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After I get a home or lot under contract, where is my earnest money kept?
We always recommend that you place your earnest money with the closing attorney of your choice. It is kept in the attorney's trust account until closing. Mountain Lake Paradise Realty does not accept or hold earnest money.
Can (or should) the buyer and seller use the same lawyer at closing?
They often do as the seller can often save money that way. However, that could create a problem later. In SC, this lawyer could not represent either party in any future legal action against the other party. You started with an atorney who you like and trust. Now, if there is an issue, you have to find another attorney (who would be your 2nd choice) to handle your business. Both parties would need to do this. Carol started in real estate in 1988 and Doug in 2004. In all this time, we have never had this issue, but we are here to help PROTECT you from any possible SNAFU.
What do I need to bring to a real estate closing?
Have two forms of ID. Bring certified funds (or wire it to the attorney) for the amount you will need to pay. Also, have your checkbook just in case the attorney's calculations were slightly low because of late changes by your lender or some error in another calculation.
Do I have to use an attorney to buy or sell real estate?
Yes. SC law requires an attorney for real estate closings.
What do lawyers charge for closings?
Attorney fees for closings in this area are around $400 - $450 for buyers. Also, there will be separate charges for the title search (usually done by an outside company) and title insurance.
I live a long distance away from SC. Do I have to attend the closing?
No. Closings by mail are very common. The closing attorney will email or overnight mail you the documents needed. Just take them to a notary at your bank, sign the papers there, and send them back by overnight delivery. You can also appoint someone you know in this area as your attorney-in-fact to sign for you at the closing attorney's office.
How are real estate property taxes figured?
Please see our South Carolina Real Estate Tax page. South Carolina has a homestead exemption for homeowners (if your SC home is your primary residence) who are over 65, blind or permanently disabled. Permanently and totally disabled veterans are eligible a total exemption of property tax on their homes.
Is a survey required?
No but unless you are buying a condo, you should get one to protect yourself. Even if you are getting a mortgage, this will probably not be required. However, we always recommend you have the property you are buying surveyed to be sure there are no overlapping property lines with neighbors, encroachments (such as a house next door crossing the property line) or unknown easements (such as those granted to utility companies or for access to other properties) that could make your property useless for residental purposes. Problems like this need to be discovered and resolved before closing or they could affect your legal ownership and/or use of the property!
Does South Carolina have a state income tax?
Yes. Please see our SC Tax page and the SC Department of Revenue web site.
Does South Carolina tax military retirement pensions?
Partially. Please see this page on Military.com for a full explanation of the SC law passed in 2016.
What are the restrictions on cutting down trees on my lakefront lot?
County ordinances require a 25 foot tree buffer on all waterfront land starting at the full pond level. This is to protect the shoreline from erosion and keep the lake beautiful. These rules allow for removal of smaller, dead or diseased trees and also allow for a view window or path. Please see the Oconee County Vegetative Buffer Requirements for details. This ordinance applies to both Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee. In addition, subdivision associations may have their own requirements for interior and lakefront properties. Be sure to check the Covenants and Restrictions for communities that interest you. In most subdivisions, you can also cut off limbs that are no higher than halfway up the full height of the tree.
Duke Energy also has rules for the area within their “Project Boundary” which is the the land adjoining Lake Keowee up to an elevation of 804 feet above mean sea level. The Shoreline Managament Guidelines provide details about what Duke allows, regulates (and doesn't regulate), rules for vegetative buffers, guidance for building contractors, and more. The most important information for lake property owners is in Sections 2 and 3.
How long do septic permits last? How much is the fee?
Five years. The fee is $150 (2019).
How long do dock permits last?
On Lake Keowee, Lake Jocassee and Lake Hartwell, one year. If you don't get your dock completed within that year, you may apply for a new permit, but permits are not renewable.
I'm buying a lot in a subdivision. How soon do I have to build?
Communities here do not put time limits on when you have to build. However, once you get a building permit, you will have one year to complete your construction.
Where can we stay during our visit?
There are 3 hotels in Seneca: Hampton Inn & Suites, Best Western and Quality Inn. Seneca is at the south end of Lake Keowee and is the most convenient location for visitors.
Is it unhealthy to live near power lines?
Please see our About Power Lines page.
Does Lake Keowee flood?
In April of 2019, we had what Duke Energy called a, “50 year rain event.” Depending on location, anywhere between 6 and 10 inches of rain fell in about 4 hours! We had never seen anything like this before. Duke opened floodgates into Lake Hartwell. There was no flooding around Keowee.
Who monitors the water quality of Lake Keowee?
The Friends of Lake Keowee Society. “FOLKS plays an important role in monitoring water quality, organizing lake/shoreline clean up, tracking environmental issues that threaten the lake, providing information to the public on current issues and much more.”
Why is the water so clean in Keowee?
Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee are fed by pure mountain rivers and stream from the North Carolina mountains. The natural minerals from these riverbeds give these lakes their emerald green color.
Was National Geographic paid to feature the nearby Jocassee Gorges in their “50 of the World's Last Great Places” spoecial issue?
No. Not only were they not paid, but nobody knew they were here until the special issue was published! Read more on our National Geographic page.
Who developed Lake Keowee?
Duke Energy created Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee for power generation. They had a subsidiary named Crescent Resources (now Crescent Communities) to handle development of communities around the lake. See our Crescent Communities page for more information.
Does having a Buyer's Agent cost me anything? Am I obligated if I'm not happy?
No and no! We never charge a retainer fee. We also write into the contract that you can cancel it, in writing, at any time. Please see our Using a Buyer's Agent page for more information about working with real estate agents in South Carolina. We provide a copy of the state-required Brokerage Relationship disclosure form on that page.
Do you have more questions? Please call us at 864.238.3176 or use our Contact Us form.