Greater Raleigh Real Estate and Community News

April 27, 2022

A Guide To First-Time Home Buyer Programs & Loans in North Carolina

A Guide To First-Time Home Buyer Programs, Loans, And Grants

By Fizkes on shutterstock

As a first-time homebuyer, you're probably researching houses and making wishlists. However, as a first-time homebuyer, you may also be overwhelmed. There is a lot to learn about mortgages and the home buying process before getting the keys to your new Chatham County, North Carolina, dream home. 

Instead of just hoping you get through the process unscathed, take a little time to ensure you’re not confused and learn about your options. Once you have some knowledge in your back pocket, you'll be more empowered to make the best financial decisions for your future and could also potentially save some money. 

What Is a First-time Homebuyer?

Anyone that purchases a primary residence for the first time is considered a first-time homebuyer. However, if you've owned a home in the past, you may still qualify as a first-time homebuyer. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) establishes the criteria regarding other first-time homebuyers:

  • You have not owned a principal residence in at least three years.

  • If one spouse has owned a home, but the other has not, you can purchase a home together as first-time homebuyers.

  • You're a displaced homemaker that only owned a home with a spouse.

  • You're a single parent that has only owned a home with a former spouse. 

  • You owned a principal residence that was not permanently affixed to a permanent foundation following applicable regulations.

  • You have only owned a property that did not comply with appropriate state, local, or model building codes, and you can't bring it into compliance for less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.

First-time Homebuyer: Where To Start

Before you begin searching for your new house, you need to be prepared. You can do a few things to make the process go more smoothly.

  1. Learn about different types of home loans. There are several loan types available, but most homebuyers use one of the four major loan programs: conventional, FHA, VA, or USDA. Learning a little about these loans ahead of time is the best way to make sure you are making the right financial decisions. 

  2. Know your price range and monthly payment. If you have a household budget, it will be easier to see what can be allocated for your mortgage payment, including principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. Once you know how much you can afford, you can shop for a mortgage and your new home. 

  3. Contact multiple mortgage lenders to find the lowest rate. Often, first-time homebuyers will go with the first lender they speak to, but you could miss thousands of dollars in savings. If you've already done your research on loans and know how much you can afford, it will make this step easier. 

  4. Obtain a mortgage pre-approval. A pre-approval from a lender is essentially a verification of your home-buying budget. Often, sellers will not entertain offers without a pre-approval, so it'll save you the heartache of missing out on your dream home. 

Types Of First-Time Home Buyer Programs

There are a variety of first-time homebuyer programs available. Here are just a few ways you can find assistance as a first-time homebuyer: 

  • Government-backed loans (FHA, VA, USDA) may allow you to secure a loan with a lower down payment or poor credit.

  • Down Payment Assistance may be available in the form of loans or grants. 

  • Tax deductions for homeowners can reduce your tax burden. 

  • Closing costs - government-sponsored and private programs can assist with the various closing costs (which average 3-6% of the purchase price)

  • Good Neighbor Next Door is a federal program for Pre-K - 12th Grade teachers, EMTs, firefighters, and law enforcement officers that offers 50% off select HUD properties

  • Fannie May's HomePath® Ready Buyer™ Program allows first-time homebuyers to buy a foreclosed property with a lower down payment and the possibility of up to 3% of closing costs back.

Start looking for your new home today!

Jan. 5, 2022

Closing Costs: What are They and How Much Will You Pay?

A man does the math with a calculator on the closing costs for his new home purchase through Chatham Realty

Buying a home can be an excruciating task. You've examined all the available home options, secured a financing option, made an offer, inspected the house, and you're working out a deal with the seller.

Congratulations, you're just about to be a new homeowner.

However, there are closing costs that many don't consider when buying a house when closing the deal. That begs the question:

What are Closing Costs?

Closing costs are fees that a home buyer and seller pay to different third parties when closing the deal. The costs are numerous and can quickly mount up.

When you buy a home, closing costs come from:

  • Fees that stem from owning a new home.
  • Fees that go to mortgage lenders.

The amount you pay for closing costs varies depending on your state and the mortgage lender's fees.

On the flip side, a seller's closing costs entail:

  • Title transfer fee to the buyer.
  • Real estate agent's commission.

Who Pays Closing Cost?

Both buyers and sellers incur closing costs. However, homebuyers pay more in closing costs than sellers. A seller might sweeten the deal and offer to partially or fully pay for the buyer's closing costs in rare situations.

How Much are Closing Costs?

The amount you pay for closing costs depends on the type of property you're buying, your lender, and your state. On average, you'll spend 3-4% of the purchase price in closing fees if you're a buyer, and 1-3% for a seller, excluding the agent fee.

Types of Closing Costs for Buyers (and How Much to Pay)

There are plenty of unseen costs when buying a home. Fortunately, we're going to cover nearly all hidden costs that aren't on the house buying price so that the closing price doesn't surprise you in the end.

The main types of closing costs entail:

Home Inspection Fee

Home inspection fees vary depending on:

  • Home size and age
  • Scope of services
  • Your region

However, the U.S Department of Housing says a typical range lies between $300-$500, depending on the property value and terms of investment. 

The role of a home inspection is to ensure you're buying a home in good condition. If the inspector spots issues, you can raise them to the seller so that he can do repairs before the closing day.

Appraisal Fee

Home appraisal costs are fees you incur when you hire a company to determine the house's value you're about to buy. Typically, home appraisal costs around $300 - $500. 

Appraisal professionals ensure that the seller doesn't widely overprice or underprice a home. Determining the correct value is important to lenders because it ensures your financier lends an acceptable amount of money to buy a home.

Application/ Processing Fees

The processing fee is the amount that covers the cost of your lender for processing your mortgage application. The fee goes into processes like running credit checks, pulling your credit score, and other loan processing tasks.

Processing fees mount up to a few hundred dollars depending on your lender.

Mortgage Origination Fees

The mortgage origination fee generally costs about 1% of the total amount of the loan. You'll incur this fee because a mortgage involves lots of paperwork. 

The amount you pay covers the lender's costs for creating your mortgage and processing all the paperwork that enables you to get money in time.

Prepaid Interest on Your Mortgage

On the day you close the deal, you'll pay part of your monthly mortgage interest to cover the period between the closing date and the first mortgage payment you scheduled.

Tax Service Fee

Tax service fees don't cost much. If the application fee doesn't cover the tax services fee, search for a third party to check your tax account and ensure that you don't have unpaid taxes and pay taxes on time.

Property Taxes

The amount you pay for property taxes depends on your state's tax law. In North Carolina, expect to pay 0.77% of your home value a year. You'll pay a few months of property worth upfront.

Private Mortgage Insurance

On closing day, you'll pay a month's worth of private mortgage insurance upfront. Typically, you'll pay less than 2% of your annual loan balance for private mortgage insurance (PMI). Your lender splits the 2% into monthly payments.

However, private mortgage insurance costs are avoidable by paying a down payment of 20% or more. At its core, PMI is insurance that protects your lender from losing money if you can't keep up the monthly payments or you default your mortgage. 

Homeowners Association Fees

Suppose you're purchasing a house in a community with a homeowner association (HOA), you'll incur a membership fee on closing day. From there, you'll be paying around $250 a month to maintain your membership.

Homeowner's Insurance Premium

The home insurance premium is a law requirement and costs about $1,250 a year. On the closing day, you'll pay to cover the first year.

Types of Closing Cost for Sellers

It's easy to think that a seller will get off easier during the closing day. Selling a home comes with a closing cost too. If you're a seller, your highest cost on closing day is the commission fee for the real estate agent.

Real Estate Agent Commission Fees

On average, you'll pay 6% of your home sale price as commission to your real estate agent. The listing agent and the buyer's agent split this fee.

A seller might negotiate with the buyer to pay the agent commission on rare occasions. Alternatively, the buyer may offer to partly or fully cover the agent's commission, especially when the seller gets multiple offers.

Transfer Tax Fees

As a seller, you'll incur the cost of title transfer to a new owner. The cost might also entail recording fees, depending on the title company. 

You'll pay $1 per $500 for the property you're selling in North Carolina.

Attorney Fees

When an attorney helps you sell your home, their fee will be due on closing day. The amount you'll spend depends on the attorney you choose.

Is it Possible to Save Money on Your Closing Costs?

Nearly everyone buying or selling a home asks this question. However, your mortgage lenders are the people to answer that question correctly when you're ready to buy a home. Ask them if there's any room to wiggle to reduce their closing fee.

What's more, ask the seller if they can pay a small fraction of your closing costs. If they have been trying to sell their house for months and want a quick sale, they might agree because you hold the upper hand in the deal.

Reach out to us today. We'll help you navigate the world of buying or selling a home in Chatham county.

Image Source: OSABEE / Shutterstock

Posted in Buying a Home
Jan. 4, 2022

How to Stage a House That Sells

A living room staged by Chatham Homes Realty in a house that is for sale

Staging your house is an essential part of today's house-selling process. Beautifully arranged furniture and modern home decor help your home put its best foot forward for open houses and listing photos. Good staging can also help turn your home into an attractively blank slate that more buyers can imagine themselves living in. Choosing to stage your home is simple, but knowing how to best stage a house that sells is tricky. In this brief guide, we discuss the advantages of DIY and professional home staging so you can pick the right choice for your home and timeline.

What is House Staging?

House staging is all about setting the stage. During the home staging process, your home could be cleaned, have new furnishings, lighting, and home decor arranged in the rooms, and otherwise be redecorated. Home staging processes are designed to make the space appealing to prospective homeowners. This process can be done before your home is photographed, immediately before open houses, or before showings begin. 

Benefits of Staging Your Home to Sell It

Home staging can seem like extra work on top of an already stressful process. But, according to NAR's 2021 Profile of Home Staging, "Forty-seven percent of buyers' agents cited that home staging had an effect on most buyers' view of the home." In fact, some of the specific benefits of staging your home include:

  • Making the space seem larger: A well-staged home has furnishings and decor that make rooms seem large and airy, especially because staged homes don't have all the storage demands and belongings of a lived-in home.
  • Making the space extra inviting: That same NAR report found that good staging helps people visualize a house as a home. Neutral colors, area rugs, and cozy accents and details make potential buyers fall in love with your home.
  • Your home isn't left empty: If you've already moved out of your home, that can make the space feel empty and uninviting. Staging with rented furniture lets you settle into your new home faster.

Should You Hire a Pro to Stage a House That Sells or Do It Yourself?

Like with many of the choices you have when you're buying and selling a home, there are multiple different options that you can choose between. Some people prefer DIY staging, while others would rather leave it in the hands of professionals. Consider these advantages of either approach:

Advantages of DIY Home Staging

When you opt for DIY staging, you can:

  • Stay within your budget: Staging costs money. You're paying for the designer's time and expertise, not just the furnishings and decor. So by handling the tasks yourself, you get the benefits of staging without hiring another professional (or team of professionals), and you get to keep more of the profits on the home.
  • It can be fun: Staging your home is a fun opportunity if you love interior design and styling. Whether you use your own furniture or you rent some just for showings, you can polish your skills and learn a few tips for styling your new home, too.
  • It's convenient if you're still living in the home: You can live at home and stage a house that sells simultaneously. If you're the interior designer, you'll still know where everything is and where you're keeping odds and ends out of sight. This can go a long way to making the moving and home-selling processes less stressful!

Best Practices for DIY Home Staging 

  • Keep the space light and airy: Natural lighting is an excellent tool for selling any home. Consider switching out your UV-blocking curtains for some gauzy window treatments that make every room pleasantly bright.
  • Add in some new touches: New kitchen cabinet handles, a new rug by the back door, and new light bulbs make your home look bright and clean. If you don't want to add new decor, still take away the old; keep old rugs, trash bins, and scuffed furniture out of sight. 

Advantages of Professional Home Staging

Professional home staging comes in many different styles. A designer can help you create the optimal layout for your existing furnishings, or they can supercharge your layout with rented furniture and home decor. Some of the benefits of opting for professional staging include:

  • Convenience: When you work with professionals, they can handle it all. This takes staging entirely off your to-do list so you can focus on moving out of your old home, moving into your new home, and making sure your family gets settled.
  • The Potential to Increase Your Selling Price: Home staging, in general, can get you more offers, but professional staging might make those offers higher. Professional stagers know all the latest interior design trends to stage a house that sells and what strategic layouts best fit your floor plan. They also know what photographs well for your online listing. Their expertise can help you get a faster deal for a higher price.

Best Practices for Finding a Professional Home Stager in Chatham and Wake Counties

If you've decided a professional stager is the right fit for your property, we want to help you find a company you'll enjoy working with. Follow these tips:

  • Ask your realtor for a recommendation of a professional who can stage a house that sells: Realtors regularly interact with stagers, furniture rental companies, and photographers. They can suggest a few design teams near Chatham or Wake County that know local trends, are friendly to work with, and can help make your home look its best.
  • Choose a professional home stager with the level of service you're looking for: Whether you're just looking for a one-time virtual consultation, a stager who will work with your existing furniture and decor, or a staging service that handles all of the furnishing, touch ups, and photography for you, there's an option out there. Don't settle for a service that doesn't feel like a perfect fit.

Work With Chatham Homes Realty to Sell Your Chatham County Home

At Chatham Homes Realty, we're here to help you through every stage of the home selling and home buying process. Talk to our agents today about how to get a great price for your house and enjoy a seamless, low-stress transition to your new home.

Image Source: Anatoli Igolkin / Shutterstock

Posted in Selling Your Home
Dec. 7, 2021

Am I Ready to Buy a House?

Transitioning from renting to purchasing a home is exhilarating and liberating, often representing the realization of the American Dream for many.  However, it is a pivotal step, both in terms of your future and your finances.  It's a long-term and sometimes lifetime commitment that necessitates, among other requirements, a solid financial position.

Our years of realty service in Chatham and Wake counties have given us some insights into the various nuances of homeownership. So when can you say you are ready to buy a house?

You Have a Healthy Debt-to-Income Ratio

Money is the first and most straightforward consideration. If you have the financial capacity to buy a house outright, you can buy one now. Even if you can't pay upfront, most financial experts contend that if you can qualify for a mortgage on a new home, you can afford it. But how much can you afford in terms of a mortgage?

The Federal Housing Administration commonly uses a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 43% as a guideline when granting mortgages. This ratio is used to estimate if you will be able to repay your monthly payments. Depending on the real property market and prevailing economic situations, some creditors may be more liberal or strict.

A 43 percent DTI indicates that all of your monthly loan payments, including your housing-related expenditure; mortgage insurance, mortgage, homeowners association fees, property tax, home insurance, and so on—shouldn't exceed 43 percent of your total monthly income.

You Have a Ready Emergency Fund

Trying to pay for homeownership expenditures while still making other debt payments may put you one roof leak or HVAC breakdown away from foreclosure or bankruptcy. You can't call the landlord to fix the plumbing when you're a homeowner. It's up to you to choose whether to fix it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you. Housing maintenance fees can reach upwards of $1,100 each year. With this, you will have to cover most of your debt and save up towards an emergency fund before making a house purchase decision.

You Plan on Settling for a While

The first aspect to consider when buying a house is affordability, but you should also consider how long you plan to stay there. If you don't, you risk becoming trapped in a house you can't afford in an area you want to leave.

As a rule of thumb, most financial experts recommend living in a house for up to five years before selling it. According to housing statistics, the longer you stay in a house, the more equity you accumulate. You have to account for the expenditures involved in purchasing, selling, and relocating.  You also have to factor in the breakeven point for the mortgage costs linked with the house you're selling. It may not be the ideal time to buy a property if you can't decide which city or town you want to reside in or what your five-year plan is.

You Can Afford Moving Expenses

Don't forget that buying a house also entails moving! As a result, make sure you have a separate fund set out for relocation expenditures. Hiring movers in Chatham and Wake Counties averages $432 for a local move.

Aside from the heavy lifting, you may also have to spend on moving boxes, bubble wrap, deposits on utility services, janitorial supplies, painting, new furniture, and closet organization, among other pre-move-in home improvements.

Make sure you are ready for all these expenses.

You can Pay Enough Down Payment

The best approach to purchasing a property is to pay everything upfront. If buying a home with cash isn't an option this year, establish a goal of saving at least 20% of the purchase price for a down payment. Never take out a mortgage with less than a 10% down payment because you'll wind up paying a lot more in interest and fees, keeping you in debt for decades.

Any down payment of less than 20% will require you to pay for private mortgage insurance, which serves as a safety net for the lender if you default on your payments. Depending on the size of your down payment and your credit score, PMI might cost anywhere from 0.5 percent to 1.50 percent of your mortgage - that's an extra $2,000 per year on a $400,000 home.

The Economic Outlook Favors You

There are periods when property prices are depressed, and there are times when they are very high. If prices are so cheap that it's obvious you're getting a fantastic bargain, it's an indication that it is an excellent time to buy. Low prices improve the chances that time will work in your favor in a buyer's market, and your home will appreciate over time.

You Have a Trusted and Reliable Real Estate Agent

While there are numerous internet resources to assist you in searching for a new home, nothing beats getting direct counsel from a professional. Working with a professional and seasoned real estate agent will provide specific hands-on guidance that you may struggle to find online. You might also learn about homes that are put up for sale before they are available to the general public.

Having a buyer's agent allows you to save money and time.

In most circumstances, the house seller pays your agent's commission, so you don't have to spend anything to get skilled assistance! Even better, by working for your best interests at the bargaining table, a buyer's agent can save you big bucks on your dream property. You will also have to sift through tons of documentation if you don't hire an agent. Save yourself the hassle and allow an expert familiar with all of your county or city's laws and regulations to handle the paperwork for you.

If all the above requirements speak to you and you are ready to make the giant leap to homeownership, reach out to us at Chatham homes. Our dedicated professional agents will provide informed, professional service to you across Chatham and Wake Counties.

Image Source: Ultraskrip / Shutterstock

Posted in Buying a Home
Dec. 7, 2021

Apple/Google Moving to the Triangle Tech

Apple announced plans to construct a campus and technology hub in the Research Triangle, investing over $1 billion and adding at least 3,000 new jobs to the region. Wake County was chosen as the location for Apple's latest research and development campus. An investment of this magnitude has the potential to transform the Triangle by creating high potential jobs and providing long-term economic gains. Apple will also create a $100 million fund to help schools and community programs in the Raleigh-Durham area and across the state.

In March, Google announced that Durham would be the home of a new cloud computing engineering center. The hub is intended to be one of Google's top engineering hubs, and it might bring over 1,000 jobs to downtown Durham over the next few years. Apple and Google chose the Triangle area due to the high concentration of top-tier academic institutions, diverse economies, relative housing affordability, and high quality of life.

The entry of Apple and Google in the Triangle will have several benefits for the community and the real estate sector:


Without question, developments like Google's new engineering hub in Durham and the stated high wage targets are a massive win for the Triangle and speak volumes about the competence that already exists. The Triangle will undoubtedly see a price hike in the market, and property values will continue to grow.

When Amazon announced its HQ2 development in the D.C area, the initial reaction of housing markets in the vicinity was speculative. This was despite the fact that Amazon had indicated that its move into the region would take ten years. According to recent research by, the region's initial price spike calmed after two years, and the Raleigh and Durham real estate markets may soon have a similar response.

Real estate markets across the Triangle continue to heat up with little inventory and steady demand. Research by the National Association of Realtors on the industry average for granted single-family permits over the last 20 years discovered that 1,440 approvals in Durham and 4,640 approvals in Raleigh and Cary would be required to reach the historical average, suggesting a balanced housing market. With the entry of Google and Apple, even more developments will have to be permitted.

While short-term increases in housing costs are expected, given previous precedents such as Amazon's HQ2 in D.C. and patterns that surfaced during the global coronavirus pandemic, housing affordability in the long haul is likely to be determined by the actions of urban leaders. Urban leaders will have to leverage the positives of economic growth against population growth with a strategic mindset.

Job Opportunities and Commerce

When these big tech companies enter the Triangle market, it will further reinforce the existing clustering. This will be critical as the clustering will generate momentum leading to more businesses arriving, startups arising, developing, and attracting more talent to the Triangle. The more this happens, a virtuous cycle will be created, and the Triangle's commerce sector will only get better.

According to data analyzed by Nadia Evangelou, a senior economist at the National Association of Realtors, an estimated 3,000–5,000 total direct and indirect jobs could be generated in each of the first three years as Apple levels up their campus to full employment.

When computer science and engineering students in the Greater Triangle area start looking for jobs, they are most likely to first consider tech employment options at Google or Apple. There will be more outstanding options for student employment and professional engagement now that the enterprises are so near to the higher learning institutions.

Community and Infrastructure Development

The financial investments derived from Google and Apple's activities in the area will translate into property tax revenues which might be used to support welfare services, infrastructure development, and education. All of these things will need to expand in tandem with the expected population expansion. And with community development, property values around the Triangle will continue to soar, resulting in a booming real estate sector.

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Apple's jobs are expected to pay an average of $187,001 a year.  In comparison, Wake County's average yearly wage is just under $64,000, implying that Apple alone will bring in an extra $550 million in payroll dollars every year. Apple is also estimated to bring in more than $1.5 billion for the state annually. Businesses around the Triangle will benefit from the domino effect induced, leading to a beneficial impact on the state.

Google's expansion into communities across the country is part of the company's aim to invest heavily in workplaces and data centers to foster long-term economic recovery. The entire state stands to gain from billions of dollars invested in North Carolina and the Triangle due to the commitments made by Apple and Google.

Contact Chatham Homes Realty

According to CBRE Group, Inc., the Raleigh-Durham area is already experiencing tremendous expansion due to migration from larger cities. In 2020, 23% of new Raleigh residents will have relocated from New York City, and 32% of new Durham residents will be from New York. As these digital companies attract new talent from big urban regions to the Triangle market, those numbers will continue to rise.

As the supply chain challenges caused by COVID-19 continue to resolve, housing development will begin to pick up. Taking advantage of the market might just be the moment to consider buying or selling a house. You may be able to sell your existing home and build a new one or upgrade it, or you may choose to downsize. The flood of new purchasers may result in a significant increase in the value of your home.

Whatever option you choose, the market is showing no signs of faltering. It is an ideal moment to buy or sell real estate. Here at Chatham Homes, we are ready to facilitate your entire buying or selling process through the help of our dedicated, friendly, and professional team spread across Chatham and Wake counties. Reach out to us today.

Image Source: REDPIXEL.PL / Shutterstock

Posted in Community News
Nov. 5, 2021

How to Find a Real Estate Agent

Whether buying or selling a home, finding a real estate agent is the most critical step, enabling you to navigate the complexities of the real estate industry. The intent is often to get all the help you need in the home buying or selling process and manage large transactions more efficiently. However, hiring the right real estate agent can be challenging, especially for first-time home buyers and sellers.

Although hiring the first real estate agent you interact with may be tempting, it is essential to note that a real estate agent can make or break the entire home-buying or home-selling experience. This means working with a rookie can be costly, while a professional and qualified real estate agent gives you more benefits. So, how do you find a real estate agent for you? Read on to find out.

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do?

In a nutshell, real estate agents are licensed professionals working under a real estate broker to facilitate property sales for homeowners and purchases for potential home buyers. They help guide homebuyers and sellers through the buying and selling process, from scouting to closing. Therefore, a real estate agent is a valuable asset when selling or buying a home since they make the process smooth and efficient from start to finish. That said, here is what a real estate agent does:

  • Offer expert knowledge of the area: Real estate agents are experts who understand property values, neighborhoods, and schools within the area more than anyone else. They also know different laws and policies governing real estate in the area. This allows you to get more insights into selling your home or finding the right property to invest in.
  • Represent home buyers and sellers fully: Most people lack time to set up showings or search homes and properties. Hiring a real estate agent lets you access countless potential buyers if you are selling or listing your home. This saves you time while letting you get better deals.
  • Assist with paperwork: Buying or selling a home involves piles of paperwork; some may be unfamiliar, mainly for first-time home buyers and sellers. Finding a real estate agent makes sure you complete all your paperwork on time, resulting in a less stressful experience.
  • Guide negotiations: Suppose you sell your home, but it requires some repairs and replacement; an agent can negotiate for a better deal. Real estate agents know how to negotiate with both property owners and potential buyers. More so, they are familiar with necessary permits and allocations for ongoing projects.

Realtor vs. Real Estate Agent vs. Real Estate Broker

In the real estate industry, not all real estate agents are realtors. Realtors are licensed real estate agents with National Association of Realtors membership. They pledge to observe the association's standards and code of ethics when carrying out their duties to home sellers and potential buyers.

On the other hand, real estate agents are licensed agents in the state where they operate and obey national and state laws governing real estate. A real estate agent only acquires a license after completing specified coursework or passing an exam to become a real estate agent.

Real estate brokers have completed additional training and licensing requirements to work in the industry, unlike realtors and real estate agents. Suppose you are a real estate agent; you can take additional training and complete state-required coursework and exams to become a broker. The best part is that a real estate broker can work independently and even start their brokerage and hire agents.

Tips to Find a Great Real Estate Agent

The most effective way to find a real estate agent is by asking friends and colleagues for referrals. This gives you insights into prospective agents with great success in selling, buying, or renting properties on behalf of their clients. That said, here are expert tips for finding the right real estate agent in Chatham and Wake Counties, North Carolina.

Use Trusted Resources to Find Real Estate Agents Near You

Talking to lenders, considering referrals, and online reviews are great resources to find a real estate agent to facilitate your home sale or purchase. Generally, the real estate industry comprises hundreds to thousands of agents; hence, it is crucial to check with the state's real estate regulator to confirm licensing. Choosing the right agent with your interests in mind begins with using trusted resources. This promotes transparency, especially when looking for valuable information regarding real estate agents near you.

Evaluate Their Real Estate Experience

Buying or selling a home is a complex process that requires a better understanding of negotiations, market fluctuations, and managing large transactions. Thus, you should find a real estate agent with a ton of experience when selling or buying property. For instance, hire an agent with at least two years of full-time experience when buying a home. If you are selling your property, an agent with four or more years in the real estate sector is ideal.

Make Sure They Know Your Local Real Estate Market

The right real estate agent should incorporate adequate experience in helping people buy or sell homes within your area. The intent is to find a real estate agent who understands the real estate market in Chatham County. This means the agent should have several closings within your local area, at least 30 homes annually. Finding a seasoned real estate agent who knows the local real estate market gives you an advantage since they have invested in the community.

Check the Real Estate Agent's Track Record

Pricing homes is a critical factor when buying or selling property in Chatham County. When looking for a real estate agent, hire a top performer to price the property correctly, resulting in a closing. Check on key metrics to determine their skill levels, focusing on pricing and the period to close a home. These aspects give you insights into how qualified a real estate agent is. Besides, it enables you to hire an agent with a higher success rate in helping you sell or buy a home.

Learn About Their Customer Services

Some real estate agents are often after commission and making money for themselves without considering the interests of their clients. The right real estate agent should communicate at every step of the process and provide alternatives when you are unsatisfied. This promotes customer experience, besides making a home seller or potential buyer feel more comfortable working with a professional real estate agent. Hence, find a transparent real estate agent who communicates promptly, listens to your concerns, and offers practical guidelines.

Interview At Least Three Real Estate Agents

After shortlisting about five potential real estate agents to hire, interview at least three in-person. Face-to-face meetings can reveal several traits, mainly when you ask the right questions. Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent and set your expectations in the home buying/selling process:

  • Do you work full-time or part-time?
  • Are there references I can contact?
  • How many homes do you help buyers and sellers close?
  • How long do you typically take with potential home buyers/sellers, from the first step to the closing?
  • Can I review your real estate license?
  • Do you help home sellers/buyers in the area?
  • Do you work individually or as a team?

Reach Out to Chatham Homes Realty for the Perfect Realtor

Finding the right real estate agent can be overwhelming, especially if you buy or sell a home for the first time, but it doesn't have to be. You can use the above tips to get started and find a realtor to help you get through the process seamlessly. At Chatham Homes Realty, we understand the value of working with a realtor to satisfy your home buying or selling process. For more information, contact Chatham Homes Realty to learn more today!

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Posted in Buying a Home
Nov. 5, 2021

How to Buy a House

A realtor's hand giving keys to a new home owner

For many people, just the thought of owning their very own is a dream come true. When you decide to purchase a home, you are making a substantial investment that has the ability to build equity over time. While purchasing a home can be exciting, it can also become overwhelming fairly quickly.

To help ease some of the confusion you may have, here is a quick guide that will tell you everything you need to know about buying a house.

Understanding What it Means to Buy a House

The idea of getting to say goodbye to your landlord and living in a home where you get to paint the walls any color you want may seem nice, but that shouldn't be the reason why you have decided to buy a home. When you purchase a home, you may not have to ask the landlord if you can hang a picture on the wall, but you also won't be able to call them to fix your water heater either.

Every house requires some regular maintenance. There will come a time when you may need to repair the roof or replace the stove, and you will now be the one required to cover the costs. Sure, your homeowners' insurance may pay for some of the repairs to your home, but that is only if you are current on your monthly insurance payments, and even then, there are several things that homeowner's insurance companies won't cover.

Before purchasing a home, you need to understand that there may sometimes be unexpected costs that sneak up on you without warning. You need to decide whether or not you are prepared to pay for those costs. This is why it is always good to keep some money stashed away for emergencies.

Determine How Much House You Can Afford

As we just mentioned, there can be many costs associated with owning a home. In addition to homeowner's insurance and possible repair costs, you will also have to pay property taxes on the home, interest on your loan, and private mortgage insurance (PMI). Also, depending on what neighborhood you live in, you may have homeowners association fees as well. You need to take all of these costs into account when deciding what home you can afford.

When deciding which house would be in your budget, you need to add your potential mortgage payment with all of the other costs that were just discussed. After you have added all of the costs together, you need to ensure that your monthly payments will not exceed the amount of income you make each month. In fact, it is recommended that your home (and your home-associated costs) is no more than 28% of your gross monthly income. This will help to ensure that you have money left over each month for other expenses.

Prepare a Down Payment

Before jumping right in and trying to buy a house, you need to save for a down payment. There are several reasons why having a large down payment on a home is in your best interest. For example, depending on your credit score, a larger down payment could help you get approved for a loan. Also, the bigger the down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage payments are likely to be.

How Much Money Should You Save for Your New Home?

When buying a new home, you will need to save enough money to cover the initial costs. This will include:

  • Moving Expenses
  • Down Payment
  • Closing Costs and Other Fees

When you are moving into a new home, you will need to set aside some money if you plan on hiring movers or if you need to rent a moving truck. The cost of moving expenses will depend on a number of factors. If you plan to buy a home close to where you already live, it will generally be less expensive than if you moved far away.

When considering how much you need for a down payment, look at the price of the home and figure out how much 15% of the total price would be. That is how much you need to save for a down payment. Again, it will be better for you in the long run to pay a large down payment. So, if you can save until you have 20% or 25%, that would be even better.

Mortgage Approval

If you don't have enough money saved to pay for the home in full, you will need to apply for a home loan, otherwise known as a mortgage.

Which Mortgage Option is Best for You?

Depending on your credit score, your income, and other criteria, you could qualify for a large range of mortgages. Some of the most popular types of mortgages include:

  • Adjustable-Rate Mortgage – The interest rate on the loan will adjust periodically.
  • Fixed-Rate Mortgage – The interest rate stays the same for the entire length of the loan.
  • Conventional Mortgage – The loan is backed by private lenders and is not insured by any government entity.
  • Balloon Mortgage – You start out making monthly interest payments for a period of time. Once you have reached the predetermined date, you will pay the remainder of the principal in one lump sum.

Every loan option has its advantages and disadvantages. It is best to talk with a financial advisor to determine which mortgage would be best for you.

Find the Right Real Estate Agent

While there are many resources to help you find a new home online, nothing is better than getting advice directly from an expert. When you work with an experienced and knowledgeable real estate agent, you will get specialized advice that you can't find on the internet. You may also be able to find out about houses that are put on the market before the general public.

Find Your New Home

When you go house hunting, it is important for you to have a list of everything that you hope to find in your new home. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to determine what is most important to you.

  • How many bedrooms do I need?
  • How many bathrooms do I need?
  • Is the school district important?
  • Do I want a big yard?
  • Do I need a garage for my car?

If you find a home that only fits a few of your needs, don't feel like you have to settle. There is nothing wrong with shopping around for your dream home.

Make an Offer on a House

Once you have found a house that you like, your agent will submit an offer on your behalf. You may not be the only potential buyer that makes an offer on the home, so you may end up in a bidding war with other potential buyers.

If your offer is accepted, you will have a purchase agreement that you will have to sign. This is a document that will include information about the home as well as list any contingencies that there are upon purchase.

Get a Home Inspection and Appraisal

Once your offer is accepted and you sign a purchase agreement, you are officially under contract for your new home. This means that you will need to have an inspection performed by a certified inspector. The inspector will check for things like structural damage, electrical problems, and other issues with the home.

You will also need to get an appraisal on the home if you are applying for a loan. No lender will approve a loan until they know the value of the house that you want to buy.


Before you can close on your home, your mortgage lender will have to review every detail of your case before they can approve your loan. This may take a few weeks to do. Try to be patient during this part. Also, while you are waiting, do your best to ensure that our financial situation does not change. This means that you shouldn't lease a new car, change jobs, or do anything else that could change your financial status. If you do, you may get denied the loan.

Close on Your New House

All of your hard work and patience have paid off, and closing day is finally here! When you close on a home, you will be asked to sign several documents. Some of the wording may be confusing, so don't be afraid to ask your agent if you have any questions. This part can be confusing for many people, and your agent is there to help you. Once everything is signed, you will be given the keys to your new home and will officially be a homeowner!

Find Your Dream Home Today

Buying a new home can be a fun and rewarding experience. When you choose to buy a home, you are investing in your future. 

If you are looking for your new dream home, check out a wide range of beautiful homes on our website today. At Chatham Homes Realty, we have a team of experienced professionals that has access to some of the most gorgeous homes in the area. We are also more than happy to answer any questions you may have and walk you through the entire home-buying process.

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Posted in Buying a Home
Feb. 28, 2019

Robert & Sabrea R

We were recently able to buy and sell a home quickly. This wouldn’t have been possible without Laurie’s hard work. She helped guide us through the process with knowledge and advice and pushed the pace the whole time. Keeping up with the offers, counter offers and even multiple offers would have been impossible without a pro like Laurie. She even managed to arrange the closings for the same day so our time in between homes was only a couple hours! We would recommend her to anyone looking to buy or sell. In fact, a friend of ours is now house shopping with Laurie’s help. 
-Robert & Sabrea R

Posted in Testimonials
June 9, 2017

Lindsay B Schwartz

Julie and Lonnie are the dream team! Both very responsive and knowledgeable during our whole process. We were looking at homes on land and they were always up for walking the acres with us. We immediately connected and it just felt like hanging out with friends which made house hunting fun! Would definitely recommend and use for any real estate needs."





Posted in Testimonials
May 24, 2017


Katy is great to work with! She is very professional, yet also very personable. She answers emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Before signing our contract with her she spent a lot of time discussing what different terms meant and she made sure that we were comfortable with everything before signing. She got right to work on selling our home. She had an open house the day after the house became available for purchase. She saw us through all the ups and downs of the process. She kept her humor and optimism throughout. I am very thankful that we chose Katy to be our real estate agent.

Posted in Testimonials