North Texas Real Estate & Community News

June 23, 2020

Instant Offers and iBuyers

With advances in technology and new ways to utilize data, some companies have created different ways to sell your property. Basically, they utilize automated valuation models (AVMs) to make quick offers on homes, allowing them to close in a much faster than typical timeframe, and then resell them. Companies that offer this kind of service are only in limited markets across the country right now. 

 

In the real estate profession, we call these companies iBuyers (investor buyers, instant buyers).  Some of them are large conglomerates while other iBuyers may be a smaller real estate investment company.

Let’s look at the benefits and costs of using this type of service

Eliminate hassle:  From a seller's standpoint, it can eliminate some hassle and uncertainty – that is certainly an attractive offer.  Unfortunately with high "transaction fees" ranging from 7% to 14%, and the likelihood that they will sell the home for more than they paid you for it, you are simply exchanging that smooth and quick transaction for a portion of your equity.  

Quick sale:  These iBuyers operate by having homeowners fill out a short questionnaire with information on their home. They feed that data into their AVM, which kicks back an offer price. They make the homeowner a cash offer to close in a short timeframe (typically about a week) and specify what the fee will be to proceed through to closing. Once they own the home, they may repair and spruce it up, and list it for sale on the open market.  While the quick closing timeframe may seem attractive – you might also be able to sell your home quickly on the open market by hiring a REALTOR to assist you.

No repairs or updates:  While you may believe no one wants to buy your property because it’s not updated or it’s in poor condition, you would be surprised to know that it not the case.  In fact, many times you are your homes worst critic and you believe the home is not updated as nicely as others.  However, many home buyers contact a REALTOR asking for assistance in buying affordably priced homes, even if they need some updating.  Not only are there home buyers who will be interested in your home on the open market, but the iBuyer may ask you to reduce the sales price after getting an inspection on your property.

It may be tempting to consider such an offer, but keep in mind that this is a straight numbers play

The iBuyer companies are determining a price that allows them the room to cover the costs of the transactions as well as the repairs, while still making some profit. Their profit will either come from the fee you've paid or from acquiring your home at a below market price - although it could possibly be a combination of the two.   In fact, an analysis on one company's transactions showed they were selling homes at an average 5.5% appreciation, on top of their transaction fee.   With transaction fees between 7-14% and adding another 5% appreciation, a home seller could have made 10-15% more money had they used a traditional real estate company. That's a lot of money to leave on the table for a little convenience.

 

Are all of these iBuyer companies the same?

Many of them are the same – offering to buy a house at a fixed price in a quick timeframe (even if the home seller could make more money and still sell quickly on the open market).  However, there are a few other companies beginning to test alternative listing models as well, utilizing technology and AVMs to make 'instant offers' on homes, or to help buyers acquire and move into their next home before selling their current one. As always, it's important to read the fine print and understand what you are agreeing to.  Pay special attention to any sort of bridge financing or wrap-around mortgage products that may become problematic to you if the first home doesn’t sell in the time frame or for the amount

What should I do if I am ready to sell?

If you are planning to sell a property, it’s important to do your due diligence in determining the right option for your specific situation.  You may want to consult with more than one iBuyer company and you should also compare that to a traditional real estate brokerage model.  *Please note that due to the Corona Virus Pandemic, many of these iBuyer companies have stopped buying houses until they know how things will play out in the economy.   However, a more traditional real estate brokerage service is likely still able to help you list the home on the open market and get the property sold right away. 

Your best bet is to do some research, find a company that suits your needs, read the fine-print, and then move forward to get your property SOLD!

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog
June 19, 2020

AVM – Automated Valuation Model

How do those real estate websites know how much your house is worth?  How accurate are they?  Can you rely on this information when buying or selling a house?  Let’s answer these questions by helping you to better understand the Automated Valuation Model or AVM.

What is an AVM or Automated Valuation Model?

An AVM or Automated Valuation Model is a form of Artificial Intelligence or AI.  The information about other homes that are listed for sale is put into an algorithm that then uses that information to average out a probably listing price for a house.  Generally the information that is considered is the zip code.

So that’s how those websites know how much my house is worth!

Yes.  Most people are familiar with Zillow and their “Zestimate” of what a house might be worth.  This is a great example of an AVM.  However, this is not the only place that you may find an AVM.  Sometimes a real estate brokerage website will have a “what’s my home worth” button or page that lets you plug in your address to see what the house might be worth.  This too runs a report automatically for you through an AVM.  Other companies may send you a postcard in the mail with a special code or link that is specific to your house or neighborhood.  This too will likely run a report automatically for you through an AVM. Basically, anytime you put in an address on-line and get an instant response on a value it will be generated by an AVM.

How accurate is an AVM or Automated Valuation Model?

This just depends.  You may get a good general idea of where the pricing may land, however all properties are different and the real estate market shifts and changes depending on other economic indicators (such as interest rates and unemployment).  If you really want to know what your house is worth or how much money you could sell your house for, your best bet is to hire a professional to assist you.  A real estate professional such as a home APPRAISER or REALTOR would be a good choice.  This professional will visit your home in person to view the condition of the home.  You may have many updates in your home that other comparable listings didn’t have.  On the flip side, you may find that all of the comparable listings are completely updated while your property may need some updates or repairs.  Property condition plays a very big part in pricing the property.  Additionally, the number one rule of real estate is:  location, location, location.  If your home backs to a major road or a commercial real estate area that could negatively affect your pricing.  Or your property may be on a greenbelt or back up to a golf course which could positively affect your price/value.

Once your real estate professional views your home in person, they can then do some further research on not only what has been listed for sale but also what actually SOLD.  This is a huge difference between what information the AVM has access to and what a professional has access to when you are in a “non-disclosure state” where real estate sales prices are not automatically disclosed as public record (like Texas).

So, can I rely on an AVM when preparing to sell my house?

As noted above, using an AVM may give you a general idea of what kind of price you could possibly sell a property for.  However, to find the true price that a ready, willing, and able buyer may spend to purchase your house you will definitely want to speak with a REALTOR.  Your local REALTOR is a professional who has access to the information who can make adjustments based on the property condition.  If the person you are speaking with has not viewed your home in person, they cannot accurately predict what the most probable sales price will be. 

 

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
June 16, 2020

Is now a good time to buy a house?

Is now a good time to buy a house?  We get asked this question a lot.  Sometimes my response to that question is to ask another question.  When is the best time to plant a tree?  The answer is 10 years ago, so that you can enjoy the shade today.  Then the question becomes, when is the second-best time to plant a tree?  The answer is today. 

The same thing goes for buying a house.  The best time to buy a house was 10 years ago when prices were lower.  However the second-best time to buy a house is always TODAY.   This is because real estate is an amazing long-term investment.  In fact, most wealthy people in the United States built their wealth through real estate.  However, you don’t have to be wealthy to buy a home.

Sold Sign on House

Today is a great day to buy a house for so many reasons:

Interest rates are still great
After dropping slightly in April amid the Corona Virus Pandemic, mortgage rates remain relatively flat as we move into mid-June.  To view the current rates visit the Freddie Mac website at http://www.freddiemac.com/pmms/

Prices are holding firm in some price points
If you are planning to buy a home in the DFW area in the $400,000 + range, you may find that the home prices are holding steady.

Prices are increasing in other price points
If you are planning to buy a home in the DFW area in the $400,000 or less price range, you may find that homes are selling quickly for top dollar.  Some homes are still selling above list price with multiple offers.  If you wait to buy, the prices will likely be higher in the future when you do decide to buy a home.

Building Wealth
The longer you own your home the wealthier you become.  As you pay down the principal loan amount, and the home appreciates in value, you begin to build equity.  This is where the wealth is built.  Plus you get the bonus of being able to keep your payments consistent from year to year (which doesn’t always happen when you rent as the landlord could increase the rental rates every year).

Now that you know you should buy a house sooner rather than later, where do you start?

One of the first places to start is by hiring a REALTOR who can give you good guidance and direction and help answer all of your questions.  Likely the first thing they will tell you to do is to get pre-approved for a mortgage.  If you don’t know where to start, read about how to find the right mortgage lender or check out this list of best mortgage lenders from Money Magazine.

To learn more about the home buying process and to talk to a professional REALTOR, give our office a call at 469-759-3899 or 855-324-HOME (4663).  Our team of professionals are here to help you build wealth and buy a home.  If you are located outside of the DFW area, we will connect you with a professional in your area who can help you and if you plan to live in the DFW area, we will personally assist you.

 

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
June 5, 2020

7 Reasons To Buy a NEW Home

 

Top 7 reasons to buy a NEW home

 

Have you ever thought about buying a brand new home?  Not just a “new to you” home, but a brand-new, no-one-ever-lived-in-it-before home.  There are some great benefits to building a home or buying a “spec” home that a builder has already started.  Let’s look at a few of the benefits.

 

  1. Design

When you build a brand new construction home you have the ability to pick and choose the design elements that you want in your next home.  However, even if you choose to buy a home from a builder that is already partially or completely built (sometimes called a spec home) you still get the benefit of the latest in design trends.  The builder may have chosen the colors, cabinets, flooring – but rest assured it will be the most current trends in homes.

  1. Energy Efficiency

Today home builders are more energy conscious than in years past.  Part of that is due to building codes and ordinances, and partially because consumers are asking for more energy efficiency in their homes.  This could be anything from additional insulation, energy-star rated appliances, low-e windows, and more.  Homes that are newer could even have energy ratings through The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index from Resnet.  

  1. Maintenance

Newer homes need less maintenance. Since everything is new in the home, there should not be any major system repairs needed.  In fact, during the first year you own your home the builder may possibly assist with some general maintenance/warranty issues.  You will still want to perform regular maintenance items such as changing your air filters, smoke detector batteries, and caring for your landscaping and foundation.

  1. Personalization/Customization

You have the ability to choose the lot that you want, the floor plan that works best for you, and all of your design elements during the new construction/home building process.  Pick a corner lot, choose a larger lot, or maybe you like interior lots near a neighborhood park.  Then look for the floor plan that fits your lifestyle, the builder may also have available modifications to that floor plan.  Once you are under contract to build, you will meet with a designer for a consultation at the design center where you can choose the counter tops, cabinets, flooring, faucets, fixtures, paint colors, and more. The choices are completely up to you.

  1. Warranty

Most home builders provide a minimum of a 1 year warranty that covers materials and workmanship, and some even provide a 2 year warranty for those items.  However, various specific warranties carry even further than the “bumper to bumper” type warranty you get in the beginning.  For example, the foundation and structural components usually have a 10 year warranty.  Additionally, all of the major components come with separate manufacturer warranties.  This means that your water heater, HVAC system, windows, and appliances all have their own specific warranty timelines.  If you would rather have an extended warranty on everything in one place you could also consider getting a Residential Service Contract from a company like OneGuard Home Warranty, Fidelity Home Warranty, or another company like them.

  1. Neighborhood Amenities

Most new construction neighborhoods in today’s real estate market include some pretty great neighborhood amenities.  You may find neighborhood parks, trails, playgrounds, and green spaces.  Some neighborhoods also have community pools, splash parks, meeting/party rooms, amphitheaters, or other amenity centers. You might even find sport courts such as basketball or volleyball courts depending on the neighborhood development design.

  1. Location

You will find that many new construction neighborhoods are located just outside of the hustle and bustle of the bigger city.  This could mean less traffic, more sense of community, and retail and other nearby stores are likely also newer.  However, sometimes you will find small pockets of development within the larger more established communities too.  Depending on the wants and needs of your lifestyle, you can find a location that suits you best.  After all one of the most important rules of real estate is location, location, location.

 

If you would like more information about buying or building a new home in North Texas, call 469-759-3899 and our agents are happy to answer any questions.  Our agents represent home buyers to protect their best interests when building or buying homes directly from a home builder.  There is never a cost to you for our services as the builder pays the real estate commission.  You deserve someone on your side to help you navigate the process and be aware of all of your options.



About the author:

 

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

 

Posted in Blog
June 4, 2020

How to buy a house without seeing it

How do I buy a house if I can’t see homes in person?

You are ready to buy a home, but are not able to view them in person. This could be because you are moving across the country, or it could be due to a specific event such as the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. When you come across a home you think might be a fit, you ask your REALTOR to show you homes virtually. In order for you to take full advantage of virtual showings in your decision making process, both you and your agent will need to go through the following steps.

1. Get pre-approved

Regardless of how you intend to tour homes, this is always our starting point. Most home buyers think that the process will be time-consuming, or that they are not prepared to take this step. However, this step is of utmost importance. In a matter of minutes, you can complete a pre-approval process with a lender. This will give you peace of mind that the homes you are considering meet your budget.

2. Determine your search criteria – and understand the “why” behind it

You will want to decide which items are most important to you in your next home, but more importantly, WHY are they important. Ideally, you want to have a list of 3-5 “must-haves,” or things that you cannot live without. The key to narrowing down what’s most important starts with your motivation. Ask yourself, why are you moving in the first place? What will buying a new home help you to achieve? When you connect your criteria to something that powerful, you will be surprised how quickly you find clarity. 

Your agent will be a valuable resource in this stage. Their role here is to confirm your criteria, ensuring that together you are digging down to what matters most to you. They are the sounding board for your home search ideas and will be there to tell you if the ideal home you are imagining is realistic given the area you are looking in.

Regardless of whether you will viewing homes in person or via video, this step sets the stage for the rest of your home buying process. 

3. Select your favorites 

When viewing homes online before your tour of homes, you will want to be hyper-realistic about whether or not the homes you are saving on-line as your favorites are actually a good fit.  For example, if one of the top items in your search criteria is a large back yard for your dog, but you find a listing on-line that has a fabulous media room and the most gorgeous finishes, yet the home doesn’t have much of a yard, you need to stop and review your criteria. Ask yourself, “Is what has drawn me to this home more important than the criteria I’ve created?” You may also ask yourself, “Do I need to revisit my must-haves?” Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but you want to think through the process. You should also discuss any changes to your wants/needs with your agent. 

One thing we encourage our home buyers to do (when viewing homes in-person or virtually) is to only keep the top 2 homes in their sight. We do that by ranking homes as you view them. After seeing the first 2 homes, we determine which one would be the best fit if there were no other homes available. Then with each new home toured, we compare the newest home viewed with the current number 1 choice on the list.

4. Narrow your search – gather more facts

Once you have a few homes you really like on-line, it’s time for your agent to help you learn as much as possible about the homes. This could include viewing any other video or walk through tours provided. This should also include review of any disclosures, list of updates, or previous repair receipts that could be available. Your REALTOR may also contact the listing agent to ask any further questions before setting an appointment. If you have specific questions regarding the home, now is the time to bring those to your agent’s attention.

5. Schedule a live virtual tour

It’s best to think about virtual home tours in the same way you think about touring a home in person. You normally set time aside to go out with your agent, so it’s best to create an experience that is as close to this as possible when touring homes over video.  The ultimate goal is to simulate viewing the home through your eyes. The most important result of virtual home tours is that you can see the property in a way that gives you confidence in making a decision, and being there live is a great way to ensure that.  

Keep in mind that when you walk through a home in person, you instinctively take in the home through all of your senses. If the home features certain smells, you pick up on it immediately. If the floor dips in an area, you feel it. If there is a busy road nearby, you might hear noise in person. Knowing this upfront, and having an agent who understands this, is what separates great virtual home tours from bad ones. Your agent is truly your eyes, ears, nose, etc. This explains why those discussions your agent in advance are so important. It is critical for them to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for when you walk through a house. 

6. Schedule a second showing if needed 

After reviewing all of the information in advance, doing all of your due-diligence, and participating in the Virtual Home Tour with your REALTOR, you may still be unsure about making an offer. You should schedule a second showing with your agent to see the house. If you are able to attend in-person, this is the best option. However, if you are unable to attend in person for any reason, ask your agent to schedule another Virtual Home Tour. Many times, if all of the steps above have been done thoroughly, you won’t need to schedule a second showing. However, if there are any questions at all – it’s best for you to work with your agent to see the home again. Please know that seeing a home a second time is not an inconvenience at all….however, knowing that you missed out on a home you loved is heartbreaking.

Purchasing the home

Remember, when you are buying a home your REALTOR is there as a trusted resource for you. They are your advocate, and they are there to help you through the entire process. Not only can you view homes virtually, you can complete the contract paperwork remotely through electronic signatures, and many of the purchase documents can be emailed to you securely. However, we understand that viewing the home in person is an important step. Our goal is to provide you with all of the tools and options to help make your move go as smoothly as possible.

During these current times of uncertainty, and stay at home orders, you should consult with your agent or check your county's website to learn more about the shelter in place policy in your area.  As we continue to navigate this “new normal” world we live in, you may see more mentions of virtual home tours ramping up, keep one thing in mind — they aren't created equal.

  • Want to know more about the home buying process?

  • Have questions about how the mortgage rates are changing?

  • Need to talk to someone about your specific situation?

 

Give our agents at a call at 469-759-3899 for a free and confidential discussion about real estate. We have been helping change lives, one home at a time, for 15 years.

Posted in Blog
April 30, 2020

North Texas Top Team Supports DFW Schools

 

 

We have learned that homes in areas with higher-ranking schools sell faster and often for more money than homes in areas with lower-ranking schools. In North Texas we are lucky to have some really awesome school districts.  Most of the areas that we serve are known for their great school systems. While it's not a complete list, below you will find some stand-out programs at school districts that we serve:

 

Allen ISD serves as one of the fastest-growing communities in Texas. Coming in 8th for the best district in the state of Texas their schools have much to offer students. The average graduation rate is 98% with an A+ rating for college preparedness. With both IB and AP programs offered students are sure to excel in this district’s schools.  For more information about Allen ISD visit here: Information about Allen ISD

 

Garland ISD is the second-largest district in Dallas County.  There are no attendance zones so you can select the campus you want your children to attend. Over 98% of students are accepted into their first choice of school.  School choices include magnet programs with specialized curriculum for math/science/technology, dual language, global business/leadership, International Baccalaureate, and more.  There are also 200 Career and Technical Education Programs such as agriculture, architecture, arts/audio-visual/communications, health sciences, information technology, law enforcement, and more.  For more information, visit Information about Garland ISD

 

Lovejoy ISD is a 5A school district for athletics, fine arts, and academic competitions. Lovejoy will remain a district with only one high school, with 9-12 enrollment not to exceed 1,900 students. Lovejoy graduated its first senior class in 2010, and consistently receives both state and national recognitions in academics, fine arts and athletics.   In fact, Lovejoy High School ranked in the top 1% of all high schools in the nation by “U.S. News and World Report”.  Lovejoy ISD also offers tuition-based admission for those living outside of the school district boundaries.  You can get more information about Lovejoy ISD here: Information about Lovejoy ISD

 

Plano ISD serves over 50,000 students at over 70 campuses.  In Plano, the high schools really focus on college-readiness.  In fact, students in grades 9-10 attend high school while students in grades 11-12 attend the Senior High Schools.  Each Senior High operates almost as a community college offering a large campus experience with dual-credit courses allowing students to graduate from public school with college credits.  Due to its size, Plano ISD also offers just about any extracurricular activity your student might be interested in.  You can get more information about Plano ISD here: Information about Plano ISD 

 

Richardson ISD has continuously been recognized on a state and national level for it’s educational excellence. Since 2009, Richardson ISD has had more than 60 seniors named National Dell Scholars. All eight junior high schools have received at least three academic distinctions from TEA. It’s PTA members total more than 22,000 helpful volunteers who collectively work more than 250,000 hours per year. For more information about Richardson ISD visit here:  Information about Richardson ISD 

 

Wylie ISD has some awesome programs such as its culinary arts program.  At Wylie High School they have the 544 Cafe which serves breakfast & lunch to the public during the school year. The students prepare the menu, the food, and provide the service.  You can get more info about the 544 Cafe at https://www.facebook.com/the544cafe/  and you can get more information about Wylie ISD here:  Information about Wylie ISD 

 

Posted in Blog
April 30, 2020

How do I buy a house if I can’t see homes in person?

You are ready to buy a home, but are not able to view them in person. This could be because you are moving across the country, or it could be due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. When you come across a home you think might be a fit, you ask your REALTOR to show you homes virtually. In order for you to take full advantage of virtual showings in your decision making process, both you and your agent will need to go through the following steps.

1. Get pre-approved

mortgage guy with dollar signRegardless of how you intend to tour homes, this is always our starting point. Most home buyers think that the process will be time-consuming, or that they are not prepared to take this step. However, this step is of utmost importance. In a matter of minutes, you can complete a pre-approval process with a lender. This will give you peace of mind that the homes you are considering meet your budget.

2. Determine your search criteria – and understand the “why” behind it

You will want to decide which items are most important to you in your next home, but more importantly, WHY are they important. Ideally, you want to have a list of 3-5 “must-haves,” or things that you cannot live without. The key to narrowing down what’s most important starts with your motivation. Ask yourself, why are you moving in the first place? What will buying a new home help you to achieve? When you connect your criteria to something that powerful, you will be surprised how quickly you find clarity. 

Your agent will be a valuable resource in this stage. Their role here is to confirm your criteria, ensuring that together you are digging down to what matters most to you. They are the sounding board for your home search ideas and will be there to tell you if the ideal home you are imagining is realistic given the area you are looking in.

Regardless of whether you will viewing homes in person or via video, this step sets the stage for the rest of your home buying process. 

3. Select your favorites 

When viewing homes online before your tour of homes, you will want to be hyper-realistic about whether or not the homes you are saving on-line as your favorites are actually a good fit.  For example, if one of the top items in your search criteria is a large back yard for your dog, but you find a listing on-line that has a fabulous media room and the most gorgeous finishes, yet the home doesn’t have much of a yard, you need to stop and review your criteria. Ask yourself, “Is what has drawn me to this home more important than the criteria I’ve created?” You may also ask yourself, “Do I need to revisit my must-haves?” Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, but you want to think through the process. You should also discuss any changes to your wants/needs with your agent. 

One thing we encourage our home buyers to do (when viewing homes in-person or virtually) is to only keep the top 2 homes in their sight. We do that by ranking homes as you view them. After seeing the first 2 homes, we determine which one would be the best fit if there were no other homes available. Then with each new home toured, we compare the newest home viewed with the current number 1 choice on the list.

4. Narrow your search – gather more facts

Once you have a few homes you really like on-line, it’s time for your agent to help you learn as much as possible about the homes. This could include viewing any other video or walk through tours provided. This should also include review of any disclosures, list of updates, or previous repair receipts that could be available. Your REALTOR may also contact the listing agent to ask any further questions before setting an appointment. If you have specific questions regarding the home, now is the time to bring those to your agent’s attention.

5. Schedule a live virtual tour

computer and mouseIt’s best to think about virtual home tours in the same way you think about touring a home in person. You normally set time aside to go out with your agent, so it’s best to create an experience that is as close to this as possible when touring homes over video.  The ultimate goal is to simulate viewing the home through your eyes. The most important result of virtual home tours is that you can see the property in a way that gives you confidence in making a decision, and being there live is a great way to ensure that.  

Keep in mind that when you walk through a home in person, you instinctively take in the home through all of your senses. If the home features certain smells, you pick up on it immediately. If the floor dips in an area, you feel it. If there is a busy road nearby, you might hear noise in person. Knowing this upfront, and having an agent who understands this, is what separates great virtual home tours from bad ones. Your agent is truly your eyes, ears, nose, etc. This explains why those discussions your agent in advance are so important. It is critical for them to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for when you walk through a house. 

6. Schedule a second showing if needed 

After reviewing all of the information in advance, doing all of your due-diligence, and participating in the Virtual Home Tour with your REALTOR, you may still be unsure about making an offer. You should schedule a second showing with your agent to see the house. If you are able to attend in-person, this is the best option. However, if you are unable to attend in person for any reason, ask your agent to schedule another Virtual Home Tour. Many times, if all of the steps above have been done thoroughly, you won’t need to schedule a second showing. However, if there are any questions at all – it’s best for you to work with your agent to see the home again. Please know that seeing a home a second time is not an inconvenience at all….however, knowing that you missed out on a home you loved is heartbreaking.

Purchasing the home

Remember, when you are buying a home your REALTOR is there as a trusted resource for you. They are your advocate, and they are there to help you through the entire process. Not only can you view homes virtually, you can complete the contract paperwork remotely through electronic signatures, and many of the purchase documents can be emailed to you securely. However, we understand that viewing the home in person is an important step. Our goal is to provide you with all of the tools and options to help make your move go as smoothly as possible.

During these current times of uncertainty, and stay at home orders, you should consult with your agent or check your county's website to learn more about the shelter in place policy in your area.  As we continue to navigate this “new normal” world we live in, you may see more mentions of virtual home tours ramping up, keep one thing in mind — they aren't created equal.

  • Want to know more about the home buying process?
  • Have questions about how the mortgage rates are changing?
  • Need to talk to someone about your specific situation?

Give our agents at a call at 469-759-3899 for a free and confidential discussion about real estate. We have been helping change lives, one home at a time, for 15 years.

 

 

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
April 27, 2020

How to find the right mortgage lender

You are thinking about buying a house, and don’t know where to start on getting a mortgage. Most home buyers have more questions than answers: Do you need a 20% down payment?Is my credit score high enough?Can I get down payment assistance? Below you can find the answers to those questions, and you will also learn some things to consider when choosing the right mortgage lender to help you.

Find a Local Mortgage Lender

Once upon a time, people borrowed money from their local banker and things were done through relationships, and sometimes based on a handshake.That is not the case in today’s world.Most people don’t have relationships with their banker because we are just one of millions of other clients they have, so it’s not about the loyalty to your bank.

However, having a local, well-known, and trusted mortgage lender is important when buying a home.While it doesn’t matter if the mortgage lender is located near your home (because everything can be done online) it is important they are located within your time zone. You wouldn’t want to be unable to get last minute documents complete because it’s after hours where your lender is located.

Additionally, you should hire a local mortgage lender that is known to other real estate agents. When you make an offer on a home, having a local lender that the listing agent or home seller recognizes could make them feel better about accepting your offer.

Find a Mortgage Lender With Good Reviews 

The number one thing to consider when you are picking a mortgage lender is customer service. Buying a home can be stressful, so having someone who can help you through the process is paramount to an enjoyable home buying experience.You need to find the mortgage lender that has the best reviews from satisfied customers, and one that you feel comfortable with.

The best mortgage lenders are those who take personal responsibility for your loan. This means they communicate in a timely manner—and deliver necessary documents without delay. They anticipate complications and take proactive steps to avoid these problems. They oversee the loan application process thoroughly and competently and they meet crucial deadlines.All of this boils down to having great customer service.

Here are some things to consider:

·Will they be responsive to your requests?

·How do they communicate with clients – email, text, phone calls, in person?

·Will they get your file complete in time for closing?

·How long are their turnaround times on preapproval, appraisal and closing?

·Do they have multiple types of loans?

·Do they offer grants, down payment assistance, or other special programs?

·Will they answer your questions and help explain the process?

 

Ask Your Agent to Recommend the Best Mortgage Lender

Your real estate agent is probably in the best position to offer you advice on choosing the best mortgage lender for your needs. Your agent should possess firsthand knowledge of which mortgage lenders get the job done and which ones fall short. Your mortgage lender is extremely important in a real estate transaction. Most transactions that don't close on time are traced directly to the lender's inability to complete the loan on time.

 

Is My Credit Score High Enough

To be clear, you don't need to know your credit score before you start shopping for a mortgage lender. However, checking your score beforehand can give you an idea of what sorts of terms mortgage lenders may offer you and whether you're even ready for a mortgage in the first place.

Once every 12 months, you’re entitled to a free credit report from each of the three main reporting bureaus – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Many credit card issuers offer a free FICO score as a perk, but if you want your complete (three-bureau) credit report, you may have to pay for it. MyFICO.com is one popular website that sells FICO scores from all three credit bureaus. Generally, we don’t recommend paying for your credit score report since you can get it for free and the lender you choose will be running a credit report on you that they can share with you.

If you have a lower-than-expected credit score, look through your credit reports for errors, late payments, delinquent accounts in collections and high balances.

Not everyone can qualify to buy a home; you have to meet certain credit and income criteria to assure mortgage companies you can repay the loan. Generally, if you have a score under 580, you’ll have a tough time qualifying for most types of mortgages.However lending guideline do shift and change over time, so your best bet is to speak to a mortgage lender to get the current facts about your credit score and how it will impact your ability to get a mortgage.

How much money will I need

Some people believe that you need to have a 20 percent down payment saved up before you can buy a home.That is not true in today’s mortgage world.Many lenders offer conventional loans with as little as 3 percent down, and some government-insured loans require no down payment while others require just 3.5 percent down. Keep in mind that if you put down less than 20 percent, you will likely be required to pay mortgage insurance.If you or your co-borrower is a veteran, you could qualify for a VA loan with zero percent down payment.Another zero percent down payment option is a USDA rural development loan.

 

Know the Difference

While most home buyers don’t need to get too technical with this, you may want to dive a bit deeper and learn about the types of mortgage companies that you may encounter during this process.

Mortgage lenders: These are companies that lend money to a borrower to purchase a home and set the terms of the mortgage, including interest rates, term, conditions, repayment schedule and lending fees.Some mortgage lenders “sell” the loan after closing to another company that “services” the loan.

Mortgage brokers: Brokers are independent, licensed professionals who act as matchmakers between lenders and a borrower to find loans that best suits the borrower’s needs. Brokers are paid by either the borrower or the lender (but not both) and charge a small percentage of the loan amount (1 to 2 percent) for their services. They do not fund loans, and they don’t set interest rates or loan origination fees, or make lending decisions.

Retail lenders: Retail lenders (also called direct lenders) sell their own mortgage products directly to clients, without a middleman. Retail lenders do this in person, by phone or online, and offer their companies’ loan products only. (Think of your big banks and credit unions)

 

 

Once you have decided to move forward and buy a home, and once you have decided on a mortgage lender, you have a few more steps before buying a house.

Get Pre-Approved

Getting a mortgage pre-approval letter before you start looking at houses will give you an edge when bidding against other buyers. The letter shows the seller that you're a serious buyer whose loan is likely to close. It is evidence that a lender has evaluated your finances and figured out how much you can afford to borrow, and therefore how much house you can afford.

Getting pre-approved now will also save time later. When you're ready to make an offer on a home, lenders will already have the information they need to process your home loan.

To get pre-approved, you’ll have to provide lenders your financial information. 
Here’s a list of what a lender typically requires:

·Two years of tax returns, W-2s and 1099s

·Salary and employer information, including pay stubs from the past 30 days

·Bank, savings, checking, investment account information, including statements for the past 60 days

·Outstanding debt obligations, including credit cards, personal and auto loans, student loans, alimony or child support

·Information about how much of a down payment you can make, and where the money is coming from

·Social Security numbers for yourself and any co-borrowers

·Driver’s license or other government photo ID.

·Residential address history, as well as names and contact information for landlords in the past two years.

 

Ask Questions

Now that you have a mortgage lender in mind, you should use them as a resource to ensure you get the best loan available for your specific situation.You may want to ask them some questions like:

·What lender fees will I be responsible for at closing? (Fees may include commission, loan origination, points, appraisal, plus credit report and application fees.)

·Will you waive any of these fees or roll them into my mortgage?

·What are the down payment requirements?

·What loan products will work best for my specific situation?

·Do you have any down payment assistance or grant programs available that may work for me?

·If I am getting money from a family member for my down payment, what do I need to do to be able to use those funds?

Also, check with your mortgage lender or broker if buying discount points to lower your rate makes sense. If you buy points, you’re paying some interest upfront in exchange for a lower rate on your mortgage.

Compare Loans

As you get farther into the home buying process, you may want to consider getting a second opinion by getting pre-approved by another lender. Then you can compare “Loan Estimate” forms from each one to determine who offers you the best rates and terms. Keep in mind that the rate quote you see online is an estimate. A lender or broker will have to pull your credit information and process a loan application to provide an accurate rate, which you can then lock in if you’re satisfied with the product.

When comparing your options, you should take a close look at all of the cost information involved. When going through the process, you're going to want to ask each loan officer and broker for information on their present mortgage interest rates, whether the rates are fixed (or negotiable), whether the quoted rate is for an adjustable-rate mortgage, and you should ask about the loan’s annual percentage rate (APR).

Once you have compared the Loan Estimates, you can always ask one lender to match what another lender offers.You might be surprised that you can get the best deal and still stick with the lender you chose in the beginning.

If you want more information about the home buying process, we would love to answer your questions.Feel free to call 469-759-3899, or reach out to us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram.We are here to help you throughout the entire home buying process.

Happy house hunting!

 

 

About the author:

Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.  Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country.  She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed.  She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry.  Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/

Posted in Blog
April 20, 2020

Recipes from Taylor's Kitchen, Episode 2

 

Dad’s green chicken curry 

My dad should be on Master Chef. He would totally win. One of my favorite meals my dad made growing up with a delicious green curry. It is out of this world delicious and very simple! I’ve made this recipe myself more times than I can count and it’s different every time. I always try new veggies that give the meal a whole new flavor. Easy on the green curry paste- it will burn your mouth off! 

 

Ingredients: 1-1.5 pounds of chicken tenders, 1 cup of jasmine rice, 2 tablespoons of green curry paste, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, 1 4 ounces can of bamboo shoots, 3 chopped carrots, 2 cups of fresh green beans, 1 green bell pepper, 1 white onion, salt and pepper to taste. Pro tip- use your favorite vegetables in this dish! It’s fun to add new flavors to the dish like mushrooms, red bell peppers, jalapenos, etc. 

 

  1. Cut up your chicken tenders into small cubes. Cook over medium heat in a large skillet with a bit of olive oil until lightly browned. Remove the chicken and place it on a plate to use later. 

  2. In a medium-sized pot, cook your jasmine rice. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup of jasmine rice. Reduce heat to low/medium. Cover and let simmer. 

  3. In the same skillet add your chopped garlic, ginger, and full-fat coconut milk. Cook on high heat until it starts to simmer. 

  4. Add all your vegetables and bamboo shoots to the skillet and cover. Reduce heat to medium and cook until your vegetables are tender (about 10-12 minutes). 

  5. Add the green curry paste and chicken. Stir everything together until the curry paste is fully incorporated. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes or until fragrant. 

  6. Serve rice into a bowl and dish out the beautiful curry you made on top. Enjoy!

 

About the Author:

 

Taylor Redfearn joins our team with 5 years of multi-family property management experience. Her attention to detail and event planning skills are a perfect fit for our client-appreciation parties.  Her can-do attitude, and passion to help others makes her a great Client Care Coordinator. In her spare time, she enjoys tending to her garden and listening to music. 

Posted in Blog
April 19, 2020

Why hire a REALTOR?

For most people, buying or selling a home is an infrequent transaction with enormous financial and emotional considerations.  Think about it….moving is stressful and emotional. Having a REALTOR® help you with pricing, listing, selling and purchasing a home is important.  Real estate is not entertainment (like you see on HGTV) – it’s major life decisions.  Having inaccurate information or incorrect “value estimates” on websites creates confusion about what’s really happening in a market.

We understand that serious consumers want the real facts about their real estate market.

But searching for homes and researching the market is just the beginning. Market conditions vary from city-to-city and neighborhood-to-neighborhood. So when you are ready to move forward with buying or selling a home, call the North Texas Top Team, REALTORS at 469-759-3899.  We can take the science of real data and apply it to the art of local real estate.

For sellers, we navigate changing markets and help price your home appropriately. We professionally market your home to the highest number of potential buyers, and we give advice and guidance throughout the process.

For buyers, we are an advocate during contract negotiations and we help you navigate the entire process from finding the prefect house, all the way to the first day in a new home.

Ultimately, there is a lot more than a home sale or purchase to consider such as:  Pricing. Negotiations. Offers. Counter-Offers. Contracts. Addenda. Financing. Contingencies. Appraisals. Inspections. Walk Through. Punch Lists….and more.  The list goes on and on and on. Navigating all of this takes skill and determination, and the REALTORS® at the North Texas Top Team are just the folks that can help.

After all, it’s what we do for a living, 24-7, 365.

 

Posted in Blog