July 3, 2019

Evacuation Plan For Your Pets

Real Estate PuppyAn evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids, but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan.

Assign pet evacuation to an adult. Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.

Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. If your pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily. Practice your plan.

Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think! Be prepared in case you get separated from your pets.

No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area.

Posted in Community, Lifestyle
May 27, 2018

12 Reasons To Hire A REALTOR®

12 reasons to hire a realtor

12 Reasons to Hire a REALTOR®

1. Your REALTOR® subscribes to the NAR Code of Ethics. As the leading advocate for homeowners and real estate investors, REALTORS® have been subscribing to NAR’s strict Code of Ethics as a condition of membership for more than 100 years; the Code separates REALTORS® from other real estate licensees. Protecting the interests of consumers demands high standards of professional conduct and training, and the Code of Ethics, based on the golden rule, is the thread that binds the REALTOR® community together. You can download the current version of the NAR Code of Ethics here.

2. Your REALTOR® has many resources to assist you in your home search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties. Agents who are REALTORS® have access to a variety of informational resources. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you’ll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?

3. Your REALTOR® can help you determine your buying power — that is, your financial reserves plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a REALTOR® some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, he or she can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you.

4. Your REALTOR® can help you negotiate. There are myriad negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

5. Your REALTOR® provides due diligence during the evaluation of the property. Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your REALTOR® can assist you in finding qualified responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. The title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your REALTOR®, title company or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

6. Your REALTOR® can help you understand different financing options and identify qualified lenders.

7. Your REALTOR® can guide you through the closing process and make sure everything flows smoothly.

8. When selling your home, your REALTOR® can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms, and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price, quickly and with minimum hassle.

9. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. Often, your REALTOR® can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of your property. Your REALTOR® markets your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your REALTOR® acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics requires REALTORS® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

10. Your REALTOR® will know when, where and how to advertise your property. There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts with previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts. When a property is marketed with the help of your REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

11. Your REALTOR® can help you objectively evaluate every buyer’s proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections and financing — a lot of possible pitfalls. Your REALTOR® can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

12. Your REALTOR® can help close the sale of your home. Between the initial sales agreement and closing (or settlement), questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered. The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your REALTOR® is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing (or settlement).

May 27, 2018

Benefits Of Using A REALTOR®

Benefits of using a realtor to buy or sell a home

REALTORS® – They are the Community Experts

Choosing to work with a real estate agent could be the most crucial element of the home buying and selling experience. This is where it is important to realize the difference between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®. While an agent is simply licensed by their state to do business, a REALTOR® is a trained professional that has taken pre-licensing courses to obtain a license and has continued to take additional continuing education courses to upgrade their knowledge.  They have agreed to act under and adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. This membership obligates them to be fair to all parties involved in a transaction.

 

  • A REALTOR® is a professional who knows all that needs to be done. When you are selling your home, an agent who knows the local market can help you set a fair market price. You want to get the most for your home, but overpricing it can prolong the time it sits on the market, making it even more difficult to sell.
  • A recent survey of homebuyers and sellers found that the home price for sellers that use a REALTOR® is 16 percent higher than those who don’t.*
  • Most of the homes sold in South Carolina are sold by members of the South Carolina Association of REALTORS®.
  • A REALTOR® can help you show your home to potential buyers to its best advantage. They will advise prospects of all aspects and conditions of your home and can protect you from later objections.
  • A REALTOR® can also help you with the home-buying process. Buying a home can be financially intimidating, but an agent can help you determine what price you can afford and show you some financing methods. The goal of homeownership remains one of the most commonly shared ones, and an agent can show you how to make it achievable.
  • A REALTOR® is familiar with all the local and current real estate values, taxes, costs and services that could affect your purchase. Your REALTOR® can show you the home best suited to your needs, and can also suggest simple changes that could make a home a good choice. It helps to have someone both objective and knowledgeable when looking for a home to buy!
  • When buying or selling a home, there are a lot of details that can overwhelm you or be forgotten. Using a REALTOR® is the best way to be sure that you have someone on your side to get you the best deal and see that everyone is satisfied.
May 8, 2018

Home Inspections What To Expect

Home Inspection Checklist

So you made an offer, it was accepted, and now your next task is to have the home inspected prior to closing. Oftentimes, agents make your offer contingent on a clean home inspection.
This contingency allows you to renegotiate the price you paid for the home, ask the sellers to cover repairs, or even, in some cases, walk away. Your agent can advise you on the best course of action once the report is filed.

How to Choose an Inspector

Your agent will most likely have a short list of inspectors that they have worked with in the past that they can recommend to you. HGTV recommends that you consider the following 5 areas when choosing the right home inspector for you:
  1. Qualifications – find out what’s included in your inspection and if the age or location of your home may warrant specific certifications or specialties.
  2. Sample Reports – ask for a sample inspection report so you can review how thoroughly they will be inspecting your dream home. The more detailed the report, the better in most cases.
  3. References – do your homework – ask for phone numbers and names of past clients who you can call to ask about their experiences.
  4. Memberships – Not all inspectors belong to a national or state association of home inspectors, and membership in one of these groups should not be the only way to evaluate your choice. Membership in one of these organizations often means that continued training and education are provided.
  5. Errors & Omission Insurance – Find out what the liability of the inspector or inspection company is once the inspection is over. The inspector is only human after all, and it is possible that they might miss something they should have seen.
Ask your inspector if it’s okay for you to tag along during the inspection, that way they can point out anything that should be addressed or fixed.
Don’t be surprised to see your inspector climbing on the roof or crawling around in the attic and on the floors. The job of the inspector is to protect your investment and find any issues with the home, including but not limited to: the roof, plumbing, electrical components, appliances, heating & air conditioning systems, ventilation, windows, the fireplace and chimney, the foundation, and so much more!

Bottom Line

They say ‘ignorance is bliss,’ but not when investing your hard-earned money into a home of your own. Work with a professional who you can trust to give you the most information possible about your new home so that you can make the most educated decision about your purchase.
May 3, 2018

4 Reasons Why Today’s Housing Market is NOT 2006 All Over Again

With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Mortgage Debt
  4. Housing Affordability

1. HOME PRICES

There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:

“Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)

2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Some are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Urban Institute:

“The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products.

3. MORTGAGE DEBT

Back in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today.

The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board’s household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income.

At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!

4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

With both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008).

Bottom Line

After using four key housing metrics to compare today to 2006, we can see that the current market is not anything like the bubble market.

 

The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in this article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. does not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.

 

Oct. 30, 2017

Appeal My Property Tax Assessment

Appeal my property tax bill

Did your property taxes go up this year? You may have grounds for an appeal.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, as many as 60% of properties in the U.S. are assessed at a higher amount than their current value.

The First Step:

Obtain your property information from the assessor's office. You want to know what information the county assessor used to get your properties value. Double check to make sure the county has your information correct. You'll want to check square footage, lot size, number of bedrooms, etc. If any of this information is not accurate, you have grounds for an appeal.

Visit your county website to obtain your property information they have on file.

Charleston County Real Property Search - CLICK HERE

Berkeley County Real Property Search - CLICK HERE

Dorchester County Real Property Search - CLICK HERE

The Next Step:

Obtain a free market report from our website. Once you obtain your real estate market report you can view all of the homes that are active on the market for sale, pending a sale, and closed properties. This will allow you to compare your home to the other homes in your neighborhood.

CLICK HERE for your free market report.

The Appeal Process:

Visit your county assessor's website and view 'How to appeal my property assessment', and frequently asked questions. Some counties will want an appraisal, and some will want a market evaluation from a REALTOR®. It all depends on the county, and what information you are trying to appeal.

HomeGate Real Estate® can provide you with a letter stating the value of your home, how we arrived at the value, and we will include sold comparables to back up our results.

For more information, you can reach us at 843-800-8571 or by email at info@homegaterealestate.com

 

Oct. 1, 2017

How To Get The Most Money From The Sale Of Your Home

How to make more money when selling your home

How to get the most money from the sale of your home.

Every homeowner wants to make sure they maximize their financial reward when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensure that you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW 

 

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

The impact of pricing

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing this, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house.

Realtor.com gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This, too, may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would make more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

A new study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent.

In the study, they analyzed home sales in a variety of markets in 2016 and the first half of 2017. The data showed that:

“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”

The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales of similar properties is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.

Bottom Line

 

Price your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.

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Aug. 9, 2017

Housing Inventory Hits 30-Year Low

Housing Inventory

Housing Inventory Hits 30-Year Low

Spring is traditionally the busiest season for real estate. Buyers, experiencing cabin fever all winter, emerge like flowers through the snow in search of their dream home. Homeowners, in preparation for the increased demand, are enticed to list their house for sale and move on to the home that will better fit their needs.

 

New data from CoreLogic shows that even though buyers came out in force, as predicted, homeowners did not make the jump to list their home in the second quarter of this year. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic had this to say,

“The growth in sales is slowing down, and this is not due to lack of affordability, but rather a lack of inventory. As of Q2 2017, the unsold inventory as a share of all households is 1.9 percent, which is the lowest Q2 reading in over 30 years.”

CoreLogic’s President & CEO, Frank Martell added,

“Home prices are marching ever higher, up almost 50 percent since the trough in March 2011.

While low mortgage rates are keeping the market affordable from a monthly payment perspective, affordability will likely become a much bigger challenge in the years ahead until the industry resolves the housing supply challenge.”

Overall inventory across the United States is down for the 25th consecutive month according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors and now stands at a 4.3-month supply.

Real estate is local.

Market conditions in the starter and trade-up home markets are in line with the median US figures, but conditions in the luxury and premium markets are following an opposite path. Premium homes are staying on the market longer with ample inventory to suggest a buyer’s market.

Bottom Line

Buyers are out in force, and there has never been a better time to move-up to a premium or luxury home. If you are considering selling your starter or trade-up home and moving up this year, let’s get together to discuss the exact conditions in our area.

Aug. 4, 2017

Whats Stopping You From Listing Your Home Now?

What's Stopping Your From Moving?

Do Your Future Plans Include a Move? What’s Stopping You from Listing Now?

Are you an empty-nester? Do you want to retire where you are, or does a vacation destination sound more your style? Are you close to retirement and not ready to move yet, but living in a home that is too big in size and maintenance needs?

How can you line up your current needs with your goals and dreams for the future? The answer for many might be the equity you have in your house.

According to the latest Equity Report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner in the United States gained $14,000 in equity over the course of the last year. On the West Coast, homeowners gained twice that amount, with homeowners in Washington gaining an average of $38,000!

Do you know how much your home has appreciated over the last year?

Many homeowners would be able to easily sell their current house and use the profits from that sale to purchase a condo nearby in order to continue working while eliminating some of the daily maintenance of owning a house (ex. lawn care, snow removal).

With the additional cash gained from the sale of the home, you could put down a sizable down payment on a vacation/retirement home in the location that you would like to eventually retire to. While you will not yet be able to live there full-time, you can rent out your property during peak vacation times and pay off your mortgage faster.

Purchasing your retirement home now will allow you to take full advantage of today’s seller’s market, allow you to cash in on the equity you have already built, and take comfort in knowing that a plan is in place for a smooth transition into retirement.

Bottom Line

There are many reasons to relocate in retirement, including a change in climate, proximity to family & grandchildren, and so much more. What are the reasons you want to move? Are the reasons to stay more important? Let’s get together to discuss your current equity situation and the options available for you, today!

July 7, 2017

Interest Rates at 3.88%

Family

Be Thankful You Don’t Have to Pay Mom and Dad’s Interest Rate

Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, which has given many buyers relief from rising home prices and has helped with affordability. Experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017 and will be about three-quarters of a percentage point higher, at 4.5%, by the end of 2018.

Last week’s Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey revealed that interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage have fallen to their lowest mark this year, at 3.88%. This is great news for homebuyers looking to purchase and homeowners looking to refinance.

The rate you secure greatly impacts your monthly mortgage payment and the amount you will ultimately pay for your home.

Let’s take a look at a historical view of interest rates over the last 45 years.

30 year mortgage rates

Bottom Line

Be thankful that you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.