By Will McCullough
I’ve lived almost exactly 21 years of my life in the North and 21 years in the South. Because of this, I’ve always personally enjoyed noting both the differences and the similarities of a life lived in either location. For example, if you grew up in the North, you’d likely consider hazardous driving conditions, multi-car accidents and collecting an ever-growing series of dents on your car a normal aspect of life. New Northern transplants to the Beaufort area may find comfort in the fact that we consider all of that normal as well. We just call it “parking at Publix” as opposed to “winter.”
Being involved in a local real estate transaction for the first time is no different. Depending upon where you are from originally, some aspects of a local transaction will be familiar while others will be downright alien. Below are a few of these factors that you may find surprising.
Joint Closings: In many areas, the actual real estate closing is a formal and potentially high stress event. The seller, the buyer, both of their attorneys, both of their agents, the lender and a collection of paralegals all sit down around the same table and execute their respective agreements together. This is occasionally also an opportunity for last minute negotiations and debate. Many buyers are shocked to find this rarely the case in and around Beaufort. Locally, the parties involved rarely attend a joint closing, they instead close individually at their own attorney’s office. While the pros and cons for each format are debatable, the fact remains that our format does come as a surprise to many.
Radon Gas vs Termites: Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that seeps from the earth into a home and poses at least the potential for causing health issues if found. Inspecting for it and mitigating its presence is an important factor of real estate transactions in some areas of the country. Due to soil conditions, it’s essentially a non-issue locally. What we instead deal with in this area that others may be unaccustomed to is termites. These, along with other factors that may degrade the stability of a wood structure, are normally discovered by what we call a CL100 inspection conducted in advance of a closing by a pest control company.
Basements: For my native Beaufort friends, a basement is a large area found under nearly every home in many geographic locations. For some, they are considered nearly essential storage space and are filled to the rim with keepsakes, tools, boxes, knick-knacks and things “you might need again someday.” For my Northern friends looking to now call the Lowcountry home, we have them as well. We just instead call it a “garage” and locate it beside the home as opposed to underneath it.
Heat Pumps: If you’re moving to the Beaufort area from a colder climate, you’ll likely be really surprised to learn that, for the most part, we heat with electric. While it may not be as efficient as the furnace that used to rest in your basement (natives: please see above), you’ll soon realize that a heat pump does the job quite well for an area where the coldest temperatures are akin to what you used to consider normal for early April. That being said, you should know that it is prudent to allow your faucets to drip slightly on those rare annual local nights that it does drop below freezing. Our pipes are simply not insulated as well and this small amount of moving water can mean the difference between a pipe cracking or not.
Fiscal Factors: A “transfer tax” is normally a 1%-3% fee levied by local government on the sale of a property. Many folks moving to the area are thrilled to learn that we have no such transfer tax. In addition, our overall property taxes are considered much lower than those found in most other areas of the country. Another important factor to consider is insurance. Even if not required, buyers not accustomed to living in a coastal region should investigate their options with regard to wind, hail and flood insurance.
When it comes down to it, there are many aspects of life in the Lowcountry that new residents may find surprising. But one aspect that should come as no surprise to any of us is quality. I personally first moved to the Beaufort area in 1993 to serve as a drill instructor at Parris Island. Despite having lived all over the world, it was quickly apparent that Beaufort was the ideal place to call home and begin raising a family. So while I may presently balance at the even 21-year mark between North and South, I can guarantee you that my remaining years will be spent in Beaufort, happily adding to the South column. And I’m pretty sure you’ll never regret doing the same.
Will and Deena McCullough of Lowcountry Real Estate can be reached directly at 843-441-8286 or via email at RealEstate@BeaufortSC.net.