5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home


Is there a spot that you visit so often you’d like to purchase property? Or are you thinking of buying a vacation home that you will rent out when you’re not staying there? Whatever your motivation, there are a few considerations to make when you’re purchasing a second property. Be Realistic About its Use Does your dream of second-home ownership match the reality of the time and investment you’ll make? If the second property is primarily for your vacation use, factor in the costs of traveling to the location and how often you’ll be able to take advantage of it. Think About Maintenance Who will take care of issues with your second home when you’re away? If it’s a rental property, you might want to hire a property management company, so be sure to add those costs to your second-home budget. Visit More Often Before You Buy If you only visit the beach every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day, do you have a good sense for what your second-home city is like during slower months? Make sure you visit the location throughout the year and get to know everything from the weather to local activities. If you are purchasing property with the intention of renting it out, be sure you know the seasons travelers are more likely to come and that you won’t be missing out on key moneymaking times when you plan to stay there. Talk to a Local REALTOR® Find a REALTOR® who serves the community in which you’re searching for property. Local REALTORS® have knowledge about the area, local property values, market trends, and more. They can also connect you with professionals who know specifics about local taxes or restrictions related to rental properties. You can filter the results based on people who specialize in vacation and second-home properties or who hold the Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist (RSPS) designation.

5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Vacation Home2023-09-19T11:14:13-05:00

The Value of Home Inspections


Good news: A seller has accepted your offer, and you’re one step closer to owning your dream home. You’ve now entered the option period, your time to scrutinize the property—and cancel the transaction if you choose. This is the time to consider hiring an inspector to take a closer look at what you’re buying. Here’s why: Inspectors Are Thorough Inspectors must take extensive training to be licensed in Texas. They follow strict rules and are required to use the Property Inspection Report Form promulgated by the Texas Real Estate Commission. Though there are some limitations to what inspectors can evaluate, they will assess the home’s structure, electrical systems, AC and heating, plumbing, appliances, and many other aspects. Inspectors Find Things You Might Overlook Inspectors will always find issues, even in brand-new construction. But at least you know about the problems and can choose how you want to deal with them. For certain deficiencies an inspector discovers, you may want to hire a specialist such as a structural engineer, plumber, or electrician to further evaluate the condition. Inspections Help You Make Decisions If the inspection uncovers big surprises, you may want to ask the seller to make repairs or lower the sales price. The seller may agree or refuse—or continue to negotiate. If things aren’t going the way you want, you could decide to walk away—if the option period hasn’t expired. There’s Something Worse Than Finding Problems No one likes it when an inspector finds deficiencies in a home. As a buyer, you want a home in the best condition possible. Sellers also don’t like news of problems with the home. But everyone benefits from this knowledge. An inspection reduces the likelihood of surprises down the road. A happy and informed buyer is less likely to complain or sue the seller after the sale. Ask your REALTOR® if you have questions about home inspections, the termination option, or other parts of your real estate transaction. Your REALTOR® can help you sort through your options so you can achieve your real estate dreams.

The Value of Home Inspections2023-08-22T00:19:50-05:00

Stress Less When Buying or Selling a Home


Real estate transactions often involve large sums of money and emotional decisions, so it’s no wonder people get stressed. Consider these strategies to help you move through the process with ease. Clarify Your Goals What is your main motivation for buying or selling? Clarity helps you avoid anxieties brought on by distractions. For example, if your top reason to move is more space for your family, you won’t face a difficult decision when you tour a house with beautiful features but no more space than your current home. Get Time On Your Side When possible, build in enough time to avoid spur-of-the-moment decisions or unrealistic deadlines. Yes, external factors like a job relocation or a hot market can necessitate quick responses, but there’s a difference between being prepared to act and setting arbitrarily short time frames. Remember, a successful transaction requires coordination with the other party and providers such as title companies, inspectors, surveyors, and others. Just because you can move quickly doesn’t mean everyone else can meet that timeline. Focus On Positives You may experience a few bumps on the path toward your home purchase or sale. Simply being aware that surprises may pop up can relieve some pressure when they do. When challenges do arise, balance out those concerns by remembering the positives of moving, such as fresh opportunities, a beneficial transaction, and new friends. The best way to avoid stress when buying or selling a home is to work with a REALTOR®. Your REALTOR® is the professional who can guide you through the steps to achieve your real estate dreams.

Stress Less When Buying or Selling a Home2023-08-08T00:15:15-05:00

Is the Price Right?


Whether you’re selling your home or making an offer to buy one, setting a price is an important decision. How do you choose a number to attract the highest offers or get your offer accepted without overpaying? Consider the following: Where Is It? You know location matters, but keep in mind that even small differences can increase or decrease the desirability and price of a home. One side of a street may have a better view, the next block over can be zoned for a different school district, or a tranquil setting can be only a short distance away from noise and traffic. Be Careful With Comparisons Just because two homes are similar in size doesn’t mean their prices will be similar, too. Variations in age, quality of materials, condition, features, layout, lot size, and other factors can have a significant effect on what a home is worth. The Market Can Change Quickly The market may shift as the number of people selling and buying homes changes. Mortgage rates and local economic conditions also affect home prices. Just because a home sold for a certain amount a little while ago doesn’t mean that home is worth the same today. Motivation Might Matter If you need to move quickly, you may want to factor that into your pricing decision. It’s possible that being more flexible on your price can save you the costs and hassles that come with moving twice or paying two mortgages at once. Your REALTOR® can discuss current market data and your real estate goals to help you come up with a winning pricing strategy.

Is the Price Right?2023-07-25T01:19:28-05:00

What Property Owners Can Do To Detect Fraud


Real estate scams are on the rise. One con to be aware of is seller impersonation fraud, in which criminals sell owners’ property without their knowledge. Here are a few things you can do to find out if you’ve become a victim of fraud: Confirm Forwarding Address Many scammers target unoccupied properties such as vacant lots, second homes, or short-term rental properties. If you do not live at the property, double-check that the appraisal district has the correct forwarding address. Set Up Google Alerts To create an alert for your property, sign into your Google account, go to google.com/alerts, and add your name and address. You’ll get an email when there is a matching search result. Check For Activity Make a habit of searching for your property on the market. Some appraisal districts and third-party sites, such as Zillow, Trulia, and realtor.com, offer automatic alerts or email notifications for property activity. If you suspect you are a victim, reach out to the title company and the brokerage “selling” the property, and contact the police.

What Property Owners Can Do To Detect Fraud2023-07-11T01:16:41-05:00

How to Avoid Moving Company Scams


Whether you’re relocating across the country or across town, you’ll need help moving your possessions. Moving companies can be a great resource, but stay alert for scams that could ruin your move. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers tips for a successful move—including red flags that might indicate you’re being scammed:    The mover or broker doesn’t perform an on-site inspection of your household items and gives an estimate over the telephone or online. The mover or broker doesn’t provide a written estimate or says they will determine the cost after loading. The moving company demands cash or a large deposit before the move. The mover asks you to sign blank documents. The mover or broker doesn’t provide you with a copy of the Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move booklet and a copy of FMCSA’s Ready to Move brochure, which movers are required by federal regulations to supply to their customers. The company’s website has no local address and no information about their registration or insurance. The mover claims all goods are covered by their insurance. On moving day, a rental truck arrives rather than a company-owned or marked fleet truck. The mover claims that you have more belongings than estimated. Get more resources to ensure a successful move.

How to Avoid Moving Company Scams2023-06-20T01:33:52-05:00

Moving? You Don’t Have To Take Everything With You


If you’re like most people, you accumulate a lot of things over time. It happens gradually, just one chair, painting, bike, TV, board game, or mixing stand at a time. All those possessions add up, though, which is never more evident than when it comes time to move. A little thought and planning Make Your Decisions Now Why lug an old couch—or pay someone to do it for you—if you’re going to replace it shortly after you get to your new home? Not only can getting rid of things before the move save time and money, it will help you start fresh at your new residence without a lot of clutter Offer Good Items to the Next Person If you own your current home, you can consider adding certain items that convey with the sale, such as freestanding appliances, artwork, landscaping machines, and more. (Keep in mind that most permanently installed and built-in items are considered part of the sale unless specified in the contract as an exclusion.) Sell It Estate and garage sales are options to get rid of large amounts of possessions at once. Individual items can be sold online through Facebook, eBay, and other online platforms. You can also check with friends and neighbors who may have an interest in purchasing items you no longer want. Give It Away Some charities may pick up large items if they are on their wish list; others have drop-off locations. You can also post items to Buy Nothing groups and ask acquaintances if they know anyone looking for the things you no longer want. Pay Someone to Haul Off the Big Stuff For large items in disrepair, you may have to hire a company to take it away. The good news is that you won’t have to do the dirty work yourself before moving day will make your experience much more pleasant. Your REALTOR® can help you understand what items are included in the sale of a home you are moving from or to, and can assist if there are particular items you’d like to ensure stay with the property.

Moving? You Don’t Have To Take Everything With You2023-06-06T01:15:20-05:00

Are You Ready to Be a Landlord?


Being a landlord can be a wise decision but it isn’t for everyone. Here are some things to consider before you put out a for rent sign. How Is the Rental Market? Just as you perform due diligence on a property and its condition, you should do your homework on the area’s rental market. Is there a steady stream of potential tenants? Some communities have an obvious source of tenants, such as a nearby university. Will the market support the level of rental income you envision? At a minimum, you want to be able to charge enough rent to cover the property’s mortgage, tax, insurance, and maintenance. If you’re unsure about any aspects of the market for a rental property or how much rent to charge, talk to a REALTOR® who’s familiar with the area. Polish Your People Skills Successful landlords find good tenants and retain them so both parties are content. If you’d rather not take on tasks like addressing complaints or maintenance issues, you’ll need to hire a property manager. Many REALTORS® specialize in property management and can take care of related duties including handling leases, managing funds, and screening applicants. Work with a REALTOR® who is knowledgeable about local and state laws and tenants’ rights to ensure you are in compliance. Being Handy Might Not Be Enough As a landlord, you will be responsible for the routine maintenance and emergency repairs on a rental property. Maybe you can handle annual touch-up work, but unless you’re well-versed in HVAC systems and your city’s plumbing and electric codes, you’ll need phone numbers for reliable repairmen. You’re Always on Call One nice thing about renting out a garage apartment or half of your duplex is that you’re never far away if there’s an emergency with the property, such as a burst pipe or a fallen tree. However, if you don’t live nearby, it may be difficult to keep an eye on the property to ensure it’s kept in good condition. This is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to work with a local property manager who can help look after your property. Protect Yourself and Your Investment The insurance coverage you need as a landlord is different than what you have as a homeowner. Landlord insurance can protect you and your investment property from loss of income in the event that the property becomes uninhabitable, like in the aftermath of a fire, or during a tenant-landlord dispute. Get an Expert’s Advice Finding a property, whether it’s for you and tenants or just to rent out, presents challenges that differ from just buying a house for you and your family. Use the services of a REALTOR® with a background in property management. She’ll help you guide you through the process, from deciding if it’s appropriate for you to become a landlord to finding properties that best fit your search criteria.

Are You Ready to Be a Landlord?2023-05-23T15:21:49-05:00

10 Maintenance Tips for First-Time Homeowners


You’ll probably experience some trial and error as you learn to properly care for your new place. Here’s a basic home-maintenance checklist to help you get started. Check gutters regularly to make sure they’re properly attached and clear of sticks and leaves. Also, confirm the flow of water from your gutters is away from your home to avoid damage to your foundation. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Experts also recommend changing the batteries in these items as part of your routine when you change the clocks in the fall and spring. Change HVAC filters in your home at intervals recommended by the system manufacturer, especially if you have allergies or pets. A dirty filter means an inefficient system. Inspect trees on your property. A tree-service company can give you advice on how to care for your trees and identify weak limbs that should be cut. Look for running toilets and dripping faucets. These small nuisances can add up to a large waste of water. You can often fix a toilet or faucet yourself. Check the supply hose to your washing machine, which can leak and cause expensive damage. Clean your dryer vent regularly. Note the dryer vent is not the lint trap (which should be cleaned often, too). Dryer vents push air outside the property through a duct, but can get filled with lint and become a fire hazard. Clean around your refrigerator. Keeping the vents and coils underneath and behind your refrigerator free of dust helps its efficiency. Mind the gaps. Do you have gaps or cracks around doors, windows, or where pipes and wires enter the structure? Replace weather stripping that’s missing or in disrepair and add caulk where needed. This will help you keep the house insulated and keep bugs and small creatures out. Have a pest-control expert inspect your home, even if you don’t suspect signs of infestation. As you can see, a lot of effort goes into maintaining your home, and these tips just scratch the surface. Ask your REALTOR® about other resources that can help you keep your home safe, efficient, and well-maintained.

10 Maintenance Tips for First-Time Homeowners2023-05-09T11:20:25-05:00

You Received an Offer, Now What?


Congratulations! You have received an offer—or maybe more than one—to purchase your home. Before you say yes, review the terms. Remember: while price is certainly important, an offer is more than just a number. Consider these factors when working with your REALTOR® to decide what to do. Does the Timing Work for You? You need to move to your next address. You might be buying another home yourself. An offer that works with your timetable will be more appealing than one with a quick turnaround or that is otherwise inconvenient. Buyers may even be willing to temporarily rent your home back to you after the transaction closes. Has a Buyer Offered To Pick Up Some of Your Costs? Buyers may sweeten the deal by offering to pay for some of the sellers’ closing costs. Though that amount is not part of the purchase offer, it increases your bottom line. How Much Will They Put in Earnest Money and the Termination Option Fee? Some buyers will show their interest with a large earnest money payment. They may also include a large option fee, which you can keep if the buyer chooses to terminate the contract. Are There Other Factors at Play? There are many aspects of an offer that can make a deal more or less appealing to you, such as factors related to appraisals, surveys, financing, termination options, and more. Your REALTOR® can help you sort through the criteria that matter most to you and can help you find the best offer for your home. When you hire a REALTOR®, you have an advocate for closing the best deal possible

You Received an Offer, Now What?2023-04-18T00:16:47-05:00

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