We have been exploring how to choose a neighborhood that is the perfect fit for you, for your family and for your lifestyle. Neighborhoods have life cycles much like we do.
Let’s discuss your life cycles and how it affects the neighbor you choose. When you are searching for your first home your priorities will probably be different than when you buy your second or third or last home. Often times home buyers concentrate on very specific items – the quality and location of schools; the commute time and options to a job location; the local amenities (community pool & parks; walk-ability; proximity for worship and health care options; transit options) are the most common considerations. You can see how your lifecycle will affect what are most important to you – if you have school age kids, schools will be important, if you are an empty nester then your priorities might be golf courses, or health care options and the size of yards may be what is most important. Some neighborhoods blend all of these options with diverse housing options all contained within one community.
Neighborhoods also have life cycles - some are on the rise, while others seem to struggle, some are in transition, waiting to see who moves in to tackle whatever challenges might be facing the area. In the past couple of years we have seen neighborhoods experience wide and unexpected changes. The number of homes in foreclosure within one community often meant a “whole new lifecycle” began as those homes sold. The market changed some neighborhoods, this was sudden and in some cases drastic. Other neighborhoods change due to the age of homes and consequently the age of buyers.
There are challenging neighborhoods and often times we hear stories of long-time residents who band together to “resurrect” the community. It can bring neighbors together and create a strong sense of community when everyone works together to change a neighborhood. Sometimes new neighbors (buyers) will be the leading force in such a change. Again with this recent market some home buyers found they could afford a neighborhood that had been out of their financial reach before. Overcoming obstacles of a neighborhood is not for everyone, some buyers choose to wait to purchase in a neighborhood that is transforming or needs to transform, some buyers want to be the catalyst in the change. There is a risk, but you know it going in.
Discovering a neighborhood is "finding yourself" all over again - it is a chance to rekindle what is important to you. In fact, you might find that you have a neighborhood where you will live and another neighborhood in which you will work - and they might be close or far apart. You may have other neighborhoods where you shop or find your entertainment - but when you plan to move to an area, take the time to see beyond the minutes to work or school. Seeking out the soul of neighborhoods can ground you in a place and help you to understand where you fit in and how you can make a difference.
We live and work in the greater Plano area, let us help you discover the many neighborhoods in our market and find the one that is the perfect fit for you.
As the real estate market continues to heat up and enjoy a brisk summer season we continue to see a low inventory of homes which is also contributing to multiple offers and bidding wars. We often tell our buyers they need to be ready to act quickly and to present the most appealing offer possible. Here are some ways buyers can help themselves stand out above the crowd of other buyers:
Talk to a lender
Check your credit report for accuracy
Inquire about your ratio’s be sure your debt-to-income ratio is in line
Pay of any debts you can
Have down payment saved and in an account that can be verified
Putting down more than 20% makes you look more financially stable and gives sellers a comfort level that you will be able to “close the deal”
Have lender pre-approval before viewing homes
Know your budget and stick to it, don’t let the “excitement of the moment” carry you away
Bidding wars tend to drive prices up, so look at homes below your top-end budget so you have room to bid higher if you are part of a bidding war
Limit your contingencies
If you have to sell your home to complete this purchase you will be less appealing to a seller; if your current home is under contract provide details about that transaction to help the seller see you as a solid buyer.
Be reasonable without being difficult – be flexible with dates for closing/moving.
Add a personal touch
Write a letter or statement to the seller – this helps the seller see you as a person and not just a number
Home buyers - especially first time home buyers - can often times have unrealistic expectations and high emotions as they begin viewing homes. We often coach buyers to not let their hearts control their heads, when it comes to choosing and purchasing a home it is a business transaction.
Here are 6 common myths:
1. "The perfect home is out there." Many buyers tend to focus on one thing that is wrong with the house, rather than the 10 things that are just right for them. Buying a home is an exercise in compromise; don't expect to get everything on your wish list.
2. "The house has to speak to you." Buyer often get caught up in how the home "feels" or "speaks" to them. Homes are often staged to appeal to your senses and remember that the furnishings often don't stay with the home, so step back and visualize your furniture and life-style in the home.
3. "The listing information is always accurate." When it comes to listing sheets and descriptive words you see on various web sites the rule of thumb is: don't believe until you see it. If you are seeking a certain square footage, take you tape measure; if you have to have a certain school, call the school district to verify the address and boundaries; count the cupboards and closets, verify what is important to you!
4. "You should buy as much house as you can get." In real estate's heyday, it was normal to see two people living in 8 bedroom, 5,000 square feet homes. These days, it doesn't make financial sense. Buy a home based on what you need and can comfortably live with, not excessively.
5. "If your offer was accepted right away, you offered too much." Buyers remorse is common, especially in an uncertain market. But if you are comfortable with the offer you made before you knew the seller's reaction, there there's no point in second-guessing yourself. In any business transaction the goal is to make everyone feel like a winner.
6. "The value of the home will increase." If we have learned anything in the past several years it is that homes are not cash cows. No one can truly predict what the market will do in the future.
We are experienced real agents, and we will help you every step of the way.
f you are planning to purchase a home this year there are several things you can do now and a few things to do before you actually select your new home. The home buying process is exciting and contains many steps. These items will help make the transaction smoother.
1.Decide What You Want
·This is the fun part, decide what you are looking for, what part of town, how big (or small), and when you want to purchase?
·It can be helpful to write down your thoughts, your questions, and what you have seen that you like or don’t like.
·Be sure to consider factors such as your family size now and in the next 5 years; your job commute (time & distance, traffic patterns); location in respect to family, friends and social activities.
·Consider things just as pricing, amenities (pool, kitchen size, basement finished or not, yard size), design (one story or two; colonial or modern, etc). You may also want to create a priority list; this will help if you can’t find a home in your price range with all of your desired features.
2.Get Your Financial House in Oder
·Talk to a lender sooner rather than later. Get a list of the documents you will need to present to get pre-approved.
·Discuss your budget for your monthly mortgage payment.
·How much do you need for a down-payment?
·What are you expected closing costs and taxes?
·You want to be sure to have your finances in order before looking at or preparing an offer to purchase.
·Your realtor will be your partner and once you view a few homes it will be easier for everyone to know just what you want, what you like and what you dislike.
·Your realtor will also provide you with the newest listings that come on the market; this will help you stay ahead of the crowd to view homes.
4.Make An Offer
·You have found your home and now it is time to make an offer - again having your Realtor partner will be invaluable at this step.
·Contract presentation and negotiation is the next step.
·Inspections follow an accepted offer
·Obtain property insurance
·Get the home appraised – your lender and your agent will help with this
5.Finalize the Purchase & Move-in
·Usually a buyer schedules a date and time to do one more walk-thru of the home before the final papers are signed. This is the opportunity to assure that the inspection items were handled as agreed upon.
·Attend closing and sign a lot of papers – again your agent and a title representative, and/or a real estate attorney will assist with this step.
·Move in, unpack and enjoy!
We are experienced, full time, real estate agents, we offer our clients many benefits, and we love what we do! We provide a team of experience service providers that will work with you each and every step of the way!
Let’s chat about taking that first step towards home ownership.
We all know the media is full of opinions about investing in real estate - is this the time to buy? We beleive the answer is YES! Now is the time to buy a home, become a home owner! It is a great time and being a homeowner is one of life's joys and a wonderful accomplishment!
Here are reasons you want to be a homeowner NOW:
1. Equity. When you pay rent, you never see that money again. It is lining the landlord's pocket. Yes, buying a home may come with some hefty initial costs (downpayment, closing costs, inspections), but you will make that money back over time, in the equity your home will build over time. Historically, homes appreciate by about 4 to 6 percent a year. Some areas of the country (some right here in our Texas real estate market) are still experiencing normal appreciation rates. Homeownership is about building long-term wealth.
2. Relationships: Renters tend to see their neighbors come and go quickly. Homeowners, however, have yards, walking trails, or community pools and clubhouses where they can get to know each other. And neighborhood schools and activities that bring people together to help build relationships. Neighbors stay put much longer (at least three to five years if they hope to recoup their closing costs). This means more time to develop relationships. Research has shown that people with healthy relationships have more happiness and less stress.
3. Predictability: Well, as long as you have a fixed-rate term on your mortgage it's predictable. Most people buying homes today know that a fixed-rate is the way to go. This means your payment amount is fixed for the life of the term. If your mortgage payment is $500 today, then it will still be $500 a month in 10 years. This allows for people to budget and make solid financial plans.
4. Ownership: Okay, this is a given. Homeownership means you "own" your home. Ownership has some great perks - you can renovate, update, paint, and decorate to your heart's desire. You can plant trees, install a pool, expand the patio, or do holiday decorating that would rival the Kranks. The bottom line is this is your home and you can personalize it to your taste. Most renters are stuck with the same beige walls and beige carpet that has been standard apartment decor for 20 years. Now is your chance to let your home speak!
5. Great Deals: It's a great time to buy. Interest rates are at historic lows. This means big savings for today's buyers. Home prices have also taken a dip since the recession, which means homes are more affordable than ever. Also, the supply of homes for sale is strong. If you have steady income and cash for a downpayment, contact us and let's talk about what homes in our area can be a fit for you and your family!
Homeownership can be a real joy. The time is right for you to become a homeowner!
There are many issues to evaluate when considering a home purchase including what you can afford, what kind of loan best suits you, the property itself and once you find your dream house, how much you are willing to pay for it.
How Much Can You Afford?
Before starting your search for a home, you must decide how much you can afford. Generally speaking, it is recommended that the down payment be a minimum of 5-20% of the purchase price. In addition, there are two other standard thresholds to consider in terms of how much of your monthly income should be spent on housing.
•Your total housing costs (mortgage, interest, property taxes, insurance) should not exceed 28% of your income.
•The combination of your housing costs and all other monthly debt (car loans, student loans, etc.) should not exceed 36% of your income.
What Type of Loan Structure Works Best For You?
There are many different types of loans available. However, one of the basic decisions you'll have to make is whether you prefer the predictability of a conventional loan, knowing that your payment will be the same amount each month over the life of the loan, or whether you are comfortable with foregoing the fixed monthly payment for an adjustable loan where the initial interest rate is lower and the monthly payment amount will fluctuate periodically throughout the life of the loan. Both conventional and adjustable loans provide a variety of terms to select from to best meet your needs. A mortgage broker will be able to provide a wealth of information on the various options available as well as determine whether you qualify for any government-backed loan programs.
We have experience with respected lenders throughout the area, let us help you with this stage of the home buying process.
WOW!Nearly new home in much sought after new community, Bluffview!Spacious, clean and open floor plan, this home is ideal for family living and entertaining.Large kitchen and spacious bedrooms.Main floor master with luxurious private bath.Location is ideal for easy commute, near highways and DART rail station.
Immaculate, well cared for, updated and many upgrades are just a few of the features of this wonderful townhome.Located near shopping, restaurants, and easy commute options.The seller is very motivated and you will not be disappointed when you see it for yourself!
As the cooler weather moves in many people will turn to a space heater to take the chill off and to help reduce their heating costs.But wait! Not all space heaters are really the savings many believe them to be.If your heat is gas, then yes you will use less “heat expense” but the electricity it takes to run a space heater will cause a spike in your electric bill.
If your space heater is a 1500 watt electric heater here is what it will add to your monthly electric bill:
Today we continue our discussion on the differences and similarities when purchasing a new construction home.If you missed the first part of this report, you can find it here.
Be Cautious with Upgrades and Extras
5 Home Features That Excite Buyers
1. Stainless Steel Appliances:
Many buyers like the sleek, powerful appearance of stainless steel kitchen appliances. Part of the attraction may be that a home kitchen with stainless steel appliances suggests the professionalism of a commercial kitchen. The modern look of the appliances themselves can be incorporated into almost any kitchen design (from modern interiors to more traditional styles). A stainless steel finish is not for everyone, however, so keep in mind that the appeal of these contemporary gadgets will not be universal.Another thing to remember is that it may be more financially beneficial to “take” the standard appliances and then upgrade to stainless steel at a later time.
2. Hardwood Floors:
Hardwood floors are sought after by home buyers across all property types and architectural styles. Hardwood flooring has a timeless style and is more durable than other types of flooring. Synthetic wood floors are an option for owners who can't afford hardwood - just know that most potential buyers will know the difference right away, if you are considering your “resale” future.Again, it may be wiser to upgrade to hardwoods at a later time, financing the upgrade cost of hardwoods from the builder may not be the best use of your funds.
3. Quality Fixtures:
Upgrading the smallest details can often go a long ways to improving your home's appeal to buyers. Replacing outdated or lower-quality doorknobs, faucets, light switch/outlet covers, and drawer pulls can be a relatively inexpensive way to make over a bathroom or kitchen. You can also greatly enhance your home's appeal by updating lighting fixtures throughout your house, but keep in mind that higher-end lighting fixtures can get expensive fast. Whenever replacing fixtures, make sure the replacements coordinate with both any remaining fixtures and the interior aesthetic of your home.
4. Surround Sound:
The popularity of larger flat panel and projection screen televisions in recent years has in turn generated greater interest in advanced home audio that compliments near cinema-quality picture. Building a surround sound system into your living/media room can entice potential buyers who may be excited by the idea of a new dimension of home entertainment but disinclined to go through the process of installation and setup. This is one of those items that might be worth the extra expense from the builder, since the wires can be “hidden” inside the walls much easier during construction than later added in.
5. Slab Kitchen Countertops:
Granite countertops get a lot of attention as a must-have finish for any contemporarily designed kitchen, but in reality a number of other slab materials can be used to achieve a similar look at a lower cost. One of the major selling points of granite countertops is how easy they are to care for: the hard, nonporous surface is much easier to clean than a tile counter top with grout lines. Solid Synthetic surfaces (such as Corian), composite (Silestone), limestone, soapstone, marble, quartz and butcher-block slab counters all come with easy care and a more attractive appearance than laminate or tile countertops.
Upgrades to the home itself are features (such as hardwood flooring or high end appliances) that you pay extra for to improve the home based on your tastes. Builders can make a lot of money on upgrades, because they get the parts and labor at favorable rates and generally tack on a large markup.
Make sure you know the base feature list of the model you are purchasing by heart. When the builder offers upgrades, make sure you understand exactly what is being offered by asking questions and taking notes.
Do your own research to compare the cost of the feature plus installation as offered by the builder with what it would cost to have the work done independently after move in. If the builder's version is far and away more expensive, bidding the work out to independent contractors after you move in is probably the smart move. If the costs are similar, however, it may be less stress to have the work completed by the builder in advance.
Hire an Independent Home Inspector
Many people who purchase new construction fall into the trap of thinking that because the home is newly built, the important step of getting a detailed home inspection is unnecessary. Simply put, new construction does not guarantee sound construction, and skipping a professional inspection can leave you open to future problems that might crop op as a result of building flaws or cut corners. Even homes built by the most scrupulous contractors can have defects that are not obvious to the untrained eye.
Many builders will proved an all-inclusive home warranty as a part of the purchase agreement. This should not dissuade you from getting an impartial inspection: most warranties have a limited lifespan, and many original issues with home construction may not become apparent until many years later.
Shop for Lenders
Builders almost always have a preferred lender (sometimes even an in-house mortgage company), and will typically try to steer you to using this lender to secure the mortgage for your new home. Some builders will even offer deals on the purchase price of the home or free upgraded - contingent upon you using their lender.
Using the builder's lender, especially without first shopping around for mortgages and other sources, is highly problematic. A mortgage provider who has a working relationship with a builder or development is out to make sure they can get you into a loan for the property. What they aren't necessarily doing is making sure you get the best deal. Always shop around for the best possible rate, lowest closing cost and fewest hassles.
Overall, it is still very important to have a professional real estate agent representing you throughout the new home purchase process.
Buying a brand new a shiny, never-before-lived in home has a certain amount of appeal. There is no previous homeowner who has affected the home or who has emotional ties to the home that will factor into the negotiation process. New homes are usually built with floor plans that reflect the latest, most popular design trends.And sometimes you can watch it “grow” up out of the ground, and pick some of the colors and options, making it even more yours.
In many ways, buying new construction is an entirely different animal than buying an existing home. While you still need to determine your budget, decide which home features are must-have and secure financing; the process of buying new construction involves a number of different steps.
Buyers often times think that they don’t need their own agent to represent them.The builder sales people are paid by the builder and therefore they will represent the builder’s best interests and not yours.In addition, buying a home isn’t something we do often so we don’t know the process well enough to get ourselves the best deal, so be sure to take your real estate agent with you as you negotiate and review the contract.
A buyer's agent will act as your fiduciary and provide unbiased information on the pros and cons of any potential transaction. If you find developments that you are interested in learning more about, channel everything through your own independent representation. Protecting your own welfare is paramount.
Learn About the Development(s)
Buying a home in a planned development necessitates careful research of the development and neighborhood itself - more effort than you might otherwise put into learning about an existing neighborhood surrounding a resale.
Drive around the neighborhood to get the lay of the land. Are street grids easy to learn, or confusing. What community amenities are in the development?Are homes built on top of each other or is there some breathing space between homes?How often is a model repeated on each street?
Inquire with the city or county planner's office to learn about what is in store for the area around the development(s) you are interested in. The neighboring open space – it is planned for a shopping mall? A school? Left as open space? A rail station?
Research the bylaws and rules of the homeowners association, if one exits. Some subdivisions have HOA's with strict rules and regulations restricting things such as exterior paint colors, outdoor sheds, landscaping and vegetable gardens. Violating these guidelines can result in expensive penalties, while living by them may be too stifling for some.
Research the Builder(s)
Accurately and fairly reviewing a builder's history is a crucial step if you're considering the purchase of a newly built home. Don't rely on information provided by representatives of the builder or subdivision, as it will be their goal to represent the builder in the best possible light.
Go to the courthouse to see if any liens or lawsuits have been filed against the builder, and verify how they were resolved. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any serious complaints against the builder registered by past homeowners or subcontractors. If at all possible, contact homeowners currently living in homes previously constructed by the same builder to see how they feel about the quality of craftsmanship after having actually lived in the home. And of course ask your real estate agent – and experienced agent will have a good understanding of which builders have a good reputation locally, and which do not.
Next we will discuss upgrades, lenders and inspections of a new construction home.