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November
17

Brunswick County real estate market surpasses $2 billion in year-to-date sales

SHALLOTTE, N.C. - Brunswick County Association of REALTORS®

Brunswick County's residential real estate market exceeded $2 billion in year-to-date total sales in October with luxury sales leading the way, and more than half of all homes sold during October were sold at or above list price.

"While $2 billion in total sales seemed like an unreachable milestone just a couple of years ago, it doesn't come as a shock this year given our market's consistently strong performance month over month," said Cynthia Walsh, BCAR CEO. "Overall demand remains strong, prices continue to increase, and we continue to see a strong luxury market. Overall, our market is positioned for continued strength as we move into winter."

Brunswick County saw $211,520,000 in total sales volume in October, a 0.5% increase from last year's $210,450,000. The average sales price increased 9.3%, from $432,131 to $472,150. New listings were down 24.4%, from 622 to 470. The number of units sold in October dropped 8% compared to last year, from 487 to 448, and homes spent an average of 33 days on the market. The absorption rate, which is the amount of time it would take to sell all available inventory, remains at two months. Brunswick County's luxury market was strong in October with 24 sales in excess of $1 million, including three sales over $2 million and a 3.4 million sale in Ocean Isle Beach.

Year-to-date sales volume through October is $2,168,330,000, down 3.9% from $2,255,559,429 last year. Average sales prices for the year are 11.9% higher than 2021, increasing from $393,703 to $440,574. The number of units sold through October is down 16.9%, from 5,723 to 4,756, and the number of new listings is down 11.3%, from 6,316 to 5,602.

Brunswick County

  • New Listings
    • October 2022: 470
    • October 2021: 622
    • Increase/Decrease: -24.4%
  • Units Sold
    • October 2022: 448
    • October 2021: 487
    • Increase/Decrease: -8%
  • Average Sales Price
    • October 2022: $472,150
    • October 2021: $432,131
    • Increase/Decrease: +9.3%
  • Median Sales Price
    • October 2022: $425,000
    • October 2021: $343,168
    • Increase/Decrease: +23.8%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • October 2022: $211,520,000
    • October 2021: $210,450,000
    • Increase/Decrease: +0.5%

Bladen County

  • New Listings
    • October 2022: 20
    • October 2021: 9
    • Increase/Decrease: +122.2%
  • Units Sold
    • October 2022: 12
    • October 2021: 18
    • Increase/Decrease: -33.3%
  • Average Sales Price
    • October 2022: $192,408
    • October 2021: $188,289
    • Increase/Decrease: +2.2%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • October 2022: $2,310,000
    • October 2021: $3,390,000
    • Increase/Decrease: -31.9%

Columbus County

  • New Listings
    • October 2022: 31
    • October 2021: 37
    • Increase/Decrease: -16.2%
  • Units Sold
    • October 2022: 29
    • October 2021: 29
    • Increase/Decrease: 0%
  • Average Sales Price
    • October 2022: $215,475
    • October 2021: $192,366
    • Increase/Decrease: +12%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • October 2022: $6,250,000
    • October 2021: $5,580,000
    • Increase/Decrease: +12%

The Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR) is the local association level of the largest trade association in the nation, presently serving its members, which are comprised of REALTORS®, Appraisers, and Affiliate Members. For more information, please visit http://www.bcarnc.com.

October
13

Tropical Slowdown: Hurricane Ian affects Brunswick County Real Estate Market

SHALLOTTE, N.C. - Brunswick County Association of Realtors

Brunswick County's residential real estate market felt the impacts of Hurricane Ian during September with fewer new listings and fewer homes sold compared to last year. Prices ticked upward, continuing a recent and familiar pattern.

"September hurricanes often affect our real estate market, and Hurricane Ian was no exception," said Cynthia Walsh, BCAR CEO. "Ian blew through at the end of the month, which is when a large number of closings typically occur. The timing explains why we saw a lower number of homes sold and lower total sales volume last month. While Ian brough a temporary tropical slowdown, and while our market isn't moving at the frantic pace it once was, we continue to see strong demand, and our market remains on track for another strong year."

Brunswick County saw $215,280,000 in total sales volume in September 2022, a 12.9% decrease from last September's $247,120,000. The average sales price increased 7.5%, from $433,541 to $465,983. New listings were down 16.3%, from 559 to 468. The number of units sold in September dropped 18.9% compared to last year, from 570 to 462, and homes spent an average of 30 days on the market. The absorption rate, which is the amount of time it would take to sell all available inventory, remains at two months. Brunswick County's luxury market was strong in September with 28 sales in excess of $1 million, including a sale over $4 million in Ocean Isle Beach.

Year-to-date sales volume through September is $1,956,810,000, down 4.3% from $2,045,109,429 last year. Average sales prices for the year are 13.1% higher than 2021, increasing from $389,433 to $440,574. The number of units sold through September is down 17.7%, from 5,236 to 4,308, and the number of new listings is down 9.9%, from 5,694 to 5,132.

Brunswick County

New Listings

  • September 2022: 468
  • September 2021: 559
  • Increase/Decrease: -16.3%

Units Sold

  • September 2022: 462
  • September 2021: 570
  • Increase/Decrease: -18.9%

Average Sales Price

  • September 2022: $465,983
  • September 2021: $433,541
  • Increase/Decrease: +7.5%

Median Sales Price

  • September 2022: $364,438
  • September 2021: $331,532
  • Increase/Decrease: +9.9%

Total Sales Volume

  • September 2022: $215,280,000
  • September 2021: $247,120,000
  • Increase/Decrease: -12.9%

Bladen County

New Listings

  • September 2022: 16
  • September 2021: 17
  • Increase/Decrease: -5.9%

Units Sold

  • September 2022: 8
  • September 2021: 9
  • Increase/Decrease: -11.1%

Average Sales Price

  • September 2022: $192,488
  • September 2021: $193,967
  • Increase/Decrease: -0.8%

Total Sales Volume

  • September 2022: $1,540,000
  • September 2021: $1,750,000
  • Increase/Decrease: -12%

Columbus County

New Listings

  • September 2022: 30
  • September 2021: 36
  • Increase/Decrease: -16.7%

Units Sold

  • September 2022: 32
  • September 2021: 25
  • Increase/Decrease: +28%

Average Sales Price

  • September 2022: $202,054
  • September 2021: $187,324
  • Increase/Decrease: +7.9%

Total Sales Volume

  • September 2022: $6,470,000
  • September 2021: $4,680,000
  • Increase/Decrease: +38.2%

The Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR) is the local association level of the largest trade association in the nation, presently serving its members, which are comprised of REALTORS®, Appraisers and Affiliate Members. For more information, please visit http://www.bcarnc.com.

September
12

Should You Buy An Old Or New House?

Homes come in all different ages. Here's how to determine if you should buy an older or newer house.

If you're looking for a new home, it's important to look at a variety of properties before you make a final decision. Whether you're drawn to new homes with the latest amenities or old homes with charm and character, advice from our real estate agents can help you find the right home for you.

If you want bells and whistles, updated style, country charm, and waterfront views, you'll find all of them in Southport homes for sale. However, an important thing to consider is the age of the home. Let's take a look at some pros and cons of buying new homes vs. old homes that may impact your lifestyle and finances.

Curb Appeal

An older house in an established neighborhood can boost your curb appeal with original architectural details, a large yard, and mature landscaping. It's difficult to replicate the authentic charm of Colonial, Craftsman, or Tudor details in new construction. Older homes often have larger properties with mature trees that provide shade and landscaping features such as arbors, pergolas, fountains, and winding pathways through gardens.

If you're considering a newer home or one under construction, you should consider your landscaping costs to plant trees, shrubs, and flower beds, plant new grass, and install outdoor features that will boost your home's curb appeal and resale value.

Home Comfort

Although older homes offer traditional charm and character, they're often lacking in square footage and upgraded amenities like central heat and air, energy-efficient windows, and solar panels. Older homes usually have smaller rooms, smaller closets, and fewer open spaces for large gatherings. Older building materials used in construction may contribute to leaky roofs, cracked or warped floors, door and window drafts, faulty plumbing, and faulty heating and cooling.

If you're drawn to older homes, you must consider the costs of replacing old equipment, upgrading appliances, installing new windows, adding smart features, and maintaining a comfortable living environment. However, there is one perk. Old homes still cost significantly less upfront, up to 30% less that a newly built home.

Home Safety

In the past 30 years, construction and building code safety standards have changed significantly, making older homes more vulnerable to natural disasters, plumbing and roofing problems, and electrical fires. Older homes have fewer safety regulations, so doing a home inspection is essential to check for faulty construction and hazardous materials like lead and asbestos.

Buying a newer home means you don't have to worry about building code violations and unsafe materials. New homes are built with energy-efficient, fire-retardant insulation, double-pane windows, and built-in safety features, but you will likely pay a higher price per square foot for the house.

Repairs and Maintenance

If you're looking for a leisurely lifestyle with fewer hassles, or you have limited financial resources, buying a new house may be the way to go. Older homes come with the inevitable need for repairs, replacements, and upgrades that can have a big impact on your finances. If you buy a house with a new roof, new plumbing, new hot water heater, and new HVAC system, you likely won't have to worry about major repair costs for at least 10 years.

Whether you decide on a new or old house, you still have to budget for ongoing home repairs and maintenance, but they will likely be less in a newer house. The money you save by buying an older house may be quickly spent on repairs and maintenance for roof leaks, a faulty furnace, and electrical and plumbing problems.

If you're considering a move to the Southport area, contact us to explore properties and prices that fit your lifestyle.

September
13

Brunswick County's real estate market demonstrates stability in August

SHALLOTTE, N.C. - Brunswick County Association of Realtors

In August, Brunswick County's residential real estate market saw higher prices, fewer new listings, and fewer homes sold compared to last August.  

"While there is talk nationally of a real estate slowdown, Brunswick County's market continues to demonstrate remarkable stability," said Cynthia Walsh, BCAR CEO. "When looking at these numbers, it's important to remember just how abnormal the past few years have been. While the number of homes sold is down slightly compared to last year, sales have been pretty much steady month over month for the past two years, generally hovering between 500 and 600 sales per month, with our usual seasonal dip in December, January, and February. Overall, our market remains on track to once again do something that was unheard of prior to 2020: surpass $2 billion in total sales before the end of the year."

Brunswick County saw $232,570,000 in total sales volume in August 2022, a 5.7% decrease from last August's $246,620,000. The average sales price increased 9.4%, from $415,883 to $455,130. New listings were down 10.4%, from 682 to 611. The number of units sold in August dropped 13.8% compared to last year, from 593 to 511, and homes spent an average of 26 days on the market. The absorption rate, which is the amount of time it would take to sell all available inventory, remains at two months. Brunswick County's luxury market remained strong in August with 19 sales in excess of $1 million and two sales of $2 million or more.

Year-to-date sales volume through August is $1,741,530,000, down 3.1% from $1,797,989,429 last year. Average sales prices for the year are 14.8% higher than in 2021, increasing from $383,919 to $440,574. The number of units sold through August is down 17.6%, from 4,666 to 3,846, and the number of new listings is down 9.2%, from 5,135 to 4,664.

Brunswick County

  • New Listings
    • August 2022: 611
    • August 2021: 682
    • Increase/Decrease: -10.4%
  • Units Sold
    • August 2022: 511
    • August 2021: 593
    • Increase/Decrease: -13.8%
  • Average Sales Price
    • August 2022: $455,130
    • August 2021: $415,883
    • Increase/Decrease: +9.4%
  • Median Sales Price
    • August 2022: $370,000
    • August 2021: $325,000
    • Increase/Decrease: +13.8%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • August 2022: $232,570,000
    • August 2021: $246,620,000
    • Increase/Decrease: -5.7%

Bladen County

  • New Listings
    • August 2022: 14
    • August 2021: 20
    • Increase/Decrease: -30%
  • Units Sold
    • August 2022: 12
    • August 2021: 13
    • Increase/Decrease: -7.7%
  • Average Sales Price
    • August 2022: $305,300
    • August 2021: $232,469
    • Increase/Decrease: +31.3%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • August 2022: $3,660,000
    • August 2021: $3,020,000
    • Increase/Decrease: +21.2%

Columbus County

  • New Listings
    • August 2022: 45
    • August 2021: 37
    • Increase/Decrease: +21.6%
  • Units Sold
    • August 2022: 32
    • August 2021: 33
    • Increase/Decrease: -3%
  • Average Sales Price
    • August 2022: $242,337
    • August 2021: $246,548
    • Increase/Decrease: -1.7%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • August 2022: $7,750,000
    • August 2021: $8,140,000
    • Increase/Decrease: -4.8%

Robeson County

  • New Listings
    • August 2022: 10
    • August 2021: 13
    • Increase/Decrease: -23.1%
  • Units Sold
    • August 2022: 6
    • August 2021: 7
    • Increase/Decrease: -14.3%
  • Average Sales Price
    • August 2022: $153,083
    • August 2021: $186,214
    • Increase/Decrease: -17.8%
  • Total Sales Volume
    • August 2022: $918,500
    • August 2021: $1,300,000
    • Increase/Decrease: -29.3%

The Brunswick County Association of REALTORS® (BCAR) is the local association level of the largest trade association in the nation, presently serving its members, which are comprised of REALTORS®, Appraisers, and Affiliate Members. For more information, please visit http://www.bcarnc.com.

August
10

Moving In? Don't Make These Rookie Mistakes

Moving in is exciting, but don't rush in! Here are the most common mistakes you want to avoid.

Moving always brings its fair share of challenges, but if you plan ahead and do your homework, you might be surprised by how smoothly the whole process can go. As always, our real estate agents are here to help.

Some of the most common and potentially disastrous moving mistakes are the ones that are made on move-in day. If you've already found the perfect Southport home for sale and are getting ready to move into your new home, these are the biggest mistakes to avoid:

  • Procrastinating
    If you're the type who always waited until the night before a test to start studying, take note. Moving is not fun if you wait until the last minute! By the time you get to moving day, everything should already be boxed, packed, and ready to go. If you've rented a moving van or truck, it's also a good idea to get as much stuff as possible loaded up the day before the actual move.

    Ditching All Your Furniture
    We understand the appeal of moving into a new home and making it a fresh start. But while it can be tempting to kick all your old furniture to the curb and start fresh, you might want to hang onto a few things. Even if you have to rent a larger vehicle or pay your movers more, you'll still save some money. You might also be surprised how a new space breathes life into some of your old furnishings.

  • Not Matching Furnishings to Architecture
    Of course, if you're moving into a new home that has a radically different architectural style than your old one, not all of your furniture will fit in. Matching decor to architecture is an important way to make your space feel natural and balanced. If, for example, you're moving into a breezy beach house in Southport, you might find that sleek, modernist furniture clashes with the whole vibe.

  • Forgetting to Make Arrangements for Pets
    Moving is stressful for humans, so just think of how your four-legged friends must feel! It's always a good idea to make arrangements for your pets on moving day, like boarding them of having them temporarily stay with a relative while you get settled. That way, they'll be less stressed and won't get underfoot while you're moving in. When you're ready for your pets to join you, make sure their favorite toys and blankets are out and ready!

  • Not Packing a 'Day One' Box
    Pack a separate box with all the essentials you'll need on your first day in your new home, and take it in the car with you. Its precise contents will be different for everyone, but be sure to include basic toiletries, washcloths and towels, electronics and chargers, a few snacks, and a change of clothes for everyone. You don't want to have to wait for the movers to arrive just so you can brush your teeth or take a shower.

  • Not Checking the Weather
    You can't control the weather, but you can plan for it. Do your best to plan your move on a sunny day, but check the forecast religiously as you approach the big day, just in case the weather changes. If rain threatens, take precautions to keep everything from getting soaked as you move (trash bags, tarps, and towels are your best friends)!

Contact us today for more information on moving into your new home in Southport, NC. And if you're still on the hunt for that perfect home to call your own, our real estate agents are here to help every step of the way.

February
23

Q. When is the Right Time to Sell Your Home? A. When Somebody Else Wants to Buy It!

Few of us could have imagined the changes 2020 had in store for us this time last year.  Changes to our work lives, schooling, finances and retirement plans, travel plans and commute times, family organization, even cooking, outdoor activities and other hobbies have been transformed. For some of us, there's been a growing mismatch between the home we've loved for years and the way we live now.

Even if you're happy in your current home and it fits you to a tee, you owe it to yourself to consider the market.  Let us help you identify the opportunities that make up the silver lining of a very difficult year. It may be that the perfect buyer for your home is out there right now.  You might maximize the utility of your home by selling it now and moving ahead to your next real estate investment that will better accommodate your needs in the future. 

Q.     What about the upgrades I was planning to make to my outdated kitchen? I want to get top dollar for my home!

A.     Many buyers would prefer to choose their own appliances and finishes.  A good Buyer's Agent will help them connect with qualified professionals to do the work on a convenient schedule after they take possession of the home. Instead of making cosmetic improvements, focus your energy on any functional repairs that may be needed.  The point is to reinforce the idea that your home has been well-maintained.  You can look forward to putting your creative energies into a new home!

Q.     Where will I move ?

A.     Wherever you want!  See something you like? Let us approach the current owner and make inquiries on your behalf.  Your interest might persuade someone else who just happens to be "sitting on the fence" at the moment.  We can also find you a "lot and home package."  Builders often buy vacant land for future spec projects at very low prices. Many of them are more than happy to sell under the condition that you use them to construct the new home.  This can represent a great value for the buyer since they'll already have plans selected that suit the location and meet local building codes.  You'll often have the added advantage of choosing your appliance package, paint colors, hardware and other features without having to pay the higher price of a truly custom home. 

 Q.     Life is so hectic these days.  I don't have time to drive around looking at things or spend hours online.

A.     You don't have to, that's our job!  We can be sure that you're notified as soon as something new comes on the market that meets your specific criteria.  If you need three bedrooms, you will only see homes with three bedrooms, not two, and not four.  You'll be surprised at the way we're able to customize our searches by the school district, distance from the beach, community amenities, and of course the features of the home itself.  We also see a wider range of options coming on the market now.  Some people are letting go of their primary residence to move to their second home full-time.  Some are getting out of their rental investments and some are letting go of investments in land. We will help you explore all the options.

 Q.     How will I manage to afford it?  Times are tough!

A.     You might be surprised.  Talk to your banker or credit union representative.  Rates are still at near all-time lows and getting pre-approved makes any offer you do make all the more attractive.  For some, working from home means being able to save money on their commute to work.  It may also mean you can relocate to a neighborhood with no POA fees, lower taxes, lower insurance rates, or simply a lower price per square foot.  More people are also combining households these days. What was once the 'down-sized' retirement home for someone who has decided to move in with adult children might be the perfect next home for you!

 Q.     We want to wait and sell at the top of the market.  Are we there yet?

A.     You never really know where the top of the market is, until it's already in the past. This is why "market timing" doesn't actually work when it comes to selling real estate. By the time you notice a slight drop in closed prices, everyone else sees it too.  And those closed prices are based on contracts signed 30-60 days or more in the past! There will be a slight increase in inventory at this point because nobody wants to miss the opportunity to realize their home's top value.  That's understandable but increased supply means decreased relative demand.  Prospective buyers will also think they might gain some advantage by waiting a bit longer. They feel no urgency anymore. Additionally, homes don't typically sell the moment they're listed. The idea of market timing is based on automated sell orders you can set for stock market investments. The mechanics of this situation are just not the same. Another, often overlooked, reason for selling before you see the absolute peak is what we like to call "instant equity." When you anticipate the market, your new home's value will be lifted as we crest the peak of top pricing. That value becomes yours as equity, while you continue to pay the low mortgage rates locked in shortly before your closing date.

 Q.     What's the next step? How do I begin the process of listing my home?

A.     You've heard you should never expect something for nothing, but that's not entirely true.  The first thing a good listing agent will do is gather information for a comparative market analysis.  We do that for free, before you sign any sort of contract, so you will know where you stand in a competitive market.  It's also the only way for us to develop an appropriate marketing plan.  We have the tools to present your home to the pool of most likely buyers as soon as it's listed.  Whether that means including it in the Luxury Portfolio program, or digging into our contact lists for the new buyer who has been waiting to leave a long-term rental for a new home that is just the right fit. We're hearing from lots of folks who want to downsize as well as those who want more space, or just more flexible space. And we're always active with relocation clients. Don't forget, we've been turning visitors into locals since 1981!

Drop us an email or give us a call.  We look forward to hearing from you!

 

September
28

5 Things to do Before Buying a Home

Buying a Home

As interest rates hit record lows in recent months, would-be homeowners have been inspired to seek more spacious dwellings, with rooms where parents and kids can have a comfortable space to work or attend class remotely. If you're a first-time homebuyer looking for more space for your family, you may find your dream home among Southport homes for sale. But have you taken the right steps to ensure you're ready to make the deal? Make sure to do these five things before starting your house hunt. 

  1. Determine Your Financial Health
    Before you start house shopping, pre-qualify for a mortgage. Sure, the impulse is to rush right over and claim your dream home. But think of the heartache when you learn you don't qualify for it! Your credit score and down payment will determine if you're qualified to purchase the house. It'll be a letdown to learn you have to work at raising your credit score, but you can do it. You'll find another home when the time comes.

  2. Get Your Financing in Place
    Get your financing squared away before you start shopping in earnest. If you're a first-time homebuyer, for instance, you probably qualify for several types of financial assistance, such as Federal Housing Authority mortgages, offered at 3.5 percent down payment; USDA low-rate loans for rural and suburban properties, with 100 percent financing; VA loans, with possible 0 percent down and no mortgage insurance; and GSE conventional loans with 3 percent down through Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. First-time homebuyers may also withdraw up to $10,000 out of an individual traditional IRA or Roth IRA without paying an early withdrawal penalty, although you still must pay taxes on a traditional IRA.  

  3. Find the Right Real Estate Agent
    Don't go house shopping without having enlisted your own real estate agent. Choose one who will work for you during those crucial moments, such as the walk-through or at the closing table. Your agent should know the market and the area, and be able to point out the advantages and disadvantages of the location and the home you're considering.

  4. Choose Your Location
    You may have more than one location in mind, and that's just fine. Do check out such things as traffic at rush hour near your dream home; how busy the road in front of your potential home is; how safe you feel; and how well kept the neighborhood is.

  5. Watch Your Credit
    It's crucial to prevent dips in your credit score from preapproval to closing. Avoid opening new cards or closing existing accounts. Resist big purchases such as cars or financing furniture for your new home. Pay existing balances to below 30 percent of your limit. Pay on time and in full each month. 

Our real estate agents can advise you on these steps, and others, to make sure you're a happy homeowner once the deal is sealed. Our knowledgeable team can help with more tips on preparing to buy a Southport home. Contact us today

August
12

Don't Let These Homebuying Hindrances Keep You From Homeownership

Homebuying Hindrances - Margaret Rudd & Associates

Don't think you can afford to own your own home? Not so fast. There are plenty of people out there who want to buy a home but go into a panic after looking over their finances. So you're definitely not alone.

If there's one thing our REALTORS® believe, it's that home ownership should be within everyone's reach. Watch out for these common myths that keep people from becoming homeowners, and remember not to let them stop you!

  1. You can't afford the down payment
    Worrying about saving for a down payment is one factor that keeps a lot of people from buying a home. It's usually recommended that you pay 20 percent of the home's value upfront, but let's face it—20 percent of even a low-priced home is quite a big chunk of change. 

    Fortunately, it's possible to buy a home with a smaller down payment, and according to the National Association of REALTORS®, 81 percent of American homeowners do just that. The downside of making a smaller down payment is that you end up with a bigger mortgage (and more interest in the long run), but for a lot of new homeowners that's a very worthwhile trade-off.

  2. Your credit is too low
    It's easy to get stressed out about your credit score. After all, it's one of the significant factors that lenders use to decide whether they will offer you a mortgage. But low credit doesn't necessarily disqualify you from a mortgage—more on that in a minute—and there are many steps you can take to improve your credit. 

    The best thing to do if you have bad credit is to get to work on improving it. Lenders will notice the improvement. Work on paying back any debts you have, and stay on top of keeping bills current. Avoid incurring any new debt, and don't open up any new lines of credit. Most importantly, work on improving your credit utilization, which is the ratio between the amount you owe, and the amount of available credit you have.

  3. You can't afford a mortgage
    A lot of first-time homeowners fear that even if they do manage to qualify for a mortgage, they won't be able to afford the interest or keep up with monthly payments. It's smart to be wary of taking out a major loan, and it's never advisable to buy a house that you can't truly afford. Still, there are several mortgage options available for low-income individuals, as well as those with low credit, which may be worth considering:

    • FHA loans: Backed by the Federal Housing Authority, FHA loans are intended to open up homeownership to borrowers who can't make a sizeable down payment, or have less-than-perfect credit. You'll need a minimum credit score of 580 to get 3.5 percent financing, but a score of 500 is accepted if you can put at least 10 percent down. 

    • VA loans: These flexible low-interest loans are available to members of the U.S. military, veterans, and their families; and they do not require a down payment or private mortgage insurance. 

    • USDA loans: Many mid-range borrowers can buy homes in certain areas using USDA loans. You need to meet income limits to qualify, but eligible borrowers may not be required to make a down payment.

If you're looking for your dream home among the many available Southport homes for sale, don't be held back by myths that say you can't afford it. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help make your dream of homeownership a reality. 

July
1

Home Buyers: Don't Miss These 5 Things During a Final Walk-Through

Final Walk-Through - Margaret Rudd & Associates

Congratulations! You've found the house after looking at many wonderful Southport homes for sale and made it to the final walkthrough. You're about to officially become a homeowner! You're probably excited to get into your new home, but take the time to make sure everything is right before you sign the papers and get the keys. Our REALTORS® recommend you look for these five things on your walkthrough.

  1. Verify repairs. Many people request repairs after a home inspection. Bring along your inspection report so that you can confirm repairs were made and done to your satisfaction. The seller should have provided documentation as well, and you'll need that in case you would have a problem covered under the contractor's warranty policy. Construction debris and materials should have been cleaned up.

  2. Check the details against your contract. Your purchase documents included statements about items that are to stay and the condition of the house. Appliances, light fixtures, and window treatments are some examples. The landscaping should be intact. You'll need to check that everything that was supposed to stay is still there and that the home is reasonably clean and damage free.

  3. Check for damage. Especially if the house hasn't been occupied in a while. It's not something anyone wants to think about, but accidents, critters, storms, and other unfortunate events do happen. Water damage, pest damage, and storm damage can go unnoticed when the property is unoccupied. Check inside and out. Look for telltale signs like standing water, mold where there wasn't any before, newly peeling or bubbling paint, and soft or damp spots on walls or ceilings. Make sure to check under sinks. Outdoor storm damage can include loose siding or missing shingles. Look for evidence of mice, bugs, or other animals that may have gotten in.

  4. Do a safety check. Check windows and doors and make sure they all open, close, and lock. Screens or windows should be present in storm doors and windows. Security systems should work along with smoke alarms. You want to make sure your home is secure and that you can get out in case of a fire.

  5. Check HVAC, electrical and other systems. No matter the season, turn on the heat and air conditioning and make sure they are blowing hot and cold air. Check the outlets and make sure they're getting power (plug in your cell phone to ensure it charges). Switch on the lights, ceiling fans, and bathroom fans to make sure they're working. Turn on the faucets and make sure the water drains. If you've had any repairs made after the inspection, verify they've been completed to your satisfaction.

    Your agent has a lot of experience here and can be a second set of eyes if you have questions or find anything that concerns you. Some things are significant problems, and others are just good to know or may require action after you move in. If there's a major issue, your agent can help you figure out what to do next.

After you've thoroughly gone through everything, you can sign the papers and get started on living life in your new home and experiencing all the Southport area has to offer. Margaret Rudd & Associates can help find the right home in Southport for you and your family. Contact us today to get started.

January
14

Moving to Holden Beach: 7 Things People Forget to Do

Moving to Holden Beach - Margaret Rudd & Associates

Whether you are shopping for Holden Beach homes or have already purchased one, you'll soon be moving. Pulling up stakes and moving to a new home and community is exciting, especially if you will be a first-time homeowner. However, moving is also a complicated and stressful process, and it can be quite easy to forget important details along the way. Knowing about the most common mistakes made by others can help you avoid making them yourself, so here are seven things people often forget to do during a move:

  1. Collect Important Documents – This is a task that should be on your to-do list several weeks before moving. It can take some time to get many documents, such as family medical records, prescription lists, immunization records, school records, and other official documents. Other essential papers to collect and keep track of carefully during a move include insurance policies, tax records, financial records, identification documents, wills, and other essential legal documents.

  2. Collect Scattered Belongings – Don't forget to collect items that aren't at home when you start packing up. This may include items sent to the dry-cleaners, belongings sent to repair shops, things left in your locker at the local gym or items borrowed by friends and family.

  3. Update Your Mailing Address – While most of us don't use traditional mail as much as we used to, there are still plenty of important things that arrive via "Snail Mail." Make sure you put in your change of address form with the post office before you make your move.

  4. Update Important Accounts – Remember to give your current utility companies a cutoff date for your old house and arrange to have all essential utilities in place before you move into your new one. Also, make sure you update your address and contact information for other important accounts, such as credit card companies and banks, for instance.

  5. Separate Items That Should Be Left Behind – Don't forget to leave the house keys and garage door openers for your old home's next occupants. Also, moving is the best time to thin out clutter, disposing of things you aren't likely to use in your new home.

  6. Pack "Immediate Needs" Items Separately – There are certain things you'll need to keep close during the chaos of moving. These may include prescription and over-the-counter medications you regularly use, chargers for phones and other frequently-used electronics, shower supplies, and clean clothes. It may also be wise to keep a few basic tools handy, especially if you will need to assemble or re-assemble furniture as you move in. Packing these things in your car, rather than the moving truck, can save you a lot of hassle during your first day at your new home.

  7. Label Everything – Things get busy at moving time, and packing is tedious work. However tempting it may be to cut a few corners to move things along more quickly, packing carefully can save a lot of time and frustration later. Label every box you pack according to the room it came from, and be sure to write "fragile" on boxes that contain items that require careful handling.

For more tips on how to make moving to Holden Beach a smoother, less stressful experience, please feel free to contact Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. Our REALTORS® are always happy to help new residents make themselves at home in our area.

November
13

Top Christmas Gift Ideas for New Homeowners

New Homeowner Gift Ideas
Do you have friends or family members that are spending their very first Christmas in a new home? If so, you're probably looking for just the right gift to celebrate this landmark in their lives. So what is the right sort of gift for such an occasion? The options range from practical and functional items to decorative or personalized ones that can help them make their new house a home. Our REALTORS® can offer a few tips, having lots of firsthand experience with first-time homeowners. Here is our list of top holiday gifts for the new homeowner.

  • Kitchen Items
    If the new homeowner in your life likes to cook or entertain, practical and attractive items for their new kitchen can be very welcome gifts. If they are coffee lovers, an espresso maker or French press can be a great gift, especially when paired with a set of unique or personalized mugs. If they enjoy baking, a quality stand mixer will likely be appreciated, as might a good marble pastry board/rolling pin set. If they are first-time homeowners, kitchen basics, like toasters, a slow cooker, cutting boards, cooking utensils, or a set of kitchen towels and potholders may be good gift ideas. Other possibilities for the kitchen include cheese boards, stylish serving bowls, wine glasses or cocktail shakers, all items that will come in handy for new homeowners during the holiday season.

  • Home Accents
    For new homeowners that you know quite well, having a clear idea of their tastes, home accents to help them make their new house a home can be great gifts. Ideas that fit this category include accent pillows and throws for the family room or living room, vases, decorative candles, or art pieces.

  • Tools
    Tools can be a much-appreciated gift for first-time homeowners, as they may not have even realized they needed them! You can gift practical items, such as a good toilet plunger, a basket of cleaning supplies, or a basket of supplies for power outages, such as candles, flashlights, and extra batteries. Basic tool sets that include an assortment of common household tools, such as screwdrivers, hand saws, wrenches, hammers and so on, are also a useful and practical gift. For homeowners tackling remodeling projects, a wet/dry utility vacuum will be a welcome addition.

  • Outdoor Accessories
    If the new homeowner in your life has moved from an apartment to a new home with a yard of their own, outdoor accessories can be the perfect Christmas gift. Great ideas to help them make their outdoor space their own include potted plants, patio furniture, decorative outdoor lights, gas grills, or lawn care tools and supplies.

  • Gifts for Relaxation/Stress Relief
    Moving and settling into a new home is a big deal, and many aspects of the process can be stressful and tiring. These facts can make gifts that help your new homeowner relax especially welcome. A basket full of luxurious bath items, such as specialty soaps, bath oils, bath bombs, and soothing lotions, can be a stress-busting gift, as can a bathtub tray to hold candles, wine or a good book as your new homeowner has a nice, long, soothing soak.

Our team at Margaret Rudd & Associates is here to answer your real estate questions from the best gifts to buy new homeowners to how much is my home worth. Contact us for the help and advice you need.

September
27

5 Reasons to Stop Renting and Buy Your First Home

Buy Don't Rent
Owning a home, and the freedom that comes with it, remains a crucial part of the American dream, even as more and more Americans find it more difficult to achieve homeownership. Our REALTORS® are here to make that process easier, and if you've been thinking about making the leap to owning your own house, we have several reasons why now might be the right time. 

  1. Renting is more expensive. In the long run, renting may ultimately take away a much larger chunk of your income than buying. What's worse is that at the end of the day you have nothing to show for it; no rental property will ever be yours, no matter how much money you sink into it. And while it is generally assumed that renting is cheaper in the short term, even that is not always the case. Mortgage payments often cost less than monthly rent in many communities. 

  2. Buying allows you to build equity. Home equity is the difference between the current value of your house and how much you still owe on it. This amount builds up over time as you pay off your mortgage and the value of your house starts appreciating. Appreciation value is not possible when renting. A portion of your monthly rent is probably being used by your landlord to pay off the property you are renting, so you are essentially helping to build equity for someone else.

  3. You have more financial control over a home purchase. The real estate market rises and falls, but rent tends to move in one direction – up. One of the greatest financial benefits of ownership is that, with a traditional mortgage, your monthly housing cost is locked in for the lifetime of the loan. That means no more rent increases and no more living by the whims of the housing market. 

  4. You have more personal control by purchasing a home. Living in a property that you don't own means you have little to no control over it. But when you own your own home, you're free to renovate, remodel and modify it in any way you please. No more asking your landlord's permission to repaint the kitchen, no more waiting for someone else to fix common household problems, and no more hoping you don't lose your deposit over some minor infraction.

  5. Buying is an investment. The difference between renting and buying is essentially the difference between spending and investing. When you buy a house, you are directing your funds toward an investment that will almost certainly increase in value over your lifetime. But when you're renting, you're not investing in anything beyond having a roof over your head for the current month. Buying a home gives you more than just a house, it gives you an opportunity to secure your financial future.

Contact Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. to learn more about the benefits of home ownership, and to find out how our team can help you find your dream home and make it yours. We offer access to a tremendous variety of homes for sale in Bolivia, NC and throughout the Brunswick County real estate area.   We're dedicated to helping you find the perfect house. 

 

September
7

Help From the Pros - Saving for Your First Home

Saving for Your First Home
Deciding that you want to become a homeowner is a big step that comes with lots of questions. One of the first you'll need to address is how to save for your down payment. Don't worry, you can do this! Our REALTORS® offer these tips to get you started saving today. 

Down Payment Basics to Get Started

Decide how much you need to save. A down payment is a substantial amount of money and it isn't going to magically appear in your budget. There's real effort involved here. You may have to cut your spending, earn extra money or both.

First get a starting point. Lenders want to keep your house payment around 25% -30% of your monthly income. Take your monthly income and calculate 25% - 30% of it. This is your future house payment.

Input your desired monthly payment into an online tool (like this one from NerdWallet.com) to calculate how much house you can afford. Take 20% of this number. That will be how much you need for a down payment. You may be able to buy with less, but if that happens the extra can go toward closing costs or moving expenses.

Decide how quickly you'll need to save it. Work backward from there. For example, if you need a $40,000 down payment and want to buy a home in 3 years, you'll need to save a little over $13,000 per year or $1,084 per month.

Your Savings Plans

  1. Utilize automatic savings. Set up a separate savings account specifically for your down payment and have a portion of your paycheck directly deposited into it. If getting your direct deposit split up isn't possible, set up automatic transfers from your primary account. When the money automatically goes in, you don't have a chance to spend it on other things.

  2. Save unexpected cash. Your tax refund, that year-end bonus, the birthday gift from Grandma. You get the picture. You weren't planning on having it anyway, so you won't miss it.

  3. Pay off your credit cards and save the extra cash. Start with the highest rate card and work your way down. You were already paying out that money anyway, pay it to a different purpose.

  4. Cut your current housing costs. Get a cheaper apartment, get a roommate, or move in with a relative that will charge you little or no rent. Then put the extra money into your savings account.

  5. Downgrade your current vehicle. If you're in an area where biking and/or public transportation is a reasonable choice and you're willing to sacrifice for the near future, selling your car can net you a significant amount of money. If your car is newer, sell it and switch to an older one. Just make sure what you're replacing it with is in good shape and reliable. If you're a two-car family, switch to just one or downgrade one of the vehicles.

  6. Get a side hustle. Use your skills to earn some extra money. Walk dogs, drive others around, deliver groceries, freelance, or babysit for your friends. You're only limited by your creativity.

Additional Advice

  • Start tracking spending and make a monthly budget, so you know where to cut expenses.
  • Have an emergency fund before saving for a down payment. Emergencies happen, no matter what you'd rather do with your money.  When they do, you'll still have your down payment.
  • Look into down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers.

Margaret Rudd & Associates - Your Brunswick County Real Estate Experts

You'll find a team of dedicated REALTORS® at Margaret Rudd & Associates who are driven to make buying your first home a great experience. Contact us with questions about buying a house or to get your home search started. 

July
5

How Much Does Credit Matter When You're Buying a Home

Credit Score and Mortgage
One of the first things you have to do when buying a home is take an in-depth look at your financial situation. Since most people buying a home have to apply for a mortgage, it is imperative that you know what lenders will be seeing when they investigate your creditworthiness. Getting your credit report and knowing your score will be one of the first steps you want to take. But you might be wondering how much it really matters. The truth is it matters a lot. Here's why.

Ways your credit score affects a mortgage

For most people, buying a house is a really large transaction. Getting a lender to take a risk on you with that amount of money involved, means you have to demonstrate some creditworthiness. Because of the amount of money and length of the loan, it isn't as easy as getting a credit card or a car loan. Your credit score needs to at least be reasonable to get considered for a mortgage. And the actual number matters a lot more.

  • It's the main factor that determines the interest rate you'll get
  • It determines what kind of loan products are available for you
  • It may affect the amount of money lenders are willing to qualify you for.
  • It can also mean you won't have to pay points or private mortgage insurance, which will save you money.
  • It will affect the amount of down payment you're required to make.

A lower interest rate can make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan. The amount of money you can qualify for can make a difference if you're looking to move to a better neighborhood or to the "hot" neighborhood before prices start to soar. Lenders usually require higher credit scores in exchange for lower down payments.

What credit score do you need?

Your credit score isn't the only factor considered when you get a mortgage. Lenders look at the whole financial picture, so the amount of your down payment, income, and debt to income ratio also matter significantly. So just because you're credit doesn't fall in the range that lenders consider excellent, (usually 750 and up) doesn't mean you're doomed. There are options out there, even if your credit score is in the mid to upper 500's. Different lenders and different types of loans have different requirements. The better your credit score, the more options you'll have, and the more money you can save. So if you need to work to improve your credit score, it's a good idea to do so.

Here's an example…

To really see how the interest rate of your loan matters, you can use an online loan comparison calculator to compare rates. For this example, we'll assume you need to borrow $200,000. At an interest rate of 4%, your base monthly payment (excluding taxes, insurance, and other fees) on a 30-year mortgage is $954.83. At an interest rate of 5% that payment goes to $1,073.64. That is an extra $118.81 per month. Which might not sound like much, but that amount every month for 30 years, means you're paying out an extra $42,771.60! Viewed this way, it's easy to see why your credit score matters and why it's important to improve it if you need to.

Our REALTORS® can help when you're ready to start looking for a home. Contact Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. today for more information.

June
12

Selling a Home and Buying Another at the Same Time

Selling and Buying a Home at the Same Time
It's time to move on. Your family has outgrown your home, you're downsizing, or maybe you're being relocated for work. Whatever the reason, our REALTORS® can help you sell your home and buy another. Buying and selling at the same time isn't always easy. But the good news is you probably learned a lot the first time you bought a house, so you can do this with the help of our real estate pros.

First Steps

Expecting everything to fit perfectly just isn't realistic, so careful preparation and planning is a must. You'll want to make sure you have as much equity in your home as possible. You'll also need funds available to get your home ready to sell and cover temporary rent or other unforeseen circumstances. Decide whether you want to sell first or buy first. Know the market where you live and where you're planning to move to help you strategize.

Reasons to Sell First, Then Buy

  • You'll know exactly how much you can spend on your new home.
  • In a buyer's market, it may take longer than you thought to sell your home. If you've already purchased your new home that means you're paying the mortgage, utilities, insurance, and upkeep on two homes.
  • You can extend the closing date to allow a reasonable amount of time for you to find a new home.

Disadvantages to Selling First

  • You have to live somewhere in the meantime. There is usually some time--days, weeks, or even a couple of months--between when you close on the sale of your home and close on the purchase of your new one. You'll have to live somewhere and plus store your belongings. This can also be an issue if repairs have to be made prior to you moving in to your new home.
  • If you have to rent in the interim, you're moving twice.
  • It may be difficult to re-enter the market. If you end up being between houses long term, you'll need to keep your eye on the markets. If you are looking to buy in an area where there's a seller's market or home prices are rising quickly, the longer it takes you to buy a home, the less you will get for your money. If housing prices are rising faster than you can keep up, you risk getting priced out of the market.

Reasons to Buy First Then Sell

  • You won't have the hassle of renting and having to move twice.
  • You won't miss out on your dream home or an amazing deal. This may be the way to go if your goal is to relocate to a community where there is a seller's market or prices are rising quickly.
  • If it makes sense for you, you have the option of renting out your old home or your new one. You'll want to talk with an accountant or financial advisor and lawyer to make sure you understand the details and that it's feasible for you.

Disadvantages to Buying First

  • There's pressure to sell. Financially and emotionally once you've purchased a new home. This means you may end up selling your home for less than you want to.
  • As a seller you're vulnerable if there is a sudden drastic market change. This is especially problematic if the home you're trying to sell is in a slow market to begin with.

Ultimately, you'll have to do what makes the most sense for you. Buying and selling at the same time can be tricky but with planning and preparation it can be done. Whether you're looking to buy or sell a home, contact Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. today.

April
25

Use Your Tax Refund to Buy Your First Home

Tax Refund Down Payment
If you've dreamed of buying a home but the down payment is a financial obstacle, now is a good time to take a second look. It's 2018 tax refund time and the average refund this year is approximately $3,000. That could be enough money to help you fulfill your homeownership dream.

Our REALTORS® understand that a down payment can be one of your biggest obstacles to buying a home in North Carolina. It's difficult to meet day-to-day living expenses and save money too. Your income tax refund can give you a reprieve from all that scrimping and saving. Here are a few tips to make it work for you.

Hands off the money!

If you intend to use your tax refund to qualify for a home loan, take the auto-deposit option. From the moment the money hits your account, forget that it's there.

When you're using your tax refund to qualify for a mortgage, your loan officer will want to confirm the dollar amount and that it's actually available. If you withdraw it for whatever reason, the mortgage company won't be able to verify your financial information. 

Non-traditional Financing Options

Your tax refund might not cover the down payment required for a traditional mortgage. But it's enough to give you access to several non-traditional financing options. Ask your lender about these home mortgage programs with low to no down payment requirements and reduced credit and income qualifications.

  • VA - If you're a veteran, active military, or an eligible surviving military spouse, you may qualify for a VA-backed loan with 0% payment.
  • USDA - The USDA offers no down payment, low-interest loans for rural homes in eligible areas.
  • Federal Housing Authority - The FHA loan program has mortgages with down payments as low as 3.5%.
  • Equity Boost Loans - Ask your lender about a conventional loan with an Equity Boost option. You may qualify for a 1% down payment that instantly gives you a boost to 3% home equity.
  • Fannie Mae - The Fannie Mae home loan program offers mortgage rates as low as 3%
  • Freddie Mac - A down payment for a Freddie Mac Home Possible® mortgage can range from 3% to 5% of your home purchase price.

Down Payment Grants

If your tax refund isn't high enough for an adequate down payment, you may qualify for a down payment grant. Search for down payment assistance programs in your city or state.

If you qualify for a no money down loan

If you receive a down payment grant or qualify for a no down payment loan, you should still think carefully before cashing out your tax refund. It can serve several useful purposes.

  • Pay down your debts - If you eliminate some of your existing debt, it can improve your credit score and possibly qualify you for a lower interest rate.
  • Build up your assets - If you leave it in the bank, your tax refund can become an asset that also improves your financial profile.
  • Budget for homeownership expenses - You'll need a cash cushion for moving, higher utility bills, home furnishings, and more.

If you want to know more about meeting the challenges of buying a home, we can help. Contact Margaret Rudd & Associates, Inc. if you're buying or selling a home in the North Carolina communities we serve.

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