River’s favorite dog spots in Raleigh

I’ve had my golden retriever, River, for about nine months and we’ve found some awesome places in Raleigh to explore together. I’m going to share our favorite locations and what we like most about each one.

Dorothea Dix Dog Park 

This is my go-to spot to take River. Located in a large, fenced-in field at Dorothea Dix Park near downtown Raleigh, this dog park is a wonderful place to go because of how many friendly dogs and owners are always there. River recently met two new dog friends named Beau and Beasley while I sat at a picnic table and chatted with their owner, Miranda. It’s so fun to be able to meet adorable dogs and friendly owners, especially when it’s a fellow golden retriever mom like me! Compared to the other places I’ll be sharing, this one doesn’t have as many places to sit or as much shade, but it’s a wonderful spot to take your dog if you’d like them to run around freely with a bunch of four-legged friends.

Dorothea Dix Dog Park

Oakwood Dog Park 

This dog park will be perfect for a hot summer day because of how shaded it is, and there are plenty of picnic tables to sit at while your dog plays. There’s also a swinging bench that’s great for relaxing or reading a book. If your dog is a fan of water like mine, there’s a kiddy pool for them to cool off in so be prepared to bring some towels for the ride home! River will jump into any body of water she finds (fountains, puddles, creeks, etc.) so always keep a towel in my Jeep just in case.

Oakwood Dog Park

While you’re in this area, I highly recommend taking a stroll around Historic Oakwood. I love to go for a walk around the neighborhood and check out all the beautiful, historic homes and the perfectly maintained yards with blooming flowers.

Lake Johnson 

This is a wonderful place for a long walk or a run on-leash with your dog. The shaded paths through the woods at Lake Johnson are a beautiful getaway in nature. There are also places to sit and just enjoy water views.

North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) Trails

We love the North Carolina Museum of Art for a walk on-leash with beautiful sights to enjoy. I always begin with River by the museum then make our way down the hills to the greenway trails that are connected to the museum grounds. If you’d like a long walk or jog, the trails continue either past Meredith College or up the House Creek Greenway Trail.

NCMA Trails

Millbrook Exchange Dog Park

If you live in North Raleigh, Millbrook Exchange Dog Park is a great place too. I like this dog park because it has a covered picnic area and plenty of benches. Also half the space is wooded, and half is wide open, so you have the option of hanging out in the sun or the shade.

What are your favorite places to take your dog? Let me know! I’m always looking for new places to take River. I hope you enjoyed reading about our favorite spots.

This is why we bring plenty of towels. Never know what she’ll get into at the dog park…

I’m Jacqueline Lee and I’m a REALTOR® in Raleigh, NC assisting home buyers and sellers. If you’re new to the area or thinking of moving here and have questions about Raleigh, let’s talk! I can be reached at 336-354-3090 or jacqueline@societyrealtygroup.com.

Society Real Estate’s partnership with local charities

At Society Real Estate, we have partnered with CASA and A Lotta Love to support their causes of combatting homelessness right here in the Triangle. Here’s how we support their mission:

  • A percentage of every commission we earn is earmarked to go into our charity fund. Every quarter that fund is evenly disbursed to each of our charity partners.
  • Our team will participate in volunteer days, assist with special events, fundraisers, and joint marketing through social media, printed advertising, etc.
  • To draw additional attention to these wonderful organizations by hosting an Awareness Social on a quarterly basis.

CASA works to help people get on their feet after experiencing homelessness by building and managing affordable housing, which provide opportunities for successful living. If you’d like to make a donation directly to CASA, click here.

A Lotta Love is an organization that works on re-designing and decorating homeless shelters to make the spaces more comforting and safe for those in this temporary environment. Most recently, their organization has completed a project in partnership with The Compass Center in Orange County called Lotta’s Place, which is a safe house for women escaping abuse and domestic violence. If you’d like to make a donation directly to A Lotta Love, click here.

I love that a mission of my firm is to give back directly to our community to help those in need in the Triangle. While our events to promote these charities are on hold because of the impacts of the pandemic, we are still providing support to these groups financially during this challenging time. We can’t wait to be able to jump into planning more events to raise awareness for their causes and giving hands-on help again.

If you’d like to learn more about our partnership with these charities, or have any real estate related questions, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Jacqueline@societyrealtygroup.com • 336-354-3090

Steps for beginning the home buying process

Have you had thoughts about buying your first home but don’t know how that process works or how to get started? First of all, I’m happy to speak with anyone who has questions about starting this process. I can also provide information about recent market activity in the Triangle or even a specific neighborhood you’re interested in.

Buying your first home is a major life event and can be intimidating when beginning to seriously look. That’s why licensed and trained professionals such as myself and a qualified mortgage lender are here to navigate you through this process so you’re prepared to buy your dream home.

The first step generally would be to figure out what you could afford for a home. Scott Mulder with Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC is a mortgage consultant who has helped several of my clients. Even if they’re not quite ready to buy yet, he’s talked to some of my clients to give them an idea of what they can afford for a house and what their monthly payments would look like.

Along with helping a buyer determine what they can afford and what their monthly payments would be, he can also assess a buyer’s credit report to give advice on ways to improve their credit to put them in the right position over time to buy. He doesn’t have to pull someone’s credit to do this. You can just go to annualcreditreport.com to obtain your report and share it with Scott for him to help. If needed, there are also credit repair companies for a variety of situations that you can use for more help with improving your credit score.

There are even free online classes available with information about buying a home for the first time. Scott recommends taking this online class and saving the information in case it is needed for your future loan: https://homeready.frameworkhomeownership.org/

Anyone who subscribes to my blog with their email after reading this post will be sent a free “Home Buyer’s Guide” from Scott at Prosperity. It outlines every step with obtaining a loan, definitions to basic mortgage terms, and information about different types of loans.

When I start working with a buyer, we have a conversation about what they’re looking for in a home. We discuss price point, size of the home, location, and every other detail that’s important for their search. Even if you’re not quite ready to buy yet, it’s helpful to start looking to know what you’re able to buy where you’re looking and what you want. Maybe you’ve been dreaming of owning a home in Five Points in Raleigh. Then you’d want to know what to expect for how much homes typically go for in that area to see if it fits your budget and your needs. 

I have several friends who have let me know they’re not quite at the point of buying, but they’d like to in the future and have certain criteria for what they’re looking for. I take time to check if anything I think they’d love comes up and send them the information on it to keep them updated on what’s coming on the market. I’ll also update them on the statistics about market conditions and real estate activity in the neighborhood they are interested in. 

When it comes to actually showing homes, there are several options for conducting showings. With all the precautions in place for the pandemic, I’ve met clients at a showing with us wearing masks and sanitizing throughout homes. I’ve also done plenty of virtual showings on a live FaceTime call and by taking videos to share with clients.

For clients I have who are in more of a time crunch for finding a home, I’ve also often previewed a home on my own to make sure it was worth the time of my client before us going to see it together. Currently with how the market is in Raleigh, there is a shortage of inventory and buyers are finding themselves in multiple offer situations. I help stay on top of navigating these situations by checking often what new has come on the market and going to see a property on my own as soon as possible if I think a client could be interested. 

There are so many other services that I provide when I work through the process of finding a buyer a home, but I’ve highlighted a few. The goal is for me to make your experience as stress-free as possible and to handle the leg work of finding your home. At the end of the day, this should be a fun, exciting process! 

If you’d like more information about how I work with home buyers or have any general questions about purchasing a home, please contact me. Scott and I are happy to chat on the phone or meet for coffee to talk. 

Jacqueline Lee – jacqueline@societyrealtygroup.com – 336-354-3090

Scott Mulder – Scott.Mulder@phmloans.com – 919-819-5636 

Also, remember to subscribe to my blog to be sent a copy of the home buyer’s guide from Prosperity Mortgage.

Jacqueline Lee, Society Real Estate

Da Kine’s Kava: Durham’s Alcohol-free bar

When I heard there was an alcohol-free bar that opened in Durham, I was very excited to check it out since I don’t drink. I still go out with friends to bars sometimes, but bars often don’t have a wide range of fun, non-alcoholic options and just ordering a coke or club soda with a lime can get old.

Zoey Best, Co-Owner of Da Kine’s Kava said she and her husband Brent wanted to open their bar to be a space for people to go and socialize, but without the booze. They wanted it to appeal to anyone, whether you drink or not, to be a space to grab an alternative drink option and relax. And relaxing is just what Kava makes you do.

I’d never heard of Kava, so I was very curious to check it out. I drove out to Durham, and got to Da Kine’s which is located on Chapel Hill St. in Durham, right near downtown. The building has big garage doors they can open when the weather is nice, and all the decorations and furniture give the bar a beachy vibe.

Zoey and Brent love the beach, and they wanted the atmosphere to feel like a laid back, beach getaway. I am happiest when I’m at the beach, so I loved the feel of hanging out there.

I’m sure anyone who hasn’t tried Kava is wondering what it is and why people drink it. If you visit the Da Kine’s Kava website, you’ll read, “Kava is the common name of the tropical shrub Piper methysticum, which grows in the Pacific Islands. When ingested the kavalactones in kava roots provide natural stress-relief, reduce anxiety, and promote a state of mental well-being and physical relaxation.”

When I tried it, I ordered a Kava cocktail called Haleakala Sunrise, which is a mix of their Guava Colada bottled Kava with a strawberry drizzle. On top of the drink being absolutely delicious and refreshing, my experience with drinking Kava for the first time was that it made me feel relaxed and mellowed out both physically and mentally.

Da Kine’s also serves a variety of other drinks which you can check out on their online bar menu. You can also take home bottled Kava, in flavors such as Hibisbus Lemonade, Cucumber Mojito, Traditional Kava and more.

Not only do they offer Kava, but also plenty of other non-alcoholic options including alcohol-free wine and beer, mocktails, coffee, and a variety of teas. So if you try Kava and aren’t a fan or prefer to have another type of alcohol-free drink, there are plenty of options.

If you’re interested in visiting Da Kine’s Kava, they are open from 12pm-8pm Tuesday – Sunday, with late night hours until 10pm on Friday and Saturday. They are located at 1114 W Chapel Hill St, Durham, NC 27701.

I loved this place, and I’ll definitely be driving from Raleigh to make this a regular hang out spot for myself! It feels like a relaxing, beachy getaway without having to go all the way to the beach.

Interested in buying or selling real estate? I’m happy to talk on the phone or meet for coffee to have a discussion about how I can help. Reach out anytime at 336-354-3090 or jacqueline@societyrealtygroup.com

Safe and fun Halloween events in Raleigh 🎃👻💀

Halloween has always been my favorite time of year. If you love this holiday as much as I do, I think it’s perfectly fine to dress up at home this year and have a spooky photoshoot. But if you’re looking for festive events, I’ve put together a list of things to do around Raleigh.

Local businesses are working hard to get creative with ideas to still plan events that allow for social-distancing and keeping guests safe. Check these out:

  1. Mordecai Beverage Co. is playing Halloween movies along with having food trucks. Tonight (Oct. 16th) they’re streaming Hocus Pocus. October 30th will be the original Halloween.
  2. Coglin’s Slasher Nights Halloween Party. Tonight (Oct. 16th) Coglin’s is throwing a Halloween themed party on their giant, outdoor patio. There will be a dj and a costume contest with a $300 prize! Enter by 8pm, judging by 9pm. Coglin’s would also be fun to hang out on their Halloween decorated patio on Halloween night.
  3. Transfer Co. Halloween Night Market. Transfer Co. Food Hall will be holding a pop-up Halloween market with local vendors on Halloween day from 2pm-6pm. Transfer has always been one of my favorite downtown spots. It would be fun to get dressed up with your best Halloween mask and shop around the market. 
  4. Great Raleigh Trolley “Laugh to Death: Raleigh’s Comedy Ghost Tour.” Wear a costume and mask for this Halloween themed comedy tour. Bring your own beer, wine, or non-alcoholic drinks for the ride.
  5. Raleigh Beer Garden is hosting Halloween trivia night on October 28th and a dog costume contest on October 30th.
  6. See a drive-in movie at Raleigh Road Outdoor Theatre. This drive-in movie theatre is located about an hour outside of Raleigh. They have a wide variety of Halloween movies scheduled to play including Casper, Dracula, Halloween, Scream, Paranormal Activity,and The Ring. A mask is required to be worn when outside of your vehicle. 
  7. Shakori Hills Haunted Hills Terror Drive. This offers a haunted house experience, but all from the comfort and safety of your car. To set a spooky vibe, guests listen to an audio recording in their car about “The Legend of Haunted Hills,” then ride through the attraction. The driving experience is meant to be scary and creepy, but none of the staff will ever try to touch you or your vehicle. 
  8. Haunted Walking Tour with Tobacco Road Tours. The “Raleigh Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour” is a 1.5-mile, family friendly walking tour that meets downtown and talks about the spooky history of places such as the Yarborough House and Haywood Hall. 
  9. Crossroads Corn Maze. Walk through a corn maze, hang out at fire pits, and go on a hay ride for a less spooky Halloween option, if you scare easily.
  10. Panic Point, Woods of Terror, and Spookywoods. Now if you’re really into Halloween and like scary attractions (like I do) then you’d want to check out one of these. Panic Point is the closest attraction, located about forty minutes outside of Raleigh. However, if you don’t mind the drive I’d highly recommend checking out Woods of Terror in Greensboro. Check out their Instagram account @thewoodsofterror, and you’ll see why it’s worth the drive. If you like scary attractions, this is the place to go. If you’re already going out that way, you could also go to Spookywoods. Each of these places have taken new precautions for keep visitors safe, so wear a mask and enjoy being scared. 

At least with Halloween, it’s the most appropriate time to wear a cool mask. I’m looking forward to seeing how creative people are with masks that look cool and keep people safe. Leave a comment to share your halloween plans or what you’re dressing up as!

Jacqueline Lee, Realtor



Quick Video Market Update

Are you considering buying or selling a home in Raleigh and are curious about the market? Watch my video where I review a few recent statistics about the Triangle real estate market. The information I reference comes from the T.A.R.R. report, provided by Stacey Anfindsen.

Overall, with historically low interest rates and a strong market in the Triangle, now is absolutely the time to buy or sell. Raleigh continues to grow and attract people to move here because of it’s affordability and the lifestyle it provides. From experiencing living conditions brought on by the pandemic, the Triangle continues to be appealing for homeowners by providing the chance to live in a vibrant city with plenty to offer, while having a work-at-home space and private amenities such as a spacious backyard.

If you have any questions about starting the home buying or selling process, leave a comment on this post or reach out to me at jacqueline.lee@bhhsysu.com. I can also answer questions about the statistics I review in my video or provide more information from the report.

Recorded on Sept. 19, 2020

Jacqueline Lee, Realtor



Seaboard Cafe: Where the locals eat

If you’re looking for a relaxed, outdoor lunch in a beautiful setting, Seaboard Cafe is a Raleigh establishment you do not want to miss. The cafe is located inside Logan’s Garden Shop at Seaboard Station, which gives the restaurant a very unique atmosphere.

If you’ve never been to Logan’s, it’s a charming garden shop right near downtown Raleigh. Every time I dine at the cafe, I take time to walk around Logan’s to look at the plants. Sometimes I end up buying a plant or some type of home decor, and other times I use this as a break in my day from work to clear my mind and appreciate the beautiful nature of this peaceful spot.

Once I’ve had some time to explore the plant selection, I make my way over to the cafe to eat. Though sometimes I do this in reverse order, depending on how hungry I am!

On top of the food being absolutely delicious, the cafe staff is very friendly. Cafe owner, Rick Perales, calls his staff the “heart of my cafe.”

Rick greets customers as he takes their food orders, extending kindness and hospitality to every person, which brightens up my day. This is the kind of spot where you can tell there are many regulars, and Rick makes a point to say hi to each one by name. He’s always eager to welcome new guests, and it makes dining here feel like you’re really part of the local, Raleigh community.

But it’s time to talk about the food! I have several dishes I like to order. My favorite sandwich is called “Veggies on Sunflower Bread,” which comes with cheddar and swiss cheese layered with lettuce, red onion, tomato, sprouts, mayo, cucumber and pickle. You can order this sandwich cold or grilled. I like both, depending on what I’m craving. They also have delicious soups. One that’s perfect right now for it being so hot out is their chilled gazpacho soup.

Pictured below is the grilled “Veggies on Sunflower Bread,” which comes with their famous pickled carrots on the side. Honestly, I’m not even a fan of carrots and I think they’re amazing.

If you’re ordering a sandwich, you have to order a cup of their homemade soup or a muffin. Muffins are baked from scratch by kitchen staff member, Yemi, and include flavors such as pumpkin, Jalapeño cheddar corn, or chocolate chip. Or if you’re a big fan of raspberries like I am, they offer a very unique pasta salad that has a raspberry-dijon sauce.

The cafe also has daily features of different sandwiches and salads that they change regularly. Rick said some of their most popular items are the chicken and tuna salad. One grilled sandwich comes with tuna salad and cranberries, which makes for a savory/sweet combo.

Rick and his staff have been working hard to serve customers efficiently and safely during the current conditions of the pandemic. You can order takeout by calling in at 919-821-7553 or ordering online through their website. Also you can order from your phone by downloading the “Seaboard Cafe” app. The app is very helpful, and easy to use.

Rick’s staff is diligent about sanitizing the kitchen and restaurant and employees are required to wear masks. While there is indoor seating, the majority is outdoors which makes for safe, socially distanced dining.

Hungry yet? I sure am after writing this. Go visit Seaboard Cafe and try this delicious food! You’ll leave having enjoyed a wonderful meal, and feel relaxed and happy after experiencing the beautiful atmosphere of this cafe and roaming the flower shop. This is a charming Raleigh spot that will make you feel like a true local.

The cafe is open Monday-Saturday from 11:00am-2:30pm. Closed on Sunday.

Jacqueline Lee



My favorite Raleigh stores to shop local and safely

I love to shop, and it’s important to me to support local businesses in Raleigh right now with the impact of the pandemic. Local stores in Raleigh are working hard to find inventive ways for people to shop safely, and I want to highlight a few here with some of my favorite products.

Edge of Urge, located near Historic Oakwood on Franklin Street is offering curbside pickup for orders and even puts your our order in a cute bag with tissue paper and ribbon. I’ve needed to find a few birthday presents for friends during the pandemic and I wanted to give them something special, so I bought an Edge of Urge “Treat Yo’self: Mystery Box” for each of them. This is an option on their website to have a hand-selected goodie bag of gifts put together either to pick up or to be shipped to the receiver. You can pick whatever price range you’d like to stay in for the box and add notes for specifications, such as any allergy concerns. This makes for such a unique, fun gift right now.

One store that’s so fun to browse around at is Deco, downtown on Hargett Street. They are allowing safe, in-store shopping by taking precautions for visitors. You can schedule an appointment to shop, but they are also take walk-ins while regulating how many people are in the store at a time. Guests check-in with a staff member at the front door and are given hand sanitizer. They are asked to place any items they’ve decided not to purchase into black shopping baskets scattered around the store to be sanitized. I’ve found all kinds of items here including fun jewelry, masks, pet accessories, Raleigh-themed gifts, and kitchenware. They also have very unique gift cards and books.

Located in Cameron Village, Bella Mar is currently my favorite store. If I want a new outfit to feel fabulous in, I can always find one there. I have many sides to my style depending on the mood I’m in, and I love that they have an edgy, cool vibe to their clothes. I’ve also found outfits that are very boho-chic. The store owner, Mercedes Rico, is very helpful while I shop to suggest how to style different outfits. The tan dress I’m wearing in one of my new headshots featured at the end of this post is from Bella Mar. It’s a beautiful dress I love because of its versatility to be dressed up or down, plus it was only about $36! Bella Mar is open for in-person shopping, mask required of course.

One thing I love to indulge in is a good scented candle. And I found my absolute favorites a while ago at a Moore Square Night Market from Light is Love, which are made in small batches right here in Raleigh. My favorite scents are Very Vanilla and Snickerdoodle. Follow them at @Lightislovecandles on Instagram for the latest available scents. Items are available for contactless pickup, or you can have them shipped.

The Flourish Market, downtown on Martin Street in the Warehouse District is a wonderful store, both for their products and for how beautifully decorated the store is. The coolest thing about this store to me is that many of the products sold promote a different cause or raise money to raise awareness about a social issue. In a video by WRAL Out and About, store owner Emily Sexton talks about the products she selects and how she wanted to make her space a store that advocates for and supports women. Along with having a wonderful message to promote, they sell amazing products. I mostly like to go for their jewelry. I’ve found very cute statement earrings and rings. But they have all sorts of gifts. I recently stopped in to purchase a gift for a couple who are having their first baby, and I found an adorable swaddling blanket to give them. They have in-store shopping as long as a mask is worn or currently they offer a flat rate of just $2.95 for shipping of orders.

Which local, Raleigh stores have been your favorite to shop at? Leave a comment on this post to share!

Everything I’m wearing in my new headshot below is from a local, Raleigh store:

Dress: Bella Mar

Necklace: Revolver Boutique

Shoes: Fifi’s of Cameron Village

Jacqueline Lee, Realtor



Selling and buying a home at the same time

Recently I had someone visit an open house I hosted who had an important concern many home sellers express. They were concerned about the process of selling their home at the same time as buying another. They asked, “What if our home sells before we find our new one?” 

I’m going to walk through the pros and cons of different scenarios for how this could go. It’s important to keep in mind that every transaction is different, and something unexpected could always come up with the potential to change the outcome. But knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each situation can help you decide which strategy best suits your situation and personality.

1) Planning to close both transactions on the same date (home you’re selling and home you’re buying)


  • Eliminates the need to find temporary housing 
  • Prevents your furniture from having to be moved twice: saves moving costs and decreases the chance for damage to items


  • There is the possibility for something to go wrong in either transaction, which could change either closing date or prevent a closing from happening altogether
  • By having the pressure to keep both closing dates the same, you are limited in your buying options to what’s available only during that time and you may have to settle for your new home instead of finding one you are in love with
  • If the other party in either transaction is aware that you’re trying to meet two closing dates on the same day, it’s possible that the other party could leverage this fact and use it against you in negotiations

Advice: It’s possible for this scenario to play out where both closings occur on the same day as according to plan. But it’s important to approach this situation knowing something may happen to change the outcome. Ask yourself if you can handle the stress that the outcome may be different than you expected or if one of the next scenarios I explore would be better suited for you. Also, a REALTOR® and an experienced mortgage lender are invaluable to help with this process. 

2) List your home and close, then move to temporary housing


  • More time to explore options for your new home
  • Ability to rent beyond the closing date of new home, which allows more time to prepare your the new home and move at your convenience
  • You won’t have the stress of of relying on two properties closing on the same day
  • It prevents the other party from having leverage in negotiations as mentioned in the first scenario
  • Will give you more negotiating leverage on the home you purchase


  • You will have to move twice
  • Incurring more moving costs
  • Adjusting to living in a smaller house rental or apartment could be a challenge for people who have a larger family
  • Can be problematic to find a rental when you have pets because some rentals won’t allow them, or have restrictions on the size and breed

Advice: This situation could be more ideal than the first scenario if you are stressed about finding a new home you will love in a shorter time period. If you are worried about the task of finding a rental, that’s something a REALTOR® can help you with as well. I am happy to help my clients with finding temporary housing for the time period between their moves.

3) Buy first, then sell your current home afterward


  • No need for temporary housing
  • Essentially no time constraint for finding your new home
  • Gives more negotiating leverage with the seller (for example, most sellers in a seller’s market are hesitant to accept the contingency of selling another property)
  • You’re able to move belongings to your new home, vacating the home you need to sell. This allows you to do necessary repairs which could help you earn more profit in the marketplace.


  • You have to be financially capable of doing this
  • Your old home may take more time to sell than you anticipated. If you have a mortgage on that property, you could potentially have two house payments for longer than you planned.

Advice: Talk with a REALTOR® to begin the process of preparing your home to sell, competitively pricing the home, and designing an effective marketing plan. Seek their advice for a qualified mortgage lender. This way you have advice and opinions from professionals about what to expect with the sale of your home, and you’re ready to start this process right when you need to.

4) Sell your current home, but with the contingency that you are able to keep possession of your current home until a certain date after the closing


  • Allows more time to move into new home


  • Not many cons to the seller, but this situation is not attractive to buyers

Advice: This option is not impossible to do, but most buyers simply will not agree to let the sellers stay in the home after it closes. Buyers are apprehensive about the condition the sellers may leave the property in, and then the buyers would have no leverage as they did prior to closing.

These are all just possible scenarios you may find yourself in as you’re selling and buying at the same time. If you’ve decided to start this process but are concerned about how it will play out, it’s important to talk to your REALTOR® to have an idea for what to expect in different situations. It’s much less stressful to go into any of these scenarios with a heads up for what to expect. It’s also important to know which approach to selling and buying at the same time fits your personality and situation best. 

If you have any questions about anything I’ve discussed, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Jacqueline Lee, Realtor



Beginning the process of building a custom home

Have you been thinking of building a custom home but aren’t sure how to get started? I’m going to discuss the process of working with a custom home builder to give an overview of the steps for this process and give advice for the best way to approach building your dream home. 

As I’ve discussed in previous posts, I’ve grown up around the home building business. My dad, Jonathan Lee, has been building custom homes in Winston-Salem with the business he started twenty-five years ago, Homes by Jonathan Lee

I’ve gotten to see so many of his projects and accompany him and my mom along to meetings with their clients. And some of those clients have become very close friends or even like family to us. I remember always enjoying going with my mom to deliver a gift basket to a client after they moved in to congratulate them. That’s the kind of care and thoughtfulness that left a great impression on me and has formed how I run my business as a realtor. 

The thought of beginning the process of a custom build home can be overwhelming, but that’s what I’m here to help you through. I collaborated with my dad for us both to put together the following steps and advice to give anyone who’s curious about beginning this exciting process.

The first part of this process would be to determine a budget for your home. This involves a few steps. If you already own a home, a realtor can help determine what your home is likely to sell for. Having an idea for the potential amount you could sell your home for will get you started with determining the price range for the new home.

Then you would need to meet with a mortgage lender who will be able to help you determine what you can afford with a new home. They can show what your monthly mortgage payments would be to ensure that you will be comfortable with a certain price range. 

Along with determining the budget for your new home, you’ve got to decide where you’d like your home to be built. Would you want to live in a subdivision with a community pool and an HOA? Would you prefer to live on a more secluded lot with higher acreage? If you need help with this part of the process, realtors are available for assistance with helping you find the perfect lot. We are able to help with this stage because of our resources with finding available lots and knowledge of locations we specialize in.

Now at this point, if you’ve met with a lender and determined your budget and located an area or specific lot where you’d like to build, then it would be time to select your builder. 

Jonathan recommends interviewing at least two-three builders to help determine who’s the best fit for you. This involves talking with them, asking any questions you have, and checking their references. You want to ask each one what their building process is like as well. He said sometimes people will select their lot and house plans then put out a bid for builders. He does not recommend doing this. If you’re committing to a custom home build, you’re not going to get a quality end product and exactly what you want by choosing a builder solely off of who is offering to do the job for the least expensive cost. On top of that, this is a lengthy process you’re going to want to be working on with someone who you get along with.

“The process of building a home is going to involve almost a year-long relationship with that builder so this needs to be someone you trust and get along with,” said Jonathan. “In the end, you want to select someone you feel the most comfortable with and who you feel most confident that you’ll have the best experience with.”

Once you’ve gotten past the step of selecting your builder, it’s time to design the home with them. If you’ve been thinking about building a custom home, then most likely you’ve saved many pictures, magazines, or started a Pinterest board with inspiration for your home. This is where it’s time to show them exactly how you want your home to look. 

“Show the builder pictures of what you like,” said Jonathan. “Communication and getting feedback is key.” 

Sometimes potential new clients come to him with house plans already in mind that they found online or in a magazine, but if not he helps them with selecting house plans for the layout of the home. 

Once you’ve worked with your builder and designed your home, the builder will quote it and give a price for the project. In general, most builders will require a 10% deposit on the home for starting the project. If paying cash, then you’d move forward from there. If obtaining a loan, once you have plans and a contract with a builder, then your lender would begin the loan approval and underwriting process which usually takes thirty to forty-five days. 

If the thought of tackling these steps and getting started on a custom build stresses you out, don’t be! This should be a fun, exciting experience and it’s up to professionals such as the builder, lender, and I to make sure this process is as stress-free as possible for you. We are there to always be available, see you through every part of this process and take any stressful situations that arise off your hands. 

“This should be a fun, enjoyable process. A good builder, realtor, and lender are the keys to a successful project. By using the professionals, you will have a better building experience and a better home built,” said Jonathan. 

If you have any questions about building a custom home or would like to get started on this process, I’m happy to help. I’m always available to introduce you to a mortgage lender, find a lot to build, and connect with home builders.

Jacqueline Lee, Realtor