Holiday Lights in the Midlands

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Nothing says holiday season is here quite like dazzling displays of lights, trees and decorations. Here is where you can go take a look at some great displays in 2019.

Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks Zoo. Explore the zoo with nearly one million twinkling lights and 350 handcrafted images. Take a photo with Santa, roast marshmallows at a bonfire and enjoy some evening snow. Runs nightly from 5-9 PM from November 30th through December 30th (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas). Tickets can be purchased in advance at

Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park. Experience the holiday magic with more than a million sparkling lights and 400 animated light displays. Family-fun activities nightly from 6-10 PM beginning November 21st through December 31st except for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas night. Activities include a tube slide, train rides, laser light show, crafts, marshmallow roast and even visits with Santa. Additional details can be found here.

Holiday Parade of Lights at Cayce Municipal Complex. Night time parade begins in front of the Cayce Municipal Complex on December 14th at 5:30PM. Get there early for this anticipated holiday event!

Festival of Trees at the South Carolina State Museum. Get in to the holiday spirit with a silent auction, decorated trees, wreaths, menorahs and more! Celebrating 30 years, this fabulous fundraising event is held to benefit Prisma Health Children’s Hospital. Auction preview on November 22nd, Santa & Me on the 23rd and open to the public on the 24th.

Financial Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Home

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A home purchase is likely one of the largest purchases you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s important to get this one right. Whether buying your first home or your tenth home in order to get the best financial outcomes, here are some of the top mistakes to avoid.

Taking on too much: You think you’ve found your dream home, but it’s outside your housing budget. You think you can stretch your budget to make it work by taking out a bigger mortgage. This decision can be disastrous. Taking on more debt than you can afford will leave you struggling to pay utilities and other bills and will leave no room to meet other financial goals. A good rule of thumb is to limit the cost of your house payment (including taxes, insurance and any HOA fees) to 25 percent of your take-home pay.

Skipping the preapproval: Getting preapproved provides a useful guideline as to what you can realistically afford and will help you with not taking on too much. It will also give you a financial advantage when negotiating for a home. Sellers prefer to work with buyers that they know can afford their home and having preapproval lets you make an immediate offer when you finally find THE ONE!

Skimping on the down payment: The more money you pay up front, the less interest you’ll pay over time. If you save at least 20 percent for a down payment, you can also avoid PMI, which is a fee to cover insurance that protects lenders when a buyer has little equity in the home. And don’t forget to include closing costs and moving expenses as you save up for your purchase.

Going it alone: An experienced agent helps you determine a reasonable price for any home you are considering. We can also negotiate the best price for the home. Plus, the seller pays the agent’s commission, so you get all the expertise at no cost to you. When you’re ready to start your home search, just give me a call!

Why I’m Thankful I’m In Real Estate

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When I first became a REALTOR®, I never imagined how rewarding it could be. After a long-standing career as a court reporter, I found my true passion in real estate. Real estate is challenging, and I work for clients during an emotional time, but it is also incredibly rewarding. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I wanted to say thank you to my clients for putting their trust in me and share the many reasons I’m thankful I’m in real estate.

Real Estate is Meaningful. A home is one of the most important aspects of a person’s life. It represents security, family and sense of self. Home ownership is the “American Dream,” and I get to help people make their dreams come true.

I meet people from many walks of life. Everyone needs a home. As an agent, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to help people of all different backgrounds and stages of life. It is a wonderful way to make someone’s life happier and fuller.

Real estate is full of opportunities to get to know your community. As a REALTOR®, I have been able to put down deep roots in my community and help make it better, one house at a time.

It’s flexible. Although I may have to work weekends or take calls at all hours of the day, I can also be at events for family and friends or spend the day at a community festival. Also, I can work from anywhere!

It’s fun. Whether you’re attending a conference, touring an incredible property, hosting an Open House, or handing over the keys to a happy home buyer, real estate is full of fun moments. I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

My colleagues are amazing. They are some of the hardest working, smartest and most caring people out there. I am proud to work with these amazing people and call them not just colleagues but friends.

My Clients. I am humbled by the trust that my clients put in me and dedicated to exceeding their expectations. I am thankful that my clients are more than just clients, but lifelong friends. Although my job is in real estate, my business is in building relationships. I am thankful for every one of these relationships.

I’m counting my many blessings this Thanksgiving and thankful for this wondrous career, not just today but every day. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Decorating During the Holiday Season for Home Sellers

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Decorating for the Christmas season is upon us but may present a predicament for home sellers. You want your home to be open-house ready, but you don’t want to go through the holidays without decorating. Do the same staging rules apply during the holidays? The basics such as de-cluttering, depersonalizing and detaching remain the same, but it is a whole new ball game when it comes to holiday decorating. Follow these helpful tips to make your decorations a selling tool, not a scare tactic.

Tone down the tree.

Most REALTORS® and home stagers agree that a Christmas tree can really add something to a home, but sellers need to be careful not to overdo it. Keep piles of presents small  and minimize personal ornaments.

Create a cozy vibe.

Subtle touches can create a warm and festive feeling in your home. Consider display centerpieces or bowls of pinecones or other wintry accents. Set a plate of cookies on the counter, next to some festive paper napkins, or even simmer some apple cider on the stove and set out cups and a serving utensil. Not only will your home smell great, it will help create that cozy vibe you’re going for. Other things that help to create that feeling – light the fireplace, play soft classical music and crank up the heat. Buyers will want to spend more time in your home out of the cold, giving them additional time to admire your home in all its holiday glory.

Complement your color palette.

Before untangling those colored Christmas lights, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted ocean blue, instead of the clashing red and green garland, opt for white lights, snowflakes and silver balls and ribbons. If your house is in earthy tones, consider rich tones such as forest green or cranberry. Tone down the tacky, use more generic Christmas decor and limit the personal stuff. You want potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home, not you in your home.

Reel in the Clark Griswald.

You may love 5,000 colored lights and tons of inflatables, but if your home is on the market this year, you need to reign it in. Instead, use simple string lighting that plays up your homes architecture or draws attention to its best features, such as a sprig of mistletoe in the arched doorway you love so much.

More seasonal, less religious.

It is a good idea to keep your decorations more seasonal and less religious. Religious flourishes, such as a life-size Nativity scene, may turn some buyers off. You want to keep neutrality throughout so all types of buyers feel welcome.

Listen to your REALTOR®.

Listing your home is hard enough, but trying to de-clutter and depersonalize during the holidays can be especially challenging. Listen to your REALTOR® and let buyers focus on your home, not your holiday decor.

RELAX and enjoy the holidays- the New Year is just around the corner.

The holidays are stressful enough. Take a moment to remind yourself that if you don’t sell now, there’s always next year, which luckily, is just a few days away.

Make Your Home Smell Like The Holidays

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Let’s face it. You’re home looks so good this time of year! Why not make it smell just as good? Here are some easy ways to do it!

Light a candle. The simplest way to get your home smelling like the holidays is to light a candle in a Christmas scent. Whether you choose sugar cookie, evergreen or candy cane, it will fill your home with its nostalgic scent.

Simmer a pot. Start with a base of cider of just plain water and add aromatics like cinnamon stick, pine, orange peel or cloves to fill your home with scent. If you can boil water, you can make your home smell like the holidays! Just remember to keep an eye on the water level and add more as it evaporates. You don’t want to ruin that great mulled scent with burnt pot!

Use fresh greenery. A Christmas tree is not the only thing to give off the heavenly scent of pine. Kick it up a notch by hanging wreaths, garlands or sprays and add to your table arrangements. The scent of pine will fill your house.

Use essential oils. Drop a blend of calming essential oils into your humidifier in the evening for an infusion of holiday scent. Consider oils like frankincense, orange, pine or cinnamon.

Bake cookies. Is there anything better? Added bonus – you get a tasty treat while making your home smell sweet.

Switch out your hand soap. Refill your soap pump with your favorite holiday scent, whether it’s pine, gingerbread or cinnamon. It doesn’t have to be fancy – Dial will do!

Change out the potpourri.  Potpourri not only looks pretty, but it smells great too! Swap out your bowl of decorative potpourri to feature your favorite holiday scents.

DIY your own peppermint room spray. Add 20 drops of peppermint scented oil to 8 ounces of distilled water and pour into a spray bottle. Spritz the air, furniture and draperies for that candy-cane fresh scent.

Scented pinecones. Bring the woodsy scent of the outdoors in with pinecones infused with oils to offer a natural, cozy aroma. Use them in garland, a wreath or as a bowl of potpourri.

Now your home not only looks good but smells good too. These tips & tricks can be used for any holiday season – simply swap out the scents – pumpkin pie for Halloween, cranberry or cinnamon roll for Thanksgiving, white chocolate for Easter, you get the idea. Hope these tips help put you and your home in the holiday spirit!

Riverfront Community of Saluda River Club in Lexington, SC

Saluda River Club is a master-planned community of homes nestled along the Saluda River in Lexington, South Carolina. Located on 235 acres off of Corley Mill Road, Saluda River Club offers the best of both worlds: the peace and tranquility of the river with the bustling city life of Columbia minutes away. Saluda River Club was named the “Best New Home Community in America” and offers a unique, picturesque setting combining classic neighborhood living with an active riverfront lifestyle.

Saluda River Club offers something for everyone. The Village District features traditional neighborhood design with front-porch townhomes, cottages and single-family homes. The River District provides a wooded, natural landscape with larger single-family and custom homes on spacious lots. The Woodlands District are rich in architectural detail and provide California-inspired indoor and outdoor spaces. All residents share amenities with two clubs including fitness centers, pools, an adult lounge, outdoor fire pits, a dog park and the river itself. Residents of Saluda River Club can experience the river by foot on riverfront walking trails, by water in a canoe or kayak or from fishing along the shore. Students residing in Saluda River Club attend the award-winning Lexington One schools of Midway Elementary, Meadow Glen Middle and River Bluff High.


Not only does Saluda River Club offer an extensive array of activities within the community, but there is plenty to see and do outside of the community as well. Lexington is one of the fastest-growing towns in the state and leading the way in healthcare, education and recreation. There are a number of locally owned shops and restaurants to enjoy as well as recreational venues including Lake Murray for water activities, Icehouse Amphitheater for concerts, shows and community events, and beautiful parks and camping sites nearby. The capital city of Columbia is about ten miles away and provides residents with additional dining and shopping alternatives, as well as a variety of museums and venues to enjoy, and sport and collegiate teams and activities to  follow. The central location of Saluda River Club also provides residents with convenient access to the interstate making for easy travel to anywhere in the state.

If you are looking for a neighborhood with a resort-inspired lifestyle, convenience to the best in shopping and dining, and a way to “vacation at home,” than look no further than Saluda River Club. Contact me at 803-206-3884 to get started today!

Restaurant Review – Di Prato’s

Most of the residents near and around the Columbia area have dined at Di Prato’s.  If you haven’t, shame on you.  It absolutely doesn’t disappoint.  Brunch is my favorite,  but get there early… the line starts outside in front of the door before the they open.  However, there are a few rockers under the large shade trees to sit and sip mimosas while you wait.

James and I were able to get to Di Prato’s for brunch a couple of Sundays ago.  We enjoyed the Charleston-style Eggs Benedict and Banana-Pecan Pancakes, which was enough to feed a family of four.  As always, it was delicious!  The photo doesn’t do it justice.   And just like many times in the past, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and the service fantastic. 

Again, if you haven’t been, it’s a must!!!  Enjoy!!

About Di Prato’s: Di Prato’s is located in downtown Columbia at 342 Pickens Street. Hours are 10-4 7 days a week with brunch served on Sunday from 10-2. Di Prato’s is known for its signature sandwiches, which range from a Triple Decker Corned Beef Reuben to an Italian Hoagie to a Shrimp Po’ Boy. They also have delicious salads, soups and paninis. Order from the menu or choose from an array of breads, spreads, toppings & cheese to build your own!