Buy Local – What that Means in Real Estate
By now, most people know what it means to “buy local.” In Charleston for instance, it’s known that buying local seafood ensures the upmost freshness, and similarly by supporting local book stores, your dollars circulate in the community. But what difference does it make in real estate transactions? In my experience, the local providers make transactions go more smoothly every step along the way.
You might ask “what difference does it make if I use some nationally known lender that I can access online versus a local lender?” The convenience of logging on at 10:00 pm and typing in information might seem like an easier option than meeting face to face, or even scheduling a call with a local lender. In the long run however, the convenience on the front end might turn out to be less convenient once the process begins in earnest. One out of state lender told my client that she did not need a CL-100 (letter indicating no termites or damage) and she nearly cancelled the appointment to inspect. This lack of knowledge about the specifics of SC real estate transactions can create speed bumps when closing a deal, and even the difference in time zones have caused problems with closing on time. Most importantly, I find local lenders also understand the pricing in this market better than national companies and tend to approve loans for higher price point because they know the market will support it.
Living in the Lowcountry means risks and hazards that may be unfamiliar in other areas of the country. An insurance provider based in Kansas may not be aware of our flood insurance risks, wind and hail issues, and even earthquakes here. For example, there was a tremor in Summerville in June, and they happen regularly. Local agents know this, and can advise you accordingly.
Appraising real property is not an exact science. It takes judgement, discernment and experience. The difference between Folly Beach and Johns Island is not just 15 miles of travel. It can be the difference between a quirky beach house and a horse farm – with the same price tag. Appraisers may be well-qualified in Columbia to make a judgement about different kinds of property, but may be geographically incompetent here. Appraising homes in a subdivision in a more homogeneous area is also a different challenge than the many diverse types of homes and lifestyles here in the Charleston market.
So often I work with clients who are getting advice from a family member or friend who is a real estate agent in another part of the country, or even this state. It’s only natural to seek that advice from family members who only have their best interests in mind, to help them make a big decision. More often than not, that advice does not apply in this particular market. The market in New Jersey is very different than Mt. Pleasant. An experienced, local Realtor® knows that a well-priced home in Riverland Terrace is not going to last long, and offering 20% below asking price will not get the job done. I’ve had more than one client lose an opportunity because of advice they received that does not apply to this unique market with its many equally unique sub-markets. Similarly, in North Carolina, it is customary to have the appraisal done before the home inspection, where here it is the opposite. My clients who moved to Iowa, learned that finished space that is heated and cooled but in the basement is not counted in the total square footage. We don’t have basements for the most part, but here all heated and cooled space is counted.
There are so many things that can affect real estate transactions on all fronts, and working with local experts can make all the difference in getting to closing.