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Why you should hire a realtor

Whether you’re buying, selling, or leasing a property, you need a trustworthy professional to help you get the best deal and avoid problems along the way.

A professional real state agent in Texas must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission and sponsored by an established broker. But a real estate license doesn’t automatically make someone a REALTOR. A license holder becomes a REALTOR by joining the REALTOR association and committing to a higher standard of professionalism. Here are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to choose a REALTOR for your next real estate transaction.

YOU’LL AVOID SNAFUS

Filling out forms incorrectly may obligate you to terms you didn’t intend or even set you up for a potential lawsuit. REALTORS have exclusive access to more than 100 forms not available to agents who aren’t REALTORS. That means you can put in writing all the details of your transaction exactly as you want them.

YOU’LL KNOW YOU’RE DEALING WITH A PROFESSIONAL

REALTORS agree to adhere to the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics. This code outlines REALTORS responsibilities to you and holds REALTORS to a higher standard of professional behavior. You have options for recourse if you believe a REALTOR isn’t meeting that standard.

YOU’LL GET THE BEST DATA

REALTORS have members-only tools that provide them with the most accurate data about market trends that they can pair with their everyday experience of your local market. They also have local knowledge that gets as specific as neighborhood trends. This knowledge helps you accurately price your property or present the best offer for the property you want to buy or lease.

YOU’LL GET THE BRIGHTEST IN THE BUSINESS

Many Texas REALTORS go beyond the hundreds of hours required to get and maintain their real estate license by taking classes to earn special designations and certifications offered by the REALTOR organization. This training helps your REALTOR address your specifics situation, whether you are buying your first home, renting out your property, considering downsizing, looking for commercial or investment property, or any other real estate need.

Lear more about what a Texas REALTOR can do for you at texasrealestate.com

 

Source: https://dianecraig.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/20190515111910091-1.pdf

 

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Don’t let scammers steal your downpayment

Criminals are targeting homebuyers and stealing huge sums of money. If you’re not careful, you could be tricked into sending your entire downpayment to a thief. Here’s how to keep your money safe.

BEWARE OF EMAILS WITH WIRING INSTRUCTIONS

In the most common scam, you receive an email (or text or voicemail) that appears to come from a legitimate source, like the title company, your real estate agent, the mortgage lender, or the settlement officer in charge of your real estate closing. However, the fraudulent message contains instructions to wire your downpayment funds directly into the account of a cybercriminal.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

  • Be suspicious of any message with money-wiring instructions. Red flags include changes or updates to wire details you previously received. However, a first message with wiring instructions or a message to “re-send” or “verify” instructions could be fraudulent as well.
  • Before you send any funds, call your settlement or closing agent at a phone number you know is correct. Do not call any number from the message you received.
  • After you wire funds with instructions you have independently verified, call your settlement agent to confirm the funds were received.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT YOU’VE BEEN VICTIMIZED

Act quickly. The sooner you report wire fraud, the better your chances of recovering your funds.

  • Contact your bank to report the fraudulent activity.
  • Notify your local FBI office.
  • File a complaint online at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at ic3.gov.

Talk with your REALTOR about ways to make sure your real state transaction proceeds safely and securely.

Source: https://dianecraig.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/20190515111910091-2.pdf

 

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What it means to be pre-qualified or pre-approved

Getting pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage loan gives you information about what you can afford. Here’s what those terms mean.

PRE-QUALIFICATION

Pre-qualification means a lender has done an initial calculation of how much money you might be eligible to borrow. You provide a lender you approximate income, the amount of debt you’re carrying, and other important details from your credit history. This information is subject to verification by the lender when you submit your actual loan application. There is no guarantee of a mortgage loan, as your financial situation has not been verified. But the lender may provide you with a pre-qualification letter, which has more details about your likelihood of obtaining a loan.

PRE-APPROVAL

Pre-approval means your financial situation has been verified by the lender. You will fill out a mortgage loan application and provide supporting documentation. The lender will examine your financial situation -your credit report, your employment history, your income- and decide what interest rate to offer and the maximum amount you would be permitted to borrow.

Although pre-approval provides more certainty to a borrower than pre-qualification, it also does not guarantee a mortgage loan. That involves other conditions, such as an assessment of the property you want to purchase.

Make sure you know how much you can expect to borrow. Talk with your lender and get a professional examination of your financial situation.

A REALTOR can help explain and simplify the steps you need to take to own a home.

 

Source: https://dianecraig.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/20190423144111677.pdf

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Common Seller Mistakes to Avoid

You want to quickly sell your home for a high price. But sometimes your actions (or inactions) have the opposite outcome, leaving the listing lingering on the market. Here are common missteps to avoid when listing your property for sale.

SETTING A PRICE WITHOUT MARKET DATA

A REALTOR has access to accurate market data that show what buyers in your market are wiling to spend for houses like yours. Ignoring such data because you want to make a certain amount of money can make your house hard -maybe impossible- to sell.

LIMITING ACCESS

Your REALTOR can offer suggestions for ways to make your property accessible, but start with flexible time periods that make it easy for buyers to visit on their terms. Prospective buyers won’t make an offer if they can’t visit your home.

IGNORING EASY IMPROVEMENTS

Adding fresh paint or installing new carpet can be affordable ways to make your property more appealing. And taking care of simple repairs, such as fixing a leaky faucet or squeaky door, suggests to buyers that the property has been well maintained.

USING PROOF PICTURES ONLINE

How are your listing photos? With most buyers starting their home search online, it’s important for your photos to be enticing. Your REALTOR can guide you to photographers who specialize in real estate photography or give you some suggestions for different angles or features to showcase.

A REALTOR will hep you identify ways to market your home and attract buyers, so you can sell it quickly and for a fair price.

 

Source: https://dianecraig.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/20190423144056913.pdf

 

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Homestead Exemptions

In Texas homeowners may qualify to receive a General Residence Homestead Exemption of $25,000 on the value of their property for school taxes.

To qualify for this exemption:

  1. You must own and occupy your residence on January 1st of the year for which you are applying.
  2. You can not claim any other property as a homestead.
  3. Only individual homeowners (not corporations or other entities) may receive a homestead exemption.
  4. A homestead can be a home, condominium or a manufactured home. It can include up to 20 acres of the land if also owned by the homeowner and used as yard or another purpose related to the residential use of the home.
  5. You must apply between January 1st and April 30th of the year for which you want the exemption.

To apply:

  1. Complete the application for Residential Homestead Exemption.
  2. Include a copy of your drivers license or identification card from the Texas Department of Public Safety. The address must match the homestead address.

For more information contact your local county appraisal district office or visit

https://comptroller.texas.gov/taxes/property-tax/forms/

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How Owning a Home Benefits You and Your Family

Many people know that buying a home can be an excellent financial decision. But owning a home hasmany social benefits, too.

HEALTH AND HAPPINESS

Homeowners generally have fewer health problems and report greater happiness than renters—even when the homeowners
and renters have the same incomes and education levels.

KIDS’ WELL-BEING

Homeownership may help parents engage in positive parenting behavior with more opportunities for school involvement or
participation in neighborhood activities. And residential stability has a positive effect on reading and math performance of children
between the ages of three and 12.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Homeowners get more engaged in organizations that serve their community— like schools—regardless of whether they
live in high-value or low-value homes. Home owners also form more relationships with neighbors they can count on for support
and friendship. And homeowners are more politically and civically active.

CRIME PREVENTION

Neighborhoods with more homeowners have less property and personal crimes than neighborhoods with more renters,
even when comparing areas with similar socioeconomic characteristics.

 

Your REALTOR® can help you take the steps toward buying a home and enjoying all the benefits of a place to call your own.

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Real Estate and the Economy

On the national level:

The United States is in one of the longest economic expansions ever; right behind the 60s and the 90s.  Consumer confidence is higher than the year 2000, and Americans’ home equity is higher than ever before.  Mortgage rates remain low with some expectation that rates might rise a little in 2018.

In Texas:

Four metropolitan areas are among the highest domestic in migration areas in the 21st century:

  • Dallas Fort Worth – Arlington
  • Houston – The Woodlands
  • Austin – Round Rock
  • San Antonio – New Braunfels

In San Antonio:

The inventory of unsold homes is at a record low – under 4 months, and new construction remains at half those levels of 2005, 2006, and 2007.

All of these factors indicate that real estate in San Antonio and throughout Texas will remain active during 2018.  The inventory will probably remain low and appreciation will continue to increase.

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Checklist for Moving

The busiest moving season is upon us.  If you have a move in you near future, here are a few things you might not have thought of:

Two Months Prior

  • Get estimates from movers; check their references
  • Decide what you will move; what you want to get rid of

One Month Prior

  • Plan on moving you bank accounts; talk to local representatives about their services
  • Get records from you doctors, dentists, etc.
  • Get school records for your children.  Contact new schools to see about their requirements (including immunizations)
  • Arrange for pets moving/boarding and get their records from your veterinarian
  • Close local accounts that you will not be using
  • Get change of address info to businesses, friends and magazines
  • Cancel utilities effective the day of your departure (electric, gas, water, cable, trash collection, local internet service)

Two Weeks Prior

  • Personally pack sentimental and valuable items and decide how they are to be transported
  • Take a local directory with you
  • Make hotel reservations if traveling
  • Have cars serviced for the trip
  • Arrange for a babysitter for packing and loading days

Final Days

  • Put together a survival package-paper plates and plastic utensils, towels, soap, toilet paper, bedding, and snacks
  • Arrange for cash/checks you will need for the move
  • Defrost freezer and dry out freezer, washer and refrigerator
  • Pack for the trip
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Planning to Sell

Planning to Sell?

If a home sale is in your near future, now is the time to start getting your property ready for the market.

Start with your front door/entry area.  Paint or polish your door and hardware, clean off all of the old cob webs or mud-dobbers nests and prune your entry landscaping.  Check around outside to see if painting is in order.

For the inside, clean out all of your closets, pantries, storage rooms and garage.  Call one of the charitable organizations to pick up the “stuff” or rent a storage facility if you just can’t part with your “stuff”.

Have your windows cleaned; replace any that have condensation/milky look.  Have your carpets shampooed.  If they won’t come clean, consider replacement.

Eliminate any sources of odor – cigarette smoke, pet smells, or any musty/mildew smell.  If it’s a problem, consider having your air conditioner ducts cleaned, replace old dog beds or move cat litter boxes.

Set out fresh flowers both in pots and in beds.  Make sure all of the dead/frozen foliage is trimmed away.

Make sure all light bulbs are burning and change out your air conditioner filters.

A buyer wants a home that looks well maintained – the last thing they want is a home that looks like it needs maintenance or one that looks neglected.  If you make the effort to spruce things up you will most likely be rewarded for your efforts.
Download the publication document here.