5 Tips to Streamline Your Online Home Search

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Who doesn’t love online shopping? You get to sit back in the comfort of your own home and browse fun things for sale on the internet. However, with online shopping comes hundreds of options from which to choose — and not all of them will work for you.

Woman on her computer staring off into space.The same goes for online shopping for a home. With so many options available on the Multiple Listing Service, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. But there are a few ways to make your search easier.

Instead of saving hundreds of different favorites, you can fast-track your search by prioritizing homes for sale with the features that are important to you.

If you feel like you keep seeing homes that aren’t a great fit, here are five easy tips for streamlining your online search and finding your dream home.

Create (and Stick With!) a List of Wants and Needs

What are the home features that you can’t live without? Do you have a price range in mind? Will it need to have a certain amount of acreage?

These requirements should be at the top of your list. Creating a wants and needs checklist like this will help you determine which homes are right for you, and which you shouldn’t even look at.

Must-Have Features

Will your home need at least two bathrooms? Do you need a large yard for your dogs? Does your home have to be close to the interstate? Come up with a list of features that you absolutely must have in a home.

These will also serve as your deal breakers. When you come across a home that doesn’t have these features, you’ll automatically know that it’s not the home for you, and it’s not worth taking the time to tour.

Set Your Budget

A great way to determine your budget is by getting pre-approved for a loan. You’ll sit down with a lending agent who will go over your current income, credit score, borrowing history, and outstanding debts. Then, they’ll let you know exactly how much the bank is willing to lend you.

Look, your budget is set! Having a predetermined budget means you can eliminate homes from your search that you know you can’t afford.

Use the Advanced Home Search Option

Couple sitting on the floor with a tablet.On our home search tool, there’s an option for an “advanced search.” Using an advanced search is especially advantageous as it allows you to filter results by important features, location, and price.

Use that list you just made to fill in the advanced search! You’re now one step closer to finding your dream home.

Sign Up to Receive New Listing Alerts

When you complete an advanced search, you have the option to receive email alerts. When you register for email alerts, we’ll send you notifications whenever any homes that fit your criteria hit the market.

That way, you stay one step ahead of the competition!

Schedule a Tour and Do a “Twice-Through”

Happy couple touring a home for sale with a Realtor.Ready to see a home in person? Easily schedule an in-person tour on our home search tool. During your tour, we recommend going through the home twice.

First, breeze through the home to get a feel for living there. Does it smell pleasant? Is it easy to navigate? Will it be the right size for your furniture?

Then, go back to the front door and tour it again. This time, look at the details. Be meticulous. Is there enough storage space in the hall closet? Are the floors in need of refinishing? Do the windows let in plenty of natural sunlight?

On your second run-through, jot down your impressions. Take pictures and maybe even measure the rooms to see if your furniture will fit.

Work with a Professional Realtor

When you choose to work with a professional real estate agent, you’re enlisting the help of an area expert who will make your home buying experience even easier. You can even hand over your list of “must-haves” and let us do the rest! 

Give us a call today if you have any questions.



DIY Upgrades That Make Your Home Sell for More

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Spring is upon us, and with spring comes another anticipated time of year: home selling season. Traditionally, spring is one of the most popular times to list a home for sale. It’s also an excellent season for spring cleaning and trying out a few home-improvement projects on the weekends.

If you’re thinking about selling your property, or simply want to up its resale value down the road, take a look at our most recommended home improvement projects. Not only are these projects simple and affordable, they’re sure to increase your home’s overall value.

Two Key Places to Start Your Upgrades

Can you guess which two areas of a home are most important to buyers? The kitchen and bathrooms. This is because these are the rooms where people tend to spend a lot of time.

The Kitchen

Spacious open kitchen with wood floors.Oftentimes, the kitchen is the first place potential buyers rush to when they’re touring a home for sale. This room is considered the “heart of the home.”

While the idea of updating your kitchen can be scary (all those expensive new appliances!), improving this room doesn’t have to break the bank. There are many projects you can complete to upgrade your kitchen that cost less than $1,000.

These inexpensive kitchen improvements include:

Add a Tile Backsplash

This is a relatively affordable project, and if you’re handy enough, you can do it yourself. For a really easy option, purchase backsplash made from a single sheet of material.

Refresh Your Cabinetry

White cabinets in a large open kitchen.It’s as simple as switching out old handles and pulls, painting old cabinets, or replacing cabinet doors with glass-paneled ones.

Quick fixes like this can breathe new life into an older kitchen.

Install a Water Filtration System

While it may not add a whole lot of money to the selling price, this is one small detail that may win over potential buyers. They won’t need to spend extra grocery money on bottled water if they have a water filtration system built in.

The Bathroom

The second most popular room of the house is the bathroom.

If a spa-like renovation isn’t in the budget, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to update your bathroom without spending thousands of dollars on repairs.

Update Fixtures

Swapping out old sink faucets, towel racks, and drawer pullers can make a huge difference in the bathroom’s overall appearance.

Re-do Caulk and Grout

Pristine white bathtub.Old grout can be quite unsightly, but it’s easy to fix!

Simply scrub the grout clean and add fresh lines of caulk around the tub and sink.

It might take a little elbow grease, but it’s inexpensive and can make your bathroom look cleaner and newer.

Save on Countertop Upgrades

Have your heart set on granite countertops? You can save money by buying a slab containing imperfections. Since the sink takes up most of the surface area, you may not even notice the imperfections!

Other Simple Fixes that Add Value to Your Home

Large home improvement projects aren’t the only way to add value to your property! There are a host of other small upgrades that can freshen up the rest of your home and increase its value to home buyers.

Add Some New Paint

Happy couple in dirty overalls sitting on the floor of a freshly painted room.Gather your friends and spend the weekend painting! Opt for high-quality paint with a satin finish. Don’t forget plenty of painter’s tape to protect moulding, fixtures, or light switches, as well as sheets to cover flooring.

Opt for neutral colors like slate gray and ivory, or popular colors like aqua and cool green. However, when it comes to selling a home, neutral colors are best.

Replace Old Light Fixtures

Dull, dim, or tarnished fixtures can make a room seem older and darker. Fortunately, upgrading lighting can be fairly simple. This could be anything from updating overhead lighting to replacing fluorescent bulbs. Bonus points for energy efficient features like LED bulbs! Opt for less expensive lighting if you need to hire an electrician.

Another easy lighting upgrade is replacing traditional light switches with dimmers.

Need More Recommendations for Upping Your Home Value?

We’ve got your back. We’d love to give you a list of home improvement projects that will get you the most bang for your buck. All you have to do is ask.

Give us a call today to get started.



How to Make a Wants Vs. Needs List for Your Home Search

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It’s spring, which means home buying season has officially arrived! If you’re on the hunt for a new home in the Hilton Head area, chances are you’ve already thought about the features you’d like to have.

However, one important part of searching for homes is making a distinction between your needs and your wants. Needs are amenities or features you can’t live without, while wants are things that you’d like to have (but they ultimately wouldn’t affect your home buying decision too much).

Two-story suburban home with a large garage and grey shutters.Ideally, you’ll want to come up with this list of needs (e.g. 3 bedrooms, under $500k, close to the marina) and wants (e.g. fiber internet connection, stainless steel appliances, walk-in closets) before you start looking for homes. This will save you time along the way as you browse dozens, maybe hundreds, of homes online or in person.

Here’s a guide for distinguishing between your wants and needs: Read the rest of this entry



Staging Shortcuts That Sabotage Your Home Sale

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Home staging is a major player in a home sale. How your home looks, feels, and even smells can influence buyers’ decisions, so it’s important to present your home in the best light.

Cleaning, decluttering, and rearranging furniture are essential to preparing your home for showings, but it can be tempting to take a few shortcuts to get your property on the market faster. Out of all the home staging shortcuts that can hinder your home sale, these you should avoid at all costs.

Keeping Your Interiors Too Dark

A dimly lit kitchen with tile floors, wood cabinets, and laminate countertops looking out onto a dimly lit dining area.Your property needs to shine on the market — don’t dim your home’s sparkle.

Natural light works wonders to maximize space, especially for small floor plans, so it’s important to let in as much sunlight as possible when staging your home.

Throw open the curtains, trim any shrubs blocking the windows, and polish the glass to welcome in the natural sunlight.

Painting All of Your Walls Bright, Bold Colors

Nothing stops home buyers in their tracks faster than loud paint colors that don’t match their personal style. After all, one buyer may prefer rich earthy reds while another may be drawn to calming blues and greens.

Instead of painting your walls in oranges, purples, and electric greens, opt for neutral tones like off-white or beige to appeal to as many home buyers as possible.

Painting All of Your Walls Neutral Colors

On the other hand, you can go too far with neutralizing your space. Remember, home buyers are likely looking at several different properties, so you need to make sure yours stands out — and that buyers can envision themselves living in your home.

An open concept living room with beige couches in the foreground and a modern kitchen in the background.Splashes of color here and there are enough to draw buyers’ eyes without distracting them from the overall look and feel of your home.

The trick is to find a balance between the bold and the neutral colors.

Need advice? We’re more than happy to provide some pointers.

Forgetting to Deodorize Your Home

Home buyers can fall in love with a property merely from the listing photos. But if a foul odor greets them at the front door, they won’t stick around for long.

It can be tricky to determine what your home smells like since you have lived in it for so long. But there are a few tricks you can use to ensure your home smells fresh and clean for each buyer who schedules a showing:

  • Open the windows to air out your home
  • Hire a professional to deep clean your home
  • Light candles with simple scents, such as orange or vanilla
  • Ask a friend or neighbor for honest feedback

We’re Happy to Share More Home Selling Resources

The whole goal of home staging is to present your property in the best light, both for listing photos and for potential buyers. If you have questions about what it takes to sell and market your home, give us a call and let’s chat.



Bigger is not always Better when its time to sell your Hilton Head Home!

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Should you hire a team, company or individual to sell or buy real estate on Hilton Head Island?  As an individual broker with an awesome assistant, listed below are the reasons we will beat a team every time.  Here’s why. Read the rest of this entry



What’s Your Style? 5 Popular Architectural Styles to Consider for Your Dream Home

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Dream homes around the country have one thing in common: amazing architecture. From Greek Revival to Modern, we’re breaking down the most popular architectural styles in America to help you discover your own dream home.

A two-story Greek Revival plantation home with tall columns, wrap-around porches, and a grassy lawn.

1. Greek Revival Homes

Popular during the 1820s, ’30s, and ’40s, Greek Revival takes inspiration from the ornate temples of ancient Greek cities.

In America, you’ll find this architectural style sprinkled in cities throughout the country. Picture the magnificent columns and symmetrical design of historic Southern plantation homes, monuments like the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and you’re thinking of Greek Revival.

This architectural style exudes elegance and sophistication, which is why Greek Revival is one of the most popular housing styles in the United States. Many Greek Revival homes feature:

  • neutral exterior colors, particularly white
  • gabled roofs with a cornice
  • tall columns, either fluted or smooth

The Painted Ladies in San Francisco, a row of tri-colored Victorian houses with the San Francisco skyline in the background.

2. Victorian Homes

Fans of Full House will instantly recognize these colorful Victorian homes in San Francisco. The Victorian architectural style made its debut in America during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, popping up in small towns and big cities alike.

Victorian homes are often asymmetrical and ornate, and they typically include some or all of the following features:

  • bright, bold exteriors instead of neutral tones
  • elaborate trim and rooflines
  • towers with pointed roofs
  • bay windows

Two Tudor-style buildings, the one on the left with black timber in a criss-cross pattern and the one on the right with red timber in a criss-cross pattern.

3. Tudor Homes

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, homes started to take on the look of medieval European castles and inns.

The Tudor, or Tudor Revival, style is best recognized by the decorative timbers on the exterior of the house, but homes with this architectural style also feature:

  • steep gabled roofs
  • dormer windows
  • large decorative chimneys

A two-story brick Colonial house with dormer windows on the roof and two brick chimneys flanking both sides of the house.

4. Colonial Revival Homes

Arguably the most popular architectural style in the United States, Colonial Revival first came on the scene between the 1880s and 1950s. Dutch Revival and Georgian Revival are considered subcategories of the Colonial Revival style.

Like Tudor homes, Colonials often feature dormer windows and gabled roofs, but they can also have:

  • simple rectangular windows
  • symmetrical exteriors
  • covered center entrances

Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater House, a Modern three-story home with a stone chimney that is surrounded by trees.

5. Modern Homes

Also known as Mid-Century Modern, this architectural style was popular during the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s and valued simplicity over showy design. Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House is a great example of this popular home style.

Since Modern houses were also designed as a way to connect with nature, these properties tend to feature:

  • open floor plans that flow to outdoor spaces
  • large windows and sliding glass doors
  • ranch or split-level layouts

No Matter Your Style, We Can Find Your Dream Home

Have your heart set on a certain architectural style? We’ll help you find (or build!) your dream home with the look and feel you want. Contact us and let’s talk.



Costly Mistakes to Avoid After You Buy Your First Home

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A single-level ranch-style house with a front porch, two-car garage, and well-maintained front yard.You’re smart. You’re doing your research about home buying and homeownership (like you are right now!), so you feel like you’re prepared to avoid common home buying pitfalls. But you’ll soon find that once you’ve moved in, there is a whole new list of common problems that plague unwary first-time homeowners.

To help you make the best buying and ownership decisions possible, we’ve outlined some of the the biggest blunders that first-time buyers make after closing on their home.

Investing in Too Many Upgrades

Not every home improvement project is worth the money or effort. Many first-time homeowners make the mistake of not considering a project’s return on investment, at least until it’s time to sell the house down the road.

If you want to know which home improvements are worth the investment, talk with a real estate agent or get a market report for your neighborhood. Give us a call and we’ll send one to you.

Ignoring “Minor” Maintenance Issues

Water dripping out of a long kitchen faucet and into the sink.As your home ages, seemingly minor issues may arise. But be careful: A dripping faucet, crumbling caulk, or slanting floors could spiral into much bigger headaches if you don’t take care of them quickly.

To avoid shelling out hundreds or even thousands of dollars down the road, tackle these maintenance issues as soon as you can.

We’re happy to provide local vendor recommendations if you need maintenance work. Just give us a call!

Choosing the Cheapest Repair Option

Quality comes at a price, especially when it comes to making repairs. Whether it’s picking up a cheap tool set or going with the lowest bid for a service provider, many first-time homeowners make the mistake of sacrificing quality for cost.

Contact us and we’ll be happy to recommend a high-quality local service provider.

Trying to DIY a Complicated Project

A large bathroom with white countertops, a white standing tub, white bidet, frameless glass shower, and orange walls.Some things can be done yourself. Think painting, hanging up shelves, or sprucing up the front entry.

But when it comes to stuff like plumbing, electricity, or structural engineering, think again. Hiring a professional will save you time and money — and keep you from starting a project you don’t know how to finish.

Need to talk to a contractor? Call us and we’ll give you recommendations.

Not Preparing for the Unexpected

A sudden job change, severe weather damage, or major maintenance problem can throw a wrench in your plans. Be sure that you budget accordingly for unexpected expenses as a homeowner.

We’re Happy to be a Resource

As local real estate experts, we have a wealth of information that can help you avoid many of these first-time home buying and homeownership mistakes. Contact us to learn more.



Do You Know What These Crucial Real Estate Acronyms Mean?

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A man standing on a flat field and juggling apples.Acronyms are tossed around like crazy in the real estate world, which can be confusing to even the most veteran home buyers. But don’t worry — it doesn’t take long to learn the language.

Here’s a quick list of the most widely used home buying acronyms and what they actually mean. Of course, if you’d like to know even more real estate terminology, don’t hesitate to call us.

MLS: Multiple Listing Service

The multiple listing service is a massive database of available properties that is split up into hundreds of different regions. If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a home as “on the market,” it means that the home is available on the MLS.

Buyers can search for properties that are on the MLS by using a real estate agent’s website (like ours!), but that’s not the only way to find homes. Your agent can send you updates whenever new properties hit the market.

Want to get these email updates? Call us and we’ll set them up for you!

PITI: Principal, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance

A wooden cutout of a house standing next to three stacks of coins, each taller than the next and with a sprout growing out of the top.Principal, interest, taxes, and insurance are the four parts of a mortgage payment. Initially, you will pay more toward the interest on the mortgage, but you will start to pay off more of the principal (the initial loan amount) the longer you stay in your home.

Want to see the estimated PITI for your next loan? Check out our handy mortgage calculator on Zillow.

FHA: Federal Housing Administration

The Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, is a mortgage insurer that offers a variety of home buying assistance programs to help people purchase homes that they otherwise couldn’t afford.

FHA-insured loans generally offer more flexible credit qualifications and a lower down payment. However, borrowers are required to pay for mortgage insurance.

Interest rates and terms depend on the FHA-approved mortgage lender you choose.

PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance

Speaking of mortgage insurance, many lenders require you to have private mortgage insurance (PMI) if you can’t put 20% down on your home. This insurance protects the lender in case you can’t pay off your mortgage.

HOA-POA: Homeowners Association

A community pool with orange inflatable innertube floating on top.Want to live in a community with a pool or clubhouse? Chances are you’re looking for a neighborhood with an HOA or POA, homeowners association or property owners association.

An HOA is responsible for maintaining common areas and any amenities, and it typically sets standards for how homes should look in order to keep property values up. In some cases, homeowners associations may even include Internet, cable, and lawn care with their HOA dues.

If you’re considering buying a home in a neighborhood with an HOA, check the community fees on our website, association’s CC&Rs — Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions — to see what rules the HOA enforces.

We’ll Help You Speak the Language

Understanding real estate terminology is one of the best ways to start your research as a home buyer. Want to know the meanings of other commonly used terms? Give us a call, visit our website, blog, Zillow Page or shoot us an email!



Jumpstart the New Year: 3 Goals for Your Island Property

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A 30-day calendar with the number 18 circled in red marker.We’re almost three weeks into the New Year, but it’s not too late to develop goals for 2018.

Now is the perfect time to jump right in and start fresh in your current Hilton Head property! Need ideas? Here are a few real estate goals that you can achieve this year.

Fix Those Pesky Maintenance Issues

Maybe it’s a leaky faucet. Maybe it’s a drafty window. Maybe it’s a clogged shower drain. You can probably think of one or two issues off the top of your head that you haven’t gotten around to addressing yet. The New Year is the perfect time to get those problems fixed.  If you are not sure who to call, contact us at Hilton Head Properties for our vendor list.

Reclaim That New-to-You Feeling

The longer you live in your property, the easier it is to let the clutter build up in your closets, attic, or garage. Make 2018 your year to reorganize!

A well lit living room with a flat screen TV on the wall, a beige couch under a window, and a wooden table in the center.

Don’t try to tackle these massive home organization projects in a weekend. Instead, follow these tips to slowly but surely reduce the clutter in your home:

  • Sort through one room (or one storage space) at a time.
  • Separate the items you want to keep, donate, and toss out.
  • Expand your storage space with shelves or over-the-door organizers.

Sell Your Home in 2018

If you have been thinking about selling your Hilton Head property, why not start your research early? The more information you have, the more prepared you will be when you finally list your home. Here are a few ways to start:

  • Hire a home inspector to identify any major maintenance issues — Call us and we’ll provide recommendations.
  • Learn more about the local real estate market — Ask us for a report of recent home sales.
  • Find out what your property is worth — Contact us for a complimentary evaluation.
  • Start cleaning and decluttering — Get in touch for additional ideas.

We’re Here to Help You Achieve Your Real Estate Goals

We have all the information you need to know about the local Hilton Head real estate market and the selling process. Contact us today and we’ll provide you with our best resources.



Awakening the Sleeping Giant on Hilton Head Island

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Last month, we had six homes over $2 million go “pending” on Hilton Head.  This big jump in buyer activity for luxury properties on the Island is good news for high end sellers.  With 6 sales in December 2017 compared to 1 sale the year before, this segment of the residential market is finally awakening.  Based on this news, high end buyers and sellers on Hilton Head might want to get off the fence soon!  See the market trend report below for more details why. Read the rest of this entry




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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