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

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