•East Cooper becomes home base of Matt O’Neill Real Estate•

To assist clients, a year-old local real estate agency opened an office recently on well-traveled Johnnie Dodds Boulevard in Mount Pleasant.

Matt O’Neill Real Estate is situated at 940 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., which is also U.S. Highway 17 North.

“Opening this brokerage has allowed us to control our marketing efforts and get results for you,” the agency notes.

Matt O’Neill holds the title of broker-in-charge. Staff includes Sue McGhee, closing coordinator; Ami Peters, marketing coordinator; and newly hired Liz Elsner, operations manager.

McGhee works with clients to make sure closings are handled smoothly and efficiently, the firm says. Peters teams with home sellers to coordinate marketing so that properties get the best exposure. She’s also responsible for the agency’s “international marketing system” for sellers.

The marketing system helped the agency close 88 properties last year, “and we are on pace to beat that number in 2013 by a wide margin,” according to Matt O’Neill Real Estate.

The brokerage’s agents include Daniel Cobb, Spencer Gibson, Nate Gainey, Ben Laaper, Robin Phillips and Dan Killian.

For more information, call 843-654-7777 or visit the company website at www.MattONeillRealEstate.com.

•Housing market in South Carolina remains realtively stable•

Home sales climbed sharply in South Carolina in June, while a smaller – but still comparatively high – share of properties remained distressed, a new report found.

Irvine, Calif.-based CoreLogic Inc. analytical company cited the Palmetto state totals in its detailed August MarketPulse report.

According to findings for the 50 states and District of Columbia, South Carolina placed 23rd highest in property transactions between June and a year earlier at 71,238.

Compared with the previous year, sales jumped 16.6 percent, tied with North Carolina for ninth highest gain year-to-year.

At the same time, South Carolina’s home price index sits just 7.3 percent below its peak, ranking 33rd highest in the gap between present home prices and those of the go-go real estate market of the mid-2000s.

The state’s rate of distressed sales stayed somewhat elevated. The share of transactions that were short sales, foreclosures or otherwise distressed dropped to 21.5 percent in June from 22.1 percent last year. But in a period when the national housing market has been in recovery, the state’s rank in the number of distressed sales shot up to 10th highest, from 18th slot in 2012.

The share of mortgages in South Carolina that are 90 days or more delinquent stood at 5.1 percent in June, placing 18th among the states. The “negative equity” share landed at 15.9 percent to wind up 19th highest. CoreLogic defines negative equity as the difference between a property’s current value and the original value of the mortgage.

Also, the typical period that distressed properties were staying on the market as of June was 5.1 months, a narrower time frame than in 21 states.

In its report, CoreLogic assigned its economists to analyze refinance activity in the U.S. market and to discover the role that natural disasters play in mortgage default risk.

“Forecasts estimate that roughly 70 percent of the expected dollar volume of refinance originations for 2013 has already occurred,” according to the real estate information firm.

Also, the recent month or so surge in long-term mortgage rates resulted in reducing the share of outstanding mortgages with above-market rates by 25 percentage points, CoreLogic says.

In terms of hazard risk, mortgage holders are twice as likely to default in areas with high risk of natural disasters than in places with low risk.

For more information, visit www.corelogic.com.

•Mathis tapped to lead Children’s Center directors•

A top agent at NAI Avant commercial real estate firm in Charleston will preside over the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children’s Center board of directors.

Derek J. Mathis, senior broker with NAI Avant’s Charleston office, joined the Lowcountry Children’s Center board in 2011. He was named board president this month.

The Dee Norton center strives to keep children safe from abuse. When abuse occurs, the organization teams with community partners to “bring healing to these children and their families.” Launched in 1991, the center has helped more than 21,000 children and their families, according to NAI Avant.

For more information on Mathis or the commercial brokerage, contact managing principal David Grubbs at 843-814-6111 or dgrubbs@naiavant.com.

•The Reserve at Lake Keowee opens new phase•

An Upstate resort’s developer will set aside 17 home sites in its second growth phase, a sign of the improving vacation sales market.

The new properties help to fill out Village Point, a neighborhood within Sunset-based The Reserve at Lake Keowee. The community also opened a model home. Meanwhile, the resort plans to add a sales model at a second neighborhood and break ground on a third new enclave.

Developers describe Village Point as “a marina-front neighborhood boasting lakeside living.” It’s a short walk or golf cart ride to amenities at The Reserve, notably the Market and Post Office, Pool Pavilion, Orchard House clubhouse, golf practice facility and Fitness and Tennis Center.

The Reserve unveiled Village Point a year ago. Since then, agents have sold 11 of 13 home sites in the neighborhood’s initial phase. Seven homes currently are under construction.

The designer-furnished model home for the new phase features the two bedroom, two-and-half bath Mainsail floor plan. According to The Reserve, other design plan highlights include a two-story porch, finished courtyard with grill and wet bar, well-appointed kitchen, luxurious master suite and the option of adding a third floor and guesthouse.

The model opened Aug. 15. Tours can be set up through The Reserve real estate office at 877-922-LAKE (5253). Expect home and site packages to start in the mid $700,000s.

Developers say they chose to expand Village Point oferings at this time because of encouraging signals in the resort market.

The Reserve cites National Association of Realtors figures that vacation home sales rose 10.1 percent from 2011 to 2012 and accounted for 11 percent of all purchase transactions in the last year.

The NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun credits “a strong stock market recovery (and) attractively priced recreational property” for the vacation-home sales jump, according to the South Carolina resort.

“With the downturn in the economy a few years back, The Reserve focused on maintaining a sound financial position,” says Rutledge Livingston, director of sales.

“It was the right decision for our community, and ensured that we remained stable throughout the uncertain market,” he says. “With the increase in vacation and second home sales in the past year, we want to meet the market demand and continue promoting the Village Point neighborhood,” Livingston points out.

The new Village Point and emerging Laurel Pond Cottages and High Grove neighborhoods have been well received, he says. They offer what The Reserve is known for — “beautiful architecture, scenic views and state-of-the-art amenities,” according to Livingston. Prices and layouts cater to a range of second home buyers, he says.

Along with the Village Point lot sales, home building goes on within The Cottages at Laurel Pond and High Grove.

Situated among stately pine trees overlooking Laurel Pond, The Cottages at Laurel Pond take in “finely appointed, rustic residences” within walking distance of the Village gathering place at The Reserve.

The year-round cottages stand 1,800 square feet, sporting open floor plans. There are two post-and-beam floor plan options, designed by Mill Creek and priced from the low $500,000s to the mid-$650,000s. Pyramid Construction intends to complete construction of The Reserve’s model home at The Cottages at Laurel Pond this fall.

According to The Reserve, “the fully-furnished model will showcase the rough sawn wood exterior with natural stone accents and cedar shake roof, two natural stone fireplaces and designer interior finishes.”

Meanwhile, the resort held a groundbreaking in July for the first home raised in High Grove. The enclave touts eight park-side homes with lake access for year-around, second home or vacation living. Introduced in March and priced from the lower $400,000s, the High Grove residences attracted an interest list of more than 100 families nationwide within three months.

Developed in 2000 by Greenwood Communities and Resorts, The Reserve at Lake Keowee spans 3,900 acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with 30 miles of shoreline on Lake Keowee not far from Greenville. Amenities include a 200-slip marina, Village Center, Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and more than 1,400 acres of parks, preserves, trails and green spaces at the $100 million development.

The Reserve boasts 700 members from 30 states. Homesites start in the $100,000s and homes for less than $500,000.

To learn more, visit www.ReserveAtLakeKeowee.com or read the community’s official blog at www.LifeOnKeowee.com.

•Mount Pleasant home, garden show set for mid-October•

While the event’s opening stands two months away, marketing efforts started up recently for the yearly Mount Pleasant Home and Garden Show.

Lucey Mortgage, with backing from the Charleston Home Builders Association, will present the Oct. 18-20 fest. It will be held at the Omar Shrine Temple, 176 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant.

“This boutique show will feature the area’s top companies in the residential home and remodeling industry,” according to organizers. They’re urging companies to sign up to showcase their ventures in “a premier community.”

The show will feature Food Truck Rodeos on Friday and Saturday 12-4 p.m., live music featuring the Moonshiners on Saturday and Ronnie Johnson and Dale Baker from Buddy Roes Shrimp Shack on Sunday, indoor and outdoor home exhibits and Clemson plant and garden classes and sales. The weekend events come with free admission.

Businesses can purchase booths now. They can visit the Omar Shrine Temple to peruse the floor plan or find information at www.charlestonhomeshows.com.

Show Sponsors include Carolina Lanterns Lighting Center, Muhler Company, Swift Appliance and Charleston Style & Design. One sponsorship spot remains available. Anyone with sponsor or booth questions should email Phillip Ford at pford@charlestonhomebuilders.org or call 843-572-1414.