Other Stuff

Other Stuff

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and will allow you to make your offer with the confidence of knowing that you have already been approved for a mortgage for that amount. You will also need to know if you are prepared to make any repairs that may need to be made to the house (ex: new roof, new furnace).

2. Act Fast

“Even though there are fewer investors, the inventory of homes for sale is also low and competition for housing continues to heat up in many parts of the country.” 

The inventory of homes listed for sale has remained well below the 6-month supply that is needed for a ‘normal’ market. Buyer demand has continued to outpace the supply of homes for sale, causing buyers to compete with each other for their dream homes.

Make sure that as soon as you decide that you want to make an offer, you work with your agent to present it as soon as possible.

3. Make a Solid Offer

Freddie Mac offers this advice to help make your offer the strongest it can be:

“Your strongest offer will be comparable with other sales and listings in the neighborhood. A licensed real estate agent active in the neighborhoods you are considering will be instrumental in helping you put in a solid offer based on their experience and other key considerations such as recent sales of similar homes, the condition of the house and what you can afford.”

Talk with your agent to find out if there are any ways that you can make your offer stand out in this competitive market!

4. Be Prepared to Negotiate

“It’s likely that you’ll get at least one counteroffer from the sellers so be prepared. The two things most likely to be negotiated are the selling price and closing date. Given that, you’ll be glad you did your homework first to understand how much you can afford.

Your agent will also be key in the negotiation process, giving you guidance on the counteroffer and making sure that the agreed-to contract terms are met.”

If your offer is approved, Freddie Mac urges you to “always get an independent home inspection, so you know the true condition of the home.” If the inspector uncovers undisclosed problems or issues, you can discuss any repairs that may need to be made with the seller, or cancel the contract.

Bottom Line 

Whether buying your first home or your fifth, having a local real estate professional who is an expert in their market on your side is your best bet to make sure the process goes smoothly. Let’s talk about how we can make your dreams of homeownership a reality!

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Residential fires take their toll every day, every year, in lost lives, injuries, and destroyed property. But many conditions that cause house fires can be avoided or prevented by homeowners. Taking the time for some simple precautions, preventive inspections, and concrete planning can help prevent fire in the home – and can save property and lives should disaster strike.

·         Check holiday lights for fraying or broken wires and plugs. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines as to how many multiple strands can be joined together, as a fire hazard could result from overload. Enjoy indoor holiday lighting only while someone is home, and turn them off before going to bed at night.
·         Candles add a welcoming, festive feeling, and need to be placed in stable holders and located away from curtains, drafts, pets, and children. Never leave burning candles unattended, even for a short time.

·         Keep live Christmas trees in a water-filled stand and check daily for dehydration. Needles should not easily break off a freshly-cut tree. Brown needles or lots of fallen needles indicate a dangerously dried-out tree which should be discarded immediately. Always use nonflammable decorations in the home, and never use lights, even LED types, on a dried-out tree.

·         Electrical devices including lamps, appliances, and electronics should be checked for frayed cords, loose or broken plugs, and exposed wiring. Never run electrical wires, including extension cords, under carpet or rugs even temporarily as this creates a fire hazard.
·         Fireplaces should be checked by a professional chimney sweep each year and cleaned if necessary to prevent a dangerous buildup of creosote, which can cause a flash fire in the chimney. Cracks in masonry chimneys should be repaired, and spark arresters inspected to ensure they are in good condition and free of debris.
·         When using space heaters, keep them away from beds and bedding, curtains,
papers – anything flammable. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Space heaters should not be left unattended or where a child or pet could
knock them over.

·         Use smoke detectors with fresh batteries unless they are hard-wired to your home’s electrical system. Smoke detectors should be installed high on walls or on ceilings on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside every sleeping area. Statistics show that nearly 60% of home fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. Most municipalities now require the use of working smoke detectors in both single and multi-family residences

·         Children should not have access to or be allowed to play with matches, lighters, or candles. Flammable materials such as gasoline, kerosene, or propane should always be stored outside of and away from the house.
·         Kitchen fires know no season. According to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association, 47% of reported home fires between 2011 and 2015 were caused by cooking. Grease spills, items left unattended on the stove or in the oven, and food left in toasters or toaster ovens can catch fire quickly. Don’t wear loose fitting clothing, especially with long sleeves, around the stove. Handles of pots and pans should be turned away from the front of the stove to prevent accidental contact. Keep an all-purpose fire extinguisher within easy reach. Extinguishers specifically formulated for grease and cooking fuel fires are widely available and can supplement an all-purpose extinguisher.

·         Have an escape plan. This is one of the most important measures to prevent death in a fire. Visit ready.gov for detailed information on how to make a plan. Local fire departments can also provide recommendations on escape planning and preparedness. In addition, all family members should know how to dial 911 in case of a fire or other emergency.

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13 Tips Before You Leave for the Holidays

Leaving your home during the holidays? Follow these tips to keep it safe and save a few bucks on bills while you’re gone.

1. Put mail on hold
An overstuffed mailbox or a pile of newspapers at the bottom of your driveway can be an invitation to thieves. Not only is it a sign that no one’s home, identity thieves can find all sorts of goodies while sorting through unattended mail. Go to usps.com to have the US Postal Service hold your mail, and also check on your options for holding newspaper delivery.

2. Put lights on a timer
It makes it appear that someone is home. If you can, switch your exterior lights to the “motion-activated” setting.

3. Check batteries
Make sure the batteries are fresh in your smoke alarms and that they function.

4. Remove valuables
Hiding your jewelry is always an option, but when you’re gone for several days, thieves have more time to hunt through the house. If you can, place jewelry and important documents in a safety deposit box or home safe.

5. Grab your spare key
Bring inside any keys that are hidden outside. You can give one to a neighbor along with your contact information where you’ll be, just in case there’s an emergency.

7. Unplug
Your electronics will still suck energy while you’re gone. Unplug the biggies, like your TV and computer.

8. Don’t advertise your trip online
At least until you return, when it’s safe to make your Facebook friends jealous with photos from your holiday beach vacation. Don’t post the dates when you’re leaving your house vacant.

9. Switch your water heater to “vacation” mode
It won’t turn off completely, but it will still save energy.

10. Lower your thermostat
Keep it warm enough to prevent the pipes – and the goldfish – from freezing. Your energy company can recommend a temperature that’s appropriate for your climate.

11. Deodorize the sink
To avoid returning to a kitchen disposal that belches up the stench of your pre-vacation dinner, run it with a half-cup of vinegar, or lemon peels and ice cubes, before you leave. To keep things smelling fresh, it’s also a good idea to throw out any food that will go bad while you’re gone and make sure to take out any trash.

12.  Bleach the bowl
Dump half a cup of chlorine bleach into your toilet bowl to prevent mineral stains from developing.

Searching for a home you’ll hate to leave alone? Contact me – I am here to help.

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Frequently Asked Mortgage Questions

Does the term “amortization” leave you perplexed? Are you unsure how preapproval differs from prequalification? If so, you’re not alone. Here are some mortgage basics to help you become more familiar with the process.

What’s the difference between prequalification and preapproval?
Getting prequalified is often the first step when searching for a home. You supply basic financial information, such as your income, assets and debts, and the lender then provides a preliminary estimate of the amount for which you may qualify.

Preapproval involves an in-depth look at your finances and usually requires an application fee, but this process brings you closer to determining your potential interest rate and monthly payment. Being preapproved also puts you in a better position in a competitive market because it shows you have your finances in order.

What is amortization?
Amortization is the process of paying off a home loan’s principal and interest over time within a consistent, planned repayment schedule. In the beginning, a large portion of each payment goes toward interest, but as the loan matures, larger amounts go toward paying down the principal.

What types of loans are there?
Fixed and adjustable rate mortgages operate as their respective names imply. The former has a rate that stays the same for the life of the loan. The latter’s rate may start low, but it can increase after a predetermined period or depending on market conditions.

Government-guaranteed mortgages include FHA and VA loans. These are usually easier to qualify for and typically require lower down payments than other types of loans.

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College Station Noon Lions Club gears up for Christmas tree sale

     

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Honoring Aggieland’s First Responders

 

I had the pleasure of delivering pizza to Bryan’s Fire Station #2 on Wednesday. Thank You to all of our First Responders in Aggieland!

Interested in buying a house? Do this first…

You probably don’t overthink things if you see a house for sale that you’d like to go in and see.
If there’s an open house, there’s a good chance you’d just pop on in.
If you see a for sale sign on the lawn of a house you like, maybe you’d just call the listing agent and end up having him or her show you the house.
Or, if you’re cruising the Internet and come across something you’d like to go see, you may just set something up with the agent attached to the online listing.
What’s the big deal, right?
Before I got into real estate, I’d have thought the same thing. But, here’s what I’ve learned…
You shouldn’t do any of those things.
Of course finding the perfect house is ultimately what a homebuyer is focused on, and concerned about. But the agent who represents your interests is as important of a decision.
And when you do any of the above things, you’re essentially “choosing” an agent to work with and represent your interests.
People often complain about having lousy relationships or experiences with real estate agents. From what I’m gathering here in the field, that happens because most people stumble into their relationship with a real estate agent. They put house first, and the agent they work with comes along with it.
Buyers don’t always buy the first house they call on, or stop into. But it can happen. You can walk in and fall in love with a place, and the next thing you know you’re making an offer and going through the process with whatever agent you came across.
Sure, the process, experience, and agent may be great. But, often it’s not the case.
I’ve already heard people say, “I wish I’d called you before I made an offer.”
Unfortunately, at that point it might have even been too late.
Once an agent shows you a house, they can claim “procuring cause”. (It’s a bit much to get into here, but basically put, you can get stuck working with that agent, even if they’re not a great agent, or doing a good job.)
So, please do call me. Call me before you even go see a house.
Even if you aren’t super serious and feel like you “don’t want to waste my time”. It’s never a waste of my time. Because you never know what house you will see will end up being “the one”.
If you see a house you’re interested in…
  • Skip the open house. Let’s go see it privately and without the crowds or prying eyes and ears of the listing agent.
  • If you see a for sale sign of a house you are interested in seeing…don’t just call the listing agent. Call me. They already represent the seller. Have someone truly representing you and your interests separately.
  • If you see something online you want to see, just forward me the listing and we can arrange a time to go see it.
…always call me before you just go “check it out”.
It’s a huge decision and transaction, and you should have someone who truly represents your best interests.
Hope that was some good insight for you. I know I never gave it as much thought as I do now that I’m in the business.

There is a certain mystique to older homes.

With each one there is always a veil of mystery to be pulled back with every structure that predates the 1970’s. This mystery has a level of attraction to a certain subset of homeowners. So popular are these stalwart buildings that defiantly stand against the withering of time that whole magazines, movies and TV shows are dedicated to their existence and upkeep.

From ‘This Old House’ to ‘The Money Pit’ the souls of these homes bring out the wonder and love from within people. The common thread that connects these folks are the thoughts they have as soon as they enter these homes. If you don’t understand why people love old homes, maybe you will after you read these.

1. “Oh, The Possibilities!”

Lovers of old homes walk into these dilapidated structures and they don’t see rot and ruin; they see potential. Their eyes glaze over like a toddler who’s filled-to-bulging Halloween sack has just been dumped out in front of them on their living room floor. Their own desire and gritty determination to resurrect the structure to its former and even greater glory sets them apart from your average buyer.

2. “If I dig for it, it will come!”

They know it’s there, lurking under the floorboards. When they think of what lies beneath, they aren’t thinking of that horrible movie where Han Solo played a bad guy for once. They’re seeing beyond the thirty layers of atrocious wallpaper. They see original wood, original paint and history undiscovered.

3. “I’m telling you, there’s buried treasure in here!”

They’ve read the Enquirer. They’ve seen the stories on TMZ. They know buried in these ancient walls is treasure. NO, not original crown molding. We’re talking the sacks of old coins, bonds and cash that the original owners stuffed under the floorboards because they “didn’t trust no banks.”

4. “There is a special history attached to this house, I know it!”

These folks that love older homes have souls that have lifetime subscriptions to the History Channel. Not only do they revel in the idea of sitting around the campfire listening to elders telling tales of days gone by, they would LOVE it if the home they just bought has some unique history attached to it. Olde Tyme street cred.

5. “OMG…original hardwoods!”

Like a motorcycle collector finding an Indian with its original engine in working order, to these lovers of all things old and homey anything original is a check in the ‘win’ column. The more original items in the house, the more their interest will swell.

6. “SHHH! Did you hear that?”

Every old home has a personality. Memories burned into the fibers of the wood from a lifetime of being lived in by its previous inhabitants. Some of those leftover impressions can be good, some can be bad. Either way, people that frequent old homes can feel that “vibe” every time they walk inside… and they love it.

7. “Ow… my wallet hurts.”

With older homes comes the inevitable shock to the bank account. Repairs can cost a lot because most owners want to bring the home up to a livable and also, original, condition. The difference between your average buyer and people who love older homes, people who love older homes look forward to the challenge.

8. “Oh yeah, you smell that?”

One of the quickest paths to memory is through smell. You catch a whiff of apple pie or a stack of old books and it takes you back to a favorite time from your childhood. To these folks the dust, mustiness and aroma of days gone by that would make others cringe, makes them inhale and say, “aww yeahhhhh…”

9. “Let’s just move here…now!”

Instant gratification is the name of the game anymore in this thirty-second society. With people who love old homes the desire to drop it all and move into an old home they love comes from a different place. The connection they feel is so deep that if you ask them why they’ll tell you that they “just know.”

10. “Here, life would be perfect!”

Unfortunately for people that love old homes, this statement rings true for EVERY old home they step into.
Featured image via Flickr user David Sawyer