Prepare Now to Buy a Home this Spring

Prepare Now to Buy a Home this Spring

Featured Home, 2018 Upstate Parade of Homes: The Odessa at Brookwood Commons by Ryan Homes.

By James Speer, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, CarsonSpeer Builders

If spring looks like the time you will buy a new home, now is not too early to lay the groundwork. After all, you will need to get your finances in shape, get ready to apply for a mortgage, settle on a budget, and decide where you want to live. These things take time, so it is never too early to get started.

Price range and down payment.

Most banks and online real estate sites have affordability and mortgage calculators that can help you settle on a budget.

To determine your down payment, assess what you have in hand, including the equity in your current home, if you have one, and what you can realistically save between now and spring. Don’t forget there will be closing costs.


Once you have a budget, research where you would like to live.  Consider schools, commute, housing density, even amenities, and which factors are most important to you.

Check online real estate listings.  Go to open houses.  And most importantly, visit your preferred neighborhoods at different times of day to assess things like traffic.

Credit score.

Check your credit report now.  If you need to dispute anything, get to that task early in the process.  Your credit report is available to you free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through, the only authorized website for free credit reports, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Here are some ways to maintain and improve your score:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Pay down credit card.
  • Avoid applying for new credit cards or closing old ones.


Check mortgage rates at various lenders.  But keep in mind that the ultra-low rate you found online line might come with lots of headaches when it comes time to close and you have to deal with a lender by phone 1,000 miles away.

About a month before you plan to buy, choose your lender and get a pre-approval letter from them.  With that in hand, you will be able to show a seller that you are a qualified buyer.

For more information about the home buying process, and to find an Approved Professional Builder to help you with your new home, visit

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Featured Home, 2018 Upstate Parade of Homes: The Williamsburg at Saddlehorn by Saddlehorn Living.

By James Speer, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, CarsonSpeer Builders

Family gatherings and festive celebrations — the hallmarks of the holiday season.

This also a time for home safety concerns. Holiday lights and decorations brighten our homes as the days get darker, but they can pose fire hazards. Travel, holiday events and shopping take us away from home more than normal.

Here is a quick safety checklist to help you keep your home and family safe during the holidays.

Home Security

  • If you have a lot of packages delivered while you are not home, it may be time for a doorbell security camera.
  • Inside your home, consider keeping gifts in a safe place that is not easily visible from outside.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to watch your home if you plan to spend the holidays away. And request the post office to hold your mail.
  • When you are away from home overnight, put your lights on timers set to your normal living pattern.

Lights and Other Decorations

  • Inspect the wiring on all holiday lights. If they are worn or frayed, throw them away.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord, don’t run electrical cords under rugs, and turn decorative lights off before you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Candles are a top cause of fires during the holidays. Place candles and other open flames away from decorations, never leave burning candles unattended, and always supervise children and pets around candles. Better yet, use battery-operated candles instead.

Christmas Trees

  • Place trees a safe distance from radiators, vents, fireplaces and any other heat source that may dry the tree, and inspect and water your tree daily.
  • Do not block doors or hallways with your larger decorations.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree, and make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan.

For more information on home safety and maintenance, and to find an Approved Professional Remodeler to help you with your home improvement needs, visit