WHICH DOWN PAYMENT STRATEGY IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

You’ve most likely heard the rule: Save for a 20-percent down payment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders.

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

THE DOWNSIDE

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance for years, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

THE UPSIDE

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent of your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

THE HAPPY MEDIUM

Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment. Your trusted real estate professional can provide some answers as you explore your financing options.

We can help you find the financing that’s right for you and your budget. Down Payment programs range from ZERO DOWN to up to 20%. Tell us what you need!

Agent Val – Your San Antonio Real Estate Resource and Real Estate First Responder – When you have real estate wonders keeping you up at night, feel free to text or email your questions or concerns. I work around-the-clock so you can get your beauty rest!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

UPSIZING YOUR HOME

Home Tour of model

Unfortunately, our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.

WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

MOVING OUTWARD

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.


Agent Val – Your San Antonio Real Estate Resource and Real Estate First Responder – When you have real estate wonders keeping you up at night, feel free to text or email your questions or concerns. I work around-the-clock so you can get your beauty rest!

 

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

FINDING THE RIGHT MATTRESS

Labor Day weekend is approaching and so are the WILD AND CRAZY Labor Day Mattress commercials! According to a HOME & LIVING article by by Suzy Strutner  titled, “What Nobody Tells You About Buying a Mattress,” [posted on 01/09/2015 and Updated Sep 11, 2017], “there is indeed a ‘cheapest’ time to buy.” Targeted Holidays are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day, to name a few.

You’ve got more options than ever when mattress shopping these days with no shortage of brick-and-mortar and online-only retailers to choose from. Here are the factors you should consider when you’re shopping for a perfect night’s sleep.
  1. Mattress construction: The most popular mattress types are inner spring mattresses, memory foam mattresses, and adjustable air mattresses. Each has pros and cons when it comes to durability and comfort customization.
  2. Firmness: Mattress firmness plays a huge role in the quality of your sleep. Mattresses that are too firm or too soft can cause aches and pains, so it‘s recommended that you test a mattress for 10- to 15 minutes in store before making a purchase.
  3. Sleeping position: Your mattress should match your sleeping style (side, back, face-down, etc.). You want a mattress that keeps your spine in proper alignment. For example, some mattresses are better for side sleepers, while others are better for back sleepers.
  4. Size: It’s not quite as simple as choosing between a king and a queen mattress. You should also consider your height, as some mattresses are a better fit for shorter people while tall people will want a longer mattress so their limbs aren’t hanging over the edge of the bed.
  5. Stability: For couples, you should consider how the mattress reacts when one person moves, so the other person’s sleep isn’t disturbed in the middle of the night.

Agent Val – Your San Antonio Real Estate Resource and Real Estate First Responder – When you have real estate wonders keeping you up at night, feel free to text or email your questions or concerns. I work around-the-clock so you can get your beauty rest!

 

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

ORGANIC FOOD ON A BUDGET

At the age of 13 our youngster said, “I saw the wrong video on YouTube and now I don’t want to eat meat!” Since the rest of us enjoyed meat we didn’t ask which video she saw. Instead, we catered to what we thought might be another teenage phase, but lo-and-behold here we are on a two-year stint with tweaked groceries and organic meals. As long as we purchase naturally raised, cage-free, organic, spa-day-meats, our now soon-to-be 15-year old will occasionally indulge in Barbecue and Hamburgers! So, since we’re paying closer attention to the foods we buy, I thought I’d share some helpful budget-friendly and organic tips! ~Agent Val

Organic food usually tastes better and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply. So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck. Shop at farmers’ markets: You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source. Choose seasonal produce: Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus. Shop more frequently, and plan your meals around bulk sales: The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad. Grow your own: A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

SHORT SALE AND FORECLOSURE: HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview. A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament. On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender. On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner. After foreclosure, the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.
THINGS TO KNOW: You have options! If you are unable to afford your mortgage but want to keep your home, contact your Mortgage Company immediately! They know that life happens (e.g. divorce, job loss, medical emergencies, etc…) so they’ll take your situation into consideration and help you determine the best option to save your home. If you need to sell the house but you owe more than what your house is worth, your mortgage company might allow a “Short Sale.” A REALTOR® or a Real Estate Attorney can help you navigate the listing and selling process. Don’t know if your mortgage balance is more or less than the Fair Market Value (FMV)? Contact a local REALTOR® for a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). He/She will gather current market statistics to calculate your current FMV. If you’re in the Greater San Antonio Area and would like further assistance, fill out the following form and I will contact you within the next 24 hours. For immediate assistance, call or text me directly at the number listed below!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

MUST-HAVE TOOLS FOR HOMEOWNERS

When you own your home, things are going to break and, unless you want to spend your money on visits from a neighborhood handyman, you’re going to need to fix them yourself. Luckily, you don’t need an arsenal of tools to handle most home maintenance fixes. These five tools will cover most of your basic projects.

  1. Cordless drill. A cordless drill is a must-have for installing cabinets, drawer pulls, hinges, picture frames, shelves and hooks, and more. Whether it’s for do-it-yourself projects or repairs, you’ll use your cordless drill just about every month.
  2. Drain cleaners. Shower and bathroom sink drains are susceptible to clogs because of the daily buildup of hair and whisker clippings. You can use chemical clog removers like Drano, but they’re expensive and the lingering chemical scent is unpleasant. Instead, buy some plastic drain cleaners that can reach into the drain to pull out the clog of hair and gunk. You can purchase them on Amazon or at a local hardware store for a low price.
  3. Shop-vac. No matter how careful you are, spills and accidents will happen and there are some tasks that just can’t be handled with paper towels or a standard vacuum, like pet messes or broken glass.
  4. Loppers. Even the minimum amount of care for your landscaping will require some loppers to remove damaged branches, vines, thick weeds, and any other unruly plants in your yard.
  5. Flashlight. You’re going to want something a little more powerful than your iPhone flashlight when you’re in the crawlspace!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

5 NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT KILL A SALE

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid: —
  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer. –
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities. –
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it. –
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously, if an inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate. –
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy. – #1 STRATEGY FOR THE BEST NEGOTIATING TACTICS: Hire a qualified professional REALTOR® who will use the BEST negotiating tactics to help you get that home!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

5 CRITERIA FOR PRICING A HOME

When you put your home up for sale, one of the best ways to determine the asking price is to look at comparable sales. There’s rarely a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, so a pricing decision often relies on comparisons to several recent sales in the area. Here are five criteria to look for in a sales comparison.

  1. Location: Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.
  2. Date of sale: It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.
  3. Home build: Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.
  4. Features and upgrades: Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.
  5. Sale types: Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

Fill out this short form for your COMPLIMENTARY Market Analysis!

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT HOME INSPECTIONS

A Home inspection is an important part of the home sale process, both for buyers and sellers. When it’s time for you to hire an inspector, here are five things you should be thinking about:  1. It’s your choice: You are not bound or obligated to use any particular inspector (including a Builder’s inspector). Your real estate professional may have some recommendations, but it’s ultimately up to you. Ask around and choose wisely—better to pay a little more now for a highly-respected inspector than to be surprised by a problem that the inspection didn’t reveal.  2. Looking for big problems: The inspector will be focused on the integrity of the home—safety, electrical work, foundation, load-bearing walls, etc. The inspector is not there to point out problems with ugly paint colors or light fixtures.  3. The report: There are hundreds of items to inspect in a home, so the inspector’s report will focus on the basics: What’s damaged, what needs repairing, etc. The report should be easy to read and understand.  4. Code of ethics: Though the inspector is working for the party that pays the inspector’s fee, the inspector will not deliver a report that intentionally hides or omits damaging information about the home. The report is private between you and the inspector, but if you’re the seller, you’re required to disclose any problems that the inspection reveals.  5. The inspector is not liable: Even the best inspectors can’t find every single problem in a home. They can’t see inside the walls or through the floors, so there could still be problems lurking. If a problem is revealed down the road, the inspector can’t be held responsible. Whether you’re buying a pre-owned home or a new construction home, it’s advised to get a home inspection. If you’re a homeowner and you have your house inspected, just remember that you’ll need to disclose all of the findings to your next buyer. NEED A HOME INSPECTOR? Here is a list of some of the inspectors my clients have used and were happy with – San Antonio Home Inspectors. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

DON’T BE A VICTIM: TRIM THOSE SHRUBS

imageIt can be easy to forget our surroundings or to lose focus on our safety when we’re trying to enjoy the spirit of the Holiday Season. Our homes should be a safe place, and when our Christmas trees go up and wrapped presents begin to pile up under the tree, we should be especially cautious of any vulnerabilities around our homes.

Crime prevention studies show that burglarized homes have less visual access than their neighbors who were not burglarized. Burglars seek to victimize homes with easy access in and out, and most importantly, they don’t want to be seen. A common thread in burglaries are homes with overgrown trees and shrubbery. When walkways and windows are covered in green they may look great to you, but they look like “opportunity” to the would-be burglar. When looking at your home from the street, can you see all access points clearly and easily? If not, make sure you trim the green and keep you and your family safe.

 

Texas law requires all real estate license holders to provide the Information About Brokerage Services to all prospective clients. TREC’s Consumer Protection Notice.

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