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Five of the Most Common Reasons For Closing Delays

According to the REALTORS® Confidence Index, 73% of closings occurred on time in October 2017, but 25% of Realtors® reported a delay in closings. Having a closing date pushed back is not an uncommon thing, and most of the time it’s not a huge deal as long as any issues are taken care of in a timely manner. Since no one wants their closing delayed, let’s look at some of the most common reasons for a delayed closing and how to prevent them.

Problems Obtaining Financing

There are any number of reasons a buyer might have issues obtaining financing on time. From time to time, last-minute issues will crop up with the buyer’s ability to secure a home loan. Even if the buyer has been pre-approved or even cleared to close, their credit and bank statements may be reviewed one final time a few days before closing. The buyer might have had large sums deposited to or subtracted from their bank account. Their credit rating might have changed. They might have lost their job or changed jobs. The lender might decide that they need additional paperwork. Most of these issues can be cleared up with the proper documentation before the lender gives the all clear.

Appraisal Issues

In order to issue a mortgage loan for a home, the bank must perform an appraisal to protect their investment. Issues with the appraisal are an extremely common reason for a closing to be delayed. The hope is that the appraiser will value the home at or above the sale price. If this happens, everything should be fine and dandy. Sometimes, however, the appraisal comes back at a lower number than the price stated in the contract. Lenders cannot approve a loan for an amount that is greater than the home’s appraised value. If this happens, the seller and buyer must do some renegotiating and come to an agreement on a new sale price.

Home Inspection Issues

When red flags arise on home inspections, the buyer and seller must revisit negotiations and decide what needs to be fixed before closing. Closings can be delayed when the seller neglects to complete agreed-upon repairs on time. A good real estate agent will keep on top of the seller’s agent to make sure that repairs are completed in plenty of time, but sometimes it’s out of their hands. All parties need to do their due diligence to make sure this preventable delay is taken care of.

Titling/Deed Issues

Some title-related problems are actually very common and can be resolved fairly easily. Other issues are more serious take longer to correct and can cause a delay in closing. Title-related problems include errors in public records; unknown liens; illegal deeds; missing heirs; forgeries; undiscovered encumbrances; unknown easements; boundary/survey disputes; undiscovered will; false impersonation of previous owner. The good news is that if any of these issues arise after closing, your title insurance policy will protect you as the owner.

Contingencies

Every contract has its contingencies. Some might be as simple as the buyer’s ability to obtain financing or the satisfaction of a home inspection and repairs. Others might include the request that the seller purchase a home warranty for the buyer. Another common one would be specific performance like replacing carpets. These contingencies must be completed prior to closing unless otherwise specified. Failure to do so could cause a delay.

No one wants to face a delay on their closing date. Sellers want to get out and get paid. Buyers want to move in and enjoy their new homes. Of course there are some issues that are beyond anyone’s control, but as long as all parties stay diligent and take care of everything that is expected of them, your closing will more than likely happen on time.

7 Etiquette Tips for Working With a Contractor

The contractor-homeowner relationship can sometimes be a complicated one. You have to find that elusive middle ground between trusting them but keeping your guard up; making them feel welcome but staying out of their way; and keeping in touch but not pestering them. The best way to start this process is by doing your research and finding a contractor you can work well with. Ask friends and family members for recommendations and read online reviews that are relevant for the work you need done. Once you have a few possibilities, meet with them and see which one you click with best. Then follow these 7 etiquette tips to keep your contractor-homeowner relationship on good terms.

Establish a good working relationship.

Any contractor will tell you that the number one thing they want from a client is easy, open communication. They want to know everything you need up front so they can develop a plan. They want you to communicate with them throughout the process and let them know if you’re unhappy. If something goes wrong or isn’t up to par, let them know in a timely manner. Be honest, but be respectful.

Prepare your home for work.

Make sure that the area where the crew will be working is clean. Put away any valuables, fragile items, or any decor that might be in the way. Give them clear access to the driveway or other parking area. If you have pets that normally have the run of the house, it’s a good idea to keep them contained in one area or make alternate plans for them while the contractors are working. Even if your dog is super friendly, he or she could be a distraction or could get hurt on dangerous tools and materials.

Stay in touch…

Even if you don’t have any questions or concerns, it’s a good idea to check in with your contractor every now and then. Make sure they have everything they need and ask if there are any accommodations they need or if there are any obstacles that are holding the crew up. Don’t take up time with idle chit-chat, though. Let them get their work done so they can finish within your agreed upon time frame.

…but don’t hover.

If you don’t feel comfortable leaving the house altogether, you don’t have to. But make sure your contractor and crew have plenty of room to work and no distractions.You want the work done on time, and they want to finish so they can move on to their next scheduled job. Don’t hang around and ask questions about the work or their methods. You’re not paying them to teach you. Let them focus on the task at hand without any unnecessary interruptions.

Limit changes.

Some changes can be made easily without having to add time, cost, or materials to the job. Nothing is really set in stone until it’s completed. Most contractors understand that you might change your mind along the way as the work takes shape. With that said, try to keep changes to a minimum. Adding to the amount of work can really throw a contractor off schedule, creating a need to adjust the timeline and estimates for materials and labor.

Keep your cool.

If something does go wrong or isn’t up to par, don’t get angry without giving your contractor a chance to explain and make things right. Stay level-headed, treat them like the professionals they are, and they’ll usually return the favor. Problems are much more easily solved without anyone placing blame and being rude.

Show your gratitude.

Many homeowners will share their morning pot of coffee, provide a few bottles of water, or maybe put out a plate of cookies for the crew. Of course these things aren’t expected whatsoever, but they’re a nice little bonus. What your contractor does want is a show of appreciation in the way of a good review and referrals. An angry or dissatisfied customer is more likely to leave a review than a whole group of satisfied customers. If you’re satisfied with your contractor and the work, leave a positive review on Google, Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, and other websites and apps.

 

How-To Tuesday: Remove Popcorn Ceilings

Few things date a home as much as popcorn ceilings do. Besides looking old and unattractive, they catch dust easily and are hard to clean, so they end up looking grimy and dull more often than not. And let’s face it—they’re not exactly high-end home design. Popcorn ceilings became popular in the 1950s because they were an easy way to hide imperfections. Smooth, flawless ceilings aren’t the easiest thing to accomplish. Textured finishing made it easier and less time-consuming for contractors to build houses more quickly as demand increased in the middle of the 20th century. The good news is if you have popcorn ceilings and are ready to do some updating, you can do it yourself. The process is messy and tedious, but it’s simple enough that even the newest homeowner can accomplish it in a weekend.* Read on for six easy steps to removing those dated popcorn ceilings.

First Things First

Before you begin, it’s extremely important to test for asbestos. You can have this done professionally or do it yourself. Asbestos test kits can be found at most hardware stores. If the test is positive, it is imperative that you consult a professional instead of DIY-ing this project.

Prep the Room

Remove furniture from the room or cover everything with plastic sheeting. This is going to get messy! Even if the room is empty, covering the floor with a drop cloth and plastic sheeting will make for a faster, easier cleanup. Remove ceiling fans and lighting fixtures. You’re going to be working with water, so make sure to turn off breakers to any electrical fixtures in the room.

Get Started

Fill a spray bottle or garden pump sprayer with warm water and spritz one small section of the ceiling at a time. We recommend starting with about a four-by-four-foot area. Allow it to sit for about fifteen minutes. Be careful not to saturate it. Too much moisture could damage the drywall underneath.

Down to Business

Using a wide drywall scraper, slowly remove the popcorn coating from the drywall. Be careful not to gouge out any chunks of drywall with the corners of your scraper. Do one small section at a time. To mitigate the mess, hold a mud pan underneath the area you’re scraping. You can also use the edge of the pan to clean off your scraper. Keep spraying and scraping until the entire ceiling is free of popcorn texture. (See what we mean? Tedious, but simple enough!)

Clean Up and Touch Up

Carefully roll up your drop cloth or tarp and take it outside to shake the debris into a garbage can. Lay the covering back down on the floor before proceeding. Touch up any problem areas on the ceiling with drywall compound. Allow to dry overnight, then lightly sand and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Finish the Ceiling

Using a paint roller with an extension attachment, apply primer and paint to the ceiling, or use a paint that has primer mixed right in. For a little extra help, you can use a tinted paint that dries white. As an alternative to painting, you can cover the ceiling with new drywall, gypsum board, decorative tin tiles, or wood planks.

*An Important Note:

While this is a fairly simple process, it definitely takes some elbow grease. Make sure you’re fit to take on a job like this before getting started. You’ll need to be able to stand on a ladder and look up for long periods of time. Safety goggles are also a must. Please use utmost caution when taking on any home improvement projects. 

Friday Five // January 26th, 2018

There’s so much to see and do this weekend in the Lowcountry! Attend a home and design show, meet a favorite cartoon character, and eat your way through a roundup of food trucks. Whatever you choose to do, the agents and staff at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend.

The Charleston Home + Design Show takes place this weekend at the Gaillard Center. Come out and meet Charleston’s best contractors, craftsmen, and designers. Listen to one—or more—of seven seminars. Have a free one-on-one consultation with a professional interior designer. If you’re looking to build, remodel, design, or upgrade the home of your dreams, the Gaillard Center is the place to be this weekend.

Get a taste of Charleston on-the-go at the 7th Annual Charleston Food Truck Festival this Saturday from 11am until 5pm in Park Circle. The festival, which started with 5 trucks and 500 customers in 2011, has grown by leaps and bounds over the last seven years and now serves about 8,000 customers. Be sure to get out there and support local food trucks!

Come one, come all to Magnolia Park and Community Garden Saturday for Cornhole for a Cause! The Rotary Club of St. Andrews - Charleston hosts this event for the second year, which seeks to raise $10,000 to benefit three nonprofits: the Charleston Parks Conservancy, Lowcountry Orphan Relief, and Pattison’s Academy. Teams of two can register for the cornhole tournament for $50 per team. Admission is free for spectators. There will be music, food trucks, and beverages for sale and tournament prizes awarded at the end of the day.

Fans of the popular children’s show Paw Patrol are in luck as they’ll have two opportunities this weekend to Meet Chase From Paw Patrol. Chase will be greeting his adoring fans at Wonder Works in Mt. Pleasant on Saturday from 9am until 1pm, and then at the store’s West Ashley location on Sunday from 12pm until 3pm. The meet and greet benefits the Charleston Animal Society, who will have dogs and puppies available for adoption at Saturday’s event.  

If you’re a lover of oysters, make sure to head out to Boone Hall Plantation on Sunday for the 35th Annual Lowcountry Oyster Festival. It’s the world’s largest oyster festival and has been named one of the “top 20 events in the southeast” by Southeast Tourism Society. This charity fundraising event features oyster shucking and oyster eating contests, live music, wine, domestic and imported beers, a children’s area, and a food court hosting a variety of local faves for those who don’t eat oysters. The Lowcountry Oyster Festival benefits the Ronald McDonald House, Hollings Cancer Center, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and Charleston County Schools Science Materials Resource Center.

How Has Technology Changed the Real Estate Industry?

Not long ago, a for sale sign on a front lawn was a beacon for business. If a homebuyer happened upon one of these signs and was interested in knowing the price or other specifics of a house, they had to call the phone number listed on the for sale sign. Nowadays, a simple Google search can lead buyers, neighbors, and even “looky-loos” to a plethora of information in a matter of seconds. Current technology empowers consumers by arming them with knowledge that helps them make better, more informed decisions. On the other hand, real estate agents of the past depended on the phone calls coming in from those yard signs and other print ads. While agents might not get quite as many of those types of inquiries now, the leads that do reach them are usually good leads who are ready to buy or sell. This is just one of the many ways technology has changed the real estate industry. Let’s look at a few more.

Transparency

The majority of homebuyers and sellers turn to the internet as their first source of information. Before they pick up the phone, shoot off an email, or even ask their friends for recommendations, buyers and sellers are consulting the web and informing themselves. The question is, does this leave real estate agents out in the cold? Not really. No matter how easy it is to search the internet for a home or find info on how to sell a home, Realtors® won’t be cut out of the deal anytime soon. Real estate is not an e-commerce business. There will always be a need for educated professionals who know the market, have local expertise, and are connected to other professionals related to the buying and selling of real estate. Good agents persevere by using technology to their advantage rather than feeling replaced by it. This is a boon for both agents and their clients.

Marketing

Print ads, television and radio commercials, and real estate buying guides used to rule the roost when it came to marketing real estate. Now, with 44% of buyers using an online website to start their home search, the internet is the number one place to market a home. The best agents leverage technology to market their homes for sale via social media, property websites, virtual tours, and other online resources as they know consumers turn to the web first. Additionally, online marketing is faster, easier, and often free of charge.

Communication

Thanks to tools like smartphones, tablets, virtual signatures, and cloud storage, it’s never been easier to keep in touch at all hours. In fact, according to reports from the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), mobile use will continue to increase in importance as a way to reach consumers. More than 50% of Generation Y and Generation X buyers used a mobile device during their home search. Among those, 31% of Generation Y and 26% of Gen X found the home they ultimately purchased via a mobile device. Smart devices and other new technologies make it possible to access information anytime, anywhere. This is an extremely important feature in the real estate industry particularly. Agents as well as consumers are always on the go, and people want their information faster than ever. Being able to get in touch with a client who’s away on business in Japan, for example, is far easier than it was twenty years ago. There is one downside to this. Real estate is a very people-centric business. The struggle Realtors face is losing one-on-one time with clients, which makes it harder to build a relationship. For this reason, agents need to keep up with the times now more than ever, staying on top of technology and the latest means of communication to attract and keep clients.

Efficiency

The ability to access documents, communications, and other information on the go at all hours leads to transparency, efficiency, and cleaner transactions. It’s amazing to be able to access contacts, schedules, contracts and other documents, and information on listings all in one place, and from literally anywhere that has internet access. Apps like Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive are huge hits among Realtors. E-signature technology helps get documents signed quickly, a feature that could mean the difference between getting an offer in on time and losing out to another buyer. Other tools like virtual tours give buyers the ability to experience a home without stepping foot inside it.  It gives more of a complete view of a home, a more thorough view than photos alone can provide. That way, if there’s something they don’t like about the house, they won’t waste their time by having to go see it in person.

All in all, the advances in technology over the past decade alone have done great things for the real estate industry. They have also presented challenges for some companies as they and their licensees have had to grow with the times. But agents can rest easy for the time being. NAR says that in 2016, “buyers worked with an agent 88% of the time to find their home, so trust in a Realtor® is still king.”

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