You love the wood floors, chef’s kitchen, and spa-like bathroom. But remember that there’s more to a property than features and looks. Here are additional items to consider before you make an offer. Will It Be Loud? That idyllic street you saw on a Sunday open house might turn into a commuters’ cut-through during the week. Or a nearby grade crossing might prompt frequent train horns in the middle of the night. Visit the home at different times on different days to get a sense for what the noise level is like, and consider asking current neighbors about sources of significant noise and traffic. How Old Is That Really Expensive Thing To Replace? The seller’s disclosure notice may alert you to known issues with major appliances and systems, but those sources won’t tell you that the HVAC or roof is nearing the end of its lifespan. Knowing the age of certain items can help estimate when they need to be replaced. A home inspector can likely give you information about whether certain systems are deficient, but don’t count on an inspection to reveal how much life is left in a component. In some cases, the installation date may be available or visible. Can I Do It My Way? Homeowners associations can benefit property owners but they come with rules and regulations that must be followed. Be sure to review all documents from an HOA before you commit to a purchase. Likewise, city codes and ordinances restrict what you can do with your property. You don’t want to find out after you close that you can’t park your boat trailer in the driveway or paint your house your favorite shade of red. Will the View Change? That view of the hills or lake or city skyline can be a huge selling point. But will that feature remain? If you’re buying in a master planned community, check with the builder to see if there are plans to develop something that may obstruct the view. Otherwise, you can look into the area’s zoning to understand whether that scenic view might be jeopardized. Keep in mind that development plans and zoning are subject to change in the future.
Moving into a new home can be equally exciting and disruptive—not just for you and your family but for your animals as well. Since pets are creatures of habit, changing the environment can cause anxiety. Here are four ways to make the transition to the new setting easier. Restrict Access In the beginning, limit access to certain rooms so that it isn’t so overwhelming. Take your pets on a tour of the available rooms and let them roll around to incorporate their own scent. Make it Familiar There may be a temptation to buy new things for the new space. However, it’s best to incorporate recognizable scents. Keep their bed, toys, cat tree, blanket, or other favorite items around. It can also help if you stay home as much as possible the first few days to make them feel more comfortable. Don’t Mess with Routines This isn’t the time to stop letting them sleep on the bed or change the type of food they eat. The key is to create consistency and stability. If your dog is used to walks at six in the morning and again at five, stick to it. The same goes for feeding time. Have Patience During the orientation period there may be bathroom accidents, excessive barking, or frequent hiding. Give your pets space and time to get acclimated. If needed, contact a veterinarian for additional coping strategies. Need a recommendation for a vet in the area? Check with your REALTOR®.
Your real estate transaction isn’t the same as anyone else’s, and your REALTOR®’s services should match what you need. Lucky for you, REALTORS® offer many types of business models to guide you through your transaction. Here are three common examples. Traditional Brokerage With a traditional brokerage model, brokers and agents provide a full range of services in exchange for a commission. The commission is negotiable and covers the REALTOR®’s time and efforts on your behalf, whether it’s marketing your home for sale, finding a great space for your business, or locating the perfect home for you and your family. Flat-Fee Brokerage A flat-fee brokerage provides all the services of a traditional brokerage, such as advice on pricing, help with negotiation, and market analysis. But instead of charging a fee equal to a percentage of the sales price, the brokerage charges a negotiable flat fee for its help. A La Carte Brokerage With the a la carte model, clients choose what services they want the brokerage to provide—and only pay for those. For example, a seller may want a REALTOR® to include the home in the multiple listing service and to coordinate showings. However, the seller will handle contracts and negotiations on her own. While these examples are popular business models, they are far from the only ones. No matter what type of model your REALTOR® uses, you will get a professional who follows a strict Code of Ethics to achieve your real estate goals
Downsizing can be a daunting and time-consuming process. Check out these three tips on how to get prepared for moving into a smaller home. Give Yourself Time Not only will you want to start planning early so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, but you’ll also want to give yourself time to reminisce over the sentimental items you uncover when packing. Take the time to enjoy the memories instead of stressing about the process. Make a List Write down what rooms (including storage spaces) will be in your new home and what furniture or essential items you will need for the space. Measure the rooms ahead of time to ensure they will fit. Create Piles Sort your possessions into keep and don’t keep piles. By sorting into piles, you can weed out duplicates and what is no longer necessary. Then, donate, sell, or throw away the stuff you aren’t going to keep. Don’t feel like you need to do it all by yourself. Ask your REALTOR® for recommendations for donation sites, reliable movers, a professional organizer, or other relocation services.
Whether you are buying, selling, or renting property, know that there are laws and ordinances in place to protect you from discrimination. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers, lenders, and real estate professionals from discriminating against you based on your race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, familial status, or disability. Discrimination Takes Many Forms It might not be an offensive comment said to your face. You may not even know it is happening. For example, sellers and landlords cannot set different terms, conditions, or privileges for sales or rentals based on the protected classes. They also cannot impose different sale prices or rental charges. Agents cannot steer you toward or away from a neighborhood based on the protected classes as well. You can find a list of many more prohibited actions online by searching the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website for examples of housing discrimination. Your REALTOR® Is Committed to Promoting and Upholding Fair Housing REALTORS® adhere to the highest professional standards—beyond what the law requires. When agreeing to abide by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, your REALTOR® has also pledged to not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on the protected classes. The Code of Ethics also prohibits discriminatory employment practices. REALTORS® also may not refuse to cooperate with another real estate broker based on the protected classes. Rest assured that your REALTOR® is with you every step of the way to explain, support, and guide you through your sale, purchase, or rental. Your REALTOR® can help you find a place to call home—an essential part of the American Dream. By hiring a REALTOR® , you will get the help you need and the professional, unbiased treatment to which you are entitled. Learn more about fair housing, including how to file complaints.
Refinancing your mortgage loan can save you money. However, here are factors to consider to make sure it’s the right choice for you. Interest Rates Lower interest rates are a leading cause for homeowners who want to refinance. The goal, of course, is to lower your monthly payment. But lowering a monthly payment alone won’t always save you money. Understand the new loan’s term and any fees associated with refinancing to make sure you’re seeing the whole picture. Credit Score Your credit score played a large part in the interest rate on your existing mortgage, and it has similar influence over any refinanced loan. If your credit score has dropped and you can’t qualify for a lower rate, refinancing may not help you financially. Mortgage History Where are you on your current mortgage? If you’re towards the end of your loan term, refinancing may have not make sense. If you’re thinking about refinancing, make sure you first identify your financial goals. Then talk to a lender about how to make those goals happen.
With a decision as big as a real estate transaction, you’ll want good advice from people you can trust. Your friends and family may not have all the answers—in fact, they may give you outdated or incorrect information. Your REALTOR® s a trusted professional who deals with real estate issues every day. REALTORS® can help dispel myths that could limit your search or unduly influence one of the most important financial decisions you’ll ever make. Beware of the following myths: Myth: You Need a 20% Down Payment. Reality: Though many buyers do put down 20% or more, Texas homebuyers paid a median 14% down payment in 2020, according to the Profile of Texas Homebuyers and Sellers report. First-time homebuyers paid a median 6%. There are many types of loans and programs you may qualify for to help you buy a home even if you don’t have a 20% down payment. Myth: You Must Have Spotless Credit. Reality: You may be able to secure a loan even with a low credit score. There are also steps you can take to improve your credit score to boost your chances of getting a loan. Myth: Don’t Buy the Biggest or Most Expensive House in the Neighborhood. Reality: This myth suggests that you may have difficulty finding a buyer when it comes time to sell or that your property value won’t rise in proportion to other homes in the neighborhood. But that is an overgeneralization. Many factors come into play for how much a home is worth. You should buy the house that best meets your needs and lifestyle. Myth: You Need to Time the Market. Reality: Don’t wait to buy a home because you think the price will go down. What if it doesn’t? It’s a bad idea to try to time your home purchase to avoid a seller’s market or join a buyer’s market. Those market conditions may not apply to the house or neighborhood you’re considering. You should buy when it makes sense for you. Don’t rely on bad information when it comes to your home. Your REALTOR® can dispel the myths and make the real estate transaction as smooth as possible.
You know that REALTORS® are knowledgeable, trusted professionals who can help you buy or sell a home, lease a property, or assist with other real estate transactions. You may be tempted to ask your REALTOR® subjective questions, such as “How are the schools around here?” “Do you know if there are many families with young children in this neighborhood?” or “Is this a high-crime area?” You may be surprised to learn that REALTORS® are prohibited from offering their opinions in these areas. Instead, they are required to point you toward unbiased, third-party resources on these matters. Why? As a member of the local, state, and national REALTOR® organization, your REALTOR® has promised to uphold a Code of Ethics to maintain the highest standards of professionalism. That means your REALTOR® avoids exaggeration, misrepresentation, or concealment of pertinent facts related to the property and transaction. That means your REALTOR® will not discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity, which includes volunteering information about the composition of a neighborhood. That means REALTORS® are prohibited from providing any specialized professional service outside of their area of expertise. For example, they cannot tell you if that water heater will last a few more years or whether the foundation is a problem. What your REALTOR® will do is guide you through the steps of a complex transaction, share with you the best market data available, explain your options, and help you achieve your goals. Your REALTOR® will also recommend you contact a lawyer if some aspect of the transaction requires it. Your REALTOR® brings industry know-how and professional connections you can’t get anywhere else. Your REALTOR® can help you with negotiations, pricing, and advice—and will always do so with the highest level of integrity. When you hire a REALTOR®, you are hiring a trusted professional. You can count on the information you receive from a REALTOR® as you make one of the biggest financial decisions of your and your family’s life.
Buying a home is a thrilling experience—and one that’s educational. Here are tips to avoid being overwhelmed as a first-time homebuyer. Don’t Rush the Home Search Some homeowners wish they spent more time searching for their perfect home. It’s important to weigh your options so you find the place that fits your needs. It’s also essential to find a REALTOR® who understands your needs, and patiently guides you to your dream home. Don’t Overlook Home Inspections It can be tempting go all in when you find the property that looks right. But always get a home inspection to avoid major problems. If you brush this off to the side, you risk major headaches that could cost you far more than the price of an inspection. Don’t Overreach You have criteria that limit your search, whether it’s location, budget, time, or something else specific to your situation. Ignore these limitations at your peril. For example, blowing your budget will cause financial stress, and putting aside location limitations could make your commute untenable. Your REALTOR® can help you identify and prioritize your limitations.
When finding what you think is the perfect house, your first instinct may be to act fast. However, it can be helpful to take a moment to ensure your offer isn’t a result of adrenalin. Here are five things to do before getting caught up in the hot market: Get In Your Car Have you considered the traffic? Take a practice drive during rush hour to see what your commute might be. Take a Walk Spend time in the neighborhood to check if there is a lot of road or construction noise nearby. Look Beyond the Staging A well-staged house can make small closets appear larger or lure you into buying a bigger space than you need. Ask yourself if the size of the house and the usable space is ideal for your situation. Double Check the Property Condition Can you afford the maintenance? While you might be open to minor repairs, you don’t want to be surprised with a fixer-upper. Have a Firm Budget Know ahead of time what your maximum price is and stick with it. It can be easy to pay much more than initially planned in a bidding war. Don’t forget to ask your REALTOR® to keep you on track with your goals and budget. Having your offer accepted is a time for celebration, not regret.