Thursday, November 29, 2012


South Carolina was awarded more than $295 million in funding from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Originally targeted to the unemployed, the program has recently expanded to include benefits for underemployed and self-employed.
  • Underemployment may include those borrowers who are working but have a seen a significant reduction in household income. This could stem from a reduction in hours or from a job loss that causes a borrower to take a job that pays less than previous employment.
  • Self-employed borrowers may qualify if they have experienced a significant reduction in gross receipts for their business due to economic downturn.
SC HELP has three main components that may be able to help struggling homeowners. Monthly Payment Assistance may assist homeowners make monthly payments for a defined period of time while they seek employment and a return to self-sustainability. Direct Loan Assistance will bring loans current and end fees and penalties. In cases where the mortgage cannot be salvaged, Transition Assistance may be provided to encourage short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure in order to transition families from homeownership to tenancy.

  • These programs are available in all 46 counties of the state. SC HELP hopes to eventually assist between 20,000 and 33,000 homeowners. There is no household income limit, however, there is an assistance cap placed on each eligible homeowner.Register online at
  •  Homeowners without internet access can call1-855-435-7472 (1-855-HELP-4-SC) and speak with a call center representative who will refer them directly to an approved SC HELP housing counselor in their area to begin the application process.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Palmetto Heroes

The South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority (SC State Housing) Palmetto Heroes program is designed to help South Carolina law enforcement officers, correctional officers, teachers, firefighters, nurses, veterans and EMS personnel who want to become homeowners.

Palmetto Heroes will provide low interest home loans to members of these professions who qualify. Eligible Palmetto Heroes home buyers can get a fixed interest rate of 3.75% on a mortgage as well as down payment assistance of up to $5,000 or $6,000 for new housing. This down payment assistance could even be forgivable over time in some cases, depending on the borrower’s income.

Palmetto Heroes is available to law enforcement officers, correctional officers, teachers, firefighters, veterans, nurses, and EMS personnel who are currently certified in their profession, and reside and work in South Carolina or have a contract to begin working here within 60 days of closing on a home.

Mortgage loans can be up to 30 years and are available through any of SC State Housing’s network of more than 100 participating private sector lenders and brokers statewide. Maximum income limits are based on the median income per county and household composition. The Palmetto Heroes program may not be used for refinancing.

Currently the Palmetto Heroes Homebuyer has $1.2 Million remaining for 2012 with an interest rate of 3.250

Eligible properties are stick built single-family dwellings, townhouses, condominiums, some double-wide mobile homes meeting all FHA requirements (title must also be surrendered) and off frame modular homes. Condominiums must be FHA approved. All properties must be located in South Carolina.

The program can be used with standard FHMA, FHLMC, FHA, Rural Housing or VA Loans. The loan cannot be used with a SC State Housing Bond Loan or any type of rehab loan including 203K loans. It can be used with a FHA Loan, Guaranteed Rural Housing Loan, Conventional or VA Loan.

A non-refundable fee of $500.00 must be included in the Closing Package sent to SC State Housing to issue the certificate. The fee can be paid by the borrower or seller. Fee payment must be in certified funds or a lender check. The Lending Partner has the option of charging the borrower an additional fee of up to $200.00 for the transaction.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open House Sunday 2-5 December 1st. WoodLake Subdivision

New Custom home in Woodlake Subdivision has upscale upgrades throughout the home including granite counters, hardwood flooring on entire main level, upscale fixtures, coffered ceilings, and more. Master bedroom has box ceiling, reading nook, modern body spray tiled shower & whirlpool tub. Custom oversized deck AND stamped concrete patio are ideal for taking the entertaining outside. All bedrooms are a great size and the bonus room is HUGE. Check out the pictures and then call for a private appointment. This is a true rare find in the established neighborhood of Woodlake.

Mosquitoes Aren't Just an Outdoor Nuisance

Mosquitoes aren't just an outdoor nuisance — they're a legitimate cause for health concerns. So far, 2012 has been the worst year on record for reported cases of West Nile virus in the United States, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus' season will extend into October. Luckily, this doesn't mean you can't enjoy your outdoor area. A variety of mosquito-repelling tools in every price range can help you get rid of these pests. Make sure you can use the outdoor area you've spent so much time on for the rest of this year and the next with these effective solutions.

1. Mosquito Misting System
When the system is activated, tank less mosquito misting systems mix a fresh batch of the misting formula. The homeowner can specifically program the dose rate and tailor the amount of active ingredient that's used.

The drum-based system has a 55-gallon drum made of molded plastic and a soft waterproof cover. When it's activated, an agitation cycle turns on and keeps the solution well mixed to ensure even distribution of the insecticide. The tank less system is around $1,700, while the drum system is around $1,300. You can have a system professionally installed by an authorized dealer, but Buyers can easily find the systems online and install themselves.

I have the drum system in my Oklahoma backyard. Right now it is set up on a timing system and has a remote control. We set up the spray nozzles around the eaves of the house, our outdoor living areas and the pool — sort of like a sprinkler system. While it might sound a little weird, these things do work. My family can always tell when the misting tank is empty, because the mosquitoes show up and make us miserable.

2. Air Curtains
Air curtains, like the Aloha Powerwind Air Curtain in this photo, have traditionally been used for customer entrances, drive-up windows and concession stands. Today they're often used in residential outdoor living spaces or doorways. Installation and maintenance are easy, and the curtain operates quietly.

3. Portable Trap Sand System
A less expensive option is a portable Mosquito Magnet trap. It runs on propane and batteries and lures mosquitoes into a trap. One unit covers about an acre. These traps are supposed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a eek. It takes about seven to 10 days to see a difference and four weeks to see significant results. While this system doesn't take effect as quickly as misting systems, its portability and lower cost are huge advantages

4. Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Lantern
If you're looking for an even more affordable way to eliminate mosquitoes, the Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Patio Lantern may be just the solution. Not only does it come with 12 hours of protection against pests (refills are sold separately), but it looks cute too.

5. Traditional Methods
Mosquito netting can look super stylish. Used all over the world, it can serve as a decorative outdoor curtain as well as functional mosquito protection. Citronella candles use Cymbopogon (lemongrass) as the active ingredient. Plant it in your garden and you may get some of its insect-repelling benefits. But the oil in the plant is what repels the mosquitoes, so it needs to be released by either crushing, drying or infusing the plant into an oil or alcohol base and applying it to your skin.  Buying the candles themselves tends to be the most inexpensive choice available. Citronella oil or candles are widely available in decorative forms, such as this candle from Crate & Barrel. No matter what you choose, don't let mosquitoes ruin the investment you've made in your outdoor space and the treasured time spent with friends and family.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

The right cabinet color can transform your kitchen or bathroom's look. And because replacing cabinetry can be expensive, a fresh paint color could be the best bet for your budget. The main issue is that with most woodwork “specifically kitchen cabinets” is that it's finished with a glossy product designed to be wipe able.

Although it's not as simple as painting your dining room, with the right prep, painting cabinets can be an affordable and lasting design solution. See what four painting professionals say about painting kitchen cabinets.

Should you paint your cabinetry? Before making any decisions, figure out what the existing finish is on your cabinet. If you're not sure, consider taking a door or drawer to your local paint supplier — he or she can help you with what you need to get your cabinet ready for painting.
  1. Remove the hardware and hinges and clean the surfaces thoroughly. Use a clean, soft rag or T-shirt and mineral spirits or TSP (trisodium phosphate). Give them a good scrub to remove old oils, waxes and grime. Paint is a very forgiving material, but the one thing it refuses to abide is a dirty, greasy surface.
  2. Lightly sand the painting surfaces to open the finish surfaces. If there are any dents or grooves in the cabinetry, fill them with a good wood filler first. After sanding, use a clean cloth to remove any sanding dust.
  3. Prime the cabinets with a stain-blocking primer designed for glossy surfaces.
  4. Finish the cabinets with at least two coats of the paint you've chosen. Let the paint dry thoroughly and lightly sand between coats.
  5. After everything has dried thoroughly, put your cabinets back together. Be sure to keep everything organized. Have a system for remembering the positioning of your cabinet doors.
  6. What to watch out for? Painting cabinetry may seem like a quick and easy kitchen solution, but it’s a big job. Make sure you have the time, skills and patience for the task. Choose a paint that can stand up to repeated washing and is non-blocking so it won’t sick to itself when the cabinet doors are closed. Odds are, you’ll be looking at this cabinetry every day; so make sure you have the ability to make it good.
  7. You may want to consider using a spray application to get the smooth finish, which can make a huge difference.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Purchasing a Home Owned by Fannie Mae (HomePath)

Fannie Mae has properties for sale because they were the investor when the home went into foreclosure. When this happens the goal is to sell these homes as soon as possible. The homes are sold by local real estate professionals selected by Fannie Mae. All the homes are listed on It is not necessary to work with the seller agent (Fannie Mae) but it probably makes sense to work with an agent who is familiar with the foreclosure process.

Before you get started looking for a home you will need to get pre-approved for financing. Having this letter demonstrates that you’re a serious and qualified buyer. Keep in mind that a loan pre-approval letter doesn’t mean your loan is approved. You will have to apply for a loan once you have an accepted offer on the house. For a list of HomePath approved lenders go to and click on the “Financing” tab at the top of the page.

The HomePath Mortgage Financing Features:
• Low down payment and flexible mortgage terms (fixed-rate, adjustable rate, or interest-only)
• You may qualify even if your credit is less than perfect
• Available to both owner occupants and investors
• Down payment (at least 3%) can be funded by your own savings; a gift; a grant; or a loan from a nonprofit organization, state or local government, or employer
• No appraisal required
• No mortgage insurance (Ask your lender for cost details on loans without mortgage insurance.)

The HomePath Renovation Mortgage Financing Features:
• Financing to fund both your purchase and light renovation
• Low down payment and flexible mortgage terms (fixed-rate, adjustable rate, or interest-only)
• Down payment (at least 3%) can be funded by your own savings; a gift; a grant; or a loan from a nonprofit organization, state or local government, or employer
• No mortgage insurance (Ask your lender for cost details on loans without mortgage insurance.)

Sometimes getting financing for a condominium can be difficult, particularly if the condominium project doesn’t meet the standard guidelines set by Fannie Mae. If the condominium is Fannie Mae owned and eligible for HomePath financing, you may still be able to get financing. Check with your HomePath lender.

Some HomePath lenders work in partnership with mortgage brokers to better serve local communities. Don’t be surprised if your working with someone on HomePath financing but you don’t see their name on the lender list.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Home Inspection

A home inspection, also known as a building inspection or a property inspection, is a thorough visual assessment of a home conducted by a certified professional home inspector at a specific point in time.

While a home may be inspected for many reasons most home inspections occur before a home is sold, to reveal any issues that might become problems for the buyer. A home seller may also choose to have a home inspection done prior to listing a property, in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises during negotiations.

A home inspection will typically include a walk-through tour of the house during which the condition of the property is closely scrutinized, any defects and deficiencies are noted, and recommendations for repair are made. During the home inspection the inspector will look for issues that could have significant impact from a health and safety perspective, or purely from a financial standpoint.

Home Inspection Process
  • A typical home inspection takes two to three hours, and during this time the house is examined from the ground up and from the outside in.
  • A good home inspection should include observation, and when appropriate the operation, of the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, electrical, and appliance systems, as well as observation of structural components: roof, foundation, basement, exterior and interior walls, chimney, doors, and windows.
  • Findings should be provided in the form of a comprehensive inspection report, which includes an objective evaluation of the condition the home clearly outlining any existing defects and potential problems. A thorough visual inspection of the structure (inside and out, from foundation to roof).
  • An examination of all major systems.
  • An objective evaluation of the condition of a home.
  • A printed report covering all findings and identifying potential concerns.
A home inspection is particularly important when purchasing a home. Buying a house is likely one of the largest purchases a person will ever make but few buyers are experienced in building construction, and overlooking a serious issue could result in a costly problem down the road. As a result many buyers choose to have a property inspection conducted prior to closing the sale. The inspection can identify any issues so the buyer can discuss these with the seller during negotiations. We encourage our clients to accompany the inspector during the home inspection. This gives buyers a chance to ask questions, and to get detailed information about maintaining the home and its systems. For homeowners this allows them an opportunity to answer any questions the inspector may have. In either case, accompanying an inspector can help a client get the most from a home inspection.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What Your Contractor Really Means

Sometimes what contractors say seems completely obvious to them, but makes no sense to you. These tips should help you translate some of the euphemisms and somewhat curt statements you might hear, so that you get the most out of the client-contractor relationship.

1. Nothing. If he doesn't call you back, he's just not that into you. You don't want to chase a contractor who's too busy to return your call, unless you've given him money.

2. Let's do it my way instead. Odds are, your contractor has more experience doing things a certain way, so he may want to recommend that process. It's usually best to go with it rather than having him try something for the first time on your job.

3. I'll get started late next week. If your general contractor sets a start date, he should be able to keep it. But many times the tradesmen (plumbers, electricians, etc.) juggle several jobs at once and often have to deal with emergencies. You should expect them only to come close to their start and completion estimates.

4. The price is... Unless you're changing the scope of work, a contractor won't expect to negotiate a lump sum price quote. If you think the price is too high, get another quote for comparison. While prices vary because of differences in approaching the project or overhead costs, a contractor won't stay in business unless he prices competitively.

5. I'll do my best. There is a good chance a contract will fall short of your expectations. If you hear this, listen to your gut. Are you asking for too much? Have you added work to the scope, but asked for the project to be completed by the same date? Are you expecting a brand new look from a remodel with existing elements? There are three elements to any project: The level of quality, the price and the time it takes to complete the project. Pick two of these that are most important to you. If you need everything perfect by a certain date, be prepared to pay more. If you have a fixed budget but want a certain look, give the contractor time to be creative and make it work.

6. Sorry, I can't make a recommendation. Most contractors prefer that you work through them. If you ask your general contractor for their plumber's name and number and he gives it to you, thank them. By allowing you to work directly with a subcontractor your contractor takes a risk by giving up control of the situation. He also gives up the ability to mark up the cost of the work the plumber does, which is one of the ways contractors get paid.

7. The design needed some tweaking. Often, this means the plans were unbuildable. Sometimes what's drawn on paper just can't be built. A staircase you'd need to crawl on your knees to use, "existing" spaces that don't exist, a pocket door that would slide through a switch box and the shower valve — I've seen them all.

8. I don't think this is a good fit. If a contractor declines to quote a project it could be for a lot of reasons. Maybe he has concerns about the budget. You and your contractor will be talking a lot, so maybe he just didn't think you clicked. It could also be that he's too busy, and he won't be able to devote enough time to your project to do it right

9. We are going to need to do some value engineering. You've got caviar dreams on a cheese and cracker budget. Value engineering is when the teamthinks creatively about how to rework the project to do the same or similar scope for less, like by changing material selections.

10. Let's walk through and make a punch list. A contractor wants to know everything you need done to be satisfied with the work. Every trip to your job costs your contractor, so make an effort to come up with a complete punch list —a list of to-do items that need to be completed for the project to be considered complete — instead of sending it bit by bit over time.