Have you ever wondered how quality master-planned communities are created? Woodside Communities are a collection of neighborhoods tied together by a sense of togetherness and pride of place.  There is a commitment to preserving its surrounding natural ...


Aiken South Carolina’s Woodside Announces New Collection Of Home Sites and more...

Aiken South Carolina’s Woodside Announces New Collection Of Home Sites


Have you ever wondered how quality master-planned communities are created?

Woodside Communities are a collection of neighborhoods tied together by a sense of togetherness and pride of place.  There is a commitment to preserving its surrounding natural beauty, designed to accommodate a wide array of tastes.  From low- to no-maintenance, to golf course views, a combination of these, and everything in between, there are home sites with varying attributes.

Woodside, located in Aiken, South Carolina is developing the newest section of its Meadowbrook Estates neighborhood, complete with one-acre home sites in a serene, natural setting.  There are eight home sites available out of the ten that were created.  This Woodside neighborhood is ideal for the homeowner seeking privacy in a serene, natural setting.  Measuring at approximately one-acre in size, these home sites can be built on with a Portfolio home plan or you can partner with one of Woodside's skilled craftsmen to custom build your dream home.  These home sites offer quiet, wooded settings with large pines and hardwoods with easy access to Woodside's extensive system of nature and walking trails adjacent to Hollow Creek Nature Preserve, which is home to an abundant variety of flora and fauna and a certified Bluebird Sanctuary.

For more information on Woodside Communities in Aiken, South Carolina, and the newly released Meadowbrook Estates neighborhood, contact info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388.


Balsam Mountain Preserve Announces Record Setting Home Sale In Early 2018


Western North Carolina's Balsam Mountain Preserve, located in Sylva, has quite a few exciting things going on within the community.  New ownership, new and expanding amenities, including the introduction of Doubletop Village and Cottages.

And, to go along with the momentum this golf and equestrian community is experiencing, Balsam Mountain Preserve had the highest priced home sale in Western North Carolina at the start of the year.  Balsam Mountain's 93 Tagline Way - a majestic 5-bedroom, 5-bath home with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains sold for $1,812,500 on January 12.

93 Tagline Way Sylva North Carolina Built in 2009, this Western North Carolina custom-built timber frame home was designed by Mill Creek Post and Beam Company and built by Fine Built Construction.  "This sale is emblematic of Balsam Mountain Preserve's return," said Joe Dellinger, Chief Operating Officer of Balsam Mountain Preserve.

Balsam Mountain Preserve is a low-density, private residential community, offering incredible 180-degree mountain views, masterful home design and an array of amenities including an Arnold Palmer Signature golf course, Wellness Center, a Junior Olympic heated pool and two Har-Tru tennis courts, equestrian center and 34 miles of hiking trails.  Located less than an hour west of Asheville, Balsam Mountain is 20 minutes outside of downtown Waynesville, the second largest town in Western North Carolina.

Seventy-five percent (3,400 acres) of Balsam's property has been placed under permanent conservation easement and is managed by the Balsam Mountain Trust - making this community one of the lowest density master-planned residential developments in the Western Carolinas.

For more information on Balsam Mountain Preserve - the community and real estate offered, send your inquiries to info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388.


Nick Bradley Named Director of Reynolds Kingdom of Golf At Lake Oconee GA


Nick Bradley, whose most celebrated clients included PGA Tour stars Justin Rose, Paul McGinley, Brad Faxon, and Kevin Chappell, has joined Reynolds Lake Oconee as Director of The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade.

Known as one of the most progressive performance consultants in golf, Bradley originally hails from London, England and brings more than 25 years of experience in training amateurs, professionals, and elite junior players to the Reynolds Lake Oconee golf team.  The trainer of PGA and European Tour Winners, Bradley also served as strategic consultant for European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley in 2014.

Bradley will oversee the state-of-the-art operation at The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf, which resides on a 16-acre campus close to all 117 holes of Reynolds' highly acclaimed courses.  In the new, full-time position, Bradley will also serve as Director of Instruction, overseeing all member and resort guest instruction.

Bradley's teaching career began in 1994 as the European Director of Golf Instruction with the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.  He served with Leadbetter's until making the United States his home in 2005.  His students include winners on every significant pro tour, as well as seven national amateur champions.

"To technically improve a golfer is relatively simple;  we know the code," says Bradley.  "What drives me is contributing to a team environment and the individual's growth." Cases in point, Justin Rose climbed from 125th in the world rankings to No. 5 and earned a spot on the Ryder Cup team within 20 months under Bradley's tutelage.  Kevin Chappell rose from no status to winning the Nationwide Tour, breaking Tour scoring records and finishing third in the 2011 U.S. Open.

Reynolds Lakek Oconee Kingdom of Golf Georgia There are two fully enclosed teaching studios at Reynolds Lake Oconee Kingdom of Golf equipped with the latest in technology.  Reynolds Kingdom of Golf offers an instruction curriculum which integrates teaching and coaching staff and includes golf fitness training and complete swing and body analysis.  Previously available only to PGA Tour professionals, The Reynolds Kingdom of Golf presented by TaylorMade combines a creative and comprehensive golf teaching environment, for all levels of golfers, with an unrivaled TaylorMade custom golf club fitting experience.

The master-planned resort / residential Georgia community of Reynolds Lake Oconee features six golf courses designed by legendary course architects including Jack Nicklaus, Rees Jones and Tom Fazio which are ranked among the Top 100-ranked courses in the United States.  Located between Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, Reynolds Lake Oconee is situated along the shores of Lake Oconee and has been named one of the "25 Best Golf Communities in North America" by GOLF Magazine and features a variety of residential and vacation real estate options.

Reynolds Lake Oconee also offers a wide range of recreational opportunities along its more than 350 miles of Lake Oconee shoreline, and features four marinas, the Lake Club wellness center, an award-winning tennis center and dining at ten distinctive culinary venues.

For more information about owning a retirement or second / vacation home at Reynolds Lake Oconee, contact us at Southeast Discovery - email info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388.


Ten Factors To Consider When Choosing Your Retirement Relocation


It's early January 2018, but probably fair to say, many folks living in the Midwest have had their share of the cold.  The Northeasterners have likely had their winter fix of cold and snow, given last week's "Bomb Cyclone" that hit the Atlantic northern coast this past week.

Mother Nature usually has a way of reminding folks who no longer have to live in the northern states each winter that it just might be a good time to relocate.  They no longer have kids at home they would be disrupting with the school they're attending, and, now in retirement, they don't have to remain in places like New Jersey, Illinois or New York for their job.

Given the blistering cold temperatures and heavy snow fall that fell in the northern states, winter is off to an early start!  We are busy here at Southeast Discovery with email inquiries and phone calls from folks living in places like Chicago, Cincinnati and Boston, requesting guidance as they begin to navigate through the process of relocating - effectively, and with informed insight.

The economic recovery, which began in 2012 has positively impacted the real estate markets in many areas of the country.   This rings true of the Southeast region - given the climate it offers, along with the region's natural amenities - lakes, mountains and coastal areas.  The Southeast region has, and continues to appeal to a broad range of real estate buyers.  From retirees, Baby Boomers, as well as recent college graduates, young married professionals, families raising children and second home buyers - many are attracted to this region's economic activity, business-friendly environment, robust job market and individual states' (FL, GA, NC, SC and TN) favorable tax treatment for residents.

If you are planning to relocate in 2018 - here are some factors to think about, as you determine which areas and communities to consider visiting and seeing firsthand;

1.Climate - you'll want to determine if you are looking for a milder four-season climate, or, if you'd prefer to reduce the seasonal change to three seasons - foregoing a winter climate as much as you can.  Tennessee, North Carolina, Central to Northern Georgia and Western South Carolina are ideal for those seeking a moderate four-season climate. Central and coastal South Carolina, southern and coastal Georgia and the state of Florida offer a three-season climate with a winter that typically feels more like fall in the northern states.

2.Budget for new home - many migrating out of the northern states anticipate they will spend far less for their next home in the South.  This can be the case, but it depends on where you are looking in the Southeast.  As more flock to the region, prices are increasing.  And, desirable areas such as Asheville NC; Nashville TN; Charleston SC and Lake Keowee SC real estate has become pricier.  Other areas such as Knoxville TN; Wilmington/Brunswick County NC; Bluffton/Hilton Head SC and St. Augustine FL continue to welcome new residents and as inventory lessens, prices are firming.  Lot prices vary from area to area but build costs have gone up just about everywhere as the price of lumber and other materials have increased.  Sub-contractor costs are on the rise as subs continue to be in high demand, keeping up with the brisk build activity in the Southeast region along with the rebuilding of areas hit hard by Hurricane Irma in both Florida and Houston.

3.Size of new home - efficiently sized homes are IN, oversized homes… can be harder to sell.   This is especially true for empty-nester buyers and what they are looking for.  Many have had the big house when they were raising a family.  So, when they think of a larger home; maintenance, more costs to operate, a bigger time commitment to keep it up -  all come to mind.  Give thought to the rooms you'll need to live your life, so you're not overbuilding and exceeding your desired cost for this next home.  Think twice about building a home to accommodate the two weeks or so out of the year when family comes to visit for the holidays.  Instead, think of creative ways to design your home so it's a great fit for your everyday lifestyle - that you can make work when guests visit.  Great rooms, spacious kitchens and open floor plans have taken the place of choppier floor plans that have more rooms and more walls.  IE: living rooms and family rooms.  Master suites on one side of the house with bedrooms 2 and 3 on the opposite side of the house are desirable.  FROG - finished room over the garage can be used as a man's cave, home office or exercise room year-round for you - but transition nicely into a guest room space when visitors come.

4.Type of home - what is going to fit your lifestyle for this next phase of life, and as you continue to age?  Would it be a condo, villa, town home, single family home, or lot to build a custom home on?  If you plan to do a lot of traveling when you retire and relocate, perhaps a "lock and leave" home may be best.  If you are single and don't want to contend with exterior maintenance of any kind, then a condo, villa or town home may work well.  If you like to garden, tinker in the yard or have some elbow room and privacy from neighbors, then a single-family home may be most suitable for you.

5.HOA fees - all master-planned communities have an HOA or POA fee.  Some neighborhoods without many amenities may still also have a POA or HOA.  Find out before buying property what the fee structure is, and what has been the history of increases over the last 5 years, so you can get a sense of what the incremental increases will be year over year.  You'll also want to find out what the HOA fees include.  For some communities, various amenities offered are broken out and paid for by the residents that directly use them.  For other communities, all the amenities and their operating costs are shared by all the residents, whether they use the amenity or not.  HOA and POA’s shouldn't be seen as a negative when buying real estate in a community or neighborhood.  Having a well-run home owners association is positive for any community and actually enhances property values over time.

6.Lifestyle / Amenities - have you given thought to what amenities you'd enjoy having in a community?  Golf, marina, walking and hiking trails, dog park, indoor and/or outdoor pool, fitness center, gated entrance and roving security, community garden, restaurant on site, clubhouse for social gatherings…. There are many different communities out there, and each has different amenity offerings.  Find the community that's a good fit for you!

7.Healthcare nearby - do you have special health care needs?   Quality health care is important to most buyers we work with.  It's important to know what the health care options are in an area you are considering relocating to.  Do your homework as quality health care, and easy access to it, will become increasingly important as you age.

8.Airport - most airports in the Southeast region are experiencing population growth in the respective areas they serve.  Hence, most airports continue to expand.  You can go online and research weekly flight paths an airport offers.  You'll need to decide if you can live near a regional airport, or, if you need to be near a major hub.  With remote working on the rise, we work with many clients that air travel throughout the month - so the airport and logistics of flying is important to them.  For others relocating, especially those who are fully retired, their use of an airport may be much less frequent - therefore, not as critical to their overall decision.

9.Natural amenities - is your decision of where to relocate based on having proximity to natural amenities such as a lake (for boating, fishing and other recreation), a river (for fishing, kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing), near the mountains (for hiking) or at the coast (for shrimping, crabbing, boating, fishing, walking and enjoying the beach).  The community or neighborhood you choose is very important - but so is the area and the attributes it offers.

10.Continuing education - for those who have always had an academic interest, or a hobby they've wanted to explore and experience ... but due to time constraints and responsibilities (work and raising a family…) they haven't had the time to pursue.  Live near a university setting and you'll find most offer continuing education courses - or the Osher Lifelong Living Institute (OLLI) where one can pursue interests in a variety of topics such as woodworking, astrology, computer science, personal finance, gardening, cooking classes and so much more.

Southeast Discovery has been guiding real estate buyers for over 14 years with their retirement relocation or real estate purchase in the Southeast region.  Fill out our online Questionnaire and we'll review your feedback and send you specific information on areas and communities that are in line with your interests.  Feel free to also contact us at info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388.


New Republican Tax Cut and Jobs Act And Its Impact On Real Estate

Republican Tax Plan

On Dec. 19, 2017, Congress sent to President Trump the most sweeping tax overhaul in more than three decades, and he's promised to sign it into law by Christmas.  When that happens, it will be hailed as the Republican Party's first major legislative achievement since assuming majority control of executive and legislative branches of government this year.

As the measure -- with an estimated price tag of between $1.5 trillion and $2 trillion -- was making its way through both House and Senate chambers, then to a conference committee in November, before final passage, special interests were poring through the more-than-500-page documents to determine what impact the reform would have on their constituency -- among them, homeowner advocates.

Supporters of the plan say it amends the Internal Revenue Code to reduce tax rates and modify policies, credits, and deductions for individuals and businesses.  But Democrats didn't see the same outcomes, instead claiming the cuts would only benefit the richest citizens.  And opponents cited other "flies in the ointment" -- tax credits for sending children to private schools, a repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act, and including a fetus as a dependent.

The tax-cut plan's impact on home buying, selling and owning has undergone scrutiny by the National Association of Realtors, the National Association of Home Builders, several national mortgage companies, real estate websites - Zillow and Redfin, and even the conservative Tax Foundation.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, summed it up this way: "... you'll begin to see home buyers hesitate or scale down which properties they purchase... The upper end of the market may completely stall."

In early November, Forbes magazine reported that "Real estate professionals have been quick to cry foul, arguing the proposals would eliminate the tax incentive to buy, turning America into a nation of renters and putting pressure on home values."  It quoted Vishal Garg, CEO of Better Mortgage, an online mortgage lender focused on Millennials, as saying, "This tax plan would turn America from a nation of property owners into a nation of tenants renting from private equity-backed landlords... Why should corporate landlords get the deduction if your consumer home buyer can't?"

While both Senate and House versions are voluminous, analysts dissected the potential impacts on home ownership, and Forbes offered a summary in its report What The Republican Tax Bill Means For The Value Of Your Home -

  • A reduction in the amount of mortgage interest that can be deducted.
  • A new cap on property tax deductions.
  • Limits to the capital gains exemption used by homeowners when they sell.

Prior to the bill's passage in both houses, Forbes reported from a "half-empty glass" perspective by noting that currently, "homeowners can claim as an itemized deduction interest paid on mortgages valued up to $1.1 million used to acquire or improve a first and/or second home," but, although the tax-cut bills maintain "the current cap for existing homeowners, but slashes it to $500,000 for homes purchased in the future."  Forbes also notes, parenthetically, that "The bill would also limit the mortgage interest deduction to one principal home, ending any deductions for vacation homes."

However, the "glass" became "half-full" in other media reports after the Dec. 19 vote.

For example, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News reported just hours after the final House vote that there are steps individuals can -- and should -- take before the end of 2017 "to maximize new advantages and minimize the potential hit from other changes," as the LA Times noted.

1.  If Possible, Pre-Pay Your 2018 Property Taxes
Most people pay their property taxes in two installments -- half by early December, half in April.  But there may be a tax advantage to paying that second half before the end of 2017.   Here's why:  Currently, there is no cap on the annual deduction for state and local income, sales and property taxes.  The new tax law, however, would limit couples filing jointly to a total of $10,000 annually, and it prohibits people from prepaying 2018 state and local income taxes this year -- but doesn't specifically rule out paying that second half now, and claiming it all as a deduction come April 15.

"The bill is pretty clear that you will not be able to prepay, even if you could, your income taxes," said Darien Shanske, a tax law expert at the UC Davis School of Law, told the LA Times.  "But, it's silent about property taxes."

Of course, the issue may be a moot point if taxes are paid through an escrow account handled by the bank or mortgage provider.

2.  Make an extra mortgage payment
The number of taxpayers who itemize deductions on their annual returns may sharply decline.  Due to the tax overhaul, the standard deduction doubles for those who don't itemize -- from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 for couples filing jointly.

And those hikes may result in far fewer people opting to itemize on their 2017 federal tax returns.  So, several financial experts say it might be worth considering paying January mortgage payments while 2017 is still valid.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for financial information website Bankrate.com, told the LA Times on Dec. 19 that doing so would allow homeowners to deduct an extra month of mortgage interest if they don't end up itemizing because of the higher standard deduction.

3.  Be aware of the new mortgage "wrinkle"
Currently, interest on new mortgages up to $1 million is deductible for those who itemize, but the new mortgage ceiling will be reduced to $750,000 (and end deductible interest on home equity loans).

Justin Fox, in an Opinion piece posted by Bloomberg News Dec. 19, wrote, "it's almost certainly good economic policy," because "there's just no good reason to give tax subsidies to upper-middle-class home buyers, and" - a good reason not to.  The existing deduction "encourages people to take on more debt than they otherwise would, drives up housing prices, and favors buyers over renters."  And, he adds, "It would put downward pressure on home prices in expensive cities and suburbs, but (1) the effect is likely to be modest and (2) downward pressure on home prices in very expensive places isn't necessarily a bad thing."

Other Reactions
Recently, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) expanded its website to include an exhaustive forum on tax reform, beginning with this summary:

"For more than a century, American tax policy has recognized the value of home ownership to American middle-class wealth creation, strong and stable communities, and as a driver of our nation's economy.   Home ownership is not a special interest, it is our common interest, yet through misplaced priorities in tax reform, Congress would place the American Dream further out of reach for millions of Americans at a time when our home ownership rate is at a 50 year low.  In short, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act is a serious step in the wrong direction."

The NAR's site also included an email template for its members to send to Congress, telling senators and representatives to "strengthen the protections for consumers and homeowners" by retaining mortgage interest deductions on federal tax returns as well as capital gains exemptions, and adding that "These provisions would add needed protection to current and future homeowners and strengthen the ability of qualified American families to purchase a home."

Recently, the print and online magazine Consumer Reports -- a publication by the nonprofit Consumers Union -- featured an article headlined, "How The Tax-Cut Bills Could Affect Home Ownership.  It concluded that, "If you're planning to buy a home ... where real estate is pricey and taxes are high, you could soon snag some bargains... If you're planning to sell, you could face some pain."  It added, "...the tax changes could make moving more costly, prevent you from borrowing against your home for certain expenses, and make it harder for you to recoup your losses after a major home catastrophe."  It adds that both Senate and House versions would "limit the deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000 in property taxes," and the House version limits "the deduction of interest on new mortgages to loans of $500,000 or less.  Buyers of higher-priced homes may balk at taking on mortgages beyond that limit because they will no longer get the tax break."

Nicole Keading, an economist  at the Tax Foundation, told Consumer Reports, "We can't just look at the impact on those owning the homes."  While it's estimated that home values in high-tax areas could drop by 2 to 3 percent in the short term, Keading sees a silver lining.  "Any decrease in home values means it's now cheaper for first-timers to buy a home."

But Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at the real estate website, Zillow, predicted that lawmakers in high-tax states will likely respond by lowering taxes or slowing the growth of local taxes to continue attracting employers and workers.  But, he also admits short-term price drops -- which he estimates at around 10 percent -- will lure buyers.  "We won't know all the consequences until a year or two after the bill goes into effect," he told Consumer Reports. "There is so much up in the air right now, it's a time when it's important to be careful.  This should give buyers pause."

Nela Richardson, chief economist at the real estate website Redfin, added, "The worst-case scenario is that tax changes reduce the incentive to own.  Prices are high, mortgage rates are set to increase, and tax changes may make owning a home more expensive in some markets.  This could change the rent-own equation for first-time buyers."

Richardson also cited a provision in the House bill that "disallows deduction of interest from a second home," and projects that the change could negatively affect markets in Southern Florida, California, and along the East Coast of the U.S.  "Those markets are vulnerable already," she noted.

Concerning the proposal to reduce the amount of mortgage interest that can be deducted, Forbes magazine explained that, "As the law stands now, home owners can claim as an itemized deduction interest paid on mortgages valued up to $1.1 million (when) used to acquire or improve a first and/or second home."  But that would change -- the proposed legislation "maintains the current cap for existing homeowners, but slashes it to $500,000 for homes purchased in the future.  (The bill would also limit the mortgage interest deduction to one principal home, ending any deductions for vacation homes.)  This means a home buyer paying 4% interest on a $1 million mortgage would be able to deduct just $20,000, as opposed to the current $40,000."

And while the proposals reduce the deductions for individual home owners, the Forbes report says "it exempts real estate investors from a new 30 percent limit on interest deductability for businesses."  It quotes Vishal Garg, CEO of Better Mortgage, an online mortgage lender focused on Millennials, as saying, "This tax plan would turn America from a nation of property owners into a nation of tenants renting from private equity-backed landlords... Why should corporate landlords get the deduction if your consumer home buyer can't?"

On its website, the NAR says that, "By nearly doubling the standard deduction while eliminating most itemized deductions, the (proposed) bill would destroy or at least cripple the incentive value of the mortgage interest deduction (MID) for the great majority of current and prospective home buyers, and sap the incentive value of the property tax deduction for millions more.  The direct result of these changes would be a plunge in home values across America in excess of 10 percent, and likely more in higher cost areas.

And Granger MacDonald, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, told Forbes that "The House Republican tax reform plan abandons middle-class taxpayers in favor of high-income Americans and wealthy corporations.  "The bill eviscerates existing housing tax benefits by drastically reducing the number of home owners who can take advantage of mortgage interest and property tax incentives."  MacDonald added, "By undermining the nation's longstanding support for home ownership and threatening to lower the value of the largest asset held by most American families, this tax reform plan will put millions of home owners at risk."

But Redfin's Richardson told Consumer Reports that, even if all of the proposed changes survive, they won't change the overall attractiveness of owning a home; they just make the decisions around buying, selling, and staying put more complex.  He said, "Tax reform has introduced some new questions for buyers and sellers, but fundamentally, real estate continues to be a solid long-term investment.  Because everyone's personal financial situation is different, consulting a tax professional is the best way to get definitive advice about your specific situation.  And don't panic."

Here's how Southeast Discovery views the Republican Tax Plan will likely impact facets of the real estate markets --

1.  High property tax states like New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Wisconsin and California will continue to see outward migration.  Residents of these states, especially retirees who are transitioning to a fixed income, will decide if it makes financial sense to remain in their home state where they are paying $15,000 in property taxes a year, when the cap on property tax deductions for an itemized return in the new plan is $10,000 per year.

2.  Americans in all stages of life will further evaluate where they choose to live.  If they can work in Raleigh, North Carolina vs Chicago, Illinois - they are going to evaluate what each location offers them and their families such as A) the quality of life and crime rates of each area  B)  the cost of housing which includes property taxes  C) housing appreciation prospects  D) affordability of education for their children  E) climate preference and outdoor activities.

3.  Real estate buyers are going to factor in the new tax laws when purchasing real estate.  For example, due to the reduction of the mortgage ceiling deduction going from $1M to $750,000 for those filing an itemized tax return, this may very likely put pressure on higher end real estate.

4.  Home equity interest no longer being deductible under the new tax plan will deter home owners from automatically dipping into their home's equity to pay for home improvements.  Hence, home owners will think twice about performing home improvements if they don't have the cash to pay for them.

At SoutheastDiscovery.com, we've been intimately involved with virtually every facet of the home-buying experience for almost 15 years.  And we keep abreast of both federal and state laws as they apply to home ownership and purchase.   Have questions?  Contact us at info@southeastdiscovery.com or call 877.886.8388.