Ready To Buy A Home?
We can help. We’ve done this thousands of times. Most home buyers need help in two general areas – access to information and assistance with the process. We provide our clients with both – up to the minute information and guidance through every step of the home buying process.
So what do we offer you?
Access to the best and latest information
We know that you can conduct your own home searches online and check Zillow and other sources for information, and we encourage you to do that. But have you ever wondered why some of the most desirable homes seem to sell before they appear online or before there is even a sign in the yard? That happens when a real estate professional connects a buyer to a home that is a perfect match often before that home appears on the internet. You need to know about great homes the minute they hit the market, and when possible, even before they hit the market. The online sources you may use can often lag days behind. Don’t miss out on your perfect home because no one was looking out for you.
The most current and relevant market data
You will also need accurate information on comparable home sales to craft a competitive offer. I have yet to see an online tool that has walked through the recent sales in a neighborhood to compare the structure, condition, and finishes of comparable homes. That is what we do every day. We will share that knowledge with you.
Experienced professionals to work with you throughout the buying process
Making an offer is an important step in the real estate buying process – determining how much to offer, and the true value of the home are critical to getting you a great home at a fair price. Making an offer, however, is only the first step. You will likely want home inspectors, pest inspectors, heating and air inspectors, finance assistance, and legal assistance to name just a few of the steps between offer and closing. We will be by your side and guide you through every step of that process. As we said, we’ve done this thousands of times. Let our experience work for you.
Many people do not understand agency relationships in real estate. As a buyer in South Carolina, you may choose to be represented by an agent. Buyer Agency is the most popular form of representation, and you can enjoy the full range of benefits often at no cost to you. In the vast majority of transactions where an agent represents the buyer, the agent is paid by the seller, through the seller’s agent. The State of South Carolina requires that an agreement between the agent and the client be in written form. This form is called a Buyer Agency Agreement. Once completed and signed, we will have officially entered into a client relationship. At that point, we will be able to negotiate on your behalf and offer you client level services that work in your favor throughout the transaction. SC Agency Law also allows Dual Agency Representation. Dual Agency occurs if a single real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller. State Law prohibits the agent from sharing any confidential information among the parties, including whether a seller will sell beneath list price or if a buyer will go higher than their initial offer. An additional document signed by both parties involved is required by the state for this type of agency relationship.
Looking for your home
Jill’s thirty-plus years of experience in Columbia’s real estate market ensures an unparalleled home search experience for you, taking into account finding a home that suits your needs as well as resale. Our state-of-the-art website allows Jill to create a personalized, up-to-the-minute home search for even the smallest detail in what you are looking for in a home, drawing from the latest databases in Columbia and beyond. Jill is also a member of Charleston Trident MLS and sells homes in the Lowcountry through our Edisto Island office. Have a friend or family member who needs a talented agent to help anything in the USA or abroad? As a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, Jill can connect your loved one with an expert agent to help them regardless of location.
Home Advantage Realty uses the latest technology to help make your home search and necessary paperwork a breeze. Our website allows you to interact with your own search to include requesting showings, asking questions, marking favorites, and searching by map area. Our priority is helping you find your new home, and we return phone calls promptly even on the weekend.
Lenders and Financing
It’s always best to pre-qualify for a mortgage so you know exactly how much a financial institution would be willing to lend you. A lender can help you determine exactly what you can afford and also provide you with a pre-approval letter free of charge. Being pre-approved for a mortgage can give you a distinct advantage during the offer process, especially if multiple buyers are competing for the same house. Keep in mind that a low interest rate isn’t the only basis on which to evaluate a loan. You should consider the terms of the mortgage, what your closing costs will be, and the reputation of the lender. We can provide information on reputable local lenders that we trust to get you closed on time and with minimal frustration so you can avoid being lost in the sea of big banks.
Writing an Offer
Once we find a home you want to consider buying, we research up to the minute data that includes how a home you have interest in stacks up against the competition along with recent pending and closed sales. This data, combined with Jill’s decades of experience in the Columbia market, helps to determine an appropriate and strategic offer price. We know about other home sales in the area, not just the sales price but the condition of the home, the size of the yard, all of the little things that can have a big impact on why a home sold for the price it did. Jill provides every buyer with market data and a standard, detailed contract developed by the local Realtor’s Association. This contract offers protection for the buyer and sets forth the offer price, loan type, details on closing costs, how the deed should be recorded, closing date, expiration of the offer, and any other special terms. Submitting an offer requires earnest money. Earnest money is paid up front by the prospective buyer to show the seller that the buyer is serious about purchasing the property. This deposit will be credited to you at closing. In general, we recommend 1% of the approximate purchase price as a range for earnest money. We will explain the timelines set forth in the contract for inspections, loan qualification, and other steps in the process.
What happens once I sign my offer?
We will submit your offer to the seller or seller’s agent as soon as possible and wait for a response. This response could be to accept the offer, counter the offer, or reject the offer outright. The parties may make rounds of counters depending on the distance between the parties. We will be there every step of the way to provide counsel and insight into the process. Once both you and the seller agree to all the terms of the contract, the contract is considered ratified, and you are ready to move into the next phase of the process!
What happens once the contract is finalized?
An investment of any size should always include a professional inspection, and nowhere is this more true than in the purchase of real estate. After a contract is signed by both parties, you have a 10 business day due diligence period to have the property inspected by professionals. You should make every effort to attend your inspections to ensure you have a complete understanding of the reports. We have a list of reputable inspectors we will provide to you though you are welcome to use any licensed home inspector of your choosing. We typically recommend having a general home inspection, a heating and cooling system inspection, and a termite inspection. Jill and her team will help coordinate the inspectors and review their reports with you. The pricing, on average, for all three inspections can range from $500 to $750 for homes of up to 2000 square feet. Inspections are a buyer’s expense and are paid at the time of inspection. Termite inspection letters are only considered current within thirty days of closing. Since most inspections and closings are beyond that thirty-day window, termite companies typically charge an additional fee for a re-inspection. After we have received the reports, we will discuss the issues that are most important to you as the future owner. We can then collaborate with you to write a repair request that will be given to the seller. From this point, repairs will be negotiated, and the seller can say yes to your requests, no to your requests, or possibly some combination. The seller will typically provide receipts for all of the repairs made prior to closing. You as the buyer do have the right to a re-inspection by your home inspector once the repairs are completed. The re-inspection does have to be booked in advance, and there is typically a charge. Once all the repairs and terms of the contract have been agreed upon, your next job is to stay in touch with your lender and make sure they have all the information they need. It is important that all the paperwork is in good order so the loan will be ready in time for closing.
Once your lender sends the loan package to your closing attorney, the attorney will begin to prepare a Closing Disclosure. This statement itemizes the funds that are payable at closing, including loan costs, buyer expenses, seller expenses, and escrow amounts. The CD statement can sometimes be overwhelming, but we are happy to answer questions. The closing attorney should also go over the statement in detail at the closing. The Closing Disclosure provides a summary of the seller’s net proceeds and expenses as well as the buyer’s expenses including the exact amount you will need to bring to closing. We will do our best to make sure you have the amount to bring as quickly as possible so that you will have time to get your funds in order. For these funds, you will need either to wire the funds into the closing attorney’s bank account or bring a certified cashier’s check to the closing. Personal checks are NOT accepted in real estate closings. Caution: do not send a wire to anyone without first confirming the wiring instructions via a phone call to the attorney’s office. On the day of closing, we will arrange to do a walk-through of the house. At the closing, the attorney will go over the Closing Disclosure, and review the terms of the contract. Depending on whether you are paying with cash or obtaining a mortgage, the closing normally takes around an hour. After all the final signatures are completed, you will be the proud owner of a new house, and walk away with the keys. We don’t consider our job over after closing! We are always here to help in any way we can. We encourage you to continue to use us as resources for reputable contractors as you settle into your new home!
Have any questions?
Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.