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First Time Buyers - Avoid These Common Mistakes

by Rebecca Shahan

Avoid these first time buyer mistakesAre you ready to buy your first home?  If so, this is an important time for you.  This is a big decision, so don’t get caught up in the emotions and make the same mistakes that so many first time buyers make. Let’s take a look at just a few of those mistakes and what can be done to avoid them.

Picking Out a House Before the Mortgage

Having enough money to buy your home is a step you would think most people would realize. But it turns out that many first time buyers get so excited that they start looking at houses before they secure financing. You can’t blame people for doing this, as looking at homes is definitely more fun shopping for a mortgage. But if you don’t know what you can afford beforehand, it can lead to disappointment if you can’t finance enough money to buy the home you want.

Make sure you talk with a lending professional to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a loan before you start looking at any houses.  You’ll have a better idea of what you can afford. And it also gives you leverage, as the seller will be more confident that you’re serious.

Not Looking at First Time Buyer Programs

As a first time buyer, you may not have a lot of money saved up to put down on a home and cover closing costs. This may lead you to think that you have to wait until you save enough for a huge down payment.

However, there are programs such as Veterans Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture loans that don’t require a down payment. You may also qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan that only need a down payment of 3.5%. Even some conventional loans have down payments as low as 3%. You never know until you ask.

Applying For Credit Before Closing

The closing period is the worst time to apply for new credit, as some make the mistake of applying for credit cards so they can buy furniture and other items for their new home.  To be blunt, that is a huge error on their part. The lender will be looking at your credit during this period and will base their decision on your debt-to-income ratio.  Applying for credit can lower your score. About a week before closing they will also check your score.  So if they see any change in credit activity, it could change the interest rate or fees.

Pick out what you want to buy ahead of time, and then get any needed credit after the closing.

Not Having the Home Inspected

Not having a home inspected before you buy it is only asking for trouble. Homes, especially older ones, can have many issues that are hidden from immediate view. You need to be able to see the hidden issues. Some buyers feel that if they waive the inspection that it will give them an edge on other buyers.  But if you end up buying a home that needs major repairs, it ends up being a bad deal anyways. 

The simple solution is to hire a home inspector of your own choosing.  This way they won’t have any bias toward the home seller or your agent, and can give you an honest assessment.

Buying your first home can be a positive experience if you take the time and make wise decisions with the future in mind. 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.  

A Home WIth a View of Lake Travis - What Is It Worth to You?

by Rebecca Shahan

How much is a view of Lake Travis worth to you?The amazing views in the Lake Travis area are certainly what draws people to move here. But the real question is how much it’s worth to you to see those amazing views of the hills, water, or other scenic features from your front window? What you need to decide is how extra you’re willing to pay for a stunning view.

According to appraisers and analysts, there’s no simple answer. “Views are actually really difficult to quantify. It’s somewhat subjective,” according to Principal data scientist Andy Krause at Greenfield Advisors.  “What makes a better water view? Do you want it to be wider? Do you want more of the water from a taller angle? You know, some of that is in the eye of the beholder.”

And that’s a great thing to consider when it comes to living in a location like Lake Travis. What kind of view matters the most to you?

If a view is a must have for your next home in the Lake Travis area, here’s a couple of tips.

Is the view protected?

In Houston, a homeowner sued after a high-rise office tower was built across the street. Not only did the office block their view, but workers could see their back yard and pool. Were they protected from this intrusion? As it turns out, no. With some basic research, they would have seen that the area was zoned for such a building, and so the lawsuit was dismissed. How can you avoid this happening to you?  Make sure to check with planning authorities about zoning near your home and if there’s any large projects planned where your view is going to be.

Find a Great View with a Not As Great House

What if you find a house with a great view, but the windows are smaller and don’t show off the scenery? This may be a great opportunity, as you can pay less for the home and then spend money later for a remodel to add larger windows or perhaps a rooftop deck. Make sure you check the deed for restrictions as well as homeowner association rules, if any.

What could be better than a home with a spectacular view of the Lake Travis area? If you’re looking to buy a home in Lake Travis, whether it’s a view of the lake, or just a regular view, we can help you find the perfect home. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.

Have a Memorable Memorial Day in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

Memoral Day Parades in Austin

Memorial Day is almost here.  It’s a time to celebrate our freedom and honor those who sacrificed their lives for it. What better way to do that than a parade? It’s a great way for families and communities to come together, have fun, and remember. There are some great Memorial Day celebrations and parades scheduled this weekend in the Austin area.  Here’s what you can look forward to this weekend:

Saturday May 26, 2018

Fiesta Amistad 2018:  Come to the Old Settlers Association Ground for the 50th Annual Fiesta Amistad You can enjoy food, games, arts and crafts, and a plenty of entertainment for the whole family. Musicians from around the area will perform, including Ruben Ramos, Jay Perez & The Band, Marcos Orozco, Hugo Guerrero y Fanango, and Round Rock Ballet Folklorico along with DJ Primo and Jess Lopez setting the tone during the day. Admission $5 at the gate.


Sunday May 27, 2018

Close Assault 1944: Remember the true meaning of Memorial Day at the Texas Military Force Museum at Camp Mabry with this look back at World War II. This show focuses on the history of the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard during World War II. The program is free and features members of the Texas Military Forces Living History Detachment exhibiting the uniform and equipment worn by the American GI in the European Theater of the Second World War, as well as those of his German opponent. There will also be firing demonstrations of the most famous U.S. and German small arms of World War II, along with displays of everything from tents and radio equipment to GI baseball gloves and mess kits and operational vehicles such as an M4 Sherman Tank, M3 Halftrack and Jeeps. Showtimes are at 11 am and 2 pm. 


Monday May 28, 2018

Georgetown-Williamson County Veterans Memorial Plaza Memorial Day CeremonyThis annual Memorial Day ceremony will take place at the Veterans Memorial Plaza on Monday, May 28. The ceremony begins at 9:30 am. United States Senator John Cornyn will be the guest speaker and there will be music by the 36th Infantry Division Band of the Texas Army National Guard.

Make sure to check back on our blog for more great things to do in Lake Travis and Austin. 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.​

Have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Experience the Lake Travis Pub Crawl

by Rebecca Shahan

Experience the Lake Travis Pub CrawlWhat could be better than enjoying amazing food and drinks by the lake? Lake Travis is the jewel of the Highland Lakes, making it the perfect setting for the restaurants and pubs that dot the coastline.  Not only do these restaurants have spectacular views, but you can access most of them by boat. So why not fire up the boat and take a delicious and refreshing Lake Travis On the Water Pub / Restaurant Crawl? There are 8 restaurants and pubs you can get to by boat on Lake Travis. You can stop for drinks at one of them, then food at the next.  Then top off the evening with live music at most of these venues. Here’s a few of the great dining experiences you can look forward to enjoying on the lake.

Volente Beach Restaurant & Waterpark

If you’re out with the whole family, pull into the private dock for the perfect blend of food and fun. You can enjoy burgers, chicken sandwiches, fresh-made pizza, great salads, wings, entrees such as pan-fried snapper, Ahi Tuna or MMMac n Cheese. Or have a drink at the full bar with lake views, along with live music. The whole family can have fun at the waterpark, featuring thrilling rides and a pirate themes park for the kids to explore. Then you can relax in the Lazy Lagoon featuring a waterfall fountain.

Shack 512

Enjoy Southern cuisine in this relaxing Hill Country setting.  This casual outdoor venue lets you indulge in the extraordinary panoramic views of the Lake Travis and the hills. Pull into the courtesy walk and it’s just a short walk up the ramp.

Cedar Street Dockside

Located just 3 miles southwest past Starnes Island and the infamous Devil’s Cove, this floating restaurant and bar features a large dock to accommodate all diners.  Dine indoors or outside while enjoying  live music and dancing.

The Oasis

As the largest outdoor restaurant in Texas, The Oasis has certainly gained a reputation for amazing food and equally splendid sunset views as “the Sunset Capital of Texas.”  You’re guaranteed spectacular dining with the outdoor seating in this venue located 450 feet above Lake Travis. When the sunset bell rings, get out your camera to capture the gorgeous sunset.  With live music on 2 stages, it’s the perfect way to top off your restaurant crawl experience.

There’s more to Lake Travis than meets the eye.  Make sure to check back on our blog for more great things to do in Lake Travis and Austin. 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.​

Have Success With an Indoor Garden

by Rebecca Shahan

Over the centuries, If there’s ever been one constant in home décor, it’s been the indoor garden. There have been indoor gardens of all kinds over the years, from just a few plant carefully placed to elaborate displays. But making your home look great isn’t the only good thing about having an indoor garden.  Having an indoor garden is an ideal way to relive stress. So an indoor garden certainly has its benefits. How can you have success with starting your own indoor garden?

Are you hesitating to start your own garden because you don’t think you have a green thumb like dear mother or grandma had? Better Homes and Gardens commented in 1939 about “green thumbs”: “Mother's and grandmother's plants grew, not because of green thumbs, but because they were treated as living, feeling beings that required the same common-sense care as the canary or any other house pet."

So in the end, all you need is just common sense to plant an indoor garden. As long as you cover the basics, you can have success.  Factors such as sunlight and water are certainly needed basics, along with nutrients, cleansing and care to deal with the dry environment of your home. Once you have these basics down, you’re well on your way.

Let There Be Light

Making sure you have enough light for your plants is critical. You can do some basic research on the best type of plants for your home’s lighting situation. Plants vary significantly in how much light each one needs, so you can be sure to find the right type of plants for home design. What style of home do you live in? Older homes, such as Victorian styles, were designed to have more natural light, making them ideal for indoor gardens. But many homes, especially those built in the mid 20th century, don’t let as much light in. These home and apartments present a bit of a challenge because there aren’t as many windows to choose from. But don’t let a little challenge stop you.

If you have windows that face south, those are perfect. You’ll have more light for your plants to soak up what they need for photosynthesis. But if you only have north facing windows, try going with plants that require minimal light, such as a fern, spider plant, or African violet. Pothos don’t need any light to thrive, in case you have very little to no natural light available.

Get With the Program

Having a regular schedule for plant care is essential, as this will also help them thrive.  You can also do research on how much water and nutrients your plants need. Make sure to schedule to water and feed your plants with plant food or fertilizer.  Cleaning the leaves of larger plants with a damp cloth periodically will help them stay healthy. Also check for mold or pests as this will indicate if your routine is effective. Periodically trim or thin out your plants on occasion.  You may also have to repot large plants in larger pots as they grow.

Don’t have enough time for all this? Then perhaps you can start with plants that don’t require as much attention. Succulents are a popular choice as they are easy to care for and offer unique textures and colors. Cactus, succulents, or bamboo plants are ideal choices.

Of course there’s more to consider when it comes to having a thriving indoor garden. But with planning and patience, you can succeed.

Make sure to visit our blog every week for more home decorating ideas, local articles, and real estate news. And if you plan to move to the Lake Travis or Austin area, you can search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.

Treat Your Mother to Brunch in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

It's time once again to show our moms how much we appreciate all they do for us. This year, Mother's Day falls on Sunday, so it s a perfect occasion to take dear mother out to Sunday Brunch. You'll have no shortage of options for a delicious Mother's Day brunch in Austin. There's a brunch for every taste and budget. Here's a few brunch specials you can look forward to this Sunday May 13.  Make sure to make reservations now.

Jeffrey's

Enjoy a delicious Sunday brunch buffet featuring truffled deviled eggs and the seafood tower. Or you can order items such as lemon ricotta pancakes, truffled scrambled eggs, or take advantage of the carving station and desert table. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $85 per person.

Josephine House

This picturesque venue is the perfect setting for Sunday brunch, with pastry baskets, burrata and berries, a number of tempting entrees, along with free mimosas. $50 per person.

Lambert’s

For the mom who loves great BBQ, she will love Lambert's barbecue brunch buffet with live music.  This mouth-watering brunch includes brown sugar and coffee rubbed brisket, spicy breakfast sausage, made-to-order eggs, a breakfast frito pie and more. $50 for adults, $25 for children.

Chicon

A more affordable family option can be found at Chicon, where you'll enjoy pastry baskets, pulled pork Benedicts, migas and more. Drinks are a la carte, with $2 mimosas. Brunch will be available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $25 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under. 

Make sure you take time to thank for for all she's done. There's always fun things to do in Lake Travis and Austin so check back each week on our blog for more great reasons to buy a home in Austin. 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.​

Have a Happy Mother's Day!

The Steps to a Succesful Home Inspection

by Rebecca Shahan

Steps to having a succesful home inspectionOf all the parts of the home selling and buying process, the home inspection is certainly one of the most important steps.  A home inspection is really important, as it will determine the condition of the home and could save you quite a great deal of money as a home buyer. And if you are selling a home in Austin, then it can give you time to make the needed repairs to get the most money you can from the sale. A home inspection will also give valuable insight into potential problems in the future.

What are some important things to consider when getting a home inspection?

  1. Research the Inspector

A costly mistake that people make is hiring the first inspector they find or is recommended. As with any service, it’s important to research who you hire, as it can make all the difference in the end. You need an inspector who will make sure you understand the issues and will be thorough.

Here are some important questions to ask a potential inspector:

  • How long have you been inspecting homes professionally?
  • How many home inspections have you performed in your career?
  • What are your qualifications, certifications and training?
  • What did you do for work before you were a home inspector? (Preferably, you want someone who was a contractor or builder.)

Also, is the inspector keeping current in their education? They need to be up to date so that you get the best and most current information possible.

  1. Be There During the Inspection

Being present during the inspection may seem excessive or not needed, but that’s not the case.  A good inspector will welcome your presence. And simply reading the report doesn’t always reveal all that needs repairing.  Seeing the issues in person and having the home inspector explain them will be far more helpful.  Even though an inspection may take a few hours, it will be well worth your time, as it could save you a great deal of money.

  1. Get a Presale Inspection

If you’re selling your home, you may think you can leave the inspection to the home buyer. Here’s the issue with that plan. If the buyer’s inspection reveals repairs that are needed to make the sale, you won’t have as much time to make the needed repairs. But if your home is inspected before you put it on the market, you’ll have more time to make needed repairs and will have more control over the costs.

A good home inspection is crucial to buying a home, so make sure you find the best inspector you can.

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.  

Has the 2018 Tax Reform Damaged the Real Estate Market?

by Rebecca Shahan

Recently some speculated that the 2018 tax changes would damage the housing market. Some headlines were reporting that there was a potential for double-digit price depreciation. These headlines even suggested that buyer demand could decrease rapidly. Some felt that the American dream of owning a home would slip away.

Now that we’ve come past the first quarter of 2018, we can look at the number and analyze the actual impact of the tax reform on the real estate market.

1. Has tax reform killed off home buyer demand?

If we look at the Showing Time Index which “tracks the average number of buyer showings on active residential properties on a monthly basis” and is a “highly reliable leading indicator of current and future demand trends,” we can see that buyer demand has actually risen each month over the last three months and is even higher than it was for the same months last year. We can clearly see from this that buyer demand is not going down, but up.

2. Have the tax changes affected America’s belief in real estate as a long-term investment?

Gallup released its annual survey two weeks ago that asked Americans which asset they thought was the best long-term investment. This is what the survey showed:

“More Americans name real estate over several other vehicles for growing wealth as the best long-term investment for the fifth year in a row. Just over a third cite real estate for this, while roughly a quarter name stocks or mutual funds.”

This survey also revealed that there has been no change in the past year of the percentage of Americans who believe real estate is a good investment.

3. Has the homeownership rate been negatively impacted by the tax changes?

In her latest “Z Report,” Ivy Zelman helps us to understand that the 2018 tax reform didn’t damage the homeownership rate. In fact it helped it.  She explains it this way:

“We have been of the opinion that homeownership is most highly correlated with income and the net effect of tax reform would be a positive, rather than negative catalyst for the homeownership rate. While still in the early innings of tax changes, this has proven to be the case.”

5. Will the reforms in the tax code cause home prices to tumble over the next twelve months?

According to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate in each of the 50 states over the next twelve months. Appreciation is projected to be anywhere from 1.9% to 10.3% with the national average being 4.7%.

As we’ve proceeded through the year, we can see that the dire predictions of the 2018 tax reform have not affected the real estate market adversely.

Check back on our blog each week for more real estate and local Lake Travis and Austin articles. If you're planning to buy a home in the Austin and Lake Travis area, please contact us today. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.

 

Misconceptions About Home Buying

by Rebecca Shahan

So you’re ready to buy your first home in Lake Travis or Austin? It can be both an exciting and confusing time. Maybe you have some doubts about your ability to buy a home based on information from friends or relatives, or perhaps the internet. Not all the things people think about buying a home are accurate. Real estate is a constantly changing field, so you need to make sure your information about the home buying process is current. What are some of the home buying misconceptions that first time buyers encounter?

  1. You need a 20% down payment to get a mortgage.

This was accurate a few decades ago. Back in the old days, you had to pay 20% - 50% down for a mortgage and needed almost immaculate credit.  Unfortunately this limited the ability of many hard working people to own their own home. In order to make it possible for more people to own a home, the government created the Federal Housing Administration and began offering “FHA Loans”. The FHA currently will back a loan from a home buyer with a credit score of as little as 500 and a 10% down payment. If your credit score is above 580, you only need 3.5% for a down payment! Today it’s more possible for people with less than perfect credit to buy a home.

  1. You Can’t Qualify For a Mortgage With Student Loans

Lenders look at all of your debt combined and don’t single out student loans.  What lenders look at is your total debt to income ratio. That means that when you take into account all that you owe in loans and can still afford a mortgage payment, then that’s what matters.

  1. You can save money by not using a real estate agent.

Real estate agents not only make your buying experience simpler, but safer. Most people don’t know how to deal with the paperwork. Real estate agents also make their commission from the sale of the home, which is worked into the price regardless of whether you decide to use an agent. So why would you go it alone when you really won’t save money by not using one? The agent takes care of all the paperwork, appraisals, inspections, and other matters that are part of the process, so you don’t have to deal with it.

  1. It’s cheaper to buy a home that needs a lot of renovating.

It’s fun to watch those shows where they turn a worn out home into a palace. But let’s just say it’s more fun to watch than to do in this case.  After all of the time and money you put into the renovation, you may end up spending much more than if you bought a home that’s move-in ready. Save yourself the pain and chose the home in Austin that meets your needs without all the mess of renovation.

Are you planning to buy a home in the Austin and Lake Travis area and have questions about the home buying process? Please contact us today for more information. You can also search for your dream home now using our convenient home search tool.

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9