columbia sc, house home for sale buy home

The Closing

What Happens When You Close on the Purchase of Your Home?

This question comes up a lot but not necessarily in this direct manner.  It usually comes up in bits and pieces and it is important to address it as early in the sales process and then continue to provide updates as the sales process moves toward the closing.

Closing is the final step in the purchase of your home and it is the culmination of many steps that will take place up until that day.  There will be multiple parties that will be involved in this process which can include you the purchaser, your agent, the seller, their agent, your lender and their staff of underwriters, the appraiser and the attorney you choose to close on the purchase of the home.  This process usually will take approximately four to six weeks.  During that time you will have been pre-qualified or pre-approved by your lender.  A home will have been chosen and a contract negotiated.  You will have signed an application with your lender and they will have had you sign certain documents required by federal law.  These documents help protect your rights and the rights of parties involved.  You will need to thoroughly review and understand these documents in order to know your mortgage’s terms and conditions.  Some common documents that you will encounter include the closing disclosure for the final terms of your loan; the promissory note which tells you what you are agreeing to, the total you owe, the interest rate on your loan, when the payment is due, where it is due; there will be state and local government-mandated documents regarding your rights; and then the security instrument or mortgage which confirms those rights and responsibilities as a borrower.

Finally your real estate attorney will meet with you to review these documents and you will sign each one as it is explained.  Finally a prepared deed will be signed by the seller and recorded at the local county courthouse and you will have taken ownership of your home.

Columbia sc house for sale


It’s a habit that upon meeting with a buyer we don’t talk very long until I ask the question, “Have you a lender and have you been prequalified?”  Most of the time they answer in the affirmative but sometimes not.  Sometimes they say that they just want to look at some homes.  It is difficult for me to find time in my schedule just to show homes if someone has not established a timeline for purchasing a home.  A serious buyer will understand the importance of getting prequalified.  I always explain the importance of getting a lender to do the prequalification and provide written proof for them.

Getting prequalified accomplishes several important things.  Mortgage prequalification provides an immediate overview of a prospective buyer’s creditworthiness.  This provides the buyer and their agent a view of the price homes they should consider. The danger of not being prequalified is looking at homes and finding one you like only to find out it is not in your budget.  This will be a potential letdown for a buyer when they have to now view homes that are less than what they had in mind.  \

Here are some benefits of selecting a lender and getting approved.

  • You have a clear understanding of your purchasing power.
  • It lets you know if you may have some potential credit issues that can cause a delay in purchasing. The sooner a buyer knows this the quicker they can work to resolve any credit issues.
  • With prequalification you can write an offer immediately without delay. Most sellers will not consider an offer if it is not accompanied with a lender preapproval letter.
  • You also gain knowledge of the different lending options that are available and allows you to prepare a budget that will fit your financial situation.

DIY Remodeling for the Homeowner

Call a contractor? No, thanks!

One of the many benefits of being a homeowner is the ability to change your home to suit your tastes—but armed with DIY Network, HGTV and YouTube, more homeowners are taking on the work themselves, according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2019 Remodeling Impact Report.

DIY Equals Happy Homeowners

From complete control to personal pride in the project, do-it-yourself home improvements are more often satisfying, according to the report. In comparing “Joy Scores”—a happiness meter on a scale of 1-10—DIY home improvements scored a 9.9, while professional projects scored a 9.6. Ninety-seven percent of DIY homeowners felt “a sense of accomplishment” in their project.

From the report, the three most common DIY home improvements were:

  • Closet Renovation
  • Basement Finishing
  • Hardwood Refinishing

Additionally, homeowners are more likely to DIY for their pet than for themselves, the report shows. The most popular projects include built-in beds and dishes, and a pet pool.

Whether you DIY or hire a professional, if you’re considering a remodel, consult with your REALTOR®, John Smaby, 2019 NAR president, recommends. He or she can advise you on the best improvements to make.

“One of the pleasures of homeownership is the ability to take on projects to customize a house that truly make it your own,” says Smaby. “Those taking on remodeling projects to get the most bang for their buck on resale should speak to a local REALTOR®, as they have unique and instrumental insights into which projects and upgrades bring the most value to homes in your area.”

Here are more findings from the report:


Mortgage Rates Spike

From: RIS Media

The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate spiked this week, to 4.58 percent—a high not hit in four years, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average was 4.47 percent the prior week.

The average 15-year, fixed rate, at the same time, was 4.02 percent, while the five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable rate was 3.74 percent—also increases from the prior week.

“Mortgage rates are now at their highest level since the week of Aug. 22, 2013,” says Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, who notes the rate represents an 11-point surge. “Higher Treasury yields, driven by rising commodity prices, more Treasury issuances and the steady stream of solid economic news are behind the uptick in rates over the past week.”

According to Khater, the climb in costs is not deterring homebuyers.

“Despite the increase in borrowing costs, demand for home purchase credit remains solid,” Khater says. “The Mortgage Bankers Association reported in their latest mortgage applications survey that activity was up 11 percent from a year ago.”

Source: Freddie Mac

June Is National Homeownership Month

Source: RISMedia


June is National Homeownership Month, and the industry is recognizing the importance of homeownership as a milestone of the American Dream.

This year’s theme, set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is “Find Your Place.” HUD is one of many agencies that provide resources to help consumers obtain and sustain homeownership. Through its network of housing agencies, consumers can seek out counselors for homeowner education, foreclosure prevention and budgeting assistance. With mortgage options through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), consumers with low credit or low-down payment funds can reach their homeownership goals faster—a significant method of aid for millennials and upcoming buyer generations flooded with student loans, making it difficult to amass the funds needed for conventional financing. According to HUD, over 47 million homeowners since 1934 purchased a home with a mortgage insured by FHA, and around 40 percent of all borrowers purchase their first home using an FHA loan.

“Homeownership serves as an enduring symbol of security and prosperity, and it provides many Americans with a legacy they can pass down to their children and grandchildren,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement. “During National Homeownership Month, we recognize the abiding value of owning a home, and we rededicate ourselves toward helping hard-working families to find their place in the American dream.”

Although homeownership rates are currently stalled at 64.2 percent, experts say the lack of dramatic increase is a reflection of a market that is withstanding challenges such as low inventory and rising interest rates. While the number has not moved much since the first quarter of 2017, there have been gradual increases since 2016, following a significant drop after the housing crisis.

While the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) celebrates its commitment to homeownership year-round through resources provided on its Homeownership Matters and HouseLogic sites, NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall recognized June as a pivotal time to reaffirm the association’s mission to promote homeownership.

“National Homeownership Month is a time to celebrate and promote the modern American Dream of owning a home,” said Mendenhall in a statement. “Homeownership changes lives and enhances futures, and many Americans see it as one of their greatest hopes. These individuals are counting on the nation’s 1.3 million REALTORS® to champion and protect homeownership and help make it more affordable, attainable and sustainable. REALTORS® pledge to continue to lead efforts to ensure that the dream of homeownership is not only possible, but very real, for any and all who want to achieve it, so they can have a place of their own to make memories, start growing their financial futures, and build strong communities.”

In addition, Freddie Mac’s website for National Homeownership Month provides valuable resources for homeowners, such as educational articles, homeownership program statistics and opportunities consumers can take advantage of in order to make their homeownership dream a reality.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), primary residences are ahead of all other financial assets, business interests and retirement accounts, accounting for nearly one-quarter of all assets held by households in 2016, as reported in the latest edition of the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances.

“Homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans, and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term,” said Randy Noel, chairman of the NAHB, in an interview on NAHBNow.

In recognition of National Homeownership Month, NAHB is making a toolkit available for its members; the toolkit includes a video on the value of homeownership, sample social media posts, radio scripts and other talking points, relevant articles, and even print ads showcasing the benefits of homeownership.

Citing the passing of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act and this past year’s tax reform bill as recent progress, President Donald Trump released a statement pledging the administration’s commitment toward increasing homeownership incentives across the country:

“During National Homeownership Month, we affirm the joy and benefits of homeownership. For millions of Americans, owning a home is an important step toward financial security and achieving the American Dream. My Administration is committed to fostering an economic environment in which every family has the opportunity to enjoy the sense of pride and stability that can come with owning a home.”

5 Simple Ways to Stage the Exterior of Your Home Before an Open House

From RIS Media:

If you’re selling your home, chances are good you’re familiar with the concept of staging your home. Real estate agents recommend your home look its best to prospective buyers, and home staging is a great way to ensure you receive top dollar. But did you know you should stage the exterior of your home too? Failing to update the look of your home’s exterior can cause buyers to get a bad first impression when they initially arrive to view your home. Whether your audience are luxury home buyers or you are selling your starter home, staging the exterior of your home will have a major impact in the sale of your home. If you want to put exterior home staging to work, here are five elements you should consider tweaking.

Clean Your Exterior Windows and Screens

Nothing says poor maintenance like dirty windows and window screens. If your windows are caked with dust or muck from the last rainstorm, open house visitors are going to wonder what other maintenance jobs you haven’t attended to. Don’t give visitors the opportunity to question whether your home has been properly maintained or not; clean those windows and screens before authorizing an open house.

Refresh Your Gardens and Walkways

Just like dirty windows are a real estate faux pas, so are unkempt flower beds. Weeds and overgrown bushes tell visitors you can’t be bothered with the small stuff. Spend a day removing weeds and trimming flowers, or hire a professional landscaper to refresh your gardens. It is amazing what a refreshed garden can do to your home’s curb appeal.

Refresh Your Home’s Siding

No, you don’t have to replace your home’s siding prior to an open house. A quick power wash could be all it takes to remove years of dust and grime. You can attempt this task yourself, but it might be worth your while to hire a professional. Some homeowners have been known to damage their home’s siding by using too forceful a water stream. This is one task that is often best left to experienced professionals. The last thing you want to deal with is replacing siding before an open house.

Update/Clean Door Fixtures and House Address Signage

Something as simple as a new doorknob or address signage can give your home a refreshed look. You needn’t spring for a new door; just update the faceplate and/or doorknob. Purchase new address numbers from the local hardware store and you’ll have tweaked the look of your home’s exterior in just a few minutes.

Clean Patio Furniture

Whether you have chairs on your front veranda or a dining set on your back deck, tired patio furniture can cost you big dollars when it comes time to negotiate with a potential homebuyer. Dilapidated patio furniture instantly gives a bad impression and can cause potential homebuyers to request replacement furniture as part of their deal. Spruce up your existing furniture with a quick power wash, or replace it if it is beyond cleaning.

Simple tweaks to the exterior of your home can have a big impact on your home’s final selling price. By spending just a few days improving the look of the outside of your home, you can increase the amount buyers are willing to offer and make your home the cleanest real estate listing on the block. Will you be trying these exterior home staging tricks when you list your home for sale?

Charles Muotoh is the owner of, a full service real estate firm focused on leveraging digital marketing strategies to serve buyers and sellers of real estate in the Washington D.C. area.

Green Your Space: 5 Tips for a Healthy Home from RIS media’s housecall

Every homeowner wants a healthy home for his or her family and pets. Making the right choices in your house isn’t always easy though. Keep reading to learn more about how you can create a healthy space and enjoy your home even more. These five tips should put you on the path.

Update Your Insulation

Individuals and families in older homes should consider the fact that they may have unhealthy types of insulation in the walls keeping them comfortable. If you’re not sure about your insulation, have the pros check it out first. In the case of asbestos or any other hazardous material, you don’t want to be digging around in the walls on your own.

Asbestos and hazardous insulation remediation can be a big job, but for a homeowner, it should be a top priority in terms of a healthy home. Updating your insulation will also be a major plus when and if you go to sell your home.

Get a Mold Check

Most homeowners never think about mold until they get an inspection related to selling their home. For others, mold isn’t even a consideration until damage to the home occurs and a mold issue more or less reveals itself. Getting a mold check for your home can help your family breathe easier in the house. While most recently built homes won’t have mold, getting a check isn’t going to hurt you.

Pick the Right Paint

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), paint, wood stain and other varieties of coatings account for about nine percent of volatile organic compounds (VOC) emissions in the country every year. For a healthy home, look for low-VOC paint. They are water-based, low or no odor and non-toxic. While it can be hard to identify low-VOC paint on store shelves, online searches and on-can labeling should make it easy to find this type of paint if you’re looking for it.

Take Your Shoes Off

Taking your shoes off every single time you come in your home might be a hard habit to get into, but for many people, it can lead to a healthier home environment. Your home might also require a little less cleaning, which is an added benefit. If you have a mudroom or a large entryway, removing your shoes should be easy. Tracking less outside germs from your shoes into your home can also help keep pets and children with a tendency to spend time on the floor healthier all year round.

Add Plants to Your Décor

Fresh, live plants can beautify almost any space. Live plants do more than just make your home look a little bit nicer though. Spider plants, lilies and aloe vera can help get rid of formaldehyde in the air, and English ivy, asparagus ferns and bamboo plants can work to clean indoor air as well. Whatever plant you choose, make sure they’re not toxic to your pets if they roam free around your home.

Making your home a healthier place isn’t exactly as glamorous as buying new furniture or adding a room to your house. Don’t take your home’s health for granted and you won’t have to worry as much about home-related hazards.

Don’t Do This When Selling Your Home

Time to put your home on the market and that calls for a professional and professional advice for getting your home market ready.  There are things to do for sure but there are things not to do or over do as well.  Here are some suggestions to consider in that regard.  RISmedia’s housecall has these suggestions.


Do not over-improve.

Automatically when you are getting your home ready for sale you think about getting a return on the investment you have made with just a few improvements.  You can update appliances and make repairs to your bathroom and kitchen.  Best not to over improve or be too specific in tastes.  Keep your rooms useful for their original purpose so you can appeal to the most number of buyers.  Make only the repairs or updates that are necessary and do not go overboard!


Don’t over-decorate.

You can over-decorate just like you can over-improve.  Think about your potential buyers and keep your taste simple.  Using neutral décor for your decorating scheme will be the most appealing.


Don’t hang around.

When your agent calls with a buyer to bring to your home, best to make yourself and your family scarce.  If you want buyers to take the most time imagining your home as theirs, they need the freedom to spend time alone and not be under pressure.  Should you not be able to leave make yourself scarce in a corner of the backyard.


Don’t take things personal.

Remember selling and buying a home is a very emotional time.  So don’t take things personal.  If you get a much lesser offer than you expected or a request to replace the carpet that you just loved,  keep in mind that the buyer just wants to do what they believe is in their best interest.  Depend on your real estate professional to do the same for you.

6 Essential Tips for Avoiding Holiday Disasters

RealtyTimes®  has some very good advice for avoiding Holiday disasters.  Here are six tips they give.

Tip 1 – Keep Overnight Guests Comfortable

There’s nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating than a hot shower – especially during colder weather.  Be sure to set your water heater to a comfortable temperature if you’re having guests stay overnight.  Many water heaters sold in America have a factory setting of 140 degrees, but dropping down to 120 degrees will still provide a warm shower.  Reduced water heart temperatures will help you avoid scalded guests and higher utility bills.

Tip 2 – Clear Your Driveways and Walkways

Slick or poorly lit walkways can be hazardous to grandparents, older aunts and uncles and young children.  Remove snow and treat icy conditions before your company arrives.  It’s also important to provide adequate lighting.  Security lights and solar-powered lamps lining your walkways will help you eliminate dangerous conditions.

Tip 3 – Decorate Responsibly

Holiday decorations can quickly turn a celebration into a disaster.  Here are some helpful tips to ensure you are decorating wisely around the house:

Avoid flammable decorations: Paper, lace and fabric decorations look beautiful, but they can pose a threat to your home.  Opt for non-flammable and flame-retardant options to keep your home safe.

Never leave candles burning: Candles make the holidays special, but they can also pose a serious threat.  In fact, there are almost 11,000 candle-related fires each year, resulting in 150 deaths and 1,200 injuries.  Never leave candles burning overnight and keep them out of reach of children or pets.

Water your tree: Your Christmas tree can also pose a threat.  A lack of water can dry out your tree, resulting in a serious fire hazard.  Be sure your tree has adequate amounts of water during the holidays.

Tip 4 – Kennel Your Dog

Find a safe place for your dog if it doesn’t do well with visitors or small children.  The CDC notes that 4.5 million Americans suffer from dog bites each year.  Small children are particularly susceptible because they don’t always know not to make sudden movements or poke fingers and hands at dog’s faces.

Tip 5 – Be Smart in the Kitchen

               There are two things to take into consideration when preparing for a holiday meal.  First, be sure to safely prepare your food.  Always cook chicken and turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  This will destroy all bacteria and foodborne illnesses and prevent your guests from getting sick.  Second, never leave your kitchen unattended while in use.  The American Red Cross found that cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and related injuries.

Tip 6 – Prevent Drunk Driving

               If you have spare bedrooms, offer the additional space to guests.  You can also prevent over indulgence by limiting the amount of alcohol served during your holiday gatherings.


There are many other ways to ensure that your holidays are safe and fun, but these are just a few of the essential tips that will prevent a holiday disaster.

Going! Going! Gone!

According to® NETWORK Trends, low mortgage rates are becoming a thing of the past.  Rates are now up over 4% which is higher than we have seen in the last two years!  Meaning we are moving from a lower inflation economy to one that is higher.  And this is why.  The return to investors on long-term bonds and mortgages will be less attractive when inflation picks up, leading to lower prices for bonds therefore interest rates must rise!

What should you do?  Shop around with multiple lenders for the best deals on interest rates and lowest closing costs.  Ask for discounts especially if you already have a relationship with a lender.  Improve your credit score.  You can also pay for a discounted rate, put more money down and negotiate harder for a better price on the home of your choice.

The good news is loans are getting easier to get if you are a good credit risk!