Deciding When to Build

For the last few months we’ve been sharing with you about how building is making a comeback due to the lack of properties for sale in our market. More and more lenders are offering loans for building. Lots are in abundance even when residential homes and cabins are the opposite. Contractors are taking on building projects.

rebuilding after wildfireFor most people, building is an option when you either can’t find exactly what you want or your dream home/cabin is in the wrong location for where you want to be. Because buying is still a little cheaper – and easier – I recommend trying to find something existing that checks your boxes first, but if what you’re looking for just isn’t out there, then that’s when you should consider building.

So what’s the first step in building? Well, before anything else you will want to have a list of “non-negotiables,” items that are must-haves for your home or cabin. Do you want an open floor plan? How many bedrooms? What square footage is acceptable for your new home? Do you need the cabin you’re building to cash flow as an investment, or is this going to be more of a vacation property? Once you have this list nailed down, then you can start looking for the lot where you want it to be built. It’ll help you in the long run if you know before you buy the lot that it can’t be permitted for a 3-bedroom because the field line is too small if you need your home to have 3 bedrooms. It’s going to cost a lot more if you go about it the other way around.

Next, you will need to interview builders as part of the bid process for the construction project. While most people prefer to go it alone, this is one area where working with a real estate agent who has a firm understanding of construction can really be helpful for you. A knowledgeable real estate agent can help pair you with the right builder for the project. If you found the perfect floor plan in a different location, maybe the builder will be available or at least be able to provide the building plans for your home. Your agent can also provide you the names of lenders who offer construction loans. My team and I know a handful of lenders we work well with and are positive about when it comes to new build projects. And we know great builders who do fantastic work, too.

The other area where working with a real estate agent can be beneficial is in helping you save money on the project. If you design it correctly, it’s possible to make the project appraise for a value that’s far higher than the cost of building it will be. This could be a win for you if you are able to use the lot you are purchasing as part of the deal as a down payment on the project.

In next month’s article, I will walk you through the process of how lenders typically set up the loan and offer some tips on things you can do to manage the financing for the project as your home or cabin is being built.

Things you should know before buying a home

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.

The last step in buying a home is getting the keys!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!

Brick ranch home has fantastic views

brick ranchThis brick ranch home is our September “House of the Month.”

If you’re looking for a brick ranch home close enough to the Great Smoky Mountains to admire the view but centrally located to commute to work in Knox or Blount counties, this may be the home for you!
Well maintained and easy to care for, this three-bedroom, two-bath brick ranch home offers generous 180 degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains with Mt. LeConte at the forefront! The property consists of just over half an acre. The dining area leads out to a screened-in porch overlooking a professionally designed and stockedEllsi_Woods-20 Koi pond complete with a waterfall and luscious, easily managed landscaping. Inside, tile flooring, hardwoods and carpet round out this approximately 2,000 square foot home. Situated in a friendly community conveniently located only 30 minutes from Knoxville, Maryville or 20 minutes to Sevierville, you can enjoy the lower tax benefits of Sevier County while commuting to work in Knox or Blount counties!

If you would like to know more about this home on Ellis Woods, click here.

If you would like to visit the home or if you have other questions about this property, please call me at 865-765-6157, my support line at 865-654-2111, or my main office line at 865-429-2121.

I will be glad to set up a showing of this brick ranch home for you!

Custom built estate home offers wide range of features

estate homeOur “House of the Month” for May is the perfect estate home for those of you who love the mountains but also the lake.

Enjoy the panoramic mountain views of the Great Smoky Mountains from the deck of this 4,000 square-foot custom built estate home. On one side, take in the awesome view of the famous Mt. LeConte and English Mountain on one side. From the other, relax as you look out over the pristine Douglas Lake and Cumberland Mountains!
This executive, custom built mountain estate home sets on top of approximately 5 acres of lake front property. Along with a custom built stone masonry on the exterior, the residence’s 3-bedroom, interior has a beautiful, welcoming design. The foyer features 14-foot ceilings and offers ample space for formal dining. The master bedroom on the main floor – also with 14-foot ceilings – includes walls of glass, a private bathroom with granite, his and her’s vanities, a Jacuzzi style tub, and a California style tile shower. The large master walk-in closet is complete with custom arranged shelving. You’ll find UV-protected windows on the entire west wing of the home.
This estate home also has an office with 14′ ceilings and boasts handcrafted, custom built cherry bookcases. In the open kitchen, discover the handsome granite counters, stainless steel appliances, Thomasville Cherry Cabinets, breakfast nook, 12′ ceilings, and a den which showcases a custom stone fireplace. The main floor also features a guest bedroom with its own full bath. The cedar closet on the main floor is the perfect spot to protect your winter and wool clothing!

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.