Category: Blog

Real Estate Sales And Today’s Technology

Wow! How the internet has changed the world in the last 10 yrs. They say technology capabilities double every six months, meaning what you buy now in technology will be obsolete in actually 3 months. So, how has the world of real estate changed with the evolution of technology? Listing tips from a Charleston SC real estate agent using technology to his and his clients advantage.

As a licensed broker and someone who sells real estate in Charleston SC I have seen first hand how technology has changed my area and how homes are sold. Gone are the day of you working for a broker, and the broker owns or has the “stuff” as it pertains to marketing, leads, and office toys. In today’s real estate world most agents don’t even need an office because everything is digital. Even when I owned my mortgage company I rarely met my clients because everything was done with fax and then email. Now it’s even more streamlined. Don’t get me wrong I definitely have to meet clients to sell homes, but SOO much can be done with technology now that there is less effort in “prep” and “work” than was once the case. For Instance: Today’s buyers search the internet 90% of the time for homes for sale (and rent) versus looking in the paper or even one of those magazines in the grocery.  For the most part agents really don’t need (in a lot of cases) to search their local MLS and send their prospects properties although if an agent cares about providing excellent service they still will do that. But it’s really not necessary if you think about it. Most buyers know what they want already and just tell you what addresses they want to see. However, where agents come in, is helping those buyers NOT familiar with the area. In fact; I have had clients tell me “We have seen that one already”.. After I have sent them homes to see via email. Which leads me to tell them,”just email me the ones you want to see and I’ll set up showings for you”. Buyer’s don’t necessarily have all the sold homes data and that’s where agents are still needed, to help them determine a price and negotiating strategy. Here in my local area, Charleston SC real estate agents are pretty tech savvy. One of the coolest things I love about the latest technologies are digital signatures. When I send out contracts I use (personally) services like Hellosign, or Dochub to send out my contracts and docs to clients for digital signatures. Which is SOO easy and helpful in saving me time, which we all know is money. Assuming the buyers or sellers have a computer and a little know how it’s so simple for me to set and for them to sign. Recently I showed a real estate in Wild Dunes and my buyers were from out of town as this is a beach resort so for many buyers it’s a vacation second home they are looking for. They came down to visit, we looked at a few homes, and I used my ipad to have them sign an agency agreement, and then a few days later I used Hellosign to send them the contract to sign once they were already back home. Never once actually touching or printing a piece of paper. Listings & Marketing with ease: Either when agents or “for sale by owners” wanted to market property for sale before the internet and smart phones it was a serious undertaking.  Now the cameras on smart phones are SO good that they take phenominal digital high resolution images ready for publishing immediately. Furthermore, they are so user friendly that you no longer need to hire a professional photographer to take decent photos of a home. However, a professional is recommended because no matter how good the cell phone or digital camera, there are techniques with lighting, framing, editing, depth of field and so on that pros know that the average person will not.  With that said someone on a budget can do a pretty good job representing a home well enough just by using their iPhone or Android OS device. Youtube and Vimeo the two most respected cloud based video publishing sites both make it really easy to put a video on the web. So you can now take a bunch of good photos (or video) with your device and easily use and app to edit it, or just upload to Youtube and edit it there. Boom you have just published a nice online walking tour of your home for sale.

A new company offering 3D Video walk-through cameras for virtual reality makes you feel like you’re standing in the home. SEE EXAMPLE

Conclusion: Both buyers, sellers and agents can benefit from utilizing the latest helpful technologies like tablets, smart phones, and the internet to ensure the transaction is simple, quick, safe, fast, and reliable without sacrificing quality service.  

San Diego CA And Charleston SC Sister Cities?

I bet when you think of San Diego the last thing you think of is Charleston SC. Trust me, I understand why. However, you’d be really surprised at how very similar the two cities really are. Truly. I have lived real estate investingin Charleston SC since 1999, and am originally from Columbia SC. I have traveled all over this great United States, and honestly there really isn’t much like Charleston SC. I am not being biased I promise. I mean there are some cities that architecturally are very similar like: Wilmington NC, New Orleans LA, and Savannah GA (which might be the closest in a general to a lot of Charleston’s characteristics). That’s about it. After having just left from a visit to San Diego I couldn’t help but think to myself how similar the two cities are in so many ways, and in trying to give the locals of San Diego who have never been to our great city an idea, I couldn’t help but sum it up by saying “it’s kind of the San Diego of the South”.  I know you’re say WHAT??!! How is that? I’ll explain, but first you must know that like San Diego, Charleston SC is one of the United States and World’s most renowned destination cites.  

Recently my wife and I visited San Diego California for a week long business/vacation get away, and had a most wonderful time. Prior to going my wife did about 5 months worth of internet research on the best dining, things to see and do that San Diego has to offer and it paid off. We had a blast. We went to their amazing zoo (like most people), ate at some of the city’s best restaurants, drank at the most famous bars, took a two hour sailboat tour through the harbor, even did a small biking excursion on Coronado Island to see the famous hotel Coronado. 

We met so many kind people, almost everyone we talked to that lived there was very gracious and a pleasure to talk to. Offering suggestions and giving us their thoughts on places to go and see while visiting their great city. We ate some amazing breakfasts at the very well known Hash House– twice because it was so good, had drinks at Cafe 21 in the gas lamp area and met the nicest bartender (thanks Zane), drank craft beers at Ballast Point (had 6 different kind) and spent one morning before breakfast at the farmers market in Little Italy. Dined at The Prep Kitchen (twice that week), had happy hour drinks on top of the 5th Avenue Financial Center at Bertrand at Mister A’s which has the MOST amazing views of the entire city while airplanes fly by you, and raved for the food at Cucina Urbana restaurant. You get the point by now. We had a great time. 

I bet you’re thinking let’s get to the nitty gritty as to why you think they’re so similar. I call Charleston SC the “San Diego of the South” for many reasons beyond just being popular tourist cities, but truthfully that does have a lot to do with it. 

It should be of no mystery that Charleston SC is one of, if not the most kind hospitable town in America; well at least it was for 13 straight years as voted by the world’s most respected tourism magazines. We found the people we met in San Diego to be so welcoming, kind, and accommodating so much so that it instantly reminded me of home. Unfortunately, we did have an Uber driver (had never even been to S.C.) that made a ignorant “stereotype type” comment about South Carolinians I wasn’t happy about. That’s ok, there’s one in every bunch as they say. 

Both San Diego and Charleston South Carolina are coastal cities, with a military base(s) and military life influences to which if you live in a city that has a large military population you’ll understand.  Although Charleston SC is considerably smaller it is one of America’s most respected and well known “foodie”, and culinary destination cities according to the most well respected chefs, dining critics and media outlets. As does San Diego. I think it’s safe to say we don’t have near as many eating and drinking establishments as San Diego does, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Charleston SC tri-county area has as many well publicized restaurants as San Diego. 

Both cities also are heavily reliant on tourism for a large portion of their cities revenue streams, and both cities have a very young, “hip”, fun, and diverse population most of which aren’t in fact from the area. Mostly transplants from around the United States and world that made the cities their home after visiting. Charleston unlike any other major city in SC (there are only 3), is mostly comprised of people not from Charleston. Likewise, almost everyone we met who lived in San Diego was not from San Diego. Many people from around the United States have a tendency to want to lump California into the same “stereotype”, as liberal, sometimes weird, and sometimes fake. That maybe the norm for some cities in California, but San Diego does not fit that mold at all. The city makes you feel like you’re in a small normal everyday American town that could be anywhere in the U.S. Our lovely cocktail waitress at Cafe 21 summed it up perfectly when she said that locals characterize San Diego in one sentence, “the biggest small town in America“.  

Both areas have beautiful beaches to enjoy, but unlike San Diego one thing we do have they don’t is warm waters to enjoy almost year around whereas you need a wet suit most of the year in almost all of California. 

Charleston SC & San Diego are also growing at leaps and bounds as being two of America’s fast growing coastal communities. So if you live in San Diego and want to go east, Charleston SC will be your best bet for reminding you of home. If you live in Charleston South Carolina and have need to go west, and want the same feel that only Charleston SC gives you look no further than San Diego. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. 

Southern Interior Design Style Charleston SC | Design Planning

How to Plan for Your “Southern Style Home”

The south has always been a picture of opulence, class, and rolling green fields. Movies like ‘Gone with the Wind’ brought into our attention how the plantation barons of the old days live in near palatial grandeur. Captivating with its glorious beauty and rich history.

So as a new homeowner, it would only be too understandable if you want the southern theme for your home.  Either you actually have a newly acquired cozy “Lowcountry” home,  or you just want to redecorate the old one is not important. You want that look, then you should have it. The problem, however, may lie when you do not know what to do to achieve it. 

Like any homeowner, you want your home to show your personality while still being able to project a southern style interior designgeneral theme that you are going for. A nice charming southern atmosphere is a good choice as any. You may stress about how you should go about making your dream southern home. Or, whether or not to hire a professional. And you may have even challenge yourself to do everything on your own then a good start is Charleston Home and Design Magazine. What you need to know is that the difference between your success or your failure in this little project depends on what you know and how you use that knowledge. It’s basically like staging a home in Charleston. Often times you can save money by hiring a home stager than you would a interior designer to help you achieve the desired look.

You need not have a degree in interior design to be able to do this. But, before you hire an interior designer who can do the job for you or embarking on the task yourself, you first need to read tips like these: 

 

  • Have the proper visuals. Knowing the look or familiarizing yourself with the physicality is probably the best advice there is when it comes to home design that favors a specific geographical theme. Understanding the items and styles that people used in the past to decorate mixed with new world features will help you achieve this. Such as: worn down antique wood tables, benches, furniture, sweet grass, sea grass rugs, color selections, are all common to the area. 

 

  • Get to know the culture. We are a very laid back society here in the Low-country so acquaint yourself with the culture that dictates how this look must be. This is not only a very historic old world town, but also a beach community as well. Knowing how the culture of the region figure into the details of the design will help you see which can work for you or not. Like for instance, southern plantation homes have heavy draperies because they have extremely large windows that allow too much light in. So, if your home is in the city where larger buildings such as luxury condos like: The Peoples Building, Concord St Condos, Vendue Range, or Anson House might block majority of the natural sunlight, you might want to forgo the heavy drapery. It is through knowing the culture that you can understand the importance of each elements of the southern home look.

 

  • Be goal oriented. Before setting out to do anything, make sure that you visualize in your mind your end goal, or the look you want to achieve for your home. This will be the gauge you will work around on. This way you do not go all over the place, and to help you always stay on track. We can’t have you wanting a southern look and then be motivated by an unexpected sale to buy an oriental lamp, do we? 

 

  • Canvas the materials you need. Before you go shopping, look around different place where you think you can buy the items you need. There are many inspirational stores like Celadon, Bird Hardware, & GDC that have been design staples locals have relied on for years. Find out which gives the cheaper price or which ones will be having a sale soon. Try to figure out as well which outlet would be a more credible vendor that the others. The last thing you want is to be scammed of your budget for your dream house. 

 

 

  • Set the budget. It is always important to set a budget when making home decoration projects. Let’s face it, shopping has a way of making you think you can go overboard, especially if you believe you got a lot of your items on a “steal” either because they were on sale or you are good at haggling. Setting the budget will force you to prioritize and keep you from spur of the moment buys that you will more than likely regret later. 

 

  • Make the plans. Plan everything before setting the project to motion. This will give you a timeline or a sort of “to do” list to go over from time to time. A practice that will save you from disastrous mistakes along the way. You will be able to track your progress using your plans as well, which would then help you which task have been accomplished and which ones need to be hastened. This is also the stage when you decide whether or not you are going to hire a professional or you trust yourself to be on your own on this.

 

 

Truth About First Time Home Buyer Mortgage Loans Charleston SC

First time home buyer loans charleston sc 

There is NO SUCH THING AS A “FIRST TIME HOME BUYER LOAN”

 

Caught you off guard huh… Well it is the truth. If you are looking around for the ever present “first time home buyer loan”, then stop wasting your time because you’ll be looking around for ever. There is no such thing. 

After having spent over 13 years here the Charleston SC area in the mortgage business as owner and founder of a wholesale mortgage company I should know. If you hear anything about these types of mortgages it’s simply a marketing ploy by mortgage companies to intrigue prospective first time buyers into calling them. Then telling you they have a “deal” for first time home buyers. The actual fact is that it is usually much harder for people who have never owned before, to get a mortgage for their first home. Simply because most people who have never owned a home haven’t established much credit history, savings, or job history to have purchased. Thus their credit profile as it were isn’t established enough to make a bank or mortgage lender, underwriter feel confident they know the commitment it takes to being a home owner. 

With the exception of private money not lent by a traditional Federally regulated institution like a bank, credit union, or federally chartered mortgage lending company there are really only a few loans that exist on the market today. Unlike the days of 2000-2006 when there were many different kinds of loans with even more types of terms. What is out there now since the tightening of credit is: Conventional (conforming) loans, government backed loans (FHA, VA, & USDA), and very occasionally state backed mortgage loans. At one point the state of S.C. did have sort of a first time home buyer mortgage loan for what they called “home town heros”. These were specially priced loans with looser requirements, and grant money assistance that was created to give a helping hand to those who served the public like: fire fighters, police officers, teachers, EMS, EMTs, & public safety officers etc. However, that loan is no longer being offered as of now, and there is no word if it will return. 

Mortgage Application

 

Getting approved for a mortgage loan is sort of a simple thing. Have great credit, have a stable job and/or stable income for at least minimum of 2 years, and save up as much money as you can. PERIOD. That’s really all you need. For more tips on buying your first home click here

Charleston SC Mortgages

 

 

Latest Charleston SC Real Estate Market News

As the first quarter of 2014 comes to an end soon the Charleston South Carolina real estate market conditions have gone much like the rest of the country. It’s puttering along, not down, but not booming like it was through a lot of 2013. As most of the country has experienced things have more or less leveled off as compared to even a few months ago. As the cliche’ goes location location location still rules the day. If you are a seller and have a home in an area with limited inventory like Mount Pleasant, finding a home that is adequate and under $300,000 has become difficult. If you question my opinion in there being a slow down, the proof is in the pudding as they say. According to Bloomberg News: Wells Fargo Bank, the biggest U.S. home lender, plans to eliminate 700 more jobs from its mortgage business as demand for buying has waned. The company reported applications fell 25 percent from the third quarter and un-closed loans dropped 29 percent to $25 billion. Real Estate Conditions Charleston SCHere locally, the Charleston SC tri-county real estate market absorption rate of home purchases is down year over year from 6.7% in Jan 2013 to 5.1% in Jan of 2014. However, the average sales price is up in the Charleston SC area 11.2% from last year, primarily due to a restricted available inventory. New home construction in Charleston SC – housing report showed new home sales increased 9.6% to a higher-than-expected seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 in January, from an upwardly revised 427,000 in December as an average nationally.