3 Things That Affect Your Mortgage Payment

If you are looking for a house to purchase, the best thing you can do to help yourself is to get pre-underwritten. I’ve written another post speaking to pre-qualification, pre-approval, and pre-underwriting.

The reason pre-underwriting is important is the contract can be affected. The contract has two approval processes built into it.

The first is the approval of the borrower. This is where the pre-underwriting comes in. If you are pre-underwritten, it means that the people involved in the loan are fully approved. Their credit, income, employment, debts, etc. has been verified and the lender is confident that the loan is affordable.

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The second approval is for the property. This is where the inspections, appraisal, and general condition of the property is considered and approved. If something comes up during inspections, it doesn’t appraise, or even if a storm comes in and damages the house and it cannot be fixed, the contract could be affected or even terminated.

After you have finally closed on a house, there are many things that can affect the mortgage payment.

Appraisal Value Of A New Construction Home

Every city places a value on your property based on the market conditions in the area. When you purchase a new construction home, sometimes the first year taxable value of the property is based on the price of the land.

Many people get surprised the second year when their mortgage payment goes up several hundred dollars because the city has now attached the house to the appraisal. The year after that, it can happen again.

If you aren’t careful, you can become mortgage poor.

Appraisal Values Go Up

Mortgage Appraisal Values

There haven’t been many times when the value of your property goes down. In 2008, during the housing crisis, property values tanked. People walked away from their properties instead of dealing with the dramatic decrease in value.

Since then, property values have been on a continuous increase in value. The city increases the appraised value of the property. You have an opportunity to dispute the value after notification and then the new value generates additional tax income for the city. This can also contribute to making someone mortgage poor.

Population Increase

Mortgage Appraisal Values

The economy is based on scarcity. The more of something there is, the less expensive it becomes. At least most of the time. When there are not enough of something, the prices go up. This is true for housing also.

Currently, in the DFW Metroplex, many companies and people are relocating to the area. As a result, the inventory of available homes is low which has been raising the prices of homes.

That can be good news or bad news depending on where you are in the market. If you are someone who is selling their home, higher prices means more money in your pocket. If you are buying a home, it will cost more for the home you want to purchase.

Bonus Tip – Interest Rates

Mortgage Interest Rates

St. Louis FED Graphic

Most people are familiar with interest rates – at least a little. It is the cost of borrowing money to purchase something. With credit cards, the interest can be as high as 30% depending on your history. For houses, the interest rates are historically low at this time.

Interest is what it is but you have some control over the amount you pay. Keeping your credit healthy, living within your means, and saving some money for later are all ways you can help get the best interest rates when it comes to purchasing a home.

Remember, there is a difference between a need and a want.

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5 Minor Home Repairs You Can Do Yourself

Every homeowner will tell you that it takes a lot to maintain a home. When it comes time to thinking about selling your home, there are some things you can do quickly and inexpensively to make your home more attractive to prospective buyers.

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Five Things To Consider

  1. New Plantings. Curb appeal matters. People will be looking for a house online first. They will be looking to see about the location, the price and the size before ever walking into the home. While they are looking at the photographs online, they will also be looking at the curb appeal. Planting some colorful flowers and putting down new mulch in the beds will help with the look of your home. Make sure the grass is also cut before photographs are taken.
  2. Fix Minor Things. There’s no reason why you can’t fix a broken outlet cover, a burned out lightbulb, or a missing pull on a drawer. These are very minor fixes with minimal costs but can make a huge difference to someone thinking about purchasing your home. When all these minor things are taken care of, it lets potential buyers know that the house has been taken care of and reduce their anxiety about buying it in the first place.
  3. Clean the Walls and Doors. Nothing says dirty like seeing finger prints on the walls and dirt around the door knobs. Many times, a simple cleaning of these frequently used areas will brighten a room without even getting to the point of having to paint.
  4. Organize. Whether it’s the closet shoes, placing them in clear plastic boxes, or the pantry, getting organized can make a difference. It shows potential buyers that you are meticulous about things. Someone seeing an organized closet or cans in the pantry with the labels facing forward will get the sense that you care about the things you have and therefore, care about the house.
  5. Aroma. I’m not talking about lighting fifty fragrant candles an hour before an open house. I’m talking about a regular clean smell to your home. Eliminate pet odors, clean toilets, and vacuum carpets and let your house speak for itself. If you are trying to cover up odors with other types of smells, people will know.

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Takeaways

Taking care of the little things in your house can make a difference between an “offer to buy” or a “move on.” Not only can it make a difference about whether there is an offer or not, there is also the potential to affect the price. Someone looking to purchase a home will be considering how much work they have to do to the house once they own it.

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Contact me for more information about how to improve the experience of someone looking to purchase your home.

3 Reasons Your House Won’t Sell

House Won't Sell New Construction

The real estate market is very active in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It’s possible that it could continue to be a seller’s market for quite a while. It’s also possible that the market could slow or even retract into a buyer’s market.

With houses selling in record numbers, new construction homes being built in all areas, and people moving to the area in one of the larges migrations around the country in a long time, you would think that selling a house would be easy.

Let’s take a look at three reasons why your house may not sell.

Reason One – The Price Is Wrong!

House Won't Sell Price

Just because the market is selling a lot of houses doesn’t mean that you can overcharge for your house. There is one tell-tale sign that your house is priced wrong. If you have your house on the market for a few weeks and no one has come by to see it or make an offer, it’s a pretty good bet it’s over-priced.

It’s likely to be over-priced because the market has a way of determining the market price. If similar houses to yours are selling for $250,000 and you market your house for $285,000, you may have trouble justifying that price. There are a lot of factors that go into determining the correct price for your house and a Realtor® is one of the best ways to find out what that is. Realtors® are looking at the market every day and know many of the factors involved in pricing your home.

According to Realtor.com, using a Realtor® can actually save you money over trying to sell the house on your own. However, not all Realtors® are alike. Do your due diligence when deciding to work with a Realtor®.

What can you do?

Work with a Realtor® and let them help you determine the correct price for the property. If that price doesn’t work for you, then maybe you need to consider staying where you are until such a time when the market will give you the price you want. Remember that the longer your house is on the market, the longer it will take to get where you want to be.

Reason Two – Too Much Work!

House Won't Sell Work

Even if you price your house correctly, it may not sell for what you want. If you have ever gone looking at houses, many times you figure out in the first three minutes inside whether you want to put the work into it that is needed to get it where you want.

Have you ever walked into a kitchen and seen Formica counter tops, white appliances, and green cabinets? Since current standards for kitchens include granite or quartz counters, white or stained cupboards, and stainless steel appliances, people don’t spend as much time looking at the old stuff. This is especially true of people looking for a move-in ready home. They are looking for something they don’t have to worry about.

Another issue might be smaller details that take away from the look of the house. Damaged doors, unique paint colors, broken windows, leaky faucets, all contribute to reducing the desire for your house.

If clients see too many things they will have to take care of, they are likely to move on to the next house down the street that doesn’t need those things done.

What can you do?

Remove clutter. All your collectibles are not staying when you move so pack them. A good rule of thumb is to remove half of what you have in your house. Consider it early packing. Paint those awesome orange walls with a neutral color. Neutral colors allow potential buyers to see the house rather than judge the color of a wall. Remove everything from flat surfaces. A single accent piece is much better than a counter full of stuff. Keep it spic and span. Think from the buyer’s perspective. Would you buy your house the way it is?

Reason Three – Wrong Size Or Location!

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There are some things you just cannot change about your house. The location is what it is. If you purchased your home next to a massive water tower, or along the main road, there are simply going to be fewer people interested in the property.

If you have a three bedroom, two bathroom house and someone wants a four bedroom, two and a half bathroom house – well, they probably aren’t going to purchase your home. It simply doesn’t meet their needs.

Some things you cannot change about your house and that’s ok. It’s ok because there is someone out there who wants your house just the way it is and in the location you have it.

What can you do?

The location is what it is. Maybe when you purchased your house, it was the up and coming neighborhood but now it is not. It’s possible, but it takes a lot to relocate an entire house. If you have a 3 bedroom house, that’s what you have. Unless you plan on adding additional rooms, market your home to those looking for what you have. Some things we just don’t have control of and that’s ok.

Final Thoughts

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There is always someone out there who will purchase your house for the right price. If you need assistance buying a home, reach out to me and we’ll find just the right property for you. If you are looking to sell your home, let me know and we will put the best face on your house to get it sold in a timely manner.

The last thing a Realtor® wants is their sign in your yard for a year because your house won’t sell the way it is or for the price. Anyone who tells you they will get a higher price for your house than the market directs is wasting your time.

I’ll be writing about different quick fixes you can do to your house now, so that when you are ready to sell, it is more attractive to those looking to buy.

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5 Types of Financial Roller Coasters

There are many reasons people get in trouble with their finances. If any of these describe you, reach out for help. There are solutions to each of these types that anyone can implement in their lives. Take a look.

Feast or Famine

Financial Roller Coaster

Have you ever met those people who are on an extreme rollercoaster ride with it comes to their finances? The type that seems to be doing fine one day, and the next day you hear they are barely scraping by.

Maybe it’s the people who buy a new home and they are all excited so they go out and buy a whole bunch of new furniture on credit. They are euphoric until the first bill comes in and then they are in panic mode.

Or it could be the person who pays off all their debt and the next thing you know, they are bringing stuff to the pawn shop to get to the next payday. Suddenly, the sell and buy scenario is a regular thing at the pawn shop.

The Slow Death

Financial Roller Coaster Wilted Flowers

These are the people who consistently live above their means. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans live this way. They spend $1.22 for every dollar they make. It’s a slow death because they overspend just a little but over time, that extra $0.22 adds up.

Maybe it’s the couple who is living vicariously through their children and can’t say no to them. You here them say stuff like “I’ll never let my kids go without like I did when I was a kid.” Whenever they go to the grocery store, they have to buy their child a toy – because – well, that’s just what they do. Right? Their kids are in all kinds of sports through school and other after school activities. It’s exhausting!

The Train Wreck

These are the ones you feel sorry for. This is the couple who has the breadwinner that has a heart attack. The person survives but is told they must retire right now! Of course, they planned on working for another ten years but now they have to figure out how to live on $35,000 per year instead of the planned $55,000.

The divorced couple. Neither one makes out ok from this situation. They both end up broke in the process due to lawyer fees, split accounts, etc. All their accounts are frozen during the process so they have limited funds to work with while they are going through the divorce. When everything is finally done, they both struggle for years trying to make all their finances work again on an individual basis.

Apocalypse

Here the spouse has died and there is no more income. Maybe they have been diagnosed with a disease that will take all their finances. A natural disaster takes place and they lose everything only to find out that their insurance won’t cover half of it.

Living on Prayer

This is the person who makes a decent living but never saves any money. When they turn 65 (or whatever the retirement age is for them) they talk to a financial planner only to hear that they can’t retire because the only money they have to live on is what they can sell their house for. If they sell their house, they will have a little money but that won’t last long. No planning was ever considered.

Steps to Avoid Tragedy

Financial Roller Coaster Money

Here are a few steps you can start to take now so that you don’t become one of the people described above.

  1. Live beneath your means. This means putting something from every check aside for later in life.
  2. Don’t make compulsive purchases. 50 years ago, if you didn’t have the cash, you didn’t get the item. It can still work that way today
  3. Make sure you have some type of medical insurance. Sure, the cost is out of control right now but if you don’t have it and something happens, all your plans go out the window.
  4. Have some life insurance. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone lose a loved one and not have enough to live on going forward. It’s a gift for your spouse and your family.
  5. Save. Save. In our current society, it’s all about instant gratification. Believe it or not, you can live with less stuff and still have a happy life.

If you need help with your finances, reach out to local organizations that help in this area. A good place to start is Consumer Credit Counseling. Find support groups and courses that can help turn things around.

What are some ways that you have avoided these tragic scenarios? Comment below.

 

Personal Finance Can Be Scary

Learning about Personal Finance

I learned a lot of what I know about personal finance in the 1980’s while serving in the United States Navy. While stationed overseas, I had the opportunity to take a college course. The course I chose was Personal Finance.

Most people don’t learn anything about personal finance growing up. Either their parents never took the time to discuss it or their school never taught it. Although my parents taught me some things about finances, I probably learned more in this one class than at home.

Personal Finance College

Why are people afraid of their finances?

It’s Embarrassing!

No one wants others to know they are having financial difficulties. After all, what are other people going to do? Most of the time, people are not going to hand over money to correct the situation. So not only is it embarrassing, but now others know that I can’t handle my finances.

But maybe it has nothing to do with handling my finances. Maybe it is an unforeseen event that changes everything. Is it a divorce situation? Did your spouse pass away? An automobile accident can radically change someone’s circumstances. What about a medical diagnosis?

All these situations have the potential of placing someone in a financial situation that is not optimal. Sometimes, these situations can lead to bankruptcy or foreclosure.

Personal Finance Wallet

It’s Scary!

If you have ever looked at your checkbook and wondered how you were supposed to pay for everything before you ran out of funds, it can be terrifying. I can recall at times in my life where I had to choose between paying a bill late or buying food. It was after a divorce situation when all the financial information came out. Making decisions like that adds a tremendous amount of stress to someone’s life and in my case, those late fees took months to catch up on again until the financial situation improved.

It’s Lonely!

No one likes to talk about their finances to others. Some feel it is none of the other person’s business. Others are just too embarrassed to talk about it. Either way, it places us in a position where there is no one to talk to about it. We tend to suffer with massive debt, added stress, and not knowing what to do about it.

People are afraid of judgment!

“Well, you should have paid attention more.”

“If you didn’t overspend, you would be fine.”

There are probably a thousand different things you can hear from others about all the ways you may have handled your personal finances poorly. There are another million things you can tell yourself about things you’ve done wrong. It sure is easy to beat ourselves up over things. You don’t need anyone else judging what got you in trouble with your finances.

I have been through a rollercoaster of events in my life. There have been times when my financial situation has been really good and other times when I didn’t know how I was supposed to make it another week.

One way to avoid those feelings of judgment is to get involved in groups and counselors who are there to offer suggestions on how to improve the situation. Sometimes, family and close friends are the wrong place to look for that and that is ok.

There are a ton of people that can beat you up about it. Instead, find those who will support you.

Solutions are Out There

I know that I don’t have all the answers but here are a few resources to consider when trying to get your finances under control. For immediate assistance, check with your local church. They may not be able to give you money or pay your bills all the time, but they can refer you to other resources that may be able to help.

Personal Finance Grow Your Money

The Little Debt-Free Book – This is a book I wrote that takes you through my financial journey after a divorce. Check out the website for some free resources and ways to order the book online. It not only tells you some of my story of becoming debt-free but offers tools to help organize and budget.

Financial Peace University – This study is offered through Dave Ramsey. Check out the website for information on when and where these classes are available. This is a 13-week course with specific goals for each week to change your way of thinking about finances.

Crown Ministry Financial Classes – These studies vary in length and walk through the financial process with a heavy emphasis on faith. Check out their website for information on when and where classes are available.

Personal Finance can be scary but you don’t have to deal with it alone. I’d love to know if you have tried any of these resources and what the outcome has been.

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How’s The Real Estate Market?

The First Question

The Real Estate Market Key

“How’s the real estate market?” is one of the most common first questions people ask a Realtor®. There are generally two ways to answer that question.

The first way is to say that the market is AMAZING! It’s a truthful statement from the Realtor’s perspective. Honestly, it doesn’t matter if the market is going up, or down, or is stable. The market is right for someone, no matter which market we are in.

The second way to answer that question is to say “It depends.” The reason why this answer is great is because in any given market, the conditions affect different people in varying ways. For example, currently we are still in a seller’s market. So, depending on whether you are a buyer or a seller will matter how the question is answered. This answer might be better than the first because it opens up a conversation with the other person. Stating that the market is amazing gives an answer but doesn’t necessarily encourage the other person to think about it and ask additional questions. By saying that “it depends,” the other person has to take a moment and think about it. They might then come back and ask additional questions to get clarification.

If you ask me how the market is, I will more than likely tell you that it depends. This also gives me a chance to have a deeper conversation and help educate the person about the specific things going on in the market – today!

The Heart Of A Teacher

The Real Estate Market Kitchen

At my core, I am a teacher. As an employee of a Fortune 500 company, I spent years teaching new skills to other employees so they could be successful in their careers. As an instructor at a Junior College, I spent three years teaching new skills to people. These skills helped them find employment once they had completed their degree programs. As a Realtor®, I help educate people on the market for real estate but also focus a lot of effort teaching them about the process of buying or selling a home.

Why? Well, it’s because people don’t buy or sell a home every week. The average person lives in their home for seven years before considering selling that home and purchasing a new home. There is little chance that these people are keeping up with all the latest legal issues with buying or selling a home.

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I am able to help educate them in the process, help them identify the things they are looking for and offer opinions and options for them to consider.

As a teacher, my primary role with students was to teach the fundamentals of the tools they needed to perform tasks and then allow them to experiment to come up with a solution that worked for them.

In a similar way, my role as a Realtor® is to offer the tools needed for my clients to make the best decision for themselves. My opinion might matter or it may not. Making sure my clients are educated ensures that they are able to perform the due diligence necessary to make the best decision for themselves about purchasing or selling a property.

It’s important that the teacher knows more than the student but they don’t have to know everything. If you don’t know an answer, tell them that and get back to them after researching.

The same thing applies to Realtor’s. An advantage that teachers and Realtors have is they are surrounded by resources to help them find the most relevant information for the students and clients. As a Realtor, I have a whole team of mentors, lenders, managers, a legal team, title companies, inspectors, plumbers, electricians, and others available to get information and share with others.

Summary

The Real Estate Market House

The market condition depends on the individual. Just because it is a seller’s market doesn’t mean that someone buying cannot get a good deal. Ultimately, a house will only sell for what someone is willing to pay for it. The good news is that historically, for any given twenty year period, real estate values tend to go up. The downturn in 2008 had many factors involved that made the market dangerous. Now, not even a decade later, the market has recovered and is growing again.

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Realtors have a huge team of resources at their disposal to help find answers to any question you might have. They also have the knowledge to help you set the correct price for your property to sell or find the property that meets your needs.

Honoring Our Military

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Thank You

Thank you for your service to our country.

Thank you to your family who has sacrificed their lives as well as you served.

Thank you for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for people they don’t even know.

Thank you for putting yourself in harm’s way for us.

Thank you for moving every few years, up-ending your family to get to a new duty station either in the United States or anywhere else around the world where you are needed.

Thank you for taking those temporary duty stations without your family because the area was too dangerous to have them near.

Thank you for the deployments you went on where you were gone from your family for anywhere from three months to a year.

Thank you for the thankless efforts you provide for some who don’t respect any of that but you do it anyway.

Thank you.

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Let Us Honor You

As a Realtor® with Ebby Halliday, REALTORS® there is an opportunity to offer a thank you to you for your service through a program called “Military on the Move.”

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This program offers rebates to those who have served our country, when they purchase a home in Texas. For information on the extent of those rebates, email me and I can send you a brochure about the program and the range of rebates available.

My partners at Texas Premiere Title have also generously offered to waive their title fees for active duty military and veterans. That’s a considerable savings when purchasing a home.

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There’s More

I have a standard giving offer from every transaction I am involved with regarding the sale or purchase of a property, that I will give $200 to Agape Resource & Assistance Center, Inc. Agape is an organization that offers housing for women and their children who are escaping domestic violence situations and find themselves homeless. There holistic approach allows these women and their children to rebuild their lives.

Let’s make a deal today!