About Donaldson Law Firm
Donaldson Law Firm is a Mount Pleasant law firm that represents clients in home closings, refinances, and home equity lines of credit. Rob and his team are friendly, accessible, and knowledgeable about the current market.
Born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Rob has lived in the Lowcountry his entire life, with the exception of his college and law school years. Rob graduated from Clemson in 1981, and the South Carolina School of Law in 1997. Before enrolling in law school, Rob spent many years running the Carolina Nurseries, Inc. in Moncks Corner until enrolling at the South Carolina School of Law in 1994. He founded Donaldson Law Firm and has been a practicing real estate attorney since graduating 1997. He is an active member of St. Andrews Church in Mt. Pleasant, and is a member of the South Carolina and Charleston County Bar Associations.
Rob lives in Mount Pleasant with his wife, Margaret, his son, Jenks, and his dog, Abby.
Donaldson Law Firm: Located in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
Donaldson Law Firm is located near the foot of the Ravenel Bridge in Mount Pleasant, so our office is centrally located for the Charleston area.
Nearly Everything You Need to Know
Known as an expert communicator, Rob works easily with lenders, real estate agents, buyers, and sellers, and explains the entire closing process in very helpful detail. Rob has compiled his best advice for home buyers and sellers in a free eBook, Buying, Selling, Refinancing in Charleston, SC: Nearly Everything You Need to Know. Topics include:
We Love First Time Buyers
Buying your first home can seem intimidating, but if you do your homework upfront you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the process. Here are some of Rob’s tips for first time homebuyers:
- Determine how much you want to spend
Don’t rush to the online affordability calculator yet. The very first thing you should do when you decide to buy a home is decide how much monthly mortgage payment you want to afford. That may be a different figure than what you can afford. For example online calculators and lenders will factor in many things, but they won’t factor in your golf habit, or Stitch Fix addiction, or that dream vacation. Don’t max out your disposable income – otherwise you’ll end up “house poor” and frustrated.
If you’re comfortable with your monthly rent, start with that figure. Lots of people are willing to give up some luxuries in order to own a home – and that’s okay. Just make sure you’ll still be happy with that decision down the road.
- Determine how much you can afford to spend
Once you know how much you’re comfortable spending, use an online calculator to get an estimate of how much you can afford to spend. If the number is higher than your comfort zone, you’ll have to exercise self control when home shopping. If it’s lower than what you thought, a Realtor can help you get the most bang for your buck.
- Check your credit
If you’re not already monitoring your credit through your bank’s online app or a separate app or service, you should be. You can get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from the three credit reporting agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Exquifax, by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. (This is the only government authorized website where you can do this.)
Check closely for errors. If you find an error, dispute it right away by writing a letter to the agency reporting the wrong information. Send the letter registered mail and keep a copy for your own records. By law, credit agencies have 30 days to confirm or fix incorrect information.
Once you’ve checked (and cleaned up) your credit report:
- Don’t open any new credit
From right now until the day you close on your home, don’t open any new credit. If you can improve your credit by cleaning up your report or paying down debt, that’s okay. Otherwise, try to keep your report static until you’re through the process.
- Decide on a down payment
There are a ton of reasons why putting 20% is a good idea. However, not everyone has had the time or ability to save that much. If you don’t have 20%, don’t worry. In the next step you’ll talk to a lender about getting preapproved and about the options for lower down payments.
- Get preapproved
Shop around for your mortgage by asking family and friends for recommendations. Lenders have different ways to be competitive, it’s a matter of finding which is right for you.
- Don’t forget closing costs
Your lender can give you an estimate of closing costs based on your estimated loan amount. You’ll need this money on closing day, so now is the time to start saving to avoid a last-minute panic.
One more thing: Wire transfer scams are increasingly common. Please read our blog post on how to avoid them near or on closing day. There are a lot of moving parts to home buying and it’s easy to get tricked by smart fraudsters.
Once you’ve completed the First Steps for Homebuyers checklist – you can call a Realtor and start shopping.