Selling Basics | 1-2-3s Of Selling In Wilmington NC

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1604crowslanding1—Start cleaning, clearing and prepping now. Don’t waste time getting your home in order for visits by potential buyers. Clear out clutter, deep clean and move out some of your bulkier furniture to temporary storage or sell/give away/move it to your new home.

2—Secure a local agent. Selling your home in today’s fast-changing market requires you to know and do a lot more than most people have the time, energy or know-how to deal with. Work with a local agent who has experience—like us.

3—Price it right. Working with a professional agent, you will get feedback on what local home prices are doing, what the competition looks like and how the price will affect buyers.

4—Stage it, clean it, make it ready to show. Staging a home means having it look its best for buyers by giving each room a focal point and a purpose—whether you do it yourself with your belongings or you use rental items to spruce up your residence. Hiring a pro stager is another option, but make sure you have a clean base to start from and your home could be ready to show quickly.

5—Accept the right offer. The first offer could be your best offer, only offer or the start of more. You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to counter and know when to call. We can help you evaluate an offer to help you determine whether it’s a good move to accept or whether you should make a counteroffer.

SELLERS: Yesterday is history. Set an asking price for your home that reflects the reality of the current real estate market—instead of rumor or yesterday’s sales prices.

6—Be patient, but pay attention.Once the offer is signed and accepted, be flexible to allow the buyer to schedule inspections and finalize financing. However, your agent and you should keep track to make sure closing/settlement is on track for the agreed-upon date.

7—Get moving. Once that offer is signed, it’s real. Get your bags packed and boxes loaded up. You’re on your way to the next stage with your home sale behind you!

Professional guidance is essential in today’s real estate market, especially in your local area. We look forward to putting our know-how to work for you.

Categories: Selling Basics, wilmington nc real estate, Wilmington NC real estate stats 2014

Need to Renovate? A Mortgage Loan That Can Help Pay For Your Home’s Renovations

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1Want to renovate your home’s 20th century-era kitchen? Or maybe you’d like to build that master bedroom of your dreams. You can—with the help of two mortgage programs designed to help homeowners pay for renovations designed to improve the value of a residence.

Fannie Mae offers the HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage, while the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides the 203(k) Program. Buyers can take out these mortgages when buying a new home. But they can also refinance their existing mortgage loans into a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan if they need to make improvements to their current homes.

These loans allow consumers to borrow more than a home is worth, as long as you use the extra money you are borrowing to pay for home repairs or renovations.

For instance, if borrowers want to buy a $150,000 home, they can take out a HomeStyle or 203(k) loan for $175,000. They can then use that extra $25,000 to fund the renovation of an aging kitchen or add another bathroom.

Borrowers will have to work with consultants who will study borrowers’ renovation plans and make sure that the homeowners are using the money for the repairs they promised to make.

But that extra work is worth it if it allows you to improve the value of your home while making it a better place to live for you and your family.

If you have questions about these loan programs, don’t hesitate to call us. We can help you determine which program is best for you. And we can guide you through the application process for both types of loans.

Don’t Keep It To Yourself!
After you’ve read and reviewed this newsletter, we hope you’ll pass it on to those you know who are thinking about selling or buying a home this year. They’ll appreciate you thinking about them, and we’ll certainly appreciate the referrals. Your positive word-of-mouth is greatly valued. Thank you!


Categories: Get a Mortgage to Renovate, Uncategorized, wilmington beach homes, wilmington nc, wilmington real estate stats

SMORGASBORD When You’re Ready For A Mortgage You’ll Have Plenty Of Choices

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jones 91011 268This is a great time to apply for a mortgage loan. Interest rates are still low. Many borrowers are able to qualify for rates under 4%. And even better? Mortgage lenders today offer a wide variety of loan types. Borrowers with solid credit scores should have little trouble finding a home loan that works for their varied financial situations.

Here’s a look at some of the choices on the most popular mortgage smorgasbord available today. If you need help choosing, give us a call. We’d be happy to discuss your options.

30-Year Fixed-Rate: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) loan remains a favorite among borrowers. And why not? This mortgage comes with lower monthly payments because of its long life. Plus, the interest rate is fixed, so borrowers always know how much they’ll pay in principal and interest each month. (Your payments can still change, though, if taxes or insurance bills increase or decrease.) The downside? Because repayment is spread out over three decades, borrowers who pay off a 30-year loan in full will pay a lot more interest than those with different loan types.

15-Year Fixed-Rate: The 15-year fixed-rate loan comes with all the benefits of the 30-year version. But borrowers will pay far less interest each month because the repayment period is cut in half. The interest rates attached to 15-year mortgages are also lower than those that come with 30-year loans. However, because of the shorter term, a 15-year mortgage does come with higher monthly payments.

Hybrid ARMs: An adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) features interest rates that are fixed for a certain number of years, often five, seven or 10. After that fixed period ends, though, the interest rate adjusts on a pre-set schedule according to the performance of whatever financial index the loan is tied to. Hybrid ARMs come in several varieties, but they all operate similarly: The 5/1 ARM, for instance, features a fixed-rate period of five years, while a 7/1 hybrid has a seven-year fixed period before the interest rate begins adjusting each year. The main benefit of these loans is the low initial interest rates that come with them. ARMs usually start with interest rates that are lower than those attached to fixed-rate loans. It’s important, though, for consumers to understand just how high their rate can jump each year once their loans enter the adjustable period and how that affects their payment—and ability to pay.

5/5 ARM: The 5/5 ARM is a relative newcomer. In this type of ARM, the interest rate is fixed for five years, then can adjust once every five years until the loan is paid off, the owner refinances it or the owner sells their home. This loan combines the low interest rate of an ARM with a bit of the stability that comes with a fixed-rate loan. Another variation is a 15/15 ARM.

Categories: Mortgage choice, Uncategorized

KEY TO SUCCESS | How To Choose Your Rental Property Tenants Wisely

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whitneyHow do you find responsible tenants who pay their rent on time, take care of your property, get on well with the neighbors and stay as long as you want them to?

Recruiting: Ask around to find potential tenants looking for a rental or advertise your property online to find them. Two proven ways to find good tenants is through tenant referrals or a reputable management service, which can advertise your property, efficiently screen applicants and refer people to you for a fee.

PERFECT RENTALSSuccess as a landlord starts with having the right rental property—one that appeals to renters, minimizes your costs, maximizes your income and is likely to appreciate in value while you own it. Wise investments start with the following tips:

1. Location. Be sure the property is in a location where rental demand is high (e.g., near public transportation, employment centers, etc.). Check vacancy rates and how long properties stay on the rental market.2. Property. Buy the type of property that is most desired by renters. In some areas, condos, townhouses or multi-family units may be easier to rent than single-family homes. In other areas, the reverse may be true.

3. Condition. Choose a property in good shape and easy to maintain. Excessive repair and maintenance expenses can seriously impact the profitability of your investment.

4. Demand. Find out what is predicted for the area’s rental market in years to come. Learn what plans are underway to change the neighborhood (e.g., road construction, industrial development, etc.) that might affect the value of or demand for your investment.

Setting Standards: Decide what your rental criteria are—then make sure you advertise the property accurately. Determine the following:

  • Rental price and rental period.
  • Minimum income requirements.
  • Security deposits for last month’s rent, damages, pets, etc.
  • Who pays which utilities.
  • Restrictions on pets, smoking and/or maximum number of occupants or cars.
  • Responsibilities for maintenance, repairs, yard upkeep and pest control.
  • Satisfactory personal and former landlord recommendations.

Applications And Screening: Make sure your application form asks for all the information you need. Ask applicants to show their legal identification and verify the information they’ve provided to you. Remember, although you do have the right to choose who lives in your property, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on the applicant’s race or color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and handicap or disability. In ads: Describe the property, not the people.

TIP: Ask applicants for their credit reports with their application or permission to order a report directly from a credit reporting agency.
Categories: Choosing a rental client, Things to look for in a renter, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington real estate stats

PLAY SMART: Savvy Tips On Buying A Vacation Home :: Wrightsville Beach

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We’ve all thought about it while lying on the beach or inhaling the fresh mountain air: “Why don’t we buy a vacation home?” Owning a vacation home can be a good decision if you buy smart.

Great Reasons To Buy A Vacation Home

They provide another investment that includes a mortgage-interest tax deduction.

Sign up for your own portal for looking at Wilmington NC real estate at

Whether you rent it out or not, you can deduct the mortgage interest as long as you use the home more than 14 days or more than 10% of the number of days the home is rented annually at a fair rental, whichever is longer.

Qualified second homes include houses, condominiums, cooperatives, mobile homes, house trailers, boats or similar properties that have sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities.

Here’s an interesting twist on the mortgage interest deduction: If you take out a home equity loan on your first home and use the funds to acquire your second home, the interest on the home equity loan is also deductible. That’s three mortgage interest deductions off your tax return!

Consult IRS Publication 936 for a complete discussion of how mortgage interest for a second home is deductible.

You can purchase your future retirement home now, at today’s prices.

Though your second home may be a vacation home now, if you buy right you can convert it into your principal residence later.

They can produce their own income.

Renting out a second home occasionally or often can help you pay for the property with OPM (other people’s money). Check with your tax advisor about how much of the upkeep and management expenses are deductible against your income.

Buying Tips From The Experts

Buy something within a reasonable distance.

Be sure you can get to your vacation home in a short amount of time. Before you make a final decision, travel the distance on a typical Friday afternoon to see whether the drive will be too much to deal with after a long work week.

Rent in the area several times before you buy.

If you really like a particular area, check it out during different seasons. This way you get to know the climate, people, pests, traffic patterns and other regional particulars first-hand.

Consult other owners.

Check with owners of nearby properties about public and private facilities, special maintenance required due to location or weather, the social climate, local development plans and prevalence of crime. Learning about the lifestyle of the area may help you narrow down your choices.

Think home first, investment second.

Although you may be able to generate rental income from your vacation home, it may not cover your ownership costs. (If you want to try real estate investments, give us a call to look at properties in the local area.)

Consider different styles of properties in a vacation area.

To minimize upkeep and have a more secure environment, a condo may be preferable to a single-family home. If you plan on converting it to a retirement home, consider what type of home you’ll want as a full-time residence.


Categories: Buying a Vacation Home, Figure Eight Island, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods, wilmington nc real estate, Wrightsville Beach NC

BOUNCING BACK | Denied A Mortgage Loan? You Can Recover!

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It’s a sinking feeling: You applied for a mortgage loan only to have your lender reject your application. Now you feel like you’ll never be able to buy your dream home.

But don’t give up hope. Your lender rejected your application because it didn’t think you could afford a monthly mortgage payment of that amount today. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to afford a smaller loan now or a larger one in the near future.

Here are some tips for dramatically increasing your odds to earn approval next time:

Listen to what your lender says: Don’t shut out your lender just because it denied your application. Find out from your lender exactly why you were denied. Your lender is required to send you a letter listing a reason, but those reasons can be general. Ask your mortgage loan officer for more specific information. Once you know the problem—low credit score, low income—take steps to fix it.

Work on that credit score: Often, lenders deny a loan application because borrowers’ credit scores are too low. Fortunately, you can improve your credit score. You have to pay your bills on time each month and pay off as much credit-card debt as possible. It might take time—several months, or more—but you can steadily boost that three-digit score.

Time to go it alone? Maybe your credit score is high but your spouse’s or partner’s is low. It might make sense to apply for a mortgage loan on your own. Lenders will rely on the lowest credit score among applicants when deciding who does and doesn’t qualify for a home loan. Make sure, though, that your income alone is high enough to qualify for the loan you want. Remember, too, that the name of your spouse or partner can be on the home’s title, even if both of your names aren’t on the mortgage.

Pay off those debts: Lenders want your monthly debts— including your estimated monthly mortgage payments—to be no more than 43% of your gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio was higher than this mark, pay off as much of your debt as possible before applying again for a mortgage loan. Lower debt levels could mean the difference between denied or accepted.

If you’d like to boost your odds of qualifying for a home loan, call us today. We’ll help you determine what steps you need to take to earn that mortgage.

Categories: Denied a mortgage?, Uncategorized

WHY WAIT? Contingencies Designed To Move A Sale Forward

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When you buy or sell a Wilmington NC home, there may be some delays before you can close and load up the moving van to say goodbye to your current neighborhood. These delays happen for a variety of reasons.

Sometimes a buyer is not able to make a decision to purchase. Contingencies are typically used to smooth acceptance of a contract without delaying the buying decision. Most contracts, for example, are contingent upon financing. This is for the protection of the seller as well as the buyer, because a seller doesn’t want to be tied to a buyer who can’t deliver.

Here are some common types of contingencies found in sales contracts:

Home inspection: Placed by the buyer, this type of contingency usually requires that a “satisfactory” home inspection must be conducted, before the buyer will go through with the purchase of a home. Somewhat related is buyer approval of required repairs, such as painting or roofing.

Financing: With today’s pre-approval for mortgages and all-cash buyers, this contingency is not as ubiquitous as it was in the past. However, some buyers will write a contract first, then determine if they can get the loan.

Home of choice: This is a seller’s contingency placed on a buyer’s contract. The seller may want to find another home and write a contract on it before agreeing to sell the home they live in. The buyer who agrees to this contingency will have to delay closing until the seller has purchased a new home.

Home sale: For financial or other reasons, some buyers may have to include this contingency, which gives them the opportunity to sell an existing home first, before completing a sales contract.

Contingencies can raise questions and need to be fulfilled before a contract can be settled. As your local real estate experts, we can give you more information on real estate transactions and what you might encounter in today’s market. Contact us to find out more.

Categories: home contingency, Move Sale of Home Forward, Uncategorized, wilmington nc, wilmington nc foreclosures, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

Online Tools | Starting The Mortgage Process? The Internet Is Your Friend

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cbbaker_002The Internet is a great tool for home buyers. It can help you find the perfect home in the perfect neighborhood. With virtual tools, buyers can even see the exteriors and interiors of homes that interest them, all without leaving their screens.

But did you know that the Internet is an essential tool for buyers who are ready to apply for a mortgage loan, too?

It’s true. The Internet makes applying for a home loan easier than ever.

First, there are plenty of mortgage affordability calculators and mortgage payment calculators available online. With these tools you can enter your basic financial information to determine how much of a mortgage payment you can afford to make each month. You can also enter the information you know about a potential mortgage loan—everything from the term/length of your expected loan to the amount you plan to borrow—to calculate the estimated size of your monthly payment.

You can also use several websites to get a feel for where the interest rates for various loan types—15-year fixed, 30-year fixed, adjustable-rate—stand at any given time.

And if you’re still looking for a home—and you know how much mortgage you can afford and, therefore, how much you can spend on a new residence—you can use national real estate sites such as our MLS public link,, Trulia and Zillow to get a ‘starting point’ estimated value of any home in the neighborhoods that interest you. Don’t forget, we can refer you to local real estate professionals to find the home of your dreams in person.

Remember, though, that the Internet is a useful tool. It’s not a substitute for working with a skilled mortgage loan officer who can guide you through the process of applying for a loan. When you’re ready to get real-world figures, contact us today. We’d be happy to help you find the perfect mortgage loan. Call us tel:1-910-202-3607

or email –



Categories: wilmington beach homes, Wilmington NC homes, Wrightsville Beach NC

What is the single most important rule in house hunting?

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1604 CrowsLand-0503Want to know what the number one rule is when Wilmington NC home shopping? Well, many details must be considered in choosing your next home – style, size, price, location. It’s probably impossible to say which factor is most important. But one thing is certain – if you will be moving again in a few years, be sure you buy with selling in mind. Chances are, the items that make your new home a comfortable fit for you will also attract buyers later on.

Some special considerations for the short-term homeowner who has resale in mind:

  • Watch for growth potential
      Look for an established neighborhood that will be enhanced by future growth but not inconvenienced by it.
  • Look out for resale value
      Seek a prime neighborhood where houses sell well in any market.
  • Check out location
      Consider availability of all aspects of transportation; even those you may not use.
  • Schools are important
      Check for quality public schools, whether or not you have school-age children.
  • Green is good
      Look carefully at the lot for trees and greenery to buffer winter winds or summer heat.
  • Make room for visitors
      See if ample guest parking is available for you and your neighbors.


  • Privacy is a plus
      Consider how much privacy the house and lot provide.
  • Drive the commute before you buy

Check morning and afternoon drive time to work, schools, shopping, churches.  Call us 910-202-3607 or

Categories: house hunting, Uncategorized, Waterfront Wilmington NC, Wilmington NC Neighborhoods, wilmington nc real estate

FAMILY MOVE: Tips For House Hunting With The Kids

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Parents Carrying Child

Child experts agree it’s a good idea to involve the children when a family makes relocation plans. You may have mixed feelings about taking the kids house-hunting, however. (It’s hard enough for just two people to decide on a new home!) Here are a few pointers that may help:

Narrow The Field First

The kids don’t need to visit every potential Wilmington NC house on the list. If possible, wait until you’ve selected two or three serious prospects before bringing the children along. In any case, limit your kid-accompanied tours to three houses or less per day.

Provide Behavioral Guidelines

{short description of image}Remind the kids to treat the owners and their property with respect. Make sure the kids stay in the same room with you at all times and that they “keep their hands to themselves.”If the owners are present, your family members should also keep their thoughts about the house to themselves until after you leave the property. Making positive comments in the presence of the owners could work against you when negotiating the price, while negative comments could spark a hostile reaction, causing the owner to sell to another buyer.

Make The Kids Your Secretaries

If they’re old enough, your children can each keep a log of the homes you look at, including detailed information about the house — location, size, types and numbers of rooms, etc. Have them describe they’re feelings about the house, too, particularly what they think it would be like to live there.

Locate The Nearest Playground

A post-tour trip to the park (or local mall, if you have teenagers) can be a great motivator for good behavior and a nice way to get to know the area. Walking the streets in the neighborhood will also give you and the kids a better feeling for the local lifestyle and whether there are other children the same age as yours in the area.

Offer Entertainment

Bring along books or games to help your kids through the “I’m bored” stage. If you’ll be driving for extended periods, bring some audio books or favorite music.

Time Your Tours For Success

Plan to look at houses early in the day or just after (certainly not during) nap time. Be prepared with snack foods and drinks to keep energy levels up.

Let Them Know Their Input Counts.

Although the final decision is yours, your children will feel better about the move if they know you value what they think about their potential new home and neighborhood.


Categories: Buying House with Kids, wilmington nc, wilmington nc real estate, wilmington nc relocation

Kay Baker | 1001 Military Cutoff Rd. | Ste 101 Wilmington, NC 28405 | | 910-232-0363 | Fax: 910-256-0473

Copyright © 2015 Wilmington NC Real Estate Guide. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.