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Are You Ready to Become a Homeowner?

So you’re on the fence about buying your first home. We don’t blame you. A house is likely to be the biggest purchase you’ll make during your lifetime. It’s smart to be absolutely certain that you’re ready before jumping in feet first. The following five steps will help you reflect on whether or not you’re really prepared to become a homeowner.

Check your debt-to-income ratio.

A debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, represents all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. These debts can be anything from housing costs to credit card, student loan, or child support payments.

Example: If you pay $1200 a month for your mortgage, $300 for your car loan, $200 for your student loan, and $300 for other debts, your monthly debt payments total $2,000. Let’s say your gross monthly income is $5,000. That makes your debt-to-income ratio 40% ($2000 ÷ $5000 = .4).

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “Evidence from studies of mortgage loans suggest that borrowers with a higher debt-to-income ratio are more likely to run into trouble making monthly payments.” This number is very important to banks and mortgage brokers. In most cases, they look for your DTI to be 43% or less.

Check your credit.

No, you’re not going to lower your credit score by checking it. Every consumer is entitled to one free credit report each year, which can be found at AnnualCreditReport.com. It’s good to know your overall credit score, but you should also check to make sure all of the information in the report is correct. Check for things like identity errors, incorrect account statuses, and balance errors. You can dispute any inaccurate or incomplete information without penalty. If your credit isn’t so great, now might not be the time for you to buy a home; however, most loan officers can help you with a plan to get it back on track so you can buy in the near future.

Learn the costs of buying a home.

A homebuying budget isn’t just about the total price of a house. On top of the sale price of the house, there’s the down payment, insurance, taxes, and other various closing costs. A good loan officer will sit down with you and work all of this into what you can afford each month to find a good budget for your home search.

Learn the costs of owning a home.

Maintenance can be a double-edged sword whether you rent or buy. On one hand, if you rent, you don’t have to worry about most maintenance work; but on the other hand, you are at the mercy of your landlord as far as getting things fixed. The great thing about being a homeowner is that you don’t have to wait on someone else to fix something. But you do have to pay for and take care of your home yourself. Before you buy, make sure you understand the costs of routine maintenance and the occasional costs of things like plumbing issues or broken appliances.

Look to the future.

What are your plans? If you know you might move in the next year or two, it’s probably not the best time to buy. In most cases, two years isn’t that long to build enough equity to make it worth your while. However, if you want to turn your home into an income property after you move out, it could be well worth the time and effort.

If you’re still nervous about buying a home after considering the above items, call our office and speak with a Johnson & Wilson Real Estate agent. We can walk you through the process and help you make a pressure-free decision about whether it’s the right time for you to become a homeowner.

 

How-To Tuesday: Host Your First Thanksgiving Dinner

When you bought that new house this year, we know you were imagining all the dinner parties and holidays you’d be hosting. If this is your first year hosting Thanksgiving dinner, don’t fret! We’re here with help in the form of tried-and-true tips from veteran hosts and hostesses.

Delegate, delegate, delegate! The meal will always be a success if you do the basics yourself and have others bring various sides, desserts, and appetizers. Potluck is the easiest way to have everyone pitch in and help.

Make some dishes ahead of time. Lots of traditional Thanksgiving fare can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated until the big day. Cranberry sauce, casseroles, potatoes, rolls, pies, and other desserts are all prime candidates for make-ahead dishes.

Set the table or buffet the night before. Setting things up always takes more time than you think it will. If you have a formal dinner in the dining room, set the table a day or two ahead and plan the positioning of the food. If you do a more casual, buffet-style meal,

Make time to get ready. Trust us. You need to schedule this in. Time is bound to sneak up on you, and guests will start to arrive before you know it.

Have drinks ready to go. Have wine, cocktails, or mocktails chilling in the fridge. Set up a drinks station so guests can help themselves as they arrive. If everyone’s milling around with something to sip on, they won’t complain if dinner’s not ready on time.

Stick with the classics. This isn’t the time to experiment. You’ve got enough on your plate—no pun intended—without trying out brand new recipes that you haven’t already tested.

Store bought is fine. Not every single bit of Thanksgiving dinner has to be homemade. It’s perfectly fine to buy whatever you don’t feel like making from scratch. No one will know the difference if you don’t want them to!

Accept help. Take whatever help is offered. Trust us. No matter how well you plan the day, something will end up throwing off your schedule. Let your mother-in-law wash the pots if she offers. Allow your uncle to mix drinks. Don’t try to do it all!

Enjoy Yourself!

Above all, remember what Thanksgiving Day is all about: spending time with our loved ones and being grateful for all the great things in life. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from the Johnson & Wilson Real Estate family!

Why Do Some Homes Sell Faster Than Others?

Even in a seller’s market, there are some listings that sit stagnant with few showings and no offers. Why? What makes these homes different? There are a number of reasons why some homes sell quickly while others sit on the market for months at a time. Let’s take a look at a few key factors that affect the length of time it takes for a home to sell.

Quality photos. First things first. In order to get prospective buyers to book showings, you have to reel them in with great photos. Listings with professional photos are statistically proven to sell faster and garner slightly more money.

Curb appeal. A recent Zillow study named curb appeal as the number one factor affecting the length of time a home is on the market. In fact, we’ve known buyers to take a look at the outside of a home and decide they’d rather not bother going through with the full showing.

Staging. “Staging is preparing a home for sale so the buyer can mentally move in,” says Barb Schwarz, founder of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. According to a 2011 study conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association, staged homes spend 73% less time on the market than their unstaged counterparts.

The right price. Price is a huge factor in the amount of time a house spends on the market. One Zillow study showed that houses priced at or slightly below current market value were almost 50% more likely to sell within 60 days.

Move-in ready. A home in move-in condition will usually sell faster than a fixer upper. Specifically, homes said to be in “move-in condition” sell 12% faster.

Location. Obviously this isn’t something you can change if it works against you, but it is a huge advantage if you’re in a prime location. Homes in walkable neighborhoods, great school districts, and convenient locations tend to sell much faster than comparable homes in less desirable areas.

On-trend design. While it’s important to keep things neutral so buyers can have a blank slate, some design trends actually help a home sell faster. Farmhouse sinks, quartz counters, subway tiles, exposed brick, shaker cabinets, pendant lights, and stainless steel appliances are all current design features that are a plus to have on your side.

The best agent. An experienced agent who really knows their local market will help a home sell faster. Johnson & Wilson Real Estate agents are trained to price a home correctly and market it through all the right sources to find the perfect buyer for your home. Get in touch with us today for more advice on how to help your home sell quickly!

 

Friday Five // November 17th, 2017

Once again, Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company brings you the Friday Five. Get out and enjoy the mild fall weather by choosing an activity from these five events happening around the Lowcountry. This weekend, light up the night, help raise funds for four-legged friends, or enjoy a night at the disco. Have a safe and happy weekend!

It’s that time of year when oyster roasts abound, and this weekend is a good one for oyster shuckers! The 13th Annual Palmetto Society Oyster Roast takes place Friday, November 17th, at the Visitor’s Center Bus Shed downtown. Tickets include oysters, beer, and wine, but there will also be food trucks on site, raffle prizes, and merchandise tables.

Also on Friday, The Alley (a favorite local spot for bowling, arcade games, delicious food and beverages and more) will celebrate their fifth anniversary with their annual ’70s-style blowout Studio 300. The theme for this year’s event is Candy Land, which means the whole place will look like a Wonka-style wonderland! Don your best disco-inspired outfit and dance to disco-infused tunes. Tickets include open bowling, an open bar, and much more. Proceeds from the party benefit local nonprofit Be A Mentor.

Visit Mt. Pleasant Towne Centre on Saturday, November 18th, for Lights Up, which includes a laser light show and the lighting of the shopping center’s 40-foot Christmas tree. There will be a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick himself, live music, giveaways, a jump castle, face painting, and more! Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

The Charleston Animal Society hosts its biggest fundraiser of the year on Saturday: the 18th Annual Chili Cook-Off and Oyster Roast. Over 100 teams will compete in the chili cook-off with traditional recipes plus vegan and vegetarian options. And don’t forget the oysters! Entertainment will include a mechanical shark, bounce house, bubble soccer, and more. Lots of furry friends will be there as well, eagerly awaiting adoption.

This weekend is the first of Buy Local Month, Lowcountry Local First’s “strategic initiative to encourage our citizens to buy local and keep holiday dollars flowing within our community.” As a local small business, buying local and investing in the community is extremely important to us. Get started on that Christmas shopping by checking out LLF’s Buy Local Market Calendar at the link above. We’ll be doing our part during this month-long initiative to buy local as much as possible!

 

7 Painting Mistakes That Show (And How To Avoid Them!)

When homeowners are preparing to sell a home, painting often tops the list of to-do’s. A new paint job can certainly make a world of difference when it comes to sprucing things up, but there are several things to consider before you slap a coat of paint on the walls and call it a day. Before you begin, read about these six common painting mistakes and how to avoid them.

  1. Failing to do prep work. A little bit of preparation will go a long way to save headaches and cleanup time. Cover the floors and furniture, remove outlet and switch covers, and tape edges of trim and door knobs. Sand any imperfections in the drywall or previous paint job. Clean walls to remove dust and stray hairs. This will make a huge difference in the quality of the paint job.
  2. Choosing the wrong finish. Consider each room and its usage when choosing a paint finish. It may be tempting to buy those 5-gallon buckets of one shade in one finish for the entire house, but that’s not the greatest idea. A kitchen or bathroom requires a glossier finish for durability and moisture resistance, but the same finish will look out of place and show imperfections in a living room or bedroom. While a flat finish can be easier to touch up, it also marks more easily, making touch-ups necessary more often than not. Think about a satin or eggshell finish for main living areas, and something wipeable for kids’ rooms.
  3. Forgetting to consider lighting and finishes. A certain shade might look just right in the store’s lighting, but it could look completely different when you get it home. Pay attention to both a room’s natural daytime lighting and how it’s lit at night. Also consider things like flooring, cabinet, and counter colors. You might have found the perfect neutral shade, but the color of your flooring might bring out otherwise subtle undertones. The perfect beige might look pinkish under the influence of different lighting and finishes.
  4. Skipping primer. Why add yet another step to a job? Because it makes a world of difference in the end. Applying a coat of primer creates the ideal surface for paint to stick to and brings out the color. Pro tip: spend a little extra and buy paint that already has the primer mixed in.
  5. Ignoring the ceiling and trim. Don’t forget to touch up the trim work! Baseboards and molding will no doubt need freshening up as well. A brand new paint job on the walls can also accent the ceiling’s dinginess, making the whole room look dull. Think about freshening up the ceiling paint while you’re painting anyway to help everything appear fresh and new.
  6. Adding custom colors and accent walls. Accent walls are pretty popular, but remember that if you’re putting your home on the market, you’re not painting for yourself. Buyers like a neutral palette that they can customize. While your red accent wall in the kitchen might appeal to a certain niche of buyer, it will turn others off. Yes, paint colors can be easily changed, but the last thing you want is to create more work for a buyer right off the bat.
  7. Not letting the first coat dry completely. Make sure the first coat is completely dry before you even think about cracking open the paint can for a second coat. Failing to do so could result in streaks and peeling paint.

What painting mistakes have you made in the past that taught you a thing or two about painting? Share in the comments section below!

 

 

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