Buying a home isn’t easy. There are a million factors that go into it, from your initial search to working with your agent and securing a loan.
Fortunately, you’ve made the smartest decision already: you’re looking to buy somewhere in the Hilton Head Island and Bluffton area. Congratulations! You’re about to join one of the most dynamic communities in the world, amid a wonderland of natural beauty, world-class amenities and Southern charm.
It’s the rest of the decisions, however, where things can get tricky. As always, we’re here to help. We asked Charter One agent Vince Harrison about some of the common mistakes he sees, and present them here to help guide you through this process with ease.
DO Take a Focused Approach
Because of the many beautiful neighborhoods on island and off, it can seem like anyone looking for a home is going to have a wealth of attractive options. And while this is a fantastic problem to have, it can still be a problem. Particularly if you employ a “shotgun” method of narrowing down your search.
Instead, Harrison suggests a more focused approach starting with a wide net and narrowing down.
“Identify the neighborhood you want first. Identify houses within that neighborhood second,” he said. At that point, he advises, “Execute offers on homes of interest.”
DON’T Confuse HGTV With Real Life
The modern proliferation of television shows devoted to real estate have raised the profile of the entire industry, giving TV viewers insights into many of the tricks of the trade realtors use to get you into the best possible home for the best possible price. Not to shock you, but it turns out reality TV may not accurately reflect reality.
“Everybody watches HGTV, and they always ask what’s the price per square foot for this or for that because they hear it on ‘Million Dollar Listing New York,’” he said. “It matters, it’s definitely a factor you need to pay attention to, but it’s not the end all be all.”
In addition to crunching the numbers on size, look at comps in the neighborhood, the amenities and upgrades within the home and factors such as school zoning to determine the value of a home. And if you’re looking to purchase a property as an investment, make sure you’ve done your research beyond filling your DVR with house flipping shows.
“People go into a situation because they’ve been watching Flipping Vegas and they think they can come in and do the work… They have no idea how it costs, because on TV they just see a lump sum.”
If you are looking to flip a house, Harrison suggests focusing on areas like flooring and materials rather than cosmetic improvements like paint and curtains.
DO Go Local When It Comes To Your Lender
These days, online lenders have made it easier than ever to secure a mortgage. But the unique nature of our coastal community requires a lender with a knowledge rooted in the Lowcountry, meaning that quick as a rocket loan might not wind out being your best option.
“Online lenders and out of state lenders simply don’t understand the coastal market most of the time. They don’t understand our specific market,” said Harrison, pointing out that local lenders know exactly who to approach in regards to wind and hail insurance, flood insurance and all the other extra necessities that come with living in the Lowcountry.
“I’ve had clients run into trouble dealing with online or out of state lenders where we’ve had to jump through ten extra hoops. Most of the time they ended up switching to a local lender.”
Harrison recommends that buyers looking to purchase in the area meet with a local lender before they even begin shopping, so they can walk into negotiations with a crystal-clear picture of their buying power.
DON’T Let Emotions Get in The Way
Many times, buying a home is as simple as spotting that gorgeous property you’ve always dreamed of, letting your real estate professional go to work, then collecting the keys.
But as with anything, complications can arise. And when they do, it’s important you keep make decisions with your head and not your heart. “No one can make a good deal if they aren’t willing to walk away from any deal,” said Harrison.
The emotional attachment to a property is natural, especially if there have been tough negotiations – it’s your dream home and you’ve already put in a lot of work. “The emotions usually come into play after you’ve negotiated the price and have done inspections,” said Harrison. “Everyone gets to breath because it’s under contract. But it’s not sold yet.”
Just trust in your real estate professional, and know that your dreams of Lowcountry living are just around the corner.