The selling price of homes for sale in Charlotte has increased 22% since January of 2016, while the number of homes for sale has decreased 6%. As the scales have tipped from a balanced market to one that favors the seller, online real estate brokerage Redfin brings you five tips to win in what is sure to be a hot year in real estate for Charlotte.

1. Know the “hot” neighborhoods

In their annual “Hottest Neighborhoods” housing report, Redfin used data from customer visits to their website combined with local expertise to predict that Myer’s Park, Eastover and Ballantyne will be hot in 2017. These neighborhoods represent up-and-coming areas with significant investment potential. Local real estate agent, Julie McGee, noted that “Myer’s Park keeps getting hotter and more attractive to buyers because it’s five miles from Charlotte’s Center City, has a high Walk Score and highly ranked schools. Myer’s Park has many bungalow and craftsman homes that were built about a century ago, so people often tear down and rebuild homes in the neighborhood to improve their property value. Some of the best restaurants and boutique shops in Charlotte can be found in this area.”

2. Get your credit ready

Because credit helps determine the loans for which you may qualify and your monthly loan payments, you need to make sure your credit is where it needs to be. If not, start working to improve it! To begin, check your current credit score to know your starting point. Look for derogatory entries such as collection accounts, past-due accounts and items of public record as these are the most damaging. Call the company to find out what you can do to repair your credit. Additionally, you must pay your credit card balances so that your debt does not exceed 30% of the credit limit. Finally, correct credit report errors. If you see something that does not look right, get in touch with the company that reported it and draft a letter of dispute.

3. Master your mortgage  

To score the best mortgage terms and ensure the process goes as smooth as possible, there are four things in particular that lenders look at when deciding whether to grant you financing. Having a steady income is very important. For example, if there is a space in employment during the last couple of years, that is something that will need to be documented and explained. As has been mentioned, good credit is also essential. Aim for a score of 720 or better. Low levels of debt are also a contributing factor in securing a mortgage. Try to achieve a range of less than 10% of your gross income. Finally, evaluate your assets to ensure you have the best balance of down payment and monthly mortgage payments.

4. Prepare your budget

When buying a home, it’s important to consider all the expenses that make up a monthly house payment, not just the mortgage. The listing price may look great at face value, but you also need to factor in property taxes and possibly HOA dues. Redfin’s home calculator can be found on every listing, underneath the map of the home’s location. A 20% down payment and 30-year fixed loan are the default settings, but you can easily change them by clicking on customer calculations.

5. Avoid red flags

If you are not cautious in the time leading up to your closing, you could unintentionally put your sale in jeopardy. To ensure this does not happen there are a few red flags you want to avoid. Do not make any “big-ticket purchases” such as cars, furniture and appliances during closing as these will deplete your funds and make you seem less financially responsible. Similarly, do not open any new lines of credit which will destabilize your credit score. You might think switching to a more stable or high paying job will help, but this can actually hurt if done so during closing. Make sure you have stable employment so your lender sees you as a good investment. Any late payments during the closing process may also mess up your credit score and must be avoided. Set up auto-pay through your bank to avoid this.

About Guest Blogger, Redfin 

With these tips in your back pocket, you’ll be ready to conquer the Charlotte real estate market in no time. Remember, Redfin real estate agents are paid to put you first. Unlike other brokerages, Redfin Agents are paid on your satisfaction rather than a typical commission. With Redfin, you can move faster with modern technology – getting you into homes faster and showing your listing to more buyers. Plus, you can save thousands by getting money back at closing when you buy, and pay just half the typical listing fee when you sell. Talk to a Redfin Agent today.