Top 7 Tips for Buying a Home in Charleston, South CarolinaBy Lee Keadle
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We have made a short list of things to consider when buying your next home in the Charleston area so that hopefully you can avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with buying real estate.
- Start early. With all of the new rules and stipulations in banking, the mortgage process now takes about four weeks to complete from loan application to closing. So, the sooner you start, the less stress you will have before closing. Also, if there are any problems or questions with your financing, you will have time to work out these problems.
- Get pre-qualified for your mortgage before you start looking for homes. If you see a home that you love and would like to make an offer on, the seller is going to want to see a pre-approval letter to know that you are a serious buyer. The more uncertainty you can take from the seller, the more likely the seller will take a lower priced offer.
- Start your search in a price range that you will be comfortable with. There is no sense in getting your hopes up for a property that you love but cannot afford. You will know your price range after you get pre-qualified for a home mortgage.
- Do your homework. It is easy to get excited and overlook important details. When buying a home most buyers consider taxes, schools, area market trends, entertainment, shopping, neighborhood amenities, and the proximity to work and to play. Location is one of the most important things to consider when buying a house. So, take the time to talk with someone who has lived in the area. This person might have helpful suggestions and could point you in the right direction. Also, if you are considering condos or townhouses, be sure to get any HOA or regime fee prices. In Charleston right now, we are seeing many communities undergoing litigations which drastically affect the affordability of homes as well as future resale. Most property managers will be able to provide you with a letter stating these prices and the likelihood of having increases or assessments in the coming year.
- Think about your exit strategy and the marketability of your new home.. It is a good idea to be prepared for any situation that might come your way. Even if you plan on living in the house that you are buying for a long period of time, you still need an exit strategy. You want to make sure that if you did have to sell, the house you are purchasing would be appealing to other buyers. This will mean a quicker resale later and potentially more profit from the sale.
- Find an experienced and professional agent who has your best interest in mind. You want an agent who shows you all of the listings with no preference to his or her own listings or listing company, responds quickly to your calls and emails, understands the buying and selling process from both the buyer's and seller's perspective, and possesses good business and negotiation skills. Most importantly, you need an agent that you trust! Even if you are considering new construction, be sure to have your own agent who will represent you rather than relying on the builder’s agent (or the site agent) who works for the construction company (see below).
- Do not get into dual agency or let the builder's agent in new construction represent both you and the builder. Dual agency is when an agent represents both the seller and the buyer. This type of representation is common with new construction homes, where there are agents selling homes from a model home. In these cases, the agent selling the home will represent the builder and the buyer. This situation is a conflict of interest, because the builder has more clout with the agent than with the buyer. It is important that you find a good agent to represent you and only you. The best part about having your own agent is that you know you have equal representation, and the sales price is not affected. In other words, you will pay the same amount whether you have your own agent or are represented by the builder’s agent.
On Lee’s website you can search all Charleston real estate listings including Mount Pleasant real estate by year built, price, and many other criteria!
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Article Submitted On: February 27, 2007