Rules to Live By When Buying in Charleston
It’s spendy here, y’all!
Charleston has become the chosen girl of the coastal world; therefore, you need to be prepared for sticker shock, come to terms with it and get over it. It is what it is, folks, and Charleston is f’ing awesome. Awesome mixed with a prime coastal location means you gon’ have to pay up!
Become legit before you commit
If you have never lived here before, consider renting first. The peninsula is what we come for, but few make it their permanent address. Rent where you think you’d like to live in order to give it a test drive. If schools are important, consider Mt Pleasant first. If you are more budget minded, we suggest James Island or West Ashley close to downtown. Check out our neighborhood guide for more.
You live where you live
Traffic is now worse than the summer heat here, y’all. If you have 4 kids that need to get to and fro school every day, you betta live real close by. Consider grocery stores, Target (if that’s yo thing), gyms and commute to work before you consider proximity to downtown or the beaches. If you’re a barfly, make sure you find a Cheers just a stone’s throw from home (but that ain’t much of an issue in this town).
It takes a village
Hire a pro to guide you in the right direction. A great Realtor will connect you with their network and give you points to consider that you’ve never thought of. We’ve helped buyers who:
a. Insisted on oceanfront Sullivan’s Island, but are now loving Daniel Island even though they aren’t the “Country Club” kind.
b. New Yorkers convinced they needed a downtown loft purchase a modern estate with a pool and Intercoastal march views for miles.
c. Countless buyers who said they’d never consider a condor over a single famiy home and vice versa, suddenly recalling the old adage “never say never.
Unless you’re a real whodunit, we’ve probably seen your kind before and will use our experience to help you land in the perfect spot.
Don’t fudge it, know your budget
Know what you can afford. Talk to a mortgage professional who your Realtor recommends and be real when you share your budget. No one wants to spend the max they can afford, but in reference to Rule #1, many wind-up caving when they see that the homes that are a better “deal” are just plain fug. You can absolutely say “my mortgage broker told me I can afford up to $500k, but I’m only comfortable spending $400k because I also want to buy a boat.” That’s fair and reasonable, and your agent should know that. What isn’t fair is not sharing your true goals and objectives with your agent. A good agent will never try to take advantage of you or upsell you, they just want you to find the right home and be happy in it.
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
Well, we may not have dat kinda critters here in the Lowcountry, but we do have termites, rats and bats, y’all! Make sure you have a termite/pest inspection done, known as a CL-100, and have a termite bond in place when you buy. You can assume a seller’s bond if they have one, usually for a fee at closing, or you can get a bond in place after you close- pricey, but essential. Your concern should not be if you will get termites, but when, and having a bond in place will solve the problem on pest control on the company’s tab.
Hydrate or die, y’all!
Prepare to get wet, and we mean drenched with various and assorted water related issues. This is the Lowcountry, and sea levels are rising. We have frequent tidal flooding, storms from time to time and torrential rain on the reg. Your crawlspace will have moisture and your yard will pretty much stay wet. The closer you are the the water, the greater the chance you’ll need rain boots to mow the lawn. So go on and get you some wellies, a poncho, and a new attitude about H2O.
It’s a hard knock life… for your home
A coastal climate will put additional wear and tear on your home. A 30-year roof has almost no chance of lasting 30 years here. Falling leaves, rain and significant weather events take their toll. A roof over 17 years old hikes up insurance rates significantly, so consider homes with a newer one or replace an old roof before moving in. Salt air can do a number to HVAC units, and loads of sunshine beating down on your siding will cause it to fade over time. Plan on painting siding every 5-7 years, and wood trim more frequently to moisture from rotting the wood. Even if you like surprises, don’t nobody like surprise expenses.
Insurance can be a deal breaker
How would you like to buy a $200,ooo house with a $13,000 annual insurance premium. Don’t make sense now does it? The newer and higher your income, the better your premium will be. Homes in X flood zones don’t require flood insurance from lenders, but you better get it, fool! It will be the most reasonable in an X zone, then AE next, with VE as the priciest. Hazard insurance can be a surprise expense for a lot of first time buyers considering homes on James Island, as well as east of 17 in Mt Pleasant in the wind and hail zone. You MUST get an insurance quote during your Due Diligence period so you know how those premiums will affect your monthly payments.
You know what they say about letting too many cooks in the kitchen, y’all …you’ll spoil the broth!
If Mom lives in Iowa, she WILL tell you that whatever you buy here in Charleston is ridiculously expensive, and while Mama is normally right, she’s not going to have a fair chance at it unless she is familiar with our local market. Your coworkers, friends and relatives will offer you free advice. We generally tell our buyers not to advertise that they are considering purchasing a home to avoid distractions in the form of opinions with no value. Finding the perfect home is like falling in love: you walk through the front door and, within moments, get the feeling that you have a future together. Consider first what your gut tells you, then ask your Broker if they think it’s a good fit for you and what obstacles may be for resale.
We think that’s all the info you really need in order to make the best choice!