By Terry Bell-Aby, Realtor, CNE, Luxury Simplified Real Estate
By now, most people know what it means to “buy local” when it comes to things such as local produce or supporting your local corner bookstore. Local produce and seafood is certainly more fresh, and by supporting local shops, your dollars often stay and circulate within the community. But what difference does buying local make in real estate transactions? In my experience, local Charleston SC service providers can make transactions go more smoothly every step along the way.
You might ask “what difference does it make if I use a nationally known lender that I can access online vs. a local lender?” The convenience of using an online portal at any given time might seem like an easier option than meeting face-to-face, or even scheduling a call with a local lender. However, in the long run, the convenience on the front end might turn out to be less convenient once the process begins in earnest. One out-of-state lender told my client that she did not need a CL-100 letter (indicating no termites or damage) and she nearly canceled the appointment to inspect. The lack of knowledge about the specifics of SC real estate transactions can act as "speed bumps" in closing a deal. Even the difference in time zones can cause problems with closing on time. Most importantly, I find local lenders also understand the pricing in this market better than national companies and tend to approve loans for higher price point because they know the market will support it.
Living in the lowcountry means risks and hazards that may be unfamiliar in other areas of the country. An insurance provider based in Kansas may not be as well-versed regarding flood insurance risks, wind and hail issues, and even the minor earthquakes that can occur (there was a tremor in Summerville in June and these small quivers happen regularly - rarely resulting in damage). Local agents are familiar with occurrences in the lowcountry that can affect insurance rates and can advise you accordingly.
Appraising real estate property is not an exact science. It takes judgment, discernment, and experience. The difference between Folly Beach and Johns Island is not just 15 miles of travel. It can be the difference between a quirky beach house and a horse farm – both with the same price tag. Appraisers may be perfectly well-qualified in Columbia to make a judgment about different kinds of property, but may be geographically incompetent here. Appraising homes in a subdivision in a more homogeneous area is also a different challenge than the many diverse types of homes and lifestyles here in the Charleston market. Local appraisers have the knowledge and comparison points for homes in Charleston.
I often work with clients who are getting advice from a family member or friend who is a real estate agent in another part of this state, or even the country. It’s only natural after all, to seek advice from family members who have your best interests in mind when making a big decision. More often than not, that advice may not accurately address the nuances of buying or selling real estate in this particular market. The market in New Jersey is very different than Mount Pleasant. An experienced, local Realtor knows that a well-priced home on James Island in the Riverland Terrace neighborhood is not going to last long, and offering 20% below asking price will not get the job done. I’ve had more than one client lose on an opportunity because of advice they received that does not apply to this unique market with its many equally unique sub-markets - the difference between water views vs. marsh views, for example. Similarly, in North Carolina it is customary to have the appraisal done before the home inspection, where here in Charleston, it is the opposite. My clients who moved to Iowa, learned that finished space that is heated and cooled, but in the basement is not counted in the total square footage. For the most part, we don’t have basements, but in Charleston, all heated and cooled space is counted in total square footage.
Note: There are many factors that can affect a Charleston SC real estate transaction at every step of the way, and working with local experts can make all the difference in getting from purchased to closed. To make it as seamless a process as possible, start your search for your Charleston SC dream home here ...
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