Real Estate Information Archive

Blog

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

The 5 Most Important Home Closing Terms

by Rebecca Shahan
Buying a home can be a confusing process. This is especially true for first time buyers. All those words! But don't worry, that why you hire a professional to help you figure it all out. Still, there's some basic terms that you should familiarize yourself with, especially when closing a home sale.
 
Here's the 5 most important closing terms you should know.
  1. Down Payment Simply put, this is the amount of money you pay up front for a mortgage, just like buying a car. Most mortgage lenders require between 3% - 20% down payment. In the case of VA or government assisted loans, this amount can be less.
  2. Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – You may be required to pay for private mortgage insurance when you take out a loan if you put down less than 20%. PMI protects the lender in case you end up foreclosing on your home.
  3. Annual Percentage Rate (APR) – APR refers to the total cost of taking out a loan. It can include broker fees, interest rate, points, and others.
  4. Loan Estimate (LE) – A loan estimate deals with the estimated closing costs, along with the terms of the loan that you agreed to.
  5. Closing Costs – Closing costs are paid by both the buyer and seller. These costs can cover application fees, property fees, title examination, title insurance, attorney charges and settlement documents.

Of course, this only scratches the surface of what you should know about buying a home. 

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Understanding Real Estate Representation

by Rebecca Shahan

You have choices when selecting representation in a real estate transaction. Here are five tips for understanding which type of legal relationship with a real estate professional, called an agency relationship, will best protect you when you buy or sell a home.

Buyer’s Agency

When you’re buying a home, you can hire an agent who represents only you, called an exclusive buyer’s representative or agent. A buyer's agent works in your best interest and owes you a fiduciary duty. You can pay your buyer’s agent yourself, or ask the seller, or the seller’s agent, to pay your agent a share of their sales commission.

If you’re selling your home and hiring an agent to list it exclusively, you’ve hired a selling representative - an agent who owes fiduciary duties to you. Typically, you pay a selling agent a commission at closing. Selling agents usually offer or agree to pay a portion of their sales commission to the buyer’s agent. If your seller’s agent brings in a buyer, your agent keeps the entire commission.

Disclosed Dual Agency

Agents and companies can represent both parties in a home sale as long as that relationship is fully disclosed. It’s called disclosed dual agency. Because dual agents represent both parties, they can’t be protective of and loyal to only you. Dual agents don’t owe all the traditional fiduciary duties to clients. Instead, they owe limited fiduciary duties to each party.

Why would you agree to dual agency? Suppose you want to buy a house that’s listed for sale by the same real estate brokerage where your buyer’s agent works. In that case, the real estate brokerage would be representing both you and the seller and you’d both have to agree to that.

Because there’s a potential for conflicts of interest with dual agency, all parties must give their informed consent. In many states, that consent must be in writing.

Designated Agency

A form of disclosed dual agency, “designated agency” allows two different agents within a single firm to represent the buyer and seller in the same transaction. To avoid conflicts that can arise with dual agency, some managing brokers designate or appoint agents in their company to represent only sellers, or only buyers. But that isn't required for designated agency. A designated, or appointed, agent will give you full representation and represent your best interests.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Ways to Get Rid of Pet Smells to Help Sell Your Austin Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Pet odors can be a big turnoff for potential buyers in Austin and Lake Travis and could keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent or a friend if your home has a pet smell.

If your home does have a pet smell, here's what you can do:

Air Out Your House

This is easy enough. Just open all the windows when you clean to get in all that fresh air. If you have carpets, you will need to shampoo them or have them professionally cleaned.

Once the smell is gone, you'll have to keep on top of the smell until you sell you home. You may have to crate your dog more or keep them outside more often. Limit cats to one room if you can. Remove or replace pet bedding.

Scrub Thoroughly

Bare floors that are soiled by your furry friends can be scrubbed thoroughly with vinegar, wood floor cleaner, or an odor-neutralizing product, which you can purchase at a pet supply store for $10 to $25.

Try a 1:9 bleach-to-water solution on surfaces it won’t damage, like cement floors or walls.

For hard to clean stains, you may have to call in a professional. This may cost more, but it will be worth it when you sell your home.

Wash Your Drapes and Upholstery

Fabrics can really soak up odors. Clean all of your fabric window coverings and steam clean furniture.

Either buy a steam cleaner designed to remove pet hair for around $200 and do the job yourself, or pay a pro. You’ll spend about $40 for an upholstered chair, $100 for a sofa, and $7 for each dining room chair if a pro does your cleaning.

Clean Your Carpets

Carpets and rugs also hold in the odors. You can have a pro do it for you for the most effective results. A professional cleaner may try to sell you deodorizing treatments. You’ll know if you need to spend the extra money on those after the carpet dries and you have a friend perform a sniff test.

If this doesn't get rid of the odor, you may want to think about replacing the offending carpets and padding. And if you do replace them, remember to scrub the subfloor with vinegar or an odor-removing product. But if the smell is in the subfloor, you may even have to replace that as well.

Again, think about cost-to-benefit. How much will you spend vs how much more you can get from the sale of your home.

Paint, Replace, or Seal Walls

If the smell is in the walls and can't be removed with cleaners, then it's time for a fresh coat of paint. Again, in extreme cases, you may have to replace the drywall or wood altogether.

On brick and cement, apply a sealant appropriate for the surface for $25 to $100. That may smother and seal in the odor, keeping it from reemerging.

Control Urine Smells

Indoor pee pads are really not a good idea to start with as far as controlling odors. But if you do use them, make sure you remove them every time Fido goes. And make sure you dispose of them in an outside container. Even if you have a clean one layed out, remove it before each showing.

Replace kitty litter daily, rather than scooping used litter clumps, and sweep up around the litter box. Hide the litter box before each showing.

These all may sound like drastic measures. But in the end, the extra steps will help sell you home faster and for more money.

 

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

Questions You Should Ask Before You Move Into Your Home in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

If you bought a house with no maintenance issues big or small, that would be one for the record books. In reality, most homeowners find a problem, quirk, shortcoming, whatever, within the first couple of months.

And if you’ve already settled in, getting answers to these key questions will help you get to work putting the shine on your castle. Ask the previous owner, your agent, and your new neighbors for helpful answers.

Has There Ever Been a Busted Pipe?

A broken pipe isn’t rare; in fact, water damage caused by a frozen or burst pipe is a leading cause of homeowners insurance claims, at around 22% of all home insurance losses, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

What bursts? Typically exposed water pipes in unheated basements and crawl spaces, along with exterior faucets.

Another prime suspect of water damage: old washing machine hoses.

A good inspector usually can tell if water damage has occurred, and any damage should be disclosed by the previous owner at the time of sale.

The big fallout from water damage is moisture problems you won’t see — behind drywall and trim — which can lead to mold. If you know there’s been a major leak, a mold remediation pro ($200 to $600) will tell you if mold is present and the steps required to remove it.

Any Infestations of Termites, Carpenter Ants, or Other Pests?

This should be disclosed by the previous owner at time of sale. But even if the owner dealt with a past infestation, that doesn’t mean the little buggers have been totally eliminated.

Whatever conditions made your house ripe for infestation in the first place — a slow leak under the house, soft rotting wood that attracts insects — may still be present. Plus, many infestations aren’t confined to one house. It may be a neighborhood-wide problem.

Be proactive, because the average cost of a termite extermination treatment around the perimeter of a 2,500-square-foot house is $1,700 to $3,200. Repairs to wooden framing, sheathing, and siding can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

What are Monthly Utility Costs?

You can’t get away from paying utilities, so know what your monthly budget is up against. Be sure to get an average cost — not the lowest monthly bill — and ask when peak months are.

While you’re at it, ask what kind of energy sources your house appliances use — gas, electric, propane, or a combination. That’ll help you understand where you might upgrade to energy-efficient appliances to save energy costs.

Remember that energy savings starts with the simplest of tasks, like sealing air leaks.

Has the Sewer Ever Backed Up?

As properties age and trees and other plants get bigger, roots find their way into sewer lines between a house and the street, causing clogs. It’s a mess for sure, and most homeowner insurance policies don’t cover damage from backed-up sewers.

Plan to have the sewer line cleared (about $150) every other year.

For $40 to $50 per year, you can add an endorsement to your insurance policy to cover damage from a backed-up sewer.

Check back on our blog twice a week for more real estate news, ideas, and local events in Austin and Lake Travis. You can search for the perfect home on our website using our powerful home search tools. You can also get free listing alerts of homes as they hit the market at WelcomeToLakeTravis.com. And you can always feel free to call us at 512-657-4467​ to talk to an experienced agent today.

More Reasons Why This Spring Is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Do you plan to sell your home this Spring in Austin or Lake Travis?  Typically, Spring is the best  time of year to sell a home. But this year it’s promising to be an even better time to sell.  There are factors happening in the Austin real estate scene that make this the case.  Here are the top 4 reasons why selling your home this Spring is such a great idea.

  1. Strong Demand

The National Association of Realtors Buyer Traffic Report indicates that buyer traffic is strong in Texas. Home buyers are ready to go and are buying homes right now.This means more competition to buy your home and possible more money in your pocket.

  1. Less Competition

Home inventory has been dropping for around the past 32 months. This is a good thing if you’ve been building equity in your home. But don’t count on this being the case for long. The average number of years that homeowners stayed in their homes has been around 9-10 years since 2011.This was due to the previous negative equity that kept many homeowners from selling.As values rise, more people will sell.So don’t wait too long or you could end up getting less for your home.

  1. The Process Will Be Quicker

The competition for buyers is real, and that means more buyers will be ready in advance to buy your home, including being pre-approved.Buyers are more likely to know what they want and how much they can spend, which really speeds up the process for everyone.

  1. Time to Move Up

Are you planning on moving into a better home?The good news is that higher priced homes are actually selling for less due to a higher inventory in the higher price ranges. So if you’re selling a starter home, your home will sell more quickly and you’ll be more likely to find a premium home.

The best time to sell your home in Austin and Lake Travis is now.  Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their homes in Lake Travis and Austin for years. She can help you make the right choice in a home if you do decide it's time to move. Call today at 512-657-4467. Or search for a home online with our convenient home search tool.

Spring is a Great Time to Buy a Home in Lake Travis

by Rebecca Shahan

Reasons to buy a homenow in Austin and Lake travisAre you thinking about whether Spring is the right time to buy a new home in Lake Travis, Austin, or the surrounding areas? If so, here's some great reasons why now is a good time to buy a home instead of waiting.

Prices Will Continue to Rise

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports, home prices have continued to increase by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts that prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.

The bottom in home prices in Austin has come to pass. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting to buy a home in Texas just doesn't make sense.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage hovered close to 4.0% in 2017. And according to experts, that rate will continue to rise. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the National Association of Realtors all agree that rates will increase by nearly a full percentage point by this time next year.

Higher mortgage rates means higher mortgage payments. You likely want to avoid that from happening.

Either Way, You Are Paying a Mortgage

Many renters are afraid to take on a mortgage. The thing to remember is that you are paying a mortgage when you rent, it's just someone else's.  

Having a mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. when you rent, it's your landlord is the person with that equity.

It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

There are two things that determine the cost of a home: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. Both of those factors are rising. Would you still wait if they weren't?

Examine the real reasons you want to wait. Are you doing fine where you are living now?  Or do you need to have a better place for your children? Maybe safety is a concern.  Maybe now is the right time to buy.

Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their homes in Lake Travis and Austin for years. She can help you make the right choice in a home if you do decide it's time to move. Call today at 512-657-4467. Or search for a home online with our convenient home search tool.

11 Steps to Owning Your First Home

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you getting ready to buy your first home in Austin or Lake Travis?  If so, it’s certainly an exciting time for you. It’s easy to get lost in all the emotions and happenings. The trick is to not let yourself get swept away in the process.  But don’t worry, if you keep on track, you can successfully buy your first home in Austin and come out on top.  What are the steps involved, and how can you successfully complete them all so that you find the house of your dreams in Austin and the surrounding communities?

Here are the 11 steps that you need to follow.

  1. Do Your Homework
    Buying a home is without a doubt the biggest financial decision you’ll likely make in your life. You’ll need to consider factors such as price, housing type, neighborhood, school districts, and more. You can complete this worksheet to help you figure all these items out. Make sure to fill it out with everyone who’s involved in the process so that everyone has the same goals in mind.
  2. Start Shopping for Homes in Austin
    Now that you know what you're looking for, start looking for listings online.  Here's a great tool for finding the ideal home in Austin and surrounding communities.
  3. Find a Great Agent
    Rebecca Shahan is ready to help you find the perfect first home and help you through the process of finding the perfect home in Austin and Lake Travis.
  4. Choose a Lender
    Now it’s time to find the right mortgage lender. Your lender will be working closely with you throughout the process, so it’s important to find one that understands your goals and needs.
  5. Pick a Loan
    Your lender will work with you to determine the right mortgage to fit your financial needs.  You'll need to provide proof of income, employment, and other details.
  6. Look at Homes
    Here comes the fun part of the process! Rebecca Shahan can help you find homes in in Austin and the surrounding areas in Texas that fit your budget and the needs you determined in step 1.
  7. Make an Offer
    Now that you’ve located the home you want in Austin, then you make the offer.  Rebecca can help you decide how much you want to pay, along with contingencies that both parties can agree on.
  8. Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
    This is where you work out the deal for your new home.  But watch out that you don’t get carried away by emotions because you want the house. Some sellers may just accept your offer, but some may make a counter-offer.  Your agent will work with you to decide what to do.
  9. Inspect the Home
    When an offer is accepted, then you'll sign a contract that will no doubt include a home inspection contingency.  At this point you'll hire a licensed home inspector to look for needed repairs. If major repairs are needed, then the seller will be asked to make those repairs.
  10. Appraisal
    Your lender needs to determine if the home is worth enough to cover the mortgage.
  11. Close the Deal
    You’re almost there! You just need to sign the final paperwork to finish the deal.  Now it’s time to get moved into your first home!

Rebecca Shahan has been helping people buy their first home in in Austin for years. She can help you through all of these steps to guide you to owning your first home in in Austin. Call her today at 512-657-4467.

Top Restaurants in the Austin Area

by Rebecca Shahan

There are many great reasons to buy a home in Austin Texas and the surrounding communities, such as Lakeway, Costa Bella, Flint Rock, Spanish Oaks, Lake Pointe, Falconhead, The Hills, Arbolago, and Vineyard Bay.  Austin is one of the best cities in America to live.  And one of those reasons is the amazing food!  Every year, TripAdvisor.com comes out with their list of top restaurants in Austin.  Out of over 3000 places to eat in Austin, here are the top 3.

#1. Truluck's Seafood - Austin Downtown

Truluck’s is certainly a fine dining experience, featuring fresh seafood and prime steak, along with wine by the bottle or glass. The prices may be higher than average, but so is the food, service, and atmosphere. The full service bar is noted for its happy hour and piano bar.

#2. Eddie V's Prime Seafood

According to Eddie, “Man cannot live by music, wine, and fine dining alone. But it’s worth exploring.”  And you’ll certainly explore some of the best food and drink in Austin at Eddies. Reviewers comment on the comfortable elegance and the amazing service, not to mention the delicious food and drinks, and of course happy hour.

#3. Uchi

Hands down the best Japanese cuisine in Austin.  Featuring a daily menu, Uchi serves up Japanese dishes such as kinkan kanpachi (amberjack, kumquat, negi), and wagyu no daikon (ribeye, daikon, curry). All of this comes complete with valet parking and a knowledgeable and attentive wait staff.

Want more great reasons to buy a home in the Austin area?  Check back on our blog every week for more great places to eat and things to do here!

Consider the Schools When Buying a House In Austin and Lake Travis

by Rebecca Shahan

If you're thinking about buying a home for sale in Austin or Lake Travis and have children in school, finding the right school is critical.  If you end up buying a home near a school that isn't right for your child, you could end up regretting buying the home itself.

You may think that a real estate agent can help you find the best schools in the Austin and Lake Travis area.  But actually, they can't.  Fair housing laws prevent agents from giving their opinion on schools.  This is for a good reason, as some agents in recent years have labeled schools as "bad" to swing the sale of a home toward more affluent neighborhoods. So in the end, you need to decide what schools are best for your children and base your choice on that information. And then of course your agent can help you find a home near the school you think is best.

There are at least 3 questions you should ask when finding the right school in the Austin and Lake Travis school districts.

What school will you child attend?

This may sound like an obvious question, but the problem is it's so obvious that you may not ask it. In Austin for example, there are 130 schools in the Austin Independent School District, so that means you have a lot of schools to choose from. So that does make it a bit easier, since one district covers most of the Austin area.

What are the numbers?

Test scores can say a lot about a school, even if they don't tell you everything about a school. The Austin Independent School District website actually has plenty of helpful information on individual schools and their test scores.  You can see an example with Akins High School.  They show recent performance ratings which can be helpful.  An even more impartial perspective can be found on a school rating website such as www.greatschools.org. They use test scores, reviews, and other factors to rate the best schools in a given area.

What about reputation?

What are people saying about a school you're looking at?  Sure, everyone has opinions. If you know people in the area, you can ask them.  You might even meet with the principal of a school to get an even closer look, presuming you can make such an arrangement. See if they can give you a tour of the school with your child present.  Look at class sizes.  Is the library well stocked? What does your child think about the school? These are great indicators to look for.

Finding the right school and the right home for sale in Austin and Lake Travis TX can be a challenge, but one worth the effort.  Once you do find a great school for your child, let us help you find the right home near that school.  Our powerful search tool can help you find homes for sale near the schools of your choice in Austin, Lake Travis, Lakeway, Bee Cave, The Hills, and more. Also make sure to take advantage of our Home Buyer Listing Alert website www.welcometolaketravis.com to get automated alerts of homes as they hit the market.

Prepare Your Home to Sell This Spring

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you thinking about selling your home in Austin or Lake Travis this Spring? If so, Springtime is one of the best times of the year to sell your home.  But don't wait until then to prepare your home to sell.  The more preparation, the more chance you'll have of selling your home faster and getting more money from the sale.  Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions.  When a potential buyer comes to your home, you need to make sure you've done all you can to peak their interest. So here are a few ways you can get your home ready to sell this Spring!

Here are 6 great tips to get your home prepared:

1. Get a Home Inspection.  Having a home inspection before you sell will prepare you for any potential troubles that could make your potential buyers turn around and go to the next house. You'll still need to disclose what the home inspection finds, but you'll have time to make repairs. 

2. Gather all your Warranties. Have all the warranties for any appliances in your home that have them. This gives the buyer confidence in the home.

3. Make all Minor Repairs. Walk through your home with a critical eye and check each room for any minor fixes. This includes patching of holes or cracks, painting, floor replacement, windows, closets, outlets and more. Make the repairs you can and get ready to negotiate for those you can't make.

4. Clear out Clutter. No one wants to see a mess when looking for a new home.  Store as much as you can in an alternate location or get rid of as much as you can altogether.  This makes your move even easier and makes your home even more appealing.

5. Sparkle and Shine. Clean your home as if an army sergeant was coming through with a white glove!

6. Stage your Home to Sell! Consider hiring a professional home statger Home Stagers are experts at presenting your home's best assets and hiding those that are not. They also create the best light and flow to showcase your home. 

For more Home Selling Tips, visit our website or give us a call for a personal evaluation. And make sure to check back on our blog for more tips!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 10

Syndication

Categories

Archives