3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home in Coastal, NC

North Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the East Coast, as well as in the nation in general. Every year, this part of NC is flooded with annual tourists, many of whom opt for a more consistent way to visit the coast by investing in their very own vacation home. If you’re one of those looking to invest in your own little slice of paradise, here are three main questions you need to ask yourself to get started:

1. Will you make good use of it?

Before you even start to think of buying a vacation home, you need to ask yourself: will I use it enough to make it worth it? If you find yourself going back to the same location year after year, and you never tire of it, then yes, you’ll probably get a lot out of owning a vacation home in that area. But, if you’re not absolutely in love, think again. North Carolina is home to a whole slew of beaches and islands, each with its own pace and unique feel.

If you’re looking for a beach that feels far away, but is close to nightlife, shopping, etc., you probably want to consider areas like Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach or Figure Eight Island. Or, if you really relish the slower pace of sleepy beach towns, you should consider looking further down the coast at Bald Head Island, Oak Island or Ocean Isle. These are just a few of the options to consider! You can always contact an agent to get an idea of what areas might suit you best, but, when in doubt, it’s best to just see for yourself. Just consider this an opportunity to squeeze in some extra vacations in the name of research.

2. Can you afford it?

After you’ve determined if a vacation home actually makes sense for you and your family, you need to ask yourself if you can afford to purchase another home. Typically, mortgage companies are going to charge higher interest rates or a require a higher down payment for a second home. Additionally, you’ll have to keep your eye on the long-term finances as well, factoring in insurance, taxes and maintenance.

The best way to accurately plan for these expenses is to team up with a local mortgage broker, who can help you devise the best way of putting up the money for your down payment, as well as factoring in those long-term costs. Their experience in and knowledge of the local market will be paramount in helping to calculate these costs, as well as advising you on the projected value of any potential properties in the coming years. For instance, if there’s a highway slotted to be built in the area in the next five years, they’ll probably know about it, and can advise you to look elsewhere if your home’s value will be affected. They’ll also become a valuable resource in finding local resources, such as reliable property management companies, to keep your home in tip-top shape while it’s not in use or to keep it maintained and safe from damage if you end up renting it out.

3. Is it a smart, long-term investment for you?

One thing to consider, that usually doesn’t register too high for vacation home seekers, is: how close is this vacation home to your current home? Is it a few hours’ drive? Or, do you have to board a plane and fly across country? Now, if you’re looking in an area that you already frequent (which you should), and you know that you’ll move heaven and earth to get there on a consistent basis, then you’re probably fine to start searching in your desired area. However, if you’re only planning on making your way over to your vacation home once a year, you’re really not getting the best return on your investment.

Remember those long-term costs we mentioned? Those property maintenance, utilities, water and electric bills are high overhead to pay if you’re not planning on taking semi-regular trips to your vacation home. Plus, you don’t want to leave it sitting unoccupied for too long. If you’re planning on renting it out while you’re not using it, just make sure that 1) it’s in a high-demand area that will ensure its probability of getting rented regularly, and 2) that you have a solid understanding of how renting the property will affect your taxes. If your home is rented more than 15 days of the month, that rent is considered income, and will have to be filed as such on your taxes. It’s important to iron out these details from the get-go, instead of finding yourself in over your head later.

Are you considering purchasing a vacation home in Coastal NC? Let us know if we can help you by calling us at 1-800-533-1840 or contacting us via email at info@intracoastalrealty.com. Our experienced staff has all the know-how you need to find the vacation home you’ve always dreamt of!


Why You Should Always Hire a Buyer’s Agent

Buying a house can be a lengthy and somewhat arduous process no matter how many times you’ve done it. There’s always going to be a decent amount of time spent researching, filling out paperwork, scheduling viewings, etc. However, having a buyer’s agent by your side can greatly ease the process! Before you hire one though, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Research your agent first

Buyer’s agents are there to represent your interests and should act as your ally throughout the entire buying process, however, just like with any other professional service, you should do your research first. Some agents will always be better than others based on their experience, communication skills, market knowledge and overall professionalism.

When looking for an agent, focus your search on realty companies, as opposed to just searching for individual agents. There’s not a very consistent way to actually “rate” agents online, so you’re not always likely to get a very accurate picture of an agent’s aptitude. However, if a realty agency or corporation has good reviews, that bodes well for their agents. Look on Google, Yelp, Zillow, Realtor.com, etc. for reviews, or, even better, ask around to see if any friends or family had positive experiences with certain agents or companies.

When you meet with your agent, make sure to ask them a couple of questions first to ensure that they’re knowledgeable and are going to be available when you need them. Have they lived in the area for long? How long have they been an agent? How many homes have they helped clients purchase in the past year? Do they have recommendations for mortgage brokers? Are they available via text, email and phone? Are they an exclusive buyer’s agent, or are they a dual agent?

This last question is particularly important because, if they’re a dual agent, then they also act as a seller’s agent in some cases, which can present a conflict of interest if you should ever view one of the homes that they actually have listed. A buyer’s agent should disclose this information to you upfront and should be able to recommend another agent should you want to pursue a home that they are acting as the listing/seller’s agent for.

Agent benefits include:

1. Helping you find homes according to your specifications

When you meet with your agent, you should discuss what you’re looking for in a home. If you’re serious about buying a home, you should get pre-approved for a loan beforehand to determine how much house you can actually afford. Some agents actually require this before getting started. Afterwards though, they should help narrow down your potential homes—do you have a specific area you want to stay within? Do you want good schools nearby? Do you want a home that’s move-in ready or are you willing to do some work on a home? They should provide you with listings of potential homes that match your requirements regularly and help you schedule viewings.

2. Providing advice and insight when viewing homes

When viewing a home, they should be there to help point out qualities in the home that are both good or bad, helping you to notice any potential areas of the home that might need work or any perks, as well as filling you in on the surrounding area and neighborhood. You should never feel like your agent is trying to “sell” you on a home—that’s not their job. Their job should be to help you analyze a home based on its qualities, location and price from a perspective that benefits you the most.

3. Helping you negotiate offers and stay within your price range

A good agent will make sure that you’re looking at homes that are realistically within your price range. They should be able to tell you about factors that might affect the cost of a home, like HOA fees, taxes and whether or not the surrounding market supports the listed price of the home. When it comes time to place an offer, they should guide you in making a reasonable offer that won’t deter the seller, while making sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

4. Taking care of all of the paperwork, legal matters, etc.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to have a buyer’s agent is simply to ensure that all required paperwork is taken care of in a timely manner because there is a ton of paperwork. They should take care of scheduling inspections, drafting offers and due diligence documents, scheduling professionals to take care of any necessary repairs on the home (should any be required or agreed upon by the seller), filing all paperwork with a lawyer and coordinating with the seller’s agent, lawyer and mortgage broker. All you should have to do is double-check documents that they send to you for review, let them know of any necessary changes, and sign.

If you’re getting ready to buy a home, make sure you weigh the options of hiring a buyer’s agent beforehand! All fees for a buyer’s agent should get wrapped up into the actual sale of the house, so there shouldn’t be any upfront cost, meaning there’s really no reason not to hire one.

If you’re in the market for an agent, make sure to check out our listing of agents here or contact us at 1-800-533-1840 or at info@intracoastalrealty.com. Happy hunting!


Tips for Buying a New Construction Home

The prospect of buying a new home that’s “shiny” and brand new is certainly an exciting one, unless you’ve got a soft spot for old, historic homes. However, buying a new construction home takes a little know-how that probably doesn’t come to mind right at first. If you’ve got your eye on a new construction home or community, you’ll want to check out these tips before you get too swept up in all that “new home” glory!

Have a buyer’s agent by your side

When buying a new construction home, you don’t have to worry about dealing with negotiating with a previous owner who might have emotional attachment swaying their decision making—which is perfectly natural. However, what you will have to deal with is the listing or selling agent for this new home, and they can be very good at creating a lot of excitement while glossing over the finer details. No matter how sweet their deal sounds, never forget that they are there solely to get the best deal for the builder, not you. That’s why it is so important to enlist the help of your own buyer’s agent, who can provide a neutral perspective for you and really wants to see you get the best deal possible.

Important: Always have your buyer’s agent with you every time you visit a new construction home for the first time. Always! Oftentimes, if your agent doesn’t accompany you, then the listing agent will get the full commission on the sale of the home should you choose to buy it.

Research the builder

It doesn’t matter how spic and span a new home might look when you look at first glance. You want to make sure that the builder for your new home is reputable and has a good standing based on prior construction projects. Make sure there are no Better Business Bureau complaints that have been filed or are still outstanding with the builder. Talk to your agent and other local agents to see if the builder does, in fact, have a good reputation. See if you can’t find out if homeowners in the builder’s previously constructed homes are happy with their purchase. Has the home aged well? Were there construction flaws? Have they had to do a lot of repairs and maintenance? Look for online reviews, testimonials or news about the builder’s previous construction projects.

Make sure you know what you’re getting

While the model home you’re shown might be brimming with fine finishes and features, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your home will have the same hardwood floors or granite countertops. Make sure you know what’s standard and included in the base home price, and what the extra amenities and upgrades consist of. You should request a feature sheet so that you can begin deciding what upgrades you might want versus what standard features you’d prefer to keep. Try to do this early on the process because those upgrades add up. It’s very important that you know how much house you can really afford and that your upgrades don’t push you past that. It’s also not a bad idea to do a little research on what it would cost you to have the upgrades made to your home after purchase. You might be able to get a better deal, and you’ll also be able to focus on things like the actual square footage of the house or the location of it within the neighborhood — two aspects that are far more important than cosmetic upgrades that you can do later.

Keep up with the Joneses

Since we’re on the topic of upgrades, whether you decide to keep your upgrade list lean or go all out, it’s important that you fall in sync with what the rest of the neighborhood has done, simply to ensure that your house is supported by the immediate market. So, if the neighborhood has been pretty well established to this point, find out what the most common upgrades were. Did most homeowners spring for hardwood floors? Then you’ll probably want to as well. You’ll probably want to steer clear of implementing every upgrade possible, since you’ll also run the risk of pricing yourself out of the neighborhood. On the other hand, if you’re one of the first ones on the scene in an entirely new development, you’ll largely get to make those decisions without having to worry about what others before you have done.

Don’t waive your home inspection

You might be thinking that, since the home is a new construction, a home inspection isn’t important. That’s wrong. It’s very wrong. Every home, whether brand new or 100 years old, is prone to problems. Regardless of its new construction status, it’s important that you make sure your new home is safe and up to code. Your agent should handle all of this for you, which is just another very important reason for you to have one. Never forget that they are on your side. They’ll be able to handle tasks like scheduling a home inspection, having contracts reviewed by a lawyer, or making sure that you have a guaranteed timeline for the completion of the house in writing if it’s still under construction.

Don’t think you can’t negotiate

Granted, with a new construction home, you’re going to have a hard time driving the price down. Builders don’t generally like to go down on price. However, you might be able to negotiate in other ways. For instance, you could ask for the builder to pay for closing costs or throw in upgrades at a reduced cost or for free. This way, the builder isn’t setting a precedent of lower prices for newcomers to the neighborhood, but you have the opportunity to save money. It might be a good idea to reach out to your agent on this, once again, to see if they can’t dig up any info on the builder’s negotiating style and find out where they’ll be most willing to budge. You should also ask about a home warranty, and what that includes. This is important, as it could influence any offers you make on the house.

Is buying a new home exciting? Yes! It’s also very easy to get carried away or swayed by sweet-talking listing agents. So, before you even take one step into your potential new home, make sure you take a look at this list and start your new home journey prepared. Looking for an agent to help you navigate the waters? We’d be happy to assist. Give us a call at 1-800-533-1840 or drop us a line at info@intracoastalrealty.com.


How to Afford Your Dream Home

 

Whether you’re venturing out to buy a house for the first time, or you’ve made a couple of home purchases in the past, you can identify with the excitement generated from the phrase “dream home.” And while that seems like owning such a home is a far-off, well, dream, it may not be. Learn how acquiring your dream may be a closer reality than you once thought.

Start Saving Now

First step to affording your dream home: saving money. This isn’t exactly rocket science. Little things you can do to save up some extra cash include: avoiding the temptation to spend money on that which you don’t need. So, whether your weakness is clothes, fine cuisine, automotive “toys,” etc. — try to hold off. The money you normally spend on these kinds of purchases should get channeled right into a savings account.

Need a more significant way to save up cash? Consider your schedule. Do you have time to gain extra income through a part-time job or some freelance work on the side? If you can swing it, you’ve got yourself a steady flow of money that can go right into your dream home down-payment fund. Do you have any extra assets or property that you can sell? Or, if you’re feeling the burden of debt, liberate yourself. Start aggressively paying down any overhanging debt so that you can either save up more money after the fact, or to increase your overall budget for future mortgage payments.

Get Pre-approved

If you’re really serious about buying your dream home, then show sellers just that by getting pre-approved. You can also determine just how much money you need to have saved up for a down payment and how much house, in general, you can afford. Getting pre-approved typically makes the whole home searching/home buying process much smoother and greatly increases your chances of actually being able to close on the house on your dreams. Once you get pre-approved, you can begin your home search in earnest.

Shop Around

Even if you’ve been pre-approved by one broker or lender, that doesn’t mean you have to close using that source for your dream home funding. We strongly recommend that you do a little shopping — different sources will be able to offer different rates and packages that might require less money down.

You should also contemplate how long you plan on being in this home. If it’s really and truly your dream home, and you aren’t planning on moving any time soon, then a traditional 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is probably the best way to go. However, if you’re planning moving in a few years, then an adjustable-rate mortgage might actually give you a lower monthly payment during your truncated time in the home.

Get Some Assistance

While shopping around for the mortgage deals for your dream home, you might be eligible for government-backed loans. For instance, those struggling to generate a sizable down payment may find refuge with an FHA loan, which allows buyers to put down smaller down payments as low as 3.5 percent. There also government-insured mortgage loans available for veterans (VA loans) or rural home buyers (USDA or RHS loans).

Have your eye on house in need of some TLC and not sure how you’ll fund it? Don’t chalk it up to a loss just yet, because there are government programs that provide funding for home improvement and renovation. Learn more on the details for that here.

Reconsider Your Must-Haves

Don’t get completely carried away with your idea of what a dream home must entail. Sometimes a dream home must be patched up first before it becomes dreamy. Sometimes a dream home is actually a condo or townhouse. Regardless, if you set your standards too high, that dream home might become rather elusive or, it might stretch your budget way too thin.

So, when looking for your dream house, keep a balanced of dose of reality on hand. Do you have kids? Is your dream house decked out with granite countertops, teak floors and private backyard in a nice neighborhood with good schools? Or will you end up having to dish out more money for private school tuition? Can you settle for a smaller house in a nicer area that you can “bedazzle” later? You also need to pay attention to the commute to and from your job, and that of your spouse’s, as well as the surrounding area. If you revel in the nightlife, you probably want to make sure you don’t have a 40-minute commute to your favorite stomping grounds, and vice versa.

Be Patient

Above all, be patient. While it goes without saying, buying a house requires a serious commitment. So, don’t try to rush into anything or succumb to less-than-ideal circumstances because of your sense of urgency to occupy your dream home. It’s good measure to pay attention to the market. Trying to score a dream-home deal in a seller’s market will be challenging. If the market doesn’t look ripe for your dream home transition, you might want to consider staying put for a little while longer or taking a step forward into a different home for the time being.

Also, don’t dump all of your savings into a down payment without first putting aside some extra money for closing costs, costs associated with moving or any additional you might need for sudden projects in your new home.


6 Important Questions to Ask During an Open House

 

Ah, the open house. Not only are open houses fun (for the not-so-few of us who love looking at houses), but they can incredibly informative, especially if you know the right questions to ask during your inside tour. Lucky for you, we’ve put together a list to get you started.

1. Why are the sellers selling?

It’s very unlikely that the listing agent or sellers will sit you down and tell you the whole story, especially if the story is of a negative nature. In fact, they may not really tell you much at all, and they don’t really have to. But, at least posing the question gives you a reaction to gauge. If the agent or seller seems extremely hesitant, it might be that there’s something wrong with the house. Or maybe they didn’t like the surrounding area or neighbors. If that’s the case, you might need to do a little digging.

House inspections should reveal any serious issues with the house that might otherwise be hidden, but what about the area? Check the crime rates for the area. Is the house located in a noise zone from a nearby airport? Is there a loud train closeby? Is there construction or a DOT project gone astray (or one that might just be starting) that might be negatively impacting the area? It’s also good to familiarize yourself with the neighborhood on your own. Take a drive through it at different times of the day and week to see what sort of activity is taking place. Are there kids and families playing and taking walks? Or, are you seeing something more nefarious?

On the flip side, it could also be that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the house and the sellers are moving because of something personal, like needing to move closer to family, or because of a new job offer. Regardless, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

2. Is the seller on a timeline?

This is something the seller or agent will probably be much more willing to divulge, and it’s extremely helpful for you in forming a strategy. If the seller is trying to scoot as soon as possible, then you’ll need to keep that in mind. If you’re interested in the house, you’ll need to do any research quickly and start thinking seriously about what kind of offer you want to make. The good news is that, if the seller is trying to wrap things up quickly, you might have more negotiating power with your price. Throw in the fact that you’re willing to work with their timeline, and you may just have yourself a deal. And, of course, if the scenario is quite the opposite, and the seller has all the time in the world, they’re probably not going to be as likely to bite on a lower figure, so you’ll have to regroup and restrategize, or just up your offer.

3. When were updates to the house last made?

You’re not necessarily asking about when the tile backsplash in the kitchen or the new double-sink vanity in the bathroom were added here. Your focus is on the big, expensive updates that keep the house safe and in working order. For instance, you need to inquire about non-glamorous items such as: when the water heater was last replaced, when the roof was last updated, how long the A/C unit has been chugging along, when was the last time the septic was pumped, etc. It doesn’t matter how alluring a house is, if you’re looking at thousands of dollars of updates in the near future, you need to make sure you’re prepared for that and factor in any necessary upgrades that you can try to ask the seller to make prior to your purchase of the home.

4. How’s the house doing otherwise?

While you’re on the topic of upgrades, you might as well bring up the general maintenance of the home as well. If the aforementioned updates haven’t been made recently, are they due soon? Are there any issues with electrical wiring, pests, leaky roofs, sagging porches? Does the backyard flood, and subsequently, the back of your house? (This you might actually be able to tell just by looking. Our sandy soil doesn’t hide flood water paths well.) Agents are required to divulge all known information about structural defects and code violations, but it doesn’t hurt to get a little chatty to determine if there any other issues that are less “official,” but still detrimental.

5. What’s the neighborhood like?

It’s good to both ask the agent or seller about the neighborhood, in addition to doing a little looking around of your own. The seller or agent might be able to give you a more in-depth idea of what kind of residents live in the neighborhood — young couples, retirees, etc. — and if neighbors are friendly or keep to themselves. But, doing a little investigating on your own can let you know for sure if the house is in a good school zone, in an area subject to crime, etc. It might also be good to either ask about or research to see what the turnover rate is in the neighborhood. Is it stable? Or are there families constantly moving in and out? Is there something that might be causing people to quickly leave after just settling in? Is there a lot of development popping up in the immediate area? What kind of development? While you may or may not really care about the surrounding area, keep in mind that, should you ever need to move, the locale can hold a major bearing on the value of your house in the future.

Without a doubt, if you’re working with a buyer’s agent, you need to ask them about this. One of the key benefits of having a buyer’s agent is their ability to give you a more honest look at how the neighborhood is doing and how it’ll probably be doing in the future.

6. Have there been any offers made on the house?

Here’s another area where listing agents won’t be bashful. If there are one or more existing offers on the house, they’ll be sure to let you know, because more offers means more competition means more money. Talk with your agent about your prospects in a bidding war to determine if you should participate, or move on. On the other hand, maybe an offer hasn’t been made in quite a while on the house. The seller might be more willing to accept the next offer that comes along. Really, this all just depends on how long the house has been on the market. If it’s new and already decked out in offers, be ready for some stiff competition. If the house has been out there for a while, you’ll have more bargaining rights and might be able to score a really amazing deal.

There you have it — a solid stockpile of strong questions to pose during your next open house to help you find the home that’s best for you.

Need an agent by your side to help? Contact us at info@intracoastalrealty.com or give us a call at 1-800-533-1840 for a helping hand to guide you in your home-buying search.


Top 6 Reasons to Buy a Home in Southport NC

People have been flocking to Southport NC for the ultimate Southern, slow-pace, easy-living, vacation for years. And, while Southport is a wonderful vacation destination for beachgoers, it’s an even better place to live!

1. Oh, That Southern Charm!

Southport has done an excellent job of preserving the charming qualities that first defined the town. A stroll by the shore reveals houses that have stood there since the founding of Southport, in the 1700s. There’s an unmistakable feeling of whimsy here. Swinging porches dot the grassy patches cultivated right next to the sandy shores. And southern food is at its best (seafood included, of course), along with homemade ice cream parlors, one-of-a-kind antique and speciality shops, art galleries, and a downtown that truly exemplifies the meaning of “charming.” Even a brief visit will make you feel transported back in time. Not surprisingly, Southport’s picturesque setting can be seen in several major motion pictures and shows, such as Safe House, Nights in Rodanthe, Dawson’s Creek and more.

2. A Seaside Paradise

The Intracoastal Waterway and Cape Fear River intersect off the coast of Southport, making an ideal location for residents to launch their boats practically from their backyard. For those craving sandy beaches, Southport is located nearby to not one, but six different beaches of the Brunswick Islands. Bald Head Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Sunset Beach, Oak Island and Caswell Beach can all be found within a 20-minute to an hour’s drive.

3. Roots in History

The history of Southport extends back as early as Spanish explorations in the 1500s. Originally dubbed Smithville, the town was formed in honor of Colonel Benjamin Smith of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War and, later, governor of North Carolina. Created in 1792, Smithville was created adjacent to the historical Fort Johnston, constructed in 1748 to protect the Cape Fear River region. Steeped in history and Americana, Southport is punctuated with historical markers and museums commemorating important moments from throughout America’s history, such as various Civil War Sites, the North Carolina Maritime Museum of Southport and more.

4. Things To Do in Southport NC

Small towns sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to finding things to do — but that’s certainly not the case with Southport! The city is flush with parks, walking trails, camping sites, watersports, championship golf courses and resorts, and fishing piers and charters. Kayak, bike, boat and equipment rentals are easily available as well. And, of course, there are plenty of sandy shores to dig toes into for those who don’t feel like doing much at all.

Southport is also home to a beautiful community center ensconced among gorgeous oak trees and designed to be perfectly in-sync with Southport architecture. In addition to offering various activities for the community, it is also a commonly chosen venue for weddings, reunions and more. Parades, live concerts, fishing tournaments, historic home tours and outdoor festivals, such as the 200-year-old Fourth of July Festival or the Christmas by the Sea Festival are a year-round occurrence.

5. Schools in Southport NC

Residents with children in grades K-12 will be in the Brunswick County District, and will most likely attend Southport Elementary, South Brunswick Middle, and South Brunswick High. The area also enjoys several, local institutions for higher education. Brunswick Community College (BCC) is located only 30 minutes away, but also offers a Southport Center that provides studio-based courses, workshops and craft programs — such as printmaking, photography, silversmithing, and much more. The BCC’s Southport location also houses a community garden. Also in nearby Wilmington is Cape Fear Community College, Miller-Motte College and UNC-W.

6. Homes for Sale in Southport NC

Homes in Southport range from quaint, seaside cottages to sprawling multi-family homes imbued in history, to homes built anew in quiet, residential developments. The area is highly desirable for those seeking a home to retire in, vacation in or live in year-round. Intracoastal Realty has a wide range of real estate listings for Southport NC, so, if this coastal gem sounds like your dream destination, contact us today by calling (800) 533-1840 or emailing us at info@intracoastalrealty.com.


A Guide for First Time Homebuyers in Wilmington NC

 

If you’ve been considering purchasing a home recently, now may be the ideal time to take that step, particularly if you’re a first time home buyer! The housing market landscape has made some improvements over the past few years, and, with a little strategizing, buyers have the opportunity to land the home they’ve been dreaming of at a great rate. Read on to gain some key insights and tips for buying your first home in Wilmington NC!

Shop Around

First thing’s first: we’re sure you’re familiar with the saying, but before buying a house, you have to first determine “how much house” you can afford, which is why we recommend getting pre-approved for a home loan before the search begins. The housing market trend thus far has been pretty bright for home buyers in recent years. Mortgage rates are remaining low, right around 3 to 4 percent, though they are expected to rise to an approximate 4.65 percent by the end of the year, so the sooner you can get your ducks in a row, the better!

When looking for your mortgage, make sure to consider all of your options, which may or may not be the typical 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. Learn more about the various loan options that are available. Investigate what your local banks have to offer! The City of Wilmington actually partners with local banks in its Home Ownership Pool (HOP) in an attempt to provide long-term housing to people with steady income, but generally modest means. There are some requirements, but also some enticing perks!

We also suggest that buyers check out our preferred lender, TowneBank Mortgage, if you’re looking for a place to start your mortgage search. No matter which lender you go with, make sure to check out options from at least three different lenders to secure financing that best suits your needs.

Be Ready

Start formulating your ideal home buying/moving scenario. If you’re a first time homebuyer, the process of transitioning into your new home should be fairly simple. You might have to break your lease early, but you’re not burdened with the task of selling or renting your current home. Go ahead and plan for this step now. Contact your landlord to find out the stipulations of breaking your lease. If you’re moving from out of state, or from out of town, familiarize yourself with living costs in your soon-to-be hometown. If you don’t already have a job lined up, start looking. Plan trips to get acquainted with the area and your ideal neighborhood. There are a wide variety of houses for sale in Wilmington NC to choose from, in different neighborhoods with different amenities. Learn where you’ll fit in best.

Additionally, if you’ve already gotten pre-approved for a home loan, that’s great! But you also need to factor in closing costs and fees to get an accurate idea of how much money you’re really working with. You can get a general snapshot of what to expect here, referring to a closing costs calculator for an estimate, or by contacting a REALTOR® to help guide you through the home buying process and the fees that you can expect to incur.

Cut to the Chase

Negotiating the cost on a home isn’t your typical Craigslist haggle. While negotiating is not uncommon or out-of-the-question, home sellers generally prefer that you put your best offer first. If you try to lowball the seller, there’s a chance that they may not give you an opportunity to bid again. If you want to leave a little wiggle room, you can include an escalator clause in your offer to increase your bid a certain amount over a competitor’s, but here, again, it’s generally best to just put your best foot forward.

We recommend that buyers protect their offer with contingencies, such as a financing/mortgage contingency to allow yourself time to close on your loan or ensure that you receive approval on your loan amount (this is where getting pre-approved can help to speed things up). Other important contingencies include a home inspection contingency and an appraisal contingency to secure a fair price for the house, as well as safeguard against a home with damage or need for repairs.

Prepare for Change

“The best-laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.” Not to hit you with another common saying, but this one really holds some water here! Be prepared for change. Be prepared to go back to the drawing board and forge a new plan. Or, better yet, have backup plans in place!

Figure out what your next course of action will be if your initial financing falls through, or your offer on your “dream” home doesn’t take. Or, it could be that multiple visits to your prospective new home reveal flaws or loud neighbors or bad traffic, and you need to go back to shopping around. What will you do if your movers cancel? What will you do if your move is held up by your buyer’s need to move out of the house first? What will you do if closing is delayed and you have to reschedule your original move? Whatever the scenario, be ready to change your plans and move in the best direction for your goals, financing and future. This is a long-term investment; there’s no benefit to rushing and getting yourself into a home that isn’t right for you.

Expect Delays

This year, due to new regulations in mortgage lending that went into effect in October of 2015, closings have experienced some delays. In most cases, delays are relatively minor, taking an approximate three to eight additional days. In other cases, delays took up to 20 days. These new regulations, referred to as TRID, (TILARESPA Integrated Disclosure) are designed to benefit you, as the buyer, in clarifying total costs and generally ensuring fewer errors in the closing process. However, as with any change to a complex system, the change isn’t making the smoothest of transitions. There’s really nothing that buyers can due to curtail these details, but it’s important to know that your closing might be affected and plan accordingly.

Furthermore, if you are: self-employed, recently jobless, will be changing jobs in the move, or have commission-based income, you may also experience delays or challenges in receiving financing and closing on a mortgage. Don’t be discouraged! Just realize that financing might be more difficult to lock down right away or, especially if you are recently jobless, you may have to shelf your plans for purchasing a new home temporarily, until your income is more definite again.

Join Forces

Sure, you can try to navigate these waters on your own, but, especially if you are first time homebuyer, you’ll find that no asset is greater throughout the home buying process than having a REALTOR® by your side to guide you. The time for locking down a great mortgage is prime, yes, but the housing market in Wilmington NC is competitive. The demand for homes exceeds the supply, so buyers need to be on their A-game to land the home they’ve been dreaming of at a price they can afford. If you’re serious about buying a house, then you need to be serious about your process to do so. Join forces with a real estate agent!

If you’re a first time homebuyer, or even if you’re more seasoned, Intracoastal Realty is here to answer your questions and be your local resource to acquiring a home in Wilmington NC. Looking to sell your home? We can help with that too. Contact us today!


Thinking of Buying A Home? Consider This.

Questions for Buying a Home

If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interest at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.

Answering the following 3 questions will help you determine if now is actually a good time for you to buy in today’s market.

1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?

This truly is the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.

A study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that the four major reasons people buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:

  • A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
  • A place where you and your family feel safe
  • More space for you and your family
  • Control of that space

What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.

2. Where are home values headed?

According to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, home values are projected to increase by 5.3% over the next 12 months.

What does that mean to you?

Simply put, if you are planning on buying a home that costs $250,000 today, that same home will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait till next year. Your down payment will need to be higher as well to account for the higher home price.

3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?

A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the National Association of Realtors and Freddie Mac have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase by approximately three-quarters of a percent over the next twelve months as you can see in the chart below:

Mortage Rate Projections

Source: KCM


Best Time To Buy Real Estate: October

Ever wondered what the best month, or best time of year to purchase a new home is? If you’re currently in the market for a new home, one of the questions that you often consider is when is the best time to get the best deal. Short of partnering with a reputable real estate agent and REALTOR®, one of the most important things in the home buying process is confidence that you are getting the best deal on the price of the home and the best mortgage available.

Most REALTOR®s will tell you that the better time is to purchase in the winter or in the fall to get the best deal. The logic behind that advice is simple: less competition. Most markets peak in the summer months, and as fall rolls around, it lends way to a less populous playing field, and allows you to be more competitive in your negotiation. Many home purchases are for families and revolve around the school year calendars. Families don’t typically look to uproot their family during this time as the activities and commitments of a hectic back-to-school schedule simply won’t allow it.

A few things influence buying decisions including the begin of the school year and holidays. Once your children reach the age to attend school, where your home falls into public school district lines becomes increasingly important to ensure the best district and education for your children. This may include relocating to get into a district of their choosing as well as relocating closer to be in closer proximity to public schools for convenience as well as relocating to for private schools.

That being said, RealtyTrac analyzed over 32 million sales of single family homes and condos since 2000 and found that the best bet in real estate is in the month of October.With more than 2.7 million sales closed in October over the past 15 years, the sales prices averaged 2.6 percent below the average estimated full market value at the time of the sale. In many markets, there is a dip in the real estate activity cycle in October and November.

Right behind October are February, July, December and January, which are obviously all fall and winter months with the exception of July. July is quite the surprise as many will tell you that July is prime time to sell, but hasn’t been revered as the best time to sell historically.

As days get shorter in the fall and winter months starting in November, the real estate market generally slows a tad.  With less hours of daylight comes a changes for seller to be able to showcase their home in the best possible light. Many sellers are advised to take their homes off the market until spring, but sometimes, the exact opposite advice is given especially if the seller is very motivated to sell. There are generally fewer buyers so the competitive landscape of the market changes as well.

The data analysis from RealtyTrac also points out that the worst month of the year to close on a home purchase is April. Generally, buyers end up spending an average of 1.2 percent more for homes, which could deem April a great month to close for sellers.

Best Day of the Week to Buy Real Estate

Monday may not be the favorite day for many, but in the real estate market, this should be a buyer’s new favorite day to close on their home. Buyers averaged a discount of 2.3 percent below market value when closing on a Monday. The second-best choice is a Friday, where buyers averaged a discount of 2.0 percent. Steer clear of closings scheduled on Thursdays as data shows that it is by far the worst day of the week with only 1 percent discount, with Wednesday not far behind at 1.4 percent discount and Tuesday nearly a full percentage point discount at 1.9 percent.

Top 10 Days For Buying Real Estate with a Discount

While this data is important and interesting, the best day to buy varies by market and these statistics are national averages across major metros. Out of more than 100 metro areas analyzed, 37 had their best day to buy average in the fall months of September, October, and November and 44 had their best day to buy in the winter months of December, January and February. Holidays contribute tremendously to the trend of October being a great month as most sellers are motivated and do not want to go through the holiday season with their homes on the market. There are exceptions to every rule and if you are looking to purchase or sell a home in Seattle market your home to sell on April 1, San Diego: August 20, Pittsburgh: March 17, and Cleveland: June 13.

Check out this interactive tool to show what the best day to buy is in your market:

Data provided by: RealtyTrac

 


Economic Impact of Every Home Sold [Infographic]

Keeping Current Matters recently released an Infographic showcasing data from NAR’s Economic Impact Study. The infographic focuses on the impact on a state’s economy each time a home is sold.

The national average is an economic impact of $57,500 and North Carolina is not far behind with an economic impact of $48,000. Once you know the number for your state, the next natural question becomes what are consumers spending their money on to get to that number of $48,000.

The infographic from Keeping Current Matters breaks it down and shows that the money typically goes to the following areas:

  • Home Construction
  • Real Estate Brokerage
  • Mortgage Lending
  • Title Insurance
  • Rental & Leasing
  • Home Appraisal
  • Moving Truck services
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Remodeling
  • Restaurants
  • Sporting Games

As many who have been through the process of purchasing a new or secondary home, such a large purchase generally triggers a set of events and many of them are financially motivated and have a positive impact on the local, state, and national economy. Everything from the time you purchase your home and through the relationship you’ve established with your real estate agent to building a home and all of the costs associated with the actual purchase bring dollars into the local economy.

If you think back through the process that you went through to purchase a new home, it is very clear that there is time and money being invested in that purchase whether it be traveling to new locations to explore different areas, towns, cities and subdivisions, or going to restaurants and sporting games while you are giving your new location a trial run by fully immersing yourself in its culture.

If you are in the process of finding a new or secondary home, use our online search or take a moment and download our mobile app which will showcase all of the properties available as you are out and exploring potential home sites and neighborhoods within our communities. Our app is the next best thing to having an Intracoastal Realty agent right there beside you during the home buying process.

If you are looking for resources to learn more about the different aspects of our area, check out our area information page. We’ve provided details on areas from Pender County to New Hanover County to Brunswick County and all of the towns and communities in between. Once you’ve narrowed your search, it is simple to search for properties in some of the most popular areas as well as we have created easy search pages to show you everything available in those areas.

Here are some links to some popular destinations in the greater Wilmington area:

Bald Head Island | Brunswick County | Brunswick Forest | Carolina Beach | Figure Eight Island | Forest Hills | Hampstead | Kure Beach | Lake Waccamaw |Landfall | Leland | Magnolia Greens | New Hanover County | Oak Island | Ocean Isle | Pender County |Porter’s Neck | Shallotte | Southport | St James Plantation | Surf City | Topsail Beach | Waterford |Wilmington | Wrightsville Beach

If you’re searching for some great local resources, check out these tips we’ve compiled for home buyers:

Buyer Services
7 Tips to Buying A Home
Relocation Services including Relocation Assistance, Relocation Tips and our Relocation Team

If you’re in the process of moving into your new home or are looking for a list of preferred service providers for our area, check out our list that we have compiled to help with every step of the real estate process, whether buying, selling, renting or managing a property that you own for resrouces in the greater Wilmington, NC area.

Source: Keeping Current Matters September 2015