Buying a Home – Make the First Right Step

You want to buy a home but for every good story you have heard you have probably heard another horror story from a friend who had a terrible experience buying a home. I have people tell me those stories all the time. How do you avoid those pitfalls? Where do you get answers? What are the right questions to ask? What is most important right now is that you know what to do first. If you start right, everything else can line up and you can buy a home easier and with a lot less stress than some other people you have heard about. So what do you do first?!
Before anything else, I want to say CONGRATULATIONS! For my wife and I, buying our first home was an amazing experience and we are so happy to own our own home! I want to help make this journey as smooth and stress free as I can for you.
The majority of people who want to buy a home start by looking at homes online. They discover features and finishes that they love for their new home in just the right neighborhood. My wife especially enjoyed looking at homes online and she stayed up very late – too late – too many nights doing so! It is exciting because you start to imagine yourself living in your new home! Your hopes are growing and the power of visualization is adding fuel to the fire the drives your insatiable desire to own your own home!
Other people start their journey by checking out some open houses. Maybe they have a particular neighborhood that they want to live in so they drive the area over the weekend, looking for open houses to peruse. Others wander around looking for any open house they can find pop in.
Some people start by calling a real estate agent they know and trust to tell him they want to buy a home and to ask for help. Pretty much all of these things are part of buying a home, but they are not the first thing you should do. The first thing you should to make buying your home as easy as possible is talk to a lender.
Why talk to a lender? Talking to a lender is a free, no obligation way to get the most important piece of information on buying a home that you can get – how much home you can afford. With a 15 minute conversation, a lender can give you a pretty close answer to how much you can afford. He will also tell you how much your mortgage payments would be for a home at that price. This is crucial information because I have found that for many buyers I work with there is often a difference between the amount they qualify for and the amount they are comfortable paying each month. You definitely want to avoid buying a home that you can barely afford to live in! In the notes below I’ve linked two amazing lenders that I regularly recommend to my clients.
You may be thinking, “That sounds like good information to have and something that I will eventually need to buy our home, but I don’t need to do that first, before anything else, right?” I would suggest to you that the information from the lender is so important to get first because it can radically change everything from that point on. You could find out that you can afford much more of a home that you thought. Now you are looking at entirely different homes online and visiting completely different open houses. You could also start looking at homes and allow your aspirations and hope to grow for certain homes. You can see yourself already living in a particular home and then find out that there is no way you could afford those homes. Now you feeling disappointed with anything else you start looking at.
Avoiding that pain and disappointment is why I personally will almost never show homes to a buyer if she has not spoken to a lender and gotten pre-qualified. I feel that I am not doing my job, that I am actually doing a disservice to you if I show you homes, let you fall in love with a home – maybe find your dream home – then have all of those hopes shattered when you find out you cannot afford that home. To me, that’s heartbreaking! Buying a home should be an exciting adventure and I want it to be as pleasurable and stress-free for you as it can be – so please talk to a lender first!
 
Anyways, I hope this REAL ANSWER has been helpful for you. Sign up at RealEstateRealAnswers.net to receive more REAL ANSWERS because no one likes fake answers. You can also ask your own questions and see the REAL ANSWERS to other questions. This is Real Estate and that’s the REAL ANSWER!
Tom Sawyer – NMLS #234589
Senior Mortgage Banker – Modern Mortgage – Managing Partner
512-291-5626
TSawyer@hlglends.com
John W. Burnam, Jr. – NMLS # 247530
Senior Loan Officer – SWBC Mortgage Corp – Oak Group
512-632-2012
John.Burnam@swbc.com

What is the BEST Open House Question?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Rather Watch Than Read? Click Image for Video!
  • Ask the WHY, not the WHAT
  • Get the Sellers’ Insight

Every weekend, thousands of people leave their air conditioned homes to visit open houses. If you are going to give up a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to look at houses, I’m sure you want it to be profitable – useful – and feel like your time was worth it (Are you thinking of a move? I can make it easier – Let’s Connect!). If you want your open house visits to be as valuable as possible, you need to ask the right questions. What is the most common question I get at an open house? I already answered that in this blog post. 

The best questions will always focus on information you can’t find in a flyer or MLS listing – they will focus on the hidden details. So, what is the best question to ask? I couldn’t narrow it down to only one so here are the top two:

What do the sellers like MOST about this home?

The answer to this question can be very valuable because it will often highlight something about the home of area that you would be very hard to convey or understand unless you are actually at the home. Maybe the sellers love the floor plan or the neighborhood. Maybe they like the schools or the back yard has an amazing sunset view that you could never truly appreciate unless you saw the backyard for yourself. The answer could be any number of things, but it is most likely something that you would never learn from a flyer, MLS listing or the information I have already shared in social media leading up to my open house (Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube!).

The second best question to ask is…

Why are the sellers moving?

If you read my other post, you know that this is also the most common question I get at an open house. It is also a very good question that I recommend you ask on a visit to an open house. This is information that probably only the agent knows and it can be super helpful. The reasons the seller is moving is moving might be the same reasons that the home wouldn’t be a good fit for you but you haven’t considered yet. Also, maybe the home is a great fit for your needs, but knowing the answer to that question can give you extra insight into the house, neighbors or neighborhood!

If you have any questions about real estate or are thinking of buying a home, drop me a note or call me and I’d be happy to help!

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

m: 512-636-9707 w: AustinHomes4You.com

Open Houses – What is the Most Common Question?

KEY TAKEAWAYS

What is the most common open house question
Rather Watch Than Read? Click Image for Video!
  • There are no bad questions
  • Some questions give special insight

I do a lot of open houses – usually 2-3 a week. That adds up to 8-12 a month and almost 150 a year! I get a lot of questions from people that visit the houses I am holding open – no “bad” questions, but definitely some better than others. So I was thinking the other day, what is the most common question asked at an open house?

At first thought, you might think something like “What is the price?” or “How many square feet are there in this home?” I do get those questions often, but many times people come in to an open house already knowing a lot of information about an open house from what is posted online or what I have shared in social media leading up to my open house (Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube!)

I do get plenty of weird questions about a home but I am fine answering anything coming from a curious buyer (do YOU know someone looking to make a move? Introduce us!). All that being said, what is the most common question I get from visitors at my open houses???

Why are the sellers moving?

If you think about it, this is actually a really good question! This is information that probably only the agent knows – you can’t find it on the MLS, Zillow or in a flyer. It is also information that can be super helpful. The reasons the seller is moving is moving might be the same reasons that the home wouldn’t be a good fit for you but you haven’t considered yet. Also, maybe the home is a great fit for your needs, but knowing the answer to that question can give you extra insight into the house, neighbors or neighborhood!

The perfect follow up question to this is, What is the BEST question to ask an agent at an open house? I’ll be answering that in my next blog post so check back soon or, even better, FOLLOW my blog so you are notified when that next post comes!

If you have any questions about real estate or are thinking of buying a home, drop me a note or call me and I’d be happy to help!

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

m: 512-636-9707 w: AustinHomes4You.com

Top 5 VA Home Loan Questions

What are the benefits of VA Loans?

VA loans require $0 down payment and do not require mortgage insurance. This alone can save you almost $200 a month on a $200,000 loan! VA loans also allow for all closing costs to be paid by the seller and credit scores as low as 620. Those who qualify can use the program multiple times and the VA Funding fee is waived for 10% or greater VA disability rating. Loans can be as great as $417,000 with no down payment and can be even larger with a small down payment. Also, family gifts are OK for down payment funds.

Who is eligible for the VA program?

Almost every veteran you may meet is eligible for the program! A vet must have served 24 continuous months on active duty or a full period called to active duty, not less than 90 days. If discharged, it must not be dishonorable. National Guardsmen and Reservists need 6 full years of service unless they are called to active duty. There are no exceptions for eligibility – your VA-approved lender determine eligibility.

What properties can use a VA Loan?

Almost any single family dwelling, except manufactured homes, can go VA. Existing homes, new homes (after construction) and two to four unit properties can all use VA. The home being purchased must be owner-occupied by a veteran withing 60 days of closing

What should my REALTOR make sure is in the Sales Contract?

Minimum recommended seller contribution should be $2000, but ask your lender for the amount specific to you. Seller contributions are first applied to “VA non-allowable” fees (if any), than to other buyer closing costs. Closing times will vary lender to lender, but you should allow at least 30 days for the appraisal and loan processing.

What Inspections are Required for VA Loans?

Home inspections are optional (but highly recommended!) for VA loans, but termite inspections are almost always required except for brand new homes and some condos. Ask your lender, but they will likely require a clean termite report – any termite treatments or conducive conditions on the inspector’s report will usually have to be taken care of before the lender will approve the loan. VA specific appraisals are required and septic inspections and water well tests are usually mandatory if applicable.
All loan programs are subject to change. For expert help with VA Loans, I recommend a specialist – Chad Bowman with Veterans United.
 By Kyle Pfaffe, REALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com