Columbia SC Real Estate Blog

Oct. 7, 2020

Real Estate Broker Diane Farr

Diane Farr is a real estate broker with EXIT Realty of the Smokies. After working for Westgate Resorts for six months selling timeshares, Diane realized her buyers were being charged an annual maintenance fee equivalent to or greater than the actual cost of a vacation (see Queen of Versailles). Diane did not like selling timeshares due to the absorbent fees charged, but she did get bitten by the real estate bug!

In 2005, after leaving Westgate Resorts, Diane was licensed as a real estate professional and followed up getting her real estate brokers license three years later. Diane enjoys helping people and gets great satisfaction from the happiness she is a part of when helping her clients buy or sell. She puts her clients needs first and focuses on them exclusively.

EXIT Realty of The Smokies


Diane was in the US Air Force and stationed at San Vito Italy for three years during Operations Desert Storm/ Desert Shield. There she was known as a “Ditty Bopper” for her role in copying Morris Code. We thank her for her service to our nation then, and for her service to her clients today. She actively services clients in the Kodak, TN area along with Sevierville, Dandridge, Jefferson City and Strawberry Plains. 


Columbia SC Real Estate – Real Estate Agent / REALTOR in Columbia, SC specializing in Downtown Columbia SC Homes for sale, Columbia, SC Condos for sale and Lake Murray waterfront homes for sale. Tonya D Graves DIRECT (803) 238-8612

Oct. 7, 2020

REALTOR Columbia, South Carolina

My name is Tonya Graves and I sell real estate in Columbia, SC. I live in downtown Columbia in the Shandon neighborhood. I enjoy the ease of walking to local restaurants ands shops and all the beautiful downtown Columbia parks nearby.

I have a passion for all real estate but especially downtown Columbia SC condos, Shandon homes and waterfront homes. I have personally lived on Lake Murray, on the Saluda River, in downtown Condos and in various other areas of the Midlands like Blythewood, Irmo, and Lexington to name a few.

If you are wondering why I have lived in so many different homes and locations of Columbia, well it’s an occupational hazard for me. I mentioned before that I am passionate about real estate and that lends itself to me easily falling in love with properties. If you have an interest in discussing a Columbia SC property for sale or are considering selling your home, I welcome your call or text anytime! (803) 238-8612 



Tonya Graves REALTOR

Columbia SC Real Estate – Real Estate Agent / REALTOR in Columbia, SC specializing in Downtown Columbia SC Homes for sale, Columbia, SC Condos for sale and Lake Murray waterfront homes for sale. Tonya D Graves DIRECT (803) 238-8612 

July 6, 2018

USC Gamecocks Come Getcha Cockaboose

Gamecock fans football season 2018 is weeks away. The ultimate in tailgating the Cockaboose. Cockaboose T-14 is available today. See all Cockabooses for sale

For checkout more from 2012 Cockaboose History 

July 6, 2018

Patio Home for Sale: 303 Willow Winds Dr, Columbia SC

A 303 Willow Winds Dr, Columbia SC is a one owner patio home built in 1983. It was just listed for the first time ever.  Imagine that…a one owner home, well maintained since 1983 in the Willow Winds Community. 

Check out all Willow Winds Homes for Sale.

Things you will appreciate about this well maintained home in the Willow Winds Community.   

  • Recent updates include paint and carpeting   
  • Stained wood interior trim   
  • Oversized kitchen with eat in dining area   
  • Kitchen sink has a pass through to great room 
  • Oversized great room has brick fireplace, atrium and a flex dining area 
  • Master bedroom has a walk in closet and ensuite bath with double vanity and tub 
  • Sliding doors from master bedroom open to private back yard   
  • Flex room by front entry ideal for home office, dining room or study   
  • Lush landscaping in private back courtyard with covered patio 
  • Garage with side entrance 
  • Large common area in front of the home and adjoining the left side

303 Willow Winds Dr, Columbia SC Real Estate Sales303 Willow Winds Dr, Patio Home in Columbia SC

Things you will appreciate about the Willow Winds Community.

  • 65 single family homes on one continuous winding road
  • Single entrance and exit into community
  • Conveniently located and close to everything
  • 1.5 miles from Interstate 26 and the St Andrews Rd Exit 106
  • Homes are hard coat stucco over concrete block with exposed brick accents
  • Lush common areas are in front of most homes
  • Beautiful community street type lighting
  • Low annual homeowner association dues

See homes for sale in Willow Winds Community


July 3, 2018

Columbia is still Famously Hot. What to do when your AC unit is not!

Is your AC blowing hot or cold air?

AC condenser unit, Columbia SC

After returning from Cherry Grove Beach in April our air conditioning unit was on but the air was not blowing. The air that was coming out was so weak you could not tell if it was cool. It was not cold. That’s not good.

Everything seemed okay a week before.

What could have happened to the air conditioning system?

Who knows?

But, actually the first time we used the system, three years ago, the same thing happened.

So maintaining records makes a difference.  

Three years ago when very little air was coming out the vents we called the ac repair contractor. He came out and explained four things most homeowners could check before calling for repair service. Step 5 and after required professional attention.

So this year in April before calling for service I followed those steps.

4 things you can do if the air conditioning is not blowing cold air.

Below are things most real estate owners can do when the central air conditioner is not cooling. This is the order followed by the contractor three years ago and by me before placing the service call this April.

  1. Check the thermostat for error messages. The thermostat can lose its mind. If the power goes out… some thermostats lose their mind and need to be re-programmed. If the thermostat is flashing or acting different ... re-programming it could be a quick, easy and no cost fix. 
  2. Check the fan setting on the thermostat. The fan has 2 “On” and “Auto.” If the fan is set to “On” it will run all the time, 24/7. That means at times the system will be moving warm to hot air. Switch the fan setting to “Auto” if needed. 
  3. Check the filters. If the air filter is dirty, dusty or installed improperly replace it immediately. Air movement should improve when a clean air filter is installed properly. The evaporator coil can freeze when air flow is blocked. A blocked evaporator will turn into a block of ice and cooled air movement will stop. Air filters should be removed and replaced monthly.
  4. Check the outside unit known as the condenser. The heat from in the house is transferred outside to the condenser. The condenser disperses that heat. If it is dirty or cluttered with debris it will not function properly. Remove any pine needles, leaves, weeds and other debris from around the condenser and give it some breathing room.

After following the above steps…my air was still not blowing out the vent enough to cool the house so onto Step 5, call a reliable air conditioning professional.

Our air conditioning guy came the same day. He went in the attic and checked the evaporator then outside to check the condenser.

The problem was there was no refrigerant in the system. The solutions three years ago and in April were: 

  1. add refrigerant and see if it leaks out again
  2. replace the system

Our choice was add 6 pounds of refrigerant. Within five minutes the house was cool. Two weeks later the system was checked and there were no leaks. Three months later, the house is still cool. There is no sign of leaking. All is good. The air is cold. 

The reason I share this story is three friends recently had a similar story with their air conditioning unit. Two homeowners felt forced or pressured into buying a new system. Perhaps they only needed refrigerant. I don’t know, neither do they.

That’s my air conditioning story. If you have one email it to me.

Search new Columbia SC real estate listings here

Feb. 7, 2018

Home Improvements

Home Value-Boosting Improvements Under $3,000


The Columbia, SC real estate market is booming and there has never been a better time to consider putting your house up for sale. But if it’s not quite time for you yet, there are a few home improvements you can make that will help your home stand out when you’re ready to roll. Each of the following high-impact projects come in at less than $3,000.


Since the kitchen and the bath are the two rooms that really sell a house, we’ll start there.



Painting the walls and trim is a no-brainer and a pretty simple chore you can tackle yourself in one or two afternoons. Other projects that you might consider including cabinet refacing, which as a DIY endeavor costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $500, plus any tools you don’t already own. HouseLogic notes that new hardware is an added cost that fluctuates between $2 and $50 each piece. New countertops are a job to leave to the pros, since any slight mismeasurements can lead to disaster. Popular countertop materials include concrete, natural stone, and laminate.



If your toilet has seen better days, having a new one installed shouldn’t cost more than $500 but will instantly make your bathroom look cleaner and better kept. Experts recommend opting for a ultra-low flush toilet as they are more efficient. Like counters in the kitchen, it’s a job for a professional. However, you can install a new faucet, mirror, and shower curtain bar to update the room with a very small investment. It takes less than an hour to replace a bathroom faucet on your own; here’s an instructional video from Lowes to get you started. Another inexpensive way to spruce up the bath is to reglaze the tub, which takes approximately two days for someone with intermediate home maintenance skills, according to the DIY Network. This, like replacing the toilet, will take years off your bathroom’s perceived age and make it more appealing to potential buyers.



The exterior of your home, or its curb appeal, can greatly influence a buyer’s first impression of the property. And fortunately, there are many things you can do to spruce up the outside to make your home memorable. A masonry mailbox is a single-day project that most contractors charge between $250 and $350 to complete, including materials and labor. Landscaping is something you can do yourself by clearing out old flower beds, planting native bushes and flowers, and adding a layer of decorative mulch. Costs vary depending on your personal tastes and preferences but expect to spend less than $500.



Many buyers look closely at the garage before signing on a new home. You can have the garage door replaced for an average of $1,534. CBS News reports that this exterior upgrade offers an 83% or more ROI, which makes it an excellent investment if you’re going to be in the home for a few years.



Outdoor entertaining is important, especially given the pleasant summers of Columbia. If you have an existing patio, rent a pressure washer and give it a good cleaning and add some built-in seating. An open, flat lawn is the perfect setting to build your own brick paver patio and fire pit. Material can be purchased at your local hardware store for less than $2,000. This tutorial from The Home Depot blog shows you how to do it in two weekends.


Any home improvement that you make will enhance your quality of life and make your home more appealing to its future occupants. With a little planning, research, and elbow grease, you can manage many projects yourself. Keep the high-tech, low-cost jobs for the pros and sit back, relax, and enjoy your home until it’s time to relocate.


Thanks to Gene Williams from for this article. Gene has spent the last two decades completing countless home improvement projects, and loves to share his knowledge with others. Please visit his website for more information or to send your questions.

May 21, 2015

Tanning Salon For Sale


Business for Sale 

Great location walking distance to University of SCBusiness For Sale USC Columbia SC

Sept. 10, 2014

Vote For Best

Vote Tonya Graves for Best Real Estate Agent

Support Your Favorite Service Providers & Vote Now!

  • Voting starts September 10, 2014
  • You can vote once an hour
  • You must vote 30 categories to be counted
Vote for The Best of The State Tonya Graves Best Realtor 

                                                                  I want your vote for Best Real Estate Agent!

                                                                                        ~ Tonya Graves 803.238.8612


Support your favorites and vote for "The Best" of Columbia, SC. There are many great categories available. Take a moment to recognize your favorites and vote for at least 30 categories to be counted.  
Posted in Columbia SC Events
June 30, 2014

Featured Lender


Chris Austin - Home Loan Specialist


Chris Austin Banker

Chris Austin - Home Loan Specialist 

Chris is a native of Columbia. He has 15 years’ experience in the mortgage industry. He has helped over a 1,000 families fulfill the dream of home ownership. Chris graduated from USC with a B.S. in Business Administration. Chris uses his vast knowledge to help his clients make the best decision for their mortgage needs. He has assisted his clients with mortgages that other banks are unable to complete.


Chris Austin |  Mortgage Executive

Southern First Bank 190 Knox Abbott Drive | Cayce, South Carolina 29033

June 2, 2014

The Step by Step Process of Buying Real Estate

Decide you are ready to buy your first place. You are not behind on your bills, have some money saved, and have a steady job. You are ready to start investing in your future and maybe plant some roots. Remember: to qualify for the 2009 first time home buyer tax credit, you must keep your home for 3 years.  

Talk to a lender to make sure you qualify for a home loan. There are many places you can get a home loan. Call your bank or a mortgage broker. If one company turns you down, don't get discouraged. All lenders are not the same and there are many different programs available. Don't give up! Once you are approved ask for a good faith estimate and pre approval letter. Some costs can be negotiated and it never hurts to ask.  

Search homes online and drive around neighborhoods. Your online home search will help you identify the area in which you want to live. Consider your lifestyle. Do you like privacy? How far is your commute to work? Will you want to live close to bars and restaurants? Do like new homes or the character of an older historic home? Do you want to maintain a lawn or garden? Is a community pool important to you?  

Find a full time Realtor, and become their client. It doesn't cost anything to enter into a client relationship with a Realtor but it provides you much. A Realtor will be able to further refine your home search and take you into the homes that are a good fit for you. By using a full time Realtor you will have an agent who can work when it's convenient for you, not them. A Realtor can advise you on the value of comparable sales and help you make informed decisions. A Realtor will provide all contracts and assist you in making an offer on a property. Your Realtor owes you the fiduciary duties of Obedience, Loyalty, Disclosure, Confidentiality, Accounting and Reasonable care and skill.  

Make the offer. You have found a property you love, now it is time to make an offer. Your Realtor will help you decide on a price and terms that suit your budget and the value of the property. Part of an offer to purchase, is earnest money. You need to be able to write a check for earnest money at the time of writing the offer. Usually 1% of the sales price is adequate. This money is held by your agent until you have a final contract and then must be put in an escrow account within 48 hours. It will come off the price of the house and lets the seller know you are a serious buyer. The offer is written up on a contract and your Realtor submits it to the seller.  

Getting a final contract. A final contract is the original offer after negotiations. The terms and price may be changed as needed for both buyer and seller to agree. All changes require the initials of both buyer and seller. This document will be signed by all parties and sealed by a Realtor showing date and time of final contract.  

Inspecting the property. Your final contract allows for a 10 business day inspection period from the final contract date. Your Realtor will help you order inspections and be sure you stay within your time frame. Typical inspections include a termite inspection, a heating/air inspection and a general home inspection. After you inspect the property, you can decide if you want to continue and purchase the home or terminate your contract.  

Obtaining your loan. Your lender will need documents from you supporting your income and other various documents. The lender will order a real estate appraisal for the property, order title work and get all the loan documents ready for a closing.  

The last step is the closing. In South Carolina a closing takes place with a real estate attorney. The attorney has all the loan documents and any other relevant documents that need to be signed. The buyer and seller attend the closing with their real estate agents. The buyer signs documents giving him ownership of the property. The seller signs away his ownership. Keys are exchanged, any monies due are given to the closing attorney in the form of a cashiers check.  

Enjoy. You are now a home owner. Sit back and enjoy. Always make your payments on time and begin building equity in your new home. This is the start of a lifetime of wealth and happiness!