Top Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. And for every first in life, there are mistakes to be made and learned from. If it’s your first time buying a home, you’re bound to have a few missteps along the way. A recent study published by Bank of the West says that 68 percent of millennial homeowners said they felt buyer’s remorse after purchasing their home. That’s a pretty big percentage of regret considering that your house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. Instead of rushing into homeownership, do your research, take your time, and avoid these top mistakes made by first-time buyers.

Buying the Wrong Size House

This is a mistake we’ve seen homebuyers make time and time again. That four-bedroom house sounds awfully nice after squeezing all your stuff into cramped apartments and rental houses for so long. But then you move in and find out that you have more space than you need or want. On the other hand, you might think that tiny house inside city limits is just perfect for you and your significant other, but if you’re thinking of starting a family in the coming years, you’ll want to take that into consideration.

Prioritizing the House Over the Neighborhood

No matter how perfect the house is, if it’s not in the right area for you, you’re not going to be happy. Take the time to research towns and neighborhoods before you start looking for your dream home. Talk to neighbors for their opinions. Drive around the area to see what’s nearby. And remember you can always change the looks and layout of a house, but you can’t just pick it up and move it if you don’t like the neighborhood.

Forgetting About Taxes and Insurance

When you’re figuring out your budget and how much you’ll pay on your mortgage each month, it’s vital to account for annual changes in property taxes and insurance. Check out the tax history of your home online to estimate future changes. Do the same for insurance by asking your provider how much rates have gone up each year over the last ten years.

Insisting on Buying Close to Work

Adding just ten more minutes to your daily commute could open your search options up by a whole lot. Don’t limit yourself in such a big decision just to save yourself a little extra time in the car each day. You might be surprised at how much more house you can afford or how many more “extras” you can fit in just because you’re a little farther away from the office.

Not Getting Pre-Approved

Many first-time buyers don’t understand the importance of being pre-approved for a mortgage before starting the buying process. Sellers will look for a preapproval letter whenever you submit an offer. If you don’t have one, they might very well pass you over for another buyer. Being pre-approved shows sellers and their agents that you’re serious about buying their home and prepared to do it.

Not Having a Monthly Budget

Instead of focusing on a home’s total sale price, think about what you want to spend per month on homeownership. In order to have a clear view on this, it’s incredibly important to put together a monthly budget that includes all your bills and expenditures. A mortgage professional can help you look at your current budget and figure out how much house you can afford based on where you want your monthly payment to be.

Thinking You Can Do It On Your Own

It’s always a good idea to use a real estate agent when buying or selling a home, but it’s especially important to do so as a first-time homebuyer. Your agent will be your source of They possess a wealth of knowledge and up-to-date training on the ins and outs of buying and selling as well as real estate law to keep you out of trouble.


Agent, Broker, Realtor®—What’s the Difference?

As a home buyer or seller with no close ties to the business side of the real estate industry, you’ve probably used terms like agent, broker, and Realtor® interchangeably. After all, they all describe the same basic job, right? Wrong. While an agent, a broker, and a Realtor® can all help you buy, sell, or rent a home, these three titles have different meanings in the real estate business. Let’s take a quick look at each term, what they mean, and why they’re not synonyms for the same thing.


Simply put, a real estate agent is a salesperson. To become a real estate agent, a person must attend classes for a designated number of hours (60 hours in our state of South Carolina) and pass an exam at the end of the class. They must then take a state exam and apply for their license. Once they’re officially licensed, they must work for a real estate company under a broker-in-charge.


A real estate broker is someone has extensive knowledge of real estate law, has more education, and has complete more real estate classes than your typical agent. To become a broker, an agent must attend more training and pass a somewhat difficult exam and get their broker’s license. Once that happens, the broker can either work on their own or open up their own company and hire agents to work under them.


According to the National Association of Realtors®, “REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.” Not every agent or broker is a Realtor®, but every Realtor® is a broker or an agent. When a real estate professional carries the Realtor® designation, it means that they are committed to keeping the buyer and/or seller’s interest in mind, not their own personal profit. To ensure that you’re working with the best agent or broker who is honest, knows their market, and will keep your best interest number one on their list, it’s best to work with one who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®.


Friday Five // March 22nd, 2019

We made it through another work week! That means it must be time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events happening throughout the Lowcountry over the weekend. Make a dash for doughnuts, check out a vintage market, take your pup out for a fun day, and more. As always, whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend!

Be sure to check out Vintage Market Days of Charleston this weekend at the Exchange Park in Ladson, starting at 10am on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This event has been voted one of Country Living Magazine’s “7 Flea Markets & Barn Sales You Won’t Want to Miss!” Vintage Market Days is an upscale, vintage-inspired indoor/outdoor market featuring original art, antiques, clothing, jewelry, handmade treasures, home decor, outdoor furnishings, consumable yummies, seasonal plantings, and more. Join in the fun and shop some of the very best vintage vendors from across the country.

Join runners and walkers in West Ashley on Saturday morning for the 4th annual Doughnut Dash in honor of TyWanza Sanders, a victim of the Emanual AME church shooting. This family-friendly fun run/walk is held each year by Race 4 Achievement Inc. with support from the Charleston Jewish Community Center. The race begins at the South Windermere Shopping Center and continues down the Greenway to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, where participants will eat a dozen doughnuts and run or walk back. This event is a fundraiser that helps both organizations continue their missions of strengthening the community and supporting diversity in the Charleston community. A portion of the funds raised will be donated to the TyWanza Sanders Scholarship Fund, providing college scholarships for students in Charleston County Schools.

This Saturday, Lowcountry Dog Magazine, Charleston Parks Conservancy, and The Bridge 105.5 present WOOFSTOCK: A Lowcountry Dog Music Festival at Brittlebank Park. This rain-or-shine event takes place from 11am until 7pm and features seven bands, food trucks, local vendors, and six local rescue groups. Musical guests include Tyler Ramsey (former guitarist/vocalist for Band of Horses), Tyler Boone, Gaslight Street, Greg West, Hans Wenzel and the Eight Sixers, Finnegan Bell, and Sunflowers and Sin. Dogs must be leashed and up to date on vaccines. Owners assume full responsibility for the actions of their dogs while attending this event. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. No outside food, beverages, or coolers allowed.

Citadel Mall will host a Kids Fest Summer Camp and Activities Fair on Saturday from 11am until 2pm. The Kids Fest will be held in Center Court and features summer camps and activity vendors, face-painting, a balloon artist, and more. This event is designed to make it easy for parents to learn about educational and activities-based summer camp programs and enroll their kids for summer activities all in one spot. Vendors on site include Ballet Academy of Charleston, Nature Adventures, White Key Studios, Legare Farms, and many more.

Join the Charleston Stage Company at the Dock Street Theatre this weekend for multiple showings of Steel Magnolias, the play that launched the award-winning 1989 film of the same name. Comic sparks fly as hair is teased, blow-dried, and permed in this hilarious and beloved classic Southern comedy. Take in the show on Saturday at 7:30pm or on Sunday at 3pm.

Is Your HOA Overstepping Its Boundaries?

Living in a neighborhood with a homeowners association, commonly known as an HOA, comes with pros and cons. Being part of an HOA means living with a set of covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). Every association has its own set of CC&Rs unique to its specific neighborhood. They can include rules about items such as exterior maintenance, parking, and common area usage. Some of the other typical areas a homeowners association may regulate are:

  • Pets
  • Singles, siding, and exterior paint
  • Fences, shrubs, and hedges
  • Landscaping
  • Swing sets, basketball hoops, and other play structures
  • Mailboxes
  • Noise
  • Tool sheds and other outbuildings
  • Home-based businesses

For instance, your HOA can enact a rule that says your grass must be less than five inches tall at all times, and they can fine you if you don’t obey that rule. But there are certain rules HOAs are not allowed to put forth or enforce. Let’s look at just a few of the things your HOA can’t do.

They can’t fine you without reason.

Your HOA can’t just fine you on a whim. If you get a letter saying that you have to trim your bushes by a certain date or pay a fine, it had better be a fineable offense covered in the CCRs. They can’t just decide the huge century plant in your front yard is ugly and threaten you with a fine if you refuse to uproot it. Unless there is a specific restriction in your CC&Rs that says century plants aren’t allowed in front yards, they absolutely cannot force you to pay a fine.

They can’t discriminate.

Each and every HOA must be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. They have to be very careful when it comes to enacting and enforcing certain rules that might single out or disadvantage any of the groups identified in the Fair Housing Act. As an obvious example, your HOA can’t fine you or keep you from buying a home because of ethnicity or race. They also can’t kick you out because of your parental status, your religion, or your nationality.

They can’t make snap decisions.

So the new president of your neighborhood’s HOA hates yard ornaments. That doesn’t mean the president can suddenly make a rule that says all yard ornaments are now prohibited and must be removed at once. New rules must be introduced, voted on, and enacted properly as set forth in the CC&Rs. Rules can’t just be made up on the fly.

They can’t make you take down your satellite dish.

The FCC’s Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule makes it illegal for your HOA to force you to take your satellite dish down, no matter how ugly they think it is. There could be a covenant against them in your CC&Rs leftover from the days before this federal rule, but rest assured that the law is on your side if you want your satellite dish.

They can’t act like they’re above the law.

Your neighborhood HOA is not the end-all, be-all that gets the final word on all things. If you have constant struggles with your HOA or feel that there’s some shady stuff going on, you have every right to bring an actual lawsuit against them.

How-To Tuesday: Make Your Home Look More Luxe

This week’s how-to post is all about faking luxury without looking like you tried too hard. It’s all about small details that add up to create a luxe look and feel.

Create a Unified Palette

This doesn’t mean every room in your house needs to have the exact same palette and vibe. Just stick with one base palette that you can expand upon room by room. Having a consistent base palette will enable you to mix pieces from different stores and price ranges while also keeping everything coordinated. For example, keep all your major furnishings in shades of white and gray, and then add color in with accessories and textiles.

Give Minimalism a Try

Minimalism helps your design feel more intentional. When you have fewer pieces placed thoughtfully throughout a room, things will feel more grown-up and put-together. Having fewer, more expensive (or just expensive-looking) pieces lends a more luxe feel to a room than a bunch of clutter.

Frame Artwork

It’s rare that you’ll see an unframed piece of art in a truly luxurious home. Whether your artwork consists of original oil paintings or prints you downloaded from Etsy, framing it is an instant way to make it look fancy and polished. Unify your artwork by buying frames in bulk or painting all your existing frames the same color.

Use Layered Lighting

Using more than one light source adds depth to any room. Don’t just rely on overhead lighting. Use table lamps, floor lamps, candles, and even sconces. Dimmer switches are a great addition to any room, allowing you to adjust the lighting to suit the mood or activity.

Let Curtains Hit the Floor

Adding a beautiful window treatment to a room is like giving it a little facelift. Buy curtains and draperies that reach the floor, not just the bottom of the window. Curtains that are too short look cheap. Buy them longer, hem them if necessary, and give your room an instant custom look.

Mix Textures

Give a room more texture by mixing up wood, glass, metals, and woven materials for a curated look that’s not matchy-matchy. Invest in wool, velvet, and leather furnishings if you have room in your budget; or if you need to spend a little less, add a faux fur blanket to the couch and place some brushed metal accent pieces on a reclaimed wood coffee table.

Incorporate Metallics

Metallic accessories and fixtures add a little glitz and glam to any room. Let a metallic side table, desk, mirror, clock, or other decorative item be the wow factor your room needs.

Add Moldings

Add molding to a room for instant character and interest. Draw the eye up with a pretty crown molding. If you have narrow baseboards, install wider ones or think about adding some wainscoting.

Scour Thrift Stores

Heirloom pieces are a surefire way to add a little vintage luxury to your home. If you’re not lucky enough to have inherited any cool pieces, check out local thrift stores and antique malls. Look for vintage barware, mirrors, chandeliers, and art. You’ll spend less on a more original and interesting piece than you would on a brand new, cookie-cutter one from a department store.

Be Intentional

The key to giving your home that super luxurious feel is to make everything look intentional. This means keeping surfaces free of clutter, arranging accessories and decor in a thoughtful way, fluffing throw pillows and folding afghans in an attractive way, etc. You’ve put a lot of thought into how to arrange and decorate your home; now make it look that way!





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