CSRA Real Estate News & Market Trends

One of the main goals of our company is to provide you with pertinent market data to assist you in all of your real estate needs. We strive to keep our website up to date with the latest news and trends for you, our valuable customer. We hope you’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about our community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all.

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Mike Woodward and Staff

Woodward & Associates Real Estate Group


Dec. 6, 2017

USDA Loans Are A Great Option For Buyers In Rural Areas

USDA loans provide great option for home buyers on the edge of suburbia!

USDA loans (also referred to as Rural Development loans) are backed, directly guaranteed or insured by the Department of Agriculture to support affordable housing in less developed areas.

Zero percent down

The first major feature of a USDA loan is the ability for homebuyers to get into a home without a down payment. Although not limited to first-time homebuyers, this could be particularly attractive for younger buyers who have a steady job, but not much in savings.


If buyers have an existing USDA loan, they can take advantage of a rate-term refinance to get lower rates without the need for existing equity. Cash-out refinances aren’t available.

Low guarantee fees

Guarantee fees are much lower than the similar fees on loans backed by the FHA. Let’s do a quick comparison:


  • With a USDA loan, there’s a 1 percent upfront guarantee fee compared to a 1.75 percent upfront mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for FHA loans. In both cases, buyers can finance the upfront fee in their loan.
  • USDA loans carry a 0.35 percent guarantee fee on the unpaid principal balance each fiscal year. For FHA loans, buyers pay an annual 0.85 percent MIP fee if they made a minimum 3.5 percent down payment on their home purchase.

USDA loan qualification requirements

As with any loan, USDA loan borrowers must meet certain requirements to qualify.

In order to take advantage of this loan option, homebuyers need to be looking to buy a single-unit primary residence in a qualifying area. These can be rural areas or even the outskirts of suburbia. The USDA has an eligibility map on its website (areas not in orange are USDA loan eligible). Working farms do not qualify.

USDA loans also come with some financial requirements

Homebuyer household income can’t exceed more than 115 percent of the area median income. If the household includes more than four members (adults and children), it may qualify with a slightly higher income. Homebuyers can deduct childcare expenses from this income tabulation, as well as income from a portion from any adult full-time student.

Contact us with any further questions you may have about USDA eligible homes!


Woodward & Associates

Posted in Home Buying
Nov. 22, 2017

Home Buyer Tips

First Time Home Buyers Guide

Considering buying your first home? Most likely the purchase of a home will be the largest purchase of your life. Not only will it be the largest, it can be one of the most daunting tasks if you are not prepared. Credit scores, down payments, mortgages, inspections, closing costs, etc. will all be on your mind. These are all realities that if prepared for, do not have to weigh you down. Here is a quick guide to help you better prepare yourself for this huge purchase.

Step 1: How Much Can You Afford?

The first step in the process should be to create a budget and determine if it is the right time to pursue your dream of home ownership. This can be an eye opening experience, but be honest and let the numbers guide you. Do not make the mistake of creating a budget based on income that you think you will be making in the future, but only on what you are bringing in right now. A general rule of thumb is to keep your total house payment under 30% of your monthly gross income. Some agents will disagree with me on this next concept, but I always encourage my clients to treat buying a home as an investment. Chances are you will not live in your home forever. Generally speaking, if you live in your home for at least five years, home ownership will pay off financially. 

Step 2: Prepare Your Finances

Once you determine you can afford home ownership don't rush out and start looking at houses yet. The last thing you want to happen is to find your dream home and then find out your credit score is in shambles. Check your credit! This can be done in several ways. You can get a free credit report, use a local Real Estate Professionals contacts, or contact your local bank. Referrals are, in my opinion, the best option for finding a great lender. Speaking on behalf of most Real Estate Professionals, we all have our "go-to" lenders who have proved themselves over and over with our previous clients. Once you have your credit pulled you are either ready to start looking or ready to start the credit re-build process. If you are ready to move on, go to the next step. If you are in the re-build category I encourage you to contact me. I have a colleague who has helped many of my clients pursue their dream of home ownership. He is a credit guru and can give you insight as to what has/is affecting your score and provide a plan to get it where it needs to be. 

Step 3: Begin Looking

Now that you've got your finances in order and you've determined how much you can afford, it's time to start looking. As of last year, 44% of home buyers found their home on the internet. With the help of sites that have IDX search tools, that pull directly from the MLS, most buyers never need to leave their homes to find the house they want. However, once you do find a house you are interested in, a Real Estate Professional should be your next contact. 88% of all home buyers use a Real Estate Agent for their home purchase. The reason for this is simple. Once a client relationship is established, a Real Estate Professional will provide certain fiduciary responsibilities to you, assist you in your home search, keep you abreast of current regulations, know local market conditions, negotiate on your behalf, adhere to a strict code of ethics, and help you navigate the complex documents associated with this tedious process. We encourage you to utilize our advanced search tool, which pulls directly from the MLS every 15 minutes. Click the link below and enjoy your search!

CSRA Advanced Search Tool


Nov. 15, 2017

Relocating To North Augusta

North Augusta Relocation Guide

Thinking of moving to North Augusta, SC. Here are some important things to consider about this beautiful, riverfront city. North Augusta encompasses parts of both Aiken and Edgefeield counties. It has a population of around 22,037. The median household income is $50,028 and the median home value is $150,600. North Augusta was ranked #38 of 192, best places to live in South Carolina. There are many great school choices which can be found here for Aiken County residents and here for Edgefield County residents. If public education is not an option, there are several charter/magnet schools to choose from as well. North Augusta prides itself on big city living with small town charm. It provides its residents an enhanced quality of life, due to its many amenities. It is considered an extremely active community, boasting miles of paved, greenway trails, a riverfront golf course, and a 94,000 square foot recreation  facility. In addition, Project Jackson will provide even more things to do after it's completion in the later part of 2018. With its superb location, quaint neighborhoods, and easy living, North Augusta would be an excellent place to call home!! 

Please let us know how we can help streamline your relocation to this wonderful area!

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July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

Receive the Latest Local Market Stats

Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.