Top Mistakes By First Time Home Buyers & Those building New home

Building and buying a new homes is extremely exciting and can be intoxicating at times, especially when it’s your first time. Whether you’re building your very first new home or buying a pre-existing one there are a lot of very important factors to consider. It’s easy to be lured in by the snazzy granite colors, different trim options, hardwood floor species and all the different types of stains. I mean who wouldn’t go a little crazy. First time home buyers buying an already built older home or those building with one of the large national tract home builders should be careful what they are doing, and that’s where an experienced Charleston SC real estate agent can help. While looking at homes that are completely perfect from top to Contractors in Charleston SCbottom, you may begin to rationalize a larger purchase than you had originally planned for – “If I am going to have my house I might as well love what I am in, and besides the additional $50,000 isn’t that much more money if I am going to be hear at least 15 years”. Meanwhile 75% of home owners live a home less than 7 years.

1.) OVERSPENDING – Before even considering going out looking at homes you need to work out your budget and what you can reasonably afford. Reasonably, being the key word here. For one, no {good} agent is going to show you homes without you having the financing part worked out first anyway, but most importantly knowing how much you can truly afford is ideal. There are plenty free online mortgage calculators.

Meet with one of the hundred Charleston SC mortgage lenders or national, but at least talk with two minimum and make sure you’re prepared to know what it takes to get a mortgage approval, and what you can comfortably afford. Having a pre-approval in hand when making an offer will strengthen your negotiating power because the seller knows you are serious.

2.) BE REALISTIC – If you just got out of grad school and have student loans, then you need to base your mortgage on what it is you have for actual income today, don’t assume that you will be earning much more money in a year or two, so you can afford a larger payment. No one can predict the future, and if you think you can just talk to your parents about the great depression or the great recession of just a few years ago, and how that through people’s life into a tailspin. 

3.) NOT ACCOUNTING FOR INSURANCES, TAXES, HOAS, AND REGIMES – Renting is SO much different than owning, because when you rent you just make one payment, and in that payment is the landlord’s property taxes, HOA dues, and insurance(s) costs that you pay. Now you see why owning is better than renting. Homeowners insurance and property taxes very based on your geographic location. The S.East coast and here in Charleston SC has notoriously high homeowner’s insurance rates, where they average $161.08 per month due to the ever present risk of hurricane’s, and flooding. Don’t worry there are ways to reduce you home insurance premiums. In Idaho and Wisconsin, rates are a bit lower, averaging below $50 per month, according to Value Penguin. Property taxes average higher in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Texas and Wisconsin and they’re lower in Louisiana, Hawaii, and Alabama. 

Then on top of all of those costs, if your down payment is less than 20 percent of the selling price, you may end up paying an additional cost — private mortgage insurance (PMI) — which is basically insurance for the lender in case you default on your loan. Unless you are a veteran who can qualify for a VA loan where there it is is 100% financing, most people have to put money down.

4.) FAILING TO PROTECT YOURSELF – Home inspections provide you with some protection. The inspector will be able to find problems that you can’t and you want to know these problems before you sign on.During your house hunt, you may find a house that looks great at first glance. Then, as you walk through a few of the rooms, you notice problems with the house — maybe the floors squeak or the kitchen island is off-centered. After walking through the house, you come to realize that someone simply put lipstick on a pig, and this house is in questionable shape and that’s why a home inspection is SO important.

Contingency clauses also offer a form of protection. You might be saying to yourself that’s my agent’s job to know that stuff. Yes, but so many times a prospective home buyer will fall in love and disregard what their agent advises to put in the contract such as “contingent upon acceptable home inspection”, or your agent wants the seller to pay for a home warranty. That’s where YOU as the buyer get yourself in trouble, because you will want to waive those clauses so you don’t lose the home. 

That brings us to #5

BEING NAIVE & PARANOID – Some first-time home buyers are naive. Overly optimistic, they think nothing could possible go wrong. If a home has a few problems, they view them as easy fixes and are unrealistic when it comes to the cost and time it takes to fix up the home. This is where you should find a contractor to walk a home with you to tell you the true costs of the “easy fixes” so you avoid getting yourself into trouble with a money pit. Some naive buyers will move to a neighborhood on the wrong side of town, forgetting that you can fix up a house, but you can’t change your neighborhood or location without moving.

They’ll submit low-ball offers and then show frustration when they are consistently rejected. Paranoid buyers don’t trust real-estate agents, and may even try to buy their home without an agent, which is generally an unwise choice.



Do’s and Don’t of Buying Tract Home | Be Careful When Building with Large National Builder

It is the American dream to be a homeowner, and most families likely prefer to own a new home vs one already lived in. Don’t get me wrong that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with a pre-owned home, but just like new cars knowing it’s brand new just gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling.

If you want a new home there are a few things to consider before you get started with your decision, as there are different types of new home construction. You could obviously build one yourself by hiring your own builder, purchasing a spec home from a local spec builder, and the most common is buying one from a large national tract home builder. Most home buyers readily figure this to be the best and most simple option to getting that new home. However, there are some pro’s and con’s to buying from one of these large national builders like: Beazer, Pulte, Centex, DR Horton, Lennar or Mungo Homes in Columbia SC.

National builders’ profits are built in a few different ways, and by knowing some tips will save you a lot of money.

1.)  – use a real estate agent to represent you in your purchase, an experienced agent will know the tricks of saving you money. Do not go to the development without an agent. You will get yourself in trouble and cost yourself money. That’s exactly what these builders want you to do, to be that unsuspecting and naive buyer who talks way too much and “shows their cards”. 

It’s best to wait until you can have someone accompany you to see the model home. A real agent knows all the tricks, smoke, mirrors and sales pitches that the onsite agents try to feed visitors who come to see their community. Don’t forget having a buyer’s agent there with you does NOT cost you ANYTHING. In fact having an Charleston SC real estate agent will Save you money and protect YOUR interests not the builder’s.

These large national builders make their money from how they purchase the dirt / land they develop the neighborhood on. So if they are lucky they can charge a premium on each lot once they have subdivided the dirt. The goal of national builders is to buy ALL the land they can get their hands on so you as the buyer are forced to purchase from them.

What’s a Lot Premium? Lot premiums are when builders add an additional cost for the lot they would build your home on. So for instance Oyster Point Mount Pleasant   by DR Horton is a wonderful community and like all builders what they advertise for the prices of the homes are the price WITHOUT the “lot premium”, So really the cost of the home is probably $20,000 more before you choose finishes or upgrades.



Mt Pleasant SCDowntown CharlestonJames IslandDaniel Island SCSullivan’s IslandIsle of PalmsJohn’s Island – West AshleyFolly Beach


Another way they make their profit is markups on materials. Honestly, there isn’t much you can do about that. They buy it in bulk from their suppliers and then tack on additional profits from what they paid for it. They have the cost of these materials built into the base cost of the house so there really isn’t any reason to try to negotiate those from the base price. The builder knows exactly what it costs them to build each floor plan. For example their cost may be $90 a sq ft to build, and the base price they sell to you without upgrades may come to $106 sq ft. Notice I said upgrades.

That’s where they get you.  Upgrades and changes to the base plan. They will offer their “standard” package which usually consists of a base floor plan, “builder grade” materials and fixtures. Builder grade means cheap low-end. Who really wants that stuff? – and trust me they know that. So you’ll want to ask for a different, and nicer product, and who wouldn’t. DON’T, get suckered in by this. For instance you want nicer hardwood floors, or you want a nicer trim package like crown molding, or a screened in porch they will charge you thousands of dollars for something that might cost under a thousand. For example: I had a client build a large nice (semi-custom) home with a large national builder, and he wanted a fence built in his backyard. The builder was going to use the same fence company as my client to build the fence for him and the builder was going to charge my client $4800, but my client hired the same fence guy himself and got it built for $2500. For the SAME exact guy and plan. You can save a lot of money just by having them build the house with the base, standard materials and then do the work later yourself or hire someone else to come back and do it. I know it seems so much easier to “just let them do it”, and it is, but if you are pinching pennies, and want to be smart trust me it’s not worth it. That additional $10,000 or $15,000 financed over the life of you owning the home will cost you so much more money.


Buying a new home is very exciting, but take a real estate agent with you if you are interested in a new home development by a large tract builder. Two, try not to get swept up in the “extras and upgrades”, as they are their to sucker you into overpaying for things that just aren’t worth the drastic up-charge.


Buying Homes Downtown Charleston SC Tips | What To Know about purchasing homes in Downtown Charleston SC

There are few places in the United States that are as pretty and majestic as downtown Charleston, SC. With the perfect mix of places to see, things to do, and unbelievable dining who wouldn’t want to live in downtown Charleston? If you are going to buy downtown there are some issues that you need to consider since most of the homes downtown will need renovations, remodeling, or improvement due to their age.

Houses for sale in downtown Charleston SC don’t come cheap. Especially anything that is really nice, and living downtown comes with its own set of challenges. It’s no mystery that we get a lot of rain here in the South and that rain coupled with a city that is just at or below sea level has its inherent problems. FLOODING. Although the city has done a lot to help curb the problem of flooding but there is still a ways to go.

charleston sc historic property renovations builderSo.. Next question if you want to live in Downtown Charleston is what kind of home do you want to buy? So many people love the historic charm of such an old city, but homes this old have issues, and there aren’t a lot of new construction homes in downtown Charleston that come on the market regularly. Good news… there are some new developers that have come to the area making purchases and building new in real estate downtown Charleston, SC.

Another large factor to consider when thinking about buying homes in Charleston SC is the PARKING. As with most metropolitan living, parking comes at a premium. Many homes downtown do not have “off street” parking so your car will always be parked near the curb on the street versus your own drive way. No.. there are no such things as a garage in downtown Charleston, SC. Just to have your own drive way is luxury alone. Some of the more older historic homes for instance, houses for sale on Tradd St, were built so long ago that they have old servant’s quarters or old non-attached kitchens that are now garages, or completely other living spaces. That’s why a lot of buyers coming to the area consider condos in downtown Charleston, SC. The only kind of garage you will find in downtown Charleston homes is with completely renovated multi-million $$ mansions or a parking garage associated with a condo.  If you a condo is more your style then downtown Charleston SC high-rises might be your best option. All of these properties have been completely built new which is rare for a lot of homes. Parking isn’t a problem in these condos.

ThirdRENOVATIONS. Doing improvements, and renovations in a historic city isn’t easy, and luckily that is the case. There are very many rules, restrictions, and other things one must know before buying downtown Charleston SC because you can’t just tear something down and build it as you want it. You have to go through the ARB (architectural review board) and get everything approved, and signed off on. If you try to do construction on a home without having done this, YOU and the contractor will get serious fines. READ MORE –>

Lastly; is where in downtown Charleston, SC to live? There are different boroughs of downtown Charleston SC all with their own set of charming qualities and features.

Borough neighborhoods of Downtown Charleston, SC:


  • South of Broad – Literally just as it is named this area is the most popular part of downtown Charleston, SC.
  • Harleston Village – Located just 3 blocks of the city’s hospitals Harleston Village is also near the only lake in town.
  • French Quarter – Very reminiscent of New Orleans for obvious reasons it is centered amongst the commerce.
  • Ansonborough – This community is probably one of the most sought after of all the downtown Charleston homes.
  • Radcliffeborough – In the middle of Calhoun and Morris St this borough is centrally located.
  • Wraggborough – Is nearest to all the nightlife, dining, and entertainment of all the communities of downtown.
  • Cannonborough and Elliottborough – The most affordable of downtown Charleston real estate, charm is still everywhere.
  • Hampton Park – Has gorgeous homes, nature, green area, and detail in this area named after Gen. Hampton.
  • Wagener Terrace – Just on the other side of the cross town this community is known for more modestly sized homes.
  • Eastside
  • Westside

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What’s The Difference Contractor – Builder – Carpenter – Tradesman?

It has come to my attention that the public truly doesn’t understand what all is involved in construction, and furthermore they don’t know the difference in the types of people and personalities associated with construction. Specifically I am talking about home construction, such as: renovations, roofing, home building, etc.

So.. This article is strictly for other contractors and builders to pass onto their customers, clients, and homeowners alike. Hopefully, I will have done a good enough job explaining and clarifying how difficult construction really is, thus encouraging homeowners and clients to be a little more understanding.  Being a contractor is not easy work.

First; what is a contractor? Let me start by saying this. It depends on who you ask, but to most professionals inside the business, a contractor is the man or woman who drafts up “contracts”, hence the name. Contracts between themselves and carpenters or tradesmen, and those are contracts to do a specific type of work or trade. In most instances a contractor is the guy the homeowner or business owner corresponds with regularly about the project. What’s more, a real contractor really isn’t the one who “swings the hammer”, but is usually the brains behind the project. The contractor is the person who knows how the job should be done, knows the people (tradesmen) who know how to do the work, knows what materials cost, time necessary to complete, knows how to schedule, takes on the liability, as well as knows the permits/codes that have to be adhered to.  The contractor aka builder is “the brains” behind the operation. Contractors often times are college educated and business minded people.

Unfortunately most homeowners don’t understand the stress, the work, responsibility  and expense that goes into their home improvement, remodel, or new home build. If they did they would be much more understanding and patient. First, the cost of liability insurance for a contractor is some of the MOST expensive insurance in the marketplace. Contractors not only have to insure their sub-contractors (carpenters/tradesmen), they also have to insure the client’s interest, the job quality, and the property. For that reason it is extremely expensive to carry adequate and proper insurances and bonds.

What is a Carpenter? A carpenter is usually an uneducated, yet sometimes skilled (sometimes unskilled) laborer or crafts-person who works with materials and tools to construct or build a finished (sometimes) unfinished product.  There is a difference between contractor and carpenter. The contractor is the one who hires the carpenter(s) to provide them with work, and instruction as to what they are to do. That isn’t to say that a carpenter can’t also be a contractor, but most good contractors aren’t carpenters because they don’t have time to do the labor or they wouldn’t be able to get any other work done. A carpenter is kind of, for lack of a better term, a generic laborer who usually knows and/or can figure out how to complete the desired construction related task. A carpenter is often times, the guy who works out of his beat up pick up truck and carries his tools around with him from job to job.

That leaves tradesman or craftsman?

Charleston, SC General ContractorThese are basically the same as a carpenter, however tradesmen usually stick to knowing how to, or prefer to work with one specific area of the process or trade. For instance: roofer, framer, trim carpenter, woodworker, cabinet-maker, tiler, painter, etc. These people know how to do one thing (trade / craft) very well and thus are experts in that one trade. Verses being a carpenter who is usually someone who works on everything and doesn’t know how to do one specific thing perfect.  An expert craftsmen is another level of tradesman that is SO well versed at one trade and has many many years of hands on practical experience in one trade that they usually demand a much higher price to hire them as they can usually do specialty, detailed, and ornate work. When you go into a very expensive, and breath-taking home you are usually seeing the work of custom, expert-fine craftsmanship.

The stress of being a contractor comes in dealing with carpenters and craftsmen. Each trade usually has to be coordinated in particular order, and these carpenters and tradesmen all have to work in sync and together, BUT all too often do not. Unfortunately, it is common that most carpenters are comprised of people who do not take the care to be professional, timely, and respectful while on the work place. That’s why you do business with a contractor and not a carpenter.  This is where the problem comes in, because the client expects the contractor to do the work, the contractor expects the carpenter or tradesman to do the work and when one of these things doesn’t fall into place then the entire job comes to a halt. If majority of carpenters were people  with values, and ethics then construction would be much easier, but alas that isn’t the case so contractors have to deal with these problems for the customer.

So next time you want some work done in your house or your office consider these things, and maybe you’ll understand that it isn’t easy to do construction work or you’d be doing it yourself.

Charleston SC Green Building Contractor and Energy Efficient Construction |

With energy costs constantly rising and paychecks shrinking it is more important than ever that your home be as energy efficient as possible to save money and the environment.  As a certified green builder in Charleston, we go to great lengths to ensure that your home, commercial building, renovation, addition and/or anything we build well exceeds minimum code for energy efficiency. We will always make sure to explain the difference in products, prices of each product, options, and construction methods that are available to help your property conserve as much energy as possible.Contractors in Charleston SC

Here we have a helpful image that illustrates some of the most common places, and construction shortfalls that contribute to a home or business’s inefficient energy footprint.

We have a huge list of all the best suppliers of the most energy efficient products, materials, windows, doors, siding, and anything else you’d need to make sure you are not only saving money, but also saving the environment.