If you have been following my column you will know that my wife and I have been waiting for our home in Charleston to sell before making any decisions on a new home in Greenville.  I am happy to say that we are now under contract in Charleston and can really start  our house search in Greenville!  Moving forward I will begin to focus on important factors to consider when buying a house, the process itself, and focus on specific areas of Greenville.

No matter what city you are moving to or if you are just moving across town there are several “check list” items you have to consider when buying a home. When I bought my first house is was an eye-opening experience. I was amazed by all the moving parts. From what mortgage options were available to picking a home inspector there were a lot of decisions to make.  So in an effort to help others in their home buying efforts here are a few suggestions. (Please note that neither I nor Greenville on the Rise are endorsing any of the business listed. These are only suggestions.  We encourage you to support local business and do your own research)

A Buyer’s To Do List

Find the RIGHT Realtor

I can’t stress this enough!  In my own opinion is this is the first and perhaps most important step you’ll take when buying a home. Finding a realtor that gels with your personality, home likes and dislikes, and someone you can trust is key. I would also suggest getting recommendations from trusted friends and neighbors if you don’t already have a realtor. Additionally, it is important to research what type of homes they specialize in, how long they have been in the market, and feedback from other clients.  Here are a few local Realtors

The Toates Team, Greater Greenville Association Of Realtors (Search), Allen Tate Realtors, Wilson Associates.

Thanks to services like Redfin, there is a growing trend of self-shopping for home and forgoing a realtor.  While I am not opposed to that I can tell you that when it comes to negotiating terms of an offer and contract, a Realtors help goes a long way.

Get Pre-approved on your mortgage

It is always a good sign to the seller when an offer is made and the buyer can show proof that they are have the financial means to purchase the property.  It also helps expedite the process and with Greenville houses selling fast, it’s almost a must to be pre-approved.  Fortunately for qualified buyers rates are as low 3.7% on a 30 year fixed mortgage.  Though the average tends to be around 4.2%.  Also be mindful of closing cost and fees that may be attached to your loan.  There are mortgages that do not require a 20% down payment.  However, those may include a mortgage insurance payment each month that is dependent on the amount of the loan.  If you are look at a fixer-upper you might also want to consider a remodeling mortgage which will give you some flexibility in spending as you make updates to your new home. Some local lenders include:  CountyBank, Wells FargoSouth State, Southern First Bank.

Line up a home inspector

No one wants to buy a house and later find out that it’s falling apart or poses a danger to its residence.  Though not every buyer will insist on an inspection many lenders will require it in order for the buyer to get financing.  Inspections run between $200 to $600 ad there are plenty of options in Greenville.  Here are just a few: Reliable Home Inspections, WIN (Anderson), and Carolina RES.

Locate a termite inspector

Just like a home inspection, you want to make sure your new home is pest free.  Inspections typically run between $75 and $150. Many homes should already have a termite bond purchased by a previous owner and some insurance companies will require a bond.  However, if you are in need of a termite inspector here are a few local businesses: Linx Extermination, Mac’s Extermination, Arrow (Spartanburg), Gregory’s Pest Control (Regional)

Find and Attorney for the Closing

This can wait until closer to closing.  However, it’s good to know your option early.  Many realtors have partnerships with attorneys and typically you can use the attorney they suggest.  However, you can select your own and expect to pay between $500 to $800..  Why do you need one?  Mostly to make sure the contract you sign with the seller is legally fit and your are not getting stuck with unforeseen costs and problems.  Though most of the terms will have been negotiate before the closing, an attorney can keep you safe in your purchase.  There are many options in Greenville and I suggest starting here.

Shop for insurance

This is a step that won’t be finalized until you have purchased the home but it’s never bad to learn estimates of your cost a head of closing.  Insurance on a home is required and it’s often rolled into your monthly mortgage cost.

For example, you may have an interest and principal payments of $1100  but with insurance and other escrow costs, you may actually pay $1300 each month.  I have used both local and national companies for insurance and had good experience with both.  Having a local insurance agent does allow you to build a relationship with your agent and can sometimes result in faster responses to claims.  Here are some local agents to get you started: Palmetto Insurance, Advisors Insurance Agency, FCI Agency (Greer)

Keep in mind that the hese are just a few of the things you’ll need to do or consider before buying a home.  As we get closer to closing on a home in Greenville I’ll share a few more important steps that only apply once an offer has been made and you are closing on the contract.  If you too are searching for a home, best of luck and be sure to share your experiences in the comments section!

Inquire About Flood Insurance

Even if the home you’re purchasing isn’t in a floodplain and the owner and their neighbors aren’t currently required to have flood insurance, make sure your lender double checks this, especially if you’re close to any pond, lake, or river. The floodplains are redrawn every couple of years, meaning that the home that wasn’t in a Flood Zone, could now be zoned for Flood Insurance, and unless you’re paying cash, your lender will require this very costly insurance. During the process of a house I once purchased, I found out the home I wanted was in a Flood Zone a day before closing. (This paragraph was added by Jason from Greenville on the Rise)

About the Author

Mike Swanigan is a Process Engineer for Cigna. A native of West Virginia, Mike’s family moved first Myrtle Beach in the 1980s and shortly after relocated to Charleston. He holds a B.S. in Journalism from WVU and a M.A. in IT and Digital Communication from Johns Hopkins He is an avid dog lover, amateur foodie, and long time music fan.

Check out the Rest of the “Moving up to Greenville” series by Mike Swanigan Here.