Top 5 Resources For The Best Real Estate Books

Good investments are backed by great information. Real estate is no different. Books are one of the best sources of information for anybody interested in real estate. It is true that most of us have no time to waste and we turn to internet and short articles for the topics of our interest. It is also true that by doing so we limit ourselves to incomplete information. Books have been and still are the best source for thorough, detailed information, especially when large amounts of money are involved.

Book shelf
Since there are so many books out there and it has become increasingly hard to filter out the good reads from those that can easily be passed on, we have decided to lend a helping hand and do the work for you. So here are 3 great resources listing some of the best real estate books anyone should read:
Most successful real estate investments have less to do with the money and more with the quality of the decisions made based on knowledge. If time is money, knowledge is power. Improving your real estate literacy can get you to levels of success you can only dream of. Let us know in the comments section below if you have run into other great real estate books. And remember, the best place to start for any of your real estate endeavor is Century 21 Thomas website.

Myrtle Beach Area Real Estate Market Update - July 2014 Statistics

Myrtle Beach Real Estate Statistics July 2014

The real estate market in the Myrtle Beach area has seen a few interesting twists both in June and year to date. Here are a few important statistics to consider:

  • Single-family home sales jumped 11.5% in June from June 2013 in Horry and Georgetown counties
  • Myrtle Beach area up 6% in growth for the first half of 2014 versus the first half of 2013
  • The local area's real estate market is no longer dependent on sales of homes priced $150,000 and lower
  • The real estate growth in the area for both this June and the first half of 2014 has been in home sales in the $200,000 - $400,000 range
  • Sales of homes priced $200,000 - $250,000 surged 23% in June 2014
  • 204 homes priced between $200K - $400K sold in Horry and Georgetown counties in June 2014, 93 more than in the 2nd highest selling price range, $150K-200K
  • For the year, 990 homes priced $200K - $400K have sold, 387 more than the 2nd highest price
    Myrtle Beach Real Estate Chart July 2014
    range, $100K-$150K
  • There were 715 pending sales at the end of June, 34.4% higher than June 2013
  • The median sales price for single-family homes in June 2014 was $193,929, up 5.1% year to date
  • Condominium sales are slightly below last year's numbers

The large increase in the number of single-family homes sales is due  to the fact that there have been relatively fewer distressed properties (short sales and foreclosures) for sale. The number of lower priced single family homes which made most of the transactions for the past few years has dropped, making room for higher priced properties.

10 Things You Need to Have in Your New Home

Moving into a new home is always an important endeavor that needs to be carefully planned and executed. You may move out of your parent's home for the first time, or you may simply relocate with your family, it really doesn't matter. The fundamental aspects of the process of starting life in a new home are the same. I will focus today on a list of the 10 most important items needed in a new home.

1. Art you love - art is integral to our culture, a part of our daily lives. Art helps us achieve a better self awareness and it makes our place more beautiful. We need, as human beings, more than just functional items, and art can help us provide personality to our home. Art-decorated living room
2. Plants - these living organisms are not just greenery, they interact with our body, mind and home in ways that enhance the quality of life. Match the right plant to the right growing conditions and you will benefit from the fresh air they produce.
Indoor plants
Indoor plants - Source:
3. A nice mattress and headboard - choose a quality mattress for comfort, and a headboard for character. Spending money on a good mattress can be the healthiest investment of your life. Latest reports show that a full night's sleep throughout your life could help ward off age-related cognitive decline and improve general health.
Mattress and headboard
4. Linen closet - many homes have a built-in linen closet near the bedrooms and for a good reason. Consider adding a linen closet if your home doesn't already have one. The primary function of a linen closet is to be functional, so spending a little bit of time creating an orderly linen closet can actually save you time and stress in the long run. Also, make sure you have at least three sets of sheets – one on the bed, one for a guest, and one as a backup if one set is in the laundry. I also recommend having a couple of extra pillowcases, since they should be changed frequently.
Linen closet
5. Coffee table - they come to mind right after sofas when you think of living room furniture. For some, a coffee table is a canvas for artful arrangements of objects, while for others; it almost makes for a dining table.
Coffee table
6. Home safety and first-aid kits - you have to have the right things to address the common cold, a fever, headache, stomachache, nausea, etc. Make sure you include basic medications, band-aids, spare light bulbs, batteries, a needle and thread, power cord, etc., to allow you to handle small emergencies.
Home emergency and first aid kit
7. Silverware/Dishes - they add color to the kitchen and dining areas, making a great meal more than just food. Make sure your tableware is in sets of four so you can accommodate guests.
Silverware and dishes
Silverware and dishes - Source: Jim Roger Webb
8. Desk organizer/file holders - to help keep you organized. Many people keep themselves busy even after retirement and we all have bills, receipts, coupons and other documents to manage.
Home office
9. Electric appliances - it seems obvious, yet many people have created a habit of living frugal. There are, for sure, items most anyone can live without, but any household needs a refrigerator, TV set, microwave oven, washing machine, and vacuum cleaner.
Home appliances
10. Internet - yes, I have decided to include it on the list of "top 10" since we now live in an interconnected world and the informational highway plays a vital role in our lives. Internet gives us access to email,  allows us to do business remotely on those days we cannot get to the office, and lets us watch the online videos, movies or shows we love. A home with no internet access does not really belong to the 21st century.
Family using internet
You may have other important items to add on the list, or even disagree with some of the items I have included. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. In the meantime, don't hesitate to use our real estate properties online search if you are searching for the perfect home for you and your family in the North Myrtle Beach area.

Best Questions To Ask At Open House

Open houses are useful in gathering information about the neighborhood, getting a feeling about the housing stock or finding good real estate agents to work with. Once you spend the time at an open house, what are the best questions to ask and how to make the best of it?

Open House

An open house can tell you a lot more about a home than its floor plan. Here are some questions to ask the listing agent:
  • Are there any offers on the property? If you are interested in that particular property the answer to this question will tell you if you have competition.
  • Were there any offers rejected and why? This will help you come up with an offer with better chances to be accepted.
  • Has this house been in escrow? If it has, and didn't sell, you'd want to know why. Ask if any inspections were done on the house, so you know what you're dealing with, and what kind of secondary inspections you might need should you decide to make an offer.
  • How long has the property been on the market? You might discover an opportunity for a lower offer, especially if there has been a price reduction.
  • Why are owners selling and why have they decided to sell now? This is a variation on "How motivated is the seller?" You might not get any answer, since sellers' agent has a responsibility to them not to disclose factors that might hurt the seller's chances at getting the best offer possible, but the seller's agent might also let  a few useful details slip. Any information you can glean can help you decide how much to offer, when to close, etc.
  • Are there any liens on this property? You don't want any surprises, so make sure there aren't any claims on the property.
  • What appliances and features are being sold with the house? Most of the time, major appliances come with the house. If they don't, you might want to factor the purchase price into your offer. 
  • Is the home going to meet a lender's appraisal expectations? Appraisal at the listing price isn't always a sure thing. Take a look at the recent comps and have your agent check pending sales to make sure you won't get stuck once you've starting spending money on inspections and other aspects of the process.
  • Are there any other costs of ownership? You want to make sure there's nothing to surprise you after closing. Ask about association dues and additional taxes or assessments. Call the homeowner association to make sure there aren't any rules that conflict with your lifestyle.
It pays to make a visit when the work day ends.  Observe the comings and goings.  If you have or plan kids, check the school at arrival and dismissal.  Check U.S. Census demographics and talk to homeowners in the area if you have the opportunity.

Buying a home is not a child's play. Do your research. Real estate purchases and sales are regional so don't let yourself influenced too much by statistics at a national level. Choose a good real estate agent. You want the person who represents you to be honest, not tell you what you want to hear. The selling and buying process are easy to make emotional. Real estate transactions are complicated and require someone who really knows what they are doing to get the best deal. If you are looking for a home in the North Myrtle Beach area, give us a call at (888) 249-2100 or visit CENTURY 21 Thomas search page.

How To Prevent And Detect Water Damage In Your Home

Water is crucial for life, yet water damage to a home can also lead to wood rot, peeling paint, insect infestation, shorter lifespan of roofing and siding, generating high maintenance and repair costs.

Leaking roof

Water damage can happen when you least expect it. Learn how to detect water damage warning signs in and around your home. Follow these tips to prevent water damage and avoid future costly repairs. Keeping on top of potential water problems can save you a lot of money.

Ensure good drainage
  • Clean your gutters - keep them free of debris and leaves
  • Direct downspouts 5-10' away from the house
  • Adjust gutters capacity - if water overflows the gutters after a few minutes of heavy rain, install additional downspouts
  • Slope your yard and landscaping away from the foundation
Clogged gutter

Drain subsurface groundwater and storm water with a sump pump
  • A battery backup system is recommended. The sump pump should discharge as far away from the house as possible
  • Check your sump pump once a year
  • Test more frequently during storm season
Fix water leaks
  • Repair any noticeable dripping pipes
  • Check for dark spots under pipes and on ceilings
  • Repair any cracked caulking
  • Ensure the exterior materials of your home are properly constructed and maintained.  Inspect the roof for missing, loose or damaged shingles
Leaking pipe

Prepare your home
  • Check the attic for holes, air leaks or bypasses from the house and make sure there is enough insulation to keep house heat from escaping
  • Prepare your basement against a water backup by raising your washer, dryer, water heater, all electrical wiring and personal items above typical water backup levels
  • The relative humidity in your home should be between 30% and 50%. Use the air conditioning system to remove the excess humidity
  • Replace drywalls immediately if any signs of moisture are present
Act quickly if water damage occurs and address the problem thoroughly. Unattended water usually results in structural failure and/or mold growth. Consult with a licensed building professional to determine the extent of the repairs necessary. Swift action will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.

How to Get a Good Remodeling Contractor

Thinking about updating your kitchen to something more modern, or maybe give the master bathroom a Jacuzzi tub? The hardest part of a home renovation is finding the right contractor, someone you can trust to do a great job for a fair price.

Remodeling spending is up and prices are 30% from their lowest point a few years ago. Add to that the higher costs of materials and you get the full picture of today's market. Remodeling projects require good planning, money, and great execution. Here are a few tips on how to get a good contractor for the job and manage the process:

  • Be very clear of what you want to accomplish and make sure the contract includes the work needed to be done.
  • Ask for a reference from a client who had to call them back to fix a problem with the work. to make sure  the contractor follows up until the homeowner is satisfied.
  • Verify the contractor's licenses and check them for reviews with the Better Business Bureau to make sure they are legitimate. To do residential building over $200 and commercial building over $5,000 in South Carolina a contractor must be licensed.
  • Get the contractor's input on the plan and on any initial sketches your architect has put together. If the contractor has a lot of experience he might offer valuable feed back and ideas.

  • Leave the pricing conversation to the end. Discuss the technical details first and analyze carefully any add-on suggestions.
  • Never sign a contract without all of the blanks filled in. Read the contract carefully and, if the value is significant, have an attorney check it out.
  • Negotiate! Ask for bids from three different contractors if the value of the remodeling project is significant. Be sure to stoke competition by letting them know that you're gathering multiple offers. Skip any bids that are wildly high or low. But be careful, you don't want to end up with a contractor who cuts corners to stay within the budget.
  • Plan for a 10 to 20 percent contingency to cover the parts of the project that have to go over the initially allocated amount.
  • Set the schedule of the project with the contractor, but allow some flexibility. Good contractors have to work around issues and often times good solutions require more time.

Home remodeling

Communication is crucial. You may be on the phone with your contractor several times a day. You may have to work through disagreements over details so select a contractor who is not only skilled and reliable but who is someone you can get along with.  If you are looking for a home in the North Myrtle Beach area, give us a call at (888) 249-2100 or visit CENTURY 21 Thomas search page.

How much house can you afford?

How much home can you afford
Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you make. This is not a simple decision and it should be based on multiple factors. Despite its complexity, the process starts with a very simple question: how much house can you afford? This is the simplified answer: you can afford a house that costs as much as the largest monthly mortgage payment you qualify for.

Before you make any decisions and start shopping for a mortgage you should gather the financial information that allows you to do the affordability calculations. Mortgage companies use something called qualifying ratios to determine how much they will lend you. The ratio is calculated by taking your total monthly debt load and dividing it by your monthly gross income. Most mortgage companies use a 28/36 ratio. The first number is the percentage of your gross income that the lender would consider acceptable as a monthly mortgage payment ((i.e. if you make $3,000 per month, 28% of that is $840 per month).

The second number is used when all debt payments are considered (i.e. if you make $3,000 per month, but also have a $250 a month car payment, 36% of $3,000 is $1,080, minus the $250 car payment equals $830). Generally most lenders want your debt-to-income ratio, including your anticipated new monthly mortgage payment, not to exceed 36 percent.

In order to approach home ownership the right way, you have to think long term. The cost of homeownership extends beyond the monthly payment and includes routine maintenance and repairs, homeowners association dues, and additional utilities that you might not have paid while renting. You also have to consider your credit score. The best thing to do with a less-than-perfect credit score is to wait, while making changes in the spending habits to improve the score. Experts suggest, you should be debt-free and have three to six months of expenses saved in addition to your down payment and closing costs, before you consider buying a home.

If you are looking for a home in the North Myrtle Beach area, give us a call at (888) 249-2100 or visit CENTURY 21 Thomas search page. Click here for real estate mortgage information.

Note: The purpose of this information is to serve as a useful guide. For more exact, personalized information, please contact a certified mortgage representative.