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The Hilton Head Homes Blog

Common Mistakes Homeowners Make When Remodeling a Kitchen

Your family probably uses the kitchen more than any other room in your home. If it isnt well designed, it may feel cramped. If you want to remodel your kitchen to make it more suited to your needs, avoid making these common blunders.

Not Giving Yourself Enough Storage and Work Space
If youve been living in your home for a while, you may wish that you had more cabinet space or that your cabinets were configured differently to better store items you use frequently. When you design your new kitchen, think about how your current cabinets come up short and how to address that problem.

You may have also found that your current amount of counter space is inadequate. You can change the kitchens layout to give you more counter space or install an island.

If you want to add an island or buy new appliances, make sure you dont sell yourself short when it comes to storage space. Top-of-the line appliances and more workspace are all well and good, but youll be frustrated if you dont have enough room to store food, dishes and small appliances.

Not Making Enough Room to Get around Easily
You use your refrigerator, stove and sink more than any other features in the kitchen, so they should be close together. In most kitchens, these three elements are arranged in a triangle so people can move effortlessly from one to another.

Measure the refrigerator, stove, and cabinet doors and drawers to make sure there is plenty of room to open them without them bumping into something else. If you want to install an island, dont choose one so large that it will be hard for people to move around in the kitchen and to open and close cabinets and drawers. Make sure aisles around an island are wide enough for two cooks to work at the same time or for family members to walk around while someone is cooking without people bumping into each other.

Not Having Sufficient Lighting
Poor lighting can make it hard to find items when you need them and can lead to accidents in the kitchen. Make sure your new kitchen will have plenty of overhead lighting, as well as lights in the pantry and over the sink and food preparation areas.

Buying Cheap Cabinets
If your cabinets are worn out from years of daily use, they will probably need to be replaced. New cabinets can be costly, but they will last, whereas old, damaged cabinets can detract from the appearance of the entire kitchen. Spend the extra money to buy quality cabinets.

Get Professional Design Help
A remodeled kitchen can make it easier to prepare meals and enjoy time with family and friends. Since this is likely to be an expensive project, think it through carefully. Consult a kitchen design expert and a contractor to choose a layout and features that will make the best use of your available space and help you avoid common mistakes.

What to Ask a Mortgage Lender Before You Sign Anything

Looking at homes for sale can be the fun part of buying a house. The real work comes when youre picking a mortgage lender that can give you the best loan for your circumstances.

After detailing your income, expenses, down payment and a monthly mortgage you can afford, a lender will run a credit check and should be able to tell you the best options for the interest rate and loan product.

Here are some questions to ask as you comparison shop for a lender:

Whats the interest rate?
This will be based on your loan and credit score, and determines your monthly payment. The lower the interest rate, the lower the payment. Improving your credit score can help lower the interest rate you qualify for.

Fixed rate or ARM?
Fixed-rate loans have the same interest rate for the life of the loan, from 10 to 30 years. Interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs, change after an initial period, such as a year, and then at regular intervals.

Ask how often an ARM rate will change, the index its tied to, and what the cap is on the interest rate during one period and the life of the loan. Make sure you can afford the higher rate. An ARM will have a lower interest rate than a fixed-rate loan, and can be a good idea if youre not planning on living in the home for long.

How much is the monthly mortgage?
Answering the first two questions will get you to this answer. Its a number you should already have in mind before looking for a house, and should be an amount you can afford.

Be sure to include other monthly costs, including insurance, taxes and, if required, private mortgage insurance, or PMI. This insurance is often needed if you dont have a 20 percent down payment and is meant to protect the mortgage company if you default on the loan.

Any fees?
One-time fees called points are due at closing and each point paid will lower your interest rate by 1 percent. Another option is to not pay any closing costs upfront and to have them rolled into the loan in exchange for a higher interest rate.

If you want to lock in the interest rate and points for a certain amount of time in case rates go up, you may have to pay a fee.

Also ask if there are fees for making extra mortgage payments so you can pay off the principal amount early. Some loans dont have prepayment penalties, but some do.

A lender should be able to help you find the best home loan for your finances. Just be sure not to sign a contract with them until youre satisfied youre getting the best deal with the best mortgage lender you can find.

I hope you found this information helpful. Please contact me for all your real estate information needs today!

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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How to Design an Elegant White Kitchen

From traditional elegance to contemporary cool, heres how to design a white kitchen.

Go Big on Marble

Marble is perfect for creating sophisticated countertops and backsplashes.

Warm It Up With Wood

Easily warm up the ambiance and create an effortlessly timeless aesthetic.

A Touch of Texture

There are plenty of ways to add texture, like terrazzo floors or exposed white brick walls.

Introduce Accents

A white kitchen doesnt have to be entirely white. Introducing an accent color is advised to mix it up a little bit.

Maximize Natural Light

Sun exposure will help create a light and airy atmosphere in your kitchen.

A Game Plan for Buying Home Insurance

Before you sign on the dotted line, take the following factors into consideration when purchasing homeowners insurance in order to make sure youre getting the best rate and proper coverage:

Things to ask:

  1. How far away is the property from a fire department? Is it a professional or a volunteer-based establishment? Home insurance is bound to be less expensive for homes that are close to professional stations.
  2. Are the plumbing and/or electrical systems outdated or unsafe? Insurance companies will charge more if your home is prone to damages.
  3. Is the home located by a coast rather than inland? Consider if theres exposure to hurricane winds that could jack up insurance rates.
  4. What about windstorms?
  5. Would you need flood insurance? Many homes may need flood insurance, yet its not covered by general insurance programs. Instead, you would need to get insured directly by the federal government.

Things to do:

  1. Get the home inspected before buying. A professional can tell you whether or not your new home comes with any serious risk factors.
  2. Ask the seller for a copy of the homes claims history. This document will give you access to the number and type of insurance and claims filed by the owner, including reports on water damage, fire, and crime.
  3. Have an agent find out exactly how much it will cost to insure your home, including earthquake and flood insurance, if necessary.

Things to know:

  1. A well-built, well-maintained home that can fend off natural disasters will always cost less to insure.
  2. Home insurance is meant to cover sudden and accidental disasters only.
  3. The regular maintenance of the home is the owners responsibility. Insurance companies do not cover mold, small leaks or the repercussions of using low-quality tools or materials.

Source: Insurance Information Institute

Why You Should Avoid Using Credit Cards When Shopping for a House

If youre looking for a new home, you probably already know that a mortgage lender will consider your credit score, percentage of available credit used and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. If your score is too low or your credit utilization or DTI ratio is too high, the lender may charge you a high interest rate or reject your loan application altogether.

Buyers often run into trouble because they dont understand a key fact about how mortgage lenders vet candidates. A lender checks a borrowers credit when an application is submitted, and again shortly before closing. If a borrower uses credit cards to buy furniture and appliances or to pay for moving costs, the persons credit score, utilization ratio and DTI ratio may rise enough to cause the lender to raise the interest rate or decide not to grant a mortgage at all.

How to Protect Your Credit and Get a Mortgage
While youre in the process of house hunting, its important to keep your credit in the best shape it can be and to avoid using credit cards as much as possible. If you normally use credit cards for food, clothing and entertainment, dont. Use cash or a debit card, or dont buy certain things at all. If you must make an important purchase, ask yourself if you can live without it until after youve closed on your home.

If you receive a letter inviting you to apply for a new credit card with a low introductory rate or rewards, it can be tempting, but you shouldnt apply while youre looking for a new home. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can hurt your credit score. You shouldnt apply for an auto loan while house hunting for the same reason.

Make Sure You Have Enough Savings
Youll have to save money for a down payment, but you shouldnt put all your savings toward that. If you do, youll be left with no cushion to deal with any unexpected bills for things such as medical treatments or car repairs. You also wont have funds readily available to buy furniture and appliances before you move into your new house. That means you may be tempted or forced to use credit cards, which may jeopardize your ability to obtain a mortgage.

Dont Lose out on Your Dream Home
Even if your mortgage application has been approved, that doesnt mean the decision is final. The lender will check your credit again before you close on the house. A sudden rise in credit card balances and a higher utilization ratio and DTI ratio could cause the lender to change its decision and to reject your mortgage application. Set aside money for any planned or unexpected expenses you may encounter so you can avoid using credit cards as much as possible until youve closed on your new house.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional or legal advice.

Soft, glimmering sand covers Hilton Head Island’s picture-perfect beach, yet, unlike some coastal beaches, rugged, there is only a gentle sprinkling of seashells along the Atlantic shoreline beaches of Palmetto Dunes Seashells
and Forest Beach. The island is a sandbar system, and shells tend to collect plentifully towards the tips of the island. South Beach in Sea Pines or at the opposite end at Mitchellville Beach Park, Burkes Beach, and Port Royal Beach are avid seashell collector’s ultimate destinations!

Every 12 hours, as the tide washes in, it uncovers a once buried layer. Hilton Head Island’s beach renourishment and dredging to preserve the beautiful shore opens the possibilities of exciting and valuable

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During May through October, Hilton Head Island excitingly welcomes hundreds of sea turtles each nesting season!

For this reason, we ask our residents and visitors to help protect this endangered species. 

In a perfect setting, with ideal conditions, Hilton Head Island’s most common marine turtle, the loggerhead, comes ashore about every 18 days during nesting season. She lays 80 to 120 eggs into a freshly made nest nearly two feet deep. Under the warm, dry sand, the round eggs incubate for an average of 50 days.  The two-inch hatchlings dig together to travel to the surface of the nest. The newborns rely on their instincts, moonlight, and even magnetic fields to guide them. They squirm, crawl and wiggle as quickly as their new little flippers will

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Hilton Head Island is a natural habitat for eleven different crabs and a few marine animals that share the crab’s name. Each refreshing walk on the beach brings discoveries that are fascinating to observe. Horseshoe crabs, hermit crabs, and ghost crabs happily reside along the shoreline, yet the only thing they have in common is their name and address.  


horse show crabsThis ancient marine animal looks frightening but is harmless.  The firm tail, called a telson, is not used for defense; its telson can flip it over or help with stability. Your nose will let you know if the horseshoe is deceased or if it is an empty shell. A juvenile will molt its outer shell, the exoskeleton, 15-16

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