Historic Charleston Gates – A Brief History

Amongst stunning architecture and well-preserved historic homes, Charleston boasts some of the world’s most beautiful and ornate gates. Guarding the entrance to a driveway or a secret garden South of Broad, wrought iron gates can be found at the most prestigious of homes in downtown Charleston.

Wrought iron is a tough yet malleable metal, ideal for crafting into the beautiful patterns seen around Charleston. Historically, iron was not only made into gates, but also into grilles for first-floor windows, sharp spikes on top of fences, and boot scrapers (a necessity before paved streets). In the mid to late 1800s, iron was increasingly used for embellishing gates with beautiful life-like replicas of flowers, leaves and branches that reflected the popular Victorian style.

One of Charleston’s most well-known artisans, Philip Simmons, produced hundreds of decorative gates and other ornamental ironworks. Called “Keeper of the Gate,” his work has stood the test of time and his legacy is loved and appreciated by many. From St. John’s Church and Hibernian Hall to private residences, his beautiful swirled iron designs can be seen all over the city. Simmons’ work can also be viewed at the South Carolina State Museum and Smithsonian Institution.

For those looking to incorporate the beauty of wrought iron metal work into their property, there are many local companies who specialize in replicating the well-loved styles of antebellum ironwork. Or perhaps you have been fortunate enough to inherit a stunning gate with the purchase of a new home. Either way, the next time you are in downtown Charleston, make sure to enjoy a closer look at the intricate gates that decorate the Holy City.

SC Income Tax Credits & Benefits Affecting Residential Property

Residential Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The South Carolina legislature recently passed a benefit which mirrors the existing Commercial/Income-Producing Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit; however, the new law now allows residents who rehabilitate their owner-occupied residence to be eligible to subtract up to 25% of the costs of renovations in the form of a 1:1 state income tax credit, which may be (a) taken as a personal tax credit, or (b) monetized through a tax credit exchange market where SC State Income Tax Credits typically sell for $0.65-$0.70 on the dollar.

(i)    For homes to be considered, they must either be (a) listed on the National Register of Historic Places, (b) contributing to a National Register historic district, or (c) determined eligible for individual listing in the National Register by the state’s preservation office.

(ii)    The property owner must submit a historic preservation application, along with architectural plans and technical drawings, to the states Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) prior to the commencement of construction.

(iii)    The property owner must spend at least $15,000 in 36 months on efforts to rehabilitate the residence.

(iv)    Qualifying Rehabilitation Expenditures (QREs) include items such as:

a.  preservation and rehabilitation work done to the exterior of the residential structure;

b.  repair and stabilization of historic structural systems;

c.  restoration of historic plaster;

d.  energy efficiency measures except insulation in frame walls;

e.  repairs or rehabilitation of heating, air-conditioning, or ventilating systems;

f.  repairs or rehabilitation of electrical or plumbing systems excluding new electrical appliances and electrical or plumbing fixtures, and architectural and engineering fees.

Conservation Easement

Another potential tax benefit is a Historical Conservation Facade Easement (HCFE”). An HCFE is the tax-deductible grant of an historic façade easement to a 501(c)(3) tax exempt entity (i.e. The Charleston Historic Preservation Society), which essentially provides for the preservation of the building’s facades (all sides and roof).

The charitable organization that receives the easement has the legal ability to enforce it, should the need arise. If a conservation easement is selected, a charitable contribution is available, thus reducing the individual’s income taxes. This makes financial sense for those in the high-income tax bracket.

The value of the easement is normally determined by the “before and after” method. This approach appraises the underlying property before the grant of the easement and after the grant of the easement, with the difference being the value of the easement.

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2018 Year End Review

Reflecting on the 2018 housing market, there were many headlines that affected Charleston area home values, transactions, and construction alike. From the passage of an ordinance by the Town of Mt. Pleasant limiting future residential units, to interest rate increases, 2018 certainly provided plenty of unknowns. Even through a volatile 2018, the Charleston area real estate market continued to sustain its solid economic foundation.

Moreover, while we have seen slowing in buyer activity, it is not as pronounced as the housing market slow down experienced nationally. More importantly, this pull-back in the market is just that – a pull-back, where consumers have become accustom to higher interest rates and general market volatility, and thus, the market simply “taking a breather”, while creating a more cautious buyer.

One positive trend that will affect the upcoming year in real estate for the Charleston market is continued job growth. The Charleston Metro Area is currently seeing 28 people moving here each day. The forecast is for 22,000 net new jobs over the course of the next two years. This ongoing growth means that there will be a continued demand for housing. However, the demand is relative to the number of people who can afford to buy a home. Factors on the national level also influence the local real estate market – as interest rates are commonly reviewed as a predictor. Interest rates rose over the course of 2018 and are predicted to continue to rise throughout 2019, but at a less accelerated rate. That being said, we remain in an historically low interest rate environment, thus providing inexpensive costs of borrowing money.

Looking ahead, data shows that the Charleston real estate market will most likely experience moderate to incremental growth in 2019 as adequate demand drives transactions. More specifically, we are at the very beginning of a “Buyers Market”, however; Buyers are not quite aware just yet. Therefore, expect 2019 to be a year where buyers are in the driver’s seat in certain transactions and sellers may have to make some creative concessions to sell a property for top dollar. Therein lies the value of an experienced real estate brokerage such as Novellus, that can negotiate on your behalf in a manner which unlocks hidden value, and gets the most for your money.

Finally, buyers and sellers can be assured that in any market the Novellus Real Estate team serves as your best resource in town. We will provide current and accurate resources, advice, and guidance in buying and selling a home in Charleston. While no one can predict the future, working with a top real estate company and agent is the best move every time.

Peter B. Farag, Esq.
Broker in Charge

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