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Getting Qualified for your Home Loan

Getting prequalified for a mortgage sounds easy these days…..just go online. But what are some of the risks of using an online lender?

Frauds,
Scams and
illegal business practices do happen with online mortgage companies. Please make sure you know who you are working with before you send over information that might wipe out your finances.

A few of these companies quote a very low interest rate up front in their online websites…but later, after they have run your credit and gathered your private information give you a new, higher rate. RUN away from this type of company.

If they ask you for money upfront…..RUN away. Lenders do charge an application fee but it is not collected until later in the process…..never upfront.

It’s also easy to get prequalified online and later, after you paid an option fee and for home inspections, you find out you really don’t qualify for the house you just spent a lot of money on.

Your local mortgage loan broker offers superior customer service and often will cost you less in the long run than someone you never meet! If you don’t know a local mortgage loan broker, ask me……or ask your Realtor. Us Realtors know the good ones and can recommend someone who can answer any and all questions you might have.

How to Buy a House without Money

We’ve all heard about different seminars that train you and empower you with the ability to buy houses without any of your own money….but do they offer you information that is worthwhile? I’m not sure…..but my next set of blogs are going to feature different programs that might help you if you fit in the programs guidelines.

The first program I am going to review is the city of San Antonio’s Homeownership Incentive Program known as “HIP”.

Federal funds are used to provide homeowner opportunities for low to moderate income families.

1. Your household income cannot exceed 80% of the areas Median Family Income. In San Antonio that number currently is $46,317 a year…..which means you cant make more than $37,053 a year.

2. The house price can’t exceed $170,000 for a pre-owned home or $228,000 for a new home.

3. It must be your principal residence and a single family home or condo.

4. The house must meet all city building codes and federal standards..a house review will be assessed to determine if anything needs repairs….so pick your new house wisely. Houses built before 1978 will receive a visual lead based paint assessment and may require a lead clearance test. The Property Review may uncover City Code Violations….so again, let me help you pick your new house carefully……as you will have option money, inspection expenses, the appraisal cost and possibly the survey expense at risk before the property is reviewed.

5. You will need to attend a HUD approved certified homebuyer’s class.

6. You have to qualify for the loan…..and qualifying debt to income ratios are 30% housing ratio and 41% total debt…they may go as high as 33%/42%. This is information one of my lenders can help you determine.

7. You might have up to $12,000 of your expense for buying covered with this program…..and 75% forgiven after 10 years. If you are a school teacher, police officer, EMS tech or firefighter it is 100% forgiven after 10 years.

Want more information? Give me a call at 210-273-6161 so we can talk about you and YOUR needs.

How to Pick a REALTOR

With all the REALTORS running around these days it’s hard for a consumer to decide which one is best….and who all these companies are. Used to be we knew who the major players were in the real estate market:

1. RE/MAX: known for top producing agents that paid a fee for their office space and got 100 percent of their commissions.

2. Coldwell Banker: Good Training for their agents and have a good reputation.

3. Century 21: Good training for their agents and have a good reputation.

4. Sotherby Realtors: every major city had at least one office and the agents in those offices tended to sell the higher priced properties.

Now we have almost 14,000 agents in the San Antonio area attached to companies we’ve never even heard of. And the latest? The new MLM agent….your Realtor might not be just selling real estate…it’s like AVON….the more agents they recruit, the more money they make. Do you want an agent that sells houses or an agent that recruits other agents?

So…how do you pick your real estate agent when their are 14,000 of them and almost as many companies?

Ask these questions:

1. Are you fulltime? Do you work nights and weekends?

I promise you….about 10,000 of these agents aren’t available 100 percent of the time to manage you or your house. When you have an offer come in….do you want to wait until Monday morning to find out about it? In today’s busy market…that buyer may get anxious and have moved on if they wrote the offer on your house on Friday night and had to wait until Monday to find out if the offer was accepted. If you’re the buyer…do you want to wait 3 days to find out if your offer was accepted? If they work at a fulltime job during the week….how can they negotiate the offer that comes in before their shift starts? I’ve met REALTORS that are also UBER drivers….do you think that REALTOR can negotiate while driving to the airport with people in the backseat? And….do you want the people in the backseat knowing about your personal business?

2. How many people are on your team?

If they are on a “team” you get them right now…and then another person takes over for inspections, and then a third person might take over for the closing process…..do you really want to work with someone you don’t know on the most important purchase of your life or the largest sale of your life? Be sure to ask about the transfer process and confirm they are still available 100 percent of the time for ALL your questions.

3. Tell me about your office…..this might be a really great question. If the office just opened up and has 2 people in it or if the office has been in business for 25 years….I can promise you that the office that has been in business for 25 years has probably done a lot of great things to stay in business that long. How does their office operate? An office that recruits for a percentage of stocks might not be the right fit for you if your house sale isn’t as important as the next recruiting session or training of their agents.

4. How long have you been in the business? With 30,000 sales a year in San Antonio and almost 14,000 agents…..the only agents that have been in the business for 10 years or more are agents that sold more than 2 houses a year. Currently 5,000 agents wash out and leave real estate within their first 3 years….and that’s been happening for over a century in San Antonio.

Make sure who you choose to represent you is one of the agents that has been around a while…in an office that has been around a while who job is to sell real estate…..lots of real estate!

The odds are in your favor for a favorable closing when you stack the odds in YOUR favor!

Home Repair Projects: How to Know When to Call a Pro

Written by:  Paul Denikin <paul@dadknowsdiy.com>

Owning your own home comes with many benefits; for many Americans, it’s the ultimate goal to have a place where their family will stay safe and comfortable for years to come. It can also come with a lot to consider, especially if it’s an older residence. After a few years, many areas may need some attention via updates or repairs; just like a car, homes can have wear-and-tear issues that need to be addressed, and some of them can be costly. Figuring out how to take care of these problems — and how to pay for them — can be stressful, so it’s important to put together a plan and figure out the best way to get started.

First, think about the potential for a project to be DIY. What kind of budget do you have? Do you know what materials you’ll need and how much they’ll cost? If you’re unfamiliar with how to handle a particular repair, you may be able to find a YouTube tutorial on how to complete it. Just keep your safety in mind, and remember that some jobs are better left to the pros.

Keep reading to find out how to handle home repair projects.

Do Some Research

Some repairs involve updates or upgrades that require construction, and even in a minimal capacity, this will require a permit in most cities. Do some research online to find out what type of paperwork you’ll need to complete your project and how much it will cost. You’ll also need to set up an inspection of the work with a city or state inspector, so keep this in mind when thinking of a timeline. Your contractor will already know which permits and inspections you’ll need, but it’s best to educate yourself. Taking care of the legal end of things will help you avoid issues with your Homeowners Association and will keep you well-informed during the process.

Build a Budget

Before the first contractor steps foot on your property, you should know about how much your project is going to cost you. The internet is a great tool for this, of course. A quick, online search can give you a basic price range for most home repairs and upgrades. Larger purchases that you need to make immediately may require you to tap into your savings or line of credit, so you’ll want to be prepared for that. Of course, there will also be costs above and beyond the labor and materials to plan for and consider. For example, you may need a temporary storage unit to protect your furnishings and valuables during construction, which costs an average of $81.72 per month in San Antonio. Or you might need to rent out another place for a while, which will cost you an additional $93 per night on average from a site like AirBnB.

Leave Electricity to the Pros

Any job that requires wiring should be left to the pros, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the process. Don’t conclude that you can turn off a breaker and get to work on an electrical problem yourself; it’s not always that simple. Call in an electrician, but do some online research first. Ask for price quotes and shop around, as there may be a few different contractors in your area. If your home is more than 30 years old, make sure you have working smoke alarms in each area.

Plumbing Problems

There are many plumbing issues that can be easily fixed, such as a slow-draining sink or a faucet that has low water pressure; these can be handled with minimal tools in most cases, and a simple tutorial online can help you figure out the best place to start. However, when it comes to pipes, it’s best to leave the job to a professional plumber. Some older houses need updated pipes, and while this can get costly, it will be much more expensive for you to do it yourself if you’re not sure how to complete the job. With a pro, you could be looking at anything between $4,000 and $10,000 to replace pipes depending on parts, labor, and materials.

Home repair projects can get pricey and stressful, but if you start with a good plan, you can ensure that the process goes smoothly. Think about setting up a savings account specifically for home repairs and educating yourself on the loan process so you won’t be caught off guard, and always remember that when in doubt, it’s best to call a pro.

 

Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe

 

Just north of downtown is an adorable old fashioned bakery known for it’s THREE pound giant cinnamon rolls….but you also might enjoy their other menu items…excellent food and old fashioned food just like Mom made!  I loved the liver and onion plate!

It’s a real treat…..and open around the clock!  Visited with my daughter who also loved it!

918 North Main, San Antonio, Texas  78212Lulu Katie

Property Tax Bills in Texas

Did you buy or sell a house in Texas this year?

Your Texas property tax bill should arrive in the mail soon if it hasn’t already come.  Do some simple math and see if the credit was correct.

1. Take your current tax bill and divide it by 365. This gives you a per day rate.
2. Calculate the number of days between Jan 1st and your closing date on the settlement statement you have from your purchase.
3. Multiply the answer from #1 (what was actually owed)  with the answer from #2 (what you actually paid). This would be the tax proration based on current taxes.
4. Compare the answer in #3 to the credit or what you paid on the settlement statement.

If the current property taxes are higher than the proration done at closing, the buyer or seller may request the difference from the other party in writing per the paperwork you signed at closing.

If you bought or sold a house in 2018 check the new statement and compare what is owed versus what you paid or what you received.  If it is a substantial difference, contact the title company where you closed and ask them to verify what you have found and to help you contact the other party.  Remind them that part of the paperwork you signed when you bought or sold at the title company specifically states that if there is a difference the seller and buyer will work it out….but you need the title companies help to contact the other party.

Title companies use a third party company to order a tax certificate to determine what is owed when you sell a house but if the property value is a lot higher, exemptions are not transferred or calculated properly or if a mistake was made you can get assistance to ask for a refund.

We recently had a seller contact us because the settlement statement collected over $1500 in taxes that were not owed. Check your settlement statement.  It might be worth a few extra dollars in your pocket.

 

First Time Home Buyers

Schools

I’ve spent the last 30 days looking at houses for a first time home buyer….who is on a budget (aren’t most)?   We began by searching houses that had three bedrooms and two baths….and then quickly discovered that the elementary schools that matched up with those homes placed sometimes in the 4,000 range….out of 4,357 schools in Texas.  Should that matter?  Well….it might if you want your children to actually learn something while they attend classes….like this savvy Mom expected.

We then began searching for the best schools first….and quickly discovered that if you want to buy a house that has elementary AND middle schools that rank in the 500 or under range we had to spend more than she planned on spending…..AND be FIRST in the door with a strong prequalification letter in hand AND pray we were offering enough to get the seller to sign the offer immediately.

Of the 100 plus homes we viewed, took video’s of, FACETIMED and more…..days, weekends and nights consumed with searching for anything we might have missed…offers written on houses the seller’s assumed they didn’t need to repair to sell or homes out of state investors snapped up by taking them off the market for a week or so because they supposedly were buying with cash…we found success.

Even if the buyer hadn’t wanted good schools…..if you want a successful rental or a house that has potential to appreciate you should consider the schools.  Renters want great schools and will pay more rent for a school that ranks well….and homes tend to appreciate if they are located in areas with great schools.

One of the best sites I found for searching for school scores was SchoolDigger.  It also advertises homes on the site….but we found the homes they advertised were dated listings and not really available to buy….so use the site for school scores only.  A special note….new schools that were recently built might not show up on the site…..and a lot of new schools are being built in the San Antonio area.

If you’re considering buying a home to live in or for investment purposes, give me a call.  It’s hard work and long hours…….but I LOVE the end result…..finding the right house for YOU!

 

Towns Near San Antonio

Maybe you don’t want to live in a big city….even though living in San Antonio is like living in a small town to me since I seem to run into someone I know no matter where I am.  So many military folks like to retire here or maybe you’re finding the real estate seems to be getting too pricey in San Antonio proper and don’t mind a short commute, here are some possible choices:  New Braunfels, San Marcos, Floresville, Pleasanton, Boerne, Universal City, Schertz, Selma, La Vernia, Von Ormy, Castroville, Helotes, Canyon Lake, Spring Branch, Marion.

July 4th Fireworks

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Still trying to figure out what to do on July 4th? Here is a list of things to do:

Woodlawn Lake:  The City of San Antonio is hosting this huge party that begins at 8 am with Zumba classes, live music, dancing, carnival rides, bull riding, food vendors and more!

El Mercado: Freedom Fest at Market Square!  Musical acts, dancers, arts & crafts, shopping, restaurants…..who doesn’t love Market Square?

Red, White and Blue at the Pearl: looking for a more hip vibe?  It’s always cool at the Pearl!

Independence Day at the Alamo: Where real independence begins…why not hit downtown and check out the Alamo?

4th of July Jubilee in Schertz:  9 am to 10pm in Pickrell Park with live music at 5, food, vendors, games, rides, watermelon and pie eating contests….a true down home party! Schertz, Texas

Red, White & Buda: begins at 5 pm with fireworks at 9:30, Buda Sportplex, Buda, Texas

Kyle Independence Day: 6pm with fireworks at 9:30.  Plum Creek Golf Course, Kyle, Texas

July 4th Frontier Days:  10am parade, Fireworks at dark.  Old Settlers Park, Round Rock, Texas

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