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Increase Home Equity

One of the primary advantages of owning a home is the chance to build equity. Equity is the portion of house that the owner has already paid off, or the difference between the home's value and the owner's total debt to the mortgage lender. On the road to 100 percent equity, in which the homeowner owns the property outright, building equity can be a big advantage in managing personal finances and profiting from a home sale.

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Reasons

Homeowners have plenty of reasons to increase home equity. More home equity means the chance to borrow more money with a second mortgage in the form of a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. These loans provide money for funding home improvements, paying medical bills, funding a child's education or buying consumer goods like a new car, boat or RV. Home equity also allows the owner to profit more from selling the home and put that money toward a new house or retirement savings.

 

Down Payment

The initial down payment that a mortgage borrower makes upon buying a house is the first step toward building equity. A standard 20 percent down payment gives the borrower exactly 20 percent home equity, which is measured as 20 percent of the home's fair market value. A larger down payment means more equity, and can also reduce monthly mortgage payments.

 

Mortgage Payments

Each mortgage payment that a homeowner makes includes a portion of the principal of the loan and interest that accrues each month. The principal portion goes toward building home equity, and with each passing month the homeowner has slightly more equity. Making double payments can speed up the process and lead to more equity faster. Homeowners who have an interest-only mortgage lose the chance to build equity, since they temporarily only pay interest in order to keep payments at an affordable level.

 

Home Improvements

Anything that increases the value of a house also increases the owner's equity. This is why home improvements can be such a practical and profitable investment. Homeowners who invest in routine maintenance, along with other projects like renovations and additions, are helping to boost their equity while also making the home a more enjoyable place to live. Landscaping, new fixtures and adding energy-efficient appliances all boost home values and raise the owner's equity.

 

The Real Estate Market

Finally, the real estate market itself can be responsible for large changes in home equity. The supply of homes on the market and the demand from home buyers can drive home values up or push them downward. When mortgage interest rates are low, more buyers may be in the market, which can cause home values to rise and current owners to gain equity. Improvements in a neighborhood or region that make it a more attractive place to live can have the same effect on a local level.

Selling During the Holidays

It may seem like a terrible idea to try to sell your home during the holiday season — but actually it’s not. While selling a home can be somewhat stressful and the holidays are super-busy for most people, there are also some major advantages to selling at this time of year: your home probably looks wonderfully inviting and cozy, with pretty decorations; lots of other people are waiting until after the holidays to put their homes on the market, thus reducing competition; and people shopping for a home during the holidays are usually very motivated and will close quickly at or near your asking price. 

So now that you’ve decided it’s a great time to put your house on the market, here are a few tips to help you attract buyers and close quickly.

  1. Create a cozy atmosphere. Especially if you’re in a cold-weather area, you will benefit from making your house warm and inviting. There are fewer hours of daylight now so make sure the rooms are well lit, and light the fireplace for added coziness.
  2. Pay attention to all five senses. Play soft classical music; put out some delicious and delicious-smelling treats with holiday napkins; scatter soft and snuggly blankets that will make prospective buyers want to hang around. The longer they stay, the more they’ll envision themselves living in your home.
  3. Decorate wisely. Usually when selling a home you’ll strip it down to the bare essentials and pack up personal items to make it easier for prospective buyers to envision their own belongings in the home. At holiday time, that conventional wisdom can go out the window. Make sure your visual presentation is festive, but don’t overdo it. Also, you’ll need to keep things more neutral and decorate on a seasonal theme, rather than being holiday-specific. Think snow scenes and pine boughs rather than Santas and menorahs.
  4. Know your market. In general, people who are homeshopping during the holidays are very motivated to buy. Some people need to close before the end of the year for tax reasons; some are looking for a bargain; some are forced to move. Many people will be relocating in January to start new jobs, such as military families or college professors. Your real estate agent will help you target the right kind of buyers.


Putting your home on the market during the holidays can mean ignoring all the conventional ideas about preparing your home for sale. But you’ve got a different kind of buyer at this time of year, and you’ll want to make sure you target them with features that will make your home irresistible. 

Rely on your experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent to guide you through the season and help keep the holiday stress-free. And just think: Selling your home quickly at a great price is a wonderful holiday gift! 

By  BARRY ARTHUR MOELLER

10 Day of Christmas: A Calendar of Holiday Events

Charleston is the perfect place to celebrate Christmas, and there is no shortage of activities to choose from in these next 10 days leading up to Christmas Day! The kids are counting down the days until Christmas break, and the kids-at-heart are looking for ways to celebrate every day. We've put together a calendar of to-do's from December 15th through December 25th. Take a look at all of the fantastic events happening in Charleston and fill the next ten days with tons of holiday magic.

Monday, December 15th

Celtic Christmas 

What:  Join Na Fidleiri and the Taylor Festival Choir in a Celtic celebration of Christmas, featuring Irish Uilleann piper Cillian Vallely and Irish guitarist John Doyle.

Where:  Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting Street

When:  7:30-9pm

25th Annual Singing Christmas Tree

What:  An exciting evening of music and fun featuring a 35-foot tree, 28-piece orchestra, and 85-voice choir.

Where:  Summerville Baptist Church, 417 Central Avenue

When:  7:30pm

 

Tuesday, December 16th

ELF at the Johns Island Library

What:  Watch a holiday favorite film, starring Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel.

Where:  Johns Island Library, 3531 Maybank Highway

When:  4pm

 

Wednesday, December 17th

Holiday Centerpieces

What:  Renee Devane teaches you how to create beautiful floral arrangements for your holiday parties and gatherings. Each participant will take home a floral centerpiece. Snacks provided. ($50 per person includes materials)

Where:  Southern Season, 730 Coleman Boulevard

When:  5-8pm

Jinglebang!

What:  Local musicians perform beloved Christmas songs.

Where:  Tin Roof, 1117 Magnolia Road

When:  8pm

 

Thursday, December 18th

CSO: Holy City Messiah

What:  The Charleston Symphony Orchestra presents Handel's Messiah.

Where:  Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, 120 Broad Street

When:  7:30pm

 

Friday, December 19th

Holiday Magic: Visit with the Clauses

What:  Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and enjoy other activities going on in Marion Square.

Where:  Marion Square, 329 Meeting Street

When:  12-5pm

The Nutcracker

What:  The Charleston Ballet Theatre presents its presentation of this beloved Christmas classic.

Where:  Sottile Theatre, 44 George Street

When:  10am and 7:30pm

CSO: Holy City Messiah

What:  The Charleston Symphony Orchestra presents Handel's Messiah.

Where:  St. Theresa the Little Flower Church, 1101 Dorchester Road

When:  7pm

 

Saturday, December 20th

Christmas Village at Magnolia Plantation

What:  Bring the whole family and enjoy a candy factory, Santa's workshop, gingerbread house, Santa's post office, chapel, general store, elf's bunk house, Santa's train, family and individual holiday portraits, Christmas choirs, and a school called the "elfementary."

Where:  Magnolia Plantation, 3550 Ashley River Road

When:  8:30am til 4:30pm (Performances end at 4pm)

Toys for Tots Drive

What:  Bring a new, unwrapped toy to the South Carolina Aquarium and receive $5 off general admission.

Where:  South Carolina Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf

When:  9am to 4pm

White Christmas Sing-Along

What:  Sing along to the Bing Crosby classic without fear of annoying your fellow movie-goers!

Where:  Olde Village Community Center, 4820 Jenkins Avenue

When:  7pm

Frozen Winter Wonderland

What:  Dress the kids in their favorite Frozen costume, make crafts, share snacks, and watch Disney's Frozen.

Where:  St. Andrew's Regional Library, 1735 North Windermere Drive 

When:  11am

 

Sunday, December 21st

The Christmas Village at Magnolia Plantation

(see above)

A Christmas Carol

What:  Charleston Stage's production of the traditional favorite, Dicken's A Christmas Carol. This year's production is full of special effects, new stage sets, and beautiful costumes!

Where:  Dock Street Theatre, 135 Church Street

When:  3pm

Santa Claus in the Great Ocean Tank

What:  See Santa SCUBA diving in the Aquarium's Great Ocean Tank. While you're there, see if you can spot Finzy, the Aquarium's Shark on the Shelf. If you find him, you'll win a holiday prize!

Where:  South Carolina Aquarium, 100 Aquarium Wharf

When:  11am and 3pm

Old South Santa "Sleigh" Ride

What:  Take a ride in a specially decorated carriage driven by Santa Claus himself. Enjoy a 20-minute ride through downtown, complete with hot cocoa, cookies, and carols.

Where:  Old South Carriage Company, 14 Anson Street

When:  6-7:30pm

 

Monday, December 22nd

The Little Match Girl

What:  Uned!ted Artists in collaboration with Chamber Music Charleston and the Charleston Dance Institute present The Little Match Girl.

Where:  Sottile Theatre, 44 George Street

When:  7:30-9:30pm

Santa Claus is Coming to California Dreaming

What:  Visit with Santa and take a picture with a donation of $5 to Camp Happy Days

Where:  California Dreaming, 1 Ashley Point Drive

When:  5-8pm

 

Tuesday, December 23rd

The Little Match Girl

(see above)

25th Annual Holiday Festival of Lights

What:  Charleston's most popular holiday event! Drive through a three-mile loop featuring an estimated two million shimmering lights. Also featured:  an up-close look at the lights on the holiday train, treats from Santa's Sweet Shoppe, handmade gingerbreak houses, giant greeting cards creating by local students, Victorian carousel, 50-ton sand sculpture, and holiday shops.

Where:  James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive

When:  5:30-10pm Sun-Thurs, (runs through January 1st)

 

Wednesday, December 24th

Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker

What:  The Moscow Ballet presents a gorgeous production of this Christmas favorite with Clara, the Nutcracker, the SugarPlum Fairy, the Tin Soldier, et al.

Where:  North Charleston Performing Arts Center, 5001 Coliseum Drive

When:  4-6pm

 

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Kwanzaa from the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company!

 

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