5 things to know if you’re a first-time homebuyer in Charlotte

5 things to know if you’re a first-time homebuyer in Charlotte
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Buying a home is a big deal. And with homes flying off the market in record time, it’s important to go in prepared.

Though Charlotte homes go under contract within 25 days on average, it’s not uncommon to see them go under contract within hours, Jeff Clay (@the_queencity_realtor) said.

I chatted with Clay and Jon Enberg, Opendoor’s general manager in Charlotte. Here are their expert tips.

(1) Do your research.

Know the market: Look into neighborhoods and school districts; stop by during various times of the day to see what your commute would be like; explore the community to determine if it fits your lifestyle. Get specific and go deep here, Enberg said.

Prioritize: Come up with a list of must-haves, nice extras, and some deal breakers (renovations, for example). You should also know where you’re willing to compromise. The more flexible you are, the more options you’ll have, Clay said.

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(2) Talk to the professionals and get pre-approved.

Mortgage professionals can determine your options and what you can afford, Enberg explained. Once that’s established, they can write a pre-approval offer, which makes your offer more competitive.

Clay also stressed the importance of this one. Not only for pre-approval purposes, but also because they can help assess your individual financial situation to determine what money moves you should make in order to secure a loan.

For example, let’s say you have some credit card debt and student loans. You may think you need to pay both off in full before considering a home loan. A consultant may have different advice; they can help develop a plan that makes sense for you.

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(3) Be prepared to put as little as 3 to 5 percent down.

One of the biggest misconceptions out there is you to need 20 percent down on a home. In reality, Clay said, most first-time buyers don’t have that sort of cash. On average, 3 to 5 percent is enough for a down payment.

If you can swing it, there are certainly advantages to putting down 20 percent. You’ll avoid mortgage insurance, which is tacked onto your monthly mortgage payment. But depending on how much cash you have and how long you plan to stay in the home, 20 percent may not make sense.

No matter how much you put down, you shouldn’t deplete your entire savings, especially now, during a global pandemic. “Buying a house should not take you out of financial stability,” Clay said.

(4) Tour homes quickly.

The key to finding your dream home is to keep looking, Enberg said. He suggests touring quickly, even virtually.

“I also suggest keeping an eye on social media. Some sellers could mention they are moving and be willing to do a direct sale.”

(5) Make a strong offer.

The Charlotte market is competitive, especially the first-time buyer price point. Enberg said find out what the seller is really looking for, and then match or exceed their expectations.

In addition to giving asking price, the sellers might also be looking at a due diligence fee, a certain closing time, or shortening contingency dates (financing and inspections).


Want to know more about the Charlotte market? Read: Charlotte homes sold at record pace this fall and Charlotte’s real estate market is hot. Can it stay that way?

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