My Weekly "Favorite" BLOG based on Realtor Tours, Central, North & South

Thank you for visiting my blog! This weekly blog is not intended to promote my listings or those of my Firm, Sea Pines Real Estate Beach Club. We market those very well. Instead, the purpose of this blog is to give you insight to my one pick of what I think is the “favorite” from the choice of homes on the weekly home tour. I will try and guide you through my process and thoughts to my pick.

The home tour is designed to introduce the real estate agents of the new homes on the market. The tours are broken down to North, Mid-Island and South Island. My “favorite" is not based on any particular criteria. It is simply and usually, my professional choice of the “favorite” in this week’s offerings. However, as I am human, sometimes emotions take over and I just like a house.  I take the community, location, price, size, view, condition and other variables into each evaluation. 

Feel free to contact me, Your Hilton Head Agent, or your own agent for information on any homes or villas on the weekly tour or on the island. I look forward to hearing from you!

See you at the beach, bike path, ocean or golf course! :) 

Susan

April 14, 2021

Can I buy of sell a home without a real estate agent?

Can I Buy or Sell a Home Without a Real Estate Agent?

 

Today’s real estate market is one of the fastest-moving in recent memory. With record-low inventory in many market segments, we’re seeing multiple offers—and sometimes even bidding wars—for homes in the most sought-after neighborhoods. This has led some sellers to question the need for an agent. After all, why spend money on a listing agent when it seems that you can stick a For Sale sign in the yard then watch a line form around the block?

 

Some buyers may also believe they’d be better off purchasing a property without an agent. For those seeking a competitive edge, proceeding without a buyer’s agent may seem like a good way to stand out from the competition—and maybe even score a discount. Since the seller pays the buyer agent’s commission, wouldn’t a do-it-yourself purchase sweeten the offer?

 

We all like to save money. However, when it comes to your largest financial asset, forgoing professional representation may not always be in your best interest. Find out whether the benefits outweigh the risks (and considerable time and effort) of selling or buying a home on your own—so you can head to the closing table with confidence.

 

 

SELLING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT 

Most homeowners who choose to sell their home without any professional assistance opt for a traditional “For Sale By Owner” or a direct sale to an investor, such as an iBuyer. Here’s what you can expect from either of these options.

 

For Sale By Owner (FSBO)

For sale by owner or FSBO (pronounced fizz-bo) offers sellers the opportunity to price their own home and handle their own transaction, showing the home and negotiating directly with the buyer or his or her real estate agent. According to data compiled by the National Association of Realtors, approximately 8% of homes are sold by their owner.1

 

In an active, low inventory real estate market, it may seem like a no-brainer to sell your home yourself. After all, there are plenty of buyers out there and one of them is bound to be interested in your home. In addition, you’ll save money on the listing agent’s commission and have more control over the way the home is priced and marketed.

 

One of the biggest problems FSBOs run into, however, is pricing the home appropriately. Without access to information about the comparable properties in your area, you could end up overpricing your home (causing it to languish on the market) or underpricing your home (leaving thousands of dollars on the table).2

 

Even during last year’s strong seller’s market, the median sales price for FSBOs was 10% less than the median price of homes sold with the help of a real estate agent.1 And during a more balanced market, like the one we experienced in 2018, FSBO homes sold for 24% (or $60,000) less than agent-represented properties.3 This suggests that, while you may think that you’ll price and market your home more effectively yourself, in fact you may end up losing far more than the amount you would pay for an agent’s assistance.

 

Without the services of a real estate professional, it will be up to you to get people in the door. You’ll need to gather information for the online listing and put together the kind of marketing that today’s buyers expect to see. This includes bringing in a professional photographer, writing the listing description, and designing marketing collateral like flyers and mailers—or hiring a writer and graphic designer to do so.

 

Once someone is interested, you’ll need to offer virtual showings and develop a COVID safety protocol. You’ll then need to schedule an in-person showing (or in some cases, two or three) for each potential buyer. In addition, you’ll be on your own when evaluating offers and determining their financial viability. You’ll need to thoroughly understand all legal contracts and contingencies and discuss terms, including those regarding the home inspection and closing process. 

 

While you’re doing all of this work, it’s likely that you’ll still need to pay the buyer agent’s commission. So be sure to weigh your potential savings against the significant risk and effort involved. 

 

If you choose to work with a listing agent, you’ll save significant time and effort while minimizing your personal risk and liability. And the increased profits realized through a more effective marketing and negotiation strategy could more than make up for the cost of your agent’s commission.

 

iBuyer

iBuyers have been on the scene since around 2015, providing sellers the option of a direct purchase from a real estate investment company rather than a traditional direct-to-consumer sales process.4 iBuyer companies tout their convenience and speed, with a reliable, streamlined process that may be attractive to some sellers.

 

The idea is that instead of listing the home on the open market, the homeowner completes an online form with information about the property’s location and features, then waits for an offer from the company. The iBuyer is looking for a home in good condition that’s located in a good neighborhood—one that’s easy to flip and falls within the company’s algorithm.

 

For sellers who are more focused on speed and convenience, an iBuyer may offer an attractive alternative to a traditional real estate sale. That’s because iBuyers evaluate a property quickly and make an upfront offer without requesting repairs or other accommodations. 

 

However, sellers will pay for that convenience with, generally, a far lower sale price than the market will provide as well as fees that can add up to as much or more than a traditional real estate agent’s commission. According to a study conducted by MarketWatch, iBuyers netted, on average, 11% less than a traditional sale when both the lower price and fees are considered.5 Other studies found some iBuyers charging as much as 15% in fees and associated costs, far more than you’ll pay for a real estate agent’s commission.6

 

In a hot market, this can mean leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table since you won’t be able to negotiate and you’ll lose out on rising home prices caused by low inventory and increased demand. In addition, iBuyers are demonstrably less reliable during times of economic uncertainty, as evidenced by the halt of operations for most iBuyer platforms in early 2020.6 As a seller, the last thing you want is to start down the road of iBuying only to find out that a corporate mandate is stopping your transaction in its tracks.

 

If you choose to work with a real estate agent, you can still explore iBuyers as an option. That way you can take advantage of the added convenience of a fast sale while still enjoying the protection and security of having a professional negotiating on your behalf.

 

 

BUYING YOUR HOME WITHOUT AN AGENT

 

According to the most recent statistics, 88% of home buyers use a real estate agent when conducting their home search.1 A buyer’s agent is with you every step of the way through the home buying process. From finding the perfect home to submitting a winning offer to navigating the inspection and closing processes, most homebuyers find their expertise and guidance invaluable. And the best part is that, because they are compensated through a commission paid by the homeowner at closing, most agents provide these services at no cost to you!

 

Still, you may be considering negotiating your home purchase directly with the seller or listing agent, especially if you are accustomed to deal-making as part of your job. And if you are familiar with the neighborhood where you are searching, you may feel that there is no reason to get a buyer’s agent involved.

 

However, putting together a winning offer package can be challenging. This is especially true in a multiple-offer situation where you’ll be competing against buyers whose offers are carefully crafted to maximize their appeal. And the homebuying process can get emotional. A trusted agent can help you avoid overpaying for a property or glossing over “red flags” in your inspection. In addition, buyer agents offer a streamlined, professional process that listing agents may be more likely to recommend to their clients.

If you decide to forego an agent, you’ll have to write, submit, and negotiate a competitive offer all on your own. You’ll also need to schedule an inspection and negotiate repairs. You’ll be responsible for reviewing and preparing all necessary documents, and you will need to be in constant communication with the seller’s agent and your lender, inspector, appraiser, title company, and other related parties along the way.

Or, you could choose to work with a buyer’s agent whose commission is paid by the seller and costs you nothing out of pocket. In exchange, you’ll obtain fiduciary-level guidance on one of the most important financial transactions of your life. If you decide to go it alone, you’ll be playing fast and loose with what is, for most people, their most important and consequential financial decision.

 

 

SO, IS A REAL ESTATE AGENT RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

It is important for you to understand your options and think through your preferences when considering whether or not to work with a real estate professional. If you are experienced in real estate transactions and legal contracts, comfortable negotiating under high-stakes circumstances, and have plenty of extra time on your hands, you may find that an iBuyer or FSBO sale works for you. 

 

However, if, like most people, you value expert guidance and would like an experienced professional to manage the process, you will probably experience far more peace of mind and security in working with a real estate agent or broker. 

 

A real estate agent’s comprehensive suite of services and expert negotiation skills can benefit buyers and sellers financially, as well. On average, sellers who utilize an agent walk away with more money than those who choose the FSBO or iBuyer route.3,5 And buyers pay nothing out of pocket for expert representation that can help them avoid expensive mistakes all along the way from contract to closing.

 

According to NAR’s profile, the vast majority of buyers (91%) and sellers (89%) are thrilled with their real estate professional’s representation and would recommend them to others.1 That’s why, in terms of time, money, and expertise, most buyers and sellers find the assistance of a real estate agent essential and invaluable.

 

 

QUESTIONS ABOUT BUYING OR SELLING? WE HAVE ANSWERS

 

The best way to find out whether you need a real estate agent or broker is to speak with one. We’re here to help and to offer the insights you need to make better-informed decisions. Let’s talk about the value-added services we provide when we help you buy or sell in today’s competitive real estate landscape.

 

 

Sources:

1.     National Association of REALTORS -
https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights-from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers

2.     Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/12/09/factors-consider-when-determining-whether-use-an-agent-buy-or-sell-home/

3.     National Association of REALTORS -
https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/selling-your-home-solo-to-save-money-you-ll-actually-make-less-than-you-think

4.     Seattle Times -
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/redfin-is-first-major-ibuyer-to-sell-in-seattle

5.     MarketWatch -
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/selling-your-home-to-an-ibuyer-could-cost-you-thousands-heres-why-2019-06-11

6.     Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nataliakarayaneva/2020/03/19/billion-dollar-real-estate-businesses-ibuyer-suspended/?sh=c7f59f921747

 

March 1, 2021

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

Is the Real Estate Market Going to Crash?

 

 

While many areas of the economy have contracted, the housing market has stayed remarkably strong. But can the good news last?

When COVID-related shutdowns began in March, real estate brokers and clients scrambled to respond to the shift. Record-low interest rates caused some lenders to call a halt to new underwriting, and homeowners debated whether or not to put their houses on the market. However, those first days of uncertainty ushered in a period of unprecedented demand in the U.S. real estate market, which ended the year with increasing average home prices (up 13.4% from the previous year) and shrinking days on market (13 fewer than in 2019).1

 

Now, as the spring market approaches, you may be wondering whether the good times can continue to roll on. If you’re a homeowner, should you take advantage of this opportunity? If you’re a buyer, should you jump in and risk paying too much? Below we answer some of your most pressing questions.

 

 

How is today’s market different from the one that caused the 2008 meltdown?

 

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of an economic recession and an ensuing mortgage meltdown were top of mind for homeowners all across the country. For many buyers and sellers, the two seemed to go hand in hand, just as they did in the 2008 economic crisis.

 

In reality, however, the conditions that led to 2008’s recession were very different from those that triggered the current downturn—and this time, the housing market is the source of much of the good news.2 This is in line with historical patterns, as housing prices traditionally hold steady in the face of recession, with homeowners staying put and investors putting their money into bricks and mortar to ride out uncertainty in the stock market. 

 

This time around, because of lessons learned in 2008, banks are better funded, homeowners are holding more accrued equity, and, crucially, much of the economic activity is focused on financial factors outside the housing market. As many industries quickly pivoted to work-from-home, early fears of widespread job loss-related foreclosures have failed to materialize. Federal stimulus payments and the Paycheck Protection Program also helped to offset some of the worst early effects of the shutdown.

 

 

Are we facing a real estate bubble?

 

A real estate bubble can occur when there is a rapid and unjustified increase in housing prices, often triggered by speculation from investors. Because the bubble is (in a sense) filled with “hot air,” it pops—and a swift drop in value occurs. This leads to reduced equity or, in some cases, negative equity conditions.

 

By contrast, the current rise in home prices is based on the predictable results of historically low interest rates and widespread low inventory. Basically, the principle of supply and demand is working just as it’s supposed to do. In addition, experts predict a strong seller’s market throughout 2021 along with increases in new construction.3 This should allow supply to gradually rise and fulfill demand, slowing the rate of inflation for home values and offering a gentle correction where needed.

Effects of low interest rates

According to Freddie Mac, rates are projected to continue at their current low levels throughout 2021.4 This contributes to home affordability even in markets where homes might otherwise be considered overpriced. These low interest rates should keep the market lively and moving forward for the foreseeable future.

Effects of low inventory

Continuing low inventory is another reason for higher-than-average home prices in many markets.5 This should gradually ease as an aggressive vaccination rollout and continuing buyer demand drive more homeowners to move forward with long-delayed sales plans and as new home construction increases to meet demand.6

 

 

Aren’t some markets and sectors looking particularly weak?

 

One of the big stories of 2020 was a mass exodus from attached home communities and high-priced urban areas as both young professionals and families fled to the larger square footage and wide-open spaces of suburban and rural markets. This trend was reinforced by work-from-home policies that became permanent at some of the country’s biggest companies.

 

Speculation then turned to the death of cities and the end of the condo market. However, it appears that rumors of the demise of these two residential sectors have been greatly exaggerated. 

 

With the first vaccine rollouts, renters have begun returning to major urban centers, attracted by the sudden rise in available inventory and newly discounted rental rates.7 In addition, buyers who were previously laser-focused on a single-family home responded to tight inventory by taking a second look at condos.8 While nationwide condo prices continue to lag behind those of detached homes, they’ve still seen significant price increases and days on market reductions year over year.

 

In addition to these improvements, the 2020 migration has spread the economic wealth to distant suburban and rural enclaves that normally don’t benefit from increases in home values or an influx of new investment. As many of these new residents set up housekeeping in their rural retreats, they’ll revitalize the economies of their adopted communities for years to come.

 

 

How has COVID affected the “seasonal” real estate market?

 

Frequently, the real estate market is seen as a seasonal phenomenon. However, the widespread shutdowns in March 2020, coming right at the beginning of the market’s growth cycle in many areas, has led to a protracted, seemingly endless “hot spring market.”

 

While Fannie Mae’s chief economist Douglas Duncan predicts slower growth from 2020’s historic numbers, the outlook overall is positive as we embark on the 2021 spring selling cycle.9 Duncan anticipates an additional lift in the second half of 2021 as buyers return to business as usual and look to put some of their pandemic savings to work for a down payment. Thus we could be looking at another longer-than-usual, white-hot real estate market.

 

 

How will a Biden administration affect the real estate market?

 

Projected policy around housing promises to be a boost to the real estate market in many cases.10 While some real estate investors bemoan proposed changes to 1031 Exchanges, the Biden plan for a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit aims to increase affordability and bring eager new home buyers into the market. In addition, Biden-proposed policy pinpoints low inventory as a primary driver of unsustainable home values and is geared toward more affordability through investments in construction and refurbishment.

 

Overall, according to most indicators, the real estate news looks overwhelmingly positive throughout the rest of 2021 and possibly beyond. Pent-up demand and consumer-driven policies, along with a continued low-interest-rate environment and rising inventory, should help homeowners hold on to their increased equity without throwing the market out of balance. In addition, the increase in long-term work-from-home policies promises to give a boost to a wide variety of markets, both now and in the years to come.  

 

 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand what’s happening in your neighborhood. Reach out to learn how these larger movements affect our local market and your home’s value. 

 

 

Sources:

1.     Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/research/december-2020-data/

2.     New York Magazine - 
https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/why-this-economic-crisis-wont-be-as-bad-as-2008.html

3.     Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/11/2021-housing-market-predictions/

4.     Freddie Mac -
http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20210114_quarterly_economic_forecast.page?

5.     Wall Street Journal -
https://www.wsj.com/articles/housing-market-stays-tight-as-homeowners-stay-put-11611226802?mod=re_lead_pos1

6.     Marketwatch -
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-construction-activity-soars-to-highest-level-in-over-a-decade-as-builders-rush-to-produce-single-family-homes-2021-01-21

7.     Forbes -
https://www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2021/01/14/signs-of-a-rebound-new-york-city-rent-prices-are-climbing-back

8.     Washington Post -
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/07/condo-sales-rebound-amid-dwindling-inventory-houses/

9.     Mortgage Professional America -
https://www.mpamag.com/news/fannie-mae-chief-economists-forecast-for-us-economy-housing-market-in-2021-244045.aspx

10.   Inman -
https://www.inman.com/2020/11/09/what-a-joe-biden-presidency-means-for-real-estate-and-housing/

Feb. 1, 2021

5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodeling Trends for 2021

 5 Inspiring Home Design and Remodeling Trends for 2021

 

 

We’ve all spent a lot more time at home over the past year. And for many of us, our homes have become our office, our classroom, our gym—and most importantly, our safe haven during times of uncertainty. So it’s no surprise to see that design trends for 2021 revolve around soothing color palettes, cozy characterand quiet retreats.

 

Even if you don’t have immediate plans to buy or sell your home, we advise our clients to be mindful of modern design preferences when planning a remodel or even redecorating. Over-personalized or unpopular renovations could lower your property’s value. And selecting out-of-style fixtures and finishes could cause your home to feel dated quickly.

 

To help inspire your design projects this year, we’ve rounded up five of the hottest trends.  Keep in mind, not all of these will work well in every house. If you plan to buy, list, or renovate your property, give us a call. We can help you realize your vision and maximize the impact of your investment.

 

 

1. Uplifting Colors

 

Colors are gravitating toward warm and happy shades that convey a sense of coziness, comfort, and wellbeing. This year’s palettes draw from earthy hues, warm neutrals, and soothing blues and greens.1

 

While white and gray are still safe options, expect to see alternative neutrals become increasingly popular choices for walls, cabinets, and furnishings in 2021. For a fresh and sophisticated look, try one of these 2021 paint colors of the year: 

 

      Aegean Teal (coastal blue) by Benjamin Moore

      Urbane Bronze (brownish-gray) by Sherwin-Williams 

      Soft Candlelight (muted yellow) by Valspar 

 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, indigo, ruby, sapphire and plum are showing up on everything from fireplace mantels and floating shelves to fabrics and home accessories. These classic, rich hues can help bring warmth, depth, and a touch of luxury to your living space.

 

To incorporate these colors, designers recommend using the “60-30-10 Rule.” Basically, choose a dominant color to cover 60% of your room. For example, your walls, rugs, and sofa might all be varying shades of beige or gray. Then layer in a secondary color for 30% of the room. This might include draperies and accent furniture. Finally, select an accent color for 10% of your room, which can be showcased through artwork and accessories.2

 

Link

 

2. Curated Collections

 

After a decade of minimalism, there’s been a shift towards highly-decorative and personalized interiors that incorporate more color, texture, and character. Clearly-defined styles (e.g., mid-century modern, industrial, modern farmhouse) are being replaced by a curated look, with furnishings, fixtures, and accessories that appear to have been collected over time.3

 

This trend has extended to the kitchen, where atmosphere has become as important as functionality. The ubiquitous all-white kitchen is fading in popularity as homeowners opt for unique touches that help individualize their space. If you’re planning a kitchen remodel, consider mixing in other neutrals—like gray, black, and light wood—for a more custom, pieced-together look. And instead of a subway tile backsplash, check out zellige tile (i.e., handmade, square Moroccan tiles) for a modern alternative with old-world flair.4

 

Link

 

3. Reimagined Living Spaces

 

The pandemic forced many of us to rethink our home design. From multipurpose rooms to converted closets to backyard cottages, we’ve had to find creative ways to manage virtual meetings and school. And designers expect these changes to impact the way we live and work for years to come.

 

For example, some home builders are predicting the end of open-concept floor plans as we know them.5 Instead, buyers are searching for cozier spaces with more separation and privacy. Cue the addition of alcoves, pocket doors, and sliding partitions that enable homeowners to section off rooms as needed.4

 

The necessity of a home office space is also here to stay. But what if you don’t have a dedicated room? Alternative workspaces have become increasingly popular. In fact, one of the biggest trends on Pinterest this year is the “cloffice”—essentially a spare closet turned home office. Searches for “home library design” and “bookshelf room divider” are on the rise, as well.6

 

Link

 

4. Staycation-Worthy Retreats 

 

With travel options limited right now, more homeowners are turning their vacation budgets into staycation budgets. Essentially, recreate the resort experience at home—and enjoy it 365 days a year!

 

Bedrooms should provide a soothing sanctuary for rest and relaxation. But this year, minimalist decor and muted colors are giving way to bolder statement pieces. To create a “boutique hotel” look in your own bedroom, start with a large, upholstered headboard in a rich color or pattern. Layer on organic linen bedding and a chunky wool throw, then complete the look with a pair of matching bedside wall lights.

 

Carry those vacation-vibes into your bathroom with some of the top luxury upgrades for 2021. Curbless showers and freestanding tubs continue to be popular choices that offer a modern and spacious feel, and large-format shower tiles with minimal grout lines make clean up a breeze. Add a floating vanity and aromatherapy shower head for the ultimate spa-like experience.4

 

Link

 

5. Outdoor Upgrades

 

From exercise to gardening to safer options for entertaining, the pandemic has led homeowners to utilize their outdoor spaces more than ever. In fact, backyard swimming pool sales skyrocketed in 2020, with many installers reporting unprecedented demand.8 But a new pool isn’t the only way homeowners can elevate their outdoor areas this year.

 

The home design website Houzz recently named 2021 “the year of the pergola.” They’re a relatively quick and affordable option to add shade and ambiance to your backyard.4 Another hot trend? Decked-out, custom playgrounds for exercising (and occupying) the youngest family members who may be missing out on school and extracurricular activities.

 

But don’t limit your budget to the backyard. Landscapers are reporting an increase in front yard enhancements, including porch additions and expanded seating options. These “social front yards” enable neighbors to stay connected while observing social-distancing guidelines.10

 

Link

 

DESIGNED TO SELL

 

Are you contemplating a remodel? Want to find out how upgrades could impact the value of your home? Buyer preferences vary greatly by neighborhood and price range. We can share our insights and offer tips on how to maximize the return on your investment. And if you’re in the market to sell, we can run a Comparative Market Analysis on your home to find out how it compares to others in the area. Contact us to schedule a free consultation!

 

 

Sources:

1.     Good Housekeeping  -
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g34762178/home-decor-trends-2021/

2.     The Spruce – 

https://www.thespruce.com/timeless-color-rule-797859

3.     Homes & Gardens – 

https://www.homesandgardens.com/news/interior-design-trends-2021

4.     Houzz – 

https://www.houzz.com/magazine/36-home-design-trends-ready-for-takeoff-in-2021-stsetivw-vs~142229851

5.     Zillow -
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-end-of-open-floor-plans-how-homes-will-look-different-after-coronavirus-301080662.html

6.     Pinterest -
https://business.pinterest.com/content/pinterest-predicts/more-door/

7.     Homes & Gardens – 
https://www.homesandgardens.com/spaces/decorating/bedroom-trends-224944

8.     Reuters -
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-pools/pool-sales-skyrocket-as-consumers-splash-out-on-coronavirus-cocoons-idUSKCN2520HW

9.     Realtor.com -
https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/2021-design-trends/

10.   Realtor Magazine -
https://magazine.realtor/daily-news/2020/12/09/4-outdoor-home-trends-that-may-gain-steam-in-2021

Jan. 19, 2021

Set Ownership Goals

New Year, New Home? Set Homeownership Goals Whether You’re Buying, Selling, or Staying Put

 

 

The start of a new year always compels people to take a fresh look at their goals, from health and career to relationships and finance. But with historically low mortgage rates, increased home sales and price growth, and a tight housing inventory, the time is right to also make some homeownership resolutions for 2021.

 

Home buyers, is this the year you work to improve your credit score, pay down some debt, or save for a down payment? 

 

Home sellers, we’ve laid out plans for you to get top dollar for your property, including timing your home sale, making your property stand out from the crowd, and investing in your extra living space. 

 

And even if you’re staying put for awhile, homeowners, you can resolve to improve your status quo by evaluating your home budget, finalizing your home maintenance schedule, or maybe investing in a second property.

 

So no matter your homeownership status, we’ve got some ideas and advice for you to make this year your best one yet. Read on to learn more.

 

 

HOME BUYERS

 

Resolution #1: Qualify for a better mortgage with a higher credit score.

 

Your credit report highlights your current debt, bill-paying history, and other key financial information. Importantly for your home-buying journey, it is also used by lenders and companies to calculate your credit score, which partly determines if you are qualified to obtain a mortgage. Therefore, before you start house-hunting, make sure your finances are in the best possible shape by checking your credit report from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion (via AnnualCreditReport.com). You can also obtain your credit score for free from some banks and credit card companies.

 

Your credit score will be a number ranging from 300-850.1 Generally speaking, a credit score of 740 or higher is considered very good to excellent.2 If your FICO score drops below 740, you might need to work at boosting your score for a few months before you begin house-hunting. Ways to do this are to pay your bills on time every month, keep your credit card balances low, and avoid applying for new credit.

 

 

Resolution #2: Improve your credit health by paying down debt

 

Do you have student loans, credit card debt, or car payments tying up your income each month? That debt is hurting your “buying power,” or the amount of home you can afford. Not only is it money that you can't spend on your new home, but your debt-to-income ratio also affects your credit score, which we discussed above. The less debt you have, the higher your FICO score and the better mortgage you can obtain.

 

If you can, pay off some debt in its entiretylike a low balance on a credit card. Then apply that "extra" money you previously paid on that credit card to pay off bigger debt, like a car loan. Even if you can’t pay off all (or any) of your debt in full, reducing the balances of each account will help you qualify for the best possible mortgage terms.

 

 

Resolution #3: Create a financial safety net before applying for a mortgage

 

Don’t forget that buying a home requires some cash as well. A down payment is typically 7% of a home’s purchase price, and closing costs currently average $3,700.3,4 You’ll also need money for moving expenses and any initial maintenance tasks that might pop up. And as the pandemic taught us, you never know when an unforeseen event might cause a job loss, drop in income, or health scare, so having some liquid savings will ensure that you can still pay your mortgage if a crisis occurs.

 

Dedicate some effort to building up your reserves. Cut down on unnecessary expenses, and consider having a portion of each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account to avoid the temptation to spend it.

 

 

HOME SELLERS

 

Resolution #4: Decide on the right time to sell your home.

 

If you’re looking to maximize profit on the sale of your home, selling earlier in the year makes sense. Listing prices historically increase early in the year, peak in May, plateau through June, and decrease for the remainder of the year.5 And, according to the National Association of Realtors, “[w]ith both mortgage rates and the number of homes available for sale expected to remain relatively low, home prices are likely to continue to increase. [In] mid-January, home prices typically begin a quick ramp-up in a normal year.”5

 

But sales price isn’t the only thing to consider. You might not be ready to sell your home yet because you don't want to uproot your kids during the school year or because you need to tackle some minor upgrades before placing your home on the market. 

 

This means that there is no one month or season that is the perfect time to sell your home. Instead, the right timeline for you takes into account factors such as when you’ll earn the highest profit, personal convenience, and whether your home is even ready to put on the market. A trusted real estate professional can talk you through your specific needs to clarify when to sell your home. 

 

 

Resolution #5: Boost your home’s resale value by making your property shine.

 

Housing inventory is at historic lows across the country, and that means the market is fiercely competitive.6 Selling your home in 2021 has the potential to net you a huge return right now, and you can maximize that amount with some simple fixes to make sure your property outshines your neighbors' for sale down the street. 

 

In your home, you might need to tackle a minor remodeling project, such as upgrading the flooring or adding a fresh coat of paint. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Remodeling Impact Report, simply refinishing existing hardwood floors recoups 100% of the cost at resale, and completely replacing it with new wood flooring recovers 106% of costs.7

Outside, you might consider improving your curb appeal by removing a dead bush, trimming a tree that blocks the front window, or power-washing your moldy driveway and sidewalks. In fact, real estate agents say cleaning the exterior of your house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to a home’s sale price.8 And according to a Virginia Tech study, improving a home’s landscaping may increase its value by 10 to 12%.9

 

A good agent should provide custom-tailored suggestions to ensure your property pops inside and out. Ask us about our local insider secrets that will make your home stand out from others on the market.

 

 

Resolution #6: Invest in your “extra” living space to meet current buyers’ needs

 

Due to COVID-19, more people are staying at home to work, go to school, exercise, and stay entertained. And these lifestyle changes are showing up in home buyer preferences. For example, according to one study, buyers are looking more and more for homes with formal, outfitted home offices, private outdoor spaces, and updated kitchen appliances.10 

So if you’ve got an underutilized room, consider turning it into an office, home gym, schoolroom, or multi-purpose room to meet current home buyer needs and attract better offers on your home. Got some underwhelming space outside? You could turn it into an outdoor entertainment area by adding a firepit, upgrading the patio furniture, or installing a grilling area. Be sure to consult with a local real estate professional before investing in a renovation, however, as each market’s buyers have different tastes.

 

 

HOMEOWNERS

 

Resolution #7: Evaluate your household budget to reflect financial changes.

 

After this past year, in particular, your financial picture may have changed. Maybe you were furloughed, had your hours reduced, or got a new job further from home. Perhaps you’ve kept the same job, but you’re now working remotely. A work-from-home arrangement could mean less money spent on gas, tolls, a professional wardrobe, and dining out for lunch. 

 

But this could also mean new (or increased) expenses now that you’re working at home, such as new tech-related purchases, faster Wi-Fi, and higher energy bills. January marks the perfect opportunity to update your income and expenses and review last year’s spending habits, tweaking as needed for 2021.

 

For more specific ideas, contact us for our free report "20 Ways to Save Money and Stretch Your Household Budget."

 

 

Resolution #8: Save money now (and earn more later) with a home maintenance plan.

 

Having a schedule of regular home maintenance projects to tackle will save you money now and in the long-term. You’ll avoid some surprise “emergency fixes,” and when you’re ready to eventually sell your home, you’ll get higher offers from buyers who aren’t put off by overdue repairs.

 

Even if nothing necessarily needs fixing right now, you can lower your energy costs by maintaining and upgrading your home.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simple fixes add up: replace five most frequently used bulbs with ENERGY STAR ones to save $75/year; repair leaky faucets to save $35/year; replace older toilets with low-flow models to save $100/year; and seal air leaks to save $83-$166/year.11

 

For a breakdown of home maintenance projects to tackle throughout the year, contact us for our free report “House Care Calendar: A Seasonal Guide to Maintaining Your Home.”

 

 

Resolution #9: Invest in real estate for a better standard of living.

 

Even if you don’t plan on leaving your current residence, real estate is a great way to improve your quality of life in 2021. 

 

Have cabin fever from the long quarantine? A vacation home in a getaway location you love lets you safely spread your wings. And if you have been looking for a second stream of income, an investment property might be your answer. Just be sure to consult with a real estate professional to get a realistic sense of a property’s true income potential.

 

Want more information on how a second property fits into your 2021 plans? Request our free report, "Move Up vs Second Home: Which One Is Right For You?"

 

 

LET US HELP YOU WITH YOUR 2021 GOALS

 

Without a plan and a support system, 55% of Americans will break their new year’s resolutions.12 Whether you’re looking to buy, sell, or stay put in your home, it helps to connect with a trusted real estate agent to keep you motivated and on track.

 

As local market experts, we have the knowledge, experience, and networks to help you achieve your homeownership goals, whatever they may be. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and commit to a happy and prosperous new year.

 

 

Sources:

1.     USA.gov - 
https://www.usa.gov/credit-report

2.     Equifax - 
https://www.equifax.com/personal/education/credit/score/what-is-a-good-credit-score/

3.     NerdWallet - 
https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/the-20-mortgage-down-payment-is-dead

4.     Zillow - 
https://www.zillow.com/mortgage-learning/closing-costs/

5.     Realtor.com - 
https://www.realtor.com/research/we-should-be-in-a-buyers-market-right-now-but-covid-turned-everything-upside-down-best-time-to-buy-a-home

6.     Business Insider - 
https://www.businessinsider.com/how-2020-broke-the-housing-market-inventory-could-run-out-2020-9

7.     National Association of Realtors - 
https://www.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/2019-remodeling-impact-10-03-2019.pdf

8.     House Logic - 
https://www.houselogic.com/save-money-add-value/add-value-to-your-home/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/

9.     Virginia Cooperative Extension - 
https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/426/426-087/426-087.pdf

10.   HomeLight - 
https://www.homelight.com/blog/top-agent-insights-for-q2-2020/

11.   U.S. Department of Energy - 
https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/articles/how-much-can-you-really-save-energy-efficient-improvements

12.   Ipsos - 
https://www.ipsos.com/en-us/urban-plates-ipsos-NY-Resolutions

 

Jan. 13, 2021

Hilton Head Homes for Sale - Central - Jan 13, 2021

Today is Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 and we have the North Tour of homes for sale on Hilton Head. Just for your information, this is the last week that they're going to be on Wednesday. MLS is splitting up Hilton Head tours for North to be on Mondays and Central and South to be on Friday. I don't know how well that's going to work out, but they're trying that out for six months. So, we shall see. It might be a little tougher for me to get all this information to you since those are big buyer days. But I'll do the best that I can. 

In the meantime, let's go through the North Tour of Hilton Head Island for today.

Windmill Harbor

42 Harbour Passage has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms and is listed for $1,395,000. This one, if you're looking for a true four-bedroom house, the fourth bedroom is on the other side of the garage. So, it's like a mother-in-law suite. It's neat as a pen - and cozy - but quite dated. It still has its original cabinetry. There's a nice corner view of the harbor. And again, it's very cozy. I do not care for it being on a blind curve. As come around and bear right on Harbour Passage, it's right there on your right. So, just keep that in mind. But it has potential and is in the price range of what things are going for in that area. 

1 Crosstree North Drive is a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath home listed for $579,000. Unfortunately, that one was no longer available, so it's already under contract. 

Hilton Head Plantation

For the first time, I was shocked to have only one home on Hilton Head Plantation. And this one was in the lovely Headlands neighborhood: 1 Twisted Oak Court. This two-bedroom, two-bath home is listed for $459,000. If you don't need a third bedroom right away, I found this house to be neat as a pen, had a new roof, lots of great privacy in the back, great area of Hilton Head Plantation, very cozy, great price. The attic, it even looked high enough that you could add a third bedroom at some section. So, I was intrigued by this one and felt like it's worthy of at least a showing. 

In Yacht Cove, we had 49 Cobblestone Court with three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms and was listed for $325,000. 

In the Allenwood neighborhood, near the schools, we had 277 Ceasar Place. This home has three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. It is listed for $299,000. This one is an end unit. It has a one-car garage. It's a townhome, so you come up, you have steps right away when you enter the main door. You go up the steps, you've got the kitchen, living room, and a half bath in that area. You go up one more and you get the bedrooms on the next floor. 

In the Spanish Wells area, we had 19 Silver Oak Drive with five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms listed for $575,000. That one, I think, has been on before. Again, it's in the money and the price point that people are looking for. 

And lastly, in the Jarvis Creek neighborhood, we had 19 Jarvis Creek Court. This home has three bedrooms and two and a half bathrooms. It is listed for $525,000. Those are a little newer homes. It's amazing how those had $300,000 and $400,000 in front of them not too long ago. 

So, that wraps it up. I'm not going to have a favorite, because there really weren't many to really speak about. Like I said, it's going to be a little crazier going forward since the tours are going to have a lot less homes to talk about: a. because of the low inventory and b. now that they're going to be weekly for each area instead of every three weeks for each area of Hilton Head. 

These are interesting times. I hope and wish you a happy and healthy 2021 - that we may have lots of interactions together, that we're kind to one another and that we learn to accept our differences, accept our differences of opinion, and just live and love in kindness.

Respectfully submitted, 
Susan Ochsner

YourHiltonHeadAgent.com
(843) 816-6388

Posted in Realtor Tour
Jan. 7, 2021

Hilton Head Homes for Sale - Central - Jan 6, 2021

Today is Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, and we have our first house tour for the central part of Hilton Head Island. There are three homes on tour, five villas and one piece of land.

Port Royal

22 North Ocean Point Place has four bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms and is listed for $1,560,000. This one was updated and I especially love the floors even though it was built in 1985. It had a peek-a-boo view over a lagoon and beyond that, the ocean. They are building to the left of this listing so figure that very soon, there will be a lot of noise for a while. But it's a great neighborhood. Ocean Point has also a quarterly $665 a quarter fee for the common area. They have their own private pool, so you have to go down to the beach club for that. It might have been a tad high, but it's updated. I love the open kitchen plan and the floors, and of course, the view. That outdoor space was really, really cool. 

 

Long Cove

In Long Cove, we had 9 Oakman Branch Road with five bedrooms and five and a half bathrooms. The listing price for this home is $1,475,000. It has very nice curb appeal. The house was very full of the seller's things. It was nice, very spacious and nice curb appeal. The kitchen was a designer kitchen but the cabinetry looked European but old-school. It looks like they do a lot of entertaining. It was a little 'busy', and the cabinetry was old-school. They were built in 2003, but they were on the hinges. There is a lot of storage in that house. The master bathroom was a little dated. 

2 Trimblestone Lane is a four-bedroom, five-bathroom home listed for $929,000. I like that it had a three-car garage. It had a sort of a very open floor plan with a lot of posts. And the kitchen was very dated. So, it didn't have the same finishes of this other home, but it was $600,000 or $500,000 less. Please remember that in Long Cove, there's a $20,000 initiation fee and that their annual dues are shy of $13,000. So, please keep that in mind for that private community of Long Cove.

There were a few condos and one piece of land in Windmill Harbour for sale.

 

Respectfully submitted, 

Susan Ochsner
YourHiltonHeadAgent.com
(843) 816-6388

Posted in Realtor Tour
Dec. 16, 2020

Hilton Head Homes for Sale South-Dec. 16,2020

Good afternoon. Today is Wednesday, December 16th, and we have the South Tour of homes on Hilton Head Island. This is the realtor tour. We have a lot more than we've had in the past few weeks, so I'm excited. Plus, I like the south end one a lot more.

Sea Pines

First, in Sea Pines, I went to Heritage Woods. We had two homes there. 11 Twin Pines Court has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, and two half-baths and is listed for $1,350,000. I love that it was an elevated house. It has gorgeous, long golf views. If that's what you're looking for, you do not want to miss this one. It has a nice pool deck that has two levels. It needs a lot of updating. It has a good flow and is nice, light, and bright. It's really not in move-in condition although it is clean. Great opportunity as you're in Twin Pines and you're getting a lot of square footage and bedrooms and bathrooms.

5 Heritage Court is a five-bedroom, five-bathroom home listed for $1,485,000. This one, I didn't care for the view especially at this price. But the pool looked like it was in better condition than twin pines, and the home was in better condition. But it also needed some updating. I like that it had a three-car garage. You don't typically see that. And I also like the flow on that one. It's amazing, though, to see that Heritage Woods is now at that level for basic houses. 

Lawton Oaks is one of the latest developments that started in Sea Pines, so you have a lot of newer homes in there. You access it from Plantation Drive, but you have to go all through the neighborhood to come down Calibogue to come back out, because you're not allowed to make a left. So, if you're in and out a lot, it might not be a place that you want to land. But it's a lovely neighborhood. 52 Hearthwood Drive has five bedrooms and five and a half baths. This home is listed for $1,499,000. This one's been on the market for quite some time. I think its biggest disadvantage is, even though it does have an open floor plan and nice upgrades, it's very dark. They did bring the price down a little bit, and hopefully, these poor folks will get to sell. The other thing is it backs up to what's now a vacant lot. But at some point, someone's going to build there, and it's really going to impede your privacy in your backyard. So, again, that wouldn't be my first choice for anyone, but it's a great home in super condition house. But if you want a lot of backyard, you're certainly not going to find it there. 

33 Hearthwood Drive has four bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms. Its listing price is $1,300,000. I have to say, the curb appeal of this home didn't appeal to me. But I got really excited when I got inside. The floors look great. It has an open floor plan and a fantastic marsh view. It even had a wine cellar down in the garage. There were his and hers closets in the master, and it had a nice flow. It was updated with high-end appliances in the kitchen. I was really excited about this one and liked this one. This one will probably make my short list. 

In the South Beach area, I went to 15 Braddock Cove. This home has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms and is listed for $949,000. It's a complete gut job. It has a lot of Mexican tile, so it's going to be expensive to try and get all that up. It has an okay harbor view. I like that when you come up the steps, they've done it in that new Trex deck system. But what you can't change is the up and down that you have a sinking living room. The kitchen is placed towards the back. If somebody wants a project and wants to be at South Beach, then this would be a consideration. 

In Whistling Swan, I've had a lot of questions about this one. This is an ocean-oriented house in a very nice address. It's 6 Whistling Swan, and the listing states that it has six bedrooms, six bathrooms, and two half-baths, and it's listed for $489,000. That's extremely deceiving, because the house is about a $3,800,000 house. There's this new company called Pacaso, and it's a national company. The guy, I think, started with Zillow, and they said he did Dotloop, and he's trying to create sort of a new market. It's not a timeshare. They didn't like when I called it a timeshare, because you have specific times to use those. These have certain rules and regulations. They've only been around since last October, so it's very new. It's been a year, and I don't know if that concept's going to fly. I can see with younger people where you own a vacation home, but you have a partial ownership and you have times that you can use it. I just don't know how it's going to be when someone tries to sell something like that. And that's why I wouldn't recommend this to someone unless you're willing to hold onto it basically forever. That's the big unknown.

In the Club Course area, this is my listing. 20 Wood Duck Road has three bedrooms and three bathrooms. It's listed for $725,000. I based this on the price two months ago when things were flying off the shelf. And this one has a much newer feel than a lot of houses that were going in the $600,000 range that needed a lot more work, didn't have the curb appeal, didn't have the elevation, didn't have the two-car garage, the tray ceilings, the easement on the side. But now that our market's slowed down, I may be a little high. But it's a great, great house. Everything is on one floor. It has a great floor plan. Like I said, there's even an office nook between the kitchen and the laundry with a bunch of shelves so you don't have to keep your books in the living room. It's beautiful where it overlooks the lagoon. So, that one will also make my short list, but it probably won't be the winner because I don't want to choose my listing. Besides, I have a weak spot for killer marsh views. :) 

In Point Comfort, I tried to go 16 Song Sparrow Lane, which has three bedrooms and two bathrooms and is listed for $699,000. But it was already under contract, so I could not get in. It has a spectacular marsh view. Song Sparrow is a nice part of Cedar Woods. It's not the part where the houses are really starting to fall apart. And it's not in a gated community. But it had a spectacular view and very cool architecture. 

Forest Beach

In Forest Beach, we had one home - 6 Seahawk Lane. This three-bedroom, three-bathroom home is listed for $1,425,000. That's pretty high for what is offered. But again, one has to try. 

And the rest were villas. So, let me go through these quickly. 502 North Shore Place Villa has two bedrooms and two bathrooms and is listed for $615,000. I almost went to this one because they said ocean view. And it is on the penthouse. It is on the fifth floor, but your ocean view is across another building, and you can see the Atlantic in the distance. So, you're not ocean front. But I guess you are ocean view. That's, I guess, well said. 

1 Courtside Villa has two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The listing price of this villa is $339,900. 

318 Forest Beach Villas has one bedroom and one bathroom and is listed for $359,000. Wow! I remember when those were $299,000 not that long ago.

And 104 Island House Villa with two bedrooms and two bathrooms is listed for $250,000.

That concludes our larger and normal December open house in the south end of Hilton Head. And I would say my absolute favorite was not even my listing. It was 33 Hearthwood Drive. You just can't beat a view, and even though I have a very cute, great location and lot on Wood Duck, the marsh views and the setting and the potential and already having been updated so that you can really move in, I think Hearthwood Drive #33 is the winner. 

Thank you for reading my post. It's hard to believe that this coming weekend is the last weekend before Christmas. I wish you and all your loved ones a Merry, Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for a happy, safe, and healthy 2021 for everybody. Thank you so much for reading my blog. Remember that we are here to serve you and anything we can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Ochsner

YourHiltonHeadAgent.com
(843) 816-6388

Posted in Realtor Tour
Dec. 9, 2020

Hilton Head Homes for Sale Realtor Tour- Central - Dec. 9, 2020

Today is Wednesday, December 9th, 2020, and we have the North Tour of homes for sale on Hilton Head Island. We also have some villas this time, but I will just briefly mention them. 

Hilton Head Plantation

Although, there are a few houses for sale in Hilton Head Plantation, they're going under contract pretty quickly. So, there was only one to see today. 23 Honey Locust Circle had three bedrooms and three bathrooms and is listed for $470,000. It has 2,000 square feet and I actually liked this house. I loved that it was near the cul-de-sac and a corner lot. Everything was on one floor. And then, you had a circular stairway going up to a little area. What bothered me was there were five different types of flooring. So, I loved the flow it. It's cute and cozy. It's sitting on a corner patio lot with a nice backyard that could really be upgraded a lot. The wooden floors that were very nice weren't done very well, so that was a very poor install. But it had a big walk-in closet in the master bedroom. I see the potential, and I think they've lowered the price. So, I think this one could be very, very interesting.

Indigo Run

3 Balmoral Place is a four-bedroom, five-bathroom home that is listed for $964,500. They have reduced this one a mere $20,000. It's a very elegant home. It has a beautiful part in the kitchen that's going to stay that is just a beautiful piece of furniture. And you have a nice view of the green. But it's really tough. You really don't get to use the outdoor spaces, which is what the island's all about. It would make a great house up north, but there's really no way to really use the outdoor spaces. So, that part just didn't make it for most of the buyers that I like to represent. But it's a beautiful home. 

623 Colonial Drive had five bedrooms and six bathrooms. This home is listed for $830,000. This one's also in the back part of Indigo Run. It has 4,500 square feet. I love that it has a heated pool. The space is very, very lovely. It's one of these with a very modest curb appeal, but when you come into the house, it's very elegant. It had a lot of nice, wood finishes. But having lots of children in there, it looks like it's been somewhat beat up. So, one would have to put $50,000 to $60,000 in it to fix things up. And the carpets are ruined, etc. But I think it's got tremendous potential and is an interesting home. But most people don't want to do work anymore. They want it turnkey, and they're willing to pay for that. So, that's not that one. 

Windmill Harbour

In Windmill Harbour, we did have a condo. 70 Spindle Lane Villas, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, was listed for $327,500. Those seem to be in the money. It is a popular area. The master bedroom was renovated. It's been freshly painted. And I guess they're playing on the demand-supply that it's really the only one that's on the market. But we have a lot of that anywhere.

The rest of the homes are not in gated communities. They're in smaller communities within Hilton Head, so I'm just going to go through these real quick. Two are in the Spanish Wells area. 

Spanish Wells

7 Creek Landing Trace has four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms and is listed for $599,000. This one is in the Salt Creek Landing, newer neighborhood. And what makes homes like this attractive is this one was built in 2018. You're close to neighbors, but nevertheless, it does have an electronic gate. So, it does have a little bit of that.

In the Timbercrest neighborhood, in Spanish Wells, we have 31 Timbercrest Circle. This home has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. The listing price is $409,000. That's about 2,000 square feet. 

Down Wild Horse, there's an interesting one listed. 3 Corey Trace is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home listed for $349,000. It's a cute little home with less than 1,500 square feet and is in the Hanahan little neighborhood. 

And lastly, there is a condo right where you come into Hilton Head. They have spectacular views over the deep water. It's 302 Mariners Cove Villa with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, and it's listed for $479,000. They're a little under 1,600 square feet. If you want views, this is all about it. This one's been updated. During the high tides, it's just gorgeous. Not sure why there are three on the markets.

So, we had a little better choice this time than in the past. I would have to say my favorite is probably 623 Colonial Drive. It does need some tweaking, but I think that one's got a lot of potential. 

If there's anything that we can help you with, please don't hesitate to call us. It is the advent season, and this week is also Hanukkah. So, I'm wishing all my friends and their loved ones a happy holiday season. Please reach out to us if we can be of any service to you. We're impassioned about helping buyers and sellers with real estate on Hilton Head Island. 

Respectfully submitted, 
Susan Ochsner

YourHiltonHeadAgent.com
(843) 816-6388

Posted in Realtor Tour
Dec. 2, 2020

Hilton Head Homes for Sale - Central - Dec. 2, 2020

Today is Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020, and we have the Central Tour of homes for sale on Hilton Head Island. Today, we don't have any villas or lots, and again, a very shrunk one since A, it's the end of the year and B, usually, between Thanksgiving and New Year's there's not tremendous activity. There are still buyers out there but not in the masses.

What we're starting to see is from two months ago, when it was really crazy, we're starting to see those closings. So, today, for example, we had four new listings on Hilton Head. We had seven under contract, and we had 27 that closed. So, now, we're starting to see that wave go through. Now, we just have trouble with our inventory. But off we go.

6 Terra Bella Trace has six bedrooms, eight bathrooms, and it's listed for $3,695,000. This was a new house built in 2018 on the ocean front. The listing agent happened to be there, who was also the rental agent. And he was saying that it made $300,000 in 2019, the first year it was there. It's in very good shape for being a six-bedroom home. The washer and dryer were on the third floor with the master bedroom. They had two laundry rooms. I found that awesome. The rooftop beyond the master bedroom, which is on the third floor-- that's the only thing, but there is an elevator-- the rooftop going up from there was amazing. There were gorgeous views. It is tight in there, but if ocean front is all you care about, and you don't care that you have to drive to everything and the tightness of it, getting to it, I think, is the biggest challenge. You have to drive through time shares and take a left. So, you kind of have to wind your way around, go through a bridge, and they're basically four homes in a very small piece of land. But once you're inside, it's really nirvana.

In Port Royal, we had 136 Fort Walker Drive. This home had four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. The listing price is $3,849,999. Let's just say $3,850,000. This home, I've been to before. It sits on an awesome lot and has very unique views. From having been here 50 years, there are not many unique views. This was one of them, having sound, a marsh. The house needs a little TLC. I found the kitchen very dated. So, all of a sudden, without being on the Atlantic Ocean, you're going to be up there. You're going to spend at least $500,000 to bring that up to snuff. But again, it's a very unique property. 

In Long Cove, we had 1 Turkey Hill Lane with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms. This home was listed for $829,000. This one was a little beat up. You would definitely need to replace the carpet. I found the kitchen was a little small. The laundry room was half upstairs, and coming from the master bedroom, you'd have to go through the kitchen every time and up some stairs just to do your laundry. And I guess I just think practically. Now, if you get your kids or your mother-in-law that could live in the bonus room over the garage, that might be interesting. So, again, it needs a little bit of TLC, but the way things are moving in Long Cove, who knows? I think they're trying to take advantage of this up market and I don't blame them at all!

And lastly, in Wexford, we had 50 Wexford on the Green with four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms, and it's listed for $1,695,000. I think this was my favorite. I loved the curb appeal. It was a little tight. Even though you have a two-car garage, it's kind of a narrow driveway pulling in. But once you walk in, it really felt cozy and had a nice view. It is a townhome but a really nice view and great location within Wexford: on the cul-de-sac and close to the club house and all the amenities. Spacious and elegant. It had a lot of stuff, so I think it's more spacious than it makes the impression of. So, I would say that 50 Wexford on the Green was my favorite. 

There was not a lot of homes on the tour this time. We do have some that the agents are preparing to put on the market. So, if we can help you in any way and you have something specific you want to look for, we'll be happy to help narrow that search for you and be more aggressive and proactive for you. Otherwise, just keep looking on the website, and please feel free to call us or text us or email us with any questions you may have.

Respectfully submitted,
Susan Ochsner

YourHiltonHeadAgent.com
(843) 816-6388

Posted in Realtor Tour
Dec. 1, 2020

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Lowcountry Community This Holiday Season

10 Ways to Give Back to Our Lowcountry Community This Holiday Season

 

This year has demonstrated, perhaps more than ever, the importance of our family, friends, neighbors, and community. It truly “takes a village” to keep a community functioning effectively, whether that’s by keeping our waterways clean, feeding the hungry, teaching our kids, or supporting small businesses. 

 

With the holidays right around the corner, December offers the perfect opportunity to give back to the place we call home. You might want to focus your efforts near home, expand to our larger community, or even help support the people closest to you. Whether you’re passionate about a particular cause or just want to get more involved in general, let these 10 ways, both big and small, inspire you to do good in your town. 

 

 

GIVE BACK NEAR HOME

 

1. Attract local wildlife. By making your neighborhood more wildlife friendly, you’re helping to  create a balanced and healthy ecosystem. Plus, many of the animals you can attract help with pest control and pollination.1

 

Ideas: 

      Add a birdbath to your backyard or create a rain garden to attract wildlife (and filter out local pollutants).

      Place bird feeders on your property to feed birds all year long. 

      Tie corncobs to tree branches to feed squirrels. 

      Hang birdhouses on your property to provide shelter. 

      Use native plants in your landscaping to provide food and shelter for birds, bees, butterflies, and other critters.

 

Take action: While you might not be able to “break ground” until spring, start researching native plants now to design a landscaping plan that provides food, shelter, and water for local wildlife.

 

 

2. Clean up our community. Besides beautifying the area, picking up trash keeps it out of our local waterways, which means a cleaner water supply for all of us.

 

Ideas: 

      Whether you make this a solo effort or join in an organized group event, pick up trash in your neighborhood, at a local park, or elsewhere in our community. 

      Depending on your community’s regulations, you can recycle many home items such as paper, glass, and aluminum. 

      And don’t forget to clean the exterior of your home, where water runoff (such as on your driveway and sidewalks) can carry debris into the local sewer system.2

 

Take action: Check with your local municipality to learn about environmental clean-up efforts in our community, as well as recycling and composting.  

 

 

3. Organize or join a neighborhood watch. According to a recent report, neighborhoods with Neighborhood Crime Watch programs experience roughly 16 percent less crime.3 Keeping an eye out for each other instills a sense of safety and security in your neighborhood by increasing surveillance, reducing opportunities, and enhancing information sharing among residents. Even if your neighborhood doesn’t have an official program, you can still share crime information via a neighborhood Facebook group or apps like NextDoor.

 

Ideas: 

      Make a point of looking out for each other and being observant of what’s going on. 

      You can even make it official by joining a neighborhood watch program. 

      Don’t have one? Consider launching a neighborhood watch program with the help of other interested neighbors.

 

Take action: Some police forces use online mapping tools that provide crime alerts to people in neighborhoods where recent criminal activity occurred.3 Share this information with your neighbors.

 

 

HELP OUT LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS

 

4. Boost your civic engagement. Regardless of your politics, you can get more involved as a citizen to make a positive difference in our community.

 

Ideas: 

      Sign a petition to make a needed change in our community. 

      Join a peaceful march, protest, or rally to support a cause dear to your heart. 

      Attend local school board meetings, town halls, or city council meetings to understand (and have a voice in) local issues.4

      Watch (and read) a variety of local news sources to get balanced reporting on what’s happening in our community. 

      If you don’t know your neighbors very well, introduce yourself. 

      Then make a commitment to check in on those who might need help, such as an elderly neighbor. 

      Get plugged into the resources and events in our town by visiting local museums, taking historical tours, borrowing materials from our local library, and attending community festivals.

 

Take action: Do you know who our local leaders are, such as our mayor or city councilwoman? Get to know their names, their policies, and their stand on issues that affect our community. Subscribe to their newsletter and follow them on social media.

 

 

5. Support local businesses. Our community has been impacted by the pandemic, with many businesses being forced to limit capacity, instill social distancing efforts, and even shutter entirely in some cases. Help keep money in our local economy by shopping local instead of relying on online shopping from national chains.

 

Ideas: 

      From handcrafted soaps and one-of-a-kind apparel to locally produced chocolate and small-batch wines, you’ll find plenty of unique gifts at the small businesses that dot our community. 

      Consider purchasing tickets to attend live-streamed holiday concerts and shows. 

      Buy cookies and other baked goods from our local bakery. 

      Get takeout from our local restaurants. 

      Support local farmers by purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables at community farmer’s markets.

 

Take action: If you’re concerned about shopping in person right now, many of these businesses, though small, offer online shopping, with options for in-store pick-up, curbside delivery, and/or mail options.

 

 

6. Donate to local charities. Nonprofits could always use your financial support, so consider making a monetary donation to help them carry out their mission in our community. But if money is tight (or you want to support in other ways), think beyond just donating dollars. 

 

Ideas: 

      Consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name as an altruistic gift on behalf of a friend or relative. 

      Give blood to our local blood bank.

      Donate new or used books to our community library.

      Send school supplies to our neighborhood elementary school.

      Help struggling neighbors by donating blankets to the homeless.

      Pick out toys to give to a charity that caters to families. 5

 

Take action: Many collection efforts run by charitable organizations and businesses take place during the holidays. Look to see what’s already taking place in our community and choose one or more to give to this season.  

 

 

CARE FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS

 

7. Organize a holiday food drive. This year, in particular, people are struggling to pay their bills and put food on the table. The pandemic has caused many businesses to close or reduce their staff size, putting many people out of work.

 

Ideas: 

      If you personally know someone who needs help buying groceries, reach out and offer to help that one family. 

      If not, partner with a local food bank, soup kitchen, nonprofit or community organization that feeds people in need. 

      Round up a few friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to collect food for a few weeks. Then deliver the bounty in time for the holidays.

 

Take action: Take advantage of your grocery store coupons and buy-one-get-one offers to inexpensively stock up on nonperishable goods.

 

 

8. Adopt a family or an individual. The holidays can be a struggle, especially financially, for some families. They might not be able to buy a Christmas tree or presents for their children. Maybe their holiday meal consists of boxed macaroni and cheese because they can’t afford a turkey and fresh vegetables. You can make a difference by “adopting” a particular family (or even just a child) to help make their holiday special.

 

Ideas: 

      If you know a needy family, help them directly. 

      If not, ask a community group for the name of a family or individual in need. 

      Some businesses even sponsor toy drives or “angel trees” where you can pick the name of a needy family off the tree and buy from their wish lists.

 

Take action: This works great as a family project. Get the kids in your life involved to help make holiday cards and pick out toys to give to the children in the adopted family.

 

 

9. Volunteer. Depending on your schedule and your preferences, you might be able to volunteer in-person or from home, whether it’s a one-time effort or ongoing project. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people in your community as you make a positive impact together for a shared cause.

 

Ideas: 

      Give your time to a cause or organization that really matters to you, such as your local school, animal rescue organization, mental health awareness group, or environmental nonprofit.6

      Tap into a skill you already have, like creating videos, and offer your services.

      Or learn a new skill (like fundraising) to benefit your cause of choice.

 

Take action: Start with your local community to see where its needs are the greatest. Make a point to help this holiday season, perhaps extending your commitment throughout 2021.

 

 

10. Perform random acts of kindness. Don’t think you need to “go big or go home” in your give-back efforts. You can make a big difference one small act at a time.

 

Ideas: 

      Give a generous tip to a waitress.

      Pay for the coffee of the car behind you in the drive-through. 

      Take care of a neighbor’s pet while they’re out of town. 

      Send holiday cards to deployed military personnel. 

      Deliver a plate of homemade holiday cookies to our local fire or police station. 

      Smile at a stranger. 

      Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. 

      Thank your child’s teacher for all their hard work this year. 

      Send an uplifting text to a friend. 

      Compliment someone. 

      Help a coworker with an unpleasant task.   

 

Take action: Need more ideas? Visit randomactsofkindness.org for hundreds of inspiring ways to make someone’s day a little brighter.

 

 

HOW WE CAN HELP YOU?

 

As real estate experts in our local community, we’re tuned into the unique needs of the place we all call home. Reach out to us today to discuss more ways to make a positive impact in our community—this holiday season and beyond. And we want to make sure you’re taken care of, too. If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home now or in the near future, let us help you!

 

 

 

Sources:

1.     Redfin - 
https://www.redfin.com/blog/attract-wildlife-to-your-backyard/#:~:text=Sow%20plants%20that%20provide%20essentials,these%20alternate%20natural%20food%20sources

2.     The Groundwater Foundation - 
https://www.groundwater.org/action/home/raingardens.html

3.     The Globe and Mail - 
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/home-and-garden/how-neighbours-and-online-maps-can-help-deter-break-ins/article34886427/

4.     Parade - 
https://parade.com/1083640/stephanieosmanski/what-is-civic-engagement/

5.     MentalFloss - 
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/88663/15-ways-give-back-holiday-season

6.     Together We Rise - 
https://www.togetherwerise.org/blog/7-ways-give-back-community/