Friday, February 28, 2014

Greenville In The News Again!

Greenville does it again!
Bet you didn't know how popular your town of Greenville SC has become until recently. Seems every few months it is appearing in some form of news venue. Here's a short recap of the latest article.

Southern Living magazine has picked Greenville as its featured destination for their March issue. A two-page "Splurge vs Steal" spread will feature many local businesses. The spread will feature best offerings for the frugal traveler as well as the flush traveler. Southern Living has around three million readers across the U.S.

Here are some local March events.
  • Saturday March 8th is the GHS Half Marathon and 5K presented by UMOM which is also called the Swamp Rabbit Race. Starts at 7:30 am. Click the link above for more details.
  • St. Patrick's Day parade on Saturday March 8th. Starts at 12:00 pm and ends at 1:00 pm. Route is from Spring St to Coffee to Main St to Broad St.
  • Free Shredding and Electronics Recycling Day Saturday March 15 from 9-12 at the TD Convention Center.
  • St. Patty's Day Dash and Bash 5K and 10K on Saturday March 15 starting at 8 am. Located at Fluor Field on Main St. Charity run/walk for the Make-a-wish Foundation of South Carolina.
  • Starting on March 21st is Greenville Heritage Main Street Fridays. Start time is 5:30 pm. Twenty-seven weeks of music and entertainment. Ends in September.
  • Stitchin in the South Quilt Show, 3/28 to 3/29 at the Pelham Road Baptist Church. Times are Fri 9:30-5 and Sat 9:30-4. Admission only $4. Sponsored by the Foothills Piecemakers Quilting Guild.
  • More March events can be seen at this site.

Now on to our feature. Here are some secrets that your local burglar doesn't want you to know about.
  1. Don't leave ladders in the open in your yard especially if you have a two-story home. Most homeowners don't get their upper windows wired for security and robbers can get in there with the help of that ladder you left laying around.
  2. Break down and conceal or recycle large empty boxes especially after the holidays. Thieves just love to drive around a neighborhood looking at the trash and seeing what you have in your home that is valuable and worth their time.
  3. Keep bushes and trees around your home trimmed. Make sure there is a clear and open path to your doors and windows and they are visible from the street. No need to provide thieves with hiding places.
  4. Make sure your outer doors are steel wrapped and have deadbolts to lock them up. Any lesser models may allow thieves to be able to kick in the door panels and gain entry. Next week we will explore some more secrets.
Now let's talk about this week's photo. Here we have a picture of Clemson at the Falls which is a college of business and behavioral science. You can't be a big city without a local college and Clemson will do. This campus brings together advanced education and business development in their four main offerings of study. For more info check them out!

clemson building in greenville sc
Clemson Building at Falls Park

Friday, February 21, 2014

Home Improvement: Best Return for your Money

The age old question from homeowners is "What home improvement project can I do that will give me the most for the money?" Well, let's see if I can help you answer that question. A trade publication named "Remodeling" has been tracking costs of home improvement projects since 2002. They have then been calculating what the recovered cost was after the home sold. Through this interactive web site, you can examine their findings for your area. Here I will tell you what the top five highest ROI (Return on Investment) projects are for your home.
  • Replacing your front door. Over the years, no other single project earned more return than replacing your front door. Steel doors offered a 97.2 percent ROI. Also being the lowest cost energy update in the report at around $1,100, it has very little maintenance and up keep. Just checking the seal on the door each year.
  • Getting new siding. Second on the list is replacing your old or worn siding. With an ROI of 83.8 percent if you use fiber-cement, this project will not only increase your curb appeal but increase interest in your home.
  • Doing a minor kitchen remodel. Ok, so you ask, what's minor? Well this is where you might want to look at cabinet refacing, new counter tops, new flooring and even replacing your old appliances. Energy savings in appliances is always a bit plus. At an average cost less than $20K you can an average ROI of 82.3 percent. As a side note, total kitchen remodels took a hit in the ROI department.
  • Adding a wood deck. Are wooden deck still popular you ask, you betcha! Seems they are making a comeback in recent years and are getting an average ROI of 80.6 percent. Although patios are the more popular addition in homeowners backyards, adding a deck is a inexpensive way to add on extra living space and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Remodeling an attic bedroom. With the recession hitting the U.S. hard and the rise in children staying in their parents' homes instead of moving out right away, remodeling that attic space has become a way to add living space without increasing the footprint of your home. At an average ROI of 79.4 percent, it becomes a smart investment. Now not every home is built to make use of the attic space in this way, but for those that are this might be a great selling point! Turn it into another bedroom, play space, office, den or extra storage. Sky's the limit!
Now that we are past the top five ROI grabbers for home improvement, here are some others that hit the list up high.
  • Upscale vinyl window replacement (79.4%)
  • Mid-range wood window replacement (76.8%)
  • Mid-range vinyl window replacement (75.9%)

It is true that that we seem to be on the downward slope of our recent recession and with the economy beginning to stabilize the ROI of home improvement projects can only go up. Which is good news for homeowners. But remember, if you are embarking on a remodel project make sure to plan it out and do it for the right reasons. You may have to live with it for a while.

This week we take a look at Pedal Chic Bicycles. Located in downtown with easy access to Falls Park and Swamp Rabbit, you can rent a bike from them or shop for your own bike. They carry bike riding apparel, accessories and even provide service to keep your bike cruising smoothly. Check them out at or visit the store!

Pedal Chic Bicycle Shop

If you need assistance with selling or buying a home I can help. Referrals and people needing relocation assistance are welcome! Search Single Family homes in Greenville. Search Condos and Townhomes in Greenville.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Local Events this Month and Storage Tips

Here is a listing of happenings for February, well the rest of February anyway. Remember to comment on any of them you may have information about.
Peace Center
  • Downtown Line Dancing at the Sears Recreation Center. Every Tuesday from 6:15 to 8 pm. Admission: $4 for city residents, $5 all others.
  • Roper Mountain Friday Starry Nights still going strong. Every Friday at 7 and 8:15 pm until April. Admission: $5 for adults & teens, $4 for kids.
  • August Osage County at the Warehouse Theatre. Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Admission: $30. Visit their web site for more info.
  • Musical Jewels of the 19th Century at the Peace Center Concert Hall. Saturday 8 pm and Sunday 3 pm. Admission: see web site.
  • Greenville Road Warriors vs. Florida Everblades at the Bon Secours Wellnes Arena. Dates 2/14 to 2/15 at 7 pm. Admission: $6.

Are you interested in using your kitchen cabinets smarter? Check out these ways to reduce clutter on your counters and get more from your cabinets.
Omega National Cabinet & Drawer Organizers
  • Get those spices off your counter and out of that horrible spice rack. Buy an spice rack insert for your drawer (about $60 for a 16-in wide one). They fit most regular sized drawers with labels up on angled shelves for easy reading.
  • How about that used back of your cabinet door? Put it to good use with a mountable magazine rack. Turns the door into a handy tool cady. Note: shelves inside the cabinet need to be recessed or put it on a door with no shelves like under your sink.
  • Are you a little DIY? Purchase some stainless steel crocks and fit them into a plywood insert to turn your drawer into a utensil drawer. Make the crocks removable for easy cleaning.
  • Got cabinets you can't reach into or are low to the floor? Try adding a pull-out drawer. Get one with partitions to keep loose items organized.
  • Keep your tablet off your counters with a adjustable media holder (about $50). It clamps securely under your cabinets.
A little bit of quick searching on my local Lowes web site came up with all kinds of organizers and gadgets for my cabinets. They are wood, metal, steel, all prices, sizes and colors.

Want to have a good meal and help out the local all-ages community space and music venue? Try this week's selection Grille 33 at the Channel. Known for its Angus beef burgers, it has won several awards for it locally. For the healthier side, try one of their great salads or black bean burgers and sweet potato fries. Have a part happening? Reserve the mezzanine for FREE and squeeze in up to 40 people for loads of fun. Check 'em out!

Grille 33 at The Channel

Friday, February 7, 2014

It's almost tax time again. Are you ready?

If you are an existing homeowner, 2013 will be your last year to take advantage of several taxes that expired on December 31st. The private mortgage insurance or PMI deduction, the energy tax credit and debt forgiveness benefit. It is unlikely that congress will extend any of these into 2014. Good news is home office deduction option has been made simpler.

Below we will explore what you need to know to take advantage of the expired tax breaks.

PMI Deduction
  • If you are paying a lender for PMI and got your loan in 2007 or later, your home is your primary residence and not a rental and your adjusted gross income is not more than $109,000 you qualify for this deduction. To claim you will need to itemize and file on a Schedule A. Your savings will depend on what you are paying in premiums each month. The best savings is canceling your PMI. When your home gains 20 percent equity, you can cancel the PMI.
Energy-Efficiency Upgrades
  • A nice little tax credit that allows you up to a $500 cap for upgrading to energy-efficient items. These items include biomass stoves, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, insulation, roofs, water heaters and windows, doors and skylights. Be careful here, if you took any part of the credit in a previous year, your $500 is reduced by that amount for 2013. You can reference the Energy Star website for details on items. You will be required to file an IRS Form 5695 with your taxes.
Debt Forgiveness
  • This option is for those who went through a foreclosure, short sale or deed in-lieu. Typically, the lender will "forgive" the balance of the mortgage above the price that the home sold. Without the benefit of this program, you would be required to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
Home Office Deduction Simplified
  • Instead of filling in a 43-line form to calculate your home office space, in 2013 all you have to do is multiply the length of two walls. So an 8 x 10 ft. room is 80 sq. ft and at $5 per sq. ft. that's a deduction of $400. Now you will need to still meet all the criteria of having a home office by IRS regulations.
  • With Congress seeking a comprehensive tax reform package, renewals on these individual tax deductions probably won't happen for 2014. Take advantage of these if you can for 2013 returns.
This week we are exploring the Malaysian American Fusion and the Cantinflas Mexican restaurants. The Malaysian American Fusion or YAP has appetizers, salads, entrees, southeast Asian , noodles and desserts. The entrees are American in origin while the southeast Asian entrees are flavored with Malaysian style. Next door the Cantinflas serves a variety of classic Mexican dishes. You can even place your order online. They have a lunch menu and a vegetarian menu selection. Both have outdoor dining in warmer months.