Network Wilmington Real Estate News

Sept. 19, 2022

Choosing a Mortgage Lender – How to Get The Best Lender in 2022

Before you even start house-hunting, it’s a good idea to shop around for lending options. The Network Real Estate team put together this guide to help you navigate the mortgage loan process and find the very best loan possible.

The Mortgage Loan Process

To secure a good home loan, there are several steps you must take…

1) Assess your financial situation.

To set yourself up for mortgage loan success, you should first make sure your finances – from your credit score to your debt-to-income ratio – are in good shape. Do what you can to boost your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get a good loan with low interest rates.

How can you improve your credit score?

Attempt to pay all of your bills on time and pay off your credit card balances in a timely manner. 

It’s also a good idea to work on your debt-to-income ratio. The more debt you have, the less likely lenders will be to give you a good deal. Try to pay off your debts as much as possible – your goal should be a debt-to-income ratio of around 36%.

2) Brush up on the different loans

A critical component of securing a home loan is learning the language mortgage lender’s speak. That means knowing about the different home loans…

  • Conventional Loans – With a good credit score (620 or higher), you can often secure down payments as low as 3%.
  • FHA Loans – A little more lenient with credit score, FHA loans only require you to fall in the 500 to 580 range. With an FHA loan, you could look at 3.5% down.
  • VA Loans – Reserved for current and veteran military service members, VA loans are arguably the BEST mortgage rates and require a credit score of 620.
  • USDA Loans – For people with low-to-moderate incomes who are buying homes in designated rural areas, USDA loans require zero down payment and a credit score of 640.
  • Jumbo Loans – These loans are generally given to finance properties that are too pricey for conventional loans.

NOTE: North Carolina also offers Housing Finance Agency Assistance through state-specific interest rates and down payment help. The NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment offers up to $8,000 toward your home purchase. However, to receive this help, you need a minimum credit score of 640 and a debt-to-income ratio under 43%.

You also have options regarding your mortgage term. More often than not, home buyers choose a 30-year fixed-rate that is paid off in 30 years and comes with an interest rate that never changes. However, you can also opt for a 5-year rate, which offers a lower interest rate and larger monthly payments. Some lenders even offer adjustable rate mortgages with interest rates that change depending on the market.

3) Find multiple mortgage lenders & compare their rates.

The next step? Determining “where” you can get a loan. You have several options…

  • Conventional Banks – Along with savings and checking accounts, your average bank typically also offers mortgage loans.
  • Credit Unions – To get a loan with a credit union, you first need to be a member. Some people prefer credit unions because of their more personal service.
  • Non-Bank Mortgage Lenders – There are also companies that exist only to grant mortgage loans‌ offering a quick turnaround time.
  • Mortgage Brokers – If you want a little more guidance with the lender-selection process, hiring a mortgage broker may be the way to go.
  • Wholesale Lenders – Unlike direct lenders like banks, credit unions, and nonbank mortgage lenders, wholesale lenders never actually interact with borrowers, doing all their business through mortgage brokers.
  • Hard Money Lenders – These are private investors that offer loans secured by real estate and typically require quicker repayment.

To make an educated decision, you need to take time to browse at least 3 or 4 lender options, gathering quotes and information from several lenders and comparing their estimated rates, fees, and down payments. 

4) Apply for mortgage pre-approval.

Once you have narrowed down your list to a few of your best lender options, submit a preapproval application to your top choices. After doing a thorough evaluation of your credit and financial situation, lenders may decide to pre-approve you for a loan.

A mortgage pre approval letter can provide the proof you need to show real estate agents and sellers that you can truly afford to purchase a home, giving you a leg up on your competition.

NOTE: Borrowers often confuse “preapproval” with “prequalification,” the latter of which is NOT an official, verified approval, but merely an estimate of the loan amount you may secure. 

5) Compare loan estimates & decide!

Along with the preapproval letter, lenders should provide a detailed loan estimate, including information about interest rates, fees, down payments, and many other factors you’ll want to take into consideration as you’re choosing the best lender. 

If you still have questions after receiving the estimate, ‌ask. Ultimately, the more informed you are about your loan options, the better decision you will make.

What to Consider Before Choosing Your Lender

Be sure to ask lenders LOTS of questions. Below, we’ve listed several of the best questions to discuss with mortgage lenders.

  • How long will the loan process take?
  • Who will be my main contact throughout the process?
  • Which steps take place online vs. in-person?
  • What will my down payment, fees, and rates be?
  • What kind of mortgage loans do you offer?
  • What credit score and debt-to-income ratio do you require?
  • Should I have an Escrow account? 
  • Do you offer Mortgage Points? What about a Mortgage Rate Lock?
  • Do you offer “preapproval” or “prequalification”?
  • Is there a prepayment penalty?

Once you have all the information, it’s time to choose! But which factors should play the heaviest role in your decision?

The most significant factors you’ll want to consider are a loan’s interest rate, associated fees (application fees, underwriting costs, etc.), down payment percentage, and mortgage insurance payment. 

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Area 

Have more questions about the home loan process? The Network Real Estate team can answer your questions AND provide you with meaningful lender connections in the Wilmington area. 

Looking to secure a home loan in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach? We are here to help! Call us at 910-395-4100.

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Posted in Buying a Home
Sept. 7, 2022

First-Time Home Buyer in Wilmington, NC? What You Need to Know

Buying a home for the first time can be scary. To make your home-buying process easier, our real estate agents have put together a list of valuable advice for first-time home buyers in and around Wilmington, NC.

What do you need to save up for?

When you’re preparing to purchase a home, there are three main things you should start saving your money for:

  • Down Payment – Your down payment will depend on your lender and the mortgage you choose. Certain conventional loans require as little as 3% down, but more often than not, lenders will require a down payment closer to 20%. Regardless, even a 3% down payment can add up to. Say you’re hoping to purchase a $300,000 home – 3% of that would be $9,000 (and 20% would be $60,000).
  • Closing Costs – These are the expenses and fees buyers pay to complete a mortgage. They fall between 2% and 5% of the loan amount. It is possible to save a little on closing costs by asking the seller to contribute to the closing costs or pay for the home inspection (although; they are not required to comply).
  • Moving Expenses – Once the purchase is official, you still need to have some money on-hand to account for costs associated with moving, including any immediate home repairs, improvements, or new furniture. You’ll want to put aside several thousands of dollars just to make the move.

REMEMBER: Although housing prices may gradually start falling back to pre-pandemic levels, it is still a good idea for North Carolina home buyers to budget high. 

How important is your debt-to-income ratio?

When determining whether you can afford to buy a house, you should not only consider the costs, but you also need to be aware of things like your credit score and debt-to-income ratio.

A low debt-to-income ratio is critical to ensure you stay within your home-buying budget – not only in the short-term (with the down payment, closing costs, and moving expenses), but also in the long term (with your monthly mortgage rate). 

Plus, lenders often place a great deal of weight on your debt-to-income ratio. In most cases, lenders prefer your overall debt to be only 40% of your income. And any housing debts should fall under 32%.

How to check (and build) your credit score

Your credit score is one of the other big factors lenders consider. A low credit score could disqualify you from a loan AND have a big impact on the interest rates lenders offer. Our team recommends first-time home buyers aim for a minimum credit score of 640.

But how can you check your credit score?

You can get FREE copies of your credit reports from certain credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. If you see any errors in your report that could harm your score, you can even dispute them.

To boost your score, make sure you pay all of your bills on time and keep your credit card balances as low as possible. DO NOT close any current credit cards. Doing so can actually lower your credit score.

What are your NC mortgage options?

In North Carolina, home buyers have a variety of home loan options – all with varying eligibility and down payment requirements. The main categories include:

  • Conventional Loans – The most common home loan, conventional loans are left entirely to the individual lender’s discretion. With a credit score of 620 or higher, you can secure down payments as low as 3%. With these loans, you can usually stop paying mortgage insurance after a few years.
  • FHA Loans – Backed by the Federal Housing Administration, FHA loans offer more lenient financial requirements and are a plausible option for buyers who have credit scores in the 500 to 580 range. With an FHA loan, you could look at 3.5% down. But you will still need to pay mortgage insurance until you sell your home, pay off your loan, or refinance to a different type of mortgage.
  • VA Loans – Guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, VA loans are reserved for current and veteran military service members. Arguably the best mortgage rates, they usually require no down payment, no ongoing mortgage insurance, and a minimum credit score often around 620.
  • USDA Loans – The U.S. Department of Agriculture backs these loans for people with low-to-moderate incomes who are buying homes in designated rural areas. Like VA loans, USDA loans require zero down payment. But, unlike VA loans, buyers still must pay (low) mortgage insurance rates, and lenders often require a credit score of 640.
  • North Carolina Housing Finance Agency Assistance – North Carolina also offers some state-specific interest rates and down payment help. The NC 1st Home Advantage Down Payment offers to $8,000 toward your purchase. However, to get such help, you must have a minimum credit score of 640 and a debt-to-income ratio under 43%. Learn more here.

NOTE: You also have options regarding your mortgage term. More often than not, home buyers choose a 30-year fixed-rate that is paid off in 30 years and comes with an interest rate that never changes. However, you can also opt for a 5-year rate, which offers a lower interest rate and larger monthly payments.

Once you’ve received several loan estimates, compare your options. DO NOT just settle on the first loan you are offered. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends requesting loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare costs adequately.

When should you hire a Realtor®?

Once you’ve determined that you can afford to buy a home and have a general idea of your budget, you can go ahead and reach out to a local real estate agent. 

Do NOT feel like you have to wait until your mortgage loan is finalized before you can call a Realtor®. In fact, good real estate agents will offer up their expertise on mortgage lenders in your area and help you find options within your budget.

Need help choosing a real estate agent? Here are the 9 steps you should take.

Network Real Estate | Wilmington, NC Area 

At Network Real Estate, our agents know the Wilmington area like the back of their hands. We have agents specializing in neighborhoods and properties across New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender counties. 

We don’t rest until our clients have moved safely into the home of their dreams! And once you’re in your new home, we will do all we can to ensure you have all the resources you need to succeed as a Wilmington area homeowner.

Looking to buy a home in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach, or Kure Beach? We are here to help! Call us at 910-395-4100.

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Posted in Buying a Home
July 28, 2022

Staging Your Home to Sell (Top 5 Tips)

Staging Your Home to Sell (Top 5 Tips)

Staging a home can be one of the most exciting times for a homeowner. In this crucial time, you don’t want to leave anything undone with your home. In this list, we will discuss five tips to stage your home to sell.

Removing Clutter

Over time, nearly every home will start to become cluttered. Before staging your home is the perfect to start removing clutter. If you need the incentive to get started on this project, think of the valuable items you have that might be lying around. Also, donating gently used items to charity is a big benefit of removing clutter. Having a clutter-free home will let guests have all the space they need to see their potential new living area.

Deep Cleaning Entire Home

After removing clutter from your home, you may notice that time has not been kind to the surfaces of your home. It is wise to deeply clean your entire house before it is staged. You want to present every potential home buyer with a fully cleaned home. There are many areas in a home that can gather dirt and dust. Ensure that you thoroughly clean all floors, as they will have likely amassed a lot of foot traffic.

Give Spare Rooms A Purpose

Each room in your staged home should have some sort of theme. Of course, there are the obvious bedrooms and bathrooms but what about those spare rooms? Many homeowners may feel that bare extra space is all that is needed to entice buyers. However, buyers go into homes thinking of the experiences that they will enjoy in your home. Having a home that is filled with empty rooms doesn’t bode well for creating any imagery for a buyer.

Accenting without Overdecorating

You will want to take the opportunity, when staging your home, to ensure that large surfaces are accented. Some can overdo it with their accents until they have created clutter. Place one to three decorative items on surfaces like tables to add a visual flair to any room. Wall art is another great accenting idea that can be used to add value to your staged home. It is a good idea to use the accenting time of your staging to check the attic for any old decorations that could help out.

Repaint Problem Areas

As you’ve likely seen with your floors, walls are another area that can accumulate dust and dirt. Use a staging as the time to either paint your walls a different color or repaint with the same color choice. Repainting your walls presents a sense of freshness to your home, no matter which color you choose. However, try to avoid any colors that could be off-putting, especially overly bright colors that could be distracting. In closing, there are many benefits associated with staging your home. If you need help in selling your home, please give us a call! Our professionals can help you sell your home as soon as possible.

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 28, 2022

5 Best Places to Live in Wilmington NC

Best Places to Live in Wilmington NC

 

With an over 30-year history in the Wilmington, NC area, Network Real Estate has a lot of neighborhoods that we love. We wanted to highlight a few of them here for those considering a move into our lovely city. Read on for detailed information about our top 5 best places to live in Wilmington NC, and browse each neighborhood’s available homes.

1) Rivers Edge

River's Edge Wilmington, NC For Sale

As the name suggests, River’s Edge is at the edge of the Cape Fear River in Monkey Junction. The River’s Edge community a stone’s throw from Echo Farms Golf & Country Club, with many homes directly adjacent to the grounds. This idyllic community is close to several public and private schools. It is also a short drive to the center of Historic Downtown Wilmington, shopping malls and restaurants, and the beautiful shores of Carolina Beach. Homes in River’s Edge are unfailingly elegant, offering modern amenities and laid-back charm.

2) Water Street

Water Street Center Wilmington, NC For Sale

The Water Street Center condominiums are the place to live in Historic Downtown Wilmington—you simply can’t beat the view, location, and amenities. If you want to be in the heart of the historic district, within walking distance of Wilmington’s best restaurants, nightlife, and entertainment, Water Street Center is the place for you! At 9 stories tall, Water Street Center is one of the tallest structures downtown, so you’ll have amazing views of the mighty Cape Fear River or the bustling city skyline. You’ll love the openness and modernity of the space, and the wide balcony overlooking downtown is the perfect place to relax and take it all in. Water Street Center is great for couples and singles!

3) The Cape

The Cape Wilmington, NC For Sale

The Cape boasts charming homes and friendly neighbors. The area has plenty of starter homes perfect for couples, as well as lovely homes for large families. Homes within The Cape typically range from approximately 1300 – 2500 SF, with prices starting in the low $200’s. Homeowners enjoy an HOA-maintained community, waterfront properties and the Masonboro Country Club, and a world-class premium public golf course.

Encompassing the areas of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and Fort Fisher, Pleasure Island contains miles of beautiful beaches and an array of restaurants and shops. You can even venture out to the Aquarium at Fort Fisher and discover the state’s diverse aquatic wildlife. The Cape is also located just fourteen miles from Historic Downtown Wilmington, NC, a beautiful riverfront community with a rich history, exquisite dining and vibrant nightlife. Buyers looking for Carolina Beach, NC real estate might also enjoy living in The Breakers, in the heart of Carolina Beach.

4) Harbor Oaks

Harbor Oaks, Carolina Beach NC For Sale

Harbor Oaks is one of the most sought-after condominium communities on the North Carolina coast. Harbor Oaks boasts 11 stories of beautifully designed apartments in the heart of Carolina Beach. Because of the blend of luxury and beach casual, openings at Harbor Oaks are rare, but Network Real Estate has you covered. You can watch the sunset from an outdoor balcony that overlooks downtown Carolina Beach, or from your own private boat dock. Harbor Oaks makes an excellent vacation home to enjoy the warmer months in, but many residents enjoy the community year-round. Homeowners enjoy that Harbor Oaks is HOA maintained. Luxury meets the beach... what's not to love?

5) Sentry Oaks

Sentry Oaks, Wilmington NC for Sale

A community nestled in southeastern New Hanover County just off Myrtle Grove Road, the established Sentry Oaks neighborhood is located just south of Monkey Junction in Wilmington, NC. The area hosts a variety of shopping and dining options, as well as terrific local schools. Sentry Oaks is also within proximity to Pleasure Island. Including the coastal communities of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Fort Fisher, Pleasure Island contains miles of beautiful beaches.

Homeowners in Sentry Oaks enjoy a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood with a variety of home sizes, styles, and prices. This lovely neighborhood has something for everyone!

With so many stunning real estate options, you’ll be calling Wilmington, NC home in no time! Contact Network Real Estate today to inquire about our properties!

 

Posted in Buying a Home
June 29, 2022

Top 10 Features Wilmington Home Buyers Want in 2022

 

With the soaring Wilmington housing prices and rapidly increasing mortgage rates, local home buyers have had to compromise with their most-desired home features. However, certain features have still risen to the top as the common 2022 home-buying factors in southeastern North Carolina.

Based on extensive research and our own observation of Wilmington housing preferences, we put together a list of the top 10 features home buyers are searching for in 2022:

 

1) Affordability, of course!

Despite the record-high prices, people searching for Wilmington area homes are still looking for the best possible deals. Although the sparse home inventory makes it challenging to be too picky, home buyers are applying a little more strategy to their home search–only bidding on houses they think they can reasonably afford and win.

 

2) More (or at least more flexible) space

The pandemic and the growing work-from-home culture has created a widespread desire for more space. However, more space frequently means more money. 

If home buyers can’t afford a more spacious house, they’ll likely look for a home with more flexible space that can be used for multiple purposes–such as a home office that doubles as a second bedroom or a hobby room. To capitalize on this, be sure to promote the versatility of spaces throughout your home.

 

3) Outdoor amenities

Over the last few years, people have developed a healthy craving for the outdoors. It’s funny how a worldwide pandemic can make a luxurious patio, front porch, or swimming pool so much more attractive–especially during Wilmington’s warm summer months. With a cozy patio, home owners can bring their work laptop outside, enjoy the fresh air, and watch their kids and pets play in the yard or pool. Plus, some outdoor features–like a patio or upgraded exterior lighting–are relatively simple, inexpensive additions.

 

4) Designated home offices

Working from home can be great! But, sometimes, a makeshift dinner table or bedroom office just won’t cut it–too much clutter and too many distractions! In this new age of remote employment, transforming a second or third bedroom into a home office space can significantly increase the value of your home.

 

5) Laundry rooms

For most homeowners across the country, an in-house laundry room has become non-negotiable. To maximize the value of your laundry room, consider giving the room a quick makeover and adding shelves, cabinets, and clothing racks for extra storage.

 

6) Ceiling fans

About 83% of home buyers identified this relatively low-cost, high-reward feature as one of their most-desired. Some people swear they just CAN’T live comfortably without them–especially in hot, humid southeast NC. Increase your home’s perceived value even more by upgrading your ceiling fans to something classy or “coastal.”

 

7) Large, functional kitchens

The pandemic forced many to try their hand at good ole home cooking. Now, those that enjoyed the experience have realized the importance of a spacious, well-organized kitchen (ideally with a large walk-in pantry). An open-plan kitchen with significant storage space will attract some eager buyers. Double-sided sinks, water filtration systems, and large central islands are also popular among Wilmington home buyers.

 

8) Energy efficiency

Over the last several years, there has been a remarkable push for energy-efficient lighting and ENERGY STAR-rated windows and appliances. Regulating house temperature, energy-efficient materials save homeowners thousands every month on utility and maintenance costs. Although it’s a BIG bonus for buyers, investing in costly ENERGY STAR upgrades right before selling is not the smartest investment.

 

9) Hardwood floors

Out with the old, ragged carpet, and in with sleek hardwood floors! In 2022, home buyers prefer homes with floors that at least LOOK like hardwood. If you have a tight budget, upgrading to vinyl, laminate, or wood-like tile is a great way to increase your home’s market value.

 

10) Multipurpose garages

Last but not least, we’ve seen an emerging trend of multi-use garages. Add some storage, an outdoor sink, and a craftsman’s station, and suddenly you have a perfect space for home buyers who love working with their hands. 

 

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Looking to put your Wilmington, Carolina Beach, or Wrightsville Beach home on the market? Our real estate agents can help you get started. We’re just a phone call away–call us at 910-395-4100.

 

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Posted in Selling Your Home
June 16, 2022

What’s An Appropriate Down Payment for a Wilmington Area House?

 

From Wrightsville Beach to Carolina Beach to downtown Wilmington, the housing market in southeast North Carolina is bringing homebuyers many challenges as we approach summer 2022. 

Homes are still being snatched up within a day or two. Prices are still climbing. And local home options are still relatively sparse.

It’s become more important than ever for potential homebuyers to make sure they actually have enough money for a down payment. Why? There are a few reasons: 

  • So they can be quick to act if they find a home they like. 
  • So they can avoid getting their hopes up in homes they simply can’t afford. 
  • So they can set realistic budget expectations.
  • And, ultimately, so they can stop themselves from making an unwise financial decision.

But how can you tell whether you have enough money for a down payment?

Benefits of a Large (20%) Down Payment

There are a few reasons for the overwhelming preference toward a larger upfront payment:

  • No Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). Loaning your money for a home purchase is a risky move for any mortgage lender. PMI protects your lender if you cannot afford to pay off your loan. If you start with a large down payment, most lenders won’t require such risk insurance.
  • Lower Interest Rates. Your interest rate is the percentage of your outstanding balance (or principal) that your mortgage lender charges each month simply because you borrowed from them. Lenders base this rate on the amount of risk they feel they are taking on by giving you a loan. A higher initial down payment proves that you’re less of a risk to the lender, making them more likely to offer a lower interest rate.
  • More Affordable Monthly Payments. Lower risk for your lenders means lower interest rates for you, which means lower month-to-month mortgage payments.
  • Extra Edge Over Competing Buyers. Especially in the hot 2022 seller’s market, you’ve got to do everything you can to stand out against other interested homebuyers. Sellers are more likely to give you the contract if they trust you are financially sound and can actually afford to pay for the house. 

Is a 20% Down Payment Really Necessary?

Widely accepted as the IDEAL down payment amount, 20% can feel pretty daunting–or even impossible–especially since the average Wilmington home is selling for well over $200 thousand. It’s enough to make many potential buyers put off their home search for years. 

So, it’s a good thing that most lenders DO NOT actually require 20% down on your closing date. 

If you CAN afford to pay 20% of the closing costs upfront, by all means, do it! But, if you’re one of many who simply cannot come up with that large an amount, stick with us. You have other options!

Buying a Home With Less Than 20%

Whether you just don’t have that much money or you’d rather hold on to some cash for emergencies, home repairs, or other expenses, a 20% down payment may not be your best bet.

Certain loans allow you to opt for down-payments much lower than 20%. The amount down ultimately depends on the loan and type of home (primary, secondary, or investment) you’re purchasing. 

The most common home loan, Conventional Loans, are left entirely to the individual lender’s discretion. With a credit score of 620 or higher, you can secure down payments as low as 3%. This down payment percentage increases as you get into second homes and investment properties.

Meanwhile, FHA Loans–government-backed loans with more lenient financial requirements–are a plausible option for buyers who have credit scores in the 500 to 580 range. With an FHA loan, you could look at 3.5% down.

Veteran-specific VA Loans and rural community USDA Loans offer alternative possibilities for certain homebuyers.

Ultimately, It Depends on Your Budget

Buying a home is a financial risk–and even more so if you drop 20% in the very beginning. The money is extremely challenging to get back. 

That’s why homebuyers MUST assess amply their financial situation and determining how much money they can reasonably fork up come closing time. Remember, you should NEVER buy a home unless you feel comfortable with your loan and the amount you’ll have to pay month-to-month. 

And you may even be surprised! Considering your monthly rent expenses, it can actually be more affordable long-term to take the leap and buy a home now.

A Network Real Estate Agent Help!

Bring us your loan and down payment questions. Our agents are glad to help you navigate the home-buying process, from the initial search to closing. Reach us today at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Buying a Home
May 24, 2022

Your Home-Selling Checklist: What To Do Before You Sell

 

Selling a home is easier said than done—even when we find ourselves in a seller’s market like we are in the spring of 2022. There’s a lot to keep track of: What kinds of repairs are necessary? When should you start marketing? Do you really need to hire a real estate agent?

 

Your Home-Selling Checklist: What To Do Before You Sell

 

Follow these 8 steps to secure the very best price from your Wilmington area home: 

Find a good local real estate agent.

More often than not, trying to manage a home sale without the expertise of a licensed REALTOR will end in disaster…or at the very least, a significantly lower price than your home is actually worth. But you should NOT settle for just any real estate agent. Take the time to do thorough research and even interview until you’ve found a good fit.

Build a marketing strategy.

How quickly do you need to sell? How much money do you hope to make from the sale? Will you sell during the peak spring or peak fall home-buying season? Think about your home’s particular benefits and features, and devise a marketing plan using those as your unique selling points. 

Decide on a price.

Work with your real estate agent to conduct a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and determine your home’s Fair Market Value (FMV). Use that information to decide on an asking price. Then, your REALTOR can offer you some techniques to get the best deal. 

Think about curb appeal.

Let’s be honest. In the home search, potential buyers ARE judging each book by its cover. To make a positive first impression, you’ve got to spend a little money on those relatively easy fixes—like repairing the siding, repainting the front door and window frames, and investing in a bit of landscaping.

Time to declutter!

This is ESSENTIAL—for the sake of your online photos AND walk-through tours. If a potential homebuyer perceives your home as cramped and cluttered, they’ll ‌worry whether your home offers enough space for their needs. Think of it like the first round of your move-out process. Sort through your things and decide what to pack, trash, and donate.

Prepare your home for staging.

Before you take photos for advertisements, ‌spend some time sprucing up your home’s interior. The goal is to get the homebuyer to envision themselves and their families settling into the space. From depersonalizing your space to repainting walls to neutral colors to touching up scuff marks, you can do small things to present your home as a blank canvas for the viewer’s imagination. 

CLEAN!

Not only will a deep clean help make your home more visually appealing to viewers, but it will also get rid of any lingering odors. And once you’ve officially put your house on the market, it’s a good idea to keep to a regular cleaning routine. You never know when you’ll get a call to schedule a tour.

Advertise far and wide.

Don’t limit yourself to one marketing platform. From physical “For Sale” signs to online listings to the classified section of your local newspaper, your local real estate agent will ‌point you toward the most effective advertising methods in the area. Keep in mind: it is always a good idea to use professionally taken photos and videos of your home for online listings.

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Need a real estate agent in Wilmington, Carolina Beach, or Wrightsville Beach? Our agents are just a phone call away. Reach us at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Selling Your Home
April 29, 2022

8 Proven Ways to Make Your Carolina Beach Vacation Rental Stand Out

Hat, sunglasses, and suitcase in the bedroom of a modern beach vacation rental.

 

From the beautiful beach to the delicious restaurants, Carolina Beach has a lot to offer its vacationers. But as people across the U.S. begin to feel comfortable resuming travel once again, it’s time to reevaluate your vacation rental marketing strategies. 

 

Here are 8 things you can do to set your vacation rental apart from the competition:

 

  1. Be strategic about your upgrades. First things first – you need to pick a target demographic. Who do you suspect will be most interested in staying in your home? What amenities would that demographic find most alluring? Pick a few of the first things that pop to mind and investigate whether you could reasonably tackle them. Remember, you don’t have to upgrade EVERY part of your vacation rental all at once.
  2. Develop communal AND intimate spaces. Although it’s essential to invest in attractive spaces for the entire group, the social demands of vacations can sometimes be just too much. Nice, secluded spaces can offer your guests a much needed escape. Even if you’re renting out a small beachside condo, you can create intimate spaces with cozy bedroom chairs or comfy outdoor seating.
  3. Use high quality images. Let’s be honest…photos are the most exciting part of planning for a vacation. If your photos don’t look appealing (and professional), potential visitors are going to skim right over your listing. Keep in mind, your photos should always be as up-to-date as possible. If you’ve recently purchased new furniture or upgraded technology, don’t hide it!
  4. Pick your main photo wisely. This first image is the most important part of your listing – it will help the user to decide whether to move on or click to learn more. If you’re on a tight budget, consider spending just a little extra time and money modernizing one room of your vacation home. Then make THAT your main image.
  5. Create powerful, detailed descriptions. The photos are crucial, but the words written on a listing can still make a significant difference. From your headline to the description of your amenities, the language needs to be creative and convey the mood and benefits of your home. The most impactful descriptions do a great job of setting the scene, making it easy for the reader to imagine themselves in the home. 
  6. Take advantage of the location. You and I both know that Carolina Beach comes with a wide range of attractions. However, your average aspiring vacationer may not. That’s why you’ve got to allude to the local attractions in both your photos and descriptions. Include pictures of the stunning views and surrounding scenery. Highlight local activities you think your target audience would enjoy.
  7. Offer your local expertise. When scoping out a vacation rental property, visitors want you to present a “pre-vacation experience.” It’s not enough anymore just to offer a basic list of amenities. You’ll really impress potential guests if you provide a pdf of local recommendations that helps them get started with their vacation plans. And be sure to emphasize your rental’s close proximity to all the fun activities around Carolina Beach.
  8. Use an easy, convenient booking system. That’s us! When you partner with our vacation property management team, we’ll provide all you need to ensure your vacation rental is a success – from onsite management to online listings. 

Want to learn more about our Vacation Rental Management services?

Send us a message or give us a call at 910-458-8562.

 

Posted in Vacation Rentals
April 25, 2022

Buyer or Seller: Who Pays For Home Inspection Repairs in North Carolina?

A man evaluating a home inspection.

 

You discovered your dream home and signed a contract. You’ve heard that it’s good to get a home inspection before closing on a house, but you have some questions…

 

Who’s responsible for setting up the home inspection? Even more, who covers the repairs? 

 

There are 3 main factors that determine who pays for the repairs identified in a North Carolina home inspection: 

 

  1. Your contract
  2. The nature of the repairs
  3. And the state law

Let’s break that down a bit. 

Your Contract

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, but we’ll say it again. It’s CRUCIAL that you read your new home contract very carefully before you sign. 

 

When a seller and buyer draw up a contract for a home, they generally include provisions regarding the very question of who pays for home inspection repairs. The details of these contingencies can vary, as they are entirely dependent upon the agreement between the two parties. 

 

For example, the contract may include a provision requiring the seller to pay for the repairs up to a certain amount of money, at which point the buyer would have to shoulder the rest of the cost. 

 

In other cases, a major issue discovered during the home inspection may give the buyer an opportunity to back out of the signed contract without incurring a penalty. 

 

In highly competitive housing markets – as we’re seeing here in 2022 – buyers are often more likely to accept a less favorable contingency, possibly even agreeing to purchase a home “as is” (meaning they cannot terminate the contract even if they later discover the home needs some repair).

 

NOTE: Even if this is the case, buyers still need to schedule a home inspection. The report will help the buyer decide whether they can afford to move forward with the contract (or if they’d rather simply pay the penalty for backing out).

Nature of the Repairs

Home inspection reports typically outline both large and small repair needs. Although a buyer COULD ask the seller to cover the entire long list of repairs, they’d have better luck requesting payment for just a few of the most significant fixes – say, if there are major issues with the home’s foundation or piping systems. 

 

When making such requests, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the opposite party’s motivation. A seller who is worried about losing the buyer will be more likely to fulfill repair requests. And a buyer who doesn’t think they have a good chance of finding a better home in their budget range may deem it best to just cover the repair costs themselves.

North Carolina Law

In North Carolina, sellers have a legal obligation to either repair or disclose serious problems with their home. So, if a repair is a significant one, sellers almost always opt to pay for it.

 

These major issues include things like severe water damage, mold issues, termite damage, missing or broken smoke detectors, structural problems, HVAC system or wiring issues, or other state building code violations. 

 

Specific state laws are the ONLY things that can determine which seller-funded fixes are obligatory. If a type of repair is left unmentioned in the law, there is still room for negotiation.

 

~

Why It’s Best to Hire a REALTOR

When helping you develop a home contract, North Carolina licensed real estate agents are REQUIRED to follow all the applicable state laws. However, some of these regulations don’t necessarily apply to contracts drawn up by private parties.

 

Recruiting a qualified local real estate agent to help create the contract is ultimately your best chance of achieving your desired end result.

 

Have more questions about home inspection repairs? Or need help evaluating a sale contract?


Our agents are eager and available to answer your questions and guide you through the home-buying or -selling process. Give us a call today at 910-395-4100.

Posted in Buying a Home
April 20, 2022

North Carolina Azalea Festival

The highlight of springtime in Wilmington has to be the North Carolina Azalea Festival, otherwise known as Azalea Fest. This community celebration runs from April 9-13 2022 and is sure to take over Historic Downtown and include an array of fun events for all ages.

The festival kicks off at Riverfront Park on April 9 with the Queen’s Coronation, where the Queen will officially be crowned in front of an adoring crowd of onlookers and celebrity guests. Don’t worry—you don’t need to be a debutante to enjoy Azalea Fest. You will, however, need your appetite. The Azalea Fest Street Fair spans Water, Front, and Market Street, and serves as the main walkway for food and entertainment. Over 40 food vendors are expected to participate and will offer everything from lemonade, funnel cakes, and fried chicken to gyros, crab cakes, and even deep-fried Oreos.

Another main event of the week is the North Carolina Azalea Festival Parade, which will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on April 12. The parade attracts hundreds of people, so be sure to come early to get a good view of the floats, horses, band, and Queen Azalea herself. Azalea Fest is also bringing their A-game in the live music department this year. The headlining rock band is Widespread Panic, who will play the outdoor Miller Lite Main Stage (411 N. Front Street) at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12. The festival will also feature Country music stars Justin Moore, Randy Houser, and Josh Thompson, who will play the stage on Thursday, April 10 at 8 p.m.

There are plenty of offsite events during Azalea Fest. One of our favorites is the Historic Home Tour, which allows patrons to tour many of the beautiful, historic homes in downtown Wilmington. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, April 13. We are also very excited that the Cole Brothers Circus is back in town from April 10-13, featuring amazing acrobats, motorcycle maniacs, White Tigers, a high wire troupe, The Human Cannonball, and more! Note that tickets for many Azalea Fest events should be purchased in advance.

There are so many other events that makeup Azalea Fest—the best way to find out what they’re all about is to come see for yourself.

Posted in Local Events