We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Hilton Head real estate is a hot commodity. Now more than ever, house hunters are looking for their own little pieces of paradise here on the island. We’re seeing the market get more competitive, which means buyers have to be savvy to secure their Lowcountry dream homes.
Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to simplify the home-buying process and make a successful purchase. Here are our top five tips for buying a home on Hilton Head.
1) Get pre-approved for a mortgage
Did you know that being pre-approved for a mortgage isn’t the same as being pre-qualified? If not, you’re in good company. Many homebuyers believe that being pre-qualified for a decent loan is enough to impress sellers. But trust us: when you’re looking at a gorgeous island property with the potential to attract many buyers, you’ll want to have that pre-approval letter in hand.
Pre-qualification gives you an idea of how much financing you could feasibly get from a lender. It’s like an estimate, and it’s not a guarantee. Pre-approval, on the other hand, is an actual commitment from a lender to loan you a certain amount. When a seller sees that you’re pre-approved, they’re far more likely to view you as a serious buyer.
2) Research potential communities
One of our biggest tips for buying a home on Hilton Head is researching the different areas here. When it comes to communities, the island offers a lot of variety. Does the idea of living in a gated community on the ocean (such as Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes, or Shipyard) appeal to you? Perhaps you’re more partial to a private residential club like Long Cove or Wexford.
No matter where you live on Hilton Head, you’ll find spectacular natural beauty and access to some of the best recreational opportunities the Lowcountry has to offer. That said, knowing exactly what you want could save you a lot of time. If you know you’d like to be close to schools, within walking distance of a particular section of coastline, or near a specific set of biking trails, your real estate agent can help you narrow down your search by location.
3) Make a list of features and amenities you want
Speaking of location, being aware of the amenities you want to live close to can help you zero in on the right home.
If you’re an avid golfer, is there a particular course that you’re excited about? Living in Long Cove will get you a membership to the private Pete Dye-designed course inside the community’s gates. Similarly, if you want to while away the summer on a particular beach that has private access, where you choose to live could impact your plans.
We suggest making a list of the amenities you’re most attracted to. Even if you don’t find precisely what you’re looking for on the market, your agent can help you find an amazing property that meets your needs.
Next up, add your must-have home features to the list. Are hardwood floors important to you? What about high ceilings? Will you need a big backyard for entertaining? And how important is it to find a home with a screened-in porch? If you find the right home, many of these features can be added after you complete your purchase.
4) Get an inspection—and ask questions
It’s one of our biggest tips for buying a home: ensure that the property you’re purchasing is thoroughly inspected.
Nobody wants to discover that there are serious structural issues with their dream home. But you should be aware if a roof or HVAC system needs to be replaced. From there, it’s your choice whether to move on and find a new property, ask the seller if they’ll carry out the necessary repairs, or try to negotiate for a lower price.
To ensure the inspection process benefits you, work with the right professional. Find an inspector with experience, credentials, and references. Your real estate agent should be able to help with a referral.
5) Work with the right agent
This brings us to our last tip for buying a home. To ensure your Hilton Head property purchase goes off without a hitch, find a great real estate agent. Your agent should know the island inside and out. They should be able to answer any questions you might have about what life is like in its many communities. They should also have intimate knowledge of the housing market—and be able to use this information to negotiate on your behalf.
Most importantly, work with an agent you feel completely comfortable with. The home-buying process can be complex. But with the right agent in your corner, finding and purchasing your dream home can be a whole lot simpler.
Looking to buy a home on Hilton Head? We have the experience and local market knowledge to help you through the process. Send us a message—we’d love to discuss your needs!