Monday, January 22, 2018

Government Shutdown- What Does This Mean for Real Estate?

It's hard to believe this is actually a thing, but yes, the National Government is closed.  Everyone has a different opinion on why, so I am not going to get into that.

I will say they've got things a little backwards.  They should be making sure that our troops and their families are getting paid, not Congress...  But what do I know?  I am just a Realtor.  Here's hoping they get this all figured out by February 1st.

But- back to the topic I am supposed to be talking about....

How is this government shutdown going to affect buyers and sellers?

The IRS- During a real estate transaction, tax returns and tax certificates are needed.  The employees who are still lucky enough to be working will have a million other essential obligations they are trying to tackle, and processing mortgage documents will not likely be near the top of the list.  That would mean that a transaction would essentially need to be put on hold until the documents can be obtained. More about that here.

VA Loans-  Luckily they fixed the problem here in the 90's.  Your lender can continue on as usual.  Order those appraisal, certificates of eligibility, and submit for the VA funding fee.  Again- if they don't have those necessary tax records, they could still be delayed. At least we've got this covered!  Go America! More here.

FHA Loan- The Federal Housing Authority will still be able to endorse loans during the shutdown, but they will have a very limited staff.  This could cause delays.  The longer the shutdown, the worse it will get.  They also won't be able to underwrite and approve loans.  That means if you haven't gotten final approval, you will have to wait till the shutdown ends before you can close on your home. More on that here.

USDA Loan- No additional loans will be be issued during the shutdown, and if they are not approved before the shutdown, they won't be funded until after the shutdown ends.  This basically means that if you planned on going USDA you just have to wait.  You can see more information here. 

The National Flood Insurance Program won't be able to issue flood insurance, Social Security numbers won't be able to be verified, and overall because of the shortage in staff in all of these programs, you'll need more time to close.

Obviously, that doesn't mean it's not possible.  The housing market will continue even without approvals, and as soon as everything comes back online- we will continue business as usual!

RE/MAX Patriot

Realtor #0650939

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Buying Vs Renting

What is the difference between renting and buying? 

Lets lay out the important factors and differences in Renting VS Buying, as well as the cost/return associated with each.

We will start with the important stuff!   Dolla Bills y'all.

Renting a Home
Deposit-       $1,200

Rent-           $1,200
1 Year Cost- $15,600

Return-            0$

You might get back your deposit if you're lucky.

How many years have you been renting? 5? 


That's if the rent doesn't go up every year.

That's not a lot of this.                                        

 But probably more of this.                     

Buying a Home With First Time Buyer Program/0$ Down Program

Home Price-                $160,000
Earnest money-           $1,600
Option Money-             $100
Inspections/appraisals- $700
Down Payment-           $0 (In addition- if you have a great realtor who can get you 
                                       closing costs and concessions- you could get your earnest
                                        money back at closing)
Payment-                    $1,200.00 (Starts 45-60 days after purchase, 10 months for the year)

Total Cost-                $14,400

Equity Earned-            $2,700 (this will go up every year as it is your principle payment)
Equity Gained -           $4,800 (3% market trend)

Return total-            $7,500

PLUS you can write off ALL your taxes when you file.  For the purpose of this example we used 3520$ which is San Antonio City taxes of 2.2%.

So you earned $7,500 in equity in your home, and got a tax write off for $3,520.

$11,020 that could have been thrown away in another year in a rental.

A little crazy when you put it all out there like that right?!  Plus you can move in whoever you want- no application fee.  You can have dogs and cats with no pet deposits.  you can paint your walls hot pink if you like.  It's your home, your investment, and your equity.  It stops becoming this bill you have to pay, and turns into your retirement, your down payment for the next bigger better home you'd like to buy.  So you can sit back and watch it grow.

That would give you a whole lot more of these.

  And you can stop doing this.

RE/MAX Patriot

Realtor #0650939


Monday, January 15, 2018

First Impressions- The Power in a Picture

Between 77% and 99% of home buyers start their search online, depending mostly on their generation.  That means the first glimpse they get of your home will be through photographs and a short message about your home.  This might be through social media, a home website, email, advertisement, the list goes on...  The fact is that the listing, the pictures, the information out there need to be accurate and actually GOOD.

Number one is photography.  These pictures are going to be what draws someone to buy your home.  Something as simple as the lighting being off can turn people away.  People like pretty things.  Shiny things.  Nice things.  So make that first impression the best that you can.

First off- Start with a professional photographer. The cost is minimal in comparison to the return. After all, the more exposure you get for your home, the more buyers looking, and the more people sending you offers.  When offers are competitive, you can be more selective.  Sell your home faster and for more money.  Which after all, is the ultimate goal.

I work with Mike Trigg at Mike Trigg Films.  His prices are competitive, and his work phenomenal!  We provide a free video walk through and professional photographs with every listing.

Just some do's and don'ts-

DO NOT use blurry photos.

DO use clear pictures with good lighting.  Don't take outside photos at night unless you are showcasing the lights. 

 DO NOT include photos that don't add value.

DO showcase highlights, fixtures, cabinets.  You don't need a pictures of a flat mirror, the toilet, the ceiling.  If you are not showing something great about the home- the photo is not doing it's job!

DO NOT use a fish eye lens.  Nothing good ever came from it.

DO use a wide lens.  It helps the viewer get a better grasp of size, and can even open up those smaller rooms.

DO NOT include the clutter.

DO take as much out of the homes as possible.  Include very minimal decor and nothing personal if you can.  Your style may not be the buyers, and some things can be hard to look past.

DO NOT use weird angled photos.
Do show the cool angles of the home!

Consider using a professional stager, and if you have a good Realtor, they'll have some tips and pointers for your listing as well!

Good luck, and happy selling!

RE/MAX Patriot
Realtor #0650939

Friday, January 12, 2018

Taxes- Exemptions are your best friend!

It's that time of year again!  

Time to file for your tax exemptions.  The fun stuff right?  Well, at least it will save you a little money.  It could even lower your monthly mortgage payments!

It's not too difficult.  Just make sure you have a copy of your ID with your home address on it, and fill out an application with the county you live in.  The applications are available at your local tax office, or on the websites here:

Bexar County 210.224.8511
Comal County 830.625.8597
Guadalupe County 830.303.3313
Medina County 830.741.3035
Bandera County 830.796.3039
Kendall County 830.249.8012
Hays County 512.268.2522

How much money can you save?  How does it work?

The current homestead exemption in Texas is $15k.  This means that if your home is appraised at $100k, you will be taxed less the $15k.  Or, $85k.  

There are several other exemptions to help lower your taxes as well.
65 and older exemptions, 100% disabled Vet exemptions, 10% or more disabled Vet exemptions, surviving spouse exemptions, Ag exemptions, wildlife exemptions....

It's quite a list!

You must own the home as of January 1st of the year you are applying for, and the cut off to apply is April 30th.  So get going!

RE/MAX Patriot
Realtor #0650939

Thursday, January 11, 2018

San Antonio Real Estate Market-It's Fast- Furious- and I don't mean anything about cars.

I know the frustrations all too well.

Your dream home comes on the market.  It's PERFECTLY in your price range.  And beautiful.  Maybe it's been updated with granite counter tops, maybe brand new wood floors, maybe it has that big back yard you've been looking for.  You look it over, LOVE it and wait till you and your husband are together to show him this amazing home.  

He loves it too.

You talk all night about where you are going to put your furniture.  Which kid will go in which room.  Check out the schools, the teachers, your neighbors.  It's HOME.

So the next morning you call the Realtor, tell her how much your family loves this home and how long you've been waiting on it. 

And guess what? It's under contract.

This happens all too often in the market right now.  Inventory is low (Seller's Market), but interest rates are still low (Buyer's Market?) which causes this frenzy of buyers to perfect homes that are priced right.

So how do we overcome it as a buyer?

Make sure you have a full time Realtor who is looking for that PERFECT home for you everyday.  Make sure they have you set up on a search that will automatically send you listings that match your criteria at least twice a day.

Don't wait.

If you see it, call your Realtor immediately.  Make the appointment for the soonest possible free moment you have.  See it on your lunch break, after work, before work, do a video showing with your Realtor.  If it is THE home, make it a priority to see it.

Once you have seen it, don't think about it too long.  Move quickly, because so will everyone else.  If this is the home you want, in the area you want, don't worry about the little details.  Paint can be changed, flooring can be changed, backyards can be re-sodded.  Look at the bones of the home.  Are the walls in the right place?  Is the school district what you wanted?  Is it a perfect commute to your job?  Does it have the space you need?  The neighborhood you want?

Be aggressive.

Don't sweat the small stuff.  That can be worked out in option.  Give a fair price and ask for fair concessions.

While you're working out the difference of that 500$ off the price of the home, another offer can come in at list price.  Was losing your home worth the 500$ difference?  Not usually.

Trust your Realtor.  AND make sure you have found a Realtor worth trusting.  This equation right here doesn't work for every home on the market.  If it's priced right, in good condition, you bet it will fly off the market as quick as it came on.

Don't forget- What is supposed to happen WILL happen.  If it wasn't your house, your house is still coming!

RE/MAX Patriot

Realtor #0650939

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Home Buying Process- Step by Step

If you are a first time home buyer, OR if it's been a long time since you've been through the process, this step by step guide is definitely something you need!  I include this list in my buyers packets as a guide and refer to it often.

  1. Hire a Realtor-You can sit up all night searching site after site on the internet, drive through the neighborhoods you would like to live in looking for signs, check the classifieds in your local paper.  OR- you can hire someone to do the searching for you.  Make sure it's someone you like and interview them for the job.  You want a good fit for you, they'll be in our lives for at least a month.  They'll also know the process, the forms, negotiating, and all about protecting your investment.
  2. Find a good lender.  Every Realtor has someone they work with regularly- and it's not just because they like them personally.  A good Realtor will use a lender that is consistent and closes on time.  Time is always of the essence, and a reliable lender is key in every real estate transaction.
  3. Find your home and make an offer.  Your realtor will do the research to make sure it's priced right, and together you can prepare an offer.  Depending on the market- they will give you their best advice on writing an offer that fits your needs and is desirable for the seller.  A few things you should consider in your offer:
    • Down Payment- Your down payment always depends on your lender and the loan program you decide to use.  It can be $0, or it can be up to 20% of the loan.
    • Earnest money- this is usually 1% of the amount of your offer. So if the home is $300,000.00, earnest money is $3,000.00.  This is essentially a deposit on your home.  It gives the sellers consideration and is deposited into an escrow account to be settled when you go to closing.  
    • Option- The option period is a given amount of time you can purchase to terminate the contract for any reason.  That means if you find something out about the property during inspections- you have the ability to negotiate or walk away.  Or if you decide that you just no longer want to buy, you have the unrestricted right to leave the contract for any reason.  The option period is usually $10.00 per day for up to 10 days.
    • Survey- if they have one great!  If they don't, this is another point in the contract to negotiate.
    • Home warranty- a 1 year home warranty averages between $475.00 and $550.00 and this may be negotiated into the contract.
    • Closing Costs- closing costs are paid for at closing and are separate from the down payment.  For some loans and different programs there are ways to roll them into the loan or they can be negotiated to be paid for by the sellers.
    • Closing date- normal close time is from 30-35 days, but this can be negotiated to fit your needs or the sellers needs.
  4. Offer acceptance- YES! You have an executed contract! Now it is time for you to get those earnest and option money checks to title.
  5. Inspections- now is the time to hire an inspector to look over your home.  The cost will always depend on the inspector you choose, and usually starts around $250.00 for a smaller home.  Some loans might also require a termite inspection, and if the home you are purchasing has a septic tank or well you will want to talk to your Realtor about getting those inspected as well.  These inspections are crucial.  You can use the inspection reports to negotiate repairs or price reductions and it will keep you from having to deal with unexpected (and expensive) surprises.
  6. Appraisal- now that negotiations are finalized and everything is set to go- it's time to order the appraisal.  This is another expense that takes place before closing, but also a very important step!  This cost is also completely dependent on the type of loan.  The average price is around $500.00 but can be more or less depending on the size of the property.
  7. CLOSING!!  This is it- you've made it.  you're Realtor has walked you through the process and even made sure title, survey, and every other integral part has made it to this point!  Your Realtor is going to want to take pictures, so dress up!  And bring some tissues!
So that's it.  Simple right? This is why you hire a Realtor.  They can walk you through the process and smooth out the bumps along the way!

Got a question?  I'm here to help!

RE/MAX Patriot
Realtor #0650939

Friday, March 31, 2017

7 Moons and Many Days Ago- Real Estate in the Busy Season

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Seven Months! I know I've been out for a bit, but I'm coming back!  Just getting everything settled in, and I know I have truly found a home with RE/MAX.  The team I work with has been inspiring, encouraging, and unbelievably amazing.  I can't stress enough the importance of having a good team, and a great brand, behind you.

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I can't wait to tell you all about the benefits of being a RE/MAX agent, or the benefits of working with one!  But for now that will have to wait!

I'm about to show some homes =)