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Category Archives: Buyer Resources

6 Excellent Resources to Use When Buying a Home

a couple searching on a computerScrolling through online listing photos, scouting for the best neighborhoods, and pondering décor in your new home is fun. But the home search itself is not the only enjoyable experience; the entire home buying process can be pleasant when you have access to the best tools.

Here are the top six resources you should use to make buying a home easier and enjoyable.

1. A Wants vs. Needs Checklist

First determine what price, location, size, and any special features your new home must have. Then you can hone in on your favorite properties by searching for additional features that you would prefer.

2. A Mortgage Payment Calculator

What do you want your monthly mortgage payments to be? We have an easy mortgage payment calculator you can use to find out how much you can afford for a home. This tool takes into account the length of the loan, the interest rate, and annual tax and insurance to calculate how much you will pay every month.

3. A Reliable Home Search Tool:

The best source for your home search is a real estate agent and a database of available properties called the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). At we make searching local real estate listings easy.

If you are using national real estate sites to search for homes near you, keep in mind that you are not seeing all the homes that are for sale. HousingWire reported that websites such as Zillow show fewer listings than are available in many major cities, which means you could be missing out on the best home.

4. A Local Neighborhood Guide

Choosing the best home involves more than the property itself. It’s important to research areas and neighborhoods. Here are a few questions you may want to consider when researching communities:

  • Does the community offer amenities, such as a swimming pool or fitness center?
  • What are the parking options in the community?
  • Where is the nearest grocery store, gas station, or shopping area?
  • How is the local school district?

We have helpful information about neighborhoods and areas on our website that you can use when searching for a home. Simply click here to start exploring Charleston neighborhoods!

5. A List of Recently Sold Homes

a line graph with a magnifying glassResearching the real estate market will also make your home search much easier.

If you are thinking of buying a home in a particular community, ask us for the Neighborhood Sold Report, which can help you determine whether the home is fairly priced.

You can always ask us about the real estate conditions in this area, too. Send an email to Paige today!

6. A Local Real Estate Expert

But your best resource for buying a home in this area is the local real estate expert. He or she will have all of the tools you will need, including sold data and an easy-to-use home search, to help you easily find the best home.

Are you ready to buy a home? Let Paige Hutto help! Contact us today and we can work with you to find your ideal home.

“Know Before You Owe”: New Rules for Real Estate Closings

house icon on grassIf you’re a home buyer, changes to the closing process have been established.

New regulations went into effect on Saturday, October 3rd, providing new loan disclosure forms that are designed to help you better understand the terms of your home mortgage before you close on your new home. That means when you apply for a loan, you will now receive the easier-to-understand forms.

What You Need to Know About the New Closing Disclosures

To summarize, these new rules combine mortgage loan disclosures from both the Truth-In-Lending Act (which informs consumers about loan terms) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (which deals with closings) into one simplified set of disclosure forms for home buyers who are getting a mortgage.

The official title to these regulations is a mouthful — Truth-In-Lending Act / Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act Integrated Disclosure Rule— so the regulations are just referred to as TRID. (The enforcement agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, also calls it Know Before You Owe.”) “Know Before You Owe” is designed to help borrowers clearly understand the costs and terms of their home mortgages. Here are the changes that you can expect from these new regulations, from the number of forms you’ll need to fill out to the time requirements that can alter your closing date.

If you’re getting a mortgage, you’ll receive two forms under “Know Before You Owe.” The first, a loan estimate, based on your financial information. You’ll receive the loan estimate 3 business days after applying for your mortgage. The second, a closing disclosure, which outlines all of the costs you will need to pay. You’ll receive that form 3 business days before closing. These two new forms are more user-friendly, and are replacing four separate forms that home buyers received before — two Truth-In-Lending statements, the loan estimate, and a list of itemized fees.

With these new regulations, you will have time to review the terms of your mortgage well before closing, so you can understand exactly what fees there will be. You can read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s full guide to the loan estimate and closing disclosure forms here.

There is a 3-Day Review Period Before Closing

Under the new “Know Before You Owe” rules, mortgage lenders must send you easier-to-understand information about your loan — the Closing Disclosure form — 3 business days before closing on your home, giving you time to review the terms of your mortgage.

However, some changes to the mortgage terms — like changes to your interest rate or the loan product itself — will mean that you will need another 3-business-day review period, possibly delaying your closing date. If you would like an overview of the details, the CFPB highlights the instances where the 3-day review period would be affected.

The Avera Group Can Answer Your Questions!

If you are buying a home and have questions about these new regulations, and what it might mean for closing on your home in the future, contact us today and we will be happy to answer your questions in detail.

Charleston Real Estate: By The Numbers

Everything about the Charleston real estate market continues to improve! If you look at the numbers we’ve compiled below, you’ll see that prices are up, the number of sale has increased and the time it takes to sell is down. Like we’ve pointed out before, this is great news for sellers in our area. But, don’t fret buyers! There are still great and affordable areas in Charleston that you can call home. There are over 5000 active listings in the area and over 400 came onto the market in the past week. One of those homes might be the right one for you!

Past 6 months of 2015
As compared to same period of 2014

Entire Tri-County, MLS area:
  • Average Days on Market: 64, down 23%
  • Months Supply: 4.9, down 18%
  • Average Sales Price: $308,615, up 3.6%
  • Sales price to List Price: 97.6%, up .06%
  • Average Price per Square Foot: $120, up 4.3%
  • Single Family Homes Sold: 8789, up 20.6%
  • New Construction Sold: 1707, up 19.5%

Count on The Avera Group for Expert Real Estate Advice!

Has the market increased enough for you to consider selling your home? Curious about a neighborhood you might want to move to? These numbers can vary from town to town or even by the neighborhood. We would be happy to provide you with the statistics specific to the area you live in or a neighborhood that piques your interest! Email Paige today with any questions!

The Small House Movement

In the United States the average size of new single family homes grew from 1,780 square feet in 1978 to 2,479 square feet in 2007, and to 2,662 square feet in 2013, despite a decrease in the size of the average family. Overall, our homes keep getting bigger, but there is a small group of home buyers and builders that are moving away from this trend. A very early pioneer of this small house trend is Henry David Thoreau, whose publication of the book “Walden” is quoted as early inspiration for living in a smaller space.800px-Tiny_house,_Portland

The current small house movement is a return to houses of less than 1,000 square feet. Frequently the distinction is made between small (between 400 square feet and 1,000 square feet), and tiny houses (less than 400 square feet). One of the events that opened peoples eyes to these smaller homes was Hurricane Katrina. Marianne Cusato developed what was called the Katrina Cottages, that start at 308 square feet. Though these were created to provide a pleasant solution to a disaster zone, Cusato received wider interest in her design from interested home owners and developers.  The financial crisis of 2007–08, also attracted more attention to the small house movement as it offers housing that is more affordable.

Smaller homes are less expensive than larger ones in terms of taxes and building, heating, maintenance, and repair costs. Small houses may emphasize design over size, utilize dual purpose features and multi-functional furniture, and incorporate technological advances of space saving equipment and appliances. Vertical space optimization is also a common feature of small houses and apartments. In addition to costing less, small houses may encourage a less cluttered and simpler lifestyle and reduce ecological impacts for their residents. Some small home builders will reuse old material such as wood floors, doors, windows. Recycled materials such as recycled glass, aluminum,  recycled tile, reclaimed lumber, recycled plastic to reduce the ecological impact building can have.

Charleston’s Small House Movement

According to a Post and Courier article, the Tiny house movement has begun to sprout in Charleston. There has been a history of living in small spaces in Charleston, either by necessity or on purpose. Examples are Freedman’s Cottages, sailboats, beach cottages and apartments downtown. More recently, a couple just had their 192sf tiny home in North Charleston built by a North Carolina company for $45,000. Though they had complications with permitting in their original location, they are now happily living in their tiny home. A  392sf tiny home on Johns Island and a 240sf home for two in East Charleston were both built for around $30,000. One Charleston company is even moving towards a planned unit development of 40 tiny homes near Park Circle.

Right now there are 125 single family homes for sale in the Charleston MLS area under 1000sf. Only 200 homes of the 7,745 that have sold in 2015 were small homes, but the homes and the land are out there. If you would like to find out more about small homes, The Avera Group would be happy to help!


What’s Going on With Mortgage Rates?

Interest Rates Remain Low, But for How Long?

Despite some volatility in mid- to late-March, low rates continue their smooth stride into the spring home buying season.  Rates jumped slightly this week to 3.99% after the yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit its highest level in two months. The increase in rates spurred a 8% drop-off in refinances, but purchases are still up.
Home loan applications for purchases moved higher in early April due to consistently low rates and were 8% higher than the same time one year agMortgage-Rates-300x300o. Applications to refinance, which are more dependent on interest rates, rose 4% in April and were a surprising 44% higher than the same time one year ago.

Applications for the two main types of home loans, conventional (typically 15 and 30 year fixed rate loans) and government (Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Administration loans), also moved higher. This indicates both move-up and first-time buyers are back or getting into the market. Government-insured loans tend to attract first-time buyers due to their low down payment requirements. Volume for these loans grew by an impressive 19 percent from a year ago. Continue reading

Shop Smart During the Spring Buying Season

This is the time of year that has home buyers and home sellers alike excited: The Spring Home Buying Season!  For buyers, it’s a great time to purchase a home because the school year is coming to an end and residents have all summer to move before it’s back in session. For sellers, it’s a great chance to reach a lot of home buyers as they navigate the market searching for their dream home.

Charleston Buying Tips for the Spring Market

Don’t just rely on the Internet for your home searches. While you can certainly find a treasure trove of information on the Internet and through our website, it’s not the only way to find your dream home. In addition to searching real estate websites, you might consider also getting out and canvassing homes for sale the old fashioned way. After all, Internet pictures and listing information only tell part of the story and aren’t always up to date. As real estate professionals, we also have access to a information that isn’t widely available to the public. And don’t hesitate, either! This year’s spring home buying market is expected to be particularly competitive and so you want to make sure you get to that home before other buyers do.

Learn about current market values. Obviously, every market is going to be slightly different and so it behooves you to learn about your local housing markets specific trends. In Charleston this March, new listings were up 7.6%, pending sales increased 46.3% and inventory shrank 17.6%. The median sales price also inched slightly higher to $221k.  With a promising jobs picture and steady mortgage rates, people can and are buying homes. As qualified and experienced agents, we can talk with you about current trends and how they impact you.

Lock in low mortgage rates now. Those near-historic lows won’t be around forever. Thus, make sure you get a good mortgage rate now. By doing so, you ensure that your monthly mortgage will be reasonable for you. And in some cases, you may qualify for a larger or more expensive home thanks to low mortgage rates. Here’s another reason to get a mortgage now: In January, the Federal Housing Authority (which backs loans for borrowers who make low down payments), lowered the annual insurance premium it requires from 1.35 percent of a home loan to just 0.85 percent. All told, the Housing Department estimates that will save FHA homeowners roughly $900 a year.

We Are Your #1 Resource for Home Buying Tips

We hope you found the above information helpful as a prospective home buyer. We thought we should pass along these tips for those of you who have been on the fence about buying or for those of you who plan on moving sometime down the road. I would hate for you to hesitate, and miss out on once-in-a-lifetime conditions as a result.

If you would like to talk it over, we are always available by email or phone. You don’t have to worry about contracts or obligations of any sort. We would love to advise you on the subject, so you can make the decision that’s right for you and your family.

Have a great day!

Excellent News for Home Buyers: US Prices Stabilizing

Home Selling 6If you’ve been weighing whether now is the right time to enter the local housing market as a home buyer, we have some news to share with you that will help you decide. According to a recent report from real estate data provider CoreLogic, U.S. home price gains are slowing down, despite an increase during the month of August. This is great news for home buyers because it means that you have a fantastic opportunity to get a reasonable price on your next home before prices continue to rise!

What Every Home Buyer Should Know

CoreLogic reported that home prices increased 6.4 percent in August when compared to last year. Still, that figure is actually down slightly from the annual gain of 6.8 percent in July.

Here’s what else the recent housing market report revealed:

  • The increase in home prices is also down when compared to how much they had been rising toward the end of last year. During that time, prices were rising as much as 12 percent.
  • Home sales have been mostly stable throughout 2014, as have price gains.
  • All states showed home price gains during the month of August, save for Arkansas where prices were stagnate.
  • Home prices nationwide remain about 12.1 percent below their peak average in April 2006.
  • Home purchases decreased 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.05 million in August.
  • Home sales decreased from a July rate of 5.14 million.
  • Meanwhile, the pace of home sales dropped 5.3 percent year-over-year.
  • Experts say that an annual sales rate of 5.5 million is considered a healthy market.
  • Meanwhile, the median sales price has increased 4.8 percent over the last 12 months to $219,800, although that average dropped slightly during the month of August when compared to July and June.

Continue reading

Just Listed in Old Mount Pleasant

noname-11502 Kathryn Street

Old Mount Pleasant


Beautifully renovated home in Old Mt. Pleasant located on a large corner lot with easy access to the beaches and downtown Charleston. An updated and open floor plan welcomes you and your family to the heart of Mt. Pleasant. The eat-in kitchen, complete with granite counter-tops and stainless appliances, also has a breakfast bar and leads into the family room that opens to the backyard. A new screened porch is the perfect place to relax in this quiet neighborhood. The bedrooms and bathrooms have been renovated as have the floors throughout the home.

Call The Avera Group today with any questions or to schedule a showing!

Mount Pleasant Real Estate Update – 9/25/14

We are always asked….How is the real estate market in Mt. Pleasant?  And the answer is always the same…..”it’s great”.  So what does that mean exactly?

The Mt. Pleasant Real Estate Market is Always Great…Or is it?

Every real estate market is always good for some, but not all.  For example, if you are a buyer and the inventory is quite low, it’s likely a great market for sellers.  But if there is a high supply of inventory, then it’s likely a better market for you, the buyer.  It’s all about supply and demand.  So what is currently going on in Mt. Pleasant real estate?  Let’s add some perspective to this question… Continue reading

Bigger is Better for Home Buyers

36 Cannon Street Charleston SC-print-001-DSC04815-2230x1485-300dpi

The sluggish housing market over the last several years did not have an impact on Americans’ desire for bigger and fancier homes, according to a recent report from USA Today.

Evidently, demand continues to grow for these large estates, especially as the housing market across the nation improves. This is a fascinating trend on the national housing market and one that is sure to impact both home buyers and sellers.

Americans Love to Own Large, Luxury Homes

The American Dream of owning a bigger and better home is still very much alive across the country. In fact, as the recent USA Today article noted, many of today’s buyers still want a house that includes as many luxury amenities and features as they can think of – or at least afford. This may include gourmet kitchens, deluxe bathrooms, spacious decks or screened-in porches.

While this is occurring, experts also note that homeownership rates have remained mostly stagnant. And income growth appears to be lagging behind the rising price of homes. Continue reading