First Time Home Buyers
It’s a great time for first time home buyers to begin to build wealth and equity. With interest rates at historically low levels and the notoriously high rental rates in Charleston, why not explore your home buying options now.
Get your financial house in order first. Talk with a local lender and learn about your buying power. 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. This is a good time to learn if your credit needs to be corrected or repaired. In the current Charleston market, you will also need to provide a prequalification letter with any legitimate offer and that’s quicker and easier with someone who is local.
Talk to an experienced realtor and begin to understand the market. Each area of the market is unique in terms of days on the market and price elasticity. This will help determine your timeline if you need to break a lease or make temporary living arrangements until you close on a new home. By engaging a knowledgeable agent, he or she can also guide you through the many decisions along the way to help refine your priorities. Right now, at certain price points in certain areas, you don’t even have 24 hours to “sleep on it.” Buyers need to be ready to pull the trigger quickly in some neighborhoods but have a bit more leeway in others. And remember, hiring a buyer’s agent almost never costs you a dime as most sales involve the seller paying all agent fees.
Shopping online is a great way to assess your wants and needs, however a licensed agent can provide you with more reliable information and answer questions in real time. Once you understand your priorities, you can begin to tour neighborhoods and attend open houses, but make sure anyone you speak with understands that you are represented, otherwise you may find yourself at a disadvantage. Understanding your priorities is not a once and done decision for most people. As you shop, you may find what seemed crucial is actually not as important as you thought. My client that wanted a fixer-upper in the country ended up with a new construction townhome in the suburbs. There is no such thing as a perfect home even if you build it yourself – there is always something folks want to change. If I had a dollar for every client who said to me “… I love house A, but I wish it were located where we saw house B…” well – I’m no magician. And don’t forget, at some point taste will meet budget and that changes priorities as well.
Once you find your new home, your agent can walk you through all the unfamiliar terms such as escrow, appraisal, inspection, estopel fees, and that nine – page contract, all while keeping your interests at the forefront.