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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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!

New Construction: Where to Look

The Pros of New Construction

Let’s face it – new homes are nice. No one has lived in them before you. If you are involved in the actual construction process, you get to make it like you want it. Even if you aren’t there are many upgrades a builder will place in a spec home that are really nice.

Here are a few things that are nice about a new construction:

  • The latest gadgets are installed
  • Insulation is the best to date
  • They are wired for the latest technology
  • Light fixtures are modern
  • Some are even built in master plan communities

The Cons of New Construction

New construction homes are really nice but there are some things to consider

  • It may take years to finish out the neighborhood. That means constant construction.
  • The first years on the home may be met with unexpected repairs
    • Sometimes construction items are not done correctly. I had a situation where the main water line at the meter was not properly glued and had separated causing a big water leak.
  • Home values can change dramatically. The market is always moving and in particular, the Dallas area seems like it will continue to go up for a while.
  • Taxes go up. Typically, when you purchase a new construction home, the property is taxed for the land value the first year. The second year, there is a huge increase in taxes. It’s the same for the third year and then market value drives the taxes. This can increase your mortgage payment by hundreds of dollars.
  • Trying to sell can be limiting. Who’s going to pay more for your house than the next new house being built in the neighborhood? If you have a new construction home build in 2011 and the neighborhood does not get finished until 2015, the newest house may have more modern conveniences built-in which can make them more attractive.

It’s Your Choice

What is the most important thing to you?

Only you can decide based on the knowledge you gain in the process. The more knowledge you can acquire, the better the decision you can make.

If you want to search for a new construction home, check the link below for a site that will help you locate new builds in your area. Then reach out to me and let’s make a deal.

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Renting When You Want To Buy?

Problem!

Rental House

You Don’t Have the Down Payment?

So you want to buy a home?

You’re spending as much on rent as you would be by owning your own home. Maybe you only need a few months and you’ll have enough for a down payment through FHA.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

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Problem!

Credit problems?

Home Partners of America can work with you if your credit score is above about 550. Even if you have had issues in the past, Home Partners of America may be able to work through those issues and get you approved anyway. It’s not a guaranty but may be worth a shot to find out.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

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Problem!

I just went through a divorce and need to sell my existing home

Divorce can be tough. No one really wins. It’s hard enough getting a divorce but then having to sell the home you lived in adds even more stress.

Home Partners can work with couples who are in this situation. Get with me to find out how we can sell your existing home and get one or both of you into your own house. Selling your existing home requires both parties in most cases but not the buying part. Home Partners of America will work with you while you are selling the existing home so you aren’t worried about where you are going to live.

Solution!

Home Partners of America

Work with me and my partner agency, Home Partners of America and we may be able to get you into the home of your dreams while you work on that down payment. Here’s the three-step process:

  1. Get pre-approved. Email me for the specifics of what it takes.
  2. Work with me to find your ideal property that is on the market for sale. Home Partners of America will purchase the home and rent it back to you.
  3. Save up your money for a down payment while you rent that home and purchase it from Home Partners of America when you are ready. No need to worry about breaking a lease. They will waive that if you buy the house.
  4. Decide you don’t want the house after all? No problem. You can finish your one year lease and leave. No problems. No hassles.

Next Step

Patrick O'Connor

Email me to receive a brochure about the program. Then call me to set an appointment, go over the whole thing, get you pre-approved, and start looking for your ideal home.

Keep In Mind

You only get one shot at this program. Once you get into a home, if you decide to leave after the lease period, you won’t be able to use the program again on another home. Therefore, it’s really important to take the time to look for the home you want in the process. The beauty of it is that if you decide it really isn’t the home for you, you can get out of it.

One final thing

If the market tanks like it did in 2008 and the house is now worthless, simply finish your year lease and move on to another property. Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about issues like that.