March 29, 2019

There are several pros and cons that come with buying an existing home and with building a new home. This is often a big decision for those shopping for a new home as they may prefer something specific drawing them to one or the other. If you are trying to decide between buying an existing home or building a new home, it may help to look at the pros and cons of both.

Pros of Buying an Existing Home

Buying an existing home means that it has been lived in before. Sometimes, this home could be just a couple of years old. A few pros for buying an existing home include:

Faster closing and move in – Compared to waiting for your home to be built, you will be able to buy and move into an existing home in about 30 to 60 days.

Better Overall Value – An existing home has already established value, and you will be paying a price based on value, not based on the construction costs of the home.

Established Neighborhood – Most existing homes are found in neighborhoods that are well established.

Potential for Charm – You cannot build a historic home, and some features found in homes from previous decades are not found in new homes today.

There are several other pros to buying an existing home, but these are the main ones.

Cons of Buying an Existing Home

Of course, nothing is perfect and you will find some cons to buying an existing home, such as:

No options – You cannot customize the home to fit your needs.

Renovations/Upgrades – You may need to pay for renovations or upgrades.

Used – It has been lived in before.

While there are not many cons and some may be mitigated based on the home you choose, there are a few cons to buying an existing home.

Pros of Building a New Home

Just like with buying an existing home, building a new home will have its own set of pros and cons. Some of the pros of building a new home include:

Fully Customizable – The only limit to customizing your home will be your budget. You can set it up to be the way you want without any concessions.

It is Brand New – You will be the first and only person to live in the home, which can be a big pro for many people.

More Efficient – Compared to an older home that has not been upgraded, a new construction home will be more efficient.

Warranties – New homes come with warranties making home maintenance much easier and less of a worry for the first few years.

No Worries of Health Hazards – Older homes may have asbestos, moisture issues, mold or even radon. New homes will not come with any of these worries.

Building a new home can have plenty of benefits and these are the main ones.

Cons of Building a New Home

There are some cons to consider if you are thinking about building, however. Some of the main cons of building a new home include:

Appreciation – Resale value may not be so high, and it may take years to gain the appreciation necessary to make it worth the investment.

Closing Costs – Upfront costs will be much higher compared to buying an existing home. 

Delivery Date – It will take longer to build a home than to close and move into an existing home with the average build time taking 120 to 150 days or longer.

Predictability – You may encounter unexpected costs along the way.

Noise – You may be living in a construction zone until the neighborhood is fully developed.

There is plenty to think about when comparing the option of buying an existing home to building a new home. Regardless of your decision, it is best to hire YOUR OWN real estate agent to help you throughout the entire process, even when building a new home.

March 15, 2019

Congrats! You just matched at MUSC! And the #1 City in the World, Charleston!

The Pulse Charleston is a real estate team who specializes in relocating medical professionals to and from the area. Over the years, we have built the largest network of past clients who are currently working at MUSC, and we would love to help you too!

One of us is always available to show houses or answer questions. We copy each other on every email, so don’t be afraid to reach out to either of us and expect both of us to work on your relocation. Two people working on your behalf!

The doctor loan is a fantastic option for you. It is 100% financing with no mortgage insurance. The banks don’t use your student loan debt in your debt to income ratio as long as your loans are deferred, and you are able to close on a home up to 60 days before starting your program. The going rate for a 7/1 year ARM is really low, which is what most of our residents pick because they know they won’t be in the area forever. You will have a lower mortgage payment, including taxes and insurance, than your rent would be. It is a fantastic opportunity for you.

Our rental capacity is at 97%, so it is very frustrating finding a rental and then keeping it for the entire residency. Based on your salary alone at MUSC, you can usually qualify up to $300,000 depending on your credit score, and if you don’t have any revolving payments (like a car loan or credit card). Of course, if you have a spouse who has a job in the area that starts around the same time as you, their income can be added as well allowing you to qualify for more.

We saw a lot of our clients leave the area this past year after completing their residencies. After selling their home, all left the closing table with $30,000-%55,000, depending on how long they were in the area. All basically lived in Charleston for free while they were here. That definitely beats sinking that money or more into a rental and never seeing it again.

Most of our clients who are residents/fellows live on James Island, Johns Island, or in Park Circle or West Ashley.  Some choose to live in Mount Pleasant or on Daniel Island, but it is more expensive.

We would be happy to meet with you when you come into town. Feel free to contact us to speak further about your relocation. Congrats again!

February 19, 2019

When you’re ready to sell your home, your real estate agent may inform you that some improvements will help with the process. You may need to make some repairs and improvements to ensure the home will sell fast and for top dollar. If you don’t have a ton of cash to work with, it’s important to understand the top budget-friendly improvements to make before selling your home.


It won’t actually add value to the property in a physical way, but curb appeal is a selling factor. When you add in the right landscaping, you’ll make a much better first impression. You can hire a professional to handle this or do it yourself.

Once the landscaping is done, make sure you keep up on mowing the lawn and trimming the bushes. You should also make sure all plants receive enough water and any other landscaping is kept up.

Give the Kitchen a Facelift

A kitchen remodel isn’t budget-friendly, but there are some things you can do for just a few hundred dollars that make a big difference. Painting is one of the best places to start as you can paint the walls, the baseboards, trim, molding, and even kitchen cabinets to give it a different look.

You can also replace door pulls and handles, along with having countertops repaired if they have cracks, nicks or grout issues. Replacing the appliances may be another way you can upgrade the kitchen without breaking the bank.

Replace Old Carpet

It may not be as budget-friendly as some of the other options on the list, but replacing old carpet can go a long way to helping get your home sold. Flooring takes a beating over time and old carpet often holds onto odors and looks dingy. Replacing it will help to spruce up your home and make it look new again.

Upgrade the Lighting

Often, an upgrade to the lighting will make rooms feel larger and cleaner. It doesn’t have to cost you a ton of cash to make this happen, either. You can change light bulbs, add in a floor lamp or even add in a new fixture to make a room look much better.

Even the exterior lighting should be addressed. Make sure all light bulbs are working and keep the exterior of your home well lit. Most buyers will visit the property at night, as well as in the day.

Paint Walls

A new coat of paint can go a long way and it’s usually very cheap. Having a room or the entire house painted can go a very long way to making your online images better, along with making the home look better during showings. This is one of the most commonly used budget-friendly improvements for homes getting ready to be sold.

If you’re considering selling your home, make sure you have a good real estate agent representing you. They will be able to give you more improvements you can use to make it easier to sell your home faster and for a better price.

January 17, 2019

Your student loans are huge, and they need to be paid back. The average physician graduates with student loan debt well into six figures. In addition, many will make mistakes when they are young physicians when it comes to their student loans. Here are 7 mistakes to avoid if you’re in this situation.

Choosing the Wrong Repayment Plan

There are so many repayment options that it can be easy to choose the wrong one. When you have a lower income and a high balance, you want to consider the RePAYE’s option, while avoiding the PSLF option. Usually, this will lower your payment and make the most sense.

Paying too Much Interest

Those not using the PSLF repayment plan may be paying too much in interest. When you don’t use this repayment option, your student loans become much more like a normal debt. Make sure you get a good rate, as they can range from 2% to 10%, and even a small percentage difference can add up to a ton of cash.

If you don’t decide to use PSLF or another forgiveness/subsidy program, you need to refinance if your loans are above 5%. The higher your rate, the more you will pay, and it can cost you thousands of dollars.

Not Fighting Against Servicer Errors

Errors are made by loan servicers all the time and cost the borrowers money. Make sure you stay on top of your loan servicer and make sure you handle any mistakes they make quickly. You should keep a record of everything and make sure your records match the records provided by the servicer of the loan.

If you find an error, submit the necessary paperwork and address it immediately. You should also keep copies of all the correspondence and paperwork between you and the servicer of the loan.

Not Considering Tax Implications

Your student loan decisions will impact your taxes. You want to make sure you make the right decisions to get the most forgiveness possible. It’s a good idea to speak with an expert before choosing your repayment option and filing your taxes.

Not Verifying Employment

When you don’t verify your employment for your student loans, it can cause issues if you apply for PSLF. You can either verify when you apply, or you can do it as you progress through time. Many opt to verify later and forget to do so. This can cause huge issues and cost you thousands.

Believing Bad Advice

Many young physicians make the mistake of taking advice from those claiming to know student loans, but really, they don’t. Make sure you only take advice from those you trust. Even a student loan advisor may not give you the best advice since they are compensated by a refinance company in one way or another.

There are several other mistakes a young physician may make with student loans. These loans need to be taken very seriously and you need to make sure you understand your options before making decisions.

October 23, 2018

When it comes to buying a home, you’ll likely need a mortgage. Qualifying for a mortgage isn’t the easiest thing to do. In fact, many potential buyers don’t qualify the first time they apply.

It’s best to make sure you qualify for a mortgage before you start shopping, or you could end up wasting quite a bit of time. In addition, a pre-approval for a mortgage will help to ensure you know how much home you can afford.

Before you apply for a mortgage, understanding why you may not qualify is important. Here are five reasons you may not qualify for a mortgage.

Not Enough Saved

Although possible, it’s rare to find a home mortgage allowing you to buy a home without a down payment or with a low down payment. Typically, you will need at the very least 3.5% of the purchase price, but in most cases at least 5% will be required down. If you don’t have enough money saved, you may not qualify for a mortgage.

Bad Debt-to-Income Ratio

One of the most important factors lenders look at is the debt-to-income ratio or DTI. This ratio basically looks at how much money you make compared to how much you have going out in monthly payments. If it’s too high, which means you have too much debt, you’ll be denied for the mortgage.

Low Credit Score

While credit isn’t the only factor in the mortgage approval process, it’s still a very important one. If your credit score is lower than 600, you won’t be able to use an FHA loan program. This doesn’t mean you can’t find a lender with a program for you, but credit scores under 600 will struggle to get approved for a mortgage.

The good news with credit, it can be repaired. Often, you can do a few things to boost your score, and if you’re right on the line, it may not be that difficult to raise your score enough to get approved.

Inconsistent Employment History

If you’ve hopped from one job to another, it could send up red flags for a mortgage company. Typically, lenders want to see two years of solid work history, but this doesn’t mean you had to be at the same job for the entire two years.

What they don’t want to see is large gaps in between jobs or changing fields of work. Another red flag may be a large fluctuation in the number of hours worked. Any of these could keep your application from being approved.

Unreliable or Hard to Prove Income Sources

While there are programs to help those with hard to prove income sources, you will need to have great credit and a good DTI to qualify. If you have unreliable or hard to prove income, it can be very difficult to get approved for a mortgage.

It’s best to make sure your income is consistent and traceable through bank statements.

If you’re looking to buy a home soon, and you want to make sure you get approved for a mortgage, make sure you understand the qualifications. Check your credit through a local mortgage lender, start saving for the down payment immediately, and make sure your financial situation is desirable. All of the above reasons you may not qualify can be fixed if you start working at it now, instead of after you’ve found out you can’t get approved for a mortgage.