All Posts by Mary Childress

Another Reason I Love What I Do

Before I tell you, I need to give a some back story.  Many years ago, when I was a brand new real estate agent, I was referred to a seller in a community called Woodwinds, which is located off of Highway 544 in Conway.  Soon after I helped that seller,  another homeowner in the community contacted me to assist with the sale of her home.

 I was very fortunate to have a couple great  mentors who taught me  the special circumstances that have to be considered when buying/selling manufactured homes.   Is the title retired?  Does the seller have the title in hand?  Does the seller own the land or is it leased? Is it on a permanent foundation? What do we do if it was not closed properly the previous time?  Is there financing available? Those are all things I was taught early on.  That knowledge has been extremely valuable throughout my career . Now I know what questions to ask, what documents to gather, what research has to be done on the front end to help ensure a smooth transaction from start to finish. 

After my second successful closing in Woodwinds, I decided that I was going to focus on trying to help as many people in that community  as possible. I was going to make Woodwinds 'my farm'.  Farming to a real estate agent is when we choose a geographical location and focus the bulk of our  marketing on that location.  We can do 'pop bys'  (where we drop by with information and gifts if allowed) . That's  not my method, since I wouldn't appreciate someone knocking on my door unannounced, but I'm getting off topic.  We also can send mailers with information about the local market, neighborhood happenings, or other information that members of the community could find useful.  This was my preferred method.  I addressed envelopes by hand to every address in the neighborhood, stuffed each envelope with my original Woodwinds newsletters, and put stamps on each envelope.   I could have metered via bulk mail for less postage, but I felt like it would be more personal with a stamp and a handwritten envelope vs printed labels.  I sent mailers 3-4 times annually for several years and over the years was contacted by many residents. I listed and helped sell several homes, but also connected with lots of people in other ways. They knew they could call to ask me general real estate questions. They knew I would  recommend plumbers, electricians, contractors, pet sitters, etc. I even made friends with a lady who initially called to yell at me for sending her letters.     🙂 

Over the years it seemed that my mailers got less and less response, but looking back, it was probably because  I wasn't making the time to send them as frequently as I should. The last Woodwinds Newsletter was probably sent around 2011 or 2012.  So, imagine my surprise when I got a call a few weeks back from very nice lady who wanted some information on home values in Woodwinds. During the conversation, I mentioned that I was very familiar with her neighborhood. I told her I had actually sent out quarterly newsletters years ago. She already knew that because that's how she got my name and number.  She had saved the newsletter to call me if she ever wanted to sell her home! That made my whole entire day to hear that.

Fast forward to the best part:  After all these years, I listed her home for sale. Two days later she received multiple offers and is under contract!  Another reason to love what I do:  I get to meet and get to know so many wonderful people each and every day and sometimes it's when I least expect it.  Note to self.. maybe it's time to start another quarterly newsletter!? 

Insert Image

Important Flood Insurance Information

IMPORTANT NEWS ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE

If you are closing on a new home and require flood insurance, you'll need to know what to expect due to FEMA's notification that they will not be able to sell or renew flood insurance policies under the National Flood Insurance Program during the partial government shutdown. 

  • NFIP cannot sell flood insurance policies unless FEMA reverses its policy decision or the government shut down ends.
  • Existing NFIP policies should remain in effect until their expiration date  (renewal date plus a 30-day grace period), and claims will continue to be paid as long as FEMA has the funds on hand.
  • Renewal policies are generally issued as long as the application is received prior to a lapse and the premium is received within the 30-day grace period. Other renewals must wait for reauthorization.
  • Property buyers can assume existing/renewal policies during a lapse. “Assignment of policies” (page 3 here) allows insurers to substitute the buyer’s name for the seller’s without having to reissue the policy.
  • Private flood insurance backed by a source other than NFIP (e.g., Lloyd’s of London) are not affected. Click here and here for some options. Please be sure to READ THE FINE PRINT.
  • The federal requirement to purchase flood insurance is suspended, which means it is up to lenders to decide whether to make loans in special flood hazard areas while NFIP insurance is not available.


The National Association of Realtors is working overtime to address this with FEMA. 

FEMA will only overturn their decision if they are presented with evidence that markets will be adversely impacted.

ACTION: If you are an agent or buyer and have a pending closing that requires the purchase of flood insurance, the National Association of Realtors needs to be notified  immediately so the information can be compiled and shared  with FEMA and Congress.

Jealousy Makes You Nasty

I know envy is contrary to virtue and besides that isn't a very attractive attribute.  Whenever I feel the slightest twinge of it, I can literally hear my nephew  say, "Jealousy makes you nasty."  So  I try to put the brakes on, because let's face it...who wants to be nasty?  

I guess I should tell you right away that this blog entry is not going to have anything to do with real estate, so if you want to know what the interest rates are doing or how the local market is, you'll just have to come back later in the week or give me a call.  

 Anyone who knows me,  is definitely aware of  how much I love my career, but also how much I value my family. I have a wonderful husband. I have 2 biological (grown up) kids, 1  (grown up) kid who has been a part of our family for many years, and now my kids have significant others.  I'm not sure how my kids  grew up 'overnight',  but it happened.  I can recall,  like it was yesterday,  getting stressed out about conflicting sports schedules, projects due the next day that were assigned weeks prior, finding out that I had to bake 4 dozen cupcakes at midnight, or that I would need to buy $200 in wrapping paper so my child could jump in a ball pit...(the list goes on and on and many parents will be able to relate). Anyway, seasoned parents would tell me, "Enjoy these moments, because your kids will be grown in the blink of an eye and you'll miss all this."  I would, of course, chalk this up to something erstwhile parents say to make frazzled parents feel better, but now I realize that it is so very true. I  even find myself  saying this very thing to parents with young children. 

I can't go into all the stages and feelings of having your babies grow into adulthood, but I will say that when they start school you miss the baby snuggles.  When they leave elementary school, you miss the handmade art projects.  When they graduate,  you even miss the crazy sports schedules and midnight cupcake baking. When they go away to college, or move to Japan, you miss having them under one  roof.  You also, if you are completely honest with yourself, probably get a tiny bit jealous of people who still get to enjoy all of those things with their young children. 

So many of my friends and associates have younger kids and it seems like lately, everyone I know is having a baby.  Don't get me wrong, I am not consumed with jealousy. On the contrary , I am happy for them and all the things they have to look forward to. I am also getting used to this next chapter of being able to enjoy the company of my adult children without all the responsibilities I had when they were younger.  But I still miss little things....like the art projects. Which brings me to what inspired this entry.....

I came home to find this on the counter. It's a turtle pen holder than was made especially for me in college art class by one of the grown up kids. I didn't make a huge deal over it, but it made me so happy that I may have shed a (happy) tear.  It's  in my home office and whenever I  Iook it I  recall a multitude of priceless memories from years gone but it is also a reminder that I have the best of both worlds in this next chapter with my adult kids. 


I don't have to provide 150 orange slices for the soccer team with 15 minutes notice or dye 5 dozen eggs for an egg hunt, but they will still humor me and do these activities even though they are grown. 


They still come to my birthday parties but now they can also go with me to happy hour. I may not know all the characters  on Paw Patrol and I have no idea what a Hatchimal is, but my kids teach me Japanese culture, introduce me to new music like Bassnectar, and taught me to play the drinking version of Yaniv. 




 I also am lucky enough to attend some birthday parties of my friends' young children and get to go to baby showers so I am not in complete withdrawal.

So, whenever I feel a tiny bit sad that I don't have young kids at home anymore,  I will glance at my turtle pen holder and be thankful I have the best of both worlds. Then I will plan a date night with my husband, see if any of my kids or extended kids want to go to a concert or movie,  or just take off for some Me time without feeling guilty. 



The Housing Market Didn’t Turn Into a Pumpkin

A lot of people feel that once Labor Day comes along, the real estate market changes.

It’s true… to select buyers and sellers and only to a degree.

For instance, families who have to make decisions based upon where their children go to school are more likely to have tried to move before the school year begins. So, people with kids in school may very well decide not to sell or buy a house until the school year is done, if they have a choice in the matter. 

Who would not be directely affected by the seasons when it comes to buying or selling a house? 

There’s constantly:

  • People moving in and out of the area for job transfers. (Even if they have kids in school.)
  • People who are retiring and moving out of the area, or downsizing.
  • People who are retiring and moving into the area, or downsizing.
  • Newlyweds buying their first house.
  • Single people buying their first house.
  • Families who need a larger home.
  • Sadly, there are deaths, divorces, and desperate times that lead to people selling homes.

The list could go on for pages.

But, in almost every area, it isn’t like Labor Day is the equivalent of the clock striking midnight and the market turning into a pumpkin until Spring.

Maybe there are minor adjustments. But the market doesn’t stop, or entirely turn into a buyer’s market or seller’s market overnight, just because it’s not Spring/Summer.  There are still buyers who need to buy and sellers who need to sell.  

So, if you’ve been thinking about buying or selling, don’t be concerned about what you might hear elsewhere. Just ask me, and I’ll help you figure out whether it affects you and your scenario at all.

      843-450-6390

Hurricane Florence Assistance

Were you affected by Hurricane Florence or know someone who was? 

The REALTORS® Relief Foundation has been mobilized and is ready to assist victims of Hurricane Florence living in Horry and Georgetown Counties, SC. If you have experienced hurricane damage to your primary residence,  you may be eligible for assistance. The REALTORS® Relief Foundation, established by the National Association of REALTORS® is providing relief up to $1,000. You must meet eligibility requirements.

Assistance is available to qualified applicants towards one of the following options:
1) Monthly mortgage expense for the primary residence that was damaged by Hurricane Florence.

2) Rental cost due to displacement from the primary residence resulting from Hurricane Florence.

Deadline for application submission is November 30,2018. Please note this assistance is for housing relief only; other expenses including second mortgages, vehicle purchase, rental, repair and or mileage are ineligible for reimbursement under this program.

The Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors is here to help our community members who have experienced devastation due to Hurricane Florence.   Please use the attached links for information or feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need help with application.  Please feel free to share this information with anyone you know who could use assistance. 

843-450-6390

Please ‘Bother’ Me!

Real estate agents hear this all the time…

“I wish I had called you before. But I just didn’t want to bother you. I know you’re busy…”

…after it is too late.

There are times when you might feel like you shouldn’t “bother” the real estate agent you know. (Could be your friend, a neighbor, your brother-in-law, cousin, your sister…)

Maybe you’re truly trying to be considerate.

But, maybe it’s because you’re not even aware that you should.

Or, you just don’t want to feel obligated or pushed into doing something. (Despite what many people think, most agents are not pushy. Most are the exact opposite.)

So, let’s go over a few times that you should “bother” your real estate agent. Because it really isn’t a bother.

In fact, we’ll get into why it will bother them if you don’t reach out to them for any of these things.


1. YOU JUST WANT TO CHECK OUT THE HOUSE

You see a house online. Or a For Sale sign. Maybe even just stumble across an open house.

You’re not all that serious about buying a house. Maybe you’re only just starting to think about it. Or, maybe you have no desire at all to move, and you’re just curious and want to take a peek.

So, you don’t want to “bother” the agent you know to show you the house.

Instead, you call the listing agent. Or some random agent you don’t even know. Or just walk right into the open house.

Next thing you know, you love the house. You’re making an offer. The offer is accepted. And then you regret it. Or problems come up. Or the process is miserable. Or you don’t feel like the agent you’re dealing with is giving you the best advice.

And that’s when you call the agent you know.

Too late. At that point, the agent you know can’t help. (Or at least shouldn’t…) Because now you are represented by another agent. The agent you know can get in a lot of trouble for even giving you friendly advice.

As innocent as it seems, when you just want to go see a house… you are inadvertently making a bigger decision than you think — you are deciding who will represent your interests, advise you, and help you through the process.

Even if you just go see a house with another agent, and before you even make an offer you decide to have the agent you know write up the offer and represent you… the agent who simply showed you the house could claim you as their client. It’s called “procuring cause”. I won’t get into the details here, but it can become messy.

You’re better off calling the agent you know to show you the house in the first place. You won’t be considered a bother.

What will bother him is to have to bite his tongue and not give you the help you want further into the process.

Free Home Buyer's Guide! - Click here for a free guide to the home buying process that is full of usefule information. Enjoy! 

2. YOU JUST WANT TO KNOW HOW MUCH YOUR HOME IS WORTH

Maybe you’re just curious about how much your home is worth. Or, maybe you’re actually thinking of selling. It might be because you want to get a feel for your net worth.

Nowadays, you can hop online and check out any number of sites that will give you the value of your home.

So, why “bother” the agent you know about this?

Because most of what you will find online is highly inaccurate to begin with. They are “automated” valuations. They are based upon data and algorithms. They have never even seen the inside of your home. They do not take into account your local market conditions.

And if you base your hopes, dreams, and decisions off of an inaccurate value, that can hurt you quite a bit.

Again, asking the agent you know to do an analysis and give you a true market value… not a bother.

But, it would be bothersome to hear that you’ve based important life decisions off of an inaccurate value once it’s too late.

Click here to see how much your home is worth. No obligations!

3YOU'RE  CONSIDERING A HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

The real estate agent you know probably isn’t an architect. Or a builder, a plumber, an electrician, a painter, etc. So, they probably can’t advise you about the ins and outs of a specific project or costs.

But once you have a sense of the proposed cost of a project, before you just pull the trigger and move forward, you really should “bother” your agent for their input.

Putting on an addition? That will surely increase the value.

A kitchen or bathroom remodel? Yep, your house will be worth more.

But will the value increase more than the amount you spent? Will that matter in your situation? Will the choices you make in decor, layout, or fixtures appeal to a buyer down the road? Does that even matter, given your future plans?

All questions and thoughts your agent can get into with you. Before you spend the money and go through the headaches of a huge project.

On the other hand, if you go forward with a home improvement project and spend, let’s say $60,000, and then call your agent…

You could seriously regret how much you spent, or even doing the project at all.

Your agent doesn’t want to break the news to you that your home is only worth $38,000 more after you spent $60,000. There is no joy in that. There is nothing that can be done at that point.

That’s just three examples. There are certainly more. But you get the point…

So, reach out to your agent before you do anything real estate related… and just trust that it isn’t a “bother”.

You can email, text, or call me if I can help! 

Check out my Facebook Page 


5 Tips to Get Your Home Ready For Warmer Weather

Spring is in the air, and you know what that means: the days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising, and in just a few short weeks we’ll be heading into the warmer months of summer.

Summer is one of the best times of year. It’s the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, and of course, everyone’s favorite: good ol’ summer vacation.

After the colder temperatures of winter and the unpredictability of spring, you and your family are probably more than ready for the warm, summer weather. But the question is: is your home?

Here are 5 tips to get your home ready for warmer weather:

1.GET YOUR A/C CHECKED

The summer heat is great for beach days and splashing in the pool. But when you’re done enjoying the sunshine, you’ll want to open the door to a nice, cool interior. But if your air conditioner isn’t working properly, you can quickly find yourself with no escape from the rising temperatures.

The best time to get your air conditioning in working order is before summer hits. Start by changing out the filters. Dirty filters make it harder for your A/C unit to do its job, lower the efficiency of your air conditioning system and waste energy. After you replace the filters, let your air conditioning system run for an hour or so to see how its cooling; a test run will give you insight into any potential problems you need to have serviced.

You should have an HVAC professional service your air conditioning system once a year. Even if you don’t notice any obvious problems, servicing your A/C annually will keep it running better for longer. Spring is the best time of year to get your A/C service; once summer hits, most HVAC companies are booked solid through the summer months, and the last thing you want is to find yourself in the thick of summer with a broken air conditioning system and no relief from the heat.

2. SWITCH OUT YOUR GEAR

Each season required a completely different set of tools, gear, furniture, and decor. To avoid clutter, it’s best to store these items when they’re not in use. If you’re storing your seasonal items, you’ll need to switch everything out as summer approaches so you have everything on hand you need to enjoy the season.

Put your patio furniture out in the backyard so it’s ready for when you entertain guests. Check your grill to make sure it’s in working order and ready for summer BBQs. Switch out those heavy winter comforters with lightweight quilting that’s more appropriate for summer weather.

3. GET YOUR LAWN UP TO SPEED

One of the best parts of summer is getting to enjoy time outside, often in your own backyard. But if you’re like most people, your lawn could probably use a bit of TLC after the cooler months.

Survey your property for any visible damage caused by winter weather. Check all playground equipment to make sure it’s in good shape. Add a few new plants or flowers to add visual interest to the landscape.

Your backyard will play host to many celebrations, playdates, and lazy evenings with your family this summer. In order to enjoy all the fun of summer fully, you want to make sure your lawn is in the best shape possible.

4. PLANT A GARDEN

Speaking of the backyard, there’s no better time than summer to plant a garden. The warmer weather is the ideal time for a rainbow of vegetables to flourish, including beets, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers, and squash. If you’re new to gardening, pick up a few raised garden beds and plant your seeds now. Before summer hits its peak, you’ll be enjoying fresh vegetables straight from your garden – perfect for a refreshing summer salad.

5. GET PAINTING OUT OF THE WAY

If you’ve been thinking about painting the interior of your home, now is the time to do it. Painting only gets more challenging as the temperature rises; since you’ll need to have your windows open while you paint, A/C isn’t an option. Not only will the heat make painting feel more physically demanding, but humid weather can make the paint fumes feel more overwhelming.

Summer will be here before you know it. And with these tips, your home will be ready for it.

Things you Should (and Shouldn’t) Do During Home Loan Process

Though I am not a mortgage person, I work closely with lenders and mortgage officers to ensure my clients are informed and educated.  There are definitely some things to do as well as some things NOT to do, that will help make the mortgage process smooth and stress-free.

If you are seriously considering a home purchase and require financing, one of the very first things you should do is speak with a mortgage officer about what your options are. They will discuss your individual needs and circumstances as well as give you your very best loan options. Based on many things to include your credit score, credit history, income, and ratios, they will either tell you what you need to work on to become eligible for a home loan or provide a pre-qualification letter right then and there. 

Once you have that letter in hand, there are things you will need to do to become completely approved for the loan.  Though I recommend working with a knowledgeable and professional  mortgage person with excellent communication skills, (happy to recommend) I can point out a few important items that can make a world of difference in the outcome of the loan process.

1:  Before and after getting your pre-approval, continue to pay your bills on time.

2: Don't make any changes that will negatively affect your credit score or ratios.

3: Don't make any changes that will negatively affect your income.

4: Do get all of the requested documentation your lender requests back to him/her in a timely manner. 


Before and During the Loan Process, make sure you check with your lender BEFORE you do any of the following:

  • Before  you acquire new credit. Everyone's situation is different but whether it's a large or small purchase with new credit, check with your lender. Even allowing a cashier to run your credit to get a store card that you don't plan on using can affect your credit score.  

  • Before you use existing credit. If you are pre-approved for a loan and decide you are going to buy furniture for the new house before closing, there may not be a closing. Even if you use an existing card with a credit limit your lender knows about. Before using existing credit, check with your lender that it does not throw off your ratios.   

  • Before you pay off existing credit. What could be the harm in this?  Trust me!  Ask your lender before you do it just to be on the safe side. Ask him/her about anything new or in question that involves credit. 

  • Don't buy a new car during the home mortgage process! At least without discussing with your mortgage officer or lender. 

Don't quit or change jobs right before or during the home mortgage process without discussing with your lender. Even if the new job is 'better' or pays better.

 Here are a few more things to ask before doing: 

  • Check with your lender before making a large or unusual deposit.

  • Check with your lender before transferring funds from one account to another.

  • If you plan on using money that's gifted from a relative for your down payment make sure the lender knows this upfront. Depending on your loan, this can be acceptable but it has to be handled a certain way. 

Lending laws are a bit stricter than in years of past, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are rules and guidelines in place to protect buyers and prevent risky loans that aren't good for a healthy housing market. If you don't know what to expect you can make costly mistakes or be stressed out for the entire process. 

 Even if you have gotten a loan in the past, the process may be a little different than you recall.  Find a mortgage officer or lender who will help you find your best loan options, educate you on the procedure, and communicate with you throughout.  I am happy to recommend one of my excellent preferred lenders who do just that and as always, I'm here to help with any of your real estate questions or real estate needs. 



Groundhogs and Real Estate: What’s the Connection?


Do you believe whether a groundhog sees its shadow or not is a true indication of when Spring will come?

A lot of people aren’t even sure, which means we’re going to have more winter.

But even if you do, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. If it’s sunny, and he sees his shadow, that means a longer winter. If it’s cloudy and he doesn’t see his shadow, it means Spring will come sooner. That seems totally backwards.....

And then there are lots of different groundhogs… which are you supposed to believe?

Groundhogs Don’t Predict Spring

Truth is, Spring never actually comes sooner, even if every single groundhog doesn’t see his shadow. It begins on a specific calendar day.

Now the weather on the other hand, that’s a different story. The weather will be what it will be. Weather is something people make small talk about.

But a groundhog predicting it!? Meteorologists can barely do it.      🙂 

So, most people don’t put a whole lot of stock in what the groundhogs “say” on Groundhog Day. However, a lot of people do put stock in the “Spring market” when it comes to real estate.

Is Spring The Best Time To Buy And Sell Real Estate?

So many people believe it is the “best” time to buy or sell real estate. Not necessarily.

Sure, there is a definitely a “Spring market”.

But, first of all, to even say exactly what day it begins is impossible. Some real estate agents even say the Spring market begins in February. Others may say March. Or April. Maybe May.

And while there is no definite answer as to when the Spring market actually begins, it’s even more inaccurate to say that it’s the best time for you to buy or sell a house.

It might be for some clients… but certainly not for everyone. It depends on so many variables, and upon the client’s specific scenario and needs.

My Advice To You

Don’t put stock in the “Spring market”, no matter what you hear, or who you hear it from.

Do not base your decisions about when to buy or sell upon something people talk about as lightly as the weather… or whether the Groundhog saw its shadow or not.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

But, if you are thinking about buying or selling, or both, then we should chat. And strategize.

Is now a better moment for you to begin buying or selling?

Or is it better for you to wait until Spring is “officially” here?

Or perhaps Summer…

Or Fall…

Or Winter…

Like I said, it depends on a whole lot of variables.

So, if you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s just chat.

If not, just stick this in your head for future reference!

Happy Groundhog Day,

Hide Your House Behind the Sofa

Hope you had a great holiday season!

So many people I talked to last month  said they  wanted to wait until 'after the holidays' to put their home on the market.

I’m not not one to rush or push anyone  to list their  house if they're  not ready. But here’s some good info for anyone kind of on the fence…

A lot of buyers also take time off from looking until “after the holidays”. They figure what’s the point — nobody’s listing their house now anyway. Yet, in my experience, they do continue to look. They’re constantly watching the market like a hawk. Hoping. Anticipating. But there’s just not a whole heck of a lot to look at. At least not much new to the market.

So, when something new does come onto the market, the buyers who are “waiting” get pretty excited. It’s like finding a forgotten Christmas present that fell behind the sofa. 🙂

Just some food for thought!


Looking forward to hearing from any homeowners in the Grand Strand area who have considered putting their home on the market,  because I can say with firsthand knowledge that there are plenty of buyers wanting to buy before spring !  I personally had more closings in December than previous months because I did encourage my sellers to list during the 'off season'.  Less inventory means more activity for new listings! 

  I'm happy to answer any questions or provide a free report with your home's value.  No cost, no pressure, and no obligation.

Happy New Year!