My New Blog

Historic City of the Cape Fear

Overlooking the beautiful Cape Fear River,
the historic city of Southport stands almost
within hearing of the breaker's of North
Carolina's fabled Atlantic Coast.

The charming old Southern city served as the
setting for the movie "Crimes of the Heart," in
which it doubled as an Old South town in
Mississippi. Several other movies have also
been filmed in the picturesque community
that traces its roots to before the American

As late as 1745, the British had built no forts
to defend the Cape Fear region from enemy
attack. Things changed that year when work
began on Fort Johnston, an important post
that served both to defend settlements up the
river and as a quarantine station for ships
and sailors coming into port. A community of
fishermen, pilots and traders slowly grew
around the fort, marking the earliest days of
what is now known as Southport.

To the shock of North Carolina's Royal
Governor, the Cape Fear region proved to be
in strong support of the independence
movement that swept through the American
colonies following the Battles of Lexington
and Concord in Massachusetts. Forced to
take refuge on a warship in the Cape Fear
River during the earliest days of the American
Revolution, Governor Josiah Martin watched
as a band of patriots raided and burned Fort
Johnston. The action, which took place on
July 18, 1775, was one of the earliest of the
Revolutionary War.

The destruction of Fort Johnston, however,
did not mark the end of Southport. Because
of the twisting and dangerous channel of the
Cape Fear, the need for river pilots was great
and this created a need for a permanent
community. In 1792, the town of Smithville
was incorporated at today's Southport.

Named for Governor Benjamin Smith, a hero
of the American Revolution, the town was
named the county seat of Brunswick County,
an honor it would retain until 1975.

The town survived the War of 1812 and in
1816 the U.S. Army completed work on a new
Fort Johnston that would serve to protect the
lower Cape Fear for the next 20 years. It was
eventually replaced by Fort Caswell on Oak
Island, but Smithville continued to thrive.

After President Abraham Lincoln refused to
order the evacuation of Fort Sumter in South
Carolina, prompting Confederate forces to
bombard the fort into submission, Governor
John W. Ellis ordered state forces to occupy
Fort Johnston and nearby Fort Caswell. This
marked the beginning of the city's history as
a major port for blockade runners making
their way into and out of the mouth of the
Cape Fear River.

Confederate engineers quickly turned the
lower Cape Fear into one of the most heavily
fortified areas in the South. Fort Fisher was
built on Federal (Confederate) Point and
strong forts and batteries went up around
Smithville, on Baldhead Island and up and
down the lower river.

These kept Union invaders out of the Cape
Fear River until Fort Fisher fell to a massive
land and sea attack on January 15, 1865.
The battle effectively closed the lower river
and led to the evacuation of Fort Caswell,
Smithville (Southport) and most of the other
defenses in the area.

Smithville rebounded after the war and its
name was changed to Southport in 1887. It
lost the title of county seat in 1975, but
retained its beautiful historic charm and
appeal. By the 1980s, the city had emerged
as a popular setting for filmmakers. It also is
noted as the hometown of famed author
Robert Ruark.

Southport today is a beautiful coast city that is
a major attraction for visitors on its own, but
is also known as the gateway to Bald Head
Island and the lower coast of North Carolina

Courtesy of

Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on October 10th, 2014 8:22 PMLeave a Comment

Save Money by Paying off Mortgage Early

By Marcie Geffner



MCT)—Paying off your mortgage might sound like an ambitious New Year’s resolution, especially if you have recently refinanced into a 30-year term. But it’s still smart for homeowners to give some serious thought as to how they’ll pay off their home loan.

An early mortgage payoff can net substantial interest savings compared to making scheduled payments for 15 or 30 years.

Paying more quickly reduces your housing cost, freeing up that money for other needs and wants, says Ronit Rogoszinski, a wealth adviser at Arch Financial Group in Garden City, N.Y. You’ll still be responsible for property taxes, homeowners insurance, and home maintenance and repairs, but your mortgage payment will disappear.

“Once that money can remain in your pocket, you control that money,” Rogoszinski says. “It’s yours. It’s not going to someone else.”

An argument can be made in favor of allocating more cash to investments instead of eliminating low-cost debt, says Alfred McIntosh, principal of McIntosh Capital Advisors, a financial planning and investment management firm in Los Angeles. But, he says, being mortgage-free can be “a very beautiful thing,” especially for homeowners near retirement age.

Here are six ways to get rid of your mortgage.

—Pay more each month: The simplest way to pay off a mortgage is to add an extra amount, say $50 or $500, to each monthly payment, Rogoszinski says. You shouldn’t sacrifice necessities, such as sustenance or medical care, but putting a little more toward the mortgage can be a good financial habit.

“If you can manage your expenses in a way that an extra couple of dollars goes toward the mortgage, that’s freeing up money down the road sooner rather than later,” she says.

Some homeowners add enough to their payment each month to make one extra payment each year. McIntosh explained the math: Divide one payment by 12 or multiply one payment by 10 percent, and add that to the amount each month.

Make sure the extra money is applied to principal, not interest or your escrow account. Prepaying interest or padding your escrow won’t accelerate your loan payoff date.

—Make extra payments: Making an extra payment in January, December or some other month is more challenging than paying a little extra each month, but the benefits are the same, Rogoszinski says.

“The faster you get rid of your debt, the more cash flow you have, the more things you can do,” she says. “I don’t think there is ever a wrong time to do that.”

One way to make that extra payment less painful is to make payments every two weeks instead of every month. The result is 26 half-payments instead of 12 full payments.

—Pay a lump sum: A gift of money, an inheritance, a bonus or an income tax refund creates another chance to put extra money toward your mortgage. This strategy works best if you don’t have other, more costly debt, Rogoszinski says. “You really want to pay off the most expensive debt you have as fast as possible,” she says.

Examples of higher-cost debt include most private student loans, auto loans, department store cards and revolving credit cards.

Another option is to deposit your windfall into a savings account and set up an automatic monthly payment from that account to your mortgage, Rogoszinski says. That way, you can have money in the bank and put money toward paying off your mortgage, too.

A more aggressive approach is to invest the lump sum for a return that’s higher than your mortgage rate, then use the principal plus appreciation, dividends and interest to pay off the mortgage when you retire, McIntosh says.

—Refinance to speed up payoff: Refinancing can help you pay off your mortgage sooner, the idea being that a lower payment frees up money that can be applied to additional principal payments.

The challenge is being able to qualify for a new loan, says Justin Lopatin, vice president of residential banking at Baytree National Bank & Trust in Chicago.

The biggest hurdle, Lopatin says, is the effect of declining home values. A lower valuation can throw off your loan-to-value ratio, result in an appraisal that’s too low to support your loan amount, or trigger a need for mortgage insurance, making your new payment more costly and refinancing less attractive.

You’ll also need an up-to-par credit score and two years’ worth of documented stable income, Lopatin says.

To maximize the benefit of refinancing, shorten the term of your loan. For example, if you’ve paid off 10 years of a 30-year term, refinance with a 15-year mortgage instead of a new 30-year loan.

—Shrink your housing costs: Selling your house might seem like a dramatic way to get rid of your mortgage, but it’s certainly effective, leaving you free to buy a more affordable home for cash or become a renter without any housing debt.

Whether downsizing makes sense is largely a matter of your needs and personal lifestyle, yet Rogoszinski says it’s “definitely something to consider.” But don’t try to time the housing market by selling high and buying low. That’s a strategy more appropriate for professional real estate investors than homeowners.

—Tap retirement savings: Homeowners who don’t have spare cash on hand might be tempted to tap a retirement account to pay off a mortgage. This idea has gained purchase in recent months, as legislation pending in Congress would waive the early withdrawal penalty if money removed from a retirement account were used to pay a home loan.

Still, Rogoszinski and McIntosh advise caution.

“My instinct is not to look at that very favorably, particularly because of how little retirement savings Americans have already,” McIntosh says.

Distributed by
MCT Information Services



Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on February 22nd, 2014 1:46 PMLeave a Comment

How Much Income Home Buyers Need to Purchase

The necessary income it takes to buy a median-priced home varies quite a bit across the country. In Cleveland, you could earn $22,000 a year and still afford a house, but in San Francisco, you need to earn six times that — $125,072.

HSH Associates, a publisher of mortgage data, evaluated 25 major metros to see how much income home buyers need to earn in order to purchase a median-priced home and cover the principal and interest payment on the mortgage. The survey uses median home price data from the National Association of REALTORS®’ third-quarter report, and subtracts a 20 percent down payment from those numbers. The list does not factor in taxes, mandatory insurance, or home owner fees.

Here are some of the cities where you would need to earn the least amount in order to purchase a median-priced home there:

  • Cleveland: $22,348
  • Cincinnati: $25,151
  • St. Louis: $25,228
  • Atlanta: $26,863
  • Tampa: $26,930
  • Orlando: $29,631

Here are some of the cities that require the highest salaries to afford a median-priced home:

  • San Francisco: $125,072
  • San Diego: $85,843
  • Los Angeles: $79,177
  • New York City: $71,255
  • Boston: $68,956
  • Washington, D.C.: $68,345

Source: “The Salary You Must Earn to Buy a Home in 25 Cities,” (November 2013)

Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on December 25th, 2013 8:19 PMLeave a Comment

December 17th, 2013 10:12 PM


Stores announced for North Myrtle Beach shopping center

dbryant@thesunnews.comOctober 21, 2013

Coastal North Town Center, a planned 348,000-square-foot commercial hub on the former Robbers Roost Golf Course, also will have TJ Maxx, Ulta Beauty, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ross Dress for Less, Rack Room Shoes, PetSmart and Versona Accessories as anchor stores, officials announced Monday. Publix had said earlier this month that it planned to build a 49,000-square-foot store there and another one in Pawleys Island.

The shopping complex will have between 30 and 40 stores and restaurants when it debuts in late fall or early winter 2014. Officials also are pursuing fast-casual restaurants and smaller stores to round out the lineup, but said Monday they couldn’t name them until contracts are signed.

“It definitely will be a premiere destination center,” said Phil Wilson, principal of RealtyLink, which is developing the shopping center. “We think it will be a great addition to North Myrtle Beach.”

This will be the first Grand Strand location for Hobby Lobby, a Oklahoma-based arts and crafts store that has 565 locations across the country.

The shopping center also is bringing new life to the former Robbers Roost Golf Course, which has been dormant since closing in 2003. It sits among several subdivisions near 11th Avenue North. There have been other development plans for the property, but none advanced to active projects.

Construction on the shopping center started Oct. 2.

Pat Dowling, spokesman for the city of North Myrtle Beach, said the new shopping center will not only give residents on the north end of the strand more shopping options, but could lure shoppers from other parts of the Grand Strand because it will have the only area Hobby Lobby and one of the area’s only two Publix stores.

“It has brought in some new players to the community, which is good. People like variety,” Dowling said.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at or follow her at

Read more here:

Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on December 17th, 2013 10:12 PMLeave a Comment

The Myrtle Beach metropolitan area led the state in growth of retail sales and residential building permits between October 2012 and October this year, according to statistics released Monday by the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

The data showed that retail sales grew by 6.3 percent during the year and residential building permits shot up by 78.1 percent, more than double Spartanburg, the second place finisher with a 31.4 percent growth.

The Myrtle Beach area also ranked second in employment growth, which improved 2.5 percent over the year, according to the statistics. However, it was tied with Charleston for the smallest decline, 1 percent, in unemployment.

“That’s all pretty consistent with what we’ve been seeing,” said Rob Salvino, a research economist at Coastal Carolina University.

Salvino and Laura Crowther, CEO of the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors, noted that the Grand Strand had the state’s largest housing construction decline during the Great Recession, which both said set the area up for the big gains.

“It had almost come to a halt,” Crowther said of the area’s residential construction.

Brad Dean, CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said that tourism growth in 2013 has produced a 6 percent growth in admission tax collections and is on track to be one of the best years on records, despite a wet spring season.

He said that increases in tourism has delivered a boost in retail and entertainment spending.

“The forecast is encouraging and reflects growing optimism about the Grand Strand economy,” Dean wrote in an email.

Dean agreed with Crowther that at least part of the area’s residential construction surge is due to affordability of the area’s real estate.

Dean said the increase in employment is also a product of a better tourist season.

“Bringing more tourists during the shoulder seasons and continuing to lure more non-tourism jobs are essential to growing year-round employment,” he said.

Salvino said the unemployment number is the most volatile of the statistics released Monday. He said the Grand Strand’s relatively high number of part-time workers, retirees and self-employed people all influence the area’s unemployment number.

The unemployment rate in Horry County dropped significantly from last year, from 9.4 percent in October 2012 to 7.7 percent in October 2013. Georgetown County’s rate dropped from 8.7 percent to 7.5 percent.

The statewide rate in October also was 7.5 percent, the lowest for South Carolina since September 2008, when the unemployment rate was 7.3 percent. The October rate was the closest the state rate has come to the national unemployment rate – estimated at 7.3 percent in October – since September 2002.

“Although we’re creating jobs, wage growth has been relatively stagnant in some areas and too many South Carolinians are still working part-time because not enough full-time work is available,” said Joey Von Nessen, a USC economist.

Nessen said the single best indicator of economic performance is the rate of job growth, which USC economists expect to increase by 1.7 percent during 2014.

“We’ve now recovered to the point that some areas of the state have achieved pre-recession employment levels,” Von Nessen said. “Make no mistake, South Carolina’s economy is expanding.”

The construction industry, financial services, retail trade and the leisure and hospitality sector will lead the way for expansion in 2014, according to USC’s annual forecast.

“South Carolinians are spending more this year, which implies that they are more confident in the long-term stability of their employment and that they have more disposable income to spend. Both are positive indicators going into 2014,” Von Nessen said.

The Moore School issued the one-year numbers at its annual Economic Outlook Conference on Monday in Columbia.

The forecast for 2014 is for continued growth, as long as the Federal Reserve Bank doesn’t pull back on its monetary stimulus.

Salvino said that Rich Kaglic of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank spoke at the Grand Strand’s economic outlook conference earlier this year. Kaglic said people shouldn’t expect the Fed to begin tapering the stimulus until later in 2014, according to Salvino.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

Read more here:

Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on December 9th, 2013 10:09 PMLeave a Comment

December 9th, 2013 10:04 PM

Read more here:

According to Steve Jones (  from the Sun News:

The Grand Strand real estate market prices are registering their first year-to-year increase since 2007, according to a report by SiteTech Systems.

Median prices for single family homes were up 6.4 percent through June 2012, reaching $180,000 this year versus $165,000 last year.

For condominiums, the report showed, the 2013 median sales price in the half-year is at $107,000, which is $1,000 above 2012.

The report is more positive news for a market that is showing growing strength as the year progresses. But Realtors and others emphasize that the growth is slow, just the way they want to see it.

The SiteTech report further showed that year-to-year sales volume is up 20.4 percent over 2012, and the company is forecasting single digit growth for the second half of 2013 with the full year gain expected to be 11 percent.

Condo sales are up 5.4 percent so far this year and are projected to end the year with a growth of 6 percent.

Sales have improved to the extent that the absorption rate for single-family homes on the market now is down more than two months over the 12.7 absorption rate in the second quarter of 2012, according to the SiteTech report. The absorption rate is the amount of time it would take to sell all the properties currently on the market. For condominiums, the rate has dropped to 10.8 months this year versus 12.1 months for the same time last year.

Read more here:

Activity throughout Horry County varied by location, with the longest absorption rates, 13.8 months and 13.4 months, respectively, in North Myrtle Beach and Loris/Aynor.

The Loris/Aynor area also had the lowest median list price, $139,900, and sales price, $122,750, while North Myrtle Beach topped each at $324,900 median list price and $275,000 median sales price.

The Carolina Forest and Forestbrook/Socastee areas had the largest percentage of distressed homes on the market.

The lower overall inventory means there’s not as much for buyers to choose from in a particular price range as used to be the case. She said that while not too long ago, Realtors could show clients 40 homes to 50 homes in almost any category, now the number might be eight to 10.

The days of making low-ball offers are pretty much over.

Read more here:

Posted in:General
Posted by Gary Bish on December 9th, 2013 10:04 PMLeave a Comment