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What You Should NEVER Do When Buying a House

"Never say never," the old adage goes. Sure, it applies to lots of things in life, but not necessarily buying and selling real estate. When you’re on the hunt for a new home, there are some things you actually should keep on your no-no list. Let’s take a look at a few circumstances where “never” is a positive thing.

Never house hunt without an agent. Go ahead and start browsing homes for sale online to get the lay of the land. But when it’s time to get serious, seek out a professional. They’ll guide you through every step of the process and work for YOU. Don’t think for a moment that buying a home without an agent will save you money. The seller has already agreed with their listing agent to pay a certain percentage of commission. They might offer you a “deal” if you work without a buyer’s agent, but that scenario most likely won’t work out in your best interest if you don’t have representation.

Never settle for the first mortgage lender you speak with. This can be a HUGE mistake. Get quotes from at least three lenders. If the first one you contacted happens to be the best fit of the group, then by all means, go with them! Just make sure to compare and contrast first to make sure you’re working with the absolute best lender you can find.

Never hold out for the “perfect” house. There’s no such thing as the perfect house (if there is, it’s most likely out of the average price range). But it’s completely possible to find the perfect house for you. Make a list of musts, wants, and nice-to-haves. Seek out a house that checks the most boxes and feels like it could be home. After all, the more you can personalize a house after you buy it, the more it will feel like it’s truly yours!

Never forget to budget for closing costs. The seller might chip in if your offer is strong, but you’ll be responsible for the majority of your closing costs. Expect to pay anywhere from 2-7% of the purchase price. 

Never make big purchases before you close on your new home. Your credit and debt-to-income ratio should not change at all during the homebuying process. Any little change could affect your interest rate or even reverse your approval. The last thing you want is for the deal to fall through at the very last minute because you jumped the gun and bought new furniture for a house you can’t even buy now.

Never quit or change jobs before closing day. Anything that affects the stability of your income while you wait for closing day is a big ol’ no-no. As we said above, any change can be a red flag for your lender. Quitting a job, switching from salary to commission, becoming a contractor, or switching to a new job that can’t produce pay stubs quickly enough could be detrimental to the loan process.

Never change banks during the loan process. Lenders verify all of your information and finances in the beginning, but they also re-verify everything just before closing day. Changing banks during the loan process equals more paperwork, more verification, and more time wasted.

Never let your emotions get in the way. Buying a house is a big deal. It can be an emotional, sometimes overwhelming process, and that’s perfectly okay. But don’t let your emotions run so high that they get the better of you. Remember that nothing is set in stone until the papers are signed and the keys are handed over. Everything is negotiable, and it will all work out in the end!

There are many instances in life where you should never say never, but these are the dealbreakers when it comes to buying a house. Beware these pitfalls, and it should be smooth sailing to closing day!

 

Friday Five // November 27th, 2020

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another edition of the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area this weekend. Kick off the Christmas season with lots of holiday fun! Shop a holiday market, attend a Christmas festival, meet some new and interesting people, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Small Business Saturday is tomorrow, and what better way to support small, local businesses and vendors than at  the Summerville Holiday Farmers Market? This special edition of the farmers market marks the last of the 2020 season, so don your most Christmas-y outfit and get out to shop local from 8am until 1pm. This will be the perfect place to buy holiday treats like cookies, canned goods, pork rinds, coffee, paintings, baby clothes, leather art, candles, one-of-a-kind sweetgrass art, and so much more! The market features artisan, specialty food and farmer/grower vendors. Please be sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Join Awesome Events Charleston this Saturday morning for a Waterfront Walk + Swig & Swine BBQ. Meet under the gazebo at White Point Garden (aka The Battery) at 9am. Meet new people, breathe fresh air, and experience new things on a walk along the waterfront from the Battery to Market Street to check out the offerings there. Then walk back to your vehicle for the drive to Swig & Swine in West Ashley. Note that the walking portion of the day will equal about three miles, and plan accordingly. This event is open to literally anyone of any age, interest, and background. What a great way to meet interesting new people! There’s no cost to attend, but of course you’ll pay for anything you buy. Come alone or bring a friend or two. Just arrive on time and be ready for a fun day.

Find the most perfect Christmas tree for your home at the West Ashley Optimist Club’s Annual Tree Lot, which opens this weekend! This local tree lot, located at the St. Andrew’s Parks and Playground in West Ashley, is the Optimist Club’s only fundraiser, raising money for all the programs they host throughout the year. Some of their programs include the Essay and Oratorical Contest, Youth Appreciation, Childhood Cancer, Respect for Law, and scholarships. One hundred percent of the proceeds go right back into the club’s programs, which bring out the very best in Charleston’s youth. Please wear your mask while at the tree lot. You can pay with cash, check, or credit cards (cards have a 3% processing fee).

Hometown Roots Farm in Summerville hosts the Carolina Christmas Festival each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from now until December 20th. There will be a Polar Express Kiddie Barrel Train Ride, farm animals, toy penguin race, milk-a-cow, sand pit with ride-on digger, climb-on tractor, letters to Santa, Christmas crafts, decorations, lights, music, and more. Other events you can add on to your base ticket include Santa & Holiday Characters, cookie decorating, laser tag, marshmallows kit, S’mores kit, hot dog kit, and Breakfast with Santa on Sundays. There will also be food trucks and concessions onsite. Participate in the weekly Give Back to the Lowcountry by bringing a canned good, pet supply, or children’s toy, book, or DVD, and receive $1 off admission per person. Funds raised through the festivals at Hometown Roots Farm go directly back into crop production. Get tickets at the link above!

Head to Gallery 26, The Vendue Art Hotel in downtown Charleston this weekend for your last chance to see Inspirational Journey, a juried art exhibit featuring fifty works by thirty female artists. This exhibition is held in honor of Pat Conroy, his writing, and his community service, in partnership with the SC Chapter of the National Association of Women Artists and the Pat Conroy Literary Center. In this NAWA SC sponsored exhibition, participants reveal what inspires them to create, to paint, to photograph, and to sculpt. In some way, each work of art was influenced by Pat Conroy’s extraordinary life and his fictional characters.

Friday Five // November 13th, 2020

It’s Friday once again! We’re back this week with the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area this weekend. Attend a trivia pub crawl, dance outdoors to live music, join in some Steeplechase fun, and more! As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Head on down to The Joe on Friday evening for a socially distanced Friday the 13th Mask-Querade Party hosted by the Charleston RiverDogs and Be a Mentor! Enjoy hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and a spooky scavenger hunt! The event takes place from 6pm until 8:30pm in the RiverDogs parking lot at 360 Fishburne Street. Bring a blanket, chair, or towel to sit on, your mask, and a mindset for fun! 

Also taking place this Friday evening is the very first Christmas on the Creek at Red’s Ice house and Tavern and Table! This is a FREE event, sponsored by Bud Light Seltzer and hosted by 103.5 WEZL and Y102.5, begins at 5pm with live music starting around 6pm. Enjoy Holiday tunes played for you by Parmalee, Runaway June, and the Lowcountry’s very own Eddie Bush. COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place to allow guests to safely and responsibly enjoy this fun evening of Holiday music. If you’d like, you can even snag a Christmas COVID-19 mask thanks to Uncle Kyle’s Sweater Emporium, which proceeds going to the Summerville Miracle League.

If it’s too soon for Christmas activities for you, there’s a Friendsgiving Trivia Pub Crawl on Saturday from 3pm until 9pm, hosted by It’s a Pub Crawl Thing. Start the crawl by checking in at Mynt between 3pm and 5pm. You can purchase tickets at the link above, and then check in with your QR code on the day of the pub crawl to receive your swag and trivia rules. The wristband you receive at check-in is your “ticket” to discounted drinks at each stop. There’s over $15,000 in trivia cash and prizes up for grabs, so brush up on your Friends knowledge now! General Admission includes a wristband, cup, and koozie. VIP tickets include a wristband free shirt, lanyard, koozie, and cup. 

We may not have experienced much in the way of autumn weather so far this year, but we can still have a fall celebration! Return of the Mac Presents a Day at Magnolia this Saturday at noon. Spread out your blankets and beach chairs on the Carriage House Lawn along the Ashley River or get up on your feet and dance along to live contemporary pop music from Return of the Mac. Enjoy the music from noon until 3pm, and purchase food from Gilligan’s Food Truck and Charleston Pops. Beer and wine will also be available for purchase at the Peacock Café while supplies last. The concert is free with garden admission. Anyone who brings canned food to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank gets buy-one-get-one admission.

The Steeplechase of Charleston, a family-friendly Charleston tradition that began in 1792, takes place this Sunday from 10am until 6pm. Rooted deeply in southern heritage, Steeplechase of Charleston is a National Steeplechase Association sanctioned race. It will feature six high-stakes races with coveted titles on the line. Dress in your Sunday best, don your big ol’ hats and bow ties, and we’ll see you at the races. Get your tickets at the link above!

How to Negotiate an Offer During a Seller’s Market

Contrary to what many people thought would happen when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, the real estate market is still booming. Buyers are still buying, and inventory is still low. This means things move quickly, and homes often sell above asking price. Times are completely different than they were a decade ago. Gone are the days of extended negotiation periods and buyers asking for more, more, more. Negotiating an offer on a home can be tricky right now, especially since you’re likely to find yourself in a multiple offer situation. Here’s how to negotiate an offer quickly and effectively during a mid-pandemic seller’s market. 

Be realistic and generous with your offer. 

How low can you go? Not so much. Housing inventory is consistently low across most markets, which means there are more buyers than there are houses for sale. Don’t expect yours to be the only offer a seller receives. You’re going to have to find some way to make your offer more attractive than the others. Not only does your offer need to be realistic, it needs to be generous. It also needs to prove to the seller that you’re serious about buying their home and want to get a move on. 

Show the listing agent and seller that you have the means to buy. 

Don’t get pre-qualified or pre-approved. Go ahead and get a strong approval letter from a local lender who can work quickly. If you’re paying cash, have your proof of funds ready to go. If you’re getting a home loan, you should have a solid loan commitment before you even think about home shopping. Lenders have tightened up guidelines. Oftentimes, they want a higher credit score than they did in the past. Work with an experienced local lender who knows your specific market (and maybe even knows your real estate agent) and can get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Offer a large amount of earnest money.

The bigger the earnest money check, the more serious your offer looks to the seller. When the seller sees that you’re willing to put a large amount of money on the line, they’ll know you’re not likely to back out of the contract for any arbitrary reason. That said, make sure you protect yourself from potentially losing that earnest money by including financing and home inspection contingencies in your offer.

Forget about asking for any extras. 

In a market that favors the seller, you’re much less likely to score any extras or freebies. Be careful about asking for too much, including closing costs or home warranties. Don’t ask for extra appliances or personal items unless specifically stated. In fact, you may want to offer to pay a portion of the seller’s closing costs, like the attorney fees and deed stamps. Offer to pay the HOA transfer fees as well. This will absolutely make your offer more attractive.

Write a personal letter.

Write a letter to the sellers telling them what you love about the home. Introduce yourself and your family, and tell them exactly why their house is perfect for you. Adding this personal touch to your offer helps the sellers see you as a real, live person, not just a bunch of numbers and letters on a contract. It may or may not help your efforts, but it certainly can’t hurt!

Have your agent call the listing agent. 

It is absolutely imperative that you do not do this yourself, but ask your buyer’s agent to do so. Have them ask when the sellers prefer to close and what is most important to them in the contract. There’s some information the listing agent legally cannot share, but little things like these are fine to ask about.

Offer flexibility.

The more flexible you are, the higher your chances are of the seller accepting your offer. Let them know that you’re willing to work with them in whatever capacity they need. If they need a quick closing, so be it. If they need to push the closing date out by a few weeks while they find a new place to live, do your best to make it happen.

While it may feel like you’re giving up an awful lot to be “the chosen one,” such is the nature of real estate. For many years, buyers had the upper hand. Now it’s time to be patient while sellers have their heyday. It’ll be well worth it once you have a completely accepted and signed purchase agreement and move closer to closing day.

 

Friday Five // October 16th, 2020

We’ve come to the end of another week, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our roundup of five fun events happening in the Charleston area this weekend. Get a special delivery from a beloved princess, shop local artists and artisans, have brunch on the harbor, and more. And as always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend!

Treat your little ones (or maybe just yourself!) to Pumpkin Deliveries from Cinderella! This Friday between 2:30pm and 6:00pm, Cinderella will be delivering pumpkins to homes across the Lowcountry. For $50 (and $10 per additional child), Cinderella will visit your front yard or other outdoor location for a socially distanced meet and greet and special delivery. Cinderella and the children will stay at least ten feet apart, with the princess placing the sanitized pumpkin a safe distance away. She will then read a story and then pose for socially distanced photos. Visits will be approximately ten minutes long. Check the link above for reservations. 

Join Charleston Music Hall on Friday evening for their Around the Bend series, a socially distanced outdoor concert series at The Bend in North Charleston. This week’s event is Queen of Soul: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin Featuring Black Diamond & Black Noyze. Purchase a socially distanced square for up to four people (must be from the same party). Squares are sectioned off with six-foot aisles in between. Get one free, on-site parking spot with the purchase of each square. No concessions will be available to buy onsite, so bring your own beer, wine, drinks, food, coolers, blankets and chairs. Get tickets and more info at the link above. 

Visit Magnolia Plantation and Gardens this Saturday and Sunday for the 13th annual Autumn on the Ashley Arts and Crafts Fair. Shop dozens of Lowcountry artisans featuring handcrafted items like wood carvings, paintings, textiles, jewelry, photography, natural skincare, lawn art, and more. Autumn on the Ashley is the perfect opportunity to support local talented artists and artisans and get an early start on your holiday shopping. The event takes place from 8:30am until 4:30pm and is free to attend, but attendance to Magnolia Gardens requires basic garden admission.

Enjoy a beautiful Sunday morning on the Charleston Harbor with a relaxing Brunch Cruise aboard the Charleston Princess. Join Charleston Harbor Tours & Events for a well-appointed gourmet buffet brunch from Dish & Design Catering. Brunch includes local favorites liek shrimp and grits with tasso gravy, French toast casserole, scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, country potatoes, assorted fruit, biscuits with jam, butter, and jellies, along with fresh orange juice and freshly brewed, locally roasted coffee. Is your mouth watering yet? Ours surely is! After brunch, head up to the second deck for some live music performed by talented local musicians. This event is family friendly and fun for all! 

Join the Charleston Gaillard Center either in person or via livestream this Sunday for their Five-Year Anniversary Celebration. This special performance celebrating half a decade of enriching the Charleston community will be held exactly five years after the inaugural concert. The celebration takes place from 7pm until 10pm and features a string quartet from the Charleston Symphony Orchestra; Artist-in-Residence and Charleston’s first poet laureate, Marcus Amaker; and Artist-in-Residence Emeritus and Grammy Award-winning Charlton Singleton. Patron safety remains the Gaillard Center’s first priority, so numerous safety measures have been put into place to allow guests to gather safely within the Martha and John M. Rivers Performance Hall. If you cannot attend in person, you can attend the show virtually via online streaming. Find more information and purchase tickets at the link above.

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