Most agents would agree that you not be present when showing your home. Prospective buyers are uncomfortable having owners hovering or milling about. It can provoke buyers to look quickly without gaining a proper feel for your home.
Sellers mistakenly believe home shoppers will miss important features. They also feel they can help “sell” the property by pointing up the positives:
- Providing too much information in a short time can leave a less-favorable impression
- You could actually hurt your cause by calling attention to something buyers aren’t interested in
- If they feel like they are being rushed, they are likely going to move on to the next property on their list
Real estate agents are best-suited to showcase your home. They are trained to read buyers and know when, what and how to relay information. Let buyers discover your home’s features at their own pace.
You want buyers to spend as much time as they wish envisioning the possibility of living in your home someday. So do yourself a favor… go to a neighbor’s home, the library or shopping. The inconvenience will be worth it in the long run.
If you’re thinking of buying your first home this summer, you should hire a Texas REALTOR® right away. Why? The summer selling season is going to be competitive.
The latest Texas Quarterly Housing Report shows that monthly housing inventory continued to drop in the first three months of 2015, falling to a new all-time low of 3.1 months, a decrease of 8.82% from the same quarter last year. Since summer is already a popular homebuying season, and many markets in Texas will experience high demand, you need to be prepared to move quickly when you find a property you love. If you begin working with a Texas REALTOR® this spring, you’ll be ready to do just that.
A Texas REALTOR® can help you determine what kind of property you’re looking for, how much you can afford, and other factors that will help you be ready to make quick decisions. And as a first-time homebuyer, you’ll need the extra help, due in part to the current market. Jim Gaines, Ph.D., economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, says homes are being built quickly, but many aren’t in the price range for the entry-level market. “Interest rates are still low, but tight lending standards, rising home prices, and slim inventory have created a tough market for first-time homebuyers,” he says.
The wispy fog floated over the dark waters of the lake, and inched across a narrow two-lane road. Driving home, alone, tired, soothing relaxation brought about by a night spent with friends at a local bar. Heavy clouds obscured a full and bright moon. She walked on the gravel edge of a lonesome street bordered by lapping waters. Dressed in white, dripping wet she turned to the oncoming car, distressed, and shivering from the autumn chill. What happened, why was she alone? He stepped on the brakes and let the vehicle coast to a stop. He leaned to the passenger side and rolled down the window.
“Miss, excuse me, are you okay? Do you need some help?”
She turned to face the driver, eyeliner and lipstick smeared from wetness, saturated red hair draped around a pale face. She trembled as she spoke.
“I swerved to miss the other car, it weaved in my lane, and I lost control, my car plunged into the lake.”
“Oh my God, are you alright? How can I help?” The startled driver asked.
Her breathing heavy she gazed past him towards the south.
“I live nearby. My father is probably worried sick. Would you mind taking me home?”
“No, of course not…where do you live?”
“Not far…a couple of miles…would you be so kind?”
“Yes of course.” He leaped out of the vehicle, circled the car, and opened the rear passenger door for her.
“Thank you” she said in a frail haunting voice.
He climbed in behind the steering wheel, flicked on windshield wipers to clear a thin condensation and turned down the volume of his radio, which now cracked and sputtered with heavy static.
“Where do you live?” He asked.
She sat shivering. Arms folded staring out the window at darkness. “Keep going straight until you reach Meadow Lake Lane, take a right, my home is the third home on the right.”
He continued south, his passenger remained quiet. He turned up the heat to counter the permeating chill. Streets empty, dark he turned at the third street, Meadow Lake lane. He slowed to count homes, all in shadows, monuments to a time past, until he came to a grand white washed clapboard Dutch Colonial house. All the windows enshrined in blackness, not a light on and not surprising at twelve thirty in the morning, he pulled into the gravel drive. As the car rolled to a stop, he turned off the headlights and turned to the back seat. She was sound asleep in a fetal position. He quietly exited the vehicle not to disturb her. He walked to the front door up front stairs to a grand porch framed with white Doric columns, and he rang the doorbell. He waited a few minutes, lights flickered on, and the door slowly opened.
“Who’s out there?” A harsh voice asked from a cracked door.
“Hello” he said and gave his name. “I was driving home tonight sir, and found your daughter walking by the side of the road. She had an accident, her car went into the lake…she was lucky to survive.”
The door opened fully. His balding gray hair, much older than the driver had expected he wrapped his blue plaid robe tight around his body.
“What the hell are you talking about…have you been drinking?”
“Sorry to disturb you sir, I must have the wrong house. She must be confused.”
The man’s face went white. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”
“No sir she is asleep in my back seat, sopping wet in a white dress.”
The man leaned against the white washed wall, a single tear formed in his eye. “That can’t be…my daughter died twenty years ago, she lost control of her car and drove it into the lake…she was coming home from a school dance.”
“No she is here in the back seat.” He ran to his car and jerked the door open to find his leather seat wet and empty.
On October 18, 1967, Dallas talk show personality Chuck Boyles broadcasted an invitation to search for the “Lady of White Rock Lake.” Over a thousand Dallas youth came to area to search for this ghostly legend. Soon the police arrived to control the growing crowd to prevent the destruction of Cox Cemetery.
It is important for a Buyer to his/her homework, and research schools, property taxes, nearby shopping and more importantly the Texas Sex Offender registry to determine if a neighborhood is the right place to move your family. Have a happy and safe Halloween, and see ya down the road.
Texas is about the same size as the country of France and is the only state in the Union, which at one point was a nation of her own. She gained her independence from Mexico after the battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836 becoming the Republic of Texas, with its own flag and president. In 1845, Texas entered the Union as the 28th state of the United States of America. Texans have always had an independent and sometimes fiery spirit. From the Alamo to Quanah Parker to the Texas Rangers, and Bonnie and Clyde, Texas and Texans have always bucked the system and gone their own way. This attitude exists today and might be one reason for the flood of people. The top ten cities in the nation with the greatest population increase between 2011 and 2012 include, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth according to the U.S Census Bureau. Granted one reason is due to more births than deaths, however, a larger portion is an influx from other states and nations. What makes this red state so attractive to others?
Jobs of coourse are the biggest reason for the population surge. Texas did not suffer the same economic impact as other states during the 2008 recession. The oil and gas boom is one reason however; growth is also strong in technology and business services. Many criticize the jobs are due to cheap labor and poor regulations yet Texas has plenty of jobs for high wage earners, blue-collar and college degree required work. Four of the top ten job growth metropolitan areas in the nation are located in Texas according to the New Geography website. The large military presence in the state also contributed to the increase in jobs, many who retired from service find Texas the perfect place to call home.
Texas is not as expensive as other states. Housing prices are reasonable and that is not true for many other areas. Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Austin are among the top ten in affordable metropolitan areas to live in the United States according to New Geography. The rating based on consumer prices, transportation costs, utilities and the most important, home prices, contrast greatly with cities such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In those cities, a majority of folks cannot afford to purchase a home and find themselves renting. Texas is the place for home ownership. Low taxes are another cause for the flood of new occupants. Texas is one of seven states with no state income tax. True property taxes in Texas are relatively high and many folks rightfully are fighting this trend. However, for overall taxes, Texas ranks among the top five for the lowest taxation according to the Tax Foundation website. Lower taxes and tax incentive for business attract corporations to this state in record numbers.
A choice of cities; six of twenty of the largest cities in the country are in Texas. If you want a metropolitan area move to Dallas, if you want an industrial city, Houston might be the best place, want a hip town try Austin, flavor of the old west Fort Worth, Spanish influence San Antonio or El Paso. No other state can boast the number of different regional flavors. Illinois for example only has one large city, Chicago, people who want to live in a large city in Illinois only have one option, and other states such as Pennsylvania contain more than one city yet are very similar.
Texas is family friendly. Low housing costs and the quality of living are huge factors contributing to the growth of the state. Many great small towns such as Grapevine dot the area and each one is a unique experience. Schools are generally good, some need improvement, but the perception of poor schools in Texas is not correct. For example, 8th grade Texans scored better in math than the national average and outscored those in California, New York, and Florida. There are plethora of churches in every denomination to choose from as well as family style restaurants and entertainment.
Fewer rules and regulations enhance business growth in the state. We do not strangle the average citizen with stupid laws such as soda bans. In one sense, Texas is the classic liberal state. Its laissez-faire attitude for both personal and business freedom is a hallmark of the culture. Some businesses who find themselves ostracized by state politics find a friendly business atmosphere in this state.
Texas contains 1.42 million acres of protected land and thirteen national parks ranging from Big Bend in west Texas to the Big Thicket National Preserves in east Texas. Fishing and hunting are big in the state with an abundance of wildlife including the Texas Horned Toad, Roadrunners, Rattlesnakes, Mountain Lions, Antelope and white tailed deer. For campers there is a wide variety of ecosystems to explore and for history buffs everything from battlefields to early Spanish missions.
Texans have a cohesion to one another, more so than any other state. People are neighborly and friendly, willing to give helping hands when needed, volunteer, or give generously. We are down to earth not pretentious. We are what we are. Many natural-born Texans stay put, The Pew Research Center confirms more than three-quarters of the adult population in Texas will never move to another state and those who come here find it hard to leave. If you are looking to relocate to the DFW area or considering selling your home, give me a call at 817-903-9425 or join me on Facebook. See ya down the road – http://www.djlyons-realtor.com/.
The day has come. The weeks of searching and gathering info, credit checks, inspections, and completing paper work finally ended. The last walk through appeared good and the house-hunter is cruising to closing. Days before the fateful date the Buyer and his house-hunting guide receive a HUD-1 to review. HUD is an acronym for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the HUD-1 is a settling statement used by the closing agent to itemize all of the expenditures for both the Buyer and the Seller. The Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act commonly called RESPA requires this form for all Real Estate transaction involving federal related mortgage loans in the United States. This document has two columns; the first column is for the Buyer and the second is for the Seller. The settlement has several pages, the first shows the amount due by the borrower, including down payment, property taxes, survey fees, as well as other closing costs and it also subtracts earnest money and the option fee from the amount. The total amount the Buyer must bring to the table is on the bottom left hand of the page as well as the proceeds the Seller will make from the sale on the bottom right. The second and third pages are detailed breakdowns of all the expenses for both parties and additional disclosures about title insurance and other miscellanies fees and finally a signature page. Fees are paid with a cashier’s check written to the title company. The Buyer must also bring his/her driver’s license to prove whom they say they are when purchasing the home. A copy of all the documents should be stored in a safe location. The survey is a handy document that could come in useful if the Purchaser sells the abode or decides to do an addition.
Typically, closings occur at the title company, sometimes closings happen at remote locations such as the Realtor’s brokerage or the house-hunter’s own office or home. Closings also take place when one party is out-of-state, or even out of country. Most title companies can arrange for such closings.
At the title company, the closing agent takes control. He/she leads the house-hunter to a table and then presents the closing documentation. The stack can look like a telephone book and seem intimidating. A good closer will go over each document explaining the purpose of each, and sometimes the documents are repetitive. The documents include mortgage terms and information, insurance, home warranty, survey and other required documentation. Closing documents vary depending how the Buyer purchases the home and/or type of home loan. After closing, the tittle company submits the signed loan documents for funding and when the loan funds, the title company distributes the money to both Realtors in the deal, the payoff of the seller’s loan and to the seller. After funding the house hunter gets the keys to a successful hunt. A good house-hunting guide visits the house hunter about a week or so after move in to ensure everything is fine. Every real estate transaction is different and there is always special issues that need addressing. However, with patience, a clear head, and a good house-hunting guide these obstacles are easily overcome. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
The anticipation of receiving the keys and walking into the new abode is a powerful feeling. The diligent house hunter found a home, placed an offer that became a contract and did all the necessary requirements for obtaining a loan…now what? The Seller scrambles to arrange movers and have the house ready to hand over and to start their new life. The Buyer also plans for the move however; they remain anxious and ready to inhabit the new abode. During this phase many important things occur. The Title company verifies the survey and if needed orders a new one. They research the title to ensure no liens or other obstacles exist, they prepare the insurance commitment for the title policy and verify the property taxes. The bank schedules an appraisal and the house-hunting guide prepares for the final walk through. Meanwhile the Buyer plans the utility turn on date. For some, time flies fast at this stage for others it drags on.
The survey shows all boundaries and improvements on a piece of property. It solidifies the limits of the borderline the house hunter purchases. In some circumstances, the Seller will have a copy of an acceptable survey. This can happen with newer homes. However, if any changes to the building footprint or some permanent structure to the property occur such as a pool or additional walkway a new survey is required. The survey becomes part of the contract, and when a survey does not exist, the Buyer or the Seller can negotiate to pay for the new one; the title company hires surveyors.
The title company during this time researches the title abstract. The title abstract shows the history and the ownership of the property, they search for any liens or claims filed on the property so the Buyer has a clean marketable title. Title companies also issue title insurance policies to both the lender and the owner. Title insurance protects the Buyer from any unforeseen claims, hidden risks, or fraud against the property. The insurance policy provides protection from financial loss as well as payment of legal costs necessary to clear such claims. Title companies also examine property taxes to determine how much the Seller owes; the Buyer pays a prorate amount as shown on the HUD document given to both parties prior to closing.
During this time up until closing, if the house hunter is applying for a loan, the bank will conduct an appraisal. The appraisal confirms the collateral for the loan. For instance if the Buyer is purchasing a home for $150,000 and placed 10% down, $15,000 then the appraisal amount must be over or equal to $135,000. If the appraisal comes in below that price either the Buyer or the Seller must make up the difference. In the above example, if the listing appraised at $130,000 the Seller must lower his price by $5,000 or the Buyer must come up with the extra cash. Larger down payments and skillful negotiations lessen the chance of a low appraisal. Appraisals can make FHA and VA loans difficult because of low down payment requirements. A FHA loan only requires a 3.5% down payment while VA loans are as little as 0% down. Appraisals are also different depending on the type of loan. FHA and VA demand the house to be in a livable condition and could require certain repairs. Structural issues and wood rot is big for FHA loans while air-conditioning and heating equipment must function as intended with VA loans. The house hunter must pay attention to home inspections and confer with his/her loan officer the requirements for the mortgage. If the Seller is notified about the repairs to satisfy the loan, the Seller may be more willing to fix the items.
As closing approaches, it is wise to conduct one final walk through, this is a courtesy provided by most Realtors. The final walk through gives the Buyer a peace of mind about the purchase and ensures nothing happened to the home prior to closing. Most closings occur four weeks or more after the executed contract, anything can happen within that period. Unforeseen circumstances such as a fire or broken water pipe can occur or Seller’s mischief, and if something needs correcting, there is time to figure the best course of action before the abode is closed. Once the house belongs to the Buyer addressing those repairs becomes much more difficult and the Buyer may need to hire a lawyer or go into mediation.
At this point, the house hunter has nearly crossed the finish line. This is a good time to schedule all of the utilities such as electric, water, gas, telephone etc. Plan to have these items turned on the day of closing so when you get the keys and go into the new abode you do not need a flash light. Also, be sure to purchase homeowner’s insurance, most lending terms require homeowner’s insurance and if the Buyer does not purchase it, the bank will and this route is very expensive. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
The option period passed, the house hunter is now cruising to the closing date. Prior to searching for the new abode, the buyer requested a pre-qualification letter. During this stage, the lender discussed what loan options were available. Choosing the right home mortgage loan can be a daunting process. So many different types and different conditions, does the Buyer want a fixed or adjustable rate loan. Then the house hunter must determine what kind of mortgage, the most common for Buyers are conventional, FHA and VA loans, some of the less common loans include USDA and Texas Veteran’s Home loans.
Fixed rate loans have the same interest rates year after year for the term of the loans. The Buyer’s monthly payment stays the same during the duration. This is true for whatever length of the loan from a fifteen year to a thirty-year. This is the best choice when interest rates are low. The House Hunter can lock in a good rate without fear of what will happen in the housing market.
Adjustable rate loans known as ARMS in the real estate world, the rate remains fixed for a pre-determined amount of time and then changes to reflect current interest rates. For instance the Buyer can get a 5/1 ARM loan, the first five years are fixed and then the remaining years adjust on a yearly basis. These types of loans are desirable when mortgage rates are high and indications exist the rates may fall in the future. When they do fall, the Buyer can refinance the loan to a fixed rate locking in the lower interest.
The next choice for the Buyer is what type of loan. The federal government does not insure conventional loans and they can be conforming to the rules and regulations of Freddie-Mac or Fannie-Mae or they can be non-conforming. They have less requirements than federally insured loans. The down payment is higher and if less than 20% the Buyer will need to purchase Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insured loans managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Federal Government insures the loan from default. Low down payments make this type of loan a great option for Buyers with little cash. The down payment is as little as 3.5% however, mortgage insurance is a requirement, increasing monthly payments.
The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers a loan program for returning soldiers and their families. These loans are federally insured. They offer loans with no down payments and are a great option for our veterans. Paperwork is stringent however can be worth the trouble.
The USDA offers a loan through the Rural Housing Service and is a good option for house-hunters searching for a home in a rural town. Texas Veteran Loans created by Veteran Housing Program to help Texas Soldiers purchase a home with low-interest rates and no down payments.
During the contract phase of purchasing an abode the Buyer must take care not to make any other big expenditure. Do not buy a car or run up your credit cards during this period. Doing so could damage the Buyer’s chances of obtaining a loan and closing on the new castle. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
The negotiations went on for what seems like forever when the day everyone waited for finally arrives. The hunter gets the call from his house-hunting guide the offer is accepted. Soon the Buyer has a copy of the signed and executed contract, victory! The hunt is over…yes, but now the real work begins, time to reel in the catch. The earnest money and option fee is collected, earnest money goes to the Title Company, and the option money goes to the Seller. The typical stretch to close a contract is twenty days; this stage varies depending on many things such as time needed by Lender or the Seller’s requirements. The Lender, Title Company and Buyer have quite a bit of work to do before the deal is closed. The first thing that occurs is the Buyer’s option period begins immediately after the executed contract and lasts usually ten days. The house-hunter paid a nominal fee for this option and it allows the Buyer to terminate the contract for any reason without losing the Buyer’s earnest money. This provides the house-hunter with ample time to hire home and termite inspectors to find any damage not readily obvious. Inspectors are meticulous, going over nearly every reachable item, which is part of the home. Sometimes it is wise for the Buyer to hire specialty inspectors; if you suspect foundation problems, a structural engineer might be required or if buying an older home an electrical engineer will make the perspective owner comfortable about the wiring.
When the inspection is over, he/she issues a report. The report contains each deficiency in the home and used to negotiate repairs. Health and safety are the first concern and the Seller should be willing to make or compensate for the required renovations, if not the Buyer should walk. Other items such as cosmetic or code upgrades are also negotiable however; each item the Seller pays for will lessen the Seller’s final sales amount. Code upgrade items can be hard to request because they could have been within code when the home was build but are now not, and if the item is working as intended then the Seller may not agree. Never hurts to ask. Depending on how much the Buyer’s Realtor beat down the sale’s price will affect the amount of negotiation room the Seller has for repairs. The option period gives the Buyer leverage during this stage because the Seller knows the Buyer can walk away from the deal with no penalty.
This is also the moment for the Buyer to contact their lender to start the loan process. Talk to your Lender, present them the signed and executed contract, and begin collecting the necessary documentation. The Lender will ask for two consecutive years of income tax returns, sometimes three depending on the situation. They will also ask for proof of income, W2 forms, or pay stubs will work. Bank statements for the past 30-90 days for each account, including savings and brokerage accounts is required. The loan officer will also request proof of paying your rent on time for a year as well as credit account information, a paper trail for money gifted, address history, and divorce decrees. If the Buyer is self-employed then add in copies of checks from clients, credit card statements and a profit and loss statement for the current year. It is much better to get this information to your Lender fast to close your home on the scheduled closing date.
Yes, the house-hunter’s work is far from done when the home goes under contract. Your Realtor can help you with these steps. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com
Negotiate as defined by Merriam-Webster is to confer with another to arrive at the settlement of some matter. The hunter has done their homework and found the perfect abode, the one he/she cannot live without, and the excitement builds. He/she has their Realtor write an offer they sign and submit to the Seller’s agent and wait. Sometimes word gets back fast or drags on seeming like an eternity. When it does arrive, the offer is not in the form of a contract but a counter offer. The counter is a good thing; it means the original offer is not too low. If the price is much lower then what the Seller is expecting he may just reject the offer and ask the Buyer to submit another more reasonable offer. However, the counter means you are in the game and now the fun starts. Everything in the offer is negotiable; however, in Texas, a few things are customary for the Seller to purchase, such as title insurance and a home warranty. When buying a house the Purchaser is not actually purchasing the property, he /she are buying a title to the abode, the right to occupy and use the space. Title insurance protects the document from claims and limitations placed on the title by others. This can save the Buyer a lot of heartache and financial loss. The home warranty is a one-year contract with a home warranty company and is different from homeowner’s insurance in that the warranty covers major appliances such as air conditioners, heaters, pools, and plumbing fixtures etc.
The typical negotiation points in an offer are price, repairs, closing costs, survey, closing date, and possession. Sometimes the option period is included and on rare occasions, escrow/earnest money. In order to determine a reasonable offer price, a good Realtor will perform a comprehensive market analysis (CMA/comp). This is the same procedure used by the Seller’s agent to set a price on the home so makes sense for the Shopper to do the same. A CMA compares similar properties in the same or comparable neighborhoods that recently sold, and averaging price per square foot of the abode. The house hunter will have a better understanding of the market value. Market value is a very important concept to understand when purchasing. Market value is the cash price that a willing buyer and a willing seller would freely agree upon, given reasonable exposure of the property to the marketplace, full information, and no undue compulsion to act.
The goal in all negotiations to find the true market value and this is hard, because many times the Seller has an over inflated assessment of his/her castle and on the other side the Buyer is unrealistic. A good house-hunting guide educates the Client while showing listings and explains the price differences of listings and coaches the Consumer on pricing. Sometimes repairs are needed and often are negotiated twice, once at the initial offer and a second time during the option period after a home inspection. Safety hazards are the number one concern for Buyers; these repairs are typically accepted by the owner, others such as updating and taste, not so much. Closing costs are also on the table. Certain loans have particular limitations on how much a Seller can contribute to closing costs. The well-informed house hunter must be aware requesting payment of closing costs reduces the overall bottom line of the house for the Seller, when negotiating both need consideration. The survey is required by the Title Company, sometimes the Seller has a copy of a good survey the Title Company can use, however if the owner has changed the foot print of his abode or has added a permanent fixture to the yard then a new survey is required. The time to close takes at least twenty-one days but depends on the lender or the type of purchase. Cash for instance quickens the closing time. Possession after closing depends on if the Seller requires more time to vacate the property. The option period is the time allowed by the Seller in which the Buyer can get out of the contract and not lose his/her escrow/earnest money. Typically, the length is ten days at a minimal cost. Escrow/earnest money guarantees the Buyer will come to the closing table; the cost is normally $1,000 per $100,000 of price, and both money for the option period and escrow/earnest money refunded at the closing table.
The current tight housing market has created the semi-new phenomena of multiple offers. In this case, several Buyers are after one castle and the Seller has many offers to consider. This almost creates a bidding situation however a Realtor is not a licensed auctioneer and it is illegal for them to create an auction, so the Seller’s agent cannot give the price of the highest offer to another Purchaser. Multiple offers create a nerve-wracking circumstance for house hunters and true market values can go out the window. Although, if he/she loves the house and no others are available, the Buyer may be tempted to offer a price above market value. If the Client is using cash, there is no problem, but when a loan is involved, especially FHA and VA loans then the house-hunter could find themselves with a low appraisal. The lending institute financing the loan typically does an appraisal of the home’s value to determine if the abode purchased provides enough collateral for the loan. If the loan is higher than the lenders appraised market value of the house, either the Buyer or the Seller must pay the difference. The house hunter may not have enough cash so it falls onto the Seller to lower her/his price. If this does not happen, the deal is dead.
Negotiations do not need to be difficult. As long as both parties are realistic and have good representation, this portion of the real estate process should be easy. One good hint for all potential house hunters is to be emotionally unattached to the abode prior to closing, easier said than done, but can produce a smarter purchase. See ya down the road. http://www.djlyons-realtor.com