Capital City Realty Blog

Capital City Realty, Columbia's premier Boutique real estate firm shares Columbia SC market data and local information.

Feb. 20, 2015

What Not To Do When Buying A Home

Financial Moves that Could Prevent you from Closing

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty explains financial moves that could be harmful to your loan approval status if you’re in the process of buying a home. She works with buyers and sellers in all areas of Columbia, SC.  Contact her when you’re ready to buy or sell in the Columbia area or just have a curiosity question.

During the home buying process, it’s absolutely necessary to maintain the status quo on your finances and how you spend your money until you’ve closed on your home. Doing something risky can jeopardize your loan approval status and prevent you from buying that home. If you’re unsure of something, always ask your mortgage lender and keep your agent in the loop for guidance beforehand about how this may affect your ability to qualify for your mortgage loan. Here is a list of actions that could be harmful to your loan approval status:

 

  1. Change jobs, become self-employed, or quit your job.

  2. Buy vehicles (Or boats, motorcycles, 4 wheelers).

  3. Use charge cards excessively or let your accounts fall behind.

  4. Spend money you have set aside for closing.

  5. Omit debts or liabilities from your loan application.

  6. Buy big-ticket items (furniture, costly major appliances, jewelry).

  7. Originate any inquiries into your credit (except mortgage lenders).

  8. Make large deposits (first check with your loan officer).

  9. Change, close, or alter bank accounts/credit cards/loans.

  10. Co-sign for a loan.

 

Feb. 24, 2014

Spruce Up Your Home For Spring

Spruce Up Your Home For Spring

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty explains what steps homeowners should take to get their home ready for the spring. She works with buyers and sellers in all areas of Columbia, SC.  Contact her when you’re ready to buy or sell in the Columbia area, or simply have a question!

Spring Cleaning Check List

  • Inspect and clean your gutters.  Keeping them clear of twigs, leaves, and other debris will help rain end up where you want it to go. 
  • Seal windows and doors.  Replace or add weather stripping around doors and caulk gaps around all doors and windows.  Also check the seal where your HVAC return meets your home and plumbing lines come through your foundation wall.  Add waterproof silicone caulk to any gaps noted. 
  • Foundation vents.  Make sure all foundation vents and crawl space doors can open and close and are intact. 
  • Replace your air filters.  Clean filters help your HVAC run properly.  Make sure you use a filter that works with your current system in size and design.
  • Have your HVAC serviced.  HVAC companies are busiest in the cold of winter and the dog days of summer, so check your A/C now!  No one wants to experience no A/C during upcoming summer months and wait for a trustworthy professional to fit them in their schedule.
  • Check your outdoor faucets, hoses, and irrigation systems for damage and to ensure they’re working properly.
  • Check and replace outdoor lights/bulbs that are not working. 
  • Pressure wash.  Your home should get a gentle wash annually to remove pollen and dirt and keep your exterior looking fresh. Also wash the walkways, patios, and decks. 
  • Inspect your roof.  Look for missing or damaged shingles before spring showers head your way.  Contact a professional to make needed repairs. 
Feb. 3, 2014

Understanding Types of Mortgage Loans

Understanding Types of Mortgage Loans

 Bethany Way of Capital City Realty shares the basics on mortgage loans to help you understand the different loan types available to home buyers.  She works with sellers and buyers in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to sell or buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.      

If you’re planning to finance your home purchase through a mortgage loan, here is a run-down on the basics that you should know so you understand the differences between the most basic loan options.  Remember to talk to your real estate agent.  They can help connect you with reputable loan officers who will assist you in determining which loan type is ultimately best for you and the type of property you wish to purchase.

Fixed-rate.  This mortgage has a non-adjustable interest rate for the duration (term) of your loan, therefore keeping your principal and interest payment the same each month.

Adjustable rate (ARM).  Unlike a fixed-rate mortgage, an ARM’s interest rate may vary over the life of the mortgage, which means your monthly payment can change over time.  If mortgage trends are on the rise when your rate is scheduled to adjust (your interest rate will be fixed for a specific number of years depending on the type of ARM you choose), you can expect to see a higher interest rate and therefore a higher monthly payment with an ARM. 

Conventional.  This loan type is made in the private sector and is not a government backed/insured mortgage.  Minimum down payment requirements are currently 5% with this loan type.

FHA.  Also made in the private sector, but this loan is government insured through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).  If someone defaults on an FHA loan, the lender gets compensated by the FHA.  Minimum down payment requirements are currently 3.5% on FHA loans. 

VA.  This government backed loan is insured by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is only offered to eligible military service members.  It offers 100% financing, so it requires no down payment from the borrower. 

USDA (Rural Housing Loan).  This loan offers 100% financing and also eliminates the need for a down payment to buyers purchasing property in designated rural areas, designated and approved by the Department of Agriculture.  There are income caps for this loan type (it’s geared toward those with low to moderate income) in addition to the property location requirements.    

Some loans, like the government backed options above (FHA, VA, USDA), have stricter requirements on the condition of the property.  This means many foreclosures, short sales, and other bank owned properties likely won’t be compatible with your government backed loan.  Ask your agent to help you eliminate homes that won’t meet the minimum condition requirements.   

Jan. 17, 2014

Tips to Conserve Energy in your Columbia, SC home

 

Tips to Conserve Energy in your Columbia, SC home

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty shares simple tips for conserving energy in your home.  She works with sellers and buyers in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to sell or buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.      

A new year frequently brings a new budget for your household.  Taking some easy, inexpensive steps to conserve energy can yield savings in utilities on an annual basis.   

Repair water leaks.  Leaky toilets and faucets can add to your water bill.  If you’re in the market to replace these items, seek out low flow technology options to conserve water. 

Switch to CFL light bulbs.  They’re a more expensive investment upfront, but over the long haul will save you money. If you’re not ready to make the switch, consider adding light damper switches. 

Turn off the lights.  When you leave the room, flip the switch and keep your lights off.  Seems easy enough, but many of us forget!

Unplug appliances.  When they’re not in use, unplug them, especially when you’re going away for longer time periods (vacation/holidays/work travel).  Make this even easier by using power strips.  Plug everything in and turn them off with one button!

Caulk and seal.  Caulk cracks, and seal your windows, doors, and HVAC ducts.

Adjust your water heater.   Lower your water heater’s temperature setting.  You can also wash clothes in cold water.  When replacing older water heaters, buy Energy Star certified models or go tankless. 

Line dry your clothes.  You can buy them from any home improvement store, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. and they are easily stashed beside your washer/dryer. 

Change your HVAC settings.  SCE&G recommends a setting of 78 in warm months and 68 in colder weather.  Dress accordingly and swap out bed linens to accommodate the change.  Your temperature settings can also be adjusted while you’re away from home during the day, and programmable thermostats make this even easier.    

Dec. 15, 2013

Pick the Right Contractor for your Columbia, SC home

 

Pick the Right Contractor for your Columbia, SC home

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty shares what you should know when selecting contractors to work on your home.  She works with sellers and buyers in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to sell or buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

Not every home improvement project is ideal for a DIY transformation, and not every homeowner feels comfortable with DIY projects.  When turning a project in your home over to a professional, there’s more to consider than shopping for the lowest job quote.  Remember the old adage, “You get what you pay for!”

 

Ask for referrals.  Friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers are a great source for referrals.  Who have they used and been pleased with the quality of work and ability to complete the job on time?  Remember to contact your real estate agent and ask if they have recommendations for you.  Websites like Angie’s List are another great resource in finding contractors with happy clients.

Get it in writing.  Make sure that you receive job quotes in writing and that they outline the specifics of what you’re wanting done and the agreed upon price.  Review the language of the quote for any disclosures on hidden damages/repairs and time constraints as well as the payment terms.  Is the quote vague?  Was the quote delivered when it was promised, or did it take too long to prepare?  These may be red flags about what your working experience with them could hold in the future. 

Show me the money.  While it’s common for some contractors to require a small advance in payment prior to starting, be wary of those that ask for full payment prior to your satisfaction of the job completion.

List your credentials.  Review the contractor’s credentials.  How long have they been in business and doing this type of work?  You need to know if they are licensed and the type of insurance they carry.  Do they belong to any professional associations? 

Ask for references.  Feel free to ask to see photos of or visit completed jobs.  Can they provide you with a list of references from past customers?  Check to see if the contractor is mentioned on online review sites like Angie’s list or if they’re rated with the Better Business Bureau. 

Quality time.  Make sure that they spent enough time with you discussing the particulars of the job and what you want.  Did they answer all your questions and explain things you didn’t understand?  Did they take the time to ask you questions about what you want and understand your expectations? 

 

Remember that the lowest price isn’t always the best option.  There is a lot more that goes into a home improvement project than cost.  Working with the right contractor can eliminate headache, time delays, miscommunication, and sometimes even save you money in the long run in ways you couldn’t foresee. 

Dec. 2, 2013

Working with a Buyer’s Agent to Buy Your Columbia, SC home

Working with a Buyer’s Agent to Buy Your Columbia, SC home

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty breaks down the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent when shopping for a home in the Columbia, SC area. 

She works with buyers searching for homes in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

The most important thing to know about working with a buyer’s agent is that it almost always costs you NOTHING and usually saves you money in the long run.  A buyer’s agent represents you exclusively, and they are normally compensated by the seller for their services to you.  Even a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) is normally willing to compensate an agent who brings an interested party to buy their home.  It’s probably the only time in your life that you’ll have a free personal assistant for a very personal and important aspect of your life.  That’s a pretty sweet deal! 

Most buyers start their search online and eventually drive around some neighborhoods and make calls on a few signs they see.  That may sound easy at first, aside from the expense of your personal time and gas, but it can quickly become a confusing and exhausting experience.  A good buyer’s agent knows what’s going on in areas that meet your needs and will keep you updated on new listings and price reductions on currently listed homes as soon as they happen -- much sooner than when they show up online.  They can help you weed through homes that are not a good investment of your time and money and focus on options that are best for you. 

A seasoned buyer’s agent will help you eliminate homes that won’t qualify for your financing type because of the home’s condition, saving you time and future headache (and even saving you money).  When it’s time to make an offer, a good buyer’s agent will help you negotiate the best deal possible on the home you wish to purchase.  Because agents show so many homes, we know what to look for and can remain detached from the process.  Buyers receive constructive, unbiased advice of the pros and cons based on our professional experience and market trends.  Finding, negotiating, inspecting, and closing on a home is a complex and in-depth process that most buyers aren’t equipped to face alone.  A buyer’s agent will help you with the complexities of the process that come up from start to finish. 

Working with buyer clients in Columbia, SC, I do all of these things and more on a daily basis.  When you start your home search, remember to hire your buyer’s agent.  We’re here to negotiate the best deal possible on your next home, represent your best interests, save you money when we can, and communicate with you throughout the entire process.    

   

Nov. 25, 2013

Inspecting the Home You’re Buying in Columbia, SC

Inspecting the Home You’re Buying in Columbia, SC

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty breaks down the inspections you’ll want to conduct and how to find qualified inspectors with a good track record when buying a home in Columbia, SC.

She works with buyers searching for homes in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

When buying a home in South Carolina, you have the right to what’s called a due diligence period once you and the seller have entered into a binding sales contract.  This due diligence is a period of time with a specified beginning and ending during which you can choose to conduct various inspections that will determine the condition of the home beyond what your eye can see.  Your due diligence period also allows you to decide if you want to move forward with buying this home in its current condition, if you want to negotiate with the seller to make certain repairs prior to your ownership, or if a price reduction is in order based on defects discovered. 

Each home is unique in its features and condition, but here are a few common inspections that are conducted. 

Heating and Air

Termite

General Home Inspection

Pool

Chimney

Septic

Well

Structural

 

When working with a buyer’s agent, they can help you find several reliable inspectors in the area with a good track record from whom to select to represent you in your inspections.  Family, friends, and colleagues are also good sources for referrals to inspectors.  Your buyer’s agent will keep you informed of your deadline for your due diligence period and any decisions you need to make regarding requesting repairs or deciding not to move forward with the purchase based on condition.  They also will go over results with you in detail and inspectors can explain any condition defects that you don’t understand.  They’ll help you see how they may affect your purchase, ownership, and future resale value.  Recommendations can be made on which deficiencies are most important to repair and at what point they should be addressed. 

It’s important to conduct these inspections to know that you’re truly getting what you’re paying for in your home purchase.  Let your buyer’s agent help guide you through this step in the home buying process.  If any repairs are made, they’ll also help you do a re-inspection to confirm repairs were completed professionally and correctly and have them documented in writing prior to your closing and taking ownership.   

Nov. 18, 2013

Curb Appeal – Get your Columbia, SC home ready to list

Curb Appeal – Get your Columbia, SC home ready to list

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty shares what homeowners can do to boost curb appeal and get their home ready to list on the market.  She works with sellers in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to sell your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

Every home needs to put its best foot forward and boost curb appeal to entice buyers to come inside.  I give my clients advice specific to their home so that it can shine in photos, in person, and on a drive-by.  Here are some general DIY tips that every seller can put into action to get market ready without much expense. 

 

  • Give a light pressure wash to the home and decks/patios to remove any mildew, dirt, or staining.
  • Remove bugs, wasps’ nests, and spider webs from front porches and stoops, light fixtures, and patios/decks.
  • Inspect doors and windows for peeling paint.  Apply a fresh coat of paint to the front door.
  • Paint or stain wood decks and fences.
  • Clean and align gutters.
  • Repair and replace loose or damaged roof shingles.
  • Repair and repaint loose siding and caulking.
  • Keep the lawn edged, cut and watered regularly.  Trim hedges, weed lawns and flowerbeds, and prune trees as needed.
  • Freshen up pine straw or mulch in all landscaping beds. 
  • During spring and summer months consider adding a few showy annuals, perhaps in pots, near your front entrance.
  • During fall, keep lawn and walkways clear of leaves and debris.  Add a few pops of color with seasonal items like pumpkins and mums.
  • Keep your garage door closed.
  • Keep pools, spas, and fountains clean and running properly.
  • Keep outdoor furniture and cushions clean.
  • Clean or replace old, tarnished items like mailboxes, door knockers, handles and locks, and flags and door wreaths that are dingy or faded.

Don’t forget to spruce up the inside of your home and get it ready for buyers and agents.  Learn more about prepping the inside of your home to list here

Nov. 10, 2013

Spruce up your insides - Get your Columbia, SC home ready to list

 

Spruce up your insides - Get your Columbia, SC home ready to list

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty shares what homeowners can do to get the inside of their home ready to list on the market. 

Every home needs to put its best foot forward when buyers and agents are touring.  I give my clients advice specific to their home so that it can shine in photos and in person during showings.  Here are some general DIY tips that every seller can put into action to get their home market-ready with minimal expense.  

  • Give every room in the house a thorough, deep cleaning. 
  • If you have a very busy schedule, consider hiring a professional cleaning service once every few weeks while the house is on the market.
  • Remove all clutter, including less frequently used items from counters, dressers, rooms, etc.  
  • Repaint dingy or strongly colored walls with a neutral shade of paint.
  • Fix nail holes and touch-up paint.
  • Keep ceiling fans, blinds, windows, appliances, bathtubs/showers, and baseboards clean.
  • Keep closets, cabinets, and the garage neat and organized. 
  • Clean the carpets.  Always keep hard floors clean of pet hair. 
  • Consider rearranging your furniture.  Some sellers rent a storage unit to store excess furniture pieces, have a yard sale, or donate to charities like Goodwill prior to listing.
  • Do some de-personalizing of the home.  Too many personal photos and too many items placed on the fridge translates into clutter for buyers. 
  • Neutralize pet, food, and garbage odors.  Take garbage out regularly, keep litter boxes clean, and give your pooch regular baths. 
  • Don’t over power with candles, sprays, etc. that are too strongly scented.  Go for neutral, clean, fresh scents.  
  • Turn on all lights, open blinds, and open curtains for all showings. 
  • Showcase special features of your home:  have a movie playing in your media room, soft music playing through your surround sound, outside water features turned on, etc. 
  • Consider conducting a pre-inspection and discuss any benefits of making repairs prior to selling with your agent. 

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty works with sellers in all areas of Columbia.  Contact her when you’re ready to sell your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

 

Nov. 4, 2013

Advantages of Loan Pre-approval - Buying Your Columbia, SC home

 

Advantages of Loan Pre-approval - Buying Your Columbia, SC home

Bethany Way of Capital City Realty details the advantages for buyers of getting loan pre-approval prior to starting their home search in Columbia, SC.

She works with buyers searching for homes in all areas of Columbia and can refer you to a reputable mortgage lender for loan pre-approval.  Contact her when you’re ready to buy your next home at 803-873-4096 or bethany.lynn.way@gmail.com.   

 

Knowledge is Power.  Be alerted to any potential credit or identity theft issues that will need to be resolved before you can purchase.  In today’s world, we have to stay informed and on the lookout.

Build Early Rapport with a Lender.  Let your buyer’s agent recommend reputable lenders to compete for your business and who will provide competitive loan terms, great rates, and excellent customer service.  Take advantage of speaking with them before starting your search and establishing a relationship with them.  They’re going to be helping you with the most important financial decision you’ll ever make!

Save Time and Energy.  When you already know what price range of home you are able to purchase, you can save time when searching online and looking with your buyer’s agent.  You can tailor your online search and your home showings to homes that fall within your budget, spending more time searching for the right home.   

Don’t Get Disappointed.  Many home buyers feel disappointment if they start their home search and are later approved for a loan amount that is lower than the price point at which they’ve previously been looking. 

Open New Possibilities.  You may find that you qualify to buy more home than you initially thought you could afford.  This allows you to consider new neighborhoods and homes you wouldn’t have otherwise known you could afford to purchase.  

Be an Informed Negotiator.  A pre-approval lets you know some terms upfront that will be helpful when you go to negotiate an offer on a home.  Knowing things like what loan type is best for you, the down payment you’ll be making, the current interest rate, and your estimated monthly payment will help guide you into better buying decisions when negotiating a price and other buying terms. 

A Seller Expects to See Your Pre-approval.  When you submit your initial offer to purchase a home, the seller is going to want to see in writing that they’re negotiating with a buyer who can purchase their home.  Many sellers will be reluctant to negotiate with a buyer who can’t provide this documentation, and it’s highly unlikely they’d ever enter into a binding agreement to sell you the home without it in-hand first. 

Get down to business faster.  After you’ve reached an agreement in writing with the seller, you as the buyer have a very short window to make formal loan application.  Getting pre-approved in advance will help speed up the process.