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Things You Didn't Know Your Agent Can Do For You

Most of the general population of homebuyers and sellers don’t know just how much their real estate agents do behind the scenes. Besides showing you homes to buy or taking care of your listing paperwork, they’re fielding phone calls, negotiating the best deal for you, and organizing inspections, appraisals, professional listing photos, open houses, and much more. But aside from the usual everyday tasks, there are lots of things a great Realtor® can assist you with. 

They can help you stage your home. 

According to the National Association of Realtors®, staging a home makes it easier for buyers to visualize living in a home, and in some cases can actually net a 1% to 5% higher offer than similar unstaged homes. Many agents are all too happy to help you stage your home to make it even more appealing to buyers. Some have their own furnishings and decor at the ready, and some have contacts on speed dial that can help out with the staging process. Even if it’s as simple as using your own furnishings and decor, but removing personal touches like family photos, it’s always a great idea to stage your home before it goes on the market. Just ask your agent for their recommendations!

They can help with relocation services. 

When you’re moving—and especially if you’re moving to a new city or state—it can be stressful to find relocation experts you can trust. A real estate agent who’s been in the business for a while will usually have a solid list of trustworthy businesses and individuals in many different industries. This typically includes moving companies, cleaning services, handymen, and contractors to name a few. If you need assistance finding providers for services like these during relocation, let your Realtor® know. In addition, your local Realtor® should be glad to refer you to another trusted Realtor® in your new city or state. 

They can help you purge and toss. 

Having an unbiased eye is invaluable when it comes to deciding whether to keep or get rid of certain belongings. Agents who offer boutique or concierge services go above and beyond for their clients, and many are happy to help you figure out how to purge your belongings when it’s time to sell or move into a new home. They might help you out personally or arrange for professional organizers, trash haulers, or storage services. 

They can help you get your home in “ready-to-sell” condition.

A great listing agent will do a walkthrough with you and help you make a to-do list of items that should be taken care of before putting your house on the market. If you need help getting it all done, they can recommend professionals, make appointments, meet contractors or other vendors, etc.  

They can help with design ideas and advice.

Trust us. Real estate agents have seen it all—the good, the bad, and the downright hideous. You don’t show homes for a living without learning a thing or two about home decor and design. In fact, some Realtors® go above and beyond to learn about home design by taking classes or doing research on their own time. They might help you navigate the dos and don’ts of design, assist you with a game plan for setting up your existing furniture in your new home, or just help choose paint colors, wall art, and other decor. They could also be valuable in helping you steer clear of uber-trendy design that you might not be happy with a year later! 

These are just a few of the little extras your real estate agent can help you with. Think of her or him as your home buying or selling guru. At Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company, the agents and staff pride themselves on providing boutique services for clients. They’re more than willing and ready to stand by you step by step and assist in any way they possibly can. Contact one of our amazing agents today to discover the Johnson & Wilson boutique service difference!

 

Friday Five // August 9th, 2019

TGIF—it’s the end of another work week! That means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area throughout the weekend. Celebrate at a back to school event, taste local seafood offerings, sing along to your favorite Disney tunes, and more. 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!

For a bit of family fun to kick off the weekend, head to Gahagan Park for Summerville Movie in the Park. Peter Rabbit is this week’s selection, the fourth free outdoor movie night of the season. This is a free, family-friendly event that’s perfect for everyone! The movie starts at dusk, but come early for fun activities hosted by this week’s sponsor, Summerville Medical Center. Starting at 6:30pm, there will be games and a miniature petting zoo along with food trucks for snacks and dinner. Bring your chairs and blankets and have a ball! 

If you’re a seafood lover, the perfect event for you is happening this Saturday afternoon. The Omar Shrine Seafood Festival 2019, presented by Crews Subaru of Charleston, takes place at Patriots Point Saturday from 12pm until 5pm. Beat the heat at this indoor event that features local seafood dishes, live music, beer, wine, liquor, and door prizes. Your $25 ticket includes seafood dish sampling from participating food vendors and two beer/wine tickets. Further drink tickets may be purchased at the door. Those who aren’t fans of seafood and won’t be sampling the wares can get in with a $5 non-seafood ticket donation. Other delicious food items will be available for purchase as well. Children ten and under get in free. 

On Saturday from 11am until 4pm, local nonprofit organization Every 1 Voice Matters will host the 2nd Annual Community Back 2 School Bash in Park Circle. The event will feature over 800 bookbag giveaways with school supplies, jump castles, game trucks, face painting, double dutch, free food for the kids, gospel acts, celebrity DJs, celebrity speakers, free haircuts, fire trucks, a photo booth, and more! This year’s special guests include Mayor Keith Summey and Chief Burgess among many others. Event sponsored by Every 1 Voice Matters, Durham School Services, and DTLR.

This Sunday, Bay Street Biergarten is hosting the best brunch ever—Disney Brunch! Local band Keys and Co. will perform all of your most favorite Disney songs for you to sing along with. Brunch starts at 11am, and all the best Disney hits will flood Biergarten’s outdoor patio from noon until 3pm. Come dressed as your favorite Disney character or in your finest Disney regalia, or just brush up on your fave Disney tunes for the singalong. 

It goes without saying that the music catalog of The Beatles is vast and has been recognized for decades as some of the best and most-loved music of all time. This Sunday at the East Beach Conference Center on Kiawah Island, the Charleston Jazz Orchestra and vocalist Kanika Moore will pay tribute to the Fab Four with All You Need Is Love: CJO Plays The Beatles. Yesterday, Eleanor Rigby, All You Need Is Love, and Here Comes the Sun are just a few of the classic and beloved songs you’ll hear at this amazing event. General admission tickets are just $25. Get them at the link above!

 

What You Should Know Before Signing a Rent-to-Own Lease

Rent-to-own leases are not a new concept by any means. But as the younger generations come into adulthood and start to think about trading in renting for homeownership, a rent-to-own lease might start to look like an attractive option in the current seller’s market. Saving up to buy a home can be tough, especially when you’re just getting started on your own and might have an entry-level income and/or a lot of student debt. It might also sound like a great scenario if you’re self-employed or freelancing, have little to no credit, or have a high debt-to-income ratio. Tacking on a little extra money when you write out your rent check each month so you can eventually own the home you’re renting? It seems like a dream! If you’re not educated on the finer points of renting-to-own, however, it could actually turn out to be more like a nightmare. 

What Exactly Is a Rent-to-Own Lease? 

Also known as a lease-purchase agreement (among other labels), a rent-to-own lease is a contract in which a tenant agrees to rent a home from a landlord with the intent to buy. The tenant and landlord agree upon a price, which stays fixed throughout the term of the lease. Each month, the tenant pays enough to cover the agreed-upon rent plus some extra for the landlord to put away toward the purchase of the home. As an example, let’s say a tenant enters into a lease-purchase agreement for a $1890,000 home. The landlord might ask them to pay $1,000 as a down payment, and then $1,375 a month. Of that monthly payment, $1,000 would cover rent, and then the extra $375 would be put aside to contribute to the tenant’s down payment. After two years, the tenant will have $9,000 in their down payment fund, which is 5 percent of the home’s value, enough for an official down payment on a mortgage should they choose to move forward with purchasing the home. 

What's the Down Side? What Are the Risks? 

While this sounds like it would work out for everyone in a perfect world, it’s not without its pitfalls and risks. First, rent-to-own leases can be expensive. They’re almost always written in the seller’s favor in order to protect their interests. The landlord might require a non-refundable option premium to secure the tenant’s option to buy. While the amount can be negotiated, the standard is typically about 5 percent. The risk here is that if the tenant chooses not to buy or simply cannot do so at the end of the contract, they won’t get that money back. Additionally, there could be terms in the agreement that state that one late payment will result in a voided contract, meaning the tenant would lose all that money they’ve paid into potentially buying the home and any money they might have already put into repairs or renovations. For this reason, among others, tenants should always consult a real estate professional or attorney before they accept any contract terms. There’s also always a risk that the owner could default on their mortgage and go into foreclosure, leaving you high and dry and in the position of having to sue for remedy. 

What Are Some Red Flags to Watch Out For?

The home should be in good condition. Neglect is a major red flag, so check to make sure it hasn’t been foreclosed on or isn’t in the process of being reclaimed by the bank. The landlord should also be completely cooperative when you ask to have an inspection and appraisal done. Any argument from them could mean they’re hiding something from you. Be sure your extra payments add up to the agreed-upon down payment amount. There could be a shady landlord out there counting on the possibility that his or her tenant won’t go behind them and check the math or get professional help on their side. You should also have a title check done to be certain that the landlord is the legal owner of the property. Be sure there aren’t any liens or judgments against the property that you might unknowingly take on once you become the owner. This is something you’ll need to do when you enter the contract and before it’s completed; you never know what circumstances might have changed during the term of the lease. 

Proceed with Caution

If you’ve decided that a rent-to-own lease is your best option for becoming a homeowner, your first order of business is to protect yourself. Enlist the help of a real estate professional and an attorney before you take a single step forward. Different states have different laws when it comes to tenants’ rights and lease-purchase agreements. There’s certainly a plethora of information out there on the internet, but even if you consider yourself to be particularly research-savvy, you need a pro on your side. An attorney can help you with the fine print and rewrite a contract to tip the scales more in your favor. They can help you be certain that the owner can’t overcharge you or suddenly change the price of the home at the end of the contract. Once your attorney has gone over the contract and okays it, talk to a lender. They can help you go over the math and even put you through the prequalification process. That way you’ll know if you’re on the right track to getting a mortgage, or if it might even be smarter and more cost-effective to go ahead and get a mortgage and buy now. 

The Bottom Line

If it’s not the right time for you to buy a home outright, you might be better off moving to a place with cheaper rent and putting aside the amount you would’ve spent beyond that into a down payment fund yourself. Then you’ll know you’re not paying more than necessary yet you’re still saving to make that down payment when the time comes. If you decide that a lease-purchase option is the best move for your situation, as we’ve stated above, proceed with extreme caution. Contact a professional as soon as possible, and make every effort to thoroughly protect and educate yourself before you sign anything. 

 

Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company Heads Up Donation Drive for One80 Place

The staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company feel that giving back to our community is of paramount importance. That's why we're partnering with One80 Place in Charleston to help them meet their current, most urgent needs. From August 1st through October 1st, 2019, we're conducting a donation drive to collect some of One80 Place's most urgently needed supplies. Many establishments start donation drives once the cooler months and holidays draw near, but organizations like this need our help all year round. Let's help them out and make a difference in our community! 

If you'd like to help with donations, we're filling large bins in our Summerville and West Ashley offices with the requested supplies from the list below. Our offices are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am until 5:15pm. An office manager will be available at either location to receive your donations. Or if you'd like to help but can't get by one of the offices, give us a call. We'd be happy to pick up any donations you'd like to contribute. Remember: one person working alone may not be able to change the world, but together we're unstoppable!

One80 Place Collab Final

Friday Five // August 2nd, 2019

It’s the first weekend of August, which means summer break will be wrapping up soon. But don’t fret! There’s still time to get out there and have some fun in the summer sun. You'll be sure to find the perfect activity in this week's Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening in the Charleston area during the weekend. Enjoy outdoor movies and music, shop a huge multi-store warehouse sale, go nuts at the ballgame, and more. 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!

Looking for a relaxing way to wrap up the work week? Head out to Hutchinson Square in Summerville this Friday evening at 6pm for Sounds on the Square, brought to you by Nexton and the Town of Summerville. Enjoy smooth country tunes from Lowcountry natives Outshyne. This five-man band has been making music together since their high school days and have shared the stage with the likes of Keith Urban, Jake Owen, and Gary Allen. Treat yourself to some yummy eats from Squeals on Wheels and Samira’s Gyros and More. 

If you’re in Mt. Pleasant on Friday evening, be sure to check out Waterfront Music & Movies, presented by Y102.5 and Starling Chevrolet. Bring your blankets or chairs to Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park and bask in the sunset while listening to local musicians Sol Food and savoring dinner or snacks from food trucks bits-n-bytes and The Golden Pineapple. This week’s movie, Captain Marvel, will start at sundown, approximately 8:30pm. Admission and parking are free for this event. 

Calling all shopaholics and fashionistas! Gather at the Omar Shrine Temple at Patriots Point this weekend for the Charleston Boutique Warehouse Sale. CBWS is a semi-annual event for boutiques, designers, and online shops to show and sell their merchandise at discounted, end-of-season prices up to 90% off. All your favorite Charleston boutiques will be on hand with their sale items under one roof, including clothing, accessories, jewelry, shoes, home goods, and more. Hours are 5pm until 9pm on Friday, 10am until 7pm on Saturday, and 10am until 5pm on Sunday. 

Back by popular demand, the Charleston RiverDogs will transform into the “Charleston Boiled Peanuts” for one night only this Saturday. The Boiled Peanuts will celebrate the second annual events with this one-night rebrand, which includes new nutty merchandise on sale at the ballpark and online. The first 750 fans to arrive at the game will receive a complimentary cup of boiled peanuts, and the first 1,000 fans will also receive their very own Boiled Peanuts bowtie. Linger after the game for the post-game Fly-In Helicopter Ball Drop, presented by Chuck FM and Fox 24. If their numbered bouncy ball lands on the target at home plate, one lucky fan could walk away with a $4,000 grand prize!

Sometimes we all feel the need to stretch, breathe, and re-center ourselves after a weekend of fun. If this sounds like you, head out to Folly Beach on Sunday for Sunday Morning Folly Flow at the Wiki Wiki Sandbar beginning at 10am. This gentle yoga flow is great for beginners and seasoned veteran yogis alike. The session takes place in the sunset room, and if the weather cooperates, they’ll open the doors to the relaxing and inspiring ocean breeze. Bring your yoga mat, a water bottle, and a towel if you’d like. Brunch menu options will be available right after class (not included in the $15 class price). Pay in advance at Meetup or bring cash to the class. Namaste!

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