While deciding to buy a South Carolina home can be exciting for the whole family, it’s a life-changing decision. Home buying is a long and complex process with consequences that can blindside anyone who doesn’t do their homework. To obtain the best outcome, you must understand everything that comes with South Carolina home buying before taking the leap.
Don’t know where to start? Here are the eight steps to buying a South Carolina home today.
Step 1: Evaluate Your Financial Situation
Before going all in, home buyers must take a hard look at their finances. Have you saved enough for your down payment? Even if you have saved for your down payment, it doesn’t mean you can afford a house or obtain the best deal.
You must also consider your credit score, financing options, closing costs, and other related home buying costs. If you don’t know your credit scores, you should consider requesting your annual free credit report to obtain a better idea of where you stand.
When you contact a lender to learn more about your financing options, they will take a look at your credit scores and finances. It’s vital to know where you stand so you don’t lose time or money.
Even if you qualify for home financing, you must consider all the costs and responsibilities that come with homeownership, such as property taxes, maintenance costs, among others. Can you afford these costs? While your gross monthly income is important, you must consider your net monthly income to make sure that you can afford any unforeseen home or family emergency.
If your home buying budget doesn’t allow you to save money or cover additional expenses, you may consider buying a less expensive home to get the financial breathing room you need. Before you start looking for a home, you must make sure you meet the minimum home buying requirements and set an affordable budget.
Step 2: Find a Great South Carolina Real Estate Agent
You may find your South Carolina dream home yourself, but a realtor can help you find the right property sooner. The best thing about it is that it won’t cost you a dime since generally, home sellers cover the buyer’s agent commission. A local real estate agent knows your market and can provide insight into your options.
Believe it or not, your agent can even help you save money. If you choose to hire with a Clever Partner Agent, you may be eligible to receive $1,000 for closing costs or as mortgage points through our home buyer rebate program. Our agents are top performers in your market who have agreed to give you a portion of their commission to help you buy your home.
Why try to find your home by yourself? Partner Agents are real estate agents who will do more for buyers than the typical realtor, while making your South Carolina home buying dream come true.
Step 3: Read Up on Local Real Estate Market Trends
While choosing to work with a realtor is the first step toward successful home buying, you must learn as much as you can about your market. It might come as a surprise but when you buy impacts your home purchase more than you think. If you buy your home at the best time, you can secure a hefty discount.
In the state of South Carolina, the month of January is the top month for home buying savings due to fewer listings and less demand for houses. While the number of listings may be limited, you will compete against fewer offers than during the springtime. You should consider consulting a real estate agent to learn when is the best time to buy in the South Carolina housing market.
Besides timing your home purchase, you must learn about the cities and neighborhoods that fit your home buying needs. The South Carolina median home value is $165,800 while the median listing price is $249,900. This market is leaning toward the seller’s side making it difficult for buyers to get the best deal.
Keep in mind that these trends vary on a city and even regional basis. However, an expert local realtor can help you find the best deal in your market that meets your home buying needs. An agent can also provide guidance so you make your purchase during a buyer’s market and obtain the best outcome.
Step 4: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
While you might have requested a pre-qualification with your lender, you should consider getting pre-approved instead. Some people may use both terms interchangeably but they aren’t the same thing. When you ask a lender to pre-qualify you, they don’t take a hard look at your finances, verify information, or pull your credit.
However, when you request a pre-approval, your lender will extend a mortgage approval on a defined amount. The company will do a credit hard pull, verify your income, and debt information to extend your offer.
The biggest advantage of getting pre-approved is that it’s valid for three to six months giving you a breathing room in your house hunting. You should consider getting a pre-approval before going house hunting to avoid any issues or unrealistic expectations in your home buying process.
Step 5: Start House Hunting
After you get pre-approved, it’s time to start house hunting. If you want to find the right house sooner rather than later, you must narrow down your priorities and needs before hitting the road. Do you need a good school district for your children?
Are you looking for an ideal commute? Do you want a house with a pool? These questions are only a starting point to put your priorities in perspective.
You should set your budget according to your needs and finances. We recommend you use tools such as Zillow Research to learn more about your market and the areas that meet your housing needs. When you use these tools, you can learn facts such as how the median home value in Charleston, SC is $321,800, while the median in Ladson is $168,500 making the latter more affordable even though it’s located in the Charleston-North Charleston metro area.
You will also learn about the current market conditions such as how Ladson is a seller’s market right now which can make it more expensive for buyers. While these tools are useful, you should consider consulting a real estate agent during your house hunting.
Their expertise will help you narrow down the best locations and properties according to your needs. When you choose to partner with an agent, you’ll get invaluable insights about the best neighborhoods and even a house hunting checklist for you to follow.
Step 6: Make an Offer
After finding your dream home, it’s time to place an offer. While you may think an offer is only setting the price you’re willing to pay for the property, it’s more complicated than that. You’ll need to draft an offer letter detailing terms such as terms of the offer, payment method, among other details.
Believe it or not, this offer once accepted by the seller will become a binding contract between both parties. After you submit your offer, a seller might counter your offer regarding the price or even conditions of the offer. When you hire a realtor, they’ll take care of all negotiations with the seller.
Their expertise and knowledge give them an upper hand when negotiating. A local real estate agent knows what buttons to push and how to make a competitive offer the seller won’t resist.
Step 7: Inspections and Negotiations
Before closing on your home, the inspector must verify the condition of the property. In South Carolina, the home inspector is required to examine the roof, structure, lot, electrical, plumbing, appliances, among other vital components. The inspector will provide a report detailing the condition of the property and requesting any necessary repairs.
If the latter occurs, you may consider making a counter offer, asking the seller to make the repairs, or requesting a discount to repair the property yourself. When you work with a realtor, the agent will negotiate with the seller to protect your interests and use your home inspection results to get a better deal on your home.
Step 8: It’s Closing Time!
After getting the results from your home inspection, it’s time to close on your home. The closing will take place at a table at the attorney or title company office. Both parties will sign the paperwork at the same time.
You will have to pay your closing costs and down payment using a cashier’s check. Your closing costs will cover fees such as your home appraisal, title examination, transfer taxes, among other closing-related fees.
According to recent data from Bankrate, South Carolina buyers pay about $2,213 in closing costs. However, this study didn’t consider fluctuating fees such as escrow fees, title insurance, property taxes, among other fees.
Typically, buyers can expect to pay about 3% of the sale price in closing costs. Let’s say you buy a house in Mount Pleasant, SC at the median sale price of $433,400. In this example, you would pay about $13,002 only in closing costs.
If you choose to work with a local real estate agent, they can provide a complete picture of what to expect in home buying costs at the time of closing on your home. A Partner Agent will also help you buy your South Carolina dream home at the best price.