Home Buying Terminology: A Cheat Sheet

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Buying a home shouldn’t be rocket science. You find the perfect home, make an offer to the seller, pay a couple of fees, and bam! You just bought a home.

However, buying a home actually has a lot of moving parts which include a number of funny real estate terms you’ve probably never heard before. Are Realtors and real estate agents even speaking English anymore?

To help you out, we’ve come up with a cheat sheet so you’ll know exactly what we are talking about when we explain the home-buying process.

Pre-Approval

Two adults meeting over a stack of paper.If you meet with an agent before you begin looking for homes, they’ll likely recommend you get pre-approved for a mortgage. Mortgage pre-approval is the best first step to buying a home, because it essentially sets your budget for you.

Pre-approval involves sitting down with a lender to discuss your financial portfolio. This includes your credit score, borrowing history, outstanding debts, annual income, and any assets you have. After reviewing all of this, the lender gives you an exact number: that’s how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Not only is your budget set, home sellers will take you more seriously because they know you can qualify for enough loan to support your offer.

Earnest Money

Two parents sitting with a child who is opening a piggy bank full of coins.Defined loosely, earnest money is the money you pay to confirm a contract. When you’re buying a home, this is essentially a good faith deposit. It lets the seller know that you’re serious—serious enough to go ahead and put money down.

This money sits in a joint account (called an “escrow” account) held by both the buyer and seller. When the home purchase is finalized, the earnest money goes toward the buyer’s down payment.

Due Diligence

A few bills next to a checklist that has home-buying items on it.Due diligence refers to the period of time after the seller has accepted a buyer’s offer. This is the time when you as the buyer can schedule inspections, confirm financing, and make sure that buying this home is in your best interest.

Now’s the time to do some research! Have the home inspected by a professional to ensure nothing is wrong with it, consult public records to learn more about its past homeownership, as well as any environmental issues in the neighborhood, and work with your lender to make sure this is a good financial decision.

So…. Are Realtors and Agents the Same Thing?

Yes and no. The primary difference between REALTOR®s and real estate agents is the National Association of Realtors, also known as the NAR. The NAR is a professional organization of real estate brokers that abides by a specific Code of Ethics that all REALTOR®s are required to follow.

A real estate agent works under a brokerage, but is not necessarily a licensed NAR member.

Let’s Find Your Dream Home Together

Young couple being handed the keys to their new home.We’ll never hide behind big words when it comes to helping you find the home that’s right for you.

Give us a call today to begin your home-buying journey.



How to Sell Your Home During Back-to-School Season: A Complete Guide

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As summer draws to a close, so dawns every parent’s favorite season: the beginning of another school year. This time of year can be hectic for every parent, but it may become especially overwhelming if you’re also trying to sell your home.

Don’t worry, though! We’re here to help. We’ve come up with a bonafide game plan to help you sell your home, handle back-to-school season, and maintain your sanity. Ready to learn more?

Here’s what you need to do:

Prepare a Fresh Start with Staging

Bright kitchen interior.The first step to staging a home is to create a blank canvas. After all, you want potential buyers to be able to picture their lives in your home. To do that, you’ll need to take down any personal artwork, decorations, or mementos—school accomplishments, artwork your kiddos may have made for you, personal school pictures, and anything else.

While this may seem like a bummer, it is essential to selling your home.

Get Some Extra Storage

Another essential part of staging your home is removing any and all clutter. This may seem impossible with all the new school supplies, clothing, and toys strewn about, but it’s doable—and necessary!

Consider investing in a storage unit to house excess furniture, summer toys, and old clothing, or even replace a bench, ottoman, or coffee table with one that doubles as a storage chest to house excess items.

Plan for Showings (but make it fun!)

Young girl swinging in the park.Guess what time is perfect for back-to-school shopping? House-showing time!

To get kids out of the house during showings, come up with a list of kid-friendly outings or activities you can take.

Consider going to the library, a movie theater, an outdoor park or nature center, or the mall to kill some time as your Realtor shows off your home.

Make a Showing-Prep Checklist

As your Realtor schedules your home for showings, try to request at least a one to two hour buffer for each one. Then, create a checklist for what you need to accomplish to get your home showroom-ready before each tour.

Have bags pre-packed for when you need to be out of the house for an extended period of time. Depending on your kiddos, you may want to have have extra diapers, toys, books, games, snacks, and anything else you may need (and keep your list of outings handy!).

Create a Cozy Atmosphere Before You Head Out

Cute living room with cacti on the table.Before grabbing the kids and making yourself scarce, be sure to create an inviting and warm atmosphere for your buyers. Here are some general tips for last-minute staging:

  • Open all the windows — pull back the curtains, raise the blinds, and let in the light!
  • Light a soft-scented candle (nothing too crazy) or put out a bowl of potpourri to cover up any odors.
  • Set some calm, instrumental music to play in the background.
  • Put out a bowl of treats for potential buyers to munch on as they tour your home.

Want to Sell Your Home Fast (and stress-free)?

Then you need to partner with a real estate agent who knows their stuff. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you sell your home for top dollar—without all the extra stress during this busy season.



Home Buying 101: The Service Providers You Need for Your Home Purchase

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When it comes to buying a home, there are more things to consider than you may realize. After all, it’s a lot more complicated than walking into the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk!

Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases the average person makes. As such, you can expect there to be a lot of preparation, negotiation, and paperwork involved. In addition to obtaining a mortgage and signing the paperwork, there are a number of other tasks that need to be completed before you can open the doors to your new home.

Here’s a quick crash course in Home Buying 101: what service providers you need to hire while purchasing your new home.

Mortgage Lender

Man and a woman speaking with a bank lender holding pens.Ideally, you should start talking to lenders before you even begin looking for homes—and get pre-qualified for a mortgage as soon as possible.

Pre-qualification involves reviewing all of your finances, including income, expenses, and savings, with a lender.

Then, the lender will do some math and let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to loan you.

Home Inspector

Before you purchase the home, you absolutely must schedule a home inspection! This usually happens after you negotiate a price and sign the initial Purchase and Sale Agreement with the seller.

The home inspector will carefully go through every room of your new home (including basement, attic, and roof) to ensure everything is in proper working order. If the inspector finds any major issues, you can negotiate with the seller to get them fixed.

The average home inspection costs around $315, but it may end up being higher depending on the size of your home as well as any other add ons. For a larger home greater than 2,000 square feet, it may cost upwards of $400 or $500.

Appraiser

Woman at a computer explaining a home appraisal.After the home inspection comes the appraisal. Your lender requires an appraisal because they want to protect their investment by making sure the home is worth at least as much as they’re lending you.

The appraiser will take a close look at key features in the home and compare them to the features in other homes (and what those homes have sold for). If the appraiser values the home at less than the sales price, the bank will lower the amount of your mortgage to match it. If this happens, you have several options.

Depending on the contract you signed with the seller, you may be able to get your deposit back and walk away. You can also dispute the appraisal by talking with your Realtor about property values. Another option is to negotiate the price with the seller.

Title Company

Title insurance promises peace of mind when buying a home. Basically, when you purchase title insurance, a title company will come in and ensure the seller actually owns the home and the title is valid. This protects you down the line, in case any issues come up regarding past taxes, contracts, or prior mortgages with the home’s title.

It’s also a good idea to purchase owner’s and lender’s title insurance to protect yourself and your lender from any issues with claims to the title of your property.

The cost of title insurance depends on the size of your mortgage and your location.

Have any Questions? We’re Here for You

For even more information on how to navigate the purchase of your home, including all the fees, paperwork, and legal jargon, give us a call today. We’re always here to help.



Hilton Head Island Dream Vacation Giveaway

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Enter to Win a Free Vacation!

We are excited about our Grand Giveaway to give one lucky person a FREE VACATION TO HILTON HEAD!

Click Here to Register

It’s easy to enter! Just click the button below, enter the giveaway and start sharing it with                  your friends! The winner will be the individual who gets the most shares of the giveaway!                  The giveaway begins July 21, 2018 and runs through August 13, 2018. Good luck to              everyone!

What you will receive if you win:

  • A 7-day stay at The Oceanfront Sea Cloister on Hilton Head Island
  • 2 Aerial Adventure Passes
  • 2 Zipline Passes
  • $100 Gift Card for Up the Creek Pub & Grill
  • 2 Island Skiff Tours
  • 2 Hilton Head Speedboat Tour Tickets
  • $100 Coastal Restaurants & Bars Gift Card
  • 4 Trail Ride Passes
  • A $100 Santa Fe Café Gift Card
  • A $100 Fat Baby’s Gift Card
  • 4 Golf Passes
  • Bikes for the Week
  • 4 Big Beach Towels
  • Spa Certificate
Some restrictions for winnings related to the Dream Vacation Giveaway Sweepstakes do apply, including,                                                            but not limited to: ticket expiration dates (most tickets valid for up to 1 year).



3 Over-the-Top Home Improvement Projects that Just Aren’t Worth It

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If you’re planning on selling your home within the next year or so, you’ve probably already started thinking about the best ways to increase its value. But if you’re not an experienced home flipper or contractor, it can be tricky to know which projects are worth it and which simply aren’t.

To save you time and money (and a lot of hassle), here are some home improvement projects that just aren’t worth it (and what you can do instead).

Replacing Old Cabinets

Beautiful completely upgraded kitchen with new cabinets.Depending on what kind of cabinet material you choose, you could be looking at an estimate anywhere between $1,000 to over $9,000 to completely replace your kitchen cabinets. Materials like laminate are certainly less expensive, but prices on real wood can quickly skyrocket.

As an alternative to completely re-doing your cabinets, you might consider sanding them down and re-staining them yourself (or painting, if they’re laminate) to give them an upgraded appearance.

Extensive Master Bathroom Remodel

Sure, there are plenty of homeowners dreaming of a spa-like master bathroom, but with a bathroom remodel averaging anywhere from $5,000 to over $14,000, it’s probably not worth it.

Instead of dropping thousands of dollars into a complete overhaul, consider some smaller upgrades that can still significantly boost your value. You can give your bathroom a much-needed uplift simply by replacing old sink fixtures, re-caulking the tub and shower, or adding in a stylish backsplash.

Adding on a Room

Man using a power-saw to cut through a floor.The national average for building an additional room on to your home is $42,000. And even with the added square footage, there’s no guarantee it will add much (or any!) resale value to your home. How badly do you need that extra room?

A more worthwhile alternative might be removing or adding a wall to create more space (or another room) without increasing the square footage. Another option is to add a deck, which typically costs only around $6,000 and adds desirable outdoor entertaining space (which has been shown to positively affect home values).

Get More Money From Your Home Sale

With so many home improvement options, it can be tough to decide which ones are best for adding resale value to your property. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced Realtor to sell your home.

If you’re interested in selling your home, or simply want to chat about your real estate plans, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We would love to assist you in making your real estate goals a reality.



So, What Does a Realtor Actually Do for Home Buyers?

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If you’re actively looking for a new home to buy, it may be tempting to try and do it yourself, without a Realtor. After all, the agent isn’t really working for you, right?

Two-story suburban home made of brick and stucco.There’s a common misconception that real estate agents are only working for sellers, but that couldn’t be further from the truth!

When you’re buying a home, a real estate agent can help you make the right financial decision while maintaining your sanity.

Real estate agents live and breathe real estate, so they know how to navigate the market unlike anyone else.

The Right Buyers Agent Will Make All the Difference

An experienced Buyer’s Agent will keep you on top of the market, show you hard-to-find homes for sale, negotiate your buying terms, handle the bulk of your paperwork, and more. And it won’t cost you a penny!

In fact, here are the 4 things real estate agents do to eliminate stress from your home-buying process.

Help You Find the Right Home

Nice kitchen interior with bar seating and a chrome fridge.You don’t have to spend hours on Zillow wading through thousands of home listings in your area. Need a home with 2,000 square feet, at least two-and-a-half bathrooms, and a large backyard? Tell your Realtor!

Using your guidelines, they’ll provide you with a list of homes that meet your needs. Realtors have access to many homes that are not actively advertised on public sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Negotiate the Terms of Your Contract

In general, Realtors handle the bulk of the paperwork details so you don’t have to!

Contract negotiations are just one example of where it really pays off to have an experienced agent on your side. An experienced agent knows the rules and regulations of buying a home, so they’ll be able to negotiate a contract with the seller to ensure the best terms for you.

Prioritize Your Financial Wellbeing

When you enter into an agreement with a real estate agent, their job is to help you build your new investment in a smart way that ultimately protects your money and your interests.

Their obligation is to helping you decide whether a potential home will be a good, and affordable, financial investment for you.

In short, their primary responsibility is to protect you and your finances.

Answer All Your Questions

Let’s be real, buying a home is one of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make! Naturally, you’re bound to have a couple of questions — both before and after the close.

Your Realtor will be there to clear things up, every step of the way.

Ready to Find Your Dream Home?

So are we. If you’d like help finding the perfect home, please give us a call.

We’re here to make your life, and your home purchase, as easy and stress-free as possible. Feel free to reach out to us so we can get started!



Where to watch the 4th of July Fireworks on Hilton Head

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Oh say can you see the 4th of July Fireworks on Hilton Head Island?  Listed below are some awesome places to watch the fireworks in the Hilton Head Area.  This years 4th of July firework displays will take place in Harbourtown, Shelter Cove and Skull Creek Marina!  Watch the horizon and see how many you can see!

 

 

Read the rest of this entry



What Do Those Home Selling Terms Even Mean?

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Real estate lingo can be hard to decipher because, well, there’s so much of it! It might even seem like your Realtor is speaking another language.

From fancy acronyms to words like “escrow” and “riders,” there are a lot of terms out there that might seem totally foreign. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to know what they mean!

If you’re in the process of selling your home, here are a few real estate acronyms you really should know.

CMA: Comparative Market Analysis

Man's hand resting on the mouse pad of a silver laptop.A comparative market analysis is a great way to research the market and find out what homes in your neighborhood are selling for. It’s an in-depth report that lists the prices of sold homes that are similar to your home (otherwise known as “comps” or “comparables”).

CMAs provide information about homes that were recently sold, home that are currently on the market, and homes that were on the market but were not sold within the listing period.

FSBO: For Sale By Owner

Home sellers who opt not to use a Realtor will list their home as For Sale By Owner. This simply means the homeowner is selling their home without the help of a Realtor and is taking on all the responsibilities of selling their home.

When you choose to sell without a Realtor, you may be saving money on their commission fee, but you’re taking on a lot of additional work and responsibility. Plus, you may end up losing money in the long run if you don’t know how to stage and photograph your home, market it effectively, or price it correctly and competitively.

Escrow

Escrow refers to a number of documents, payments, and other material that are held by a third party. Once you’ve negotiated the sale of your home with a potential buyer, you’ll want to make sure there’s a proper escrow set up.

Basically, when a buyer makes an offer on your home, they’ll write you a check for “earnest money” (kind of like a security deposit or holding fee). This money is held by a neutral third party until you and the buyer negotiate a contract and close the sale.

Since you can’t use the money and neither can the buyer, the money is considered to be in “escrow”.

Contingency

When you’re negotiating the contract of your home sale with the buyer, there are likely to be a few contingencies in your contract. Contingencies protect the buyer if they fail to qualify for a loan, if they are dissatisfied with the results of the home inspection, or if something else falls through.

Carefully consider all terms of the contract, including specific contingencies, when reviewing offers. The more contingencies an offer contains, the riskier it is to accept the offer, as there are more ways it could potentially fall through. Work with your Realtor to negotiate a contract that benefits you and the buyer.

Need a Translator? We’ve Got You Covered

Allow us to handle all the details of selling your property, giving you more time to focus on finding and relocating to your new home. We’ll be there to guide you through every aspect of selling your home, from pricing it to signing the closing paperwork.

Give us a call today to get started.



The Most Popular Features in Multimillion-Dollar Properties

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Ever wonder why some homes sell for millions of dollars? As different as each listing might be, many share a number of common features that are known to bolster home values.

If you’re on the hunt for your dream home, some of these features could be yours! Don’t worry about breaking the bank; prioritizing your wants and needs can help you determine which of these luxury features will fit your lifestyle and your budget.

Here are 5 features of multimillion-dollar homes you can get at affordable price tags.

In-Ground Pool

Who needs a neighborhood pool when you could have your own?

Imagine spending those warm summer days cooling off by your own private pool.

It’s not uncommon to see multimillion-dollar homes outfitted with gorgeous entertaining spaces, all centered around a luxurious in-ground pool—but many homes in lower price ranges also feature great backyard pool areas, too. Read the rest of this entry



5 Ways to Keep Your Home Secure While Selling It

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It’s no exaggeration that selling your home keeps you busy. In the midst of staging, pricing, listing, and scheduling tours, it’s easy to overlook the details… like home security.

Close up shot of a welcome mat in front of an open door leading to a home.After all, while selling your home, you’re probably allowing dozens of strangers to come inside for tours.

And while most of them probably have good intentions, it might not be a bad idea to beef up your home’s security a little bit.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself and your belongings while still welcoming potential buyers into your home.

Showings by Appointment Only

When advertising your home for sale, be sure to use phrases like “appointment only” in your listing. Never allow anyone into your home unless they have a verified appointment with your Realtor.

It’s okay to be extra cautious during this time! We recommend being alert whenever you allow anyone new into your home.

Confirm Appointments and Oversee Tours

Couple walking through a home with a Realtor there to show them around.If you’re not working with a Realtor, you will need to personally request verification of potential homebuyers when they come for a tour.

When you work with a Realtor, however, you can trust that they know how to verify all potential buyers before any visitor walks through the door.

Remove All Valuables From Sight

Keep all valuables, including jewelry and collectibles, hidden in a secure safe or tucked away in a safety deposit box at your bank. Hide all personal information (bank statements, social security cards, etc.) in drawers or out of sight.

Don’t leave anything of value lying around or in plain sight. It’s part of staging your home to sell — you want to make sure your home looks as neutral as possible with zero personal effects.

Be Extra Cautious

Single key in the lock of a wooden door.It never hurts to be careful! This is where it helps to have an experienced Realtor on your side. They’ll know what to look for and how to supervise buyers in your home as they tour.

It’s also a great time to install a security system. Not only will this provide you with extra security as you sell your home, it may even increase your property’s resale value!

Work With a Trusted Realtor

With the right Realtor on your side, you won’t have to worry about keeping your home safe during the selling process. An experienced real estate agent will know exactly how to sell your home without jeopardizing its security.

That’s exactly what you get when you choose to work with us. Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you sell your home.




Copyright © 2018 Hilton Head Real Estate. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.
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