Myrtle Beach Real Estate Blog

Understanding 203k Home Loans

All About 203k Renovation Home LoansFinding that perfect home can be a challenge. The ideal location, features and condition often don't seem to exist within the same house. Many people dream of finding an affordable home that needs some work. This means the homeowner can renovate the home to give it more of their own personality while including features they desire.

Fixer-Upper Hang-Ups

Often called fixer-uppers, homes that need extensive work in order to be deemed livable can pose special challenges for those who want to purchase them.

  • One such challenge is often the sheer amount of money that is projected to renovate the property. Coupled with the purchase price, this estimate could make the cost of owning what might otherwise be the perfect home prohibitive.
  • Lenders, too, can present roadblocks that stand in the way of a potential home buyer purchasing a particular house. Lenders are often reluctant to sign off on a loan for a home that might not be suitable for anyone to live in.

FHA 203k Loans Can Provide Options

Like many other loan vehicles, a 203k loan has a specific purpose and is targeted for a particular segment of the home-buying population. Backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), a 203k loan is designed to assist borrowers in purchasing a home that needs extensive repairs in order to become inhabitable once...

Best Energy Efficient Improvements For Your Home

How to Pick Energy Saving Upgrades For Your HomeImproving the value of one’s home is often toward the top of people’s priority lists, and there are a lot of ways this can be accomplished. Many choose to remodel or landscape, but another often overlooked solution is to utilize energy efficient improvements not only to increase property value but to reduce overall monthly overhead. Another side benefit? Making these changes can have a positive impact on the planet as well.

DIY Upgrades

While some home projects require a professional, there are a few easy energy efficient changes one can make around the home that can yield some nice savings. One of the more common recommendations that nearly everyone can do is to change out light bulbs for models that use less power. Whether the choice is to go with an LED, CFL, or halogen incandescent, many households can save close to $100 per year on their energy bill just by making a simple change.

Homeowners who are a little more project savvy might enjoy utilizing insulation to their advantage, and either replacing old material or putting it in for the first time in a home’s attic can make a big difference. This simple improvement will help to regulate a home’s temperature, and can sometimes save homeowners about $600 per year!

Larger And More Impactful Changes

For those who have construction skills or a larger budget to play with, other home projects can make a bigger...

Buying Vs. Renting: Costs to Consider

The Benefits of Buying or Renting a HomeIf the decision involved only weighing basic rent against a mortgage payment, the choice of renting or buying might be simple. However, there are a number of other factors, and some costs that you might not have considered when you commit to either a home loan or a year's lease.

While the decision to rent your first apartment may have been a breeze to make, when it's time to weigh the pros and cons of buying a home or condo, continuing to rent that apartment, or signing a long-term lease, there are a host of other considerations, not all of them financial.

Let's look at the pros and cons of each:

Buying

There are the immediate costs of applying for a loan, but you must also tally up and find funds for earnest money and down payment, closing costs that include appraisal and inspection fees, title and mortgage insurance, homeowner's insurance, taxes, possible transfer fees and moving costs. It all adds up and the total can range between two and four percent of the total home price.

Then there are the recurring costs. When you own a home, you commit to the following monthly payments:

  • Mortgage loan, usually including private mortgage insurance and property taxes;
  • Homeowners insurance; sometimes this amount is included in the loan, or it may be paid separately;
  • Utilities, including electricity and/or gas or oil for heating and air...

What to Consider When Buying a Fixer-Upper

Things to Keep in Mind When Selling a Fixer UpperFor some people, a fixer-upper is the ideal home because it allows them to start with something old and turn it into something new that suits their tastes exactly. When looking for a new fixer-upper home, it’s important to know what to look for to avoid buying a home that’s in such poor condition it isn’t even worth renovating, so here are few things to keep an eye out for when looking at fixer-upper homes.

First: How Much is Too Much?

When considering a fixer-upper, it’s important to take into account how large of a project it’ll be. Not all fixer-upper homes are created equally, and it's important to proceed as you would in any home buying process. Some may just have a couple big jobs that need to be done to make it feel like home, while others may need to be completely gutted and reworked from the inside out. Before committing to a fixer-upper, all buyers should decide just how much work they’re willing to do on a home before beginning they search for one.

Layout

How the home is configured can be one of the most difficult things to change when it comes time to start renovating. An example of bad home layout is having bedrooms directly beside the family room or living room. When looking for a fixer-upper home, finding one with an acceptable layout can save the buyer a lot of money and stress later...

Branding With a Solid Foundation: Good, Old-Fashioned Customer Service Still Works

How to Brand a Company with Customer ServiceThe modern marketing landscape can look complex. There are more tools than ever before for reaching the prospects who may do business with your brand. However, no matter how many new apps, platforms and networks come out, the fundamentals remain the same. The best marketing for your brand is an excellent customer experience.

Let Your Customers be Your Ambassadors

In your personal life, are you more likely to be drawn to a brand based on an advertisement or the recommendation of a friend? Most of us are more likely to trust the people around us to guide us toward quality products and services. In a recent study, it was found that 92 percent of shoppers trust online reviews.

The reasons behind this is common sense. First, a third party making a recommendation is thought to have no motivation related to the brand. They're a customer; they are relating their own experience and giving recommendations to other consumers. Second, when the recommendation comes from someone who you know, whether they are personally known to you or familiar through social media, the trust you feel toward them transfers to the brand they are recommending.

To harness this power for your brand, you must make the customer experience excellent. Talk to clients to learn where your process can be improved. Do they want a larger selection of products? Shorter wait times? Within reason, do...

Buying a Home? Tips to Help You Get Started

Tips to Get Started Buying a HomeThe home-buying process can be a stressful and overwhelming one, rife with paperwork and searches, and filled with days and weeks and sometimes months of searching that eventually—hopefully—cumulate in the purchase of a home. If you're one of the many people thinking about buying a new home, here are some steps to prepare yourself.

Preparing in the months before your home purchase can help increase the chances that you get the property you want, be it in Georgetown or elsewhere. Follow these tips to separate yourself from the competition:

Attend Open Houses

Many people do their real estate research by combing through listings online, but seeing homes in person can make a big difference. Open houses are an important reality check for home buyers. These events also present opportunities for home buyers to meet and ask questions of real estate agents and home sellers. Attend open houses before you even fully begin searching to give your home search focus and direction.

After each open house, take time to drive around each neighborhood looking for eateries and conveniences like grocery stores and gas stations. Doing this kind of research will help you zero in on the neighborhoods where you'd like to focus your attention.

Know Your Priorities

Do you...

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying a Home

How To Buy Homes for a First Time Home BuyerThere’s no way around it: Buying a home, whether it’s a first home or a fifteenth, a pre-existing home or a new build, is a process that has many steps. To make that process just a little bit easier, here are the basic steps to buying a home, from budgeting to signing on the dotted line.

Create a Budget

A budget creates guidelines that, if abided by, help buyers find houses that are financially right for them, and it also helps an agent pick out appropriate Garden City Beach homes to show the buyer when the time comes. A well-made budget can help keep buyers from accidentally getting in too deep over their heads. 

Pick a Mortgage and Get Pre-Approved

There are a variety of different types of mortgages to help give people in all financial situations the opportunity to buy a home. After choosing the right one, fill out an application for the mortgage and supply all the necessary paperwork. Getting pre-approved will grant the buyer written proof of the amount of money they have been authorized to borrow.

Make a List of Wants and Needs

Everyone has things they need in their home, whether it’s an attached garage or something to make it more...

Considering a VA Loan? 4 Things You Need to Know

Facts About VA Loans for Veteran Home Buyers to ConsiderThe 1944 Serviceman's Readjustment Act authorized the Veterans Administration to guarantee loans for eligible veterans to purchase homes, farms, and businesses as soldiers returned home from World War II. The Veterans Housing Benefits Act of 1978 and Veteran Home Loan Program Amendments of 1992 expanded the home loan program to include a wide range of military personnel, whether or not they served on active duty. The program has guaranteed more than 20 million home loans since its inception. If you are considering a VA Loan for your next home purchase, you should know the following:

VA Home Loans Are Only for Veterans and Their Surviving Spouses

The VA Home Loan benefit is available for qualifying veterans and their surviving spouses. Unlike other programs, such as the educational benefits program, the VA Loan program does not consider dependents eligible for benefits. Surviving spouses are eligible unless they remarry. The program is open to all military, military reservists, and National Guard members, each with varying service requirements that apply regardless of the market, be it in Garden City Beach or elsewhere.

VA Home Loans Do Not Require a Down Payment

Perhaps the best feature of the VA Loan Program is that qualifying veterans are not required to have ...

A Guide to Different Mortgage Types

A Guide to Basic MortgagesAlmost always, buying a home will mean making a mortgage agreement with a lender who will provide funds to purchase the ideal home. There are several to consider and keep in mind..

Zero down payment mortgages, such as those available through the VA still require payment of origination fees and minimal closing costs. Under some programs, the funds for a down payment can be a gift from parents; other programs roll initial fees into the mortgage. So, even if you're strapped for cash, you may still be able to buy your way into a home. 

A Standard Down Payment Doesn't Exist

While many people consider a 20 percent down payment "standard," there is really little that is standard about it. There is no reason to let that figure scare you. The truth is that even conventional mortgage loans, those that are not guaranteed by the federal government, may have down payment requirements as low as three percent. Distinguishing criteria for most conventional loans include credit score: A higher score, verified income history, conforming debt to income ratios, and documented property appraisal and legal requirements qualify buyers for a lower interest rate;

There is a standing requirement for private mortgage insurance if the down payment is less than 20 percent of the loan amount, but that disappears on its own when you reach that threshold;...

VA Home Loans: Important Facts to Know Before Applying

Understanding the VA Loan ProcessOwning a home is a time-honored dream for most Americans today, and especially so for those who taken the oath to protect and serve their country as a member of the military. For more than seven decades, the Veterans Administration has helped millions of active and retired military members, reservists, and National Guard personnel obtain affordable financing for homes, farms, and businesses.

VA Loan Eligibility Requirements

In addition to the members of the branches of the military mentioned above, surviving spouses of military members who died while on active duty and those who died as a result of a service-related disability are also eligible to apply for a separate type of mortgage loan: the VA loans.

Actual dates of eligibility in relation to service dates can vary. For instance, National Guard members must wait six years to apply, but if called up for active duty, that time span is then shortened to just 181 days. Applicants must also obtain a certificate of eligibility, which will explain their specific dates of eligibility to use the VA loan program.

Benefits of a VA Loan 

The most popular advantage of using a VA loan is that there is no down payment requirement and no mortgage insurance premiums for buyers to pay. These benefits can make it...

Curb Appeal Basics: A Checklist for Home Sellers

What is Good Curb AppealCurb appeal is a valuable part of staging a home to appeal to buyers, as the front yard is the first thing a buyer sees when they approach a house. A poorly maintained or unappealing front yard can deter buyers by giving them the impression that the home isn't well maintained by the owner and possibly in a state of disrepair. On the other hand, a vibrant, well maintained yard can attract buyers with a clean look that excites them and encourages them to see the rest of the house. Here are a few common trouble areas where curb appeal improvements can be made.

Curb

The curb isn’t the first thing that buyers see, but it is the first aspect of the property they will see up close. Take the time to get it in hand: Repair cracked concrete; make sure that the mailbox is in excellent condition and has no chips, dents, or rust; and confirm that the house number is easy to see from the street, as buyers are less likely to scope out an address they can’t find.

Driveway

Sellers might think that buyers will barely see the driveway, but if it looks bad, it might be the only thing they see. Driveways often show buyers how the current owners treat the home, especially the parts that do not matter as much. A driveway with cracks and stains gives an impression of disrepair to viewers, and it can serve as a deterrent to potential buyers. Even a great listing in Carolina Forest might turn away a...

How to Sell a Home: A Guide for First Time Home Sellers

Basic Tips for First Time Home SellersWhen going to sell a home, there are a multitude of steps that can boggle and overwhelm even the most adept mind. What if a seller has no idea how to start? Is staging important? What does a real estate agent do? This guide gives sellers the basic details needed to sell a home with preparations to ensure they get the best bang for their buck.

Do I Need a Real Estate Agent?

Although there are few instances in life when people really must have a professional to handle a certain situation, sometimes hiring a professional to guide and advise you is worth more than the money paid. In selling a home, hiring a real estate agent is one of them. Without an agent, sellers are alone to negotiate with the buyer, who probably has an agent to help them secure the best deal. A real estate agent is there to get the home ready for sale, make sure that buyers find the home, negotiate a good offer on the seller's behalf and confirm that the home sale is following all relevant laws and guidelines.

What Is Home Staging?

One of the things a real estate agent can help with is the presentation of a home to prospective buyers. The process of getting a home in its best condition, with colors and designs that are most appealing to buyers, is called “home staging.” Sellers do not have to spend a...

How Do Capital Gains Affect the Home Selling Process?

The Impact of Selling a Home on the Capital Gains TaxSelling a home often returns a big profit, which might be subject to capital gains taxes. With this guide, sellers can begin to understand the rules of capital gains taxes and whether or not they may be required to pay them. Be sure to consult with a financial expert or real estate agent when selling a property for help understanding what taxes apply to a specific home sale.

How Do Capital Gains Taxes Work?

When selling a piece of property, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may have a stake in your profit. The profits earned make from the sale of property are known as capital gains. Most people who do not own businesses seldom deal with capital gains taxes outside of the sale of a home. The reason is that many personal belongings that can be sold to another person, such as a car, are items that do not appreciate over time. Since homes have the ability to increase in value over time, individuals may have to settle capital gains on the sale.

When Do People Owe Capital Gains Taxes?

The good news is that there is an option for most sellers to exclude much or all of their capital gains from their taxes. Capital gains refer to the difference between what was paid for the home and its current sale price. This means that the difference is the only thing that needs to be considered for capital gains tax liability, not the final sale price of the home. If a seller...

How to Choose an Interior Paint Color

Choosing an Interior Wall ColorWhen preparing a home for sale, it is best to paint interior walls a neutral color, with off-white being the most popular. However, if a buyer has just bought a house and is making it their own, or they are just ready for a change in décor, there is a world of colorful possibilities.

Light vs. Dark Colors

There is good reasons why sellers paint rooms off-white. It is unobtrusive, allowing potential buyers to more easily envision the space as their own. But light colors also make spaces look bigger, and buyers are always in the market for more space. If a space feels cramped, keep the paint light to open it up.

However, openness is not always the desired impression. Sometimes small and cozy is what is called for. For these rooms, use darker colors.

Sometimes, rooms are just shaped weird, but clever use of color can help visually downplay it. If a room is overly long, paint the long walls something light and the short walls something darker. This causes the width to expand and the length to narrow, presenting a more proportioned room.

From Floor to Ceiling, Dark to Light

The desire for space is also the reason why nearly every home has its ceilings painted white. If it was dark, it would be smothering.

As a general rule, a room should transition from dark to light as it moves from floor to ceiling. Flooring, therefore, should be the darkest element in the room. The walls are lighter, and the ceiling is white.

Cool vs. Warm Colors

Cool colors are green, blue and purple. Warm colors are yellow, orange and red. Each group has a very distinct impact on the subconscious....

Should I Add Smart Technology to My Home Before Selling?

Smart Technology in the HomeThese days, the phrase on everyone’s lips is “smart technology.” If your home does not have it, you should know that buyers may be looking for it. This guide shows you some of the most common forms of smart technology you can add to your home, with some tips to help you decide which ones are the best investment.

Cautions About Smart Technology

The first thing you need to keep in mind is that smart technology is an industry in rapid development. This means the following:

  • Products become obsolete quickly
  • There are many brands on the market
  • Interactivity may be limited

In short, you should be wary about the kinds of products that you install in your home as a way to impress buyers. Home buyers, especially buyers on the younger end of the spectrum, are accustomed to using various types of smart technology beyond smartphones. They may already have preferences about the best brands, and expect that whatever you have is going to be at the top of the line. Ask your real estate agent for recommendations before you start making investments, so that your upgrades will be appreciated by the average home buyer.

Full Home Automation vs Individual Technologies

There are a couple of different ways to look at smart home technology. There are fully-integrated home automation systems, that link a number of smart devices,...

Home Buying After Bankruptcy: Tips and Helpful Information

Buying a Home After BankruptcyAfter a bankruptcy occurs, buying a home is tricky but not impossible. Rebuilding credit, allowing the bankruptcy to season and shopping for the right loan can help homebuyers on the path to securing a mortgage.

To understand the options for your specific situation, speak with a lender and/or financial advisor.

Let the Bankruptcy Season

After the bankruptcy has discharged, a home buyer must wait for a while to allow the bankruptcy to season. Once the waiting period is complete, the homebuyer may be eligible to secure a mortgage, however, the length of the waiting period is dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of bankruptcy filed and the type of mortgage the homebuyer is pursuing.

Home buyers who have filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy must wait 2 years to qualify for an FHA or VA loan, or four years for a conventional loan. Home buyers with a chapter 13 bankruptcy on their record can secure a conventional loan in two years and an FHA or VA loan in one year, provided that payments are made on time.

Rebuild Your Credit

During the seasoning period, spend time rebuilding credit and saving for a down payment. Using a credit card responsibly is one of the best ways to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy occurs. To do this, work with a bank to obtain a secured credit card. Use the card regularly, and pay off the balance monthly to show responsible credit card usage. 

Save for a Down Payment

While...

Tips for Selling a Home With a Pool

Staging a Pool to Sell a Home to the Best BuyerA home with a pool can have big appeal to the right buyer. However, not all home buyers are specifically seeking a pool. This means that a home's pool may have to win over buyers who are not convinced that they would like a pool on their property. To do this, the pool must be kept in good condition and properly staged. Knowing how to stage, market and present a property with a pool and can help get the most for the sale of a home.

Make Cosmetic Repairs

An older pool can suffer from cosmetic problems like algae, cracks, pock marks in the plaster, water stains and scale on the tiles. Cosmetic issues can lead a home buyer to question the condition of the pool, even if these problems have no real impact on safety and functionality. Have cosmetic problems repaired before putting the home on the market to help reassure buyers that your pool is in good condition.

Keep Up With Cleaning and Monitor the Chemical Content

Keep up with cleaning and monitoring of the chemicals in your pool. The water in the pool must be crystal clear when buyers come to the home. If in the middle of packing to move there isn't time to keep up with pool maintenance, hire a pool service to ensure that the pool will always look its best.

Leave the Water Uncovered

Many homeowners keep their pool covered to prevent water...

Choosing the Right Home Improvements

Renovation ROIA home purchase is a big investment, and making changes and improvements can certainly help to increase its value over time. Some upgrades are more common than others, as they are often considered sure fire ways to add to the investment potential.

However, certain upgrades actually cost more to install than the money they are worth at the final sale of a home, so it pays to be careful when remodeling. Items like kitchen and bathroom upgrades or adding on another room are popular ways that people choose to add value, yet there might be other projects to consider too.

The Popular Projects

More often than not, homeowners will point to the kitchen or bathroom first when they decide it’s time to stage or add value to their home. Not only can this type of upgrade reap rewards down the line when the home sells, but the owner gets to enjoy the fruits of their labor while they are still living there.

Depending on the size of the kitchen, an average remodel can run around $10,000 or more. While this might sound like a large chunk of change, keep in mind that homeowners sometimes see at least a 100% return on their investment. In some cases, depending on the housing market and the type of upgrades installed, one might see close to a 200% return. This is also an area where homeowners can spend too much, so it is important to work up from smaller improvements with the guidance of a real estate professional should one decide to upgrade...

What Does a Lender Do With My Credit Report?

lender evaluating credit scoreWhen you apply for a mortgage to buy a home, your lender typically obtains a copy of your credit reports and also your credit scores. Although you may not see this information in the paperwork you have to sign, your lender reviews it carefully in determining your credit-worthiness.

Here is why, and what happens to your report once you apply. To better understand your financial situation as it relates to buying a home, speak with a lender and/or financial advisor.

Why Do Mortgage Lenders Check My Credit?

There are two reasons that a lender may want to check your credit when you apply for a mortgage loan. The first is to learn more about your history of borrowing money and paying it back. Although most of the information that shows up in a basic credit report will relate to existing loans you have and open credit lines, there is also data about debts you have had in the past. Your record of paying all debts on time and not letting any delinquent accounts go to collection will show the lender that you are a reliable borrower.

The second reason involves a verification of the information you provided in the application. Your credit report shows the lender how much debt you are currently carrying, as well as the credit limits and monthly payments, as applicable. You are also typically required to quantify your monthly debt obligations in the application. If the sum on the application is significantly...

Buying the Retirement Home: Tips to Help Senior Buyers Make a Great Choice

Tips for Seniors Looking to Buy a New Retirement HomeThe kids have flown the nest and its time to replace the too-large home with a smaller one more suited for just one or two people. But size is just one consideration when considering a house downsize and moving to a new house. If a retirement home purchase is looming in your future, the following tips will help you make sure you are selecting the perfect one for your comfort and your needs.

Stay or Go

The first question senior buyers should ask themselves is where they want to live. In many cases, moving to another city to be closer to grandchildren or friends may be the dream. When considering this type of move, visit the area first to get a feel for what it has to offer. In addition, make sure to drive through any neighborhoods that seem interesting to get a feel for the type of housing that might be available in these neighborhoods. Prices can vary significantly from area to area, so make sure to do the research and learn all you can about an area before deciding to buy there.

Features and layouts

Seniors who plan to remain in their own area throughout their remaining years will want to make sure that any home they consider purchasing will continue to suit their needs. Since some decline in mobility is typical as the human body ages, these buyers should consider looking for a home that has been built specifically to accommodate those with mobility issues or at least look for a home that could be ...