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The Hilton Head Homes Blog

4 Tips for Designing Your Home Bar Nothing says fun like a home bar. From intimate dinner parties to full-blown banquettes, it provides a space to gather and enjoy conversation. For luxury buyers who plan to frequently entertain friends and family, this is a lifestyle amenity that is worth getting excited over. If you're considering adding a watering hole to your home, here are a few tips to help design the perfect bar.Identify the Details First, you'll have to determine where the home bar will work best. Pick a space that doesn't interrupt the flow when you're playing host and is large enough to meet your needs. Consider seating, storage, as well as equipment that will be needed, and try to incorporate it into or nearby your entertaining areas.Get InspiredThink about the atmosphere and dcor of your favorite bars or restaurants. Try to pinpoint what it is that you love about them or, next time you're there, make note of the ambience and how it can be replicated with your home bar.Tailor to your tastesThe style of the bar should be both consistent with your home's aesthetic and a reflection of what you enjoy drinking. Is this going to be an Art Deco style bar where you're serving up Manhattan's or will it be a rustic vibe with craft beers on tap? If you're an enthusiastic mixologist, make sure you'll have all the accoutrement to shake, muddle, and stir the latest concoction.PresentationAs the epicenter of entertainment, there's an element of showmanship that needs to be taken into account. It's all in the details, like a mirrored backsplash or moody lighting that sets the tone. There should be a sense of cohesion, from the finishes and the upholstery to the bottles being displayed and how the glasses are stored.

5 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Plan on applying for a home mortgage, car loan or new credit card? Lenders will be looking at your credit score to determine if you're a responsible borrower. The higher your credit score, the more likely a lender will qualify you and offer the best terms.Although boosting your score requires time and discipline, here are five simple steps to take:1. Pay Bills on TimeWhen lenders review your credit report, they're very interested in how reliably you pay your bills. That's because past payment performance is usually considered a good predictor of future performance.You can help this credit-scoring factor by paying all your bills on time. That includes not just credit card and loan bills, but also bills for rent, utilities, cellphones and so on. Similarly, paying late or less than the minimum amount can hurt your score. Use automatic payments or calendar reminders to help ensure you pay on time every month.If you're behind on payments, bring them current ASAP. Although late or missed payments appear as negative information on your credit report for seven years, their impact on your score declines over time: Older late payments have less effect than recent ones.2. Pay Off DebtThe credit utilization ratio is another important number in credit score calculations. It's calculated by adding all your credit card balances at any given time and dividing that amount by your total credit limit. For example, if you typically charge about $2,000 each month and your total credit limit across all your cards is $10,000, your utilization ratio is 20 percent.Lenders prefer ratios of 30 percent or less, and people with the best credit scores often have very low ratios. A low ratio shows lenders you haven't maxed out your credit cards and can manage credit well. You can improve your ratio by paying off debt and keeping credit card balances low.3. Don't Close Unused Credit CardsKeeping unused credit cards open-as long as they're not costing you money in annual fees-is a smart strategy, because closing an account may increase your credit utilization ratio. Owing the same amount but having fewer open accounts may lower your credit score.4. Don't Apply for Too Much New CreditOpening a new credit card can increase your overall credit limit, but the act of applying for credit creates a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries can hurt your credit score, though this effect will fade over time. (Hard inquiries remain on credit reports for two years.) Unnecessary credit can also tempt you to overspend and accumulate debt, so apply for new credit accounts only as needed.5. Dispute Credit Report InaccuraciesYou should check your credit reports at all three major reporting bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) for any inaccuracies. Incorrect information on credit reports could drag scores down. Verify that the accounts listed on your reports are correct. If you see errors, dispute the information and get it corrected right away.Source: Experian

Avoid These Common Renovation Mistakes Embarking on a home improvement project is both exciting and stressful.Don't let one of these common mistakes spoil the fun...Don't rush! Large scale projects take months. Plan accordingly and build in several weeks for curve balls.Miscommunication. Tensions can run high, so find out the best way to stay in touch with your contractor - email, text, weekly meetings.Your contractor can then mitigate issues between you and your partner.Controlling design. There's a big difference between what you like and what makes the best sense for your home.Let a designer help decide what works for design and functionality.Forgetting to budget. Go into the project with a number, then add in another 10 - 20 percent.

The Importance of Home Equity If you've owned a home for several years and made responsible financial decisions, you may have built a significant amount of equity. Home equity is the difference between the current market value of your house and the amount you still owe on the mortgage. If the value is greater than the debt, you have positive equity that can be used to finance other goals.How Does Equity Change Over Time?There are two ways to increase the amount of equity in your home. First, you can pay down the principal on the mortgage and make improvements that will increase the value of the house. As the ratio of the amount of the house you own outright to the amount of debt increases, equity grows.It takes years to build equity. One reason for this is that mortgages tend to charge more interest at the beginning of the repayment period, which means a relatively small amount of each payment is applied to the principal. Later in the repayment period, a higher percentage of each monthly payment will pay off the principal, so equity will grow at a faster rate.Paying a mortgage each month can be a way to force yourself to save and build wealth. Since the value of a house will increase over time in most circumstances, you can amass a significant amount of equity if you stay in your house for several years.Paying your mortgage on time is no guarantee that you will gain equity. If the local housing market or the economy as a whole takes a nosedive, the value of your house could plummet. You could wind up with less equity than you had before, or you might even wind up owing more than your house is worth.How to Take Advantage of EquityYou can benefit from your home's equity when you sell it. If you receive more than the amount of the outstanding mortgage balance, you will be able to pay off the loan and walk away with a profit.You can also use your home equity while you are living in your house. You can borrow against your equity with a home equity loan, which would provide a lump sum of money, or a home equity line of credit, which would let you borrow money in a variety of amounts over a period of time, up to your credit limit. Both options would provide you with money that could be used for home repairs and improvements, credit card bills, and other expenses.If you want to find out how much equity you currently have, you can use a home equity calculator to get an estimate. If you want a more exact figure, you will need to have the house appraised.Focus on Increasing EquityHome equity takes time to build, but it can give you the financial flexibility you need to pursue other goals. Diligently paying down your mortgage and making valuable home improvements can help you grow your equity faster.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hilton Head Bluffton Realty is pleased to offer these professional and dynamic 60-second market updates for our clients.  The videos touch on 5 key components of market activity:  Active Inventory, Median Listing Price, Days on the Market, Median Sales Price, Units Sold.   

Video Market Updates

  1. Sea Pines
  2. Palmetto Dunes & Shelter Cove 
  3. Forest Beach
  4. Shipyard 
  5. Folly Field, Hilton Head          
  6. Hilton Head Plantation
  7. Windmill Harbour
  8. Long Cove 
  9. Hilton Head Condos ($250K+)
  10. Hilton Head Luxury Homes          
  11. Bluffton   
  12. Oldfield 
  13. Sun City
  14. Latitude Margaritaville           
  15. Bluffton Luxury Homes   

Our goal with these fact-based videos is to share with our clients and prospects about how

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Pros and Cons of Downsizing If you're overwhelmed by the cost of your mortgage or the amount of time you spend cleaning and maintaining your home, or if your kids have moved out and you have more space than you need, you may be thinking about downsizing. While there are many advantages associated with moving to a smaller house, there are some potential disadvantages you need to be aware of before making a final decision.Reasons to DownsizeMost people who downsize do so to save money. There is no reason to make high monthly mortgage payments for a house with rooms that sit empty. Moving to a smaller home can help you dramatically lower your mortgage payments and save money each month. A smaller house will also likely have much lower utility bills. The money you save can be used to invest for retirement, take vacations, pursue a hobby or help others in need.Downsizing can save you time. Fewer rooms means less cleaning. If you move to an apartment or condo, your landlord or management company will likely handle maintenance, landscaping and repairs, which can save you even more time.If your current home is cluttered with possessions you have accumulated over the years, downsizing will force you to get rid of things you no longer need and to become better organized. If you often spend too much money on new clothing and household items, you'll be less likely to do that if you move to a smaller home because you simply won't have enough space to store them.Downsides to ConsiderIf you enjoy hosting parties or large holiday gatherings, you won't be able to do that as comfortably in a smaller house. Think about whether that is a change you and your family would feel comfortable making.Some people find a smaller home cozy, but others feel cramped. Downsizing generally means having significantly less storage space. That means you'll need to eliminate unneeded possessions and buy less when you go shopping. You can save space by using furniture with built-in storage and digitizing important documents, photos and even your music collection. Even if you prefer the greater simplicity and organization of a smaller space, it will still take time to get used to the change.Many people take pride in having a large and impressive home. If that's important to you, you may feel a loss of prestige if you downsize. Even if your family and friends love your new house, you may be tempted to compare your home to theirs and experience negative feelings.Is Downsizing Right for You?Moving to a smaller home is an excellent way to save money and to simplify and organize your life. Downsizing is also a major adjustment. Before you make the decision to find a smaller home, think about the many ways in which your life would change-and consider how you and other members of your family would feel about your new lifestyle. If you decide that downsizing is right for you, it can be the beginning of a rewarding new life.

Paying Off Student Loans Faster Is student loan debt weighing you down?Pay beyond the minimum payment every month to reduce your principal and avoid wasting money on interest.To trick yourself into making an extra full payment annually, split monthly payments in half and pay that amount every two weeks instead.Consider refinancing and consolidating your loans with a lower interest rate.Devote cash windfalls, such as pay raises or tax refunds, to paying off your loans.Try getting a side job and putting the extra income toward your loans.If you can't boost your income, trim other monthly expenses to make bigger loan payments.By using these strategies, you might be able to pay off your loans faster.

Screen Maintenance: A Guide for New Homeowners If you're a new homeowner, this may be your first summer in your new house, and one of the things you should be doing to take advantage of the warmer weather is replacing your glass windows with window screens, and adding screen doors to your entryways.There are myriad advantages. First, they can limit sunlight and heat gain, which will lessen sun damage to furniture and floors, plus keep cooling costs at bay. They also allow plenty of fresh air, yet protect from bugs or debris getting into the house. Plus, an open window with a screen will allow far less water in during a downpour than one without a screen.For those who purchased in the fall or winter, you may not have even thought of this, but the screens could be stored in the basement or garage. It's rare for a home seller to take the screens with them, so they are most likely around.Always start by cleaning the screens before putting them up. Simply spray them down with a hose before putting them in the windows and use some laundry cleaner to get out any tough dirt that may have built up. Once the screens are in for the season, use a duster to remove dirt or vacuum with the brush attachment to lightly go over the surface.If you notice a small tear on the screen, that doesn't necessarily mean you need a new one. Your local hardware store should have screen patch kits, and the mend is as simple as adhering it to the problem spot. A really small hole can be fixed simply by using clear-drying glue.For those who do need a new screen, it's not too expensive to replace but be aware there are lots of options. Window screenscan be made of aluminum, fiberglass, metal wire, nylon or polyester, and depending on where in the home you'll be adding them, different options work best for different rooms. Fiberglass is usually recommended for the main rooms of the house.When it's time to take out the screens come fall, place a piece of masking tape or other label on each one identifying what window it goes in (such as play room), so when it's time to repeat next year, there's no confusion.

Maintenance Costs Every Homeowner Should Be Aware Of A rule of thumb when determining how much money to set aside for ongoing home maintenance is to budget 1 percent of the home's purchase price each year.If your home cost $300,000, then setting aside $3,000 per year is a good start. You may not spend that much every year on home maintenance, but it can be a good idea to save that much whether you spend it or not in a given year. Setting aside up to 3 percent of your home's purchase price would give you more room for bigger maintenance costs. Here are some to plan for:Leaking roof: Sometimes a leaking roof can be as simple to fix as replacing a few shingles or hammering down one that popped off. But an older roof of 15 years or more may be in poor condition and could require a complete replacement. A new roof can cost $5,000 or more.Broken air conditioner: If you're not getting cool air from your air conditioner, then an inspection by a heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) professional is probably needed. General maintenance of a few hundred dollars may solve the problem, but an old unit of 15 years or so may need to be replaced, costing about $5,000.Leaks: Pipes can last a long time, but sometimes they leak or a small gap in the bathroom floor, for example, can lead to water stains below. This can lead to mold and other problems, and the leak should be found and fixed quickly.A small leak can cost a few hundred dollars to fix, while broken pipes can cost thousands of dollars and may require you to ask your home insurance company if it will cover the loss if the cost is more than your deductible.Pests: Ants, spiders, mice, squirrels and other pests can make your home their home, requiring immediate extermination or some sort of plan to get rid of them. Termites can be discovered during a home inspection, though a clean inspection may only give you peace of mind for a year if they hatch in your neighbor's home and fly into yours.Removing termites can cost $2,000 or so, while getting rid of ants and spiders may only require a $5 can of spray you can buy at a hardware store.