Real Estate Advice

7 Ways to Stay Organized During A Move

Stay Organized While Moving to a New HomeMoving can be a chaotic time. Between packing every last thing into a box, making sure it gets onto the moving truck and then unpacking at the new home, it can be a wonder that anyone is able to keep track of it all. Here are several strategies homeowners can use while moving into a new home to stay as organized as possible.

1. Take Care Of Business

Be sure to cancel your utilities at your current home and set up the necessary steps in your new home. It’s just a few phone calls or clicks online but it’s an easy thing to forget and no one wants to arrive to a home without power or water – especially in the middle of summer. Change your mailing address with the post office as soon as you have your new address to avoid hassle with new bills, subscriptions and important documents. In addition to this, be sure to keep your important documents in the same place at all times and keep them with you during the move so you know exactly where they are at all times. This includes passports, social security cards, birth certificates, wallets, insurance information and moving documents.

2. Stay Ahead Of The Move

Packing an entire home’s worth of possessions is going to take a long time, and there’s no way it can be done in the two days before the move date. Starting early can help prevent the rush right before the deadline where everything gets thrown into the nearest box, and it can also allow the homeowner to take inventory of everything they have so nothing gets lost or overlooked. Some pros recommend spending one hour...

6 Ways To Improve Home Security

6 Ways To Make Your Home SaferToday, there are more ways than ever for homeowners to protect their home and both everyone and everything in it. But with so many options available, homeowners may be at a loss for where to start, so here are six of the different simple and high-tech ways to improve home security

1. Buy Smart Cameras and Sensors

Security cameras and sensors are more accessible than they have ever been, and with smart technology, they’re easier to monitor than ever. Homeowners can purchase smart security cameras to place in and outside their home that can be accessed via any smart device, so checking in on home is only a few clicks or taps away. Smart sensors can be placed on nearly any door or window and can notify the homeowner by either text or email if the thing it’s attached to moves during a specified time.If you need help installing and integrating your smart home technologies, reach out to an experienced professional such as Gigatech in Myrtle Beach, who has 25 years of experience helping clients simplify and maximize the complex world of technology.

Tides Business Partner in Technology & Smart Home Integrations Gigatech...

Common Home Buying Contingencies for Buyers to Be Aware Of

Common Home Buying ContingenciesWhether you are buying a home or you are selling one, one of the things that you need to understand are contingencies. When it comes to buying or selling a piece of real estate, a contingency is a condition that needs to be met before a contract can be considered to be valid or final. A contingency needs to be agreed upon and signed off on by both parties when entering into the real estate contract. As a result, these should not be surprises. However, if you are not familiar with contingencies, finding out what some of the more common ones can help you better prepare for any during your home buying or selling adventure. These are just a few of the more common ones today.

Contingent on the Sale of Another Home

This is a very common contingency for home buyers to make if they are trying to sell their home at the same time, whether it's in an area like Carolina Forest or elsewhere. This is something that is done because they do not want to be left with two mortgages at the same time so they add a contingency to the contract that states that the purchase of their new home will not be considered final until the sale of their current home goes through closing.

Appraisal Contingency

This is usually a contingency that is in place to...

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 a 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 their 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...

Home Staging Cover-Up! Watching For Hidden Defects When Buying a Home

Home Staging DefectsWhen you buy a home, it is probably cleverly staged to show the home's best features. This is often a way for the seller to help you consider the space as your own. However, some sellers may use staging to hide or minimize design flaws or serious defects with the house.

Watch out for these four home staging traps, before you end up in a home that is not all you thought it would be.

1. Making Rooms Appear Bigger

There are many ways to stage a room to make it appear & feel larger. For example, exchanging a traditional queen-size bed for a full or even a twin. Switching out regular couches for a couple of love seats and a small table also increases the available space in a room. The seller may put larger curtains over windows to make it seem from the inside that the window is larger.

Unfortunately, none of this is practical for you unless you plan to buy all new furniture for the home. When you visit a home, be sure to carefully review the floor plan, and a printed version with measurements would be ideal. This way you'll can get a better idea for how your belongings will fit in the space.

2. Hiding Serious Problems

On occasion, a person selling a home may try to use staging to conceal problems with the home. For example, they may hang a large picture or even put up wallpaper to hide evidence of mold growing in the walls. This type of cover-up is more likely to happen when a seller stages...

Hire a professional or DIY: Which is right for you?

Should you DIY or hire a professional?New year... new projects bringing about the age old debate: to DIY or to hire a professional? As a homeowner, deciding whether to hire a professional or do something on a DIY basis is a fair question, and it is one that some homeowners have trouble answering. They may not be sure if they can handle the project, and they may also not be sure how much it will cost them for someone else to take over and get things done. For any homeowner who is unsure about the DIY vs hiring a professional issue, there are some specific issues to consider. By looking carefully at the most important aspects of a home improvement project, homeowners can make the right decision for their specific situation.

How Much Will This Project Cost?

The price of a particular home improvement project may affect whether a homeowner chooses the DIY route or decides instead to hire a professional. Either way there will be some cost to the project because there will be materials and time spent, but in general it will cost more to hire a professional contractor. However, that does not mean that a contractor should be avoided. In some cases it makes far more sense to hire a professional, so that the job can be done correctly and safely. When that is done, the homeowner has more peace of mind and may sleep better at night, despite the added cost. Homeowners with very little money...

Buying a Home: Financing Repairs, Rehab or Renovation

Rehab Loans & FinancingPicture this scenario: The house of your dreams is in livable, if not pristine condition, situated on acreage that also includes a second residence in need of refurbishing and repair. There is an additional outbuilding that is not suitable for habitation but is structurally sound.

The property is bank-owned, and situated in a part of town that would command two and a half to three times the asking price on the open market, based on comparable values. There are no existing appraisal comps because of the unusual conditions, but local realtors in the know assure you that the value is inherent, based on location and the viability of your planned repairs.

However, even with the required cash deposit readily available, acceptable credit, great motivation to buy, and stated intentions to improve the property, you cannot obtain a suitable loan commitment.

It can be a discouraging situation.

Know the Rules: Rehab Financing Can Be Difficult

There are limited mortgage loan programs available to help a potential buyer when dwelling rehabilitation is required, but they are difficult to locate and "quick action" is not a hallmark of such financing options.

Most lenders are wary of financing for (1.) distressed properties that include foreclosures or homes in need of repair; and (2.) properties with more than one dwelling, particularly if they are not in move-in condition. If your goal is to find property that will provide for your living...

Why You Should Run a Home Energy Audit

Home Energy AuditsChilly winter weather is here, so make sure your home is ready by making it as energy efficient as it can be. A home energy audit is a great tool for homeowners who know their home could be more efficient but aren't sure where to start.

In many cases, a home energy audit is often offered for free or at very little cost, and the information in the final report can help the homeowner make targeted improvements to improve your home’s efficiency and save some money!

Low-cost or Free Home Energy Audits 

A professional home energy assessment may cost a few hundred dollars should you search for one yourself. However, many states and cities often provide rebates or even no-cost energy assessments to encourage residents to be more energy efficient.

Search online for your state or local government's energy program to see if you qualify, or contact your electricity or gas utility company to see if they offer a similar program. South Carolina offers a variety of financial assistance options including low-interest loans, tax incentives, utility incentives, and sometimes grants. Energy audits that are part of a local program often include some freebies such as low-wattage light bulbs, faucet aerators and smart power strips to get you off to a great start on lowering your utility bills. 

You may also...

5 Great Reasons to Buy a Home This Winter

Winter Home Buying SeasonMagazine articles and even some real estate and mortgage industry bloggers often talk about the spring home selling season and all the reasons why sellers should list and buyers should buy during that timeframe.

Because spring is traditionally a very active period for the real estate industry, some of this reasoning is valid. Some, however, is not and increasing numbers of smart home buyers are proving this every winter.

If you are convinced that you should wait for spring to purchase a home, the following five reasons just might have you considering an earlier start for your search. 

Less Competition From Other Buyers

Since there are more buyers looking to purchase in the spring than in the fall and winter, those who deliberately shop for a home late in the year will be less likely to deal with multiple offer situations.

By avoiding competition with other bidders for the same home, buyers can lessen the risk of being involved in a bidding war that could force them to consider paying more than fair market price for the home they want. 

Sellers With More Motivation

Home owners who are selling during the winter are usually doing so for a specific reason, such as needing to relocate or because they need to quickly find a larger home for a growing family. In addition to motivations like this, sellers also understand that they may see fewer buyers during the fall or winter season than they might during busier times...

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...

Choosing the Right Home Improvements

Choosing the right home improvementsPurchasing a home is a big investment, and making changes and improvements can certainly help to increase your home’s value over time. Some upgrades are more common than others and are often considered surefire ways to add value to your Myrtle Beach investment.

When planning your home remodel, it's important to remember that certain improvement projects will add more value than others. However, certain upgrades actually cost more to install than the money they are worth at the final sale of your home. Projects like kitchen and bathroom upgrades or the addition of another room or bathroom are the best ways to increase the value of your Myrtle Beach home, however there might be other projects to consider as well.

The Popular Projects

What improvements add the most value? 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. This type of upgrade not only reaps rewards down the line when the home sells, but you also get to enjoy the fruits of your labor while still living there.

Depending on the size of your kitchen, the average renovation project in Myrtle Beach can run around $10,000 or more. While this might sound like a large chunk of change, keep in mind that homeowners sometimes see a full return on their investment. In some cases, depending on the housing...

PMI Basics: What Home Buyers Should Know About Putting Down Less Than 20 Percent

Typically mortgage lenders require 20% of the home value as a down payment in order to buy a new home. For many buyers, especially first time home owners, this can take considerable time to save. In a perfect world everyone would wait to purchase with this cash in hand, however life factors such as the hot market we are experiencing now, relocations, separations and more can leave buyers looking at alternative mortgage products that may require private mortgage insurance or PMI.

Our team works with buyers at all phases of the home buying process including all financial levels. Our experience helps guide you to making the right decision, at the right time for you! Here’s a few basics on PMI and some pros and cons to help you weigh the decision. In the end, your Realtor and Mortgage Lender are a great team to help you navigate the process so while this information is a guide, each situation is unique so be sure to talk to your Realtor or Lender before getting started.

What is PMI?

When a home buyer needs to make a down payment of less than 20 percent, they may be required to pay private mortgage insurance or PMI. PMI is also often required when there is less than 20 percent of home equity in a home and the owner needs to refinance a mortgage. With rates at unprecedented lows, this might still be beneficial to your overall bottom line!

Why Is PMI Necessary?

Simply put, Private Mortgage Insurance is a form of insurance...

How Do USDA Loans Work?

USDA Loans: What You Need to KnowBuyers looking for the right home in a rural or small suburban area might not know that there is a loan program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help buyers purchase or improve homes. Knowing how USDA loans work and that they may require no down payment could help buyers get a home sooner than they expect. There are a multitude of mortgage options on the market. Is the USDA loan right for you?

What Is a USDA Loan?

The USDA promotes rural development and homeownership by offering different types of loans to buyers who qualify. Many people who want to buy homes find that they cannot save enough for a down payment, or they do not meet other criteria required to get a traditional mortgage. With government funding, the USDA can guarantee loans so that individual lenders are more secure in lending to people who cannot make a large down payment, or who have limited income.

Does the USDA Loan Money to Home Buyers?

Like the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the USDA mostly guarantees loans to lenders. This means that a home buyer applies through a local or national lender, and the USDA guarantees the loan in case of a default. In order to qualify for a USDA loan, people must be able to make the monthly payments,...

Home Buying: How to Manage the Down Payment

How to Handle Saving for a Down PaymentThe largest expense that most home buyers will encounter is the down payment. There are reasons to consider paying more, just as there are advantages to putting down as little as possible. These tips help buyers decide how much to put down towards their home mortgage and how they can get the money for it.

How Much Should I Put Down?

Buyers, especially first-time home buyers, can get overwhelmed by the thought of a down payment. After all, if the median home price nationwide is hovering around $300,000, a down payment of 20 percent is a notable $60,000. Although 20 percent is widely touted as an industry standard, there are plenty of options for prospective home buyers who cannot put that much down. The 20 percent down payment, in a lot of cases, assumes that a buyer already has accrued equity in an existing home that they can use toward the down payment.

Before making a decision about the size of the down payment, future home buyers should estimate how much they can realistically put down, and the opportunity cost of shifting funds from elsewhere. Making a larger down payment is beneficial in that it gives the buyer a larger stake in the home's equity at the beginning and lowers the monthly payment. However, it also ties up funds in the home that would be harder to...

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 again. With an FHA 203k loan, enough money...

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 conditioning;
  • Water, sewer,...

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 your best to incorporate these...

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 accessible, like a first floor...

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 the customary down payment...

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; the monthly payment is...