Sweet Home Carolina Realty Blog

June 21, 2018

4 Behind-The-Scenes Ways Your Real Estate Agent Supports Your Home Sale

When you hire a real estate agent to sell your home, there are obvious things you notice them doing to help your house sell. Things like: hosting open houses, bringing potential buyers on home tours, and marketing your property in multiple ways to make sure it gets enough exposure. But when it comes to adding value to your home sale, that's just the tip of the iceberg. A huge percentage of your agent's job takes place behind-the-scenes, and they're working around the clock to get your house sold — even when you're not looking. Here are 4 behind-the-scenes way your real estate agent is working to get your house sold:

1. Performing market research

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When it comes to pricing your home, your agent doesn't just pull a random number out of a hat. Your agent's recommendation is a result of extensive market research to ensure your home is priced in a way that's attractive to both buyers and you, the seller. Agents pull data on comparable properties in your area (from both the MLS and any public databases) for the past 12 to 18 months. They research how each home was priced and how the price correlated to the average time the property sat on the market before coming up with a CMA (comparable market analysis) to determine the market value of your property and suggest a listing price. All the insights gathered from your agent's behind-the-scenes research are crucial to pricing your property correctly — and wouldn't be possible without your agent's hard work.

2. Gathering relevant information for buyers

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A critical part of the home selling process is providing accurate and complete information to potential buyers. But most of the information buyers want isn't something you, as a seller, will have ready and available. Your agent gathers all the information a potential buyer might want to know so that if and when they request it, it's ready to go. Agents research things like the average utility usage of your property for the past 12 months, a breakdown of the home's floor plan, and a list of all available electricity and gas vendors in the area to make it available to buyers, which saves you a ton of time and hassle.

3. Phone calls and scheduling

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As part of their marketing efforts, your agent likely has your property listed on both the MLS and multiple public forums in order to get your home in front of as many potential buyers as popular. And while the increased exposure is great for driving interest in your home, someone needs to manage all the inquiries, follow up with interested buyers, and schedule viewings. And that person is your real estate agent. When your agent calls you to schedule a tour, that's just a small part of the process. Before they called you, they've already answered email inquiries, fielded multiple phone calls, talked to buyer's agents, and weeded out people who aren't serious about viewing — and potentially buying — your home. The call you get to schedule the tour is the last step in a lengthy scheduling process — most of which your agent manages behind-the-scenes.

4. Managing the close (and all the logistics that go with it)

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Now, once a qualified buyer makes an offer on your home — and you decide to accept it — your agent's job goes into high gear. Now, that's not to say that managing the close happens entirely behind-the-scenes; obviously, your agent is going to work with you to get the job done. There's plenty of the closing process (from negotiating with the buyers to reviewing contracts) that you'll get to witness up close and personal. But there's a lot more that goes into managing the close of your home then what you actually see from your agent. They have to make sure the signed contracts are sent to everyone who needs a copy, including the lender, the buyer's agent, the title company, and any involved attorneys. They have to file a status change with the MLS from "For Sale" to "Pending" and, finally, to "Sold." They need to schedule the final walkthrough with the buyers and their agent. Closing on your home? It's kind of a logistical nightmare. But luckily for you, when you work with a real estate agent, they take care of all the (many) details and logistics that need to be managed throughout the closing process, saving you immeasurable time, money, and frustration. When you work with a real estate agent, it's easy to see the value that they bring to the table during the process of selling your home. But what you see is just the beginning. The hours you see your agent putting in — the home tours, the open houses, the phone calls — are just a tiny fraction of the work they're actually doing. Your agent is working around the clock to get your home sold... and the majority of that work takes place behind-the-scenes.

Posted in Selling
May 30, 2018

Think Buying A Home Will Be More Affordable In 2019? Think Again

There’s no denying that it’s tough out there for buyers. The inventory shortage has created a market that’s more competitive than normal. As a potential buyer, you might be thinking “I should probably wait until next year to make a move.” But if you want to get the best deal on a home, you should probably rethink that idea. According to the most recent US Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, home prices are expected to rise 5.7% year-over-year—meaning a house you might be considering buying today will be 5.7% more expensive if you wait until this time next year to make a purchase. What does that look like? Let’s say the house you’re considering making an offer on today is priced at $275,000. With a 5.7% increase, at this time next year that same house is projected to be listed at $290,675—$15,675 more than you’d pay today. Not only are home prices projected to go up, but so are mortgage rates; Freddie Mac predicts that by the end of 2018, mortgage rates will increase an entire percentage point year-over-year—which will only make buying a home more expensive.

The Takeaway

If you’re waiting to buy a home in the hopes it will be affordable next year, do yourself (and your wallet) a favor—stop waiting and make a purchase.

May 3, 2018

Mistakes To Avoid On Your First Buy/Sell

If this is the first time you're considering buying a home, or selling your first purchase, there are a lot of possible challenges you can end up facing. Having the right agent can ensure you're able to get through these challenges, but since some of the issues are universal, let's review some mistakes you want to avoid making.

1. THE RIGHT PRICE

Pricing a property is a science of it's own. There are a lot of components and factors, so many small details, that ultimately lead to the value of a home. Although there are a lot of sites with estimates, namely Zillow, the technology uses on online sites to determine property values are simply not accurate. Zillow even states that their numbers can be inaccurate up to a whopping 20%. Without a background as a real estate professional, it's virtually impossible for a consumer to be able to know the proper components needed to price a home. When you're purchasing a home, you're want to find a deal, can lead to stubbornness about what you're willing to pay and what you think a home is worth. But what you WANT it to be worth is the complete opposite of what it should sell for. If you're a first time seller, you may want to sell your home for as much as you can squeeze out of it, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately lead to an overpriced home that never sells. Don't make the mistake of assuming you know what a home's value should be. Instead, partner with a real estate agent that truly is working for your best interest, and let them provide you the tools to support home values, so you can place an offer, or price your home, at a number that makes sense.

2. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE 

If you go into a sale, or purchase, refusing to make negotiations, hard-set on what you want without exception, you're more than likely going to cause a lot of grief and stress for yourself during the sales process. When you're looking to buy or sell a home, you have to have an open mind about negotiations. They are a common practice within the industry, with buyers wanting to spend less and sellers wanting to net more. If neither party is willing to make negotiations, you'll find yourself in a contract time and time again, only to fall apart before you can finally close on the home. Having a great agent will help you ensure you make negotiations that are reasonable to lead both parties to the closing table, without compromising you. 

3. REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

Although we all have an idea in our mind what our dream home should be, sometimes the market, and your budget, don't fit realistically into check marking everything off of your list. Find an agent that helps you look for the most important needs in your dream house, but keep an open mind to a home that fits most of your needs, but not necessarily all of them. Having too many expectations within a home can become stressful and result in never finding a home that really matches your needs. If a home has the major components you are seeking, get creative and see if the other things you want can be added down the road. Have a certain number of non-negotiable items, like bedroom/bathroom count, but then have a list of "wants."

4. YOU'RE NOT ALONE, DON'T GO IT ALONE

Don't make the mistake of trying to handle the sales process all on your own. There is a reason that the real estate profession, and the laws around it, are as strong as ever. Real estate agents are a necessity during the sales process to ensure the right steps are taken to get a home sold. Buying and selling is a difficult process that requires knowledge and expertise that comes from a professional within the industry. From legal terms, to finding homes that aren't even listed on the market, there are a lot of ins and outs un-experienced buyers and sellers may not think about, which can lead to losing value on your home or never finding the right one. Avoid the stress of "learning the hard way" and find a professional that can give you the guidance you need to get the task at hand completed and ensure you're happy with the outcome. 

April 17, 2018

4 Tips For Buying A Home In A Hot Market

When a market is hot, finding and buying a home can feel like an uphill battle. In a seller's market, homes go quickly. They can be on the market one day and gone the next. And on top of the challenge of finding a home, most homes (especially the desirable ones) have multiple offers, making it harder to get into the home of your dreams. But buying a home in a hot market isn't impossible! You just have to approach it strategically and stack the deck in your favor to find - and successfully buy - the right home for you and your family. Here are four tips for buying a home in a hot market that will put you a step ahead of the home-buying competition:

1. Make Your Offer As Attractive As Possible

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When faced with multiple offers, sellers are going to go with the offer that's the most attractive, both in offer amount and the actual terms of the offer. So if you want to stand out from other potential homebuyers and make an impact on the sellers, you need to make your offer as attractive as possible. The first thing you can do to make your offer attractive is to put more money down towards the house. Cash offers are always the most attractive, but that's unrealistic for most people. So if you can offer a larger down payment than the standard 20%, that will immediately make your offer stand out. If you don't have extra cash, there are other ways to make your offer more attractive to sellers. You can offer a short inspection period and agree to take the property as is, which will sweeten the deal for sellers (just make sure you know what you're getting into; obviously, any large repairs discovered during inspection can add a significant cost to owning the property). Or, if the owners want to stay in the house longer (for example, to finish out the school year), you can offer to rent the home back to them after purchase and delay your move in. Anything you can do to make your offer more attractive to sellers will up your chances of landing a home in a hot market.

2. Be Willing To Be Flexible

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In a hot market, the sellers are the ones holding the cards. And if you want to find a home, you need to be willing to be flexible. Chances are, when you find a property, there are going to be things about it that don't fit your image of your "perfect" home. But if you wait too long on a property or ask for too much from the sellers in terms of repairs or changes, you risk losing out to other people who are ready to make a move. Don't budge on your non-negotiables; you want to be happy with your home purchase and not feel like you moved too quickly out of fear you wouldn't find another property in such a competitive market. But don't let a great home slip through your fingers because you aren't willing to be flexible in your wants and needs in a home. Because in a hot market if you're not willing to be flexible, someone else will be.

3. Be Willing To Be Aggressive

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While you always want to get the best deal possible on your home purchase, a hot market isn't the time to go in with an ultra conservative offer. In sellers markets, houses routinely go for well above asking price. And while you don't necessarily have to make an offer that's above asking price, if you want to land a home in a hot market, you need to be aggressive. If you find a property you love, talk to your real estate agent to come up with a strategy to make your offer aggressive and competitive. Look at the recent sales in the neighborhood to get an idea of what homes are selling for and make sure your offer is in line with the recent comps. Make your offer competitive, but don't commit to more than you can comfortably pay.

4. Write A Personal Letter

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It seems like a minor detail, but when you're looking to buy in a hot market, is a good idea to write a personal note to the sellers. When faced with similar offers, many sellers end up following their emotions and going with the potential buyer they most want to sell to. And by writing a personal, sincere letter that introduces yourself and your family and lets the sellers know why you want to purchase their home, you can differentiate yourself from other potential buyers, appeal to their emotional side, and land the home. Buying in a hot market isn't easy, but it's possible. And with these tips, you'll put yourself a step ahead of the competition and get yourself a few steps closer to buying your home.

April 11, 2018

We got the Goods on Physician Mortgage Loans

 

Broker and Owner of Sweet Home Carolina Realty, Karen Lambrinides, is part of an elite group of Realtors working with - Physician Loans USA, which has access to a wide variety of home loan solutions that are customized around the financial goals of our Doctors in or relocating to the Charlotte region. 

 Some features of the loans available are:

• Zero Down Payment for loans amounts up to $650,000

• Low Down Payment options up to $2,000,000

• No Private Mortgage Insurance

• Opportunity to move in to your new home up to 90-days PRIOR to contract start date

• Ability to IGNORE student loan payments

• Free Pre-Qualifications and Pre-Approvals

• Sellers can pay for up to 3%-6% towards closing costs

• Fixed and Adjustable Rate options available

Not only will you have an experienced Real Estate agent  - we will connect you with the right lenders to get you the very best solutions for zero or low down payment.  

Reach out to us today to get started!   

Posted in Buying, Mortgages
March 16, 2018

The Cost of Waiting: Interest Rates Edition

March 12, 2018

4 Reason NOW Is The Time To Buy A Home

If you're considering buying a home, ask any real estate agent worth their salt and they'll tell you: NOW is the time to do it. The real estate market is seemingly changing by the day, and if you want to get a great home for a great price, making a move now is in your best interest; conditions a year from now (or even six months from now) aren't likely to be as hospitable. And why is that? Why shouldn't you, if you're interested in buying a home, wait? Why is NOW the time to make a move?

1. Interest rates won't stay this low

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The first reason you should buy a home now is that interest rates are extremely competitive. While they aren't at the near-historic lows homeowners enjoyed in 2016, they're still hovering in the high 3%'s for 30-year fixed mortgages and the low 3%'s for 15-year loans. But that's going to change. Mortgage rates are scheduled to rise at least 3 times in 2018, with many experts predicting the interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage to reach 5% by the end of 2018. But what does that mean for you as a potential homeowner? Let's say your mortgage principal is $200,000. If you secured your mortgage with a 3.87% interest rate, the total interest you would pay over the course of the loan would be $138,571 (360 monthly payments of $940, for a total of $338,571). Now, if you secured a mortgage with a 5% interest rate, the total interest you would pay over the course of the loan jumps to $186,152, a difference of $43,581 (if you're interested in how changing interest rates affect the total cost of a mortgage, you can check out this interest rate calculator tool). Locking in a lower interest rate on your mortgage will save you tens of thousands of dollars over the course of your loan, which is why securing a loan now is in your best interest.

2. Competition is getting fierce

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Another reason now is a good time to purchase a home is that housing markets are growing more competitive every day. Now that much of the country has recovered from the recession, more and more people are in the position to purchase real estate. And the more people there are on the market, the more competition there is for homes. Competition is getting fierce in markets across the country. Homes are sold almost immediately, often at above asking price, and sellers are often dealing with multiple offers. The competition in most real estate markets is still manageable and deals are still to be found, but as the economy continues to improve, the competition will heat up even more - making finding and buying the home of your dreams significantly more challenging (not to mention expensive).

3. Homes are getting more expensive by the day...

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Speaking of expensive, homes are (literally) getting more expensive every day. In fact, as of June 2017, home prices have been rising every single month for well over 5 years. And that trend shows no sign of slowing. Experts predict home prices will jump up to 5% more in 2017 and another 3.5% in 2018 (with hot markets, like the Pacific Northwest, seeing even greater increases). Which means that if you purchase a home at the end of 2018, you can expect to pay an average of 8.5% more than you would pay today. Combine the rising interest rates with the rising home prices and you've got a recipe for paying a lot more for a home a year from now than you would pay today.

4. ... And there are fewer to choose from

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One of the factors in rising home costs is low inventory. When there are too many people who want to buy homes and not enough homes for them to buy, it drives up prices and competition in the market. We have a huge problem with low inventory now, but unfortunately, that problem doesn't have a simple solution. As interest rates rise, people are less likely to put their homes on the market in an effort to preserve the lower interest rates on their mortgages. The moral of the story is: there's low inventory now, but there's likely to be lower inventory in the future, which means prices will soar even higher. It's better to buy now than it is to wait for the problem to get worse. Buying a home is a big decision. But if it's a decision you're considering, now's the time to make a move. You'll enjoy lower interest rates and an overall less expensive (and less stressful!) experience today than you will if you wait. So get out there and find your dream home!

Feb. 23, 2018

The Mortgage Process: What You Need to Know

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don’t have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

 

Feb. 21, 2018

Mortgage Rates Predicted To Rise In 2018. If You Want To Buy, Now Is The Time

Buying a home is about to get a lot more expensive.

According to a recent report from Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates are predicted to rise in 2018. The rate for a 30-yr fixed-rate mortgage was 3.9% in Q4 of 2017, and it is forecasted to jump an entire percentage point to 4.9% by the end of 2018.

A percentage point might not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference in how much you'll pay for your home over the length of your mortgage. If you took out a $350,000 30-yr fixed rate mortgage, your monthly payment at 3.9% would be $1650.84. At 4.9%, it would be $1857.54 - and you'd pay a whopping $74.413.73 more in interest over the course of the loan.

If you're thinking about buying, now is the time to do it. If you push off buying a home until later in the year, you're likely going to face significantly higher mortgage rates - and end up paying tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars more for your home than you would if you made the purchase today.

Posted in Buying, Mortgages
Jan. 24, 2018

Why Now Is The Time To Buy

 

1. INTEREST RATES ARE SOARING

If you haven't been keeping up with the real estate market, you might be missing out on the data around interest rates. They are going up, and they are going up fast. 5% may not seem like a lot, but can be the difference between hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars on what you are paying out towards your loan on a monthly basis. Would you want to pay an extra $200 towards interest for your loan each month, or would you prefer to pocket that $200? Well we know the answer to that. 

Buying a home now while interest rates are at a low is going to be an advantage, both now, and long term. Take advantage of today's rates and purchase a home that doesn't cost you extra just because of interests.

2. HOME PRICES ARE INCREASING

Have you been hearing about folks complaining in your market about the price of homes going up? Well those prices are going to continue climbing. A home that is $200,000 now, could go up to $400,000 in 10 years because of market conditions. We also are aware that wages are not increasing as steadily as the cost of living. Purchasing a home in today's market can get you a bigger and better deal on a house than if you were to wait a few years. Especially in hot city markets, where prices are virtually guaranteed to sky rocket, making a move now can save you hundreds of thousands. 

3. COMPETITION IS GETTING BIGGER

Population growth is a real thing, and with more people, comes more competition for homes. Homes are selling faster, which means a high demand increases home prices. Buying your home now, while the competition isn't as strong as it could be 5 years from now, helps you get a better deal on the home you want now then if you were to wait it out. 

So, in conclusion, the ball is in your court in today's market. There isn't ever a better time to purchase then now. Avoid the competition and the increase in fees and prices, and take advantage of a market that is still in the buyer's favor.