Low Home Appraisal? 5 Things You May Want To Check

Home Appraisal Myrtle Beach

When selling your home, you want to make sure your home appraisal is high enough to justify the price of the contract with the buyer. And if you are refinancing, the higher your appraisal is, the better. If the numbers don’t match up with your expectations, here are five things to check to make sure your appraisal is where it should be.

1. Check the Appraiser’s Report – You can request a copy of the appraiser’s report to review – especially if the appraiser did not actually tour the inside of the home. If the appraiser did not come inside, they may have missed key upgrades that would increase the appraised value. While some upgrades require permits, many do not and that is why making sure the appraiser has toured the home is important. On the flip side, even if you have some really great upgrades, if your upgrades have exceeded the maximum market value of your neighborhood, you may not be able to capitalize on them.

2. Check the Comps – Part of the appraisal process is to review the selling prices of other homes in your neighborhood that are as similar as possible to your home in terms of size, upgrades, type of home and lot size – these are called comps or comparisons. If very few recent sales have happened in your neighborhood, the appraiser may have had to look outside your neighborhood to find data for comps. Ideally, in these cases, the appraiser should seek out a neighborhood of similar value and with similar features to yours like proximity to top rated schools and easy access to public transportation. If the appraiser used comps from another neighborhood, it’s possible that the market value of that neighborhood doesn’t match up with the value of yours. Also, in cases of limited recent comps data, the appraiser may have used comps for homes that don’t match up closely enough with your home to be a good fit.

3. Check the Season – The real estate industry has a seasonal cycle in most areas of the country. During peak selling seasons like spring and summer, homes sell for higher prices than they do during the slower sales season of late fall/early winter. If the appraiser is using only data from other homes sold in your neighborhood in the preceding few months, and those months happen to be September through December, your appraisal can be lower than if the appraiser included comps from the most recent spring and summer months (in some areas, appraisers are limited in how far back they are allowed to look for comps).

4. Check the Appraiser’s Record – Your agent may have to assist with this, but in most cases, you can get some amount of data about the amount of experience and background of the appraiser. If the appraiser is new or inexperienced, they may not have had the appropriate knowledge of your neighborhood to provide a fair appraisal. Likewise, if the appraiser has a history of challenges filed on their appraisals, they could typically overlook details that other appraisers take into consideration.

5. Check into a Second Opinion – While it may cost you money out-of-pocket to do so, if you feel your appraisal is not where it should be, you can have a second independent appraisal done by a different appraiser. Neither the buyer nor the lender are required to abide by the second appraisal but if there is a significant difference in value between the two appraisals, the lender may re-evaluate decisions that were based entirely on the first appraisal.

The appraisal can make or break a pending sale or refinancing agreement. If the numbers don’t seem to add up, check out these five things to make sure your appraisal really is where it should be and communicate any concerns you find to your agent.

Why The Home Inspection Is So Important

Home Inspection Myrtle Beach

With all of the different steps in the process of buying a home, it is easy to overlook just how important a good thorough home inspection truly is. The home inspection looks for any issues inside and outside that should be addressed prior to completing the sale to help prevent you from discovering too late that your dream home is actually a money pit. Recently, our friends from Rivertown Home Inspections joined us at an open house to demonstrate for 40 of our Century 21 agents what should be included in a properly-done home inspection. Here are a few key take-aways that you can use too:

Home Inspection by Rivertown Property Inspections– Inspections should include both interior and exterior, including surrounding land, driveways and sidewalks. Inspections should also look at grading, foundation and integrity of crawlspace access points.

– Exterior structural elements should be inspected up-close. Your inspector should climb up onto the roof to inspect condition of the roof and shingles up-close, as well as chimneys, skylights, gutters and any other structure that accesses the roof or is best examined from the roof. From the ground, the inspector should check the exterior of doors and windows, columns, steps, water spouts, exterior water hook-ups and exterior components of the HVAC system.

– Inside the home, the inspection should include the interior of windows and doors, walls, ceilings, floors, attic (including proper ventilation), basement and any crawlspaces that are accessible from inside rather than outside.

– Your home inspector should inspect all appliances for proper operation, including running appliances like washer, dryer, dishwasher, garbage disposal, stove/range and oven.

– The inspection should include a thorough look at the HVAC system components, whether heat pump system or other style, as well as inspecting hot water heater.

– Inspectors should do a complete examination of the electrical system in the home, including all switches, lights, fans, testing all plugs and receptacles to ensure they work properly and are code-compliant. Your inspector should also include smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors as well, whether they are wired into the electrical system or battery-operated.

– Your inspection should include a full review of all plumbing throughout the home, including water fixtures, sinks, tubs, showers, drains, toilets, water main and all visible/accessible pipe lines under counters, in crawlspaces and basements or in garages.

– Your inspector should also recommend additional specialized inspections if they notice issues that require a specialist to assess them. In South Carolina, these issues may include suspected termite damage and mold issues.

A properly-done home inspection is your best protection against costly repairs that should be covered by the seller and ensuring your new home has structural integrity and is up to code so you and your family know your home is safe before you complete the sale.

Loan Program for First-Time Home Buyers in Myrtle Beach

first-time home buyer Myrtle Beach

One of the biggest barriers to home ownership can be getting together a down-payment and finding a loan you can qualify for – especially if you fall into the category of “first-time home buyer“. Who is a first-time home buyer? Surprisingly, the term applies to more people than only those who have never owned a home before. People who haven’t owned a home for at least three years (whether solo or jointly with a still-current spouse) and divorced buyers who have only owned a home jointly with a former spouse can also qualify for first-time home buyer programs. Here are a few of the popular options to help you find a home of your own.

FHA Loans
The Federal Housing Administration offers loans with as little as 3.5% down-payment required, with some state programs adding extra incentive for buyers willing to purchase a HUD home. The trade-off on this type of loan is that while your down-payment is lower, you do have to carry mortgage insurance for the entire duration of the loan. Conventional loans often let the borrower drop mortgage insurance after they’ve surpassed 20% equity.

VA Loans
Home loans through the Veteran’s Administration are open to veterans and also active duty military members, including most reservists, National Guard, and spouses of military members killed while on active duty. Many buyers who choose a VA loan can qualify for up to 100% financing – meaning no down-payment required and VA loans also don’t require private mortgage insurance coverage.

National Homebuyer’s Fund
The National Homebuyer’s Fund is a down-payment assistance program available in many states that provides grants of up to 5% of the loan amount. Often paired with FHA and VA loans, the funds provided are a grant and don’t have to be repaid. Not all states participate in this program so it’s best to check with a mortgage specialist to explore if this grant is available in your state or if your state offers other down-payment programs. In South Carolina, the state down-payment assistance program can help some borrowers with up to $6,000 toward down-payment or closing costs, based on income.

Mortgage Tax Credits
Depending on your state, you may also qualify for tax credits on your federal income taxes, In South Carolina, homebuyers can take advantage of a tax credit for up to 30% of the mortgage interest paid each year, up to $2,000.

Home ownership can seem to be out of reach for many people. Programs like special loans for first-time buyers, down-payment assistance programs, and even tax credits lower the barrier to make owning a home more accessible for more people. Programs and limits can and do change so always explore your options with a reputable mortgage broker. You may have far more options than you realize!

Buying A Home: Benefits of Having a Buyer’s Agent

Buyers Agent Myrtle Beach

If you are in the market for a new home, one of the best investments you can make in the process is finding a great buyer’s agent. While a listing agent or seller’s agent represents the seller’s interests during the process of selling a home, a buyer’s agent is focused on representing you, the buyer, and your best interests. Here are just a few of the benefits of working with a buyer’s agent:

* Exclusive Representation – Your buyer’s agent is exclusively representing you and your interests in the process. If you are negotiating or dealing with the seller’s listing agent directly, that person is focused on what is best for their client – the seller – and not what is fair or best for you as the buyer. Having a buyer’s agent ensures you have someone who knows all of the ins and outs that is focused on what is best for you.

* Needs Analysis – Buyer’s agents are experts at helping aspiring homebuyers uncover their needs for a new home, and separating the “must haves” from the “nice to haves” to make sure your new home will meet your most important needs. Buyer’s agents have deep knowledge of area neighborhoods, various builders, features of different types and styles of homes and more. By getting a thorough understanding of your top priorities, they can sift through available inventory to find homes that fit your family.

* Inventory Selection – Your buyer’s agent has access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and an extensive network of other agents and brokers to sort through the available housing inventory in your area and select the home options that best meet your needs and priorities. Your buyer’s agent will also set up appointments (showings) for you to tour available homes, collect your feedback, and use your likes and dislikes to further fine tune their list of homes to present to you. Rather than spending hours on the computer looking through website after website of homes for sale, your buyer’s agent does the legwork for you to find homes that work for you and eliminate ones that won’t.

* Expert Negotiator – Buyer’s agents are masters in the art of negotiation. When you find a home you would like to put in an offer for, your buyer’s agent reviews all relevant data like similar homes recently sold in the area, sales history of the home you are interested in and market conditions to help advise you on how much to offer. They also fill out all of the paperwork and submit the offer to the seller’s listing agent to get the negotiation process going. Your buyer’s agent will be there with you every step of the process to guide you through counter-offers, requesting seller concessions when necessary and any surprises along the way.

* Professional Network – Buyer’s agents develop and maintain a network of qualified professionals you will need during the process. Their network of home inspectors, appraisers, mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys, title companies and even repair services or moving services help keep the entire process running smoothly from start to finish – including move in!

When you are looking to buy a new home, you want someone who is dedicated to you and your interests to guide you through the often-complex process of looking for and buying a home. A buyer’s agent is there to ensure you are treated fairly and also help you navigate through each step as efficiently as possible.

Why FSBO Is Not A Great Idea: 5 Reasons to Hire A Real Estate Agent

FSBO Myrtle Beach

Everyone likes to save money. If you are looking into selling your home, it may sound like choosing the For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) route could save you money on fees and commissions. However, this is one situation where what you don’t know *can* hurt you, and your bottom line. Homes sold through an agent sell for an average of 11% more than homes sold as FSBO. This means even with commissions, most sellers make far more with an agent than without one. Here are 5 more reasons to hire a real estate agent to sell your home.

1. It’s harder than you think! Selling a home yourself is far more difficult and time-consuming than you may realize. Not only is the pile of paperwork required a ton of time and effort, but the number of people you have to negotiate and coordinate with easily becomes overwhelming. As a FSBO listing, you are the one negotiating with the buyer, buyer’s agent, buyer’s attorney or title company (depending on state), home appraisers, home inspectors, banks and lenders.

2. Realtors have data you don’t. Realtors have data at their fingertips on sales trends in the area, sales prices of comparable homes in the neighborhood, mortgage rates and other data that they are already set up to access quickly and easily. You could spend hours researching to turn up half the data a realtor has with a few mouse clicks. Realtors use this data to help determine the best listing price to help your home sell quickly and for the most money possible.

3. Real estate agents are your gatekeepers. Having a real estate agent handling the sale of your home also means you have a gatekeeper that can weed out unqualified buyers, bargain hunters who look at FSBO like an item at a yard sale and scammers looking to profit from your inexperience. Simply put, a real estate agent protects your time, money, and safety by ensuring only true potential buyers are coming into your home.

4, Real estate agents have established sales and marketing channels to sell your home quickly. Realtors spend a great deal of time setting up networks, marketing channels, social media followings and other forms of community outreach that help their listings get noticed. They also have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) that lets all other agents in the country know your home is available. FSBO sellers have to pay an agency to get their home listed on the MLS–typically costing several hundred dollars. That’s money that would be better invested in hiring an agent instead.

5. Scheduling and managing showings can be a headache! When selling your home, keeping things in “showing-ready mode” is hard enough. Now imagine dealing with scheduling, managing and tracking the outcome of all of those showings! Real estate agents have systems and processes set up to easily handle every one of these aspects of showing your home. All you have to do is keep things looking nice and be scarce when a potential buyer is viewing your home. So much easier!

Selling your home can be a far more complicated process than it appears. Hiring an agent provides benefits to your bottom line and your sanity that trying to sell on your own can’t beat.  The experienced agents at Century 21 Broadhurst have a proven path to sell your home.

Income Properties: Want Renters? Go Small!

Income Properties | Small beach House

When getting into income properties as a business, it pays to know what renters are looking for. Choose incorrectly and you could wind up with a property that sits empty for too long and costs you more money than it brings in. Keeping current on the big items on renters’ lists helps you choose an income property that is worth every penny. So what is the biggest thing renters are looking for in today’s market? Renters are all about… small!

If you haven’t noticed the explosion of the tiny home market, living small might be confusing at first. Innovations in design and space-saving construction have captured the imagination of people of all ages. Cable TV shows are springing up, blogs, commercials, social media groups and an entire culture is growing around the tiny living trend. And now, the trend is creeping into the apartment market with developers building more and more “micro-apartments”. Ranging from 300 to 400 sq. ft., micro-apartments first started in more crowded and expensive cities, but are catching on in smaller markets.

Micro-apartments are somewhat like a studio apartment the size of an average bedroom. These units usually rent for about the same price as larger studio or one bedroom apartments in their markets but trade off size for amenities and furnishing. Many micro-apartments come furnished and include multi-purpose appliances for small spaces, a bed that doubles as a couch, a single sink used for both bathroom and kitchen needs, flat screen TV, free internet, all utilities included with rent and some even include maid services. The community spaces offer places for residents to watch movies together and gather for social activities.

As a growing trend, micro-apartments and tiny homes are expected to continue gaining popularity. Forward-thinking renters don’t mind trading space for extra perks and paying the same rates as older, larger apartments in their market. Additionally, more renters are interested in environmentally-sustainable and responsible housing options that are more energy-efficient and produce a much smaller environmental footprint. Living small is the lifestyle of the future. Choosing an income property that is small on space but big on innovation, amenities and special perks puts you at the forefront of this in-demand market.  Let the agents at Century 21 Broadhurst help you find your best income property.

Selling Your Home? Curb Appeal Don’ts

Selling Your Home | Curb Appeal Don'ts

Like anyone who has ever been on a blind date can attest, first impressions are everything. When selling your home, your curb appeal is that first impression that determines whether buyers want to come inside and get to know your home a little better, or look away and drive on by. Here are just a few curb appeal “don’ts” that scare buyers away faster than garlic breath and parsley in your teeth.

DON’T be Trashy: Unless it happens to be trash pick-up day, keep the trash stashed away. Visible trash cans (even if empty), bags or boxes of trash, and other throw-aways are a big turn off for potential buyers.

DON’T be Tacky: Funky lawn art, that hand-painted mural on the garage door and neon yellow trim around the windows may fit your personality, but to buyers it just comes off as tacky. Pack up the tack for your next home, and create a neutral invitation any buyer could imagine themselves enjoying long-term.

DON’T be Bland: Empty space with no visual interest or landscaping at all just looks bland to buyers. However, adding a few native shrubs or bushes and a colorful row of flowers is a simple way to go from bleak to chic.

DON’T be Overdone: A porch packed with furniture and decorations looks more like storage than a spot to relax at the end of a long day. Pack away all but a couple cozy pieces to keep the front porch simple instead of overdone.

DON’T be Unpolished: Visible unfinished home improvement projects, like that half re-tiled roof, give buyers the impression that the home needs work. Finish up home improvement projects before you list your home so buyers only see the polished final result.

DON’T be Mismatched: When the outside and the inside are a total mismatch, buyers may feel bewildered or even deceived. Make sure your curb appeal choices are consistent with the home’s interior for one attractive total package.

Curb appeal is your first impression to woo potential buyers into your home for a deeper look. In real estate and in dating, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Use these curb appeal “don’ts” to avoid making a first impression that sends buyers the wrong signals!

Trends In Home Value Appreciation in 2017- What’s Hot?

home value appreciation

It might surprise you to know that conventional advice for boosting appreciation of your home value doesn’t give you the bump it may have in the past. Features like granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances don’t accelerate appreciation in today’s market. Why? Simply put–what home buyers are looking for has changed. Historically, in a strong economy, home values appreciate an average of three to four percent per year. If you are looking to buy a home or thinking about renovations to increase home value appreciation, these are the options that are going to grow your home value the most.

Location, Location, Location: No surprise here. Location has been a consistent appreciation factor for decades. What makes a location desirable for buyers has shifted some in recent years though. With the trend of more people leaving the suburbs and moving back into city centers, homes close to public transit options have been appreciating at an average of 8.4% for the last five years. Homes in school districts with “top” or “best” rated schools garner appreciation of 7.2% per year. Homes with views of green spaces like parks grow 7.9%, meanwhile ocean view properties have been averaging appreciation of only 3.6% per year.

Size Matters: Size matters–but perhaps not in the way you might expect. Fierce competition for smaller homes by Millennials and Baby Boomers has shifted the appreciation equation to smaller homes. Homes of 1,200 sq ft and under appreciate 7.5% per year in the current market, whereas homes double the size at 2,400 sq ft and up appreciate only 3.8% per year. Smaller homes naturally mean less bedrooms with two bedroom homes appreciating 6.6% per year, compared to homes with five bedrooms appreciating 4.3% per year. The lower inventory of smaller homes combined with the increasing demand means the size factor will continue to impact home value appreciation for the foreseeable future.

Open and Modern: Open floor plans have been popular with buyers for some time, however, the trend toward smaller homes makes an open floor plan an even stronger appreciation value-add at 7.4% per year. Open floor plans make smaller homes feel more spacious. Changes in buyer preferences toward modern and contemporary home styles with clean lines, large windows, high ceilings, lots of natural light and energy efficient features have pushed appreciation of modern architectural style homes to 7.7% per year, while other architectural styles have stalled or even dropped in appreciation.

When looking for a new home, knowing the trends that bring the best home value appreciation helps you choose a home that will bring maximum return on your real estate investment.  Century 21 Broadhurst can help with that.  If you’re considering renovations to boost appreciation of your current home, there are likely factors in our list that you can’t change, such as location, however, renovations to open up your floor plan and add modern features can help you cash in on current trends.

Real Estate in Socastee & Surfside Beach: A Growing Appeal

Real Estate in Socastee and Surfside Beach

As real estate agents along the Grand Strand, we have seen a growing interest in the Socastee and Surfside Beach areas just next to Myrtle Beach.

The historic charm of the Socastee area is great for homebuyers who like to be close enough to shopping and the beach to get there quickly, but prefer a quieter neighborhood to call home. The Socastee area was part of an original land grant to Percival Pawley in 1711 and home to many buildings and structures on the National Register of Historic Places. The historic swing bridge, the Cooper House, the pecan grove and other historic spots make Socastee a fun place to live and explore. Bordering both the Intracoastal Waterway and the Waccamaw River, this area has much to offer buyers looking for waterfront homes, townhomes, condos and lots–at lower cost than other areas of the Grand Strand. If you like lots of waterfront options but don’t want to pay waterfront prices, Socastee just might have the home you’re looking for.

Surfside Beach
A neighbor of Socastee, Surfside Beach is known as the Family Beach. Home of the famous Ocean Lakes Campground, Surfside Beach is popular with visitors as well. Beachside condos are in demand with both year-round residents and as vacation rentals (hint for buyers interested in investment properties). Along the beach, stilt houses look out to the ocean and the remnants of the Surfside Pier. Having previously been destroyed and rebuilt on at least three separate occasions, the Surfside Pier was once again destroyed in October 2016 by Hurricane Matthew, with more than 50% of the pier lost to the punishing storm. Also in Surfside Beach, golf and tennis lovers will be thrilled by the offerings in the Prestwick community. Many homes overlook the golf course, a favorite of local golfers–as is the Prestwick Country Club with dining and entertainment. Surfside Beach has a little something for everyone just a skip away from the hustle and bustle of Myrtle Beach and The Market Common.

For Real Estate in Socastee or Surfside Beach, contact your experienced Century 21 Broadhurst team of agents today.  We have offices in Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach.

What Makes A Century 21 Agent Stand Out From the Crowd?

Century 21 Agent Myrtle Beach

What’s so special about working with a Century 21 Agent? First, you know they have the expertise and leadership of the Century 21 brand at their fingertips. With Century 21, agents are always learning and growing their skill set to best serve every client. From day one, Century 21 focuses on training and developing the very best agents, from an introductory personality assessment to uncover strengths and challenges through various types of courses and learning content on the most comprehensive training platform in the real estate industry.

Recently, Century 21 was named the winner of four different categories with J.D. Power and Associates – for the third year in a row! J.D. Power and Associates has named Century 21 the winner in the following categories:
– Highest Overall Satisfaction for First-time Home Sellers
– Highest Overall Satisfaction for First-time Home Buyers
– Highest Overall Satisfaction for Repeat Home Sellers
– Highest Overall Satisfaction for Repeat Home Buyers

And our world-class comprehensive training platform is a 9 time Training Magazine Top 125 Award Winner. Awards are great but how does that translate to a better experience for customers and the best agents in the industry?

The Right People
We start by making sure we have the right people from the start. Our detailed personality assessment evaluates a potential agent’s strengths and challenges in several key areas that show whether or not pursuing a career in real estate is a good fit. Not every career is a good choice for every person. Targeted questions about various personality traits assess the candidate on things like sociability, organization, dependability and how achievement-oriented they are. When you start with the right people, you get the best results!

Century 21 University
Century 21 University is our unique training system, and is known as one of the most comprehensive performance-based training platforms in real estate. Our agents don’t just start their training here, but they also continue their education throughout their career. Our platform includes webinars, self-paced courses, classroom instruction, live online instruction, video courses, individual and group coaching and hands-on labs. Our courses are accredited and ensure our agents have the knowledge, skills and good business habits to provide the highest level of service and expertise.

So, what makes a Century 21 Agent stand out from the crowd? Everything!