Buyer Tips: Set Yourself Up for Success

I wanted to share some purchase preparation tips that I’ve accumulated over the years to keep in mind once you’ve decided that you are going to buy in the next 6 months.

Cancel shopping sprees
Don’t make any large purchases or do anything that implicates your credit negatively for about four to five months before buying. Banks will be scouring through your accounts to ensure you are financially worthy of a loan. Ignoring this will negatively impact your potential loan amount and rate.

Get your credit in line
Your pre-approval process with a lender will require a credit report to be run. This is a good opportunity to rectify any discrepancies with creditors so when you do have an offer accepted, your final loan approval will no longer include those discrepancies, which will improve your score and get you a better rate. This is the “debt” part of the Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio that comes into play in getting a loan and dictating what amount.

Down payment
Most lenders and loan types will require you to pay some % of your loan amount as a down payment, so don’t forget to squirrel away some money for this. If you are getting some help from family or friends, gifting money can be used to help with down payments but will require a gift letter. If you don’t have enough for 20% down, lenders will require you to have mortgage insurance (MI or PMI), which adds to your monthly mortgage payment. There are some loan types out there that will allow you to put as little as 3% down or zero down for those that qualify.

Don’t quit your day job
Proof of and length of employment are core elements in lenders determining your DTI, so now is not the best time to call it quits with your current employer. Stick around until the closing paper work is signed if you can help it.

If you need some more information on any of these items or any other real estate questions, I’m here for you!


Posted on January 6, 2020 at 8:10 pm
Ellen Evans | Posted in Home Buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Buying Process: What to Expect

Understanding the buying process can better help you prepare yourself, emotionally and mentally, for what is to come and can alleviate some of that stress! Here is a general guide that breaks down the process and helps you prepare for what to expect when buying a home.

The Search
Most buyers start their home search on their own and “window shop” for homes. This is a great way to get a feel for the market and check your own commitment level. Keep in mind that having an agent at this point in time can fast track your searching efforts, as they can do the leg work for you!

The Pre-Approval
Once you are ready to take the next step, you’ll want to get pre-approved so that you can be prepared to make an offer. Note that these typically last 90 days but can be renewed at the end of this time period. This allows you to jump at any prospective homes as quickly as possible, and in hot markets, this can make all the difference.

Get an Agent
An agent is going to advocate for you and protect your interests. They have a great amount of expertise and insight that can help you make the best decision possible. They will also negotiate on the offer, give real estate advice, file all appropriate paperwork, and ensure that the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

The Offer
You think you’ve found the one! The offer will include your price and any other terms or conditions that your offer depends upon. You will also be required to put some earnest money forward to let the seller know you are serious. This goes to escrow and is applied toward your purchase if your offer is accepted. You may lose your earnest money if you back out of the offer and it isn’t based on any of your pre-ordained contract conditions. It is wise to write an inspection as a condition to your offer, that way if major items come up, you can walk away and get your earnest money back. Be sure to read over the seller disclosure documents, as the seller is required by law to put any known flaws in the home in writing. You will also set a closing date, which sets the date in which you get the keys and the home is yours.

The Counter Offer
The seller may come back with their acceptance or denial of your offer price or conditions. Don’t worry, you can counter their offer as well. This can be a back and forth game until both parties come to a consensus.

Mutual Agreement
Once both parties have agreed on the terms in the offer, you have mutual agreement.

The Loan Application
Mutual agreement comes with a price and with that, your lender can start the underwriting process. The time to complete the loan application can vary, but you can expect at least one week during normal business times.

The Appraisal and Inspection
Lenders want to ensure that the home is at least worth the amount they are lending you. This protects you from overpaying for the home. If you are putting up an all cash offer, you are not required to have an appraisal.

Closing
If approved, you will bring your down payment and money for all other closing costs. After signing the mortgage, you are now in the possession of the deed and you will get your keys on the aforementioned closing date.

This isn’t an all-inclusive list, so if you have questions about the finer points in the buying process, let me or your lender know!


Posted on December 15, 2019 at 4:38 pm
Ellen Evans | Posted in Home Buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding the Market

Once you start to get more serious about making a move, you will want to understand the current market conditions. Here are a couple of things to keep an eye on while you peruse homes.

Pricing Trends
Pay close attention to the trends in the area(s) you are looking to buy in. This is where a real estate agent can be critically important. Understanding if pricing is on the rise or the decline in a specific area, can help you identify when is a good time to buy or not.

Market temperature
How long are listings lingering on the market in the area you are browsing? If homes are selling quickly, it indicates a hot or seller’s market and can usually lead to multiple offers or a bidding war in some cases. Getting a home below market value is rare in this kind of market. If homes are staying on the market for a relatively lengthy time, it means that it is a cool or buyer’s market and your chance of getting a home at less than asking price increases.

Mortgage Rates
These rates are strongly tied to our own economy and the Federal Reserve Board (FED). When the prime rate is increased to curb inflations and slow economic growth, mortgage rates rise. When they cut interest rates to stimulate economic growth, mortgage rates usually drop and makes buying a home more affordable. Pay close attention to where rates are and where they are heading when looking to buy.

If you need any more information or have any questions, fire away! I am here to help you!


Posted on October 29, 2019 at 3:08 am
Ellen Evans | Posted in Home Buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Understanding the Market

Buying Your Dream Home

Once you start to get more serious about making a move, you will want to understand the current market conditions. Here are a couple of things to keep an eye on while you peruse homes.

Pricing Trends
Pay close attention to the trends in the area(s) you are looking to buy in. This is where a real estate agent can be critically important. Understanding if pricing is on the rise or the decline in a specific area, can help you identify when is a good time to buy or not.

Market Temperature
How long are listings lingering on the market in the area you are browsing? If homes are selling quickly, it indicates a hot or seller’s market and can usually lead to multiple offers or a bidding war in some cases. Getting a home below market value is rare in this kind of market. If homes are staying on the market for a relatively lengthy time, it means that it is a cool or buyer’s market and your chance of getting a home at less than asking price increases.

Mortgage Rates
These rates are strongly tied to our own economy and the Federal Reserve Board (FED). When the prime rate is increased to curb inflations and slow economic growth, mortgage rates rise. When they cut interest rates to stimulate economic growth, mortgage rates usually drop and makes buying a home more affordable. Pay close attention to where rates are and where they are heading when looking to buy.


Posted on October 3, 2019 at 2:20 am
Ellen Evans | Posted in Home Buying |

Did You Know Title Insurance Rates Decreased in September?

Yes, you read that correctly. Every few years, the Texas Department of Insurance (the state agency that regulates title insurance) looks at title industry data to see how we are doing, and to see if a rate increase or decrease is warranted. The statistical data is provided to TDI by title insurance agents and underwriters. Currently, due to many factors including rising real estate prices, the Department implemented a 4.9% rate decrease, that went into effect on September 1st, 2019. The new rate will applies to all real estate transactions in Texas, including sales, refinances, and any other transactions that include the purchase of a title policy.

A decrease might sound surprising, but over the last 25 years, we have had several rate decreases, but only one rate increase. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Periodic adjustments are healthy and a great indicator as to the strength of the Texas economy and the efficiency of the Texas title premium rate regulations.

Reposted with permission from Independence Title.


Posted on September 25, 2019 at 8:00 pm
Ellen Evans | Posted in Title Insurance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Starting Your Search for Your New Home

 

Searching for homes might be the most exciting part of buying a home. In my experience, the key to eliminating the “never-ending search” is to set up a list of wants and needs.

Needs
Your first focus should be what you or your family must have in a home. This usually translates to the core characteristics of the house, i.e., those that cannot be easily changed. Beds, bathrooms, and size of the home (Sqft) fall into this category. I would also encourage you to include location and schools because the proximity to your workplace and the quality of school district are also sub-characteristics of the home.

Wants
Once you’ve established your needs, you can then shift your attention to the wants. Things like yard size, garage space, a chef’s kitchen, or office space are all desirable but typically won’t be a deal breaker. This is where compromise often comes into play and most homes will have most of what you want, but perhaps not everything. It even helps to rank your wants so you can work from an ordered list to help you make a decision.

Having these priorities will help narrow your search by keeping your focus on homes that fit your criteria!

Searching for homes is exciting and I want to offer my services up if you need help. As an agent, I can expedite the search process for you, get you into houses outside of open house times, and give my expect opinion on any homes you might be looking at.

Happy Hunting!


Posted on July 21, 2019 at 6:31 pm
Ellen Evans | Posted in Home Buying | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Property Tax Season is Here!

 

 

Like the old adage says, “there are only two things that are certain in life, death and taxes.” Property Tax Season in Texas is already upon us, and the deadline to protest your 2019 taxes is May 15.

Here are some links to help you prepare for protest season, and some other news to update on the latest about what the City and County are doing about property taxes:

KSAT –  Tips on protesting your property taxes before the May 15 deadline

Property Tax FAQ

Real and Personal Property Tax Calendar

Property Tax Rates

San Antonio Business Journal – A peek at San Antonio’s new proposed property tax rate

550 KTSA – San Antonio To Study Property Tax Appraisals

If you’ve recently transacted with me this past year and I haven’t already provided documents needed to file your tax protest, please let me know and I will get them to you ASAP. If you need referrals for hiring a professional to fight your property taxes, let me know and I’ll send over three names for you to choose from.

May your success in fighting taxes be plenty and your increase be minimal!

Best of luck,
Ellen Evans

Phyllis Browning Co. | Alamo Heights
(210) 313-8915 (Direct) | (210) 824-7878 Alamo Heights (Office)
eevans@phyllisbrowning.com
Website | ellenevans.agent.pbcsuccess.com


Posted on April 14, 2019 at 6:44 pm
Ellen Evans | Posted in Property Taxes | Tagged , , , , , , ,