Joint Base Charleston Real Estate

Do you really wanna rent forever?

Photo provided by Stanley Martin Homes

7 steps to buying your first home ??

Buying a home is one of the biggest commitments you’ll ever make– so you need to make sure you’re ready before taking the plunge.

The first order of business in prepping to buy a home? Knowing what it means to be prepared. There’s a lot that goes into the home buying process. To help you navigate it all, we’ve broken it down into 7 easy-to-follow steps

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1. Do your homework.

Consider the additional costs you’ll incur in owning a home vs. renting one. Making a mortgage payment vs. paying rent may seem ideal for a couple of reasons:

  1. In many cases, your monthly mortgage payment could be equal in cost or even cheaper than your current monthly rent
  2. Instead of paying a rent bill + never seeing that money again– making a mortgage payment will count as equity toward actually owning your home

However, owning a home means making additional payments that may typically covered be covered in your rent payment, such as:

  • HOA fees
  • Maintenance + repairs
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Property Tax
  • Utilities (electricity + gas, water, internet, trash, etc.)

Still want to buy a home? On to step two.

stock photo of desk meeting
Image provided by Pexels

2. Meet with a mortgage lender through a bank or mortgage firm to determine what you can afford. 

This way, you don’t waste time searching for homes that are too far out of your financial reach.

The best way to find the right lender is through word of mouthAsk friends with home-buying experience (or experience in the real estate industry). If you’ve already got a real estate agent lined up, consult them.

Together, you + the lender will calculate the ‘nitty gritty’– a.k.a. everything you can expect to pay, from one-time fees to monthly costs. They’ll also be able to let you know whether you are financially preparedto buy a home– or if you’ve still need to get your ducks in a row.

What you’ll need to bring to the meeting:

  • Two of your most recent annual tax returns
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Bank statements from the past 2-3 months

What to expect:

  • The loan officer will likely run a credit check + determine your credit score
  • They will use your score, along with other relevant financial information, to calculate the approximate amount of the loan you qualify forThis is called “getting prequalified” for a loan.

Pro tip: If you’ve already done some thinking about your ideal price range + neighborhood, let your lender know. Bonus points if you bring in a copy of a listing that closely matches what you’re looking for.

Why does this help? Because the home you can afford in one neighborhood may be drastically different than what you can buy in another (due to factors like county taxes + flood insurance– which can vary greatly around the Lowcountry). Having this info handy will get you more accurate results during your meeting.


picture of the interior of a house
Image provided by Pexels

3. Narrow down what you’re looking for– and what you can afford.

This is where you get to play House Hunters.’ Pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for– but make sure there’s room to breathe– in case you can’t afford your absolute dream home.

Factors to consider:

  • Neighborhood
  • Type of home (i.e. single-family home, townhome, or condo)
  • Amenities + features that matter

To make this step easier, print out the following checklists provided by Stanley Martin Homes. They can help you determine where you’re willing to be flexible and where you gotta have your way.

Pro tip: Print out a few copies of these forms (even more if you’re buying a home with your spouse or family). You can figure out what’s most important to everyone involved– as it may take a few tries to reach a consensus.

Features that matter

checklist of features that matter when buying a home

Amenities that matter

checklist of amenities that matter when buying a home

Thinking you would rather just build your own home? Stanley Martin Homes offers a variety of floorplansdesigned for the way you live and with many of the amenities + features you are looking for right in Charleston.


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4. Find a real estate agent.

Don’t be afraid to do a bit of speed-dating in order to find the right agent. You’ll want to look for someone who:

  • Knows the market where you’re house hunting inside + out
  • Has experience (duh)
  • Asks you plenty of questions to get an idea of what you want in the way of a house, neighborhood, etc.

What a real estate agent will do for you:

  • Check the MLS (multiple listing service–a.k.a. a huge database of real estate listings) + send you the listings that fall in line with what you’re looking for.
  • Help you make an offer once you’ve found a home you want to buy (this involves filling out important paperwork)
  • Assist you in obtaining the right financing (although you’ve already gotten prequalified at this point, there’s a chance more legwork will need to be done)
  • Facilitate + advise you when it comes to negotiations between you + the seller.
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5.  Sign the contract.

Once you’ve found the home you’d like to place an offer on, your real estate agent will work to draw up a contract and have both parties sign.

In a fast-moving market like CHS, you’ll want to make this happen quickly– but keep in mind that it is binding.

The contract may include certain stipulations– such as who gets to choose the closing attorney, or what the home inspection entails. You’ll want to talk with your real estate agent to make sure they properly explain all the fine print.


Image provided by Pexels

6. Find a good real estate attorney.

DYK that in South Carolina, the buyer is legally entitled to the right to pick an attorney?  

Along the way, you’ll likely encounter sellers, developers, or lenders who prefer to use their own attorney– and may event offer discounts + incentives to sway you to do so.

So, what’s the perk of picking the lawyer? If it’s your lawyer, they will have your best interest in mind. Having a legal expert at bat for you may cost you upfront, but could save you major $$$ in the long runby making sure nothing goes wrong.


key in lock
Image provided by Pexels

7. Find an inspector + an insurance agent.

To finalize your home deal, you need two final ( + equally important) things: home insurance + a home inspection.

Your lender, lawyer, or real estate agent may be able to help you find the insurer. You can also typically bundle it with your existing policies, like car insurance.

Last but not least, you’ll need to get your future dig inspectedIn some case, the terms of your contract could even depend on the home getting a passing grade during its inspection.

After that, if all goes according to plan, it’s time to close on the home + get your keys to move in??

And, before you ask: Sorry– as much as we’d love to, the CHStoday team is unable to help you pack up + move all of your stuff.

Resouce: #chstoday @chstoday

Posted by Jodie Ford on May 14th, 2018 4:18 PM

Recycling tips for Lowcountry residents ?

"DYK if you throw away an aluminum can, it can remain in the form of a can for 500 years or more? Did you also know that aluminum cans can actually be recycled and reused over + over again with almost no limit?

Recycling gurus, such as Peppa Pig + Rocko (from Rocko’s Modern Life) teach kids about the importance of recycling. But as adults, sometimes it can be “easier” to just throw away a can instead of rinsing it out to properly recycle– am I right?

In 2019, Charleston + Berkeley counties will both open new multi-million dollar recycling facilities. Those facilities will bring an innovative approach to recycling coupled by state of the art equipment.

But what about the things we can do as individuals to champion renewable energy + environmental conservation in our community right now?

If you threw away recycled the guide your county mailed out to you earlier this year, don’t worry we’re covering the recycling ground rules.

Recycling isn’t all about cans + newspapers. You can also recycle clothes, blankets, k-cups, electronics, cooking oil, food… even waterThe key is knowing how to properly recycle each item.

CHStoday Recycling
Photo courtesy of Charleston County’s Environmental Management Department

Below is a short list of examples to keep in mind when recycling. For full lists on what can be recycled, be sure to check with your county’s recycling guide (more on that below).

?Cooking Oil/Grease We all love our Southern-fried cooking, but it’s very important that you do not dump cooking oil into the woods or water. Chemicals from the oil are harmful to the environment, run into waterways, + stick to pipes. Charleston CountyDorchester County, + Berkeley County all have convenience centers to properly dispose of oils.

?Electronics Charleston CountyDorchester County, + Berkeley County will accept items such as: computers, printers, gaming consoles, christmas lights, small appliances, and TV’s. These items cannot be disposed of in your recycling bin. Be sure to check with the convenience center nearest you prior to dropping off–  each location accepts different things.

?Clothing + Shoes– Before you throw those adorable shoes you only wore once– give them to someone in needThere are countless donation sites around the Lowcountry, including the always-accessible parking lot donation bins (many near churches + daycares). Local organizations such as Charleston Habitat for HumanityPalmetto Goodwill, Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Dress for Success Charleston, + Children’s Cancer Society Thrift Store will also accept items in good condition– and will even provide a tax write off the receiptDo good + get money back = win-win.

?Food DYK about 30% of your trash could actually be composted? Yard trimmings + food waste often end up in S.C.’s landfills, but adding them to a compost pile means they can naturally decompose (thanks, tiny microorganisms). If an outdoor compost pile is implausible for your current living situation, or the smell of the indoor bin has you feeling less than pro-compost, we have a company right here in Charleston who will do the dirty work for you. Smart Recycling U.S. will haul away your food scraps, assisting in the reduction of your waste bill.

?Water Collected rainwater can be used to water plants, wash cars, + help prevent rivers from runoff pollutionThrough the end of May, Charleston residents can save $61 off the price of a rain barrel by purchasing here.

? Paper/Cardboard
What you can recycle: Magazines, newspaper, office paper, junk mail, greeting cards, wrapping paper, books, soda boxes, shoe boxes, clean food boxes (such as cereal boxes), paper towel rolls, + egg cartons.
What you cannot recycle: Pizza boxes + other dirty food containers.

What you can recycle: Aluminum cans, caps + lids, empty aerosol spray cans, steel cans or tins.
What you cannot recycle: Medical waste (i.e. syringes), propane tanks, aluminum foil or trays.

?Plastic– The key to recycling plastic is to read the number on the bottom of the containerNumbers 1, 2, 4, + 5, are picked up by most curbside recycling programs.
What you can recycle: Clean milk jugs, soda bottles, detergent bottles, (many) food containers, clean K-cups (with the filter and grounds removed), + empty motor oil containers.
What you cannot recycle: Dirty food, detergent, or motor oil containers; sunglasses, iPhone cases, computer cases, meat trays; disposable plates, cups, or silverware; + medical equipment.

What you can recycle: Clean, unbroken, jars + glass bottles with the lids removed.
What you cannot recycle: Broken glass, windows, mirrors, household decor, ceramics, Pyrex dishes, crystal, + light bulbs.

?Batteries/Bulbs Certain batteries, such as car batteries, + fluorescent bulbs can be recycled. Household batteries (like the ones in your remote) can be recycled here

?Paint Charleston County residents can recycle paint at any of the county’s nine convenience centers.The Bees Ferry Convenience Center also re-sales paint at a cost of $10 per five-gallon bucket. If yourcounty does not have a paint recycling program, you can donate the paint or harden the paint using kitty litter(trust us, it works) before disposing of it in the regular trash.

For specific details on what can and cannot be recycled in your county-provided bin, and/or at your local convenience center, make sure you contact your local municipality or visit the links below.

Charleston County Recycling Guide 
Berkeley County Recycling Guide 
Dorchester County Recycling Guide


I know I am guilty of tossing the occasional sparkling water can into the into the trash every now + then. But, if we all work to be a little less trashy, + take small steps to recycle, we can have a major impact on the Lowcountry’s environment.

BTW– today is National Moscato Day. So drink up + recycle those wine bottles, y’all.

– Justine"

Source: @chstoday #chstoday

Posted by Jodie Ford on May 10th, 2018 12:00 PM
"4,500.  The number of homes to be built in Berkeley County as part of a mixed-used development.  The 2,300 Carnes Crossroads community will take about 15 years to complete, and will include a hospital, medical offices, apartments, + retail tenants alongside the aforementioned houses.  The first residents moved in six years ago as the neighborhood continues to grow."

source #CHStoday @CHStoday
Posted by Jodie Ford on May 1st, 2018 2:14 PM
VA Renovation Loan

A VA Renovation Loan may be the right loan option for you if you qualify for a VA Loan and are looking to make home renovations.  This loan allows borrowers to bundle renovation costs into their VA home loan, so you can make the changes you want, with one loan, one rate, and one monthly payment.  

The VA Renovation Loan allows borrowers to make home repairs or improvements totaling up to $35,000.  Loan amounts are based on the appraised value of your home after improvements have been made.  This loan product is not applicable for major renovations, but rather intended for upgrades to a new or existing home.  

Down Payment: 0%
Minimum - Maximum Repair Limits: Up to $35,000
Minimum Credit Score: 640 (purchase) 660 (refinance)
No Mortgage Insurance
Primary Residence Only
Repair Type: Alterations, minor repairs and improvements
Additional Requirements: Borrower must acquire or already have a VA loan
Posted by Jodie Ford on January 26th, 2018 2:20 PM

12 Holiday Safety Tips for Your Home

1. Merry and Bright: Carefully inspect holiday light strings each year and discard any with frayed cords, cracked lamp holders, or loose connections. When replacing bulbs, unplug the light string and be sure to match voltage and wattage to the original bulb.

2. Lights Out: Always turn off holiday lights when you leave the house unattended or when going to bed.

3. Fresh Is Best: Try to purchase a freshly cut tree, as they are more resistant to ignition. Keep your Christmas tree watered and away from open candles.

4. Timing Is Everything: Use an outdoor timer certified by CSA International to switch lights on and off. Lights should be turned on after 7 p.m. to avoid the electricity rush hour.

5. Check for the Certification Mark: When purchasing light strings, extension cords, spotlights, electrical decorations, gas appliances, or carbon monoxide alarms, look for the certification mark of an accredited certification organization such as CSA International, UL, or ELT to ensure that the products comply with applicable standards for safety and performance.

6. One and Done: Never connect more than one extension cord together; instead use a single cord that is long enough to reach the outlet without stretching, but not so long that it can get easily tangled.

7. The Great Outdoors: When hanging outdoor lights, keep electrical connectors off the ground and away from metal rain gutters. Use insulated tape or plastic clips instead of metal nails or tacks to hold them in place.

8. Climbing Up: Using a ladder when you put up lights? Choose the correct ladder for the job and double check for a certification mark to ensure your portable ladder complies with applicable standards.

9. Keep the Gas Behind Glass: Do not use your gas fireplace if the glass panel is removed, cracked, or broken, and only allow a qualified service person to replace fireplace parts.

10. Sound the Alarm: Test your smoke alarms monthly to make sure they work, and be sure to install smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms on every level of your Joint Base Charleston home -- especially near sleeping areas.

11. Filter-Friendly Furnace: To help prevent CO hazards in your home, have a qualified heating contractor perform a yearly maintenance check of your furnace and venting system, and clean or replace your furnace filter frequently during the heating seasons.

12. Clean the Clutter: Do not store combustible materials such as gasoline, propane, paper, chemicals, paint, rags, and cleaning products near your gas furnace. Gasoline or propane cylinders should be stored outside the home.




Posted by Jodie Ford on December 5th, 2017 1:05 PM
Avail for Rent Now:

188 Midland Parkway, #522, Summerville 29485

No pets.  Showings by appointment only.  $40 non-refundable application fee.  
Posted by Jodie Ford on July 19th, 2017 9:53 AM
Available August 4th:

7900 Long Shadow Lane

3 Bedroom
2 Bathroom

1,648 square feet

Pets are negotiable.  Showings by appointment only.  Non-refundable application fee of $40.  
Posted by Jodie Ford on July 13th, 2017 1:48 PM
For Rent:  312 Briarbend Road, Goose Creek 

 5 Bedroom/3 Bathroom House

Pets are negotiable.
Move in ready June 23rd
$40 non-refundable application fee 
Posted by Jodie Ford on June 15th, 2017 4:03 PM
For Rent: 205 Weber Road, Unit A, Summerville SC 29483

Pets are negotiable
$40 non-refundable application fee
Posted by Jodie Ford on June 13th, 2017 4:00 PM

6 Tips to Save Electricity This Summer


1. Cut down on energy leaks. This includes turning off lights and other electronics. When you leave a room, shut off the light behind you. Unplug electronics that aren’t being used, such as cell phone chargers, small appliances like toasters, or power strips that provide power for many appliances.  Big-screen TVs, DVD players, digital photo frames, and other appliances use more energy than you realize, and certain appliances use energy even if they are turned off.


2. Spend time outdoors. Spending a lot of time indoors will naturally lead to higher energy costs because you will be using lights, electronics, and air conditioning. Spending more time outdoors means you can turn off indoor electronics, and in the process, you will enjoy this beautiful city. Turn off all electronics before leaving the house.

3. Close blinds, storm windows, or shades during the day. The sun can heat up a room very quickly. Keeping the sun from shining into windows will cut down on cooling costs, and many stores sell curtains specifically designed for this purpose.

4. Use fans instead of air conditioning. Circulation is important to using less air conditioning during the summer. Cool down the house early in the morning by placing a box fan in the window and opening up another window at the opposite end of the house, in addition to turning on ceiling fans..

5. Use air conditioning efficiently. 
Set the thermostat to 78, and don't lower it. If you want to invest in an energy efficient air conditioner, these are 10-15% more efficient.

6. Use electricity during off-peak hours. If you plan to use electronics like a washer and dryer, air conditioning, and computers or televisions, try to do so during off-peak hours like early in the morning or late at night. Electrical companies charge less for energy consumed during off-peak hours.  It is recommended you wait until after 6 pm to cook, do laundry, or wash dishes on days the temperature is over 90 degrees.


Posted by Jodie Ford on June 12th, 2017 5:56 PM


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