5 Signs That a House on the Market Isn’t Ready for the Sale

If you’ve ever hunted for the perfect house to buy, you know what the process is like. A lot of buyers find themselves viewing tons of places to make sure they’re investing in the right one, and not all of them say, “home sweet home.”

So when you do stumble across your ideal property, it can be difficult to see past all of the good and really address the bad. An experienced real estate agent will help with that, but we’ve got a few dead giveaways for you to keep your eye on while you search for your next home.

Exterior damage

It may not seem like such a big deal at first when you happen to notice a crack in the siding or a minor imperfection on the front porch, but exterior damages like this can point to much larger issues that could affect you much sooner than you think. While you might expect for there to be some evidence of a bad storm or age on the outside of a home, there are a few warning signs to look out for when you’re looking with an eye to buy. Make sure that those cracks haven’t allowed for any decay or rot to ensue beneath the surface, or a build-up of mold. Some damages get worse over time and can eventually reach down until they become structural or foundational issues.

Recent paint jobs

A fresh coat of paint might seem like a simple attempt to spruce the place up for potential buyers. But sometimes, paint is just concealing things like water damage or otherwise faulty features. And in the case of water damage, paint just seals in the moisture and allows for the perfect place for mold to grow. We recommend a thorough look around each sink, under window sills, and inside drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms. If anything looks warped, or you find any soft sheetrock, you’ll know that buying that house means dealing with the aftermath that the previous homeowner tried to conceal in the interest of getting the sale.

Uneven floors

With all the other aspects of a new home right in front of you, it’s unlikely that you’ll immediately look down at the floorboards. But while you’re getting excited about crown molding and the cozy placement of the fireplace, make sure you take a look under your feet. Uneven floors can indicate issues with the foundation, or the way in which the house settled with time and possibly created deflections underneath. A good rule of thumb is that the older the house, the more important it is to test out that floor before signing any paperwork.

Closed-off rooms

If you arrive at a house that you’re considering, and find that the current owners have closed off rooms and made a request that you not take a look around there, that should raise a red flag. There are circumstances where this could be warranted – if the homeowner has pets, for example, and wants to be sure they aren’t accidentally let out – but it can also indicate issues that might be deal breakers for a buyer. If you notice a room is closed off during your showing, just be sure to clarify that point with your real estate agent at the earliest opportunity.

DIY repairs

Some homeowners are incredibly handy, and can safely fix at least minor things by themselves so as to cut the cost of hiring a professional for the simple job. Others, however, seem to think that they’ve got the skills to handle the problem and wind up making things worse. While you view houses to buy, ask questions about past repairs and anything that catches your eye as a potential home improvement project.

Shopping for a new home doesn’t have to be as stressful as it sounds, especially when you have someone well-versed in the real estate game to make sure everything is as it should be. If you’re ready to get out there and start looking for your new home in the coastal North Carolina area, contact Intracoastal Realty!


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.


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.


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!


What to Know When Buying on the Water

By Judy Royal

Many people dream their whole lives of living on the water. Who wouldn’t want the serenity of looking out your window to enjoy the ultimate view, not to mention having a body of water and its recreational opportunities right outside your door? Buying waterfront property is not only an investment; it’s a lifestyle. Especially in Southeastern North Carolina where the ocean calls so many to its edge, waterfront living is the pinnacle of real estate goals for lots of buyers. But there are many special considerations that go along with owning a waterfront piece of paradise. Educate yourself so you know exactly what to expect as you embark on acquiring your own waterfront property in the Wilmington NC real estate market.

Look into loans

It’s no secret that you will likely pay a premium to have the waterfront lifestyle that you’ve been working toward for many years. Because a home on the water is typically more expensive than a similar home in a standard neighborhood, you will probably need a bigger loan. Jumbo mortgages, which take longer to obtain than a regular home loan and are given by lenders to only the most qualified buyers, are one of the routes you may expect to go when buying a waterfront home. Start loan shopping early to be sure you can qualify and to allow plenty of time for the process.

Calculate hidden costs

The price you pay for your waterfront home is just the beginning. Perhaps more than any other type of property, there are many hidden costs associated with ownership of this type. In addition to the possibility of a homeowners association, which you will find in many other standard neighborhoods, a waterfront home is likely to come with much higher insurance and maintenance expenses. Especially in a coastal environment where hurricanes and flooding are common threats, waterfront homes often come with hefty insurance premiums due to the increased risk of damage from natural disasters. Maintenance costs are also likely to be more than what you’d pay for a similar home in another environment due to increased wear and tear and the need for special features such as storm shutters. Be sure to calculate all of these costs well into the future so you can protect your investment.

Talk to neighbors

Getting to know people who live in a community where you are thinking about buying is a good idea regardless of the type of neighborhood you are considering, but when it comes to waterfront this is a crucial thing to do. Potential neighbors can give you insight about safety, privacy, erosion, what to expect during hurricane season, how crowded the area will be during various seasons of the year, and more. A few conversations may help you decide whether a community will be the right one for you. Doing a little homework now can save you from experiencing some unwelcome surprises down the line when you’re already locked into a loan.

Examine the property

No matter how much you love a home, when you’re buying on the waterfront be sure you consider the land just as much as or more than the structure. After all, you can change a house but not the location. What’s water access like? Are you near a public walkway that might create lots of pedestrian traffic and noise? Where does your land end and public property begin? Is the area good for swimming? How do the tides affect your property? The latter is especially important if you live in a boating community where low water levels restrict the times in which you can use your watercraft. It’s a good idea to look at a survey of the land and a plot map, and talk to your real estate agent and possibly a real estate attorney to be completely clear about what you are actually buying.

Know the rules

If you’re planning to add a dock, seawall, or other feature to your waterfront property, find out what that will entail. You may have to deal with government agencies that have strict rules about what can be done, especially if there are any wetlands on your property. Also find out if there are any restrictions on the use of jet skis and other watercraft if that’s something you plan to enjoy on a regular basis.

Consider a waterfront specialist

Some real estate agents have special qualifications that make them a great choice for those looking to buy on the waterfront. It may be a good idea to look for those who specialize in waterfront transactions so they can share their expertise about the ins and outs of the process.

Are you ready for a waterfront home of your own? If you want to stop dreaming and find out if life really is better on the water, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 13 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.


New Construction or Existing Home? For Many Buyers, That Is the Question

By Judy Royal

So you’ve decided it’s time to buy a home in Southeastern North Carolina. There are so many decisions to make when it comes to the Wilmington NC real estate market. Chief among them is whether you want to start from scratch or find something already built. While there are a lot of really great reasons to opt for new construction, the process also has its share of drawbacks. Be sure to do plenty of research when deciding what is best for you and your family. The following are some things to consider:

Choose a builder

If you decide on new construction, your next decision will be whether you want to hire a custom builder or a higher-volume builder, also known as a production builder. A production builder constructs a community of homes based on a library of floor plans, each with limited personalization options. A custom builder can create a one-of-a-kind home that offers a greater range of design choices, albeit at a typically higher price and time commitment than a production home. While a production builder will likely offer you the opportunity to upgrade finishes and make other personal touches, the sky is the limit when it comes to a custom-built home. Want a feeding area for your dogs built into the lower kitchen cabinetry? How about a four-car garage? Anything you’ve ever wanted in a home is a possibility when you build a custom home. Obviously, all of these choices will not be possible if you buy an existing home.

Either way, be sure to do your homework when it comes to choosing the right builder for you. Check review websites, state licensing boards, and local court records for complaints, disciplinary actions, and lawsuits. Talk to previous customers to get a firsthand account of their experiences.

Know the community

Drive through neighborhoods to get a feel for an area. Find out crime rates. Research schools. Talk to other homeowners. Determine how long your work commute will be. Find out how many more homes will be built around you. If your entire community is new, you may be living amid ongoing construction for many months. When it comes to determining the community that you will call home for many years, you really can’t be too diligent. Be sure you will be comfortable making a life wherever you choose.

Time your move

Are you looking to pack your bags and put out your new welcome mat sooner rather than later? Then a newly constructed home may not be for you. Expect to wait several months or more for a home that is not yet under construction. Your move can happen much more quickly if you buy an existing home, so think about what your ideal time frame is. If you have one home on the market while you’re building another, you will have to make arrangements for a temporary place to live if the sale happens before you’re able to get into your new place.

Pick a landscape

Do you want mature trees that will shade your home in the summertime? New communities might not be able to offer this if existing foliage was not salvaged in the development process. It could take years for new landscaping to grow into itself, so decide how important this feature is to you.

Behold the Bells and Whistles

In a new home, you will likely have “smart” technology options that allow you to automate Internet, cable, speakers, an alarm system, etc. Also, new homes often use more eco-friendly paints and building materials, which can improve indoor air quality. An existing home, depending on its age, is much less likely to include all of these modern perks.

Estimate Your Bills

A newly constructed home will have new appliances, systems, insulation, and windows, which are more energy-efficient than what you’ll find in most older residences. This could mean a significant savings in your utility bills and more money in your pocket each month. If you are buying an existing home, it’s a good idea to ask the seller what you might expect to pay for your utility bills. An inefficient home, even with a much lower sales price, can cost you much more in the long run than one that is using modern processes to run optimally.

Think About Maintenance

Maintenance costs associated with an existing home can affect your budget significantly. A newly built home, with its untouched appliances, HVAC system, roof, etc. – requires much less upkeep than an aging residence and will allow you to better predict the monthly costs of home ownership. Thanks to warranties on your new items, you may not have to pay for any major repairs for several years.

Whether you’re seeking to buy a lot on which to build your dream home or something ready and waiting for you to move in, Intracoastal Realty is here to meet your Wilmington NC real estate needs. We are a full-service real estate brokerage operating since 1976, and we currently have 12 offices with over 400 agents and staff to serve Southeastern North Carolina, including the areas of Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Southport, Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach, Leland, Hampstead, and Topsail Island.


Real Estate Shines as an Investment in 2015

A survey by The Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University reveals that when a family is buying a home they consider the financial benefits of homeownership along with the social benefits. The survey mentions things like:

  • Paying rent does not make sense
  • Home-ownership provides a good financial opportunity
  • Owning a home helps you building family wealth
  • Buying a home is investing in your retirement
  • Home equity gives you something to borrow against

So, how did home-ownership match up against other investments in 2015? Here is a chart that compares its return on investment against precious metals and the stock market last year:

Real Estate Shines As An Investment for 2015

Bottom Line

Not only did home-ownership offer all its social benefits. It also was a great investment financially.

Source: Harvard University. GoldPrice.org. CNBC. CoreLogic.