A Yankee meets hurricane preparedness

With the pending doom (too much?) of hurricane Florence scheduled to wreak havoc on North Carolina in the next few days, I’ve called into question my level of preparedness as a Yankee who has only lived in the south for about a year. I’m used to preparing for snow storms that cancel school days, not widespread power outages, flooding, evacuations and the possibility of windows getting blown out.

Welcome to life as a Yankee living in the South… As a new homeowner. Lord help me.

Listening to the news reports I’ve had trouble discerning between what is hype and what is helpful, so for the rest of your confused newbies/homeowners/northerners-moved-south here’s a list of actually important things to think about as you prepare for Florence to make landfall to our east.

prepare yourself: Food/water/medications for 3 days for you and your pets, protect your important documents in waterproof boxes and/or scan to an online server,ensure your homeowners insurance is paid.

prepare your house: clean out storm drains/gutters, cut back trees and limbs that may fall onto homes or property, clear off your patio/deck and secure any loose items. Make ice to use to keep food cold if the power goes out. Fill a few extra water bottles with water.

prepare your car: make sure you have a full tank of gas, and pack some food/clothing/medication in-case you need to leave quickly.

prepare as the storm gets closer: charge your cell phone and any portable charging devices that you may have. Set your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting to help keep food for a longer period of time if the power goes out.

Most-importantly… Stay safe, stay informed, and comply with any mandatory evacuation orders.

Stay safe this weekend!

 

 

 

Needs, wants and knowing when it’s THE ONE

While the Charlotte market may be primed for a shift towards additional inventory and longer days on market… the market is cooling, but it is by no means cold!

Calls for “highest and best” offers due to multiple parties bidding to win a home are still common-place, so it’s important for a buyer to be prepared and to have a full understanding of what it is that they’re looking for. We can look at every 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home in the city, however there’s going to be one that speaks to you and only you will know that. Too many times I have seen a client miss out on a home that they’ve later decided was their dream home because they wanted to take a few days to think about it, or maybe they just wanted to see a few more homes. While you may want to set up a few showings to make SURE you don’t want anything else, what happens when seeing these additional homes allows you to stand in your conviction and make an offer on the home you loved, but then you learned it went under contract?

Watching clients lose out on what they believe is their perfect match hurts for the Realtor and the client. So, sit down and make a few declarations before starting your search:

decide what you absolutely need in a home – these are the non-negotiable items and includes things like: location and the number of bedrooms a home has. A family with two kids who also needs a home office should not be looking at anything with less than four bedrooms unless a serious discussion is had about what daily life will feel like for the family if the decide to forego the additional bedroom space.

create your wants list – this list can be as long or as short as you’d like. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find a property with every upgrade that you desire, so the home that checks off the largest, most-important priorities should take precedence.

When you find a home that has ALL of your needs and that certain mix of your wanted amenities… Go for it! Know that if you decide to wait until the next day to “sleep on it” that you’re risking having the sellers select another offer. For a house that is only so-so, that is a fine option to take. However, for the home that you know you’ll cry if you call your Realtor tomorrow and they tell you that the seller is under contract with another buyer… Please don’t risk it.

 

… Because, people.

When I made the jump from the cozy confines of corporate America to the Great Unknown of real estate, I thought about how I could best use the skills I’ve gained through experience and education. I never thought that my greatest passion and excitement would be fueled by the people I get to meet and help each day.

After just a few short weeks in production, I’ve written two contracts. And in both cases I have been blessed to represent and connect with some AMAZING people. After telling family and friends about each transaction I realized that I was more excited to talk about the people my clients are, how I helped them, and the quirks and stories that I learned about them than I was to talk about the house, the money or anything else.

The homebuying process is emotionally heavy, especially with buyers up against a definitively seller-centric market like Charlotte. It never crossed my mind that those involved in the transaction would be craving to connect on a personal level with those across the table. I had heard stories about how investors were getting every decent property by coming in with an all-cash offer, however I’ve now been the part of two transactions were the decision came down to “who?” instead of just “how much?”

I’m choosing to set aside the question of “Does revealing details of the parties potentially violate fair housing laws?” and choosing to see the good in people connecting on a real, emotional level. How people can see themselves in the party across the table and the opportunity that a home has given them, and the opportunity that it will give to another family. As long as my clients feel completely comfortable, and understands that they are under no obligation to discuss non-business matters with the other party, I choose to be in awe of the gentle, human element that I’ve been lucky enough to witness during these first few weeks.

What’s your game-plan?

The real estate market in Charlotte has the lowest levels of inventory of homes… EVER. With only 1.3 months of inventory available, while a health amount is considered to be 6 to 9 months of inventory. So, there aren’t enough homes available, most that are put up for sale are selling in a mere number of hours and prices well over the asking price.

So what’s a home buyer to do?

First, be prepared. Meet your real estate agent face-to-face to discuss what the homebuying process is going to look like and let them guide you through the process. Start by discussing your needs for a house, things you would like but are negotiable, and then shop for a lender.

Do your homework. Just because you have a banking relationship with an organization does not mean that they’re going to give you the best rates. Shop around and find the product that works best for you and your situation. Your real estate agent may have suggestions, I have relationships with a handful of local lenders and I give them business because I like how THEY do business and how they take care of my clients.

Know your strategy. With most home sales going into multiple-offer scenarios it’s best to understand how you’re going to make your offer stand out and where your drop-dead point is before you fall in love with a property. What works for you and your finances? What’s your maximum price? What’s your maximum fixer upper threshold? Work with your real estate agent to plan how this all works into your offer. I’ve seen many sellers no longer calling for “highest and best” offers, so it’s advantageous to put your best foot forward as a buyer with your initial offer.

Evaluate. What would happen if you signed, sealed and delivered this offer and you didn’t win? How would you feel tomorrow? Would you wish that you flexed on something? Do you wish you gave up on asking for that $400 home warranty? If so, clean up your offer before it goes out. The less things you ask for from the seller the better off you’ll be.

Have your ducks in a row. This goes along with understanding your offer strategy. Make sure you have proof of funds for any liquid money that you’ll be including in the purchase. And have a pre-qualification letter from your lender, if your lender offers a loan program that looks at all of your income and expense documentation to better ensure that you qualify, do it! And make sure that your agent and the seller understand that you’re already fully underwritten at the time of contract.

Be ready to make a choice. Things move quick, so there may not be days to think about any one decision. So understand what your walk-away point is. Just because a seller counters your offer, doesn’t mean that you have to rise to the occasion. If your best offer was your original offer, feel comfortable and confident in standing by that. If it breaks a deal, than that deal wasn’t meant for you anyway.

 

Mathematical Analysis+ Emotions= Real Estate

Purchasing real estate is a little like falling in love. You’re unsure, anxious and eager to get a move-on (no pun intended). But how do you know this is the one?

Well, how does anyone know that they chose the correct partner? You listen to your gut. You’re not going to have all of the questions and all of the answers figured out before putting together your offer. Do the best you can and at the end of the day, ask yourself what you FEEL. How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and didn’t win the Charlotte-esque bidding war that is likely going on? (43 offers on one house? yep, that’s a thing here.)

I can tell you a million times that based on my analysis that a house is a good investment,  is listed at a competitive price, and just so happens to meet all (or almost all) of your search criteria, but at the end of the day it’s your home. So balance the hard-facts with your emotional side and combine what you discover to put your best foot forward in the offer process. Maybe you’d be devastated not to get the house, in which case give your highest and best offer the first time around, if you get a counteroffer you are within your right to tell the seller that you can’t budge. If you feel ok waking up tomorrow and re-starting your home search that’s ok too, offer what you feel comfortable with and stand confident that you did what’s best for YOU.

While real estate may not be rocket science, it is a roller coaster of emotions mixed with large-scale financial decisions. Ask lots of questions, and work with someone who you feel comfortable being advised by…And then make YOUR best decision.