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Are Real Estate Agents Becoming Obsolete?

We’ll start by giving you the short answer: NO.

We don’t believe that real estate agents are becoming obsolete, and they won’t be for the foreseeable future. Agents exist to keep all sides involved in a real estate transaction honest and to help iron out any kinks in the deal as quickly and easily as possible. Technology alone can only go so far. When it comes to closing the deal, you need a knowledgeable real estate agent by your side. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

1. Buying real estate is unlike any other purchase.

A house is the largest purchase the average person will make in his or her lifetime. Few people attach as much sentiment to any other large possession as they do to a house. To the seller, this house is where they’ve spent time—sometimes decades—making memories and often putting blood, sweat, and tears into maintenance or renovation. To the buyer, the house may be their dream home, the place where they hope to make new memories with their family. A real estate agent is an unbiased party who helps take some of the sentimentality out of the deal and ensures their client looks at things logically. Many attorneys will tell you that real estate transactions that don’t involve agents are some of the most complicated, emotional, and hardest to get to the closing table.

2. Real estate agents are highly trained and educated in their field.

Realtors know their local market inside and out and are required to keep up with continuing education. They know how to market a home. They know how to negotiate to get you the absolute best deal, no matter if you’re the buyer or seller. They know how to keep things moving along so the deal closes on time. They know exactly when and how to present an offer, and they can get the correct paperwork submitted in a timely manner. Using an agent helps you buy or sell more quickly, for a better price, and with less legwork on your part.

3. The real estate market is always changing.

The best agents are proactive. They stay up to date on changing laws, state and federal rules and regulations, mortgage and finance changes, the local and global economy, the local market, local trends, technological advances, and so much more. They adopt new technology but also invest time in cultivating skills a computer or smartphone can’t provide.

4. Real estate agents specialize in your local market.

Sure, it’s easy for anyone to go online and get a general idea of what their house should be worth. But the question is will it actually sell for the amount Zillow, Trulia, or any other real estate website says it should? It’s difficult for homeowners to understand why their home is less valuable than their neighbors’. Your local Realtor knows why. Your neighbor’s home could be on a larger lot, or it might be completely renovated inside or have certain highly desirable features your house doesn’t have. A good real estate agent can produce a comparative market analysis (CMA) that shows you exactly how and why your house is different from other houses in the same market.

5. Agents know what to do in a sticky situation.

They know exactly how to handle a multiple-offer situation, whether they represent the buyer or the seller. They have connections and know which lenders, inspectors, contractors, and other vendors are worth their salt, which keeps you from being cheated. If you have trouble obtaining a traditional mortgage loan, they also have access to information on alternative financing. Having trouble making ends meet? Guess what. Your friendly neighborhood real estate agent can help you out with foreclosure prevention solutions.

6. First-time buyers will always need professional help.

Again, we acknowledge that there is a wealth of information on the internet concerning the purchase and sale of real estate. There are tons of websites and mobile apps designed to help you find your dream home. But when it comes down to it, a first-time buyer will almost always need someone to guide them through the actual process of buying a home. There are so many intricacies involved in a deal that it’s impossible to understand all of them as a first-time buyer without the help of an agent. Without one, you risk being taken advantage of or violating certain laws and regulations without realizing it.

7. Real estate agents are pros at negotiating.

In any real estate transaction, there is a certain amount of negotiation. Buyers want to get their dream home at the lowest price possible, and sellers want to get the highest dollar amount they can for their homes. Negotiations are tricky and can be extremely involved. Not everyone has the skill required to conduct them. A good agent will apply these skills to help get their clients the best price while satisfying all parties in the transaction. They know exactly how to adjust the give-and-take required to make a sale as smooth as possible.

The bottom line is this: if you purchase or sell real estate without the help of a licensed real estate agent, you’re putting yourself and your investment at risk. At Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company, our agents provide invaluable help and insight combined with a high level of expertise and top-notch service. If you haven’t contacted a real estate agent yet, do yourself a favor and get in touch with us for boutique service like no other.

How-To Tuesday: Organize Your Kitchen For Easy Cooking and Cleaning

You’ve just moved into your new home. A new home that features a gorgeous, brand new gourmet kitchen. Now that you have your dream kitchen, how do you organize it for easy use? We hate when we’re getting into our groove, cooking our favorite dinner, and have to stop to search for the lemon zester or garlic press. To make things go smoothly in the kitchen, start by arranging it so that commonly used items are easily accessible. Check out these tips for organizing your kitchen for easy cooking and cleaning.

Purge

Your kitchen cabinets need the same treatment your closet gets every once in a while: a good ol’ purge. Take a serious look at your kitchen equipment and tools. If there’s anything that hasn’t been used in a year or more, get rid of it. Just because a kitchen gadget does something really cool, it doesn’t mean you have to have it. If it’s something that never gets used, donate or sell it.

Arrange

Store things that aren’t used as often in cabinets farther away from your stove and workspace or in your buffet or china cabinet. Things like seasonal dishware, large roasting pans for turkeys and hams, and your good china can be stashed until you need them. On the other hand, the items that you use more frequently should be stored close to your workspace. Everyday items should always be close at hand. For example, use a magnetic knife strip to keep your best knives out of reach of little hands but also nearby.

Organize

Determine a place for everything, and stick to it. Designate a drawer for spatulas, wooden spoons, ladles, et cetera. If you’re into baking, set aside a certain cabinet for items used for that. If you entertain a lot, have an area that holds the items you only bring out for entertaining purposes. Keep items close to the area where they’re used most. Ideally, things like pots and pans, cooking utensils, and pot holders will all be stored near the stove.

Store

Know where certain items should be stored for their protection or for convenience. Keep non-refrigerated food items in a cool, dry place. While you want your spices and herbs to be close to the stove for cooking, they need to be kept inside a drawer or cabinet and away from heat. Keep everyday plates, bowls, and silverware in cabinets and drawers close to the dishwasher for easy put-away. And this one may be obvious to most, but cleaning supplies should be stored under or near the sink for easy access.

Beware

There are also some tips to keep in mind for safety’s sake in the kitchen. First, don’t store heavier items on high shelves. It’s much easier to take heavy things from bottom shelves and cabinets than to risk them falling on you as you try to reach them on higher ones. If you have small children, be extra careful of where you keep items they could hurt themselves on, like blenders or food processors. You might want to keep food items out of reach unless you don’t mind little ones going for a snack whenever they please. Be mindful of any food allergies your family or friends might deal with. Keep allergy-friendly foods on a specific shelf and store those items with allergen ingredients in a place that’s not quite as easily accessed, especially if the one with the allergy is a small child.

6 Best Apps for Preparing to Buy a Home

Recently we posted a blog about the best apps for homeowners who are preparing to sell their homes. Listen up, prospective home buyers, because today we want to talk about the best apps for buying a home. According to the NAR’s Real Estate in the Digital Age 2017 Report, the typical home buyer uses a mobile device to search for properties online. Buyers look at websites with photos, home listings, and information about the home buying process. Apps are the best way to get streamlined, real-time information about what’s available on the market at any given time. With the plethora of information and number of various smartphone apps out there, things can get confusing. Luckily, we’ve narrowed the list down for you. Without further ado, we give you our list of six of the best apps to use when you’re preparing to buy a home.

Realtor.com

As the ultimate app for potential home buyers, Realtor.com provides property listings from over 800 MLS engines, refreshed every 15 minutes. The app is easy to use and offers details like price, sales history, property taxes, school information, open house times, driving directions, and more. You can also search by school name to reveal homes for sale within that school’s attendance lines. Turn on your notifications to receive updates on homes you love, price reductions, and new listings. And now with Sign Snap, you can take a picture of a real estate sign with your iPhone to get instant listing details in the app. Other great features include 3D home tours, custom alerts and widgets, and real estate news and insights.

Homesnap

Homesnap has been called the Snapchat of real estate. Its main draw is that it allows you to snap a photo of any home anywhere and receive instant information taken from MLS listings, census data, property tax records, and other sources. Find home value estimates, interior photos, beds, baths, taxes, lot boundaries, school ratings, and much more. Homesnap allows users to message each other within the app, or if one party doesn’t have the app, it will send them alerts via text and allow their replies to be sent back to you in the app.

Redfin

Redfin updates its MLS data every 15 to 30 minutes, making it one of the most efficient search tools for homebuyers. Buyers can refine their searches by neighborhood, school zone, ZIP code, and city in 83 U.S. markets. Redfin is a great app for building a quick analysis of comparable properties in the area. Notifications will let you know when a new home that meets your criteria hits the market. Plus you can find all the open houses near you and plan your visits, complete with directions. The app can tell you which homes are likely to sell the fastest, giving you a competitive edge over other buyers.

Mortgage Calculator by QL

Quicken Loans Inc. brings us a must-have tool in its Mortgage Calculator by QL app. Buyers will love everything this simple-to-use app has to offer. Get real-time mortgage rates and calculate your mortgage options. Use the Home Affordability Calculator to see just how much home you can afford. The Amortization Calculator will tell you the total cost of your loan and how much you could save by making extra payments toward the principal amount. Simply choose the calculator you’d like to use, enter your specific numbers to see loan options, and tap to see details like private mortgage insurance, down payments, and more. And when it comes time to refinance, the Refinance Calculator comes in handy to help you figure out what your payment could be if you refinance.

AroundMe

Searching for a home in an area that’s unfamiliar to you? AroundMe is the perfect app for you. This app allows you to find out information about your surroundings on the spot. If you’re out house hunting and think you’ve found the perfect home but aren’t sure about the surroundings, pull out your phone and click on AroundMe. You’ll be able to see the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, and taxi. View each location on a map and see the route from wherever you are. You can even add the info you’ve found to your Contacts list or email it to a friend.

Real Estate Dictionary

All industries have their own jargon, and the real estate business is no different. There are lots of real estate terms and legal lingo thrown about, and sometimes Realtors, mortgage lenders, and attorneys might forget that you don’t deal in this language on a day to day basis like they do. If you’re confused about what an easement is or still aren’t quite sure what escrow means, check the Dictionary of Real Estate Terms app for a quick and simple explanation. View thousands of real estate terms, images, and diagrams. Save an unlimited number of bookmarks to access those pesky words you can never seem to remember. Just download it. You’ll thank us later.

 

Friday Five // February 23rd, 2018

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s time for the Friday Five, our list of five local happenings around the Lowcountry throughout weekend. Choose from two oyster roasts benefitting great causes, a themed brunch, a celebration of children everywhere, and more! Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend.

Fans of The Breakfast Club and other 1980s films and music will enjoy Cannon Green’s 80s Beats + Brunch on Sunday. From 10:30am until 2:30pm, have your Sunday brunch with a healthy dose of tunes from your favorite ’80s movies and Billboard Top Charts.

The 30th Annual KidsFair takes place this Saturday at the Gaillard Center from 11am until 5pm. With an annual attendance of over 10,000 people and growing, KidsFair mission is about “empowering, enlightening, and educating children and families about health, wellness, and education.” Celebrate children with over 100 exciting and educational hands-on activities and exhibits along with entertainment throughout the day. Brought to you by the Jewish Community Center Without Walls in partnership with the City of Charleston, the event benefits students, scholarships, and organizations in the community that share the KidsFair mission.

Pork & Pearls pig and oyster roast returns to Daniel Island this Saturday on the Grand Lawn of Volvo Car Stadium from 3-7pm. Presented by the Daniel Island Property Owners Association, this annual event benefits Windwood Family Services, an organization celebrating more than thirty years of providing Help, Hope, & Healing to abused and neglected children in South Carolina. Pork & Pearls features live music, adult libations, a kids’ zone, and of course, all you can eat oysters and barbeque.

If one oyster roast isn’t enough for you this weekend, head on out to the Dill Sanctuary Saturday from 12-3pm for the Charleston Museum’s Annual Oyster Roast. Listen to live music from Dallas Baker & Friends, shuck oysters, eat delicious barbecue from Sticky Fingers, and delight in fried deliciousness from Diggity Doughnuts. This year’s event is BYOB, so bring your coolers along with your blankets and chairs.

Roller derby is back this weekend! The Lowcountry Highrollers face off against the Muscogee Roller Girls from Georgia in a double-header season opener on Saturday. The Highrollers’ Allstars will take on the Roller Girls’ Allstars at 5pm, and the Highrollers’ Bruisin’ Betties face the Roller Girls at 7pm in a battle of the best. Beer and wine will be available for purchase along with food from two food trucks: La’Son Anchor Grill and Holy City Cupcakes.

6 of the Worst Home Renovations for Your Money

Making improvements to your home might not sound like it could ever be a negative thing. But did you know that some home improvements could be detrimental to your bottom line when you sell your home? There are plenty of home renovation projects that don’t bring much of a return on investment at all. We took a look at the 2018 Cost Vs. Value report, which takes the average cost of a project and weighs it against its resale value to get the potential return on investment (ROI). This year, home improvement projects across the board took a hit, with the biggest dips in ROI falling under the “upscale” range. Let’s look at six of the worst home renovations for your money in 2018.

Backyard Patio  

Having a nice entertaining space in the backyard might seem like a great, cost effective way to up the value of your home. According to the 2018 Cost vs. Value report, it’s really not. A backyard patio only nets a 47.6% return on average. If you’re going to add or update a back patio, we suggest a small scale project.

Master Suite Addition

It’s one thing to desire a large master suite for living purposes. But if you’re looking to add a master suite simply to add square footage, don’t do it. On average, a midrange master suite addition only has a resale value of 56.6% off its cost. An upscale master suite has an even lower ROI at 48.3%.

Major Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is a huge selling point for buyers, and it’s usually the first place people start their home remodels. Before you do that complete kitchen overhaul, think about these numbers. A midrange kitchen remodel nets a 59% return, while an upscale remodel is valued at about 53.5%. A minor kitchen remodel should get you 81.1% of your investment back, so it’s better to go small. You likely won’t see enough of a return to make a major remodel worth your time and money.

Bathroom Addition

Thinking of adding another bathroom to your house? If you need the space, go for it. But don’t expect to completely recoup the costs when you sell. A midrange bathroom addition will get you about a 60% return. If you don’t absolutely need the extra space, go for a remodel of an existing bath. Bathroom remodels will give you a slightly higher return at around 70%.

Roof Replacement

Okay, so sometimes there’s no getting around the need to replace a roof. If your roof is old or damaged and actually needs replacing, doing it now will save you headaches when you go to sell. But replacing a roof just because you want to upgrade won’t get you much of a return. A total midrange roof replacement has a resale value of about 68.4% of its cost.

New Fiberglass Door

If you need to replace your front entry door, wood or fiberglass aren’t your only options. A fiberglass door will give you roughly 67% back when you sell. A steel door, however, costs less and has a return of 91.3%. Steel doors are also great if security and durability top your list of concerns. They won’t ever crack or warp, and dents or dings can be easily repaired with an auto body repair kit.

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A friend of ours who recently bought a house enthusiastically referred us to Johnson & Wilson. Our friend's recommendation was top notch - Johnson & Wilson. is AWESOME! - Brian
 
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