Moving with Pets

Moving day has arrived! If you’ve played your cards right, you’re all set. The truck is here, all of your boxes are packed and ready to go, and you’ve done a once-over to make sure you didn’t forget to do anything else on your to-do list before you leave.

While we know this day can be full of stress as well as excitement for you and the human members of your family, your furry friend is probably feeling just as amped up by all of the activity disrupting his or her home. To make sure that everyone in the household is able to relocate from one house to the next with ease, we’ve put together a few of our best tips for moving with pets. With any luck, they’ll help you all make it to your new adventure without incident!

Consult the experts

Have a chat with your current vet prior to moving day for a few pointers from an expert. Most vets will be able to tell you all about possible complications pets can experience with the stress of moving, relaxation methods you can employ to keep your four-legged friend calm throughout the process, and even acclimation techniques for after you’ve arrived. When you have all the information, you can better prepare for a smoother transition for every member of your family.

Put together an overnight kit

As you pack up the house, single out the items you’re more likely to need for your pet and put them all together in an easily accessed kit. Ensure that everyone in the house knows about this care package of sorts, and store it somewhere you won’t forget or that would be hard to reach in case of an emergency. This pack might include any medications your pet is on, treats, favorite toys, a blanket, and anything else that you could need to be able to retrieve at a moment’s notice.

Prepare a safe zone

During the process of packing the car or truck, and then again when it’s time to unpack, keep your pet in a quiet, safe location out of the fray. Not only will this make it easier on you to get things done, knowing where your pet is and that he or she won’t be roaming about, but doing so means that your favorite companion is out of harm’s way. In the chaos of rearranging furniture and carrying heavy boxes into your new home, pets who are underfoot can get stepped on or otherwise injured accidentally. And if you have a pet that is strictly indoors, you can eliminate the risk of letting him or her outside during all of the trips in and out.

Moving day doesn’t have to be quite as stressful where your pets are concerned! And with a reliable real estate agency on your side, you have representatives who are willing to streamline the paperwork and other processes so you can focus on the finer details – like remembering where you packed your playful puppy’s second favorite ball.


Key Steps to Buying a Home in North Carolina

As one of the most important decisions you can make, buying a home requires you to cover all your bases before you’ll be handed the keys.

It may seem daunting, but with the right professional by your side, the home buying process itself is a simple checklist. In no time at all, you’ll find yourself the proud owner of your very own house! North Carolina’s home buying procedure is fairly straightforward, but every set of circumstances is different. Here at Intracoastal Realty, our agents walk with you every step of the way to make sure you wind up with the ideal home for you and your family.

Contact your realtor

Your real estate agent is key to successfully navigating the home buying process. This is the professional who will help you complete the right paperwork, find and view homes, and eventually negotiate your terms. So when you know that you want to buy a home, whether it’s your first or your fifth, you’ll want to make sure you have reliable support.

Map out your priorities

Even if you haven’t planned out exactly what kind of house you want to live in, there are certain structural or design aspects you know you need or want. To better assist your real estate agent during the search, take the time to articulate what you’re looking for and what features you would most want to have in your home.

Get preapproval

Mortgage preapproval is a key component to the house buying process because no matter what you end up purchasing, you’re going to need to have the financial backing to do so. And once you do, you make yourself a strong candidate for the seller to consider in the event of a bidding war on a house.

House hunt

This is one of the more stressful, yet fun sides to buying a house! Looking through all of your options can feel overwhelming, but using your real estate agent’s knowledge at this point in the process can help you narrow down the available properties to the ones that you’ll be able to picture yourself living in one day.

Look at the facts

Some of the best assets we have as real estate experts are the MLS system and our own market research. And when it comes to your future home, we use those resources to make sure you know as much about the house you want to buy before we present you with any paperwork. As you’re house hunting, check in with your real estate agent and review these statistics so that you’re well acquainted with your potential purchase.

Make an offer

Here comes the fun part: making an offer on the house you want to buy! After making the initial offer to the seller, you and your agent can work together to negotiate any further terms or amendments to the price you’re willing to pay on the home. You can even speak with your agent beforehand and get a general idea of what sorts of compromises you might be presented with during this phase of the home buying process.

Negotiate

If negotiation isn’t your strength, a quality real estate agent will have you covered. Here at Intracoastal Realty, our agents take the guesswork out of navigating this step by acting as your liaison and using years of valuable experience to help you settle on terms that agree with everyone involved.

Check off your to-dos

There are plenty of tasks for you to accomplish before the sale of a home is completed, so be sure to keep a diligent record of inspections, payments, and any other necessary reviews of the property before closing day. That way, by the time you’re ready to sign paperwork, you’ll be able to enjoy the moment without anything else hanging over your head.

Get approved

If you were preapproved for a mortgage earlier in the process, then this part is simple! As soon as you have the finances to complete the purchase of your next home, it’s just a matter of setting a closing date with the seller and your agents.

Invest in insurance

Title insurance can help save you time and money on the off-chance that the previous owner overlooked some clerical error or mistake in the title for your new home. We always recommend home buyers invest in title insurance to help cover any potential legal expenses and keep the buying process moving along on schedule.

Inspection

Pre-closing inspection is the last chance to express an opinion about what stays or goes in your house when the current owners vacate it to make room for you and your family. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for damages or any defects that went unnoticed on your first viewing, or that might have been sustained during the move-out process. If you included any repairs or modifications in your terms, be sure to get a status report on those at this time, too.

Close the deal

And you’re done! All that’s left at this point in the home buying process is to sign on the dotted line and make the house you just bought a real home for you and your family to enjoy for years to come.

Ready to find your dream home in coastal North Carolina? Our talented, dedicated real estate agents look forward to working with you! Contact us to get started.


Planning Renovations in the New Year

When 2019 rolls around in a few days, tons of us will be putting our resolutions into action, and hopefully sticking with them throughout the year! Have you thought of what you want to accomplish?

Here at Intracoastal Realty, we make it part of our business to see your dreams come to a reality by helping you find and buy your ideal home, or sell the one you have so you and your family can move on to better and brighter opportunities. But what if your goal isn’t to move, but to refurbish your current house so that it becomes the home you’ve always wanted? This usually means that it’s time to start planning your renovations and home improvement projects, and whether you plan to do them yourself or to hire a professional, it’s going to take some planning for everything to turn out just the way you want it.

What are we doing?

Renovations, minor or otherwise, can take a lot of time and resources, so it’s key to first focus on what exactly it is that you want to have done to your house. Maybe you’ve got a fence that badly needs replacing, or perhaps you’ve always wanted a spectacular garden tub in your master bath. No matter the project, it’s best to sit down and figure out at least the main aspects of what needs to be done, what rooms will be involved, who you’ll need to call, and who or what will be affected by any inconveniences that will arise from the construction period.

What do we have?

The next most important aspects of a home renovation project are going to be in the details. What kind of budget are you prepared to set aside for the venture? If you don’t think you’ll have enough at present, you may need to break out the calendar and decide when you could comfortably put up the financial resources you need to get the work done. In that plan, go ahead and have a few places bookmarked in case this particular project takes you out of the house for a few days for safety or comfort concerns and how long those arrangements will be feasible if they do come up.

When is this going to happen? 

As is always the case with a major home improvement project, timing is everything. If it involves the outdoors or a sensitive system in the house, you may need to plan out the project due to environmental and weather concerns. Or, personal factors like a school schedule for the kids may come into play and affect when this renovation will be doable. So while you plan your budget and the parameters of the construction involved, be sure to keep an eye on dates and have a general idea for when you’d like to cross things off your to-do list, all while allowing a little wiggle room for any unexpected setbacks.

If you’re ready to take a step forward in your home improvement plans this year, make sure you’re off to a solid start! And if you decide instead that 2019 is the year you move someplace new, contact Intracoastal Realty for your buying or selling needs.


5 Common Reasons Not to Buy a House (And How You Can Avoid Having Them!)

Today, owning a home isn’t the only mark of a successful adult. Ideals have changed and diversified so that everyone can have his or her own definition of doing well and accomplishing set goals.

But then there are those that actually want to invest in homeownership opportunities, yet find themselves shying away when the topic arises. Why is that?

Realistically, there are many reasons to hold off on buying a house, but if you know you want to own property at some point, there are ways to blow some of those excuses right out of the water before they ever even become an issue.

You’re worried about existing debt.

From student loans, car purchases, credit cards, and more, almost everyone has some kind of debt to his or her name before buying a house even crosses the mind. But that’s ok! Making payments may not be high on your list of fun tasks each month, but doing so will show lenders that you’re responsible enough for a home loan whenever you’re ready to seriously consider buying a house. We would never encourage you to go and max out your credit cards, but you should also know that a manageable amount of debt won’t keep you from moving into your first purchased home.

You have no prior experience in home maintenance.

There’s no time like the present! One of the major differences between owning and renting a home is in the upkeep and repairs. Once you own your house, it’s up to you to keep it in good condition. Not only does it make living in it much more enjoyable, but it can work wonders for you if and when you’re ready to sell your house and find a new one. If you currently rent, try your hand at very small tasks that come up, or challenge yourself to read one home maintenance article (or watch a helpful YouTube video) every week to familiarize yourself with simple DIY repairs.

You’re concerned about the housing market’s fluctuations.

Buying a house isn’t just a major investment; it can be quite a risk, too. There’s no better way to time your readiness to purchase a home with the ups and downs of the housing market besides educating yourself and getting in touch with a seasoned real estate agency early on. Realtors watch the trends as part of their everyday job experience, so familiarizing yourself with common terms and causes for those fluctuations while you work with a professional can prepare you for the process when the time comes.

You have no starting capital.

If owning a home is something you know you’ll want at some point in the future, it’s never too early to start saving! It can be difficult, but even just putting away small amounts each month can really help you reach a comfortable starting point when you’re ready to buy a house. If you haven’t been able to put much away, but still want your chance to enter the real estate game, sit down with a loan officer at your preferred bank and find out what the branch can do for you, and where you might want to start in terms of a down payment.

You’re not sure where your job will take you.

Alright, so there is no catch-all solution to this one! But, we do have some advice that you might find useful. If you’ve chosen a career path that has you constantly on the move or traveling in and out of town, it certainly makes sense not to put down any roots just yet. But if it’s just a matter of being unsure of your career’s trajectory, then owning a house can sometimes be a good way to build your credit for if you do need to move in the future. It also shows commitment to a project, which is never a bad thing to bring up in your job interviews!

Homeownership may not be for everyone, but if it’s something you want to look into, there are fewer roadblocks than you may think! If you’d like to discuss your options, contact Intracoastal Realty today and learn more about our process.


Buying a Home in the Off-season

Summer has long held the reputation for being more popular in terms of buying and selling a home, most often because it’s a more convenient time of year for families to take the time to pack up and move someplace new.

But if you have the means to control when you set out on your next adventure, have you considered buying a home during the off-season? Sure, it means having to settle in at the start of holiday events and in chillier weather, but purchasing a home in the off-season also has quite a few upsides that some home buyers overlook.

Less competition, more opportunities

Along with those purchasing a home, home sellers are often rare on the ground during the off-season. And while that may sound like a reason not to buy a house at this time, think of it this way; you have a shorter list of homes to view, and the sellers know it. So as you peruse the houses on your radar, with more time to really get a feel for the place before you sign on the dotted line, sellers are anxious to make the sale and get to where they need to be. This gives you the chance to initiate beneficial negotiations, with greater chances of being accommodated by the seller and his or her agent.

Market values and bidding

There’s something else to be said for fewer items on the market; when the seller is as limited as you are, he or she is more likely to bend on the resolve to get the same original asking price in your offer. So when it comes to negotiation and knowing the current market values – something your agent will certainly be able to help you with – you’ll be at an advantage to make a sale that’s fair to both you and the seller of the house you want to buy. Before you start looking at homes, sit down with your agent to get a decent idea of what you can expect in your new town, and then come up with a plan to use the season and the market to everyone’s benefit.

Getting to know the neighbors

When you move somewhere new over the summer, it’s not just the season for real estate; it’s also the prime time for taking a vacation! This means that while you settle into your home, it can be difficult to get your bearings in the neighborhood, as there is a constant fluctuation in who is home and who is abroad. But when you move in during the holiday season, you’re able to quickly learn who decorates as soon as possible, who likes to host the annual party, and so on. You and your neighbors will be thick as thieves in no time!

Purchasing a new house and picking up to move can be a stressful process, but sometimes it pays to wait for the right moment! With the help of experienced agencies like Intracoastal Realty, you can ease the way for you and your family to make yourselves right at home that much sooner. Contact us to get started!


5 Myths About Owning a Home

The white picket fence, a spacious backyard, a place to call your own: for many, owning a home is the goal, one of the mile markers of success. But with it comes a significant amount of responsibility, which can also turn others off from the idea of committing to a place of residence for longer than the duration of a lease.

If you’re debating whether or not to begin the process of becoming a homeowner, and find yourself getting bogged down in all of the warnings against or urges to buy as soon as possible, check out a few myths our real estate team can debunk, and hopefully make deciding one way or another easier for you.

All improvement projects add value

One of the first things new homeowners do when they move in is start making the house their own. This is often accomplished not only through personalization and decoration, but also through a few improvement projects like adding new cabinets or shelves, installing new appliances, or even some more extensive endeavors. But not all of these things add the expected value to your home. Before making any design changes to your house, check in with an expert and get a feel for what you can do to not only add value to the home, but also make your time living in it more enjoyable.

Buying is always preferable to renting (or vice versa)

There is no hard and fast rule for which is better between buying or renting a home. The deciding factors come down to personal matters, including financial concerns, roommates, professional opportunities, and so on. When you’re trying to decide what to do about your next house, it’s better to speak first with a trusted professional who can help you assess your circumstances and choose the option that fits most with what suits you best in the long run.

New homes don’t need any work done to them 

While we’d all like to think that a brand new house is perfect just the way it is, this unfortunately is not always the case. Sometimes, the fact is that though you love the house as a whole, there are aesthetic aspects you want to rearrange or scrap altogether to make it feel more like home. In other cases, the alterations could be of a more functional nature, making your day-to-day easier. It all comes down to weighing the cost of the work alongside the purchasing price, and deciding if it’s worth the additional investment or if you’d be better off continuing your search.

You can make any changes once the house is yours

When the keys are in your hand and all of the paperwork has been signed, the house is yours with which you may do whatever you like, whenever you want: right? Actually, there are some projects that might need to be put on hold until you obtain the proper permits, even if you plan on doing the work by yourself. Consult with your local officials before you kick off any major renovations.

New is always better

While we all might fantasize about that shiny new dishwasher or a house that’s never been lived in by anyone else, the fact of the matter is that there’s nothing wrong with buying a house with some history. When you begin to shop for your home, try not to limit yourself to newly built residences; not only will you possibly save yourself money by looking to gently used homes and appliances, but you might find something you like much better because it has character.

It’s a big step, but taking ownership of a home can be one of the best investment opportunities when approached in the right way. If you think this is the next move for you, contact our offices and speak with our expert real estate team to find out more!


5 Home Improvement Projects for Summer

With temperatures rising and the kids out of school for the season, summer is a great time to reconnect with each other as well as the outdoors! Here in coastal North Carolina, there are tons of opportunities to enjoy the longer days and summer sunshine, all with a refreshing breeze to keep things cool and comfortable.

One way you can work on your tan is to make some home improvements that winter’s chill kept on the back burner! It may not be an afternoon spent reclined on the sand, but you’ll be glad you took the time to improve your home before the seasons change again.

Lawn Care

In winter, lower temperatures and sometimes even frost or snow can remove taking care of your yard from your to-do list entirely. But once the sun’s back out and rain encourages plants to grow, it’s time to break back out the lawnmower, the weed eater, and your work gloves! Take summertime as an excuse to get out and work up a sweat while you beautify your home.

Patio and Porch Maintenance

It’s the perfect time to bask in the lazy summer warmth, especially if you have a porch or patio to set up as your relaxation hub! But in order for you to get the most out of the experience, you’ll want to make sure it’s well-equipped and in prime condition. Take a moment to check on any stone or woodwork for chips or splits and make the necessary repairs as soon as possible. That way, when you’re ready to unwind, everything is just as it should be.

Clear Out Those Gutters  

Autumn, winter and spring weather can cause a lot of buildup in your house’s gutter system. Before the leaves start to fall again, hop on a ladder and clear out the debris from neighboring trees. Here on the coast, summer can also usher in some rainy periods, so it’s important to know that your house will be protected from any intensive downpours.

Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint  

Despite our region’s tendency for summer humidity, it’s still a great time to get outside and touch up any lackluster paint jobs on the exterior of your home or on outdoor furniture. Before you get started, just be sure to check on the upcoming weather forecast in order to choose the best possible day to devote to your efforts. In doing so, the results will be glossy coats of new paint, and you may be able to save yourself some time (and paint) in the future!

Refortify Your Fence

If you have a fenced-in yard, you know that the perimeter occasionally needs to get checked out for weak areas or broken posts. Before your next backyard pool party or barbecue, walk along the fence, both inside and out, to be sure it will hold up through the season. Winter weather can be rough on wooden posts and moisture wears down metal or chain-link fences, so it never hurts to take advantage of warmer weather and sunshine to get it all back up to par.

If you need some help in making these or any other summertime repairs, we’ve got a list of handy local service providers that can help you get started on your home improvement projects. For more local tips and news from the real estate market here in southeastern North Carolina, stay tuned to Intracoastal Realty’s blog!


Breaking Down the Zestimate

When it comes to purchasing a new home, or selling the one in which you currently reside, the initial process can be confusing and overwhelming until you get the assistance of a good real estate professional.  So, it stands to reason that when beginning the process, buyers and sellers might do some preliminary research using a third-party site like Zillow.

Zillow is known for price estimates, both for buyers and renters, as well as providing limited community information for those who have never visited the neighborhood. On the outside, it seems like a handy resource when dipping a toe into the waters of real estate.  However, the property information and price estimates are often inaccurate, which can create major issues for buyers and sellers.  In other words, if you decide to use these big third-party websites, proceed with caution or forgo them altogether and get accurate data from a trusted, local real estate website and resource.

When you need assistance in your pursuit of the perfect home, there are several reasons to turn to an established agency with local knowledge and experienced real estate agents on its side. Otherwise, you may find yourself relying on the Zestimate, a computer-generated estimate that is not always the best measure of a home’s value.  Zillow knows this, and discloses this in small print on their site.

How is the Zestimate made?

As Zillow states, the Zestimate is meant only as an expression of the estimated market value, not an actual appraisal. The site is actually a computer program that automatically generates its report based on what is available to anyone: data and statistics that can be accessed with relative ease by the general public. As such, the program doesn’t take into account the additions you or its previous owner might have added while in residence. This can affect the Zestimate, putting the home at a lower or higher value depending on the extent of repairs or damage.

In Southeastern NC, we’ve seen Zestimates on some properties be off by as much as 45%.  For illustration purposes, evan a 15% margin of error on a $400,000 home results in a difference of $60,000 in value!  Further, the same algorithm to estimate the value of a home in a Detroit suburb is used to estimate the value of a home on the water in our region.  That’s pretty telling, isn’t it?

Even more telling is this article, which features information about the home of Zillow’s founder and CEO.  The day before his home sold for $1.05 million, the Zestimate for his property showed $1.75 million.  Need we say more?

How can your agency help clear the air?

When it comes time to sell or buy a home, don’t always trust that the Zestimate has given your house enough credit for what it’s worth.  Instead, broach the subject with a trusted real estate agent.  He or she can walk you through the criteria in further detail, help you get a professional appraisal and, for sellers, pull a list of comparable properties that have recently sold.  And while Zillow does have access to area information to prep you and your family for relocation, a local real estate agent has the insider knowledge that can never be replaced by statistics alone.

When it comes to your home, whether you’re buying or selling one, it’s important to have all the information available to you. With the help of well-established agencies like Intracoastal Realty, you can be sure you’ll have all you need to get settled. Contact us today to help you with the process!


House Flipping Tips and Tricks

You’ve heard the success story: a worn-down eyesore, an optimistic buyer, and a quick transformation followed by an even faster sale. Flipping houses can be a lucrative occupation, but it certainly isn’t an easy feat. If you’re interested in trying your hand in the market, you’ll want to keep a few insider tips in mind.

Don’t go it alone

From buying, to the renovations, and then to the actual sale of your project, it helps to have some experienced professionals on your side to help streamline the process. And if you’ve never tried to flip a house before, it’s even more important to have a helping hand or two at your disposal. Build your team by talking to real estate agents, contractors, and other seasoned homeowners you can trust to point you in the right direction.

Shop wisely

While it’s always incredible to watch a run-down property be remodeled into a functioning home again, be sure that you can put your money where your mouth is and that you don’t purchase too ambitiously. Before buying a house to flip, make a sound budget that you can easily stick to throughout the renovations. That way, you’ll know from the beginning how much you have to allot to the purchase itself and any costs incurred afterward.

Check your expectations

When the remodeling is done and you put the newly-decorated home back on the market, remember that the idea is to engage in a quick sale, not haggle over every nickel and dime. The success of house flipping lies in the ability to close each deal efficiently. As such, you probably won’t make very much off the first few sales. Don’t get discouraged! If you find that flipping houses is something you enjoy, keep a record of your successes and setbacks so that each time there are fewer surprises and more to gain!

Timing is everything

The housing market is in constant flux, so above all else, remember to be patient and time your purchases and sales accordingly! At this stage, an experienced real estate agent is your best bet in learning the ropes and optimal times for buying and selling property in your area. Flipping a house is only possible when the conditions are right for buyers, so you’ll need to catch those waves as they come.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, contact Intracoastal Realty and get connected with some of the most knowledgeable agents in the coastal North Carolina area!

 

 

 


Drawing the Lines: How Redistricting in New Hanover Schools Could Affect Your Move

The boxes are packed, the moving truck is gassed up and ready to go – but what happens once you arrive in your new town? There’s always a lengthy list of to-dos when you move, both before and after you make the trip, but the last thing you want to have to account for is if your child’s school district is going to change after you’ve all gotten settled.

Earlier this year, New Hanover County Schools announced plans to redistrict the four county high schools to avoid overcrowding issues. Laney, New Hanover, Ashley, and Hoggard high schools have all seen a few different drafts of district maps in the last few months, which could make it difficult for incoming residents with students to choose a new home based on educational and social stability for the teens.

But even as the lines shift and change, there are ways to keep your head above water while looking into a new home in the county that will help you prioritize you and your family’s needs.

Stay updated

First and foremost, when you know you’re about to make a move, be sure to periodically tune in to the area’s local news. This will help you not only be knowledgeable when it comes to redistricting and school news, but the other happenings and even current weather patterns of your new town as well. By the time you unload the van, you’ll already have a handle on your environment.

Keep flexible

Searching for a new home can already be stressful and often tedious, especially if it takes a while to find the perfect accommodations. While you and your real estate agent work to find the house that will best suit your needs – including proximity to the best schools – try to be flexible and willing to allow for more than one possibility. If you’re considering the New Hanover County area, you’re in luck as far as schools are concerned!

Strategize

If you’re concerned about which school your student will attend once you arrive, you can always use the neighborhoods and regions as your guides in searching for a home to buy. Most redistricting is done in sections according to the nearest neighborhoods, so if you already have a particular school in mind, research which streets and complexes are currently included in that institution’s borders and then assess the available homes there. If nothing strikes you from the selection, it may be time to reevaluate your expectations and broaden your horizons.

If you and your students are ready to make the move to our area, contact Intracoastal Realty for local experts and the best selection of homes to suit your needs!