Buying a home for the first time can be a frustrating, sometimes frightening process for many people.
Every day our agents get calls from people who are interested in buying a home. Sometimes it’s just that they are tired of “throwing their money away” on rent, or that they feel they’ve outgrown the space they are living in and are ready for a home of their own. I encourage my clients to follow their dream of home ownership.
The first, most important step in buying a home is to meet with a lender. I’d encourage you to meet with several, in fact. Learn about what their banks can offer and see which one you feel can do the most to help you in your pursuit of homeownership. Ask them about their interest rates, the types of loans they offer, and what the down payment amounts on those different loans are. (More on down payments in a moment.) You will need to get preapproved with at least one of them, find out your credit score, and determine how much house you can buy. If you don’t know any lenders, or want to meet other lenders to compare prices, don’t be afraid to ask! We are here to not only help you find that first home, but to guide you through the entire process of buying a home.
It’s a good idea when talking with a lender to understand the monthly payment. Does it include an escrow account, where the bank charges a little extra and holds that money to pay your home insurance and taxes for you every year? Make sure you aim for a payment amount that you can manage comfortably. If you are approved for $200,000, that doesn’t mean you have to buy a $200,000 home. You may find a home in the $150,000 range that you like better and is more manageable in your budget. If you are planning to ask the seller to pay part of your closing costs or to give you a paint allowance to change the colors of the walls, you’ll have less negotiation room if you’re at the top of your price point.
Make sure you understand what’s expected of you up front – the down payment amount, closing costs, inspections and appraisals, all of these expenses are things you will need to make sure you can cover comfortably. Don’t wipe out your savings account on these expenses, especially the inspections and appraisal. If the home inspection comes back with problems that aren’t easily resolved, you want to make sure you have enough for another inspection on a different house. Most of the time, home inspections are to let the buyers know what expenses they will have to negotiate to get fixed or help with pre-planning for when they own the home, but some of the time they do uncover big challenges that make the purchase too costly.
If you cannot afford the down payment, you should seriously consider holding off buying a home. It is difficult to purchase a home when you have little to nothing to put down. Your interest rates can increase, causing you to pay much more than the home is worth. Conventional loans see down payments of 20 percent, but some loan programs allow buyers to put down far less, as little as 3.5 percent. Make sure you talk with the lender about the down payment and the monthly payments on the different programs, and know what the interest rates are for those loans.
Regarding pre-planning, you’ll also want to set aside money for things like moving expenses, possible repairs, or changes to the home (remember to wait to make big purchases like new furniture or appliances until the home purchase is done!). It can take between 30 and 60 days to complete the closing process on a home, so patience is king.
Some other important tips – don’t open a new credit card, make large purchases, or change jobs during the process of buying a home. These things can affect your credit score and ultimately lower the loan amount you will be approved for. This mistake is so common, but so easily avoidable. In a blink of an eye, a potential home buyer becomes ineligible for the home they were set on due to one of these choices.
And remember, while you’re looking for your new home to let go of the little things. Don’t get caught up in fixtures, paint colors, or the other things that can easily be changed. Instead make a list of the things that are most important to you in your home, such as the square footage, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, the floor plan, etc. Is the driveway too steep? Did the house only have one bathroom but there are six family members moving in with you? These things might be deal breakers but paint color shouldn’t be!
Lastly, pay attention to the neighborhood. Research it online. Map your routes to the places that matter to you. If you love to go bowling every Friday night, don’t wait until after you’ve bought the house to find out the bowling alley is 45 minutes away. You (hopefully) will be living in your new home for quite some time. You will want to make sure that you are in a neighborhood that meets your needs.
If you have any questions about buying a home, we are always here to help you!
I have received so many positive responses to my newsletter over the last year, and I am so glad to be able to provide this service. As real estate agents, we all know there’s so much information out there. It can be tough sometimes to figure out what is important and what isn’t. So it’s very important to me that the clients I work with get the best service possible, and the best help possible with knowing what their options so they can make the best decisions throughout the process. My blog site and newsletter were created with those two goals in mind.
The other piece that makes striving to provide the highest level of service possible is the group of licensed agents I have hired over the last couple of years. Each agent that works with me directly has a different set of highly specialized skills and knowledge about specific aspects of real estate. As a group we all work to make sure every client is served to the best of our ability. Frequently, a client who works with one of us at the start of the process will end up working with all of us before the transaction is finished, and may end the process spending more time with a different member of our group than the one they started out with. I know that can be confusing because it’s a little non-traditional so I want to talk a little bit about each of them and how we all work together. Our goal as a group is to make sure each client gets the best service possible throughout the home buying and selling process.
Greg is my listing coordinator. He takes care of our sellers’ showings, helping other agents set up appointments and works with buyers who call about our sellers’ listings. He has fantastic skills in assessing property value and finding amazing investment property of our investor clients.
Susan is my transaction coordinator. Once a buyer client has made an offer, she handles all of the negotiation process, sets up home inspections, and coordinates with lenders and appraisers to finalize the deal. Susan is amazing at negotiating and makes sure our contracts make it to closing no matter what the challenge is! Miracles happen in her hands!
Dennis is my buyer’s coordinator. He works with many of the buyer clients who contact us over the internet. He also produces my newsletter, direct mailings, and manages my blog site for new content. He keeps us in touch and relevant! He also jumps in any time something might be falling through and we need an extra hand! We love how he loves the details!
Alle is my marketing coordinator. She markets the properties we list, including taking photos of the property, updating our listings and sharing them on social media, and developing ideas for new printing projects. We knew her photography courses in college would come in handy, we just didn’t know how! She also has done graduate work in marketing so she gives us a fresh, youthful take on our approaches to reach you and serve you!
Of course, in addition to the specific tasks we all have, any of us are here to help you with any of your home buying and selling needs.
I love my team and wouldn’t want to do life without them!
If you have any real estate needs or just want to know more about the local market, we are here to answer your questions. You can call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
Our “House of the Month” for May is the perfect estate home for those of you who love the mountains but also the lake.
Upstairs, you’ll find the “Mother-in-law quarters”, fully furnished with its own summer kitchen, bedroom and full bath, and walk-in closet. The custom stone work Vermont wood-burning stove is located in the generous sun room. Of course, the upstairs area of the estate home also has vaulted ceilings and provides access to an enormous deck for access to the gorgeous mountain views.
The estate home comes with several additional features as well, such as its generous 2-car garage. The garage can serve as the ample storage room or the perfect space for toys. A walk-out covered patio offers plenty of space for grilling and enjoying the Majestic Smoky Mountain Views as the sun sets over Douglas Lake! The land surrounding the estate home includes wooded acreage that is easy to maintain but also provides areas with lots of sunlight and places for raised bed gardening at your back door.
The beautiful, scenic-filled drive is only 15 miles from Sevierville. You can learn more about the estate home here.
If you have questions about this estate home, or would like to visit the property, please call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
Its established rental income makes this property perfect for investors. Rental income numbers for 2014: $48,549; 2015: $56,656; and $45,324 in bookings for 2016.
“Villa Bellissimo” has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and sleeps 6 to 8 guests. It features jaw-dropping, 180 degree views of the Smoky Mountains which includes Mt. LeConte. A truly “great” room acts as the centerpiece for this cabin. Each bedroom acts as a master suite and comes equipped with king sized beds. The wall of glass, paired with the elevation, gives you a feeling of soaring through the mountains and clouds. The fully equipped game room is located in the loft and will supply your guests with hours of entertainment. The theater amenity features include a large screen, projector, plush recliners, and surround sound. The cabin’s roughly 1,000 square feet space includes an open floor design that flows well, emphasizes the view, and is extremely desirable to renters. Handsome tongue and grove line all the walls. Gleaming hardwoods paired with tile and carpet round out this cabin. All televisions are flat screen.
Very little needs to be done to this property; it is ready for you to take over! Legacy Mountain is an established cabin development and is known for their breathtaking views of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s conveniently located just 10-12 minutes from the Pigeon Forge Parkway and has easy access to the Arts and Crafts Community of Gatlinburg.”
If you would like to visit the property or learn more about rental income opportunities in the local market, please call me at 865-765-6157 or my support line at 865-654-2111.
For March’s featured “Cabin of the Month,” we have selected this cute, spacious one-bedroom efficiency cabin.
Located on South Mountain View Rd., this efficiency cabin is just minutes from the Pigeon Forge Parkway and downtown Sevierville!
Incredibly handsome hand-hewed logs adorn this quaint efficiency cabin as the soaring rafters let you float to the heavens! “A Romantic Getaway,” as it is named, comes furnished with a king-sized bed and gas log fireplace, both of which make this cabin extremely cozy.
Enjoy the outdoor surroundings as you sprawl out in the attached sauna, relax in your bubbling hot tub, or chill on the deck of your screened-in porch. Enjoy the wooded view while sipping your morning coffee.
For those of you looking for a great investment in a vacation rental, this efficiency cabin priced at $129,900 will clean up nicely and do well on a competitive rental program.
If you would like to visit this cabin, call me at 865-654-2111. I will be happy to show the property for you!
In the meantime, if you would like to know more about this efficiency cabin, click here for the full property listing.
Built with rock carved from Bluff Mountain, my “House of the Month” for March is this amazing historic stone cottage priced at $265,000. It sets on approximately 6.5 acres and offers the unique feel of living as though you are right in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Inside, the historic cottage located on Goose Creek Road in Seymour covers approximately 2,800 square feet of living space. Its four bedroom, two bath interior was designed with a chestnut wood tongue and groove. The materials that went into many of the walls came off the property. They were then milled in the valley before being brought back up the mountain for use in this historic cottage. These old chestnut trees are now extinct.
The historic cottage also consists of original oak floors and a totally updated kitchen with Tuscany ceramic tile. In addition to its abundance of storage, the home offers spacious rooms throughout, such as a dining room with large opening to kitchen, rooms separated by arched stone walls, handsome fireplaces (including woodburning), and an absolutely adorable breakfast sunroom. Adjacent to the house is a two-car garage that can really help provide some additional storage space!
Outside, the property offers more than 6.5 beautiful acres featuring a pool, a nature trail, flowers, fruit trees, mountain views, roaming wildlife, and an eight-foot waterfall! Built in 1948, this historic cottage also will provide the new owner with plenty of opportunities to put their own personal touch to the restoration changes they desire to make.
Lastly, it’s also secluded and off the beaten path for those who enjoy the privacy of the country setting. If you would like to see the property first-hand, call me at 865-654-2111 to set up a time to visit.
In the meantime, you can click here to learn more about this historic cottage.
A construction project to connect walking trails at the Rocky Top Sports Complex is complete, the Sevier News Messenger reported this month.
You can read more about the upgrades here.
Our Christmas celebration for Century 21 MVP was a huge success! The event was held on Dec. 6 at Sherwood Splash Lodge.
Guests were entertained by live band “Big Valley Mustangs.” Members of the band include lead singer and songwriter Michael Merritt, lead guitarist Bill Seals, bass guitarist Bobby Seals, and drummer Kevin Feeney. The band provided fresh and creative renditions of Christmas carols throughout the evening. They were so good that many of our guests ended the night dancing to the music in front of the lodge’s stacked stone fireplace.
Whether on the deck, in the dining hall, or scattered around the room, those in attendance gathered as guests for the night of fun and food. While there, our friends, family, partners in business, and clients had the opportunity to tour the magnificent cabin with its soaring cathedral, gleaming tongue-and-groove wood ceilings, and walls of glass – all which contribute to Sherwood Splash Lodge’s inspiring layout.
Congratulations to the happy winners: Sharon Forderhase and Debbie Hill. Thanks to Maria and David White, the owners of Smokies Furniture in Pigeon Forge for their contribution. Maria and David can be found at their business at the top of the red roof mall most days, if not every day of the week. (By the way, Smokies Furniture previously won an award as The Absolute Favorite Furniture Store of the Century21 MVP agent family.)
Enchantee Mace and her assistant performed a skit they wrote. In it, Jesus’ mother wrestles with an angel’s declaration that she has been chosen for the most amazing role ever requested of a human being. The skit was incredibly thought-provoking, and an excellent way to celebrate the “Reason for the Season.”
The lodge was designed by Mike Korlin. It includes balconies and overhangs, exposed beams, and a superbly created open floor plan. Special thanks to our gracious hosts and cabin owners, the Pacheco’s from the Miami, Fla. area, for allowing us the use of their facility for this very special night.
This exquisite, oversized three bedroom, 3.5 bath cabin offers an amazing mountain views! It’s located in the majestic Waldens Creek area just minutes from downtown Pigeon Forge.