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When Homebuyer Couples Don’t Agree

Unless you’re the sole buyer of a home with no other interested parties, deciding what house to buy will be a joint effort. Sometimes the decision isn’t an easy one, and a lot of compromises have to be made. But what happens when you and your partner disagree over what you’re looking for or what you can afford? Here’s how to hash it out fairly without one person getting left out in the cold.

Make a list.

Make four lists, to be exact. Have your partner sit down with a pen and paper, and you do the same. Without consulting one another, make a list of your “must-haves” and a list of your “nice-to-haves.” When you’re finished, compare the four lists to see what you have in common. Those are the most important items to concentrate on and will get you off to a good start. Focusing on common goals in the beginning will help make both of you more amenable to compromising on other things later.

Put emotions aside.

We get it. Buying a house is an emotional experience, especially for first-time buyers or couples who are living together for the first time. But it’s best to try to inject some logic into the situation. For example, does that outdoor kitchen in the beautifully landscaped backyard you just toured inspire you to entertain more? Sure, the prospect of weekly parties sounds fun, but think hard about how often you’ll actually use it. If you don’t entertain all that much now, you probably won’t in a new place. Unless it’s something you were specifically looking for, don’t get attached to a detail that threatens to put a kink in your home search.

Consult the budget.

If compromise continues to elude you, take a look at the numbers. This will help you be more logical about whether or not a certain aspect of the home is worth arguing over. Ideally, your monthly mortgage payment should be no more than 25% of your take-home pay. If the things you’re haggling about push you out of that price range, they’re probably not worth arguing over.

Put it off.

Just take a break from house hunting for a few weeks. Don’t talk about it; don’t think about it; and don’t sneak peeks at what’s on the market during your hiatus. Just take some time to decompress, reconnect as a couple, and then revisit the topic as a united front with fresh eyes and opinions.

Ask your agent to mediate.

As a third party, your real estate agent has an unbiased view of the situation. In a lot of cases, it’s easier to hear something from a neutral party than it is to hear it from your significant other. Your agent can help you look at the facts and make an educated decision without allowing emotion to interfere.

Compromise is key. If just one person gets everything they want out of their home search, it could cause resentment and leave a gap between partners. Don’t let buying a home come between you and your significant other! Use these tips to help you figure out how to give both parties what they want without one person giving up everything.

Friday Five // May 4th, 2018

Happy May, everyone! Spring is in full swing, and we’ve got some fun events for you in this week’s Friday Five roundup. With Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby falling on the same day, you can bet there’s tons of fun to be had in the Lowcountry this weekend. Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend. (And for all the Star Wars fans out there, May the Fourth be with you!)

Celebrate Pet Helpers and all the good deeds they do for animals in the Lowcountry at the Joe on Friday evening from 7pm until 10pm. Join Pet Helpers’ staff, board members, and volunteers as they celebrate 40 years of saving animals and being the first no-kill shelter in Charleston. Past and current adopters and their furry family members will be invited to join the alumni circle in the outfield before the game. There will be a kissing booth, giveaways, and lots of fun for the family!

In case you weren’t aware, May the fourth is officially known as Star Wars Day! Celebrate at May the 4th Frothy Beard Beer Pairing. There will be special chocolate and beer pairings from Evolution Through Chocolate and Frothy Beard, featuring special guests C3PO, Yoda, Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. And of course there will be a costume contest. May the froth be with you!

Saturday is Cinco de Mayo, the annual celebration of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The day isn’t widely celebrated in Mexico, but here in the States, it’s grown to be a commercial celebratory day of Mexican culture and heritage with an emphasis on food, drinks, and music. Celebrate the day at the 13th annual Charleston Cinco de Mayo Festival at the Visitor’s Center Bus Shed, the Cinco de Mayo on King Bar Crawl, Mex 1’s Cinco de Mayo Block Party, or at other local restaurants like Taco Boy.

Also taking place this Saturday is the Kentucky Derby. Even if we can’t make it to Churchill Downs for the races, there will be lots of opportunities to don your seersucker and biggest hats, socialize with friends and strangers, and watch the televised derby. Check out Kentucky Derby socials at local spots like Warehouse, the Rooftop Bar at Vendue, Edmund’s Oast, and more.

The 36th annual North Charleston Arts Fest takes place all weekend long, produced by the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department. This multi-day celebration of arts and culture features national, regional, and local artists and performers in dance, music, theater, visual arts, media arts, and literature. Choose from a diverse selection of free and modestly priced performances, workshops, exhibitions, and activities in a variety of venues. With offerings such as concerts, theater presentations, children’s programs, film screenings, workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions, public art installations, and more, the festival offers something for everyone!

What You Should Know About Comps

Anyone who sells or buys a home is going to hear a lot about comps. But what does it mean? What are comps? And why are they so important?

The term comps is real estate lingo for comparable properties. These are the other homes that surround the property you intend to sell or buy. Whether you like it or not, they have an effect on the value of that property. Let’s look at what exactly gets considered when comparing your home to the others surrounding it.

Location

Even though your home is in the same neighborhood as the comps, the location within that neighborhood makes a difference. If your home is next to a busy road, train tracks, or an industrial area, it can affect the price.

The Lot

Lot size obviously makes a difference in pricing. If your home comes with three-quarters of an acre, it might fetch a higher price than a comparable home on a quarter-acre lot. Additionally, if two lots are the same size, their usability might affect price.

Renovations and Upgrades

Renovations and other improvements have a big effect on a home’s value. Home with renovated bathrooms, updated kitchens, hardwood flooring throughout, et cetera, will go for a higher price than similar homes without those upgrades.

Other Features

A home that has the master bedroom on the bottom floor isn’t the best comp for one that has all three bedrooms upstairs. Some specific features can affect value, such as premium views, corner lots, custom features, and a finished basement or attic space.

Sales Price

A home’s list price doesn’t have anything to do with its actual value. What matter is the price someone actually paid for that home. Just because Joe Schmo down the street chose to list his home at $300,000, it doesn’t mean your home (or his home, for that matter) is worth that. If similar homes in the neighborhood are actually selling for $250,000, Mr. Schmo’s home might not appraise for $300,000, and buyers won’t be able to obtain financing for it.

Timing

The best comps are those that are either pending or very recently sold. A home that is pending sale is a piece of real-time market data. Sales older than six months to a year don’t necessarily reflect current market data.

Trust in your real estate agent’s expertise to find the best comps to determine your home’s listing price. If you have any questions about why a certain comp has an effect on your home’s value, don’t hesitate to ask! A great agent will be happy to help you understand exactly how comps work.

To Buy or to Build: That Is the Question

When you think about your dream home, you probably have every little detail stored away like a snapshot in your mind. Sometimes that picture perfect home is already out there waiting for you, and sometimes you have to build it yourself. In times when inventory is tight, it’s sometimes hard to know what to do. Do you settle for what’s out there? Do you wait until the market leans toward buyers? Or do you build your dream home yourself? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons to help answer these questions.

BUILDING A HOUSE

The Pros:

Everything is new. Obviously if you’re building a brand new house, you’ll be the first inhabitants, which means you’ll be moving into a sparkly new home meant just for you. This is great for those homebuyers who get kind of creeped out thinking about taking a bath in someone else’s old tub.

You can go custom. You have complete control over design and detail. Since you dictate everything you need from the get-go, there won’t be any renovating, additions, or knocking down walls once the house is yours. Even if it’s initially cheaper to buy a pre-existing home, you’ll save thousands of dollars by not having to renovate and customize.

New homes, new trends. Open floor plans are de rigueur in today’s homes. Older homes often have floor plans or design choices that don’t make sense for modern life. Architects and builders know what’s popular now and what’s coming down the pipeline, and they can deliver a thoroughly modern plan fit for your family.

Energy-efficiency equals mega savings. Building codes and standards for energy-efficiency are much higher now than in the past. Buying an older home might mean you have to invest in new Energy Star windows and appliances—maybe even a whole new HVAC system—to keep your home green and save money on utilities. Building a new home means having new, energy-efficient features right off the bat.

The Cons:

It takes longer. If you have a strict timeline, building a home is probably not the best option for you. The building process can take up to six months (sometimes more, depending on weather and other conditions), so if you know you’ll need a place in three months, it’s probably best to buy a pre-existing home.

Financial limitations. Pricing can be tricky sometimes. Let’s say you find the absolute perfect plan for a house with the layout you’ve always dreamed of. Except it’s missing a few things, like a fireplace or a front porch or some other upgrade that isn’t included in the base price of the home. Once you start adding upgrades and special requests, the price of your dream house keeps climbing. Making changes and additions can end up being pretty expensive.

You might be living in limbo. If you have to move out of your previous home before the new one is completed, you’ll have to find temporary housing. This means moving twice, putting the majority of your belongings into storage, and living in a sort of uncertain state while you wait for your new house to be ready.

Financing is tougher sometimes. Obtaining a construction loan may be more difficult than getting a traditional mortgage loan. Construction loans involve more risk and complexities, and you’ll typically need more money up front. They’re also harder to qualify for than traditional mortgages. On the other hand, if you’re building a spec home in a planned development, a traditional mortgage will work, as you’re buying the completed product from the builder.

BUYING A HOUSE

The Pros:

You have the opportunity to make instant equity. Buying an older home and making much-needed upgrades could mean that you gain a good bit of equity early on. In a brand new house, you’re the high man on the totem pole. You can’t go much higher, especially if developers are still building in your neighborhood. In an older home, there’s lots of room to move up and make more equity earlier.

Costs can be deferred. There’s nothing that says you have to do all of your renovations and upgrades at once. When you buy a pre-existing home that’s in livable condition, you have the ability to take your time and spread costs out over time without breaking your budget.

You can move in immediately. There won’t be any living in limbo like you sometimes have to do with new construction.You won’t have to work with the timelines of builders and inspectors and flooring installers. As soon as you close on your new home and get the keys, you can move in right away.

You know the area and its amenities. Buying in an established area means there’s pre-existing knowledge about the history of the neighborhood, property values, nearby amenities, and what goes on in the area.

The Cons:

The layout is the layout. There’s no customizing the floor plan of an existing home without a lot of construction, money, and hassle. Sure, you can knock down a wall or two here and there, but the bedrooms and bathrooms are where they are—unless you’re willing and able to take on a major renovation, that is.

Design and decor costs can add up. It’s not too often that a buyer moves in completely happy with an older home. Most of the time, you’ll need to paint, remove wallpaper, change flooring, add window blinds or shades… It can really add up, both time- and money-wise.

Buyer’s remorse might set in. Moving into a pre-existing home means learning about the little quirks and issues you didn’t see during the homebuying process, which sometimes leads to buyer’s remorse. This is especially common in a seller’s market, when buyers have to act quickly and can’t take much time to really think about a purchase.

Insurance rates could be higher. Older homes don’t have some of the newer safety features and quality assurances that come with new construction. This means your insurance costs could be higher than they would be in a new home. There are certain things you can do to update your home and help lower insurance costs, but again, those take time and money.

There’s really no right or wrong answer to the build-or-buy debate. It all comes down to the buyers their wants and needs. Every buyer has different tastes. Every buyer has a limit of what they’re willing to put up with. Every situation is different. Whether you plan to build a new house or buy a pre-existing one, we’re here to assist you in finding or building your dream home.

How-To Tuesday: Hold a Successful Yard Sale

Yard sale. Garage sale. Tag sale. Rummage sale. Whatever you call it, it’s the season for getting rid of clutter and making a little extra cash in the process. If you want to hold a good, successful sale that runs smoothly, it can’t just be thrown together at the last minute. It takes patience, planning, and a little bit of hard work to get everything ready. Try these tips for holding a truly successful yard sale.

Plan ahead.

You can’t just decide on a Friday evening that you want to have a garage sale on Saturday morning. It takes planning to pull everything together, get the word out, and set yourself up for success. Choose a date that will allow you plenty of time to gather all of the items you want to sell, price them, run ads on local websites and/or newspapers, go to the bank so you’ll have enough change for buyers, etc. We recommend starting the process at least a week ahead of time.

Decide on a date and time.

Saturday is by far the most popular day to hold a yard sale. If you really want to maximize your time spent, try doing a multi-day sale, preferably on Friday and Saturday mornings or Saturday and Sunday mornings. Most yard sale shoppers start early, so the earlier you set up, the better. 7am until noon is a good, solid time frame for most yard sales. That way you catch both the early birds and the late risers. Be sure to check the weather beforehand!

Check permit requirements.

In Charleston, permits are NOT required for garage sales, as long as you don’t have more than one per quarter. This is a standard set forth by the state. Check official city websites for information on other areas.

Gather the goods.

Grab that “giveaway” box you put together during spring cleaning and get it ready! People will buy a wide variety of things at yard sales, from DVDs and CDs to random electronic chargers and baby clothes. Some of the items that attract a lot of buyers are baby gear, kids’ toys, name brand clothing and accessories, video game consoles and/or games, and power tools.

Get the word out.

Back in the “olden days,” our choices for advertising yard sales were basically just newspaper ads and handwritten signs. Now we have lots more platforms available, like Craigslist, neighborhood websites, and social media sites. Mom Swap and For Sale pages on Facebook are particularly good places to post info for your yard sale. Be sure to include the date(s), times, address, and examples of items for sale. Put out signs a day or two before the sale. Make sure they’re easy to read and maybe add a balloon for attention.

Price your inventory.

To make things simple, get some removable stickers from anywhere office supplies and stationery are sold. Set your prices at nice, round numbers like 50 cents, 3 for $1, $10, etc. Yard sale shoppers will almost always try to negotiate a lower price, so keep that in mind.

Gather supplies.

Remember to get a lot of one dollar bills and quarters so you can make change for shoppers. You’ll need a calculator at hand for large purchases. Grab some old newspaper for wrapping fragile items, and break out old shopping bags for customer convenience. It’s also a good idea to make a list (rough or detailed) of what you have for sale so you can keep a tally of what you’ve sold throughout the day.

Get organized.

Sort items out by category, and place like items together. Don’t make shoppers dig through a box of assorted clothes in all sizes just to find baby onesies. Organizing by category will also help you keep an eye on the big ticket items to make sure they don’t disappear.

Have fun!

Make it a family event. Enlist the kids’ help by setting up a lemonade or soda and snack stand with them.  Play fun music to attract passersby and keep shoppers in high spirits. Maybe even have a coloring station to keeps kids entertained while their parents browse.

We hope these tips help you have your best yard sale yet. Now take that extra cash you made and treat your family to a movie or a nice dinner out. You’ve earned it!

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