What to Have on Hand for the New Owners

1.  Owner’s manuals and warranties for appliances left in the house.

2.  Garage door opener.

3.  Extra sets of house keys.

4.  A list of local service providers — the best dry cleaner, yard service, plumber, etc.

5.  Code to the security alarm and phone number of the monitoring service if not discontinued.

6.  As a courtesy, you could provide numbers to the local utility companies.

7.  If it’s a condo, leave information on how to contact the condo board.

8.  As a courtesy, leave them your contact information in case they have a question.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

 

What to Ask When Choosing a REALTOR®

1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate , like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job. 

2. What designations do you hold? Designations such as GRI and CRS® — which require that agents take additional, specialized real estate training — are held by only about one-quarter of real estate practitioners.
 
3. How many homes did you and your real estate brokerage sell last year? By asking this question, you’ll get a good idea of how much experience the practitioner has.
 
4. How many days did it take you to sell the average home? How did that compare to the overall market?
The REALTOR® you interview should have these facts on hand, and be able to present market statistics from the local MLS to provide a comparison.
 
5. How close to the initial asking prices of the homes you sold were the final sale prices? This is one indication of how skilled the REALTOR® is at pricing homes and marketing to suitable buyers. Of course, other factors also may be at play, including an exceptionally hot or cool real estate market.
 
6. What types of specific marketing systems and approaches will you use to sell my home? You don’t want someone who’s going to put a For Sale sign in the yard and hope for the best. Look for someone who has aggressive and innovative approaches, and knows how to market your property competitively on the Internet. Buyers today want information fast, so it’s important that your REALTOR® is responsive.
 
7. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where the practitioner’s obligations lie. Your REALTOR® should explain his or her agency relationship to you and describe the rights of each party. 
 
8. Can you recommend service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done? Because REALTORS® are immersed in the industry; they’re wonderful resources as you seek lenders, home improvement companies, and other home service providers. Practitioners should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.
 
9. What type of support and supervision does your brokerage office provide to you? Having resources such as in-house support staff, access to a real estate attorney and assistance with technology can help an agent sell your home.
 
10. What’s your business philosophy? While there’s no right answer to this question, the response will help you assess what’s important to the agent and determine how closely the agent’s goals and business emphasis mesh with your own.
 
11. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? Again, this is not a question with a correct answer, but it reflects your desires. Do you want updates twice a week or do you not want to be bothered unless there’s a hot prospect? Do you prefer phone, e-mail, or a personal visit? 
 
12. Could you please give me the names and phone numbers of your three most recent clients?
Ask recent clients if they would work with this REALTOR® again. Find out whether they were pleased with the communication style, follow-up, and work ethic of the REALTOR®.
 
As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.
Sincerely,
 
"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Forms You Will Need to Sell Your Home

1.  Listing Agreement.  This form is a contract between the Realtor and the seller.  It contains the length of the contract, the commission rate, and the obligations of both the Realtor and the seller.

2.  Property disclosure form. This form requires you to reveal all known defects to your property. Check with your state government to see if there is a special form required in your state.

3.  Lockbox form.  This form gives the Realtor permission to place a lock box on the home.  If you have a rental property the tenant must also sign the form.

4.  Lead-based paint disclosure pamphlet. If your home was built before 1978, you must provide the pamphlet to all sellers. You must also have buyers sign a statement indicating they received the pamphlet.

5.  Sales contract. This is the agreement between you and the seller containing the terms and conditions of sale.   If you have any questions about the terms have your attorney review it prior to signing.

6.  Sales contract contingency clauses. In addition to the contract, you may need to add one or more attachments to the contract to address special contingencies such as the buyer’s need to sell a home before purchasing yours.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

10 Tips for Lowering Homeowner’s Insurance Costs

1.  Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) Report on the property you are interested in buying.  CLUE reports detail the property’s  claims history for the past five years, which the insurers may use  to deny coverage.  Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure  that problems identified in the CLUE report have been repaired and the buyer’s ability to obtain satisfactory homeowner’s insurance.
  
2.  Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved.   You must obtain insurance to buy and you don’t want to be told at closing that the insurer has denied your coverage.  Also, in areas susceptible to hurricanes insurers will not issue policies if there is a named storm in the tropics.

3.  Maintain good credit. Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.

4.  Buy your home owners and auto policies from the same company and you’ll usually qualify for savings. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.

5.  Raise your deductible. If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower. Avoid making claims under $1,000.

6.  Ask about other discounts. For example, retirees who tend to be home more than full-time workers may qualify for a discount on theft insurance. You also may be able to obtain discounts for having smoke detectors, a burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks.

7.  Seek group discounts. If you belong to any groups, such as associations or alumni organizations, they may have deals on insurance coverage.

8.  Review your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions annually. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.

9.  Investigate a government-backed insurance plan. In some high-risk areas, federal or state government may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent.

10.  Be sure you insure your house for the correct amount. Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.

For additional information contact Wally Burbage, with All State Insurance, at 843-881-1921, or 843-766-1221, or email WallyBurbage@AllState.com, or go to his website http://www.allstateagencies.com/WallyBurbage/Welcome/.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com
 

Which Loan Type Is Best For You?

1.  Mortgage terms. Mortgages are generally available at 15-, 20-, or 30-year    terms.  Typically the longer the term, the lower the monthly payment.  However, you pay more interest overall if you borrow for a longer term.

2.  Fixed rates. A fixed rate allows you to lock in a low rate as long as you  hold the mortgage and, in general, is usually a good choice if interest rates  are low.

3.  Adjustable interest.  Adjustable-rate mortgage is designed  so that your  loan’s interest rate will rise as market interest rates increase.  ARMs  usually offer a lower rate in the first years of the mortgage. ARMs also  usually   a limit as to how much the interest rate can be increased  and  how frequently they can be raised. These types of mortgages are a good  choice when fixed interest rates are high or when you expect your income  to grow significantly in the coming years.

4.  Balloon mortgages. These mortgages offer very low interest rates for a  short period of time — often three to seven years. Payments usually cover  only the interest so the principal owed is not reduced. However, this type  of loan may be a good choice if you think you will sell your home in a few  years.

5.  Government-backed loans. These loans are sponsored by agencies  such as the Federal Housing Administration, see their website   www.fha.gov, or the Department of Veterans Affairs, see their website  www.va.gov.  These programs offer special terms, including lower down  payments or reduced interest rates to qualified buyers.

For specific questions please feel free to contact Renee Hodges or Zack Larichiuta at 843-763-1180.  On weekends contact Renee at 843-270-6256.  You can email Renee at renee.hodges@gbmail.com or go to website www.charlestonlending.com.  Tell them “Carolina Joe” said to call.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com

Getting Your Finances in Order

1. Develop a household budget. Instead of creating a budget of what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget that reflects your actual spending habits over the last several months. This approach will factor in unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, as well as predictable costs such as rent, utility bills, and groceries.

2. Reduce your debt. Lenders generally look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. This figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 and 28 percent of your net household income. So you need to get monthly payments on the rest of your installment debt — car loans, student loans, and revolving balances on credit cards — down to between 8 and 10 percent of your net monthly income.

3. Look for ways to save. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up, too. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably spot some great ways to save, whether it’s cutting out that morning trip to Starbucks or eating dinner at home more often.

4. Increase your income. Now’s the time to ask for a raise! If that’s not an option, you may want to consider taking on a second job to get your income at a level high enough to qualify for the home you want.

5. Save for a down payment. Designate a certain amount of money each month to put away in your savings account. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down, or even less, you can usually get a better rate if you put down a larger percentage of the total purchase. Aim for a 20 percent down payment.

6. Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify for a home loan, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.

7. Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills, too. Pay off the entire balance promptly.

As always, your thoughts, questions, or comments are greatly appreciated. Let me know if I can help with any of your Charleston SC real estate needs or questions.

Sincerely,

"Carolina Joe" Idleman
http://www.carolinajoe.com