Are you currently buying or selling a home in the Greenville, SC area? Local REALTOR®, Elizabeth Faulkner and mortgage lender, Andrew Evans, are here to demystify common real estate selling and buying myths. Thank you to Elizabeth Faulkner for sponsoring this article!
Myth #1: Looking for a house is the first step of the home buying process.
Starting the process by “just browsing” could be setting yourself up for heartbreak. Before you go looking for (and falling in love with) a home you need to:
- have a realistic idea of what you can afford.
- make sure your credit is in good shape.
- get pre-qualified for a mortgage.
- possibly most importantly, find a great Realtor to work with.
I can help you with that last one, I’m that great Realtor! I also have great local lender connections. Making those connections is the real first step of buying a home.
Myth #2: Buying a house requires a 20% down payment.
There are a wide variety of home loan options available to home buyers today. While some loans do indeed require a 20% down payment, others require very little money down. A good lender can explain the different types of loans to you and help you choose the one that will best fit your needs.
A few loan highlights from Andrew Evans, a local lender who has helped many of my previous clients:
- Conventional loans require as little as 3% down.
- FHA loans require as little as 3.50% down payment.
- VA loans are 100% financing so no down payment is required.
- USDA loans are 100% financing so no down payment is required.
Keep in mind that the lowest interest rate isn’t always the best for your particular needs. Yes, a higher interest rate means a larger monthly payment. But it’s not that simple. What kind of loan you should consider depends on many factors.
How long do you plan to stay in the home? How much cash do you have to put down? Where is the home that you’re considering buying located?
The point is, when you’re considering buying a home, a mortgage lender should be one of the first calls you make. They will provide you with all the mortgage options available so you, as a buyer, are able to make an informed decision. And when you’re ready to speak with a mortgage lender, I know who to connect you with to help you get the right answers. Working with me means: my connections are your connections!
Myth #3: If you don’t have children, the schools don’t matter.
Unless you know with 100% certainty that you are buying your forever home, you should always take the quality of the schools into consideration. A house with good schools close by will have a greater resell value because, for many homebuyers, great schools are high on their priorities list. But good schools is far from being the ONLY important criteria when you’re shopping for a home.
Here are a few of the factors to keep in mind when hunting for a home:
- Location, location, location — This is a biggie for lots of great reasons. Is there a work location you plan to drive to regularly? A long commute to work is often a deal breaker in a home search! What else is important to you and your daily routine? Consider the distance to all the important people and places in your life when you’re house hunting. Maybe you want to be within 5 minutes of your in-laws or church. Be very specific on where you want to live when you begin your search!
- Size matters — Is the house the right size? Even if your family could make it work for the time being, what does your future look like? Is your family growing? Unless this is a home you don’t plan to be in very long, make sure you’re hunting for a house that will fit your family in a year or two years or five years.
- Think long term – If you expect to be in a home for many years, make sure the home functions well for your needs today and for years to come. Items on your must-have list may be things you couldn’t care less about in 3 years. For example, sending your 2 year old upstairs to play in the bonus room feels impossible right now but before you know it, that room will be invaluable! And, yes, having a master on the 2nd floor is great when kids are little. However, we are all getting older. One day you may wish you didn’t have to climb steps on repeat because your bedroom isn’t on the main level of your home.
- The neighborhood — No matter how much you love a house, the neighborhood (or lack thereof) matters. If you have kids and want an active neighborhood full of amenities like a pool, tennis courts and playgrounds, let your Realtor know this. If you absolutely hate HOAs, you need to be sure you’re only looking at homes without a homeowners association. It won’t matter how perfect your home is if the neighborhood was never the right fit. And no one wants to go through this process all over again because they picked the wrong house the first time!
Myth #4: You don’t need a home inspection.
Even now, with mortgage interest rates on the rise, the housing market is still hot. We are seeing low levels of inventory and lots of buyers. Which means, fewer homes for buyers to choose from and more buyers to compete with. Given the market we are in, you may find your dream home and be tempted to skip inspections. Because, yes, that dream home could potentially be sold to another buyer who was indeed willing to skip the home inspection. But I urge you not to waive the home inspection, even if it means you lose out on what you thought was the perfect home. Do you really want to find out two weeks after closing on a home that the roof is leaking or there is a structural issue in the crawlspace? Take the time and spend the money for a thorough home inspection, your future self will thank you.
Myth #5: Selling your home yourself will save you money.
Selling a home is no easy task. It takes expertise, skills, and so much time. I’m not saying it’s impossible to sell a home on your own, and while upfront it may sound appealing to save some cash on real estate fees, but there is a lot to consider.
Here are a few factors to think about before trying to sell a home on your own:
- Your home needs to be in the MLS — If your home isn’t listed in the MLS, buyer’s agents may not be aware of your home. After all, the local MLS is the resource most used by buyer’s agents when hunting for a home.
- Price your home correctly — A real estate expert is the most knowledgeable source on the local market and the best bet for pricing your home accurately. In fact, FSBO (for sale by owner) homes tend to sell for less than real estate agent assisted homes. Often times, the lower price of an FSBO house negates the savings by not hiring a Realtor.
- Making an error could get you sued — Selling a home involves lots of paperwork and legality. Unless you’re a lawyer, a real estate agent most likely knows more about laws regarding real estate than you do. Making a mistake when selling a home FSBO can cost you greatly. Do real estate agents make mistakes? Of course! But they have professional Errors & Omissions Insurance to protect them when a mistake is made, meaning the buyer has recourse without going after the seller.
There are so many reasons to not sell a home FSBO; too many to mention here! Bottom line, buying or selling a home is most likely the biggest transaction you’ll ever make. Why would you do that without professional representation?
Myth #6: Home values listed online are accurate.
There is no shortage of online tools that will help you calculate the value of your home. But it’s important to keep in mind that pricing your home is more complicated than an online tool can calculate. Consider the pricing you see online as a ballpark based on other homes nearby. There are a whole host of things an online valuation cannot take into account. What upgrades did you just put into your home? Buyers place a lot of value on certain upgrades, like kitchens and bathrooms, but your zestimate won’t necessarily reflect that. Online home valuations are often calculated using inaccurate or outdated comps, which can also throw off the home value amount you receive.
Bottom line, online home values are just estimates. Before deciding what your house may actually sell for in today’s market, you need to speak with a real estate professional. If you’re looking for the hard facts, I am happy to determine the true value of your home.
Myth #7: Real Estate works the same in every state.
Unfortunately, this is the myth I run into the most. Many homebuyers in the Upstate of South Carolina are moving here from other parts of the country. And though they may have bought or sold a home in another state, the process of buying a home in SC is often very different from their past experiences.
For example, while in South Carolina due diligence fees are only paid if a buyer backs out of a contract, in other states these fees are paid up front and non-refundable. Did you know that some states require real estate purchases to be closed by an attorney while in other states, real estate can be closed by an escrow agent or lender?
My point? Before you dive headfirst into the real estate market, get your local team of experts in place. Be sure you enlist the help of qualified professionals who are well versed in their field of expertise and can guide you through your real estate purchase in South Carolina!
Elizabeth Faulkner, local realtor, takes great pride in working hard and providing top-notch service to her clients. Her goal is to make the buying and selling process a smooth one for each and every client she serves!