Get to know our Team Leader

Lori Smith,

As a lifetime resident of Jacksonville and the greater Onslow County, few local realtors offer the same insight that I do. I have witnessed first-hand the phenomenal changes in our infrastructure throughout the years and I am in tune with the city and county's future. 

I was raised in Jacksonville and graduated from Jacksonville High School. Upon graduation and after a brief departure, I relocated to Sneads Ferry to raise a family of my own. While there, I established lasting ties with the community as a mother of three sons. Through my daily interaction with the community, I established my reputation as an energetic, friendly, trustworthy, and hardworking individual. I am much more than your agent I am your neighbor.

Today, I work in Jacksonville with my husband, a retired Marine Corps officer. Between my husband's bonds with the local military and my local connections, we have a vast network that enables us to understand home buyer/home seller concerns from a variety of vantage points.

From the moment we decide to work together, whether buying or selling you will have our undivided attention. We will satisfy your goals and celebrate your accomplishments. We want to assure you that we are committed, and will provide honesty, integrity, and excellence in our services to you.

Oct. 21, 2021

Is it time for a Digital Detox?

Posted in Marketing
Sept. 30, 2021

How to Plan Your Expenses for Your First Home

Buying your first home can be an exciting process, but with so many different expenses to account and plan for, it can also be overwhelming. Not sure where to begin with it comes to saving for your first home? There are a few expenses you won't want to overlook.

Down Payment

First, make sure you have enough money saved up for a down payment. This amount can vary depending on the sale price of the home you purchase and the type of mortgage you take out. For a conventional home loan, for example, you'll be expected to make a minimum 20% down payment. FHA loans, however, only require 3.5% down. Meanwhile, if you qualify for a VA loan or a USDA loan, you might not have to make a down payment at all.

Closing Costs

Closing costs are another notable expense that can vary based on the sale price of the home and even where you live. However, expect closing costs to account for about 2-5% of the sale price of your home. This means if you're buying a home for $150,000, you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,500 in closing costs.

Appraisals/Inspections

Having a home appraised and inspected is par for the course for most home sales. An appraisal determines the current value of the home to make sure that you're not paying more for it than what it's worth. Meanwhile, an inspection looks for underlying issues with a home (such as a leaky roof or a short-cycling HVAC unit) that you'll want to be aware of before closing.

Appraisal and inspection costs can vary, but you should typically expect to pay between $200 and $600 for a home appraisal. Meanwhile, inspections cost an average of about $300.

Furniture and Lawn Care Equipment

Once you buy your home, you'll probably need to buy your fair share of furniture. Likewise, if you're coming from an apartment-living situation, you may also need to purchase some lawn care equipment such as a lawnmower, weed eater and other gear.

As you can see, these costs can add up quickly—so it's important to plan accordingly and make sure you've saved up enough money to purchase your first home comfortably. From there, you can close on your home with confidence.

Sept. 21, 2021

Try These Simple Backyard Oasis Ideas

Image by Narcisse Navarre from Pixabay

As the weather warms and the days become longer, many homeowners spend more time in their outdoor spaces. No matter the size, a backyard can be an escape from the stress of the work day and a relaxing place to socialize with friends and family. Creating a sense of calm and beauty in your backyard will make you want to spend more time enjoying the fresh air. Here we will go over some ideas for how to turn your backyard into an oasis in the desert of daily life.

Just Add Water

You don’t need a swimming pool in order to enjoy water in your backyard oasis. From full inground ponds to free-standing fountains, there are lots of choices for adding the soothing presence of water to your backyard. If you’re short on space, try a combination birdbath water feature. This will give you the calming sound of fresh running water as well as encourage birds to visit your oasis. The movement of the water will also help you avoid mosquitos or other pests that thrive in stagnant water.

Comfortable Seating

You want your backyard oasis to be as comfortable as possible. Investing in the right outdoor furniture will keep you coming back for more. However, investing doesn’t mean you have to spend lots of money—rather, take the time to test out furniture before you buy it. If you have the opportunity to sit in chairs, sofas or benches you’ll be able to make a much better choice. Spending the time to find the right outdoor furniture that’s comfortable rather than just good-looking means you’ll be happy to sit and stay a while when you go outside.

Plenty of Shade

Every oasis needs the cooling shade of trees or other coverage to maintain a comfortable temperature. Building a pergola is a great way to create partial shade and also provide a place for climbing plants to grow. Canvas sails are another option for creating shade in your backyard as are privacy screens and curtains. Depending on the size and layout of the space, some options will work better than others. As long as you create enough shade to escape the heat, you’ll be more comfortable and relaxed in your personal oasis even in the hot sun.

Don’t Forget the Plants

Even if you don’t have room for planting in the ground, you can still add some extra greenery to your backyard oasis with containers and planters. Surround yourself with lush and hardy outdoor plants or add color and sweet scents with your favorite flowers. You can hang individual planters from awnings or on walls, or use multi-tiered plant stands to save floorspace. Keeping container plants also means that you can take them indoors when the seasons change. That way, you won’t have to worry about your plants adjusting to cooler weather.

Creating a backyard oasis is all about creating a space to relax, recharge and enjoy nature in comfort. These are just a few ways to transform your backyard regardless of the size or layout. Adding your own personal touch will make your backyard a place you want to spend as much time as possible.

Posted in Backyard Oasis
Aug. 3, 2021

Transform Your Outdoor Space

Posted in Marketing
July 30, 2021

Placing Wall Décor

Decorating the walls in your home should be fun, but when it comes to hanging larger pieces of art or décor, it’s easy to feel a bit intimidated. Of course, hanging a small clock can be as simple as sticking a nail in the wall. But what should you do about that wall mirror you just purchased? Or the hanging plant that’s starting to become…well, a sitting plant? I want to help you make all your wall decorating dreams come true. This lists the tools you’ll need to place heavier items while walking you through simple steps for actually hanging the pieces — and how to plug up the nail holes when you move them.

Happy decorating!

 

Posted in Marketing
July 30, 2021

The Importance Of Pre-Approval

Posted in Market Updates
July 27, 2021

Tips for Selling your Home

July 15, 2021

New Construction Home Builders: What to Look For

 

When you're looking for a home builder, you might be tempted to base your decision largely on bids. While price is important, there are a few more factors to take into consideration.

Number of Homes Built

A new home builder should have plenty of projects in their credit, though they don't necessarily have to be official contracts. From Habitat for Humanity to home renovations, the idea is to look for someone who has shown a passion for solving new construction problems. Ideally, you'll be able to hire a crew that has been in the industry for decades, but this isn't always an option depending on your budget and location. Luckily, there are ways to ensure quality without having to put your dreams on delay.

Areas of Expertise

General contractors are able to handle most builds without incident. If you've chosen a standard floorplan without a lot of flourishes, you might only need to verify that the contractor is comfortable with the blueprints and doesn't foresee any major problems. However, certain builds, such as craftsman or customized homes, may require specific experience. Finally, find out the builder's policies on special requests. For instance, if you find the perfect sink in an old auction, is the crew willing to install it even though it goes against the original plans?

Energy Savings

Energy savings translate to utility bill savings. The construction industry has been somewhat notorious in the past for sticking with traditional building methods, but it's slowly come around to incorporate more environmentally friendly technology. If your builder is all about reducing energy costs, it's only going to benefit you in the end. This may mean using local materials to save on transportation energy, installing efficient appliances or getting you a great deal on some solar panels.

Inspection Policies

All homebuilders have to subject their work to official inspections at the end of the build. When you're looking for the right company, you should be taking into account their overall transparency. For example, are you able to visit the site whenever you would like? Would the builders mind if you happened to take a friend who knew a lot about construction?

Builders who don't allow this aren't necessarily trying to hide anything - they may just have liability concerns for your safety on an active construction site. This is more about how they plan to keep you in the loop. Whether it's drones, photos, or on-site inspections, you should ideally be able to follow the process from beginning to end.

Final Price

An estimate is nothing more than an educated guess. You want to find out how the final prices are determined and if certain items are subject to change. For instance, if the price of lumber takes a steep hike in a month, how will this affect you? Some builders will absolve you of those costs, but others will factor in the increases.

Good Reviews

Checking on a builder's reputation should go beyond looking at their internet presence. If you can talk to any of their past clients this can give you a better idea of the quality of their work and their customer service. If possible, ask the builder for references.

Were there any issues that came up at final inspection? Can you get your questions answered in a timely manner? How does the builder communicate roadblocks to the project? If there's bad weather, what's the protocol for protecting the workers and the build from harm? You're not likely to get this level of detail from a blurb on an independent review site.

It's always good to trust your gut instincts when it comes to home builders. First and foremost, you want to make sure you do the work now so you can avoid headaches later. New home builds can run very smoothly when you're in the right hands.

July 8, 2021

Average Costs for Remodeling a Home with Minor Upgrades

When you want to upgrade your home, you don’t have to do a bunch of big, costly changes. Minor upgrades allow you to give your home an updated appearance and improve its functionality while spending less money and time overall. Even though minor upgrades cost less than major ones, it’s still important to determine a budget. This can help you decide which upgrades to make based on how much you can afford. The following are the average costs to make minor upgrades in different parts of your home. Keep in mind that these costs can vary depending on certain factors, such as the materials you use.

Minor Kitchen Upgrades

Minor kitchen upgrades have an average cost overall of $23,452, but you can expect to recover around 77 percent of this cost when selling your home. Smaller changes that are considered minor upgrades for this part of your home include changing your lighting, refinishing or painting your cabinets and cupboards, replacing your faucet and adding a backsplash. These changes fall within the range of $5,000 to $30,000 overall. Other smaller changes, such as getting new appliances or replacing your kitchen floor, can cost between $30,000 and $65,000.

Minor Bathroom Upgrades

Minor bathroom upgrades have an average cost of $21,377 overall, but you might recoup up to 64 percent of this cost. Some minor changes you might make to your bathroom include refinishing the tub, replacing the faucet, refinishing or painting the cabinets, changing lighting fixtures, replacing hardware and replacing the flooring in smaller bathrooms. How much can you expect to spend on these upgrades? Making upgrades to your tub can cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as a few thousand, depending on the changes you’re making. Floors can cost between $800 and $3,600 overall, while new light fixtures can cost between $120 and $1,700.

Minor Bedroom Upgrades

Minor bedroom upgrades are typically cost-effective, since you’re not dealing with plumbing or other elements. You might need minor electrical work done if you’re going to update your outlets and light fixtures or do similar upgrades. Other minor remodeling projects for bedrooms include replacing the floor, painting walls and ceilings and adding built-in storage to closets or other areas. Minor bedroom remodeling can cost around $1,500, but this depends on the changes you’re making. Adding high-end floors, for example, might cost between $1,500 and $4,500, while painting might only cost a few hundred dollars.

Minor Living Room Upgrades

Living rooms rarely require costly upgrades as kitchens and bathrooms do. You might only need to give the walls and ceiling a fresh coat of paint or put in a new floor to upgrade your living room. You might also want to add or replace light fixtures, add a ceiling fan or replace light switches and outlets. Some of these tasks might cost a few thousand, such as installing a new floor, depending on the material and size of the room. However, most of these projects only cost a few hundred dollars, such as painting the room or updating the outlets and light switches.

July 1, 2021

WELLMANS CONSTRUCTION

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