Buying a Home

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November
3

How An HPW Agent Can Help With Your Home Search

HPW Agents

Searching for a new home can be a nightmare if you go in unprepared. There are plenty of Raleigh homes for sale, but how do you find the one that's right for you? How do you know if the price is reasonable and that everything in the house is in good working order? You can't do it alone. You need a real estate agent.

More specifically, you need an HPW agent, to guide you through every step of the process and get you moved into the home of your dreams. Here are some of the ways an HPW agent can help you.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

There are two types of real estate agents. A listing agent represents the person selling a home, whereas a buyer's agent represents the person buying it. Most real estate agents do both, but not for the same sale.

As a homebuyer, your HPW agent is a liaison between you and the homeowners. They'll guide you through all the necessary steps and paperwork, from the initial offer, through escrow, all the way to closing. But first, they have to find the home that's right for you.

It's a real estate agent's job to know all the homes in the neighborhood: what they're like, what they have to offer, how much they are, etc. Nowadays, people can look up house listings themselves online, look at photos, compare prices, etc. But it's still not the same as having an HPW agent in your corner.

Looking at photos online is no substitute for someone who's actually been to the house and can take you there personally for a guided tour. Whatever you're looking for, your HPW agent can find it for you.

Negotiations

Once you've found the home you want, it's your agent's job to get you the best deal. As members of the National Association of REALTORS®, they're obligated to put your interests ahead of their own. They know the home's worth, both on its own and as part of that particular neighborhood, and can tell whether or not it's priced fairly. If it's not, your agent will negotiate with the listing agent for a better price.

They'll also organize an official house inspection, to make sure everything works the way it's supposed to. Do the lights turn on when you flip the switch? Do the outlets have power running to them? Is there anything broken or worn out? Is everything up to code? Once they have the results of the inspection, they can use it to have the homeowners either fix anything that's wrong with the house or lower the asking price accordingly.

There's a lot to deal with when it comes to buying a home. Your HPW agent is there to shoulder the load, making the experience easier for you and ensuring you come out on top. Our real estate agents can help you with every step of the home buying process. Contact us to get settled into your dream home!

September
1

What to Know When Building a Home This Year

Raleigh Construction

Finding a new home that meets your needs can be a difficult task. There are plenty of Raleigh homes for sale, but what if you want to build your own? It affords you more control and ensures that the finished product will meet all your standards. What does it take to build a home, though? What does it cost, and what can you expect throughout the process? Here's what you need to know.

Cost

On average, building a new home costs a little under $300,000. Keep in mind this estimate doesn't factor in the cost of buying the land for the build. Buying a home, on the other hand, costs around $435,000. 

Of course, the cost also depends on how big of a house you plan on building. A good rule of thumb is to factor around $100-$200 per square foot. So building a 1,000 square foot house will cost between $100,000 and $200,000. Building a 3,000 square foot house will cost between $300,000 and $600,000.

Budgeting

Once you have an idea of the total cost of building a new home, it's important to break down exactly where that money is going to give you a more accurate idea of how much your home, specifically, will cost to build.

About 40% of your budget will go towards labor. This includes the construction crew, as well as an electrician, plumber, roofer, framer, and other jobs. Shop around and see how much each of these services costs in your area.

About 50% of your budget goes towards materials. This includes everything such as lumber, concrete, drywall, siding, and more. What your house is made of will greatly influence the cost.

Finally, you need to decide if, in addition to the house itself, you want any extras. A swimming pool, for example, can cost anywhere from an additional $36,000 to $66,000. You may also want an outdoor deck, an unfinished basement, or heated floors. Each of these things will add to the total cost of construction.

Scheduling

Your new home will probably take longer to complete than the initial estimates. Most contractors will give you the most optimistic estimate they can, but plenty of things can cause delays, from bad weather to zoning and permit issues, and almost anything else.

When your contractor gives you a timeline, think of it as a guide rather than a strict schedule, and plan on at least a few extra months before you can move in. If you're in a hurry to get into a new place, you're probably better off buying rather than building.

Sweat Equity

Sometimes it's possible to save both time and money by doing some of the work on the house yourself. Major projects like plumbing and electricity should always be left to the experts, but smaller tasks like painting or laying the tile in the bathroom, you can do on your own if you're up to it. This is called sweat equity: putting your own labor into a building or improving your house to save money and increase its value.

These are just a few of the considerations when building a new home. Our real estate agents can help you find the perfect property on which to build it. In fact, we have a whole team dedicated to helping those looking to build a home in the area! Or, if you'd rather, we can help you find an existing home that will meet your needs. Contact us to learn more!

September
23

6 Things You Need to do After Buying a Home

Buying a Home

Once you close on your new home, it might feel like the hard work is over. However, there are still a lot of tasks you need to add to your to-do list to get your new home set up so that it's safe and comfortable for your family. Here are some things you need to do after buying your home. 

  1. Change Your Address
    Now that your new address is official, you need to update it with anyone that you conduct personal or official business with. Update your address with your:
  • Friends and family
  • Employer
  • Financial institutions
  • Lenders and credit card companies
  • Schools and afterschool programs
  • Doctor and dental offices
  1. Clean Your New Home
    Make sure that your new space is ready for your family by giving it a thorough scrubbing before you move in. Our real estate agents know that it's much easier to clean an empty home that one that's filled with moving boxes and furniture. Work from the top of the room to the bottom of the room so that you don't have to backtrack with your cleaning efforts. Worried you won't have time to clean before your moving date? Hire a pro to come in and deep clean your new home for you. 
  1. Connect Your Utilities
    Ideally, you should start the process of connecting your utilities prior to your closing date. It can take 2-3 weeks for everything to get connected and set up, and some utility companies may not have an immediate opening. 
  1. Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
    Even if your home inspector examined all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors during your home inspection, you want to ensure that they're still in good working order. Check the batteries, and determine if you need to add any additional detectors based on the size and layout of your new home. While you're at it, see that your home has ample fire extinguishers. 
  1. Change the Security Codes and Locks
    Make sure that you're the only one who has access to your home by changing the security codes and the locks. Change all your gate, door, and garage codes. As long as your door locks are in good condition and you're pleased with their appearance, you can save money by having them rekeyed (versus replacing them entirely). Remember to also replace locks on exterior buildings and doors.

  2. Get Started on Your Home Maintenance
    While some Raleigh homes for sale may have minimal must-dos on their home inspections, others may have a more extensive list of items that need to be completed. Examine your home inspection report, and decide which items you want to get started with. Prioritize any items that are safety concerns (such as clogged dryer vents) or that are simply long overdue (like changing dirty filters). 

Want to start exploring properties that might be right for you? Contact us today to get started!

April
8

5 Things to Consider When Purchasing a New Construction

New Construction

If you favor a home that's brand new or want to customize as many of the home's details as possible, you might want to consider purchasing a new construction property. A new construction property allows you to be the first person to live in the home. Know what to expect with a new construction property with these 5 things listed below. 

  1. The Current Status of the Home
    New construction homes come in a variety of options. It's possible to start with bare land, design every element of the home, and have the builder construct the property according to your specifications. Another type of new construction allows you to choose from a set of different home designs and finishes; while you can still customize the home, your options might be limited. One more alternative is a home that's mostly built but permits the buyer to pick out some of the finishing details, like the flooring, paint colors, and countertops. Generally, the more you customize a home, the longer it will take to build. Keep your moving timeline in mind when checking out Raleigh homes for sale
  2. Whether the Builder Will Handle Any Exterior Projects
    Pay attention to the home's exterior and ask the builder what, if any, projects they plan to complete for the property's outside space. It's not uncommon for a builder to forgo planting flowers, adding trees, and seeding a lush, green lawn. If you're responsible for these items, you'll need to make sure the work and associated costs are manageable for your budget and schedule.
  3. What Warranties Come with the Home
    Most local new construction homes come with some type of warranty that guarantees the quality of the work. There will likely be a warranty for the materials used to build the home and coverage that warranties the actual construction of the home. Various components typically have different lengths of coverage. For example, the HVAC system may be covered for a few years, while the roof may be covered for 10 years.  Make sure that you're comfortable with the terms of the warranty and what the warranty actually covers. 
  4. The Builder's Reputation
    Before you commit to a specific builder, make sure you thoroughly research the builder's reputation. Not all home builders are created equally. Some builders strive to get homes built as quickly as possible, while others place a premium on constructing quality homes. Ask the builder for references and use online review sites to read reviews from previous customers. Take note of how the builder responds to negative reviews. Does the builder ignore them or do they offer a response that tries to help the customer with their complaint? Look for a builder that treats all customers, even disgruntled ones, with respect.
  5. The Future of the Neighborhood
    If a home is one of the first properties in a new neighborhood, it can be tricky determining the ultimate direction and atmosphere of the neighborhood. Will the neighborhood consist primarily of single-family homes, or will condos and townhomes also be built? Talk to the builder that's handling the area's new construction to get a better idea of what the neighborhood will be like when construction is complete. 

If you're ready to start looking for your dream home, call our real estate agents today. Contact us to get started.

April
1

8 Signs You've Found Your Dream House

Raleigh Dream Home

Let's face it, your home is probably the most significant investment you'll ever make. Ultimately, you want it to be a space you are your family will enjoy for years to come.

Thanks to virtual tours, homebuyers are able to tour many properties without leaving their comfy couch. Making home buying options seem endless!

And with so many options out there, how do you know that you've found "the one"?

Think you've found the perfect home for you among the many Raleigh homes for sale

Follow these signs, to determine if that home you just virtually toured is the one!

  1. See the Real Picture

    When you view the home, you instantly feel a spark. Everything about the house fits into your idea of a perfect home. Sure, there might be things you want to change, but you come up with solutions rather than focusing on the negatives.

  2. "Ticks All The Boxes"

    Before you started touring available homes in the area, you probably thought of a list of must-haves for your new home. For example, you might need a home that has 3 bathrooms. If a home ticks all those boxes (and then some) you may have found the one!

  3. Budget

    Sometimes, your dream house won't fit your budgetary allocation. Be realistic with what you can afford. 

  4. Other Homes Can't Compare

    Truth be told, you feel entirely satisfied with this house, and other properties can't sway your decision. Maybe you've even canceled other tours you had scheduled. In fact, you're intent on making an offer and may already be eyeing the paperwork rather than touring other available homes.

  5. Location

    Arguably, location is the most critical factor when you're looking to purchase a perfect home. Accordingly, you have to consider your neighborhood, the surrounding amenities, health, and school facilities, transportation, grocery stores, banks, etc. If the neighborhood checks all your boxes as well, that's a good sign! 

  6. Aesthetic Ideas

    Have you started imagining yourself making improvements to the house? Are you considering how a different color shade would look on the walls? Or you may be visualizing the furniture arrangement for each room. If you're already thinking of design ideas, it's a sign that you're looking forward to making this house yours!

  7. You Can't Stop Talking About it

    You feel like the search is over, and you can barely wait to tell your family and friends about it! Or maybe you've already told them about it and won't stop talking about it. If you can't wait to show them the home in question and you're already making moving plans—you've found your dream home.

  8. That Homey Feeling

    Does the house feel like home? That's a sure sign the property is suitable to live in, and you'll be happy with your investment.

Looking for a house can be exciting and equally overwhelming. And with so many property options to pick from, it can be challenging to choose. Our REALTORS® can assist you in navigating the real estate market during the house hunting phase and facilitate the buying process. Contact us today to get started!

January
29

How to Improve Your Credit Score Before a Home Purchase

Improve Your Credit Score

When you're looking to buy a home, your credit score has a significant effect on whether you're able to get a mortgage loan. And if you're able to obtain a loan, your score helps determine the interest rate you'll pay.

Your three-digit score represents your credit history and helps lenders determine whether you're likely to be able to pay back your mortgage loan. The higher your score, the better. Lenders generally like to see a score of at least 660 for a mortgage loan, and a score of 740 or higher will usually help you get the best interest rates for a home mortgage loan.

Our real estate agents suggest the following ways to improve your credit score before buying a home:

  1. Check Your Credit Score
    Check your credit history and score online through each of the three major credit bureaus - TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. This lets you see whether any incorrect information on file is affecting your credit score, and if so, you can follow each credit bureau's process for having them corrected. You'll also find out whether your credit score is high enough to let you get a mortgage at a low-interest rate.

  2. Pay Your Bills on Time
    Paying every bill on time will raise your credit score over time. This helps demonstrate your creditworthiness to potential lenders.

  3. Reduce Debt 
    Your credit utilization, which is the amount of debt you have compared to your available credit, should be low. Work to lower your balances on credit cards, and don't open any new credit cards or finance a car when you're about to look for a home.

  4. Don't Close Unused Credit Cards 
    You may have heard that closing unused credit cards can boost your credit score, but this isn't true. It may even lower your score since this will raise the percentage of available credit that you're utilizing.

  5. Establish a Credit History
    If you're a young home buyer, you may not have enough credit history. You may need to establish more history with strategies such as applying for a secured credit card or becoming an authorized user on a responsible family member's credit card. Even if you've already established credit, becoming an authorized user can help you add an older, established account to your credit history.

  6. Make a Large Down Payment 
    Even though it won't improve your credit score, making a large down payment can make it easier for you to get a home loan. That's because a large down payment reduces the amount you'll need to borrow. This creates a lower risk for the lender.

Contact us today to find out more how to raise your credit score to buy one of the many Raleigh homes for sale. We can suggest ways to boost your score and other tips for buying a home. 

October
9

Free Fall Activities to do in Raleigh

Raleigh Fall Activities

Are you looking for free fall activities to do in Raleigh this weekend? Autumn in North Carolina is a gorgeous time of the year, surrounding us with beautiful fall leaves, a crisp breeze and plenty of great family-friendly activities to enjoy. Our real estate agents invite you to grab the kids and venture over to one of these free destinations.

  • American Tobacco Trail — 1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd., Apex, NC 27502
    Spend a little time outdoors on the American Tobacco Trail. This recreational rail-trail runs for 6.5 miles through Wake County before continuing another 16.5 through Chatham and Durham Counties. The perfect place of hiking, biking, riding horses, and having a picnic, the American Tobacco Also hosts free events throughout the fall. Plan your trip around one of their free events and look at Apex homes for sale later in the day.

  • North Carolina Executive Mansion — 200 N. Blount St., Raleigh, NC 27601
    The North Carolina Executive Mansion has been the home of North Carolina's governors since 1891. You and your family can sign up for a free tour of the house and the gardens. Learn about the rich history of our state's governorship. The North Carolina Executive Mansion is an interesting afternoon activity after you've viewed a few Raleigh homes for sale.  

  • North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame — 5 E. Edenton St., Raleigh, NC 27601
    Michael Jordan, Phil Ford, Charlie Justice, Charlotte Smith — these are some of the players inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Since 1963, this remarkable museum has immortalized the amazing players that were born and raised in North Carolina and continues to inspire countless others to rise to greatness. Admission is free, and this home-run of an attraction is located on the third floor of the North Carolina Museum of History, making it a fun and interesting place to spend the whole day.

  • Raleigh Municipal Rose Garden — 301 Pogue St., Raleigh, NC 27607
    The Raleigh Rose Garden is such a lovely place to take a relaxing stroll and enjoy the cool weather. Located on the Raleigh Little Theatre campus, the garden is open to the public seven days a week. Grab your camera and take this opportunity to snap some amazing family photos surrounded by beautiful flowers and trees.

  • Wake Forest Historical Museum — 414 N. Main St., Wake Forest, NC 2758
    A favorite first-stop for residents after they've purchased a Wake Forest home, the Wake Forest Historical Museum is the ideal place to learn about your new town. Admission is always free, and there's plenty to see across the museum's campus. The main museum is joined by the Calvin Jones House which honors the man who has shaped the history and character of the Capital City throughout the early-1800s. Schedule a morning round of browsing Wake Forest homes for sale then pop over to the museum to learn more about how your new home fits into Wake Forest history.

Ready to move to Raleigh? Contact us today and let our real estate agents help you find your dream home!

January
3

New Year, New Home

New Year, New Home 2018The New Year has arrived bringing with it blistery cold weather and great anticipation for all that will happen in the days and months that lie ahead.

Your 2018 resolutions may take you to the gym more often, give you the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends or set the stage for a long-awaited home sale. If the latter is on your list, now is the perfect time to begin your real estate journey; here's how:

 

Figure Out Your Finances

You'll need to get your financial affairs in order before buying a home—think about your credit score, income, and savings.

Start by checking your credit to see where you stand. Are there any errors or negative information on your credit reports? If so, start fixing them now to raise your credit score before you begin hunting for a home. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for a lower interest rate on your mortgage loan.

Determine what you can afford based on your current income and savings. Do you have enough money to purchase the home you desire? If not, are you able to revise your budget to cut spending and increase your cash reserves? You will need to demonstrate to lenders that you can afford monthly mortgage payments as well as a down payment ranging from 5 to 10 percent of the loan.

If you already know that you are well positioned financially to buy a home, do yourself a favor and get pre-approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval is a written statement from a lending institution in which the lender tentatively commits to lend a borrower, upon underwriting review, a fixed loan amount. This formal letter offers assurance to sellers that you are in good financial standing and truly able to purchase their home.

 

Do Due Diligence

Before you start your house hunt, research the areas and neighborhoods that interest you. In short, do your due diligence.

Log on to HPW.com to take a look at the homes for sale in the communities, zip codes or school districts you've identified. Gather information about homes that have recently sold in the areas you like to get an idea of pricing for the type of home you want.

You should also begin driving around the neighborhoods you'd like to consider to get a feel for what they are like day and night. Take note of the traffic on area streets, find out how the local schools are rated, and familiarize yourself with the various conveniences in the area. A new home is what you seek, but you'll want to know all about its surroundings before you commit to buying it.

 

Hire a Trusted Real Estate Agent

You may be tempted to seek out a home on your own, but it will serve you well to hire a professional real estate agent.

A local real estate agent will know about the communities that interest you and help you find the home you seek. They often hear about listings before they hit the market and may be able to ensure you are one of the first buyers through the door.

Your agent will be able to help you make a stronger, more compelling offer, by providing insight into what sellers are seeking. It is also a real estate agent's job to protect you during the home buying process by keeping your best interests in mind and ensuring the transaction and all paperwork are handled appropriately.

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