zoos and is located on the scenic Saluda River just outside of downtown Columbia! Riverbanks Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals that represent more than 350 species from around the world. Riverbanks Botanical Garden boasts 70 acres of unparalleled beauty. Satch Krantz, executive director of Riverbanks, was just named Chairman of The Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Approximately 900,000 people visit Riverbanks each year.

Other attractions in the top five are: Saluda Shoals Park (the surprise), EdVenture Children's Museum, Dreher Island State Park, and the South Carolina State Museum.

I have compiled a List of Top Attractions in Columbia, SC. Click on this link to visit my compilation. My listing includes the Top Ten Attractions and more. The list also includes a link to most of the attraction's websites. Please take a look soon at my Columbia Attractions web page and get out for some fun and learning.

Mel Coker

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blogging at last!

Blogging from Columbia, South Carolina!

I've finally made it to the world of blogging! I've been on the Internet since the early days of the Internet with my own webpages (since September 1995). Now I can say I'm a blogger too! My inspiration for finally getting a blog up on the Net comes from my Pastor at Chapin Baptist Church. Recently, I checked in on the church website and found that Pastor Ken Kelly had a blog! He is the first person that I know personally that has a blog!
Pastor Ken Kelly blog

I'll be posting regular articles on Columbia information and Greater Columbia real estate information. I've lived in Columbia all of my life and know the area really well. Columbia is a GREAT place to call home. I currently live in the Chapin area at Lake Murray with my wife Barbara and daughter Kelly.

For now, a few of my primary links for web domains that I own that relate to Columbia area information:


Mel Coker