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5 Tips For First Time Home Buyers

by Rebecca Shahan

5 tips for first time home buyersIf you're ready to buy your first home, no doubt you've realized already there's a lot of things you need to think about. It can seem overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be.  Millions of people have bought homes before, and we know what makes the process go more smoothly. All it takes is planning and patience.

There are some simple steps you can take to make sure your home buying experience goes more smoothly. Here's a few things to think about before you decide to buy.

How Much Home Can You Afford?

Like any purchase, you need to know how much you can afford. It can be disappointing to find out you can't afford the home you fall in love with. The best thing to do is to determine the maximum amount you can afford.  An online mortgage calculator is a great way to start. You can find out your maximum price limit based on a 30 year mortgage.

You can also pin down a more exact amount of what you can afford is to talk to a loan officer at your bank. A loan officer will have a better idea of what the bank will loan you and what your down payment will need to be.

Knowing how much you can afford in advance, along with being pre-approved for a loan, will give you an advantage over buyers who haven't taken this step.  And it will save you time, since you know exactly what you can afford before you start your home search.

What Are The Must Haves In a Home?

Knowing what you want in a home, and what you don't want, is important. Sit down and think about all the things that you must have in a home, and the things that will make life miserable. Write it all down and use it in your home search. Show it to your agent as well so they know what to look for. You can adjust your list as you look at homes and see first hand what's available.

Use an Experienced Local Real Estate Agent

The right agent who knows the area inside and out makes a huge difference. Research the real estate agents in the are you're moving to.  If you have friends or family who've bought a home there recently, ask them for a referral. If not, read reviews online.

A good agent will know the area you're moving to inside and out, and will pay attention to your needs. In many cases, a great agent will have repeat clients over the years. They will also be able to connect you to loan officer and real estate attorneys, along with other needed professionals.

Compare Prices

You should look at homes in the area that are comparable to get an idea of what they're selling for.

You can easily compare homes in the area you plan to move to using tools such as our Home Search feature.

Ask Your Real Estate Agent About Closing Costs

Closing costs can vary, so make sure you determine the expected costs in advance to avoid any nasty financial issues during closing. Closing costs can include the costs of hiring an attorney to look over the  seller agreement, along with a home appraiser to inspect the home before the sale. A good real estate agent will be happy to help you determine closing costs.

Being a first time home buyer may seem daunting, but it's something you can accomplish successfully with the right planning and information.

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.  

Buying Is 23% Cheaper Than Renting in Austin

by Rebecca Shahan

According to the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, owning a home continues to be cheaper than renting in the largest metro areas in the US, based on a 30 year mortgage. Austin stood out as one of the top cities in this report, with owning a home being 23.5% cheaper than buying.

Only two cities in the study turned out to be cheaper to rent than buy - San Jose and San Francisco CA. Median home prices in those cities rose to over $1 million this year. This is the first time in the six years that Trulia has being doing this study that this happened. Home values rose by 29% last year, while rent remained the same.  But not in Austin!

For the 98 metro areas where owning a home is cheaper than renting, 97 of them are in the double digits in advantage when buying. Austin was one of those metro areas that stood out at 23.5%.

Trulia arrived at these figures by taking into account all renting costs, including deposits, and compared them with the monthly costs of owning a home. Those costs included insurance, mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance, along with one-time costs such as down payments, closing costs, and sale proceeds. The study also assumes that most homeowners stay in their home for seven years, put 20% down, and have a 30 year fixed mortgage.

In 2016, when buying was 41.3% less expensive than renting, the average mortgage rate was the driving force behind the difference. Rates this year are the highest they have been in six years which has narrowed the gap, all while home price appreciation has also been driven up by a lack of homes for sale.

Cheryl Young, Trulia’s Chief Economist, had this to say,

“One point deserves emphasizing: The ultra-costly San Francisco Bay Area is not a harbinger for the nation as a whole. While renting may outweigh buying in San Jose and San Francisco, it is unlikely that renting will tip the scales nationally anytime soon.”

There's many benefits of owning a home beyond just the money. If you're renting a home and would like to explore the possibility of owning a home, we would be happy to help you analyze the costs and benefits.

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.  

What to Expect With a Home Inspection

by Rebecca Shahan

A home inspection is a must when selling or buying a home. It brings peace of mind to both buyers and sellers knowing that the home is structurally sound. Here is the whole process outlined, along with how to get the best out of your home inspection.

Why Have Your Home Inspected?

Having your home inspected as a seller is beneficial because it allows you to list the home for a higher value after you make all the needed repairs. A with fewer problems is easier and faster to sell because the buyer won’t have to make those repairs.

Make sure your home inspector has a good track record. You can do this by researching home inspectors in your area and looking up what people say about them or by hiring a home inspector trusted by someone you know.

During the Home Inspection

Make sure to be there during the home inspection so that the inspector can point out possible problems in person and explain the options you have to fix those issues. You can have the opportunity to ask questions, take notes, and take photos. This will also help you learn about what things to check for when buying a home. Make sure to check each possible home issue to protect yourself from bigger problems down the road.

Recheck and Take Notes

After the home inspection, go over the identified problems and take a closer look at what is found. This will help you with negotiation whether or buying or selling. You can add or deduct from the sale or buying price depending on what needs to be repaired.

Discuss and Negotiate Repairs

If you’re selling the home, either you can do the repairs needed and then list the home for a higher price or not make the repairs, then offer the home for a slightly lowered price.

If you’re the buyer, you can ask for an asking price deduction that is equal to the estimated cost of repairs if you’re buying the home as-is. Another option is to suggest that the current owner get repairs done and then you buy it after a re-inspection following the repairs. This would be best for very expensive repairs such as for changing the entire roof or re-plumbing the entire home.

A good home inspection can make the difference between a smooth transaction and a disaster.  Make sure you find the right inspector and be involved in the process.

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.  

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.  

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.

How to Move With Pets

by Rebecca Shahan

Moving in Austin With PetsIt’s time to move! But what about your pets? How can you be sure the move is a good one for them as well? Moving with pets is never easy, but it will be a worthwhile challenge. Your pets are used to the same environment and neighborhood, which gives them a sense of security. During a move, that environment changes and disrupts that security, especially since they don’t know why everything has suddenly changed. Needless to say, this can be a tough time for your beloved pets. But you can show them it will be OK and make the change more tolerable.  Here’s a few tips that can help.

Moving With Dogs & Cats

Prepare for the First Few Days

You can make sure your dogs and cats are more comfortable during the first few days by preparing an ‘overnight kit’ that has enough food, litter, toys and other needed items to help your bets feel at home.

Keep Them Out of the Action

Ideally, you should try to find friends or family that can watch your pets during a move, or a kennel.  After the hubbub of the move is over, then you can move them into the fully furnished home.  If you can’t do that, try to find them a quiet room in the new house to adjust to.  Make sure you also check on them regularly and try to stick with feeding and walking routines.

Keep Them Inside

Do not let your dogs or cats outside until you get to the new home. It’s easy for them to get lost in a new environment. Make sure they stay inside for a few days to let them have time to adjust.

Move the House Before You Move Your Pets

Move your pets into the new home after everything else is moved if at all possible.  Try to get as much set up as you can before moving your pets in. If you have an extra room or garage you can set up and keep clear, this will help them adjust.  Give them plenty of attention and toys to make them feel at home.

Update Their Info

After you move, visit a local pet store or vet to update their tag and chip info.

Moving With Fish

Moving fish can be tricky as they can be easily traumatized and can die easily from a move. Move them in plastic bags filled with their old tank water if you’re moving short distances.  But if you’re moving a long distance, it may be better to find your fish a new home rather than risk them dying.

Moving With Birds

You never know when a bird will just up and fly away, which happens quite a lot during moves.  The stress of your move can make them easy escape artists. So make sure you keep your bird caged during the move and even a few days after.

Moving is never easy, but if you prepare, you can make it easier for your furry family.

Are you planning to buy a home in the Austin area and have questions about moving ideas? Please contact us today for more information. You can also search for your dream home now using 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.

Millenials - Take Advice From a Millionaire: Buy, Don't Rent

by Rebecca Shahan

Millenial Home BuyersAre you a millennial and currently renting a home? Why not take some solid advice from a self-made millionaire? David Bach is just such a person and has written nine consecutive New York Times best-selling books. For 31 weeks his book, “The Automatic Millionaire,” was on the New York Times bestseller list.  He is also one of the only business authors in history to have four books simultaneously on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and USA Today bestseller lists. He has also been profiled in many major publications, including the New York Times, BusinessWeek, USA Today, People, Reader’s Digest, Time, Financial Times, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Working Woman, Glamour, Family Circle, Redbook, Huffington Post, Business Insider, Investors’ Business Daily, and Forbes. 

In a recent CNBC article, Bach says that: “The biggest mistake millennials are making is not buying their first home.” Then he said that, “If you want to build real financial security, real wealth for your lifetime, then you need to buy a home.”

Here's his reason why buying a home is so important:

“Homeowners are worth 40 times more than renters. Now, that first home doesn’t need to be a dream home, it can be a very small home. You might literally have to buy a small studio apartment, but that’s how you get started.”

 “Don’t do a 30-year mortgage. You want to take that 30-year mortgage and instead pay it off early, do a 15-year mortgage. What happens if you do a 15-year mortgage? Well, one, you pay the mortgage off 15-years sooner, that means you’ll be able to retire in your fifties. Number two, you’ll save a fortune (on potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments).”

What will it cost to pay your mortgage in fifteen years?

“For fifteen years, you got to brownbag your lunch. Think about that! Brownbag your lunch literally for fifteen years. You can retire ten years sooner than your friends. You’ll have real wealth, because you bought a home – you’re not a renter. And you’ll be financially secure for life.”

When a well-respected millionaire gives you advice, it’s usually a good idea to follow it.  But this is hardly the first time that experts have given advice on the wisdom of buying a home. Many successful individuals have found that over time, buying a home is the most advisable course toward financial security.

As an additional note on David Bach’s experience, he has been a contributor to NBC’s Today Show, appearing more than 100 times, as well as a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNBC, CNN, Yahoo, The View, and PBS. Not a bad resume!

If you are currently renting a home in Austin or Lake Travis and are looking to take this advise, give us a call at 512-657-4467 to see how this dream can become a reality.

Tips For First Time Buyers

by Rebecca Shahan

Are you ready to buy your first home?  It's certainly an exciting, yet sometimes terrifying, time. It's one of the biggest decisions you can make, and the process can intimidating. But there are a number of things you can do to make the process more pleasant, and as the same time save money.

Here's a few tips for those who are just starting out on the journey of buying their first home.

  1. Start saving early.  You can put down as little as 3% on a loan, but that may mean you pay more for private mortgage insurance.  Keep in mind that even a small down payment can be hefty. Try this mortgage calculator to find out how much a down payment might be based on the price range of home you're looking for.
     
  2. How much can you afford? Of course you need to know what price range is within reach.  You can use a home affordability calculator to find out.
     
  3. Check your credit. Your credit score means a lot when getting a mortgage and how much you can borrow.  Make sure your credit record is clean of any problems or incorrect items that may affect it.

These are just a few tips to get you started.  If you're seriously thinking about buying your first home, please feel free to give us a call.  We'll be happy to help you start your journey to home-ownership.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13