Buying a Home in the Middle of a Pandemic

Buying a home can be stressful and confusing in the best of times. But doing so in the middle of a global pandemic presents a whole new set of challenges and concerns. Here are some tips for buying a home right now, from the initial house-hunting process through closing day.

Lean on your Realtor®.

The first thing you’re going to need to get through this process in such an unprecedented time is a great real estate agent. You need an agent who’s tech-savvy, comfortable meeting and signing documents virtually, and knows how to keep things on track digitally. Luckily, the agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company are some of the best in the industry. Being a boutique real estate company, we’re able to work with you on a personal level in whatever capacity you’re most comfortable with at this time. We consider your safety our utmost concern when meeting face-to-face, and we also have top-notch tech if you’re more comfy meeting virtually. It’s a good thing, because you’re going to need to lean heavily on your real estate agent right now!

Go virtual.

Open houses and in-person showings are much more involved right now, or they may be nonexistent in some cases. When you’re ready to get out and look at homes for sale, check out virtual events first, such as Facebook Lives, Instagram Lives, Stories, or Reels, IGTV, 3D home tours, and video tours. Narrow your list down to those few houses that are absolute must-sees, then take the necessary precautions before going to view them in person. Many homeowners and listing agents will have guidelines in place. They may require you to wear a face covering and use hand sanitizer, ask you not to touch anything in the home, or ask you to remove shoes at the door, for example. 

Recruit an excellent mortgage lender. 

When it comes to getting a mortgage for your new home, you have a good bit of homework to do. Now more than ever, it’s important to choose a local mortgage lender who can provide personalized service and keep on top of your purchase process better than a national bank can. Choose a lender who can handle everything digitally. Make sure they have an online presence, and ask to interview them via video chat. Your lender should be able to provide you with options for seamlessly uploading documents and tracking the loan process. They should be comfortable with handling everything remotely if needed.

Keep your distance.

Normally, there’d be a flurry of in-person activity between signing a purchase agreement and going to the closing table. Taking pandemic conditions into consideration, however, things have changed in this area too. For example, it’s safest not to attend the home inspection at this point in time. Inspectors have guidelines and precautions they have to follow to keep themselves and the homeowners safe and healthy, like wearing PPE and sanitizing everything they touch. Having the buyers or sellers in the way can put a damper on the process and create more work for the home inspector. Ask your inspector if they can meet with you via video chat to show you any concerns while still onsite. Appraisers have different guidelines to follow now as well. Lenders may allow them to do a drive-by inspection and a desktop appraisal as opposed to a thorough inspection onsite. 


Prepare for closing day to be different.

When it comes to closing day, there are several things that might happen. Buyers and sellers may be required to attend at different times, be in separate rooms, sign documents in their parked cars, etc. The important thing to remember is that even though the road to get there might be a little more circuitous, the outcome will be the same as it ever was. Relax, take everything as it comes, lean on your Johnson & Wilson Real Estate agent and you’ll be a new homeowner before you know it! 

Friday Five // September 25th, 2020

TGIF! It’s time for another edition of the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events taking place in the Charleston area over the weekend. Celebrate Oktoberfest, join in goat yoga, adopt a new furry family member, and more. And as always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a very happy and safe weekend! 

While the real Oktoberfest in Germany is canceled, you can take a short trip downtown to Bay Street Biergarten for the next best thing! Biergarten Oktoberfest, sponsored by Devils Backbone, will be the happening place to be from now until October 17th. This Friday, Biergarten will host their first ever Biergarten Oktoberfest Food Challenge with Randy Santel. Santel will be consuming a 7-pound brat stuffed with all kinds of Bavarian-inspired foods and will down a liter of Devils Backbone brew within a certain time frame. A smaller version of Randy’s challenge will be available for the public to try as well! This event is open to the public. Stick around afterward for the Midnight City Band from 6pm until 9pm. 

Join Flowertown Charm this Saturday morning for Summerville Goat Yoga. Goat Yoga is exactly what it sounds like—a casual and gentle yoga class with goats! This class is perfect for anyone new to yoga, pro yogis, or those who just want to snuggle goats. As you move into your yoga poses, sweet little goats will roam around, cuddle, and play, adding charm and inspiring happiness during this stress-relieving, fun class. This is an hour-long class with a goat happy hour afterwards. Hang out, snuggle, and take pictures with the goats, and BYOB if you wish. Class is held at Flowertown Charm, a local home, business, and urban, serene, non-smelly mini-farm in the heart of Summerville. Bring an older mat or towel, as the goats may potentially chew on them. Participants must be age ten or older and purchase a ticket. 

This year’s election is one of the most important of our lifetime, and it’s just around the corner on November 3rd, 2020. Since the last day to register to vote is October 4th, Bay Street Biergarten will be holding a Rockin’ Registration voter registration event this weekend. If you’re not registered to vote, or you’re not sure if your information is up to date, head to Biergarten on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5pm. There will be computers and internet access available at this outdoor event. Masks are required.

Join Sweetgrass Mercantile on Saturday afternoon for Market at the Mercantile. Sweetgrass Mercantile is a post office, artisan mall, café, hardware store, and antique mall all in one. Buy local, get your knives sharpened, have your lamps repaired, and more in this special spot. The Market at the Mercantile event takes place from 4pm until 7pm and features live music from Nick Collins, Island Paradise Balloons, Booze Pops, The Tap Truck, Mr. T’s Kettle Corn, and more. More than 25 local vendors will be on hand with foods, jewelry, tea towels, pillows, repurposed home items, stained glass, home decor, farm stand, etc. The Market is a mostly outdoor event, but of course there are antiques and goods from more than 40 vendors inside as well. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

Head to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens this Sunday from 1pm until 5pm for the 4th Annual Lowcountry Dog Adoption Event. This is the largest adoption event in the Lowcountry with fifteen local rescues and shelters, live music from Lauren Hall and Emily Curtis, yummy food, and of course, social distancing. This free event takes place at the Pavilion Field at Magnolia Plantation. Masks and social distancing are required. Bring chairs and blankets to sit on and enjoy music, food, and all the adorable dogs up for adoption. There will be prizes and a free Magnolia Plantation family memberships for each adopting family.

Charleston Real Estate Market Report // August 2020

This August, 2,056 homes sold in the Charleston Trident area at a median price of $315,000. Year-to-date, 13,661 homes have sold at a median price of $295,000, both up 6% from 2019. 

“This summer has been record-breaking in terms of sales and price increases—a trend we fully expect to continue into the fall” said 2020 CTAR President. Bobette Fisher. “Continued low mortgage rates have helped thousands of homeowners in our region make a smart investment and a crucial step in building long-term wealth and stability,” said Fisher. “However, as inventory continues to decline, competition for our region’s homes has increased significantly, which is one of the factors driving our prices up” she said. “Two months of inventory signals an extreme seller’s market—six months is a balanced market. This limitation has essentially capped the number of homes that can be sold; if more homes were available, they would most certainly sell” said Fisher.

Breakdown By County

Berkeley County: 516 homes sold at a median price of $255,820

Charleston County: 1,063 homes sold at a median price of $351,670

Colleton County: 38 homes sold at a median price of $227,500

Dorchester County: 361 homes sold at a median price of $232,327

August 2020 Market Report

Friday Five // September 18th, 2020

After a long, rainy week, who else is ready for the weekend? We definitely are! Even while social distancing, there’s still fun to be had in the Charleston area. Take advantage of the slightly cooler temps and participate in a virtual 5K; see an outdoor concert; learn some history as you kayak and hunt for sharks’ teeth, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a safe and happy weekend! 

Join Nature Adventures and Charleston Outdoor Recreation Excursions on Sunday for a kayak-based Ashley River History Tour & Shark Tooth Hunting event. Hear the history of the Ashley River, the settlement of Charles Towne, the replenishment of the oysters by DNR, and the history of Magnolia and Ashley Phosphate Road. Bring a snack and take a break before exploring for sharks’ teeth! You’ll learn all about fossilized sharks’ teeth and how to spot them. Descriptions and shakers will be provided to help you know what to look for and help you sift through the sand. Reservations are required for this event, and kayak seats are limited. Prices are $50 for a single kayak, $100 for a tandem kayak, or $30/person to bring your own boat. 

Wands at the ready, all you wizards and witches! CluedUpp is back in Charleston with another fun detective event, this time with a magical theme. Gather your team of mystery-solving wizards and join a Witchcraft & Wizardry Charleston adventure game on Saturday. This spellbinding outdoor adventure game will take your team on a magical journey across the peninsula. Get your tickets at the link above today and don’t miss out on all the fun! 

For some outdoor music and fun this weekend, check out Safe Sounds at Firefly Powered by REV Federal Credit Union. If you missed out on their socially-distant summer series, you’re in luck! This event is back for the fall with an all new lineup of musical entertainment, food trucks, and more. Head to Firefly’s Park Circle location for this ticketed outdoor concert series each Saturday from 6pm until 10pm. This Saturday’s session will feature music from BlackNoyze, The Black Diamond Band, and Seth G. The featured food truck is Wingz N Thingsz, there will also be a beer truck on hand. Safety and health is the priority at this event. Get your VIP Safe Square that secures four tickets in a 10x10 square, separated from other squares on all sides by a distance of eight feet. Tickets may also be purchased individually for the general admission back lawn section. Bring your own blankets and chairs, but please leave dogs, children, and any outside food and drinks at home. This is an 18 and up event. 

Join Race 4 Achievement this Saturday to participate in the previously postponed 5th Annual Doughnut Dash 5K! Since the race cannot be held in person right now, this event is now virtual. This community-supported, family-friendly 5K run/walk is held each year in honor of the life and legacy of TyWanza Sanders. This event acts as a fundraiser to continue Race 4 Achievement’s mission of strengthening the community and supporting diversity in the Charleston community. All funds raised are donated to the TyWanza Sanders Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships for students in Charleston County Schools. To participate, pick up your t-shirt, swag bag, and freshly glazed doughnut at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Savannah Highway from 9am until noon. The virtual race officially begins at 10am and lasts all day long. Collect your items, choose a time to run, and then run or walk your #Race4Wanza5K wearing your shirt and race number. Click the link above for more info! 

Bring the family to the Omar Shrine Convention Center at Patriots Point this Saturday and Sunday for the Repticon Charleston Reptile & Exotic Animal Show. This two-day event features vendors offering reptile pets, supplies, feeders, cages, and merchandise. Come participate in exciting, educational, and family-oriented fun for everyone! One-day tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under five get in free! You must buy tickets and choose your time block in advance in order to accommodate social distancing. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Social distancing and safety procedures include required masks, touchless ticketing, reduced capacity, pulsed guest admission and booth sanitization, increased spacing of vendor booths. 

Friday Five // August 28th, 2020

It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening around the Charleston area over the weekend. Check out a music trivia happy hour, enjoy delicious Jamaican cuisine and wines, score a free pass to a local garden, and more. As always, no matter what you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company hope you have a very happy and safe weekend! 

Head to The Brick: Charleston’s Favorite Tavern on Friday evening for Name That ’90s Tune Happy Hour Trivia. The Brick presents a safe environment in which you can enjoy $3 drinks, $4 appetizers, and $10 pitchers of Modelo. For guest and employee safety, masks are required indoors when guests are not sitting at their table. There should be no more than eight people to a table. Trivial host will be wearing a mask and will come to each table to check trivia answers. The staff will provide you with a pen that you may keep at the end of the game and will also disinfect each table after use. Capacity is limited to keep things socially distanced. Admission is $3 or $4 per person, which is equal to one drink or one appetizer, which will be given to the player upon arrival.

Enjoy Drive-In Movie Night at the Post & Courier on Friday evening with the feature blockbuster film, Incredibles 2. This drive-in movie takes place in the Post and Courier’s parking lot at the corner of King and Columbus in Downtown Charleston. Gates open at 7pm; movie starts at 8:30pm. If you’re hungry, South Philly Steaks food truck will be on hand serving up homemade cheesesteaks, specialty sandwiches, tacos, egg rolls, nachos, salads, pastas, fried chicken, etc. This event is sponsored by Dillar’s, Charleston Oral & Facial Surgery, Trident General Dentistry, Charleston Repeats, and Benny Ravello’s. As a bonus, you can bring four non-perishable food items to the drive-in movie for a chance to win a $100 Dillard’s gift card. Food donations benefit One80 Place. Every moviegoing vehicle will also receive a Dillard’s Swag Bag as a token of appreciation!

From now until September 27th, pet lovers who adopt a dog from any of the participating rescue shelters throughout the Lowcountry will receive a free annual family membership to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens. Bring your new furry family member time and time again for walks in the dog-friendly garden, free for a full year. This campaign is made possible by Low Country Dog Magazine, Magnolia’s partner organization. Come back on Sunday, September 27th for a celebration of new pets and owners on their annual Low Country Dog Adoption Day on the Ashley.

Celebrate all things Jamaican, Reggae, and Jerk this Sunday at the Seventh Annual SC Reggae Jerk Wine Festival. Admission to this event, held at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, includes one complimentary 3 oz. wine sample; one complimentary 9 oz. wine glass; one complimentary jerk sample pairing with Irie Jerk Wine; jerk sample provided by Caribbean Rootz’ visiting chef TY from Jamaica; wine presentation; wine samples and wine for purchase by bottle or glass; cooking demonstration presented by Jamaican Chef; live music; Jamaican food selections available for purchase; special pricing on featured wines; arts and crafts gift options for purchase; complimentary walking tour of the Magnolia Gardens; and more! Portions of the proceeds benefit Healthy Lifestyle Network, a 501c3 organization dedicated to helping children and adults.  

Enjoy Sunset Rooftop Yoga on Sunday evening at the Charleston City Market. Rooftop Yoga consists of one hour of power yoga at sunset on the historic Charleston City Market rooftop, centrally located on Market Street between King and Meeting Streets. All levels are welcome, but please bring your own mat or towel and some water. Space for this event is limited, and mats will be socially distanced. Find details for registration and payment at the link above.


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