How To Choose a Home Inspector

I would never recommend that you purchase a home without first getting that home inspected. You’re making a huge investment and not just a financial one. You’re also going to move your family into this home and you want to make sure that home is dependable and safe for the people that you care about to live in. But what should you look for when choosing the right person to inspect your potential investment? In this episode, Episode #19 of “Real Estate, Real Answers,” I’m going to share with you what makes a good inspector and, at the end, I’ll show you how to find the right inspector for you.

The first thing I think of when I think of a good home inspector is someone who is trustworthy and thorough. You’re making a big investment, probably thousands of dollars into this home that you’re buying. You want to make sure that it’s a good financial decision and that it’s a safe and dependable home for you to move your family into. For that reason, a good home inspector is first trustworthy and thorough. But how do you know if he’s trustworthy or thorough in his work? Well, you can ask for recommendations and look at reviews but I’ll go into more depth and share with you how to pick the right inspector in the end.

The second thing that makes a really good home inspector is someone who can help you understand the difference between a major issue and a minor issue. A good home inspector will do more than just email you his or her report when that inspection is done. He might meet you at the property or another location or maybe have a phone conference with you and explain that report to you, answer any questions and help you understand what are those major and those minor issues. Some issues can be insignificant like maybe a small building code change that happened since the home was built (he has to report all of those) or an issue could be a significant issue that you really want to have addressed and taken care of if you’re gonna move forward and purchase that home. Knowing the difference in major and minor issues is really important because when you’re negotiating for repairs with a seller you want to focus on the items that really matter and not waste time on insignificant or small items that will distract and probably prevent you from getting those major issues taken care of.

A third thing that can make a really good home inspector is someone who can do multiple types of home inspections. When you’re purchasing a home and getting inspected there are a lot of different reports and inspections that you can have done. Some you might want to have a specialist for but others are fine to have one inspector do all of those different reports. The inspector who can do multiple types of home inspections might have a broader base of experience and understand how the different systems in a home all work together. Also, you can save time and money by having one company do multiple inspections. Usually, they will give you a slight discount when you order more than one inspection and you also save time and stress by not having to coordinate with different inspectors to get each one into the home and inspect it at different times and to get them access to the home.

Those are the three things that I think make a really good home inspector, but I told you at the end that I would share with you how to find the right home inspector for you.  First I would suggest asking your real estate agent for recommendations. They’ve usually worked with a lot of different inspectors, seen a lot of different reports and developed a level of trust and dependability with certain home inspectors. They or maybe friends or family who have also gotten home inspections can usually give you a recommendation of a good home inspector.

The second thing to do to find the right home inspector for you is to ask WHY. When someone gives you a recommendation for a home inspector ask them why they’re recommending that person. It could be something simple like they’re a friend or a family member (that’s not really important) but it could be something significant like the reports or the way that they interacted with that inspector that was extremely valuable to them. Knowing why will really help you to pick the right home inspector and sometimes the reason that an inspector is good for someone else will help you know that that person might not be the right person for you. People value different things and what someone else might value in a home inspector might not match what’s important to you.

The third thing to do to find a good home inspector is to look at online reviews. Online reviews can be helpful but should be taken with a grain of salt. Usually, the people that do online reviews are people who are either really happy or know a home inspector or maybe had a terrible experience. When you look at online reviews, often you’re getting people on both ends of the spectrum and not hearing from all the people in the middle who had just a normal everyday experience with that inspector. So just understand that when you’re looking at those reviews you might not be getting a full picture of the work that inspector does.

Anyways, I hope this Real Answers been helpful for you! I’m Kyle Pfaffe, local Austin-area REALTOR and certified Texas First Time Homebuyer Specialist. Through professional and exceptional service, I focus on helping homeowners sell their homes for the most money they can net and helping home buyers purchase the “most house” for the least amount of money!

If you have a question, concern or need that I can help with, contact me and I’d be happy to help any way I can!

By your Texas REALTOR, Kyle Pfaffe

512.636.9707   kpfaffe@cityscapepg.com

ANYONE Can Buy a Home in Texas with $0 Downpayment

Buying a home in the Austin area usually costs thousands of dollars. But did you know that they are normal, easy ways for you to buy a home with a low or even $0 down-payment?  In fact, I just worked with a young couple to help them buy their first home and they were GIVEN a $2000 check at closing instead of paying a dime! I bet you’re about to turn this video off because this sounds too good to be true. Well, it’s not. Real people have used this real answer to save real money buying a home, for real.

In this episode of Real Estate, Real Answers, I am going to share with you a few of the ways that you can buy a home with zero money down and at the end, I’ll share with you how you can receive money when you close instead of paying money!

There are a number of programs available to home buyers like you here in the State of Texas to provide you with low or even zero money down-payment loans. Most of those programs have credit score requirements as low as 620 and you can qualify for some with a score as low as 580! I also know a lender who provides FREE credit repair who can usually help you if you have a score as low as 550. You could qualify to purchase a home in a short amount of time and I can put you in contact with someone who can help.

If you are a first-time home-buyer or haven’t bought a home in a while, there are national, state and municipal programs available to you for with a low or zero money down-payment. Most of those programs pay for your down-payment with either a bond or a grant. A bond is low- or zero-interest loan that you pay back either during the course of the loan or when you sell or payoff your home. A grant is a form of down-payment assistance that DOES NOT have to be repaid!

Here in Texas, the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) has Program 79. This program provides down-payment and closing cost assistance of up to 5% in the form or a no interest, no payment bond to Texas home-buyers.

There is a similar program called “Homes for Texas Heroes Loan Program” for Texas teachers, firefighters and state employees that provides down-payment assistance in the form of a gift that never has to be repaid!

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide 0% down-payment loan program for people buying in rural areas and the Veteran’s Administration (VA) provides 0% down-payment loans to U.S. military veterans.You can use all of these programs, and MORE, to buy a home with zero or very little money down.

I told you at the end how you can receive money instead of paying money at closing. Many of these programs cover your down-payment but there can often be money that you owe at closing to pay for your closing costs. Closing costs can be quite significant – 2-3% of the purchase price! Even if your loan program does not pay for closing costs, if your agent structures your offer right, you can work it out for the all of your closing costs to be paid by the seller at closing! I recently able to help my clients do just that! They put up $2000 in earnest money for the home they were buying and at closing, they were given a check for that $2000 right back – essentially paying NOTHING for their new home!

I am a certified Texas First Time Homebuyer Specialist and can help connect with the right lender and buy a home with little of zero money down! If you have questions about how you can buy a home or about these programs, please contact me with the information below, and I’ll be happy to help!

If this episode has been helpful for you, would you mind doing me a favor and subscribing to my YouTube channel? I’m Kyle Pfaffe and I want to thank you for watching episode #18 – this is Real Estate and THAT is the REAL ANSWER!

Tips to Buy a House (And Win BIG!)

See More Tips to BUY SMART

Welcome to Real Estate Real Answers Episode #15! I’m Kyle Pfaffe, local Austin area real estate agent, and if you have your own question, enter it in the comments below or contact me and I’ll make sure to answer it. If you’re thinking about buying a house right now, but – eh – maybe you’ll find one, maybe you won’t, this video is not for you. But if your goal is not just to maybe find a home but to buy a home right now and WIN BIG, then this video is just for you! Today I’m going to share with you four tips to buy a home right now and win big. Plus, at the end, I’ll share with you one tip to always make your offer stand out to sellers.

The first tip to buy a home right now and win big is to be very specific with your search. Know exactly what home you’re looking for, how many bedrooms, how many bathrooms, the layout, floorplan, 1 story or 2 story, the finishes, the neighborhood, the school district, and the size of the yard. All of those things are very important to be very specific in your search so you know what you’re looking for. Why is that important? Well, do you want to waste time going and looking at a home that you would never purchase – that would never be the one that you would want to live in and potentially miss out on a home that is the right one for you? Well, if you put in the work before you start your search and be very specific for what you are looking for, you can spend all of your time looking at the homes that are right for you and not waste any time on the homes that are not.

That leads us right into the second tip to help you buy a house and win big
and that’s to MOVE QUICK. When you have been very specific for what home you are looking for, you can move very quickly when you find that house. When you find it, don’t wait until the weekend to go and see that home – don’t wait for the open house. Go and look at it right away. Don’t waste any time. And when you find that perfect house, make an offer right away. Don’t rush to a decision, but once you are sure it is the right home, make that offer right away.  If you do that, you can potentially get your offer in and accepted before other offers come in and make it a multiple offer situation or maybe you can get your offer in before the open house when other buyers have a chance to see that home and beat you to that house.

The single biggest variable to your success buying a home is HUSTLE. If you really want to find a house and you want to win big, you have to work hard. You have to put the work in up front to make sure that you are only looking at the right houses. You have to go and look at that house right away when it comes on the market. You have to put your offer in right away, but all of that stuff, YOU CAN CONTROL! If you put that work in, you can win! That same tip applies for buyers or sellers. Sellers, if you are willing to put the work in, you can get more money for your house. You can sell quicker. You can sell with better terms. But you have to put the work in. If you do that, no matter what, you can WIN!

The third tip is to be persisitent. If you’ve looked at a lot of homes, but haven’t
found the right one, don’t give up! Stick to the plan that you have of narrowing your search and looking at the right homes and you will find the right home for you! Maybe you’ve lost out on some multiple offers or you haven’t gotten your offer in on time. Keep being persistent looking for those homes, make the offer and if you do that, you’ll find the right home and you’ll win!

The fourth tip is to buy for value. The frenzy of this market can drive some people to do crazy things, but not YOU! You’re going to buy for value! You’re going to make sure that even if it is a multiple offer situation, even if you have to move quickly, that you are buying for value. That means that you’re not overpaying for a house.

Now I told you at the end I would give you one tip to always make your offer stand out to sellers, and that is to make your offer with a three day option period. That really stands out to sellers because if they take their home off the market becuase they accepted your contract and are not going to consider any offers, that short time period means that if it doesn’t work out with you, they can get their home right back out on the market for someone else. For you, you can make a three-day option period work if you have already been working with your inspector to make sure that your inspection is scheduled for the first day after the contract has been accepted. That gives you enough time to do your due diligence on the home and make sure it is right for you and negotiate repairs and it is a huge win for the sellers as well and makes your offer stand out!

If you have a real estate question that you would like answered, put that in the comments below and I will answer it! I hope these four tips can help you buy a home and win big! Thanks for checking out episode 15 – this is Real Estate and that is the REAL ANSWER! If you are considering a move in the Austin area, contact me because I help people like you move smart.

How Much Downpayment Do I Need in Austin to Buy a House?

Today I want to share with you the answer to the most common I get from home buyers, especially first-time homebuyers. I really feel bad for so many buyers I encounter who don’t know the right answer to this question because the answer brings so much hope and helps people own their own home much sooner than they thought possible.

That question is: “How much downpayment do I need to buy a house?” I’ve had many potential home buyers ask me this question and most have the perception that they need 20% down to purchase a home! That might have been true 30 years ago, but today they are many mortgage options for buyers to purchase a home with much less of a downpayment. The most common options include:

  • 0% downpayment with a USDA loan. Only certain areas qualify for a USDA loan and this loan requires a slightly better debt-to-income ratio that other loans, but it is a great option for someone who has no money for a downpayment
  • 3.5% downpayment with a FHA loan. This loan is probably the most common loan first-time home buyers use and has some of the lowest requirements to qualify.
  • 5% downpayment with a Conventional loan. Conventional loans require a higher credit score but can provide a lower monthly payment amount for buyers because it has a lower cost for mortgage insurance. There are conventional loan programs for 10% or 20% down as well that might have better terms and some lenders even offer a conventional loan with only 3% down.

Those are the three most basic types of loans, but the most important thing to know is that there are many ways you can purchase a home with a relatively small downpayment.

If you are considering a move in the Austin area, contact me because I help people like you move smart.

Avoid Buying a Bad House in Austin

You probably know someone who has been duped or tricked before. That’s why you probably have had this eerie feeling/thought in the back of your mind – something doesn’t seem right. Am I going to buy a “bad” house? What is the seller hiding? What is the listing agent hiding? What am I missing? Is there something wrong with this house that I can’t see? What am I missing that is going to cause a nightmare for me in the future?

I help people like you move smart. My job is to protect buyers like you, help them avoid the house they’ve seen(woke up in) in their nightmares and buy the house of their dreams. How can you know you’re not buying a bad house? I recommend three steps to help you avoid buying a lemon of a house.

  1. Visual Inspection. As you are walking through a house, maybe at an open house or showing, look for clues that can tip you off to bigger issues. Small cracks in the walls, ceiling or floor could indicate foundation problems. Spots on the ceiling or marks down a wall could be from water damage. Dirty intake vents could mean the AC system hasnt’ been properly taken care of and needs to be serviced. An overly dirty house could mean an owner hasn’t taken good care of the home in general. None of these automatically mean there are issues but they can point to hidden issues or things you should have checked out.
  2. Check with your Insurance Agent. When you are getting a quote for homeowners insurance, your agent can usually pull a report that shows most claims the current seller has made. For claims that show up, you should check with the seller to verify how the problems were addressed. For example, if a home had water damage from a broken toilet that flooded a bathroom, how did the seller clean up and fix that issue? Your insurance agent can be a huge help. In the notes below is the info for an agent I recommend.
  3. Home Inspection. After you make an offer on a house and the seller accepts, you have what’s called an “option period” to have the house inspected by professionals. General home inspections, termite inspections and foundation inspections are common. You can take their reports, go back to the seller and ask for them to fix certain things. If you can’t agree on repairs, you can walk away from the deal and save most of your money.

A healthy fear of buying a bad house is a good thing – it can make you careful and cautious. If you are thinking about making a move in the Austin area, contact me because I help people like you move smart and avoid the mountain of headaches and the black hole of expenses that can come with buying the wrong house. You can also submit your email address in the column to the right to make sure you get all the tips, tools and advice to help you MOVE SMART.

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

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

The Home Buyer’s Super Bowl – WIN BIG!

The Super Bowl is the grand finale of the NFL season and offers one team the ultimate reward for their meticulous preparation and monumental effort. Everything they have done for the past 6 months has been leading up to this. To the other teams watching, this is just another game. To them, this is the only game. Their focus is intense and their fervor is unmatched.

If you are hoping to buy a home this year, this is your Super Bowl. You are planning and preparing for your moment. In your mind, you are envisioning yourself living in your new home. Relaxing for the first time on your couch in your living room, and enjoying your home is just as rewarding or exhilarating as any player holding up that Lombardi Trophy. This is your Super Bowl, because nothing else matters. Like you, over about 30,000 other people will buy a home in the Austin area this year, but your new home is all that matters. You have worked very hard to get yourself financially ready to buy a home and put yourself in the perfect position to make that dream a reality.

I am going to share with you three quick tips for making sure your Super Bowl is a WIN!

 1.  Preparation. Football teams spending a lot of time scouting out their opponent and practicing their game plan. Bill Belichick once said, “There are no shortcuts to building a team each season. You build the foundation brick by brick.” To buy a house and move smart, you need to build a good foundation and be prepared. Research the costs of buying a home or download my FREE Guide so have enough money. Talk to a lender to find out how much you qualify for and what your payments will be. Visit some open houses to figure out what types of homes and what features are important. Each of these things can save you time and money and can help you WIN in buying your home!

2.  Coaching. It’s been said that “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their growth.” The teams that play in the Super Bowl all have coaches that have helped their players grow until they’ve reached the top. When you’re buying your home, you need great coaches who you can trust. Your family and friends are not your coaches – they’re your fans. You need a great lender who can do an amazing job and find just the right loan for your financial situation. You also need a real estate agent who can negotiate an awesome deal for you and make sure your interests are protected. The right coaches can help you win!

3.  Execution. Tony Dungy said, “You don’t win on emotion. You win on execution.” For football players, they can practice and have great coaching, but unless they make the play, they won’t win. My advice to you is this: You have a dream to buy a home. You have prepared for this moment. You selected some great coaches to help you win. Stick to the plan. Don’t let your emotion make you offer more than you can afford because you have to have THIS house. Don’t let your emotions make you settle for the wrong house. You have a plan! Follow the plan and you’ll win!

I help people like you find the right house and win. If you want to Move Smart and win, contact me with the information in the notes below and I’ll help you find that perfect house to call your own and enjoy the next Super Bowl in.

Be safe, enjoy the game and good luck in your Home Buying Super Bowl!

By Kyle PfaffeREALTOR® e: KPfaffe@cityscapepg.com

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

Top 3 SURPRISE Costs of Buying a Home

Some surprises are great! Going to a surprise birthday party. Getting a surprise bonus on your check. Hitting a blind shot onto an elevated green when you were playing golf this weekend and finding your ball 6″ from the hole for your first birdie of the day. THOSE surprises are GREAT! If you’re anything like me, when making a big financial decision, like buying a home, surprises are probably one of the LAST things you want. I want to help you move smart and not be surprised by the costs of buying your next home. Today I’m going to share with you the three expenses of buying a home that most often catch buyers like you by surprise and teach you how to be a step ahead and save when you’re buying your home.
The first surprise expense of buying a home is the cost of inspections. When you agree to a contract with a seller to buy your new home from them, you have a period of time to perform any inspections to make sure the house is in good condition and there are no hidden issues you should know about. Home inspections, termite inspections and foundation inspections are all common for buyers to have performed. The cost of those inspections usually amount to $400 – $500 and, as the buyer, you have to pay for those out of your own pocket. A lot of buyers that I have talked with who are thinking about buying a home don’t anticipate this cost and it can throw them off. To move smart, you need to be prepared for the cost of inspections and have an inspector lined up to perform the right tests on your new home.
A second common surprise cost for home buyers is paying for a survey. What is a survey? A survey is a map of your new home that shows the boundaries of your property, any structures on your land and any important utility lines or other things on your property. Your lender will usually require you to have a survey for the property you are purchasing. Most of the time, the seller you are buying your home from already has a survey from when he bought the home, but sometimes that survey has been lost or too much has changed to the property since the last survey was completed and a new one has to be ordered. You will pay about $450 for a new survey. If that expense comes as a surprise to you when you are buying a home, it can feel like a gut punch – $450 is a lot of money, especially when you feel like these “surprise” costs are adding up. To move smart, before you submit an offer, find out if the seller has a good survey for you to use. If he doesn’t, have your agent negotiate on your behalf to have the seller pay for a new one.
One other surprise expense you need to know about is closing costs. Most buyers I work with have heard of closing costs but know very little about what to expect. They don’t understand what closing costs are, how much they are and what they can do to reduce their closing costs. As a result, they are caught off guard by the estimates their lender gives them or, worst yet, they are floored by the final closing statement they get right before closing! The simplest explanation for closing costs is that they are the lender fees, title fees and pre-paid taxes and insurance you pay at closing, in addition to any down payment you pay. Closing costs usually amount to 2-3% of the price of the home you are purchasing. So if you are purchasing a $300,000 home, closing costs can be as much as $6000 – $9000! That is a HUGE expense if you didn’t plan and prepare for it! To move smart, talk to a lender who can tell you exactly what to expect for closing costs depending on what type of loan you apply for so you can plan and save for that. You can save some on closing costs by working with your agent to negotiating for the seller to pay for some of your closing costs. There are some costs the seller usually expects to pay for but you can end up paying yourself if you don’t negotiate your contract the right way.
These costs are the three biggest surprises for home buyers. For a list of the costs you should expect when buying a home, sign up to receive my FREE Guide: Move Smart by Knowing Your Expenses. I hope this can help you Move Smart! If you are considering buying a home in the Austin area and want to make sure you move smart, contact me and I would be happy to help.