Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How can I increase my chances of getting the house I desire with so much competition?
A. Be prepared to make at minimum, a full price offer but, you'll likely need to up the ante just a bit. That's right, it's the truth. They say the early bird catches the worm so consider yourself the early bird now. Plan on paying full price plus $1,000.00. If you go into this with that intention, you will never get your feelings hurt when it comes to making the offer. If you are in a multiple offer situation and you know there are 3,4,5 or more making offers on the same property, you may need to adjust your offer higher than that. Ouch! Do it quickly. It's like pulling off a Band-Aid. The faster you do it the less it hurts. Don't dilly dally around trying to decide what your strategy will be. Do you know how much an extra $1000 -$1500 will change your mortgage payment? Seriously, like $20 per month. Do you know how much you stand to gain if you ride the wave of real estate market appreciation on this property? Far more than that so just do it.
Q. What do you do differently than any other real estate agent?
A. I like to think of myself as an expert negotiator. While I may not be perfect, I have a good deal of experience in buyer and seller negotiations. They are as different as night and day. As well, I am usually able to figure out how to dismantle the negotiation tactics of others on behalf of my clients. There is another attribute that I bring to the table which we call future-pacing the client. This is a method of communication whereby I try to assess the possible outcomes of the transaction ahead of time and bring them to light for my clients. It looks a little bit like the picture below and it allows the client to make educated decisions ahead of time instead of moment by moment during heated negotiations. Time is of the essence in any real estate transaction. If you are great at making spontaneous decisions, then perhaps you don’t need my help. However, if you don’t want to feel rushed when making what may be the largest purchase in your life, this is the best way to relieve that.
Q. How do I know when it’s the right time to sell?
A. If you are using your home as an investment and you have $50K or more in equity, now is the time to sell.
I’m going to assume that you own a home now which is valued between $300K and $400K. I will also assume for this explanation, that you are able to finance a new house if you decided to proceed with my theory. Now then, your home is worth $350K and you have a minimum of $50K in equity in it. Let’s pretend you purchased it for $330K. These are the parameters of our discussion.
We will call this scenario #1. You have a home which is now worth more than you originally paid for it. Let’s say the value increased by $20K over the past 10 years. This is a conservative number but, go with it. Now, you’ve also been paying it down little by little and you’ve paid down the principle by $30K. You would have $50K in equity right now correct? Let’s pretend that you plan to keep this house for 20 years. In this example, if you keep this house, you will be lucky to have another $30K in equity the next 10 years. Please remember that you will at some point need to replace the carpet, roof and or HVAC unit(s). You may have dampness (fungi), termites or any other imaginable thing that I’ve seen happening in the Lowcountry in my time as an agent. So, for the purpose of this example, let’s say you will have to put about $20K into your house just to maintain it in good repair over the next 10 years.
The Cost of Maintenance
Here are some of the costs to maintain the home. Roof $12K-15K, HVAC $4K-10K, Carpet $4K-6K… and the list goes on, hot water heater, appliances etc. How do I know? Because I’m living in a 10-year-old house. These things are cropping up and I’m having to replace them one by one.
Upkeep is Different than Upgrade
So far, if you keep the house in scenario #1 we are assuming that you’ll have an additional $30K in your investment after another 10 years passes. You might argue that the value of the home will increase over time as well and I hear you but, you have to subtract the up keep and we haven’t even considered upgrades yet. In today’s market, to get top dollar for your home, you need stainless steel appliances, granite or marble counter tops and hardwood floors to compete with the newer homes which are available. Perhaps you have these things already. Outstanding! But, for those of you who don’t, these are the items which will make or break your house fetching top dollar.
So, let’s end this example by saying that over 20 years you stand to have $80K in equity barring any unforeseen market crashes. ($50K from the 1st 10 years + $30K from the 2nd 10 years)
Now let’s discuss scenario #2, if you own the same home and currently have $50K in equity but, instead of keeping it, you decide to sell it and move into a newer house, here is what your scenario might look like. Again, barring any major market crashes.
You sell your house and it costs 6% for the agent’s transaction fee as well as another $5K in negotiations. For argument’s sake let’s assume the commission to be $21K and to that we add the $5K in lost negotiations for a total loss of $26K. You would still have about $24K in your pocket after the sale, right? You take this money which will likely be more than $24K but, I’m being ultra conservative here and you buy a new house. This new house is loaded with all of the things we just mentioned like hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances and granite. Now we live in the beautiful, brand new house for the next 10 years just like in the last example only this time, you gain, minimally, another $50K plus you have the $24K you used as a down payment. Stay with me on this because you’re going to catch my drift really quickly. You might think you lost money in this example. I mean if you kept the old house you’re sitting on $80K and in the new house you have $74K after 20 years but, what you did not account for is that over the next 10 years, Charleston is projected to grow exponentially. There are tons of new neighborhoods and apartments cropping up everywhere you turn. Who is moving in you might ask? Well there are Northerners, foreigners, retirees, military, Volvo plant workers and Boeing plant workers as well as the usual riff raff who just can’t stay away from this gorgeous city. Those who have vacationed here and those who’s family members live here and they want to be closer to them etc. but, I digress. Here is what the end result looks like.
What is Selling Standard?
In scenario #1, I keep the same house for 20 years and don’t change a thing. Wear and tear alone will cost me over $20K in this scenario. Now, I try to sell it and I’m up against the newest most ultra-modern styles and technologies but, my house is 20 years out dated because we never allocated any money to keep it up to “selling standard”, only money for repairs.
In scenario #2, I buy a new house and after 10 years I have a reasonably decent, well equipped house to sell again and reap the benefits of over and over. Not to mention that you get to live in the newer house and not sink a bunch of money into replacing aged roofs, HVAC units or carpets etc.
Q. What is the job market like in Charleston, South Carolina?
A. The job market is excellent and our economy is booming in Charleston, South Carolina. We are experiencing unprecedented growth in the Lowcountry. Here are just a few reasons:
- The Charleston International Manufacturing Center
- Frontier Airlines and Allegiant Air — launched operations at the airport this year
- Blackbaud has acquired Reeher – a data analytics and fundraising platform
- Lezen Acquisition LLC – A new publishing group
- Science Applications International Corp. SAIC is expanding into Hanahan
- Mercedes Benz Vans – now operational in Ladson
- Brightway Insurance – now open in Charleston
- Call Experts, a Charleston-based call center, has tripled its West Ashley office space
- Roper St. Francis Berkeley Hospital is expected to open in the summer of 2019.
- WestEdge- Please check out this link because it’s fabulous.
I have written a blog about this also called Steady As We Grow… Here is the link for that.
Q. Why should I invest in real estate in Charleston, SC?
A. I’m here to tell you that these are the best of times in Charleston, South Carolina. There will always be those naysayers out there but, I’m not convinced that it can’t get too much better than this. The real estate market is booming and the economic conditions in this area are gaining momentum as we speak.
Not ready to move or retire to a new city? Consider investing in a vacation or rental property!
Q. How can I get the highest sales price for my home?
A. My best advice will not likely be what you were expecting. The answer to this question is to have a home inspection before you put your house on the market. Make sure that you repair anything that the inspection turns up and then list it for sale “As Is”. I can give you more details on this if you’d like. Feel free to call, text or email me for further information.
Q. Where should I live and how much is it going to cost me?
A. This place is growing fast and there are no shortage of places to call home in and around the city. I’m going to mention one place that is just outside of downtown Charleston, South Carolina. We call it James Island. It is only about a mile from downtown proper and is the one and only way to Folly Beach, The Edge of America. Some of you may have visited Folly Beach in the past but, I’m here to tell you that it’s getting a facelift. There are homes starting in the low $300K’s for a wonderful 2 BR 2 BA condominium or, if you prefer single family homes, you can find some gems from the mid $400K’s. I personally love the laid back feel of Folly Beach. There are some truly grand properties along the waterfront backed up by some cute little bungalows. If you’d like to see the current real estate listings in Charleston, SC or on Folly Beach, please feel free to check out my website http://www.StacieSmith.Homes It’s connected directly to the Charleston Trident MLS. (Multiple Listings Service) There you will find the most accurate and up to date information about the homes for sale in this area.
Perhaps, you are more of a traditional home lover. Something that is not in downtown Charleston, SC but has easy access should you want to go out to dinner or do some shopping. Well, then may I suggest Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. This town is only one bridge away from downtown proper. You will find many types of homes and neighborhoods in Mount Pleasant. It is expanding rapidly and has been for sometime now. This is one of the most desirable places to live in the Lowcountry. Here you will find plenty of beautiful neighborhoods which are only a few miles from another beach that we love called Isle of Palms Beach. Mount Pleasant has a variety of landscapes. It is home to Shem Creek and Boone Hall Plantation as well as the Charleston Harbor Resort which is next to Patriot’s Point. Homes in Mount Pleasant range from the mid $300K’s to the high $800K’s or higher with the majority of homes in the $500K to $600K range.
One last place that I would like for you to consider within the immediate area surrounding downtown Charleston, SC is West Ashley. Here you will find some of the most affordable homes in town. West Ashley is named for it’s position to the west of the Ashley River. There are some homes that are riverfront but, for the most part you will just find wonderful neighborhoods in a range of prices. West Ashley offers both convenience to downtown and is in reasonable proximity to Folly Beach, Isle of Palms Beach and Kiawah Island Beach. West Ashley is home to Drayton Hall Plantation as well as Magnolia Plantation. It has a charm and character all its own. Homes in this area are seeing great price increases. While you can find a single family home in the mid $100K’s, it will likely need a good bit of updating and maintenance. Most homes are priced between $250K and $400K in this part of town. There are also plenty of townhomes in West Ashley ranging from the low $100K’s to the upper $400K’s. West Ashley is separated by the highway 526 loop. Homes inside the loop are closer to downtown Charleston while those outside of 526 are farther away. I mention this because some people don’t realize that this boundary line exists and it is only important when you start calculating the price of homes in this area. Some of the much older homes built in the 1940’s are fetching nearly $500K and they are inside the loop closer to downtown Charleston. West Ashley is a place where you are just a touch inland and never too far away from anything going on in town.
Q. Why isn’t my house selling?
A. The answer to this question is unique to each seller. Perhaps, you were led to believe it was worth more than it is? Or perhaps, you are outdated instead of updated. The salability of your home depends on many factors. Your agent should be able to tell you the benefits and drawbacks of your home. Many agents are uncomfortable discussing what they feel are negatives with respect to their clients’ properties however, there is a great deal of freedom for both parties when the client can receive constructive criticism and the agent can speak openly. Don’t forget, you are on the same team and your success or failure is mutual.
Q. How can I finance this fixer-upper?
A. There is a wonderful loan product available for the purchase of a primary residence which may need a little TLC. This loan allows you to wrap some construction or upgrades into the original loan rather than taking out a line of credit or waiting until you have some equity in the house and applying for a HELOC. It is called a 203K loan and there are two types available depending upon the improvements needed. For example, the Full 203K Loan would cover structural work and the Streamline 203K would not. For more information about 203K loans, please read my blog.