Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New Home Sales Increase in August

New home sales are at their highest level since August 2008 - a strong starting point for the Fall season.  August's new, single-family homes are up 5.7% over July of this year and up 18% over August of last year.

The positive increase in sales is attributed to low interest rates and better job creation.

New home sales make up 10% of the housing market with the other 90% coming from existing home sales.

According to a survey by the National Association of Home Builders, builder sentiment is at its highest level nearly a decade - the highest since November 2005.  Builders reported better sales conditions and increased buyer traffic.

The median home price comes in at $292,700, an 0.3% increase from this time last year.

Experts estimate there is a 4.7 month supply of new homes still on the market. With concerns over a possible rate increase coming later this year - now is the time to buy!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015


South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) generates $6.3 billion in annual economic activity in the Lowcountry region and $53 billion statewide, according to the results of a study conducted by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen and released September 14, 2015, highlighting SCPA's role as an economic driver and key competitive advantage for South Carolina. 

Read a summary of the results here.

"The Port is our state's most strategic asset," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "It enables South Carolina to recruit and serve the needs of companies with international supply chains, and in doing so, spurs economic development opportunities and generates well-paying jobs for people across the state." 

Monday, September 14, 2015


Probably the most important indicator of the direction of the housing market is the growth in employment, more specifically new employment growth. 

While this article addresses the overall US economy, it is not unrealistic to expect that local markets will also experience the positive impact of job growth even though local results may be greater or smaller than the national averages.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


The role of economic indicators in making business decisions is the topic of an address by Joey Von Nessen presented to the 36th class of Leadership South Carolina.

"The strength of the South Carolina economy is evidenced by a 3% job growth, the highest rate since 2010. Job growth is a key indicator in any evaluation of economic activity. But other factors can provide perspective on appropriate expectations for the future. Will growth continue, lag or actually stagnate? Business leadership needs to recognize the supportive role of other economic metrics in order to minimize the risk inherent in any business decision."

Dr. Von Nessen will make his presentation at the meeting of Leadership South Carolina at the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on September 10, 2015.

Leadership South Carolina was established in 1979 by the Governor's Office and the South Carolina business community. As the oldest and most respected of the statewide leadership programs in the state, Leadership South Carolina provides gifted and highly motivated South Carolinians an opportunity to advance their leadership qualities while broadening their understanding of issues facing the state.
The recent turmoil in the equity markets has prompted questions regarding the overall economic health of the South Carolina Economy. While no one can predict the future, there are a number of indicators that can provide insight on economic activity in our state.

Most comments regarding the market volatility address the current situation in China, and this is an important factor in our economy. It is not widely publicized that South Carolina is one of the largest exporters of products in the United States, so there is substance to the comment that when China sneezes, we catch cold. But there are positive factors also at work.

Construction has come back from a difficult recession to assume its rightful place as a leader of the economic recovery. Manufacturing in our state has shown growth and stabilization. Even the assumed rate increase anticipated from the Federal Reserve will help those living on retirement investments, a significant and growing segment of our population.

The most important factor however, is emotion. The feelings of consumers will impact those intangibles in the economy and either support or undermine our progress, but it is too early to come to a conclusion. There has been no market correction in some time, we are in the seventh year of our recovery and business cycles usually follow a seven year track, but our fundamentals are strong, and we have begun to build momentum. Every sports fan knows that that may be the strongest indicator of the ultimate outcome.

Bottom line is that it is too early to panic but awareness and investigation are always appropriate. Right now that is probably the best course of action to take.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

South Carolina's Aerospace Cluster Is Outpacing Southeastern Neighbors

South Carolina is outpacing North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama in private sector aerospace employment and revenue growth, according to Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, a research economist with the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business.
In partnership with the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and the Harvard Business School, Dr. Von Nessen presented his analysis entitled “Aerospace in the Southeast: South Carolina and Its Competitive Markets,” during the second annual South Carolina Aerospace Conference and Expo held in Columbia, S.C.
Among the key findings of the analysis:
  • From 2010-2012, South Carolina’s annual private sector aerospace employment growth increased by 15.5 percent, which exceeded North Carolina (increased by 10.7 percent), Alabama (increased by 2.5 percent) and Georgia (declined by 2.3 percent).
  • From 2010-2012, South Carolina’s annual private sector aerospace revenue growth increased by 15.5 percent, which exceeded North Carolina (increased by 8.1 percent), Georgia (increased by 6.9 percent) and Alabama (declined by 1.8 percent).
  • In private sector aerospace firm growth, South Carolina experienced an 18.7 percent increase, ranking third behind North Carolina (25.3 percent increase) and Alabama (21.3 percent increase) and ahead of Georgia, which ranked fourth with a 14.1 percent increase.
South Carolina’s aerospace cluster includes manufacturing, air transportation and air transportation support services firms operating in the private sector and the state’s four military aviation facilities. The private sector component of the aerospace cluster in South Carolina contains more than 400 firms. Approximately 74 percent of these firms are small businesses, containing five or fewer employees.
“As I’ve always said, when we get a lot of smart people together in one place, good things will happen. We will use the findings included in this report to continue the conversations about the future of our fastest-growing industry cluster,” said SC Department of Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt. “Above all else, the report shows that aerospace is now a major pillar of South Carolina’s economy and will remain so for the foreseeable future.”
“The findings show South Carolina is competing well with other states, but the findings also show there are is an opportunity to increase firm growth and diversify the sectors within the industry,” said Ann Marie Stieritz, president and CEO of the South Carolina Council on Competitiveness. “The Council is guided by this information as we continue our work with individual companies and the support chain to establish a robust aerospace industry in South Carolina.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Outlook Positive for Housing Market

Some of the nation’s largest home builders are seeing signs of an improved housing market based on numbers from the second half of January. Consumer confidence remains high and interest rates remain low – two important factors for the housing industry.  Improvements in the overall economy including job and wage growth, combined with lower gas prices, all led to improvements in consumer confidence and the introduction of more potential buyers to the housing market.

A panel of economists at this year’s International Builders Show, admit that 2014 sales were lower than expected but predicted a stronger 2015 based on improving economic factors across the country. A strong housing market is traditionally a backbone of a strong overall national economy. 

The spring remains a strong time for the housing industry as families look to buy new homes and move in over the summer while children are out of school.  Across the Southeast, the mild winter weather may lead to an earlier than usual start to the spring shopping season.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Tax Time Tips

Tax time is fast approaching. And while you are busy filing those tax returns, it is important to know whether or not you are getting the best refund possible. And unless you are trained in the matters, it is often hard if not impossible to know if you got the most out of your refund.

Do not fret! We have compiled a quick checklist you can use to help you make sure you have checked as many nooks and crannies of tax law as possible, to get the biggest refund possible!

1.     Some Basics: Organization is key to a smooth tax filing process. No matter what breaks you are eligible for, if you cannot find the information to prove you deserve the break, it will not matter. Take a day before you start your return just to put everything in order so you will know where to go for certain documents.
2.     Check your deductibles: Some of the biggest deductibles are being left on the table by most families, which result in giving up as much as $6200 in tax refunds. (For example, the most commonly unused tax credit is the Earned Income Tax Credit. This credit is designed for lower income households and can offer up to $6200 back in refunds based upon your eligibility. Another commonly unused credit is the Saver’s Credit. This deductible is for those who opened up a 401K or and IRA. This credit allows for up to $1000 in deductibles that would end up right back in your pocket—but you have to know to file for it.
3.     Consult a professional: While online companies are expanding with online tax returns, this is often the least effective way to get a good refund. While fast and easy, computers operate online tax programs. These programs take everyone through the exact same process, asking the exact same questions, and giving the exact same deductibles. Speaking with a person, however, you can fully share your year-in-review. You can go over specific events that could lead to deductions and it is possible through conversation, your accountant will find deductibles you qualify for. Let’s face it, the taxing process is one huge gray area of what applies/what does not apply, and computers were not made to operate in gray areas.
4.     Do your taxes early: Not only will finishing early get you a refund quicker, but it relieves the stress of doing taxes most people carry all the way until April. Stress is a silent hindrance that could negatively affect you in subconscious ways, so nip it in the bud and file early.

Filing taxes does not have to be an uphill battle. The best way to handle it is with a diligent hand and eye, along with someone to go back behind you to fill in the cracks you missed. You worked hard for your employer all year to earn that money, do not let the government take it without a fight!

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 Predictions

It’s the new year again, and with that new year, it is time to look forward to 2015 to speculate how the year will turn out. has just released their top predictions for the housing market in 2015, and building upon what we saw in 2014, housing is expected to continue to grow slowly but steadily as it has.

2014 was the first year we saw true recovery form the housing market crash we saw nearly a decade ago. With steady job growth and increases to the national GDP, the housing market saw its first steady pickup in years. expects that trend to grow throughout the next year.

The top predications for the housing market are centered around pre-existing home sales and the millennial generation. Households have shown improved growth and at higher pace than it has been the past few years. Researchers expect a massive move of the younger generations out of parents’ homes, college dorms, etc. into houses since they can no finally afford to (the majority of which they expect to go into the pre-existing homes.) Millennials might have money to now move out, but not build a home.

Home prices are expected to increase this year as well. Not as many homes are expected to be built. Rather, they will be bought. Lower inventories will push prices higher. Mortgage rates are expected to start going up mid-year and end the year at 5%. This, however, is expected to push overall home affordability down. Experts are hopeful a continued increase in worker wage will help offset that downside.

Overall, the housing market looks like it will still be in recovery mode for the majority of 2015. Still, the markets show vast improvement from where they were years ago. We will continue to monitor the markets and hopefully we can all make 2015 the year housing came back!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

2015 means a new year and a new you! Most take this time to list out everything they want to change or do for the upcoming 365 days. So we thought, why not help you out when it comes to making that list by sharing our resolutions for the upcoming 2015 year. We are hoping to breathe new life in 2015, and are hoping you will join us for the ride!

1.     Get Organized
Organization is a key component to most people’s sanity, whether they know it or not. It had been scientifically proven that increases in clutter also coincide with increases in stress levels for most people. So make 2015 a year of organization! You might not notice it instantly, but a slow change in the way keep everything will ultimately lower stress levels. Just imagine being able to find your keys in the exact, same spot every time you needed them!  Organization will eliminate small nuisances such as these, which would normally add up to a lot of stress over time.

2.     Reduce Debt
This is a resolution for almost everyone, us included. Debt is never a good thing, no matter how you spin it, so make 2015 about getting rid of the collection calls, past due bills, and (hopefully this does not apply to you) red letters from certain government agencies. Reducing debt though is more complicated than just paying back bills. Reducing debt is a lifestyle change that is no easy feat. However, the reward for your sacrifice will be greatly worth the wait.

3.     Join the Community
You are surrounded by your neighbors everyday for a good majority of your life, so why not get to know them? To seclude yourself in your house not only creates a wall (literally and figuratively!!!) between you and your neighbors. But stepping out and getting to know the people around you forges powerful bonds between you and those who live around you. Making friends can never be seen as bad, so why not give them a chance?

4.     Renovate
2015 is a time for changing, so that should apply to your house too! It does not have to be a major change, but something as simple as a screening in the back porch, or installing new windows can have a big change on how you view your home. Although renovations are costly, there is always a way to figure out tips and tricks that can cheapen the process. Treating yourself in the new year is important as well. Being happy at home ultimately leads to being happy in other places.

5.     Stay Energy Efficient
It is hard to avoid the news of climate change these days. Devastating typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and much more swarm the television these days to point where it is unavoidable to see the impact human kind is having on this planet. Take 2015 to make the switch to a more energy efficient lifestyle. You might be thinking that one voice does not matter, and one person changing will not be enough to change the world overnight, but it is one less unrecycled cardboard box, one less plastic water bottle chucked into the ocean, one less stack of paper sitting in a landfill waiting to decompose.

Change is hard, if it were easy, there would be no such thing as a New Year’s Resolution. But it is not out of reach. You have the power to change in your life what you do not want. You have the mind to set the goals and drive to achieve them. Do not let 2015 be another year of stagnation. Look up, move forward, and meet 2015 and all it has to offer.