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3 Times You Might Lose Your Earnest Money For Good

When a homebuyer presents a seller and their listing agent with a purchase offer, the buyer typically includes something called an earnest money deposit. Earnest money, sometimes called good faith money, is defined as “money paid to confirm a contract.” Earnest money shows the seller that you’re serious about buying their home. How, you ask? Basically, you write a check that goes into an escrow account. It waits there until closing day, when it will be refunded to you or applied toward your closing costs. There are some instances, however, when you might not get that earnest money back. Here are some examples of how to lose your earnest money deposit for good.

You waived your contingencies. 

Sure, a hefty earnest money deposit combined with few-to-no contingencies is a great way to get a seller’s attention and show them you really want to buy their house. But waiving contingencies could create major problems for you later on. For example, if you didn’t take advantage of the home inspection contingency and serious defects are found during the inspection period, you might not be able to back out without forfeiting your earnest money deposit. Similarly, if you’re unable to secure a home loan but waived the financing contingency, the sellers may keep you on the hook for the purchase or keep the earnest money as recompense if you back out. It might sound like a good bargaining tool, but leaving contingencies out of your purchase agreement can be costly.

You ignored the “time is of the essence” bit.

Most purchase agreements will include timelines for certain jobs to be done. For example, it may require a home inspection to be done within two weeks of the agreement being signed. This gives all parties ample time to get their ducks in a row and perform any subsequent tasks that arise from the inspection or appraisal. If you don’t have the inspection completed by the date outlined in the contract, you may be in breach of contract and might have to forfeit your earnest money. 

You got cold feet. 

If you’re under contract and simply decide this property isn’t for you, or you’re just not ready to buy after all, the sellers have every right to keep your earnest money. That said, as long as you haven’t waived those aforementioned contingencies, you have an out. But if you lack any contingencies and just decide not to go through with the purchase, the seller most likely won’t give you your money back. Consider it a consolation prize for them missing out on other buyers while you were under contract. 

No one wants to wave goodbye to a hefty sum of money without having something to show for it. Keep these tips in mind, and you shouldn’t have a problem getting your earnest money deposit back on closing day.

Friday Five // October 2nd, 2020

It’s Friday once again, and you know what that means! It’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place around the Charleston area over the weekend. Chase chills and thrills, learn all about a new hobby, hoist a stein to Oktoberfest, 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! 

Beginning this weekend, you can experience gills, chills, and thrills at the South Carolina Aquarium’s Haunted Trail all month long. Enter the Haunted Trail and adventure through eight spooky themed rooms with creepy crawlers, ghostly ghouls, and scary surprises. As you travel through the trail, you’ll find Scare Control sensors marked by LED lights. Wave your hand in front of the sensor to take your frightful thrills to the next level. Note that this attraction is designed to be scary. As such, the recommended minimum age is eight years old. Guests under 13 must be accompanied by an adult. The trail uses strobe effects and flashing lights, near or complete darkness, tight spaces, loud and sudden noises, and uneven/moving floors. Please take these into consideration when deciding whether this attraction is safe for you and your family. Attendance is free with admission or membership. Masks and social distancing are required. 

Those interested in photography will enjoy Charleston Photography Group’s Beginners Guide to Photography this Saturday from 9am until noon. This three-hour session is a photography walk that will wean you off of “Auto” mode and transform your everyday snapshots into something the pros would admire! You’ll learn all about aperture and depth of field, different focal lengths, correctly exposing photos, and using composition techniques, white balance and color, and shutter speed. During this hands-on class, you’ll practice your new skills by taking tons of shots. This class is open to all skill levels, from beginner to amateur. Bring a camera that has full manual or semi-manual modes. Book in advance at the link above. 

Two Blokes Brewing says, “Nothing is normal this year, so why should Oktoberfest be?” So head to the brewery this Saturday for NOT-toberfest at Two Blokes and stretch out the summer just a little longer! Outdoor music by BrotherMan begins at 5pm, and The Immortal Lobster will be on hand with food beginning at 4pm. There will be a special firkin, and the release of Two Blokes’ new Tropical Hazy Pale Ale. Anyone who orders a pint of the new release will be put into a raffle for a chance to win some Two Blokes swag. Wear your best Tropical/Hawaiian shirts to blend in with the theme, and feel free to bring beach chairs to sit in the grass or parking lot if no tables are available. Masks are required inside the taproom unless seated at a table.

If you’d rather celebrate actual Oktoberfest, head to Frothy Beard Brewing Company in West Ashley this Saturday for the Frothy Oktoberfest Celebration. Now that the weather is a little cooler, the beer has turned slightly darker and more malty as Frothy gears up for Oktoberfest. Join them Saturday for socially distanced fun and festivities with Hans Schmidt German Band from 3pm until 6pm, food and drink specials, and the ever-popular stein hoisting competition.

This Saturday evening, Charleston Opera Theater and Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park bring you Opera on the Waterfront. This is a free, socially distanced event on the lawn at Memorial Waterfront Park, co-hosted with the Town of Mount Pleasant, Innovative Event Services, and Fox Music House. Join these sponsors at 7pm Saturday to see an exciting cast with international and national credits perform a program of opera’s greatest hits. This fun event will appeal to both the seasoned opera lover and the novice. Bring your blankets and chairs, and arrive early to grab a prime spot on the lawn. Don’t forget to stop by the food truck while you’re there! 

Buying a Home in the Middle of a Pandemic

Buying a home can be stressful and confusing in the best of times. But doing so in the middle of a global pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges and concerns. Here are some tips for buying a home right now, from the initial house-hunting process through closing day.

Lean on your Realtor®.

The first thing you’re going to need to get through this process in such an unprecedented time is a great real estate agent. You need an agent who’s tech-savvy, comfortable meeting and signing documents virtually, and knows how to keep things on track digitally. Luckily, the agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company are some of the best in the industry. Being a boutique real estate company, we’re able to work with you on a personal level in whatever capacity you’re most comfortable with at this time. We consider your safety our utmost concern when meeting face-to-face, and we also have top-notch tech if you’re more comfy meeting virtually. It’s a good thing, because you’re going to need to lean heavily on your real estate agent right now!

Go virtual.

Open houses and in-person showings are much more involved right now, or they may be nonexistent in some cases. When you’re ready to get out and look at homes for sale, check out virtual events first, such as Facebook Lives, Instagram Lives, Stories, or Reels, IGTV, 3D home tours, and video tours. Narrow your list down to those few houses that are absolute must-sees, then take the necessary precautions before going to view them in person. Many homeowners and listing agents will have guidelines in place. They may require you to wear a face covering and use hand sanitizer, ask you not to touch anything in the home, or ask you to remove shoes at the door, for example. 

Recruit an excellent mortgage lender. 

When it comes to getting a mortgage for your new home, you have a good bit of homework to do. Now more than ever, it’s important to choose a local mortgage lender who can provide personalized service and keep on top of your purchase process better than a national bank can. Choose a lender who can handle everything digitally. Make sure they have an online presence, and ask to interview them via video chat. Your lender should be able to provide you with options for seamlessly uploading documents and tracking the loan process. They should be comfortable with handling everything remotely if needed.

Keep your distance.

Normally, there’d be a flurry of in-person activity between signing a purchase agreement and going to the closing table. Taking pandemic conditions into consideration, however, things have changed in this area too. For example, it’s safest not to attend the home inspection at this point in time. Inspectors have guidelines and precautions they have to follow to keep themselves and the homeowners safe and healthy, like wearing PPE and sanitizing everything they touch. Having the buyers or sellers in the way can put a damper on the process and create more work for the home inspector. Ask your inspector if they can meet with you via video chat to show you any concerns while still onsite. Appraisers have different guidelines to follow now as well. Lenders may allow them to do a drive-by inspection and a desktop appraisal as opposed to a thorough inspection onsite. 

 

Prepare for closing day to be different.

When it comes to closing day, there are several things that might happen. Buyers and sellers may be required to attend at different times, be in separate rooms, sign documents in their parked cars, etc. The important thing to remember is that even though the road to get there might be a little more circuitous, the outcome will be the same as it ever was. Relax, take everything as it comes, lean on your Johnson & Wilson Real Estate agent and you’ll be a new homeowner before you know it! 

Friday Five // September 25th, 2020

TGIF! It’s time for another edition of the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area over the weekend. Celebrate Oktoberfest, join in goat yoga, adopt a new furry family member, and more. And as always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a very happy and safe weekend! 

While the real Oktoberfest in Germany is canceled, you can take a short trip downtown to Bay Street Biergarten for the next best thing! Biergarten Oktoberfest, sponsored by Devils Backbone, will be the happening place to be from now until October 17th. This Friday, Biergarten will host their first ever Biergarten Oktoberfest Food Challenge with Randy Santel. Santel will be consuming a 7-pound brat stuffed with all kinds of Bavarian-inspired foods and will down a liter of Devils Backbone brew within a certain time frame. A smaller version of Randy’s challenge will be available for the public to try as well! This event is open to the public. Stick around afterward for the Midnight City Band from 6pm until 9pm. 

Join Flowertown Charm this Saturday morning for Summerville Goat Yoga. Goat Yoga is exactly what it sounds like—a casual and gentle yoga class with goats! This class is perfect for anyone new to yoga, pro yogis, or those who just want to snuggle goats. As you move into your yoga poses, sweet little goats will roam around, cuddle, and play, adding charm and inspiring happiness during this stress-relieving, fun class. This is an hour-long class with a goat happy hour afterwards. Hang out, snuggle, and take pictures with the goats, and BYOB if you wish. Class is held at Flowertown Charm, a local home, business, and urban, serene, non-smelly mini-farm in the heart of Summerville. Bring an older mat or towel, as the goats may potentially chew on them. Participants must be age ten or older and purchase a ticket. 

This year’s election is one of the most important of our lifetime, and it’s just around the corner on November 3rd, 2020. Since the last day to register to vote is October 4th, Bay Street Biergarten will be holding a Rockin’ Registration voter registration event this weekend. If you’re not registered to vote, or you’re not sure if your information is up to date, head to Biergarten on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5pm. There will be computers and internet access available at this outdoor event. Masks are required.

Join Sweetgrass Mercantile on Saturday afternoon for Market at the Mercantile. Sweetgrass Mercantile is a post office, artisan mall, café, hardware store, and antique mall all in one. Buy local, get your knives sharpened, have your lamps repaired, and more in this special spot. The Market at the Mercantile event takes place from 4pm until 7pm and features live music from Nick Collins, Island Paradise Balloons, Booze Pops, The Tap Truck, Mr. T’s Kettle Corn, and more. More than 25 local vendors will be on hand with foods, jewelry, tea towels, pillows, repurposed home items, stained glass, home decor, farm stand, etc. The Market is a mostly outdoor event, but of course there are antiques and goods from more than 40 vendors inside as well. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

Head to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens this Sunday from 1pm until 5pm for the 4th Annual Lowcountry Dog Adoption Event. This is the largest adoption event in the Lowcountry with fifteen local rescues and shelters, live music from Lauren Hall and Emily Curtis, yummy food, and of course, social distancing. This free event takes place at the Pavilion Field at Magnolia Plantation. Masks and social distancing are required. Bring chairs and blankets to sit on and enjoy music, food, and all the adorable dogs up for adoption. There will be prizes and a free Magnolia Plantation family memberships for each adopting family.

Charleston Real Estate Market Report // August 2020

This August, 2,056 homes sold in the Charleston Trident area at a median price of $315,000. Year-to-date, 13,661 homes have sold at a median price of $295,000, both up 6% from 2019. 

“This summer has been record-breaking in terms of sales and price increases—a trend we fully expect to continue into the fall” said 2020 CTAR President. Bobette Fisher. “Continued low mortgage rates have helped thousands of homeowners in our region make a smart investment and a crucial step in building long-term wealth and stability,” said Fisher. “However, as inventory continues to decline, competition for our region’s homes has increased significantly, which is one of the factors driving our prices up” she said. “Two months of inventory signals an extreme seller’s market—six months is a balanced market. This limitation has essentially capped the number of homes that can be sold; if more homes were available, they would most certainly sell” said Fisher.

Breakdown By County

Berkeley County: 516 homes sold at a median price of $255,820

Charleston County: 1,063 homes sold at a median price of $351,670

Colleton County: 38 homes sold at a median price of $227,500

Dorchester County: 361 homes sold at a median price of $232,327

August 2020 Market Report

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