This is the last part of our brief guide for first-time home buyers in South Carolina. Once you have closed on the purchase of your home, you will still need to take care of some very important details (in addition to your move):
1.Change all the utilities in your name. Usually sellers stop their accounts as of the closing date, sometimes they give you 1-2 days grace. The last thing you want is to get to your newly purchased home and find the power is off, and the temperature outside is 98F...
2.Re-key all exterior doors. Although the sellers may have seemed very nice, you never know who else has keys for the home. Don't forget to re-program the garage door openers!
3.If there was a transferable termite bond, make sure you transfer it in your name so you can actually file a claim, if necessary.
4.Once a property changes hands, two things change with respect to property taxes: The first, is that the home "assessed value" will change to reflect the purchase price. And the second, it that the home will be taxed at a 6% assessment ratio. This could bring a nasty surprise in the shape of a letter from your bank, announcing you that your monthly payment needs to be substantially higher to be able to cover the anticipated costs of taxes and insurance in their escrow account. If you intend to liv e in this home as your primary residence, South Carolina residents are entitled to a PRIMARY RESIDENCE EXEMPTION that decreases the assessment ratio from 6% to 4% (which will bring the tax more in line to what your lender initially estimated in their Good Faith Estimate, since the lender probably assumed that this was going to be your primary residence and estimated the property tax at the 4% assessment ratio)...to claim the primary residence exemption, you will most probably need to change your home address on your driver's license, and bring the new license, copy of your closing documents (the HUD-1 statement and/or deed, if you already received it back from the attorney) and a utility bill in your name to the new address to request the change at the County Tax Assessor's Office.
5.Remember to change your address at the post office (better yet, pay for their 6-month forwarding service) and notify all your creditors (credit cards, stores, etc.), friends and family. The last thing you want is to damage your credit because you did not get the bills.
6.Get involved in the HOA as a property owner. This is a right you did not have when you were renting. Now you can actively participate in the democratic process of your homeowners' association.
7.Send a copy of all closing documents and expense receipts associated with the purchase to your accountant. Some closing costs and expenses may be tax-deductible.
8.If you are a first time home buyer and purchased your home in late 2008 or in 2009, you may be eligible for the Tax Credit offered by the Federal Government. You don't have to wait to file taxes to claim this credit. All you need to do is to ask your accountant to submit the required form and, if you are eligible, you will get a check in the mail from Uncle Sam!
WE HOPE THAT YOU HAVE ENJOYED THIS SERIES. If you are thinking about buying a home ANYWHERE IN NORTH AMERICA, we can gladly help you find a local, experienced REALTOR who can assist you in your quest. If you are planning to move to the Charleston area, or live here already, WE WOULD WELCOME THE OPPORTUNITY TO EARN YOUR BUSINESS. Contact us today to start the process - we will help you every step of the way - from A to Z!
Alan Donald, Team Leader