Thursday, July 28, 2016

Time for Tax Free

The weekly forecast shows triple digit highs as far as the eye can see but the Halloween decorations are already out! It's the awkward transition to fall which also means - Back to School!

Tax free weekends are right around the corner and are a time to take advantage of the tax savings on qualified purchases.

For South Carolina residents the tax free weekend is August 5th through 7th.  For Georgia residents, tax free is THIS WEEKEND, July 30th and 31st.

Visit the links below for a full list of qualified items. Here are a few of the highlights:

- Clothing
- Computers
- Computer Equipment
- School Supplies
- Bath Towels
- Footwear

Does not apply to jewelry, cosmetics, eyewear or items on layaway

For more information click HERE

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Understanding Closing Costs

Closing costs are one of the many talked about but not necessarily understood components of obtaining a home mortgage.

Understanding and comparing closing costs are an important part of shopping for a mortgage.

Closing costs are primarily made up of fees associated with the closing and mortgage process that are passed on to the buyer.

On average closing costs are 2-5% of the home price.

They include items such as:

  • Obtaining a credit report
  • Processing paperwork for the loan (loan origination fees)
  • Legal fees
  • Appraisals
  • Surveys
  • Title insurance
  • Title searches
  • An escrow deposit
  • Recording the transaction in the city or county’s records
  • Underwriting the mortgage (evaluating the borrower and the property)

Most of the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer, however sometimes the builder or seller will contribute.  Talk to your lender to get a full explanation of the costs so their won't be any surprises at closing!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Caring For Your Lawn

With the hot sun blazing down and temperatures not scheduled to dip for many more weeks - it's important to adapt your lawn maintenance plans to accommodate the summer!  Following these tips can help prevent damage and save you money on maintenance.

- Lawns need at least one inch of water a week during extreme heat
- Water less frequently but for longer amounts of time to encourage roots to grow deeper
- Water early in the day to beat evaporation but not at night which could encourage disease

- Don't cut your lawn too short - longer lawns are more resistant to the damaging effects of heat
- Make sure your blades are sharp so the grass is cut and not torn
- Mulch the clippings to create a moisture barrier

- Don't fertilize in the summer - even if your lawn looks brown - it can burn the lawn
- Place stepping stones in high traffic areas to minimize damage
- Pick up outdoor toys after playing to keep dead spots from popping up

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Take Interest in Interest Rates

We hear so often about interest rates - good ones, bad ones, refinancing to get a lower interest rate. But what does it really mean? What impact does it have on the house you buy or don't?  Here's a quick overview to explain one of the most important factors of mortgage lending.

Interest is the amount it costs you, the buyer, to borrow money in the form of a mortgage.  Banks require a return on the amount of money you borrow.  Your monthly mortgage payment is made up of the principal (or loan itself), interest, insurance and taxes. The higher the interest rate - the more money you owe on your mortgage each month. That's why it's important to search for the best interest rate for your particular type of mortgage.

Interest rates are an annual figure. To calculate your monthly rate take the interest rate and divide it by 12.  This new number is the amount of interest you will pay on your loan per month.

Each month your interest payment decreases as you pay more towards the principal on your loan.  In order to keep your monthly payments the same banks use an amortization schedule which applies more money to your principal and less money to interest each month.  Banks can provide you a full amortization schedule upon request.

Currently interest rates are at historic lows. This means that borrowing money for a home is more affordable than it has been in years. Take a look at the graph below for an idea on how far interest rates have come and why now is a great time to buy!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sweets for the 4th!

Celebrate Independence Day with flair! Take a look at these simple to make but amazingly patriotic dessert options!  Stay safe and enjoy the holiday!

Berry Trifle

Strawberry, blueberry and delicious angel food cake make this patriotic trifle a sure be winner!

Star Brownies

Use cookie cutters to cut up brownies and then decorate with icing and red, white and blue sprinkles!

Independence Day Kabobs

A simple no-bake dessert requiring just blueberries, strawberries and bananas!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Road Tripping Across the South

Getting out of town is a much needed escape for all of us. Sometimes taking that week long summer vacation isn't always possible.  Here are a few ways to get away if even just for the weekend!

Beach Locales:

Beaufort, South Carolina
Located just south of busy Hilton Head Island, Beaufort packs in true southern charm and lowcountry appeal.  Visit historic downtown and spend the day walking into local shops and art galleries.  For more information visit

Tybee Island, Georgia
Known as Savannah's beach, Tybee Island is a quiet beach town free from the hustle and bustle of most beach vacation spots.  See the famous lighthouse and take a dolphin tour! To find out more visit

Mountain Adventures:

Hendersonville, North Carolina
Just a half hour from trendy Asheville, Hendersonville is a quieter cousin to the artsy city. Visit the quaint downtown and find all of the Hendersonville Bears that decorate the space.  Enjoy beautiful views and local farmers markets. For more information visit

Blue Ridge, Georgia
90 miles north of Atlanta is the mountain town of Blue Ridge.  Blue Ridge is packed with outdoor adventure including hiking, waterfalls and trout fishing. For a more relaxing source of fun ride the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway.  Find out more at

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Apps for Home Buying

Buying a new home has gone high tech! With your handy smartphone you can find tons of information that will help your home buying process.  Make sure to download these apps before you go shopping!

1. Home Search Apps
Home search apps like Zillow and provide up to date real estate information such as price, square footage, location and home description.  You can specifically look for new homes to make your search even easier.

2. Dwellr
Dwellr is an app that lets you know about the neighborhood your potential home is located in. Using Census data you can find out some demographic information about the community around you.

3. GreatSchools
Learn about the schools your home is zoned for with this helpful education app. Schools are rated and compare to other schools in the area.

4. Houzz
Interested in how to outfit your new home? Find decor ideas on this helpful app full of images of interior and exterior dream homes.

5. Mortgage Calculator by Quicken Loans
Time to run the numbers? Use the mortgage calculator app to calculate monthly payment, estimate your interest rate and down payment.