Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Time for New Home Owners to File for Homestead Exemption

Your Homestead Exemption Forms are due now!
Link to Burnet County Forms: http://www.burnet-cad.org/forms.htm
Link to Llano County Forms: http://www.llanocad.com/index.pl?iid=2171
For any qualified new owner, it's time to file for your Homestead Exemption!
Rigorous disclosure standards are set for property owners who apply for any one of several kinds of homestead exemptions. Applicants must provide a copy of their Texas driver’s license or Texas state-issued identification card and a copy of their vehicle registration receipt with their application for a homestead exemption. The addresses on each of the documents must be the same as the address for which the homestead exemption is sought.
Anyone not owning a vehicle is required to submit a notarized affidavit certifying that fact and must be able to provide a copy of a current bill received from a utility company. The address on the utility bill must be the same as the address on the application for a homestead exemption. This was done to close loopholes that allowed some citizens to obtain homestead exemptions on more than one property.
Property owners can qualify for a residential property homestead several ways, include the following:
  • General residential exemption
  • Over-65 exemption
  • Disability exemption
  • 100% disabled veterans exemption
  • Extension of exemption for a surviving spouse
  • Exemption for manufactured (mobile) home
Each of the program
s cited above have additional requirements for qualification. However, the common standard is that all such applications must provide the additional documentation as noted before regarding driver’s license, Texas identification card, motor vehicle registration, and utility bill receipt.
For property owners seeking homestead exemption status on a manufactured home, the application must also provide the following documentation:
  • Statement of ownership and location issued by the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
  • A copy of the purchase contract or payment receipt that the applicant is the purchaser of the manufactured home, OR, a sworn affidavit that:
A. The applicant is the owner of the manufactured home
B. The seller of the manufactured home did not provide the applicant with a purchase contract, and
C. The applicant could not locate the seller after making a good faith effort.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Existing-home sales post third gain in 4 months

Good Morning!

This is exactly what we are seeing here in Horseshoe Bay.  The article shows the statistics but the general attitude is that this is a once in a decade opportunity to buy at some of the lowest prices seen in a long time coupled with historic low interest rates.  The combination makes for very good investment timing.  Even buyers that can pay cash are financing because they know that with rates in the 4% range, inflation will make these rates real bargins.  Come see us in Horseshoe Bay.  Roy Busse


Existing-home sales post third gain in 4 months

NAR: large-scale REO-to-rental program not needed

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-84025p1.html">Home sales rising image</a> via Shutterstock.com.Home sales rising image via Shutterstock.com.
Increased demand from investors and first-time homebuyers helped boost existing-home sales in January -- the third increase in the past four months, the National Association of Realtors reported.
NAR said total existing-home sales -- including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops -- were up 4.3 percent from December to January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.57 million.
While that's essentially unchanged from the same time a year ago, for-sale inventory was down 20.6 percent from a year ago, to 2.31 million homes, a 6.1-month supply of homes at the current pace of sales.
Many housing analysts view a six-month inventory of homes as a good balance between supply and demand -- a larger inventory of homes can indicate an oversupply of homes for sale, which can undermine prices. When inventories drop below six months, the shortage of homes for sale can drive up prices.
"The broad inventory condition can be described as moving into a rough balance, not favoring buyers or sellers," NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement.
Yun cited the statistics as evidence that a government proposal to convert bank-owned properties into rentals on a large scale "does not appear to be needed at this time."
"Foreclosure sales are moving swiftly with ready homebuyers and investors competing in nearly all markets," he said.
Merrill Lynch analysts Michelle Meyer and Ethan Harris think part of the drop in inventory is due to delays in the foreclosure process in the aftermath of the so-called "robo-signing" scandal.
With top banks nearing a final settlement with state attorneys general, they expect the foreclosure process to accelerate, and for inventory to swell to eight months later this year.
The first REO-to-rental transactions are weeks away, but the property pools offered this year may be smaller and more manageable for groups of qualified local investors than previously assumed, Ken Harney reports.
NAR said foreclosures and short sales accounted for 35 percent of sales in January, and that the national median existing-home price for all housing types was down 2 percent from a year ago, to $154,700.
Investors purchased 23 percent of homes in January, up from 21 percent in December, while the percentage of first-time homebuyers increased from 31 percent in December to 33 percent in January.
Nearly one in every three January home sales was an all-cash transaction. A survey of NAR members showed more than half had at least one contract canceled or delayed in January, often as a result of a mortgage application being turned down or because appraisals come in below the negotiated price.
Single-family home sales were up 3.8 percent from December to January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.05 million. That's a 2.3 percent increase from a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $154,400 in January, down 2.6 percent from the same time a year ago.
Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 8.3 percent from December to January, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 520,000. That's a 10.3 percent decline from a year ago. The median existing condo price was $156,600 in January, up 2 percent from January 2011.
At the regional level, the West saw the biggest jump in sales, an 8.8 percent increase from December to January. Sales were down 3.1 percent from a year ago, however, and the median price was also down 1.8 percent from January 2011, to $187,100.
The Midwest saw the smallest jump in sales, with sales up 1 percent from December to January. Although that was a 3.2 percent increase from a year ago, the median home price fell 3.9 percent from January 2011, to $122,000.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 3.5 percent from December to January but were unchanged from a year ago. The median price in the South was $134,800, down 0.3 percent from a year ago.
Existing home sales were up 3.4 percent from December to January in the Northeast, and up 7.1 percent from a year ago. At $225,700, the median price in the Northeast dropped 4.2 percent from January 2011.

Friday, February 24, 2012

39,000 New Austin Jobs by The End of Next Year!

Austin and the Hill Country are on one of the highest job growth and economic growth trajectory's in the nation.  In fact the time to buy realestate is NOW! We are at an interesting crossroads of low prices and low interest rates.  Inventories are starting to drop quickly and with that will inevitable increases in prices as the availability shrinks. 

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – The Austin area is expected to experience more rapid employment growth over the next couple years, according to economist Angelos Angelou.
Angelou predicts the region will gain 19,000 jobs in 2012 and 20,000 jobs next year, with most of the gains in retail, education, health, hospitality and manufacturing sectors. Austin added about 13,000 jobs in 2011.
While Angelou expects area unemployment to fall below 5 percent within a year, he also clarified that low-wage jobs will make up the bulk of the added employment.
According to Angelou, Austin also has an opportunity to grow the automotive sector with the addition of the Circuit of the Americas, a Formula One racetrack under construction two miles from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
With the anticipated job and population growth in the area, Angelou advocates expanded transit options as a key to easing increased traffic congestion.

Monday, February 20, 2012


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When it comes to dating, homeownership can be the ultimate aphrodisiac.
In a survey of 1,000 single people, more than a third of women and 18% of men said they would much rather date a homeowner than a renter.
Only 2% of women said they preferred to date a man who rents, while only 3% of men said they would choose a woman who rents over one that owns her home, according to the survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive for real estate site Trulia.
Both sexes also clearly prefer it when there's no roommate in the picture; 62% of survey respondents, men and women, prefer to date singles who live alone.

I'm home! Adult children move back in with parents

And there was bad news for the growing number of boomerang kids -- the young adults who went off to college, graduated and then wound up back in their old bedrooms. It's going to be hard to find love, except (perhaps) from your parents. Less than 5% of all singles surveyed said they would date someone living in their childhood homes.
"That's a real deal-breaker," said Michael Corbett, a spokesman for Trulia. "If you're still living with your folks, you're dead-on-arrival for dating."
The home they could love
Trulia also asked which home features are the biggest turn-ons. Number one turned out to be a master bath. Men (64%) love that private sanctum almost as much as women (75%) do.

Cool and unusual homes for sale

Walk-in closets were cited by 55% of men and 72% of women and gourmet kitchens got 51% of the male vote and 62% of the female. Hardwood floors, outdoor decks and home theaters also came in high on the list.
Interestingly enough, hot tubs got a lot less love from respondents. Only 26% of men and 22% of women cited the old standby in the science of seduction as an amenity they would truly want. To top of page


Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.
Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.
However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.
Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.
Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”
In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.
While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.
Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generation actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Realtors....Are They Really Necessary?

This is a question every buyer and seller must ask themselves at some point in the decision to buy or sell a house. As relative new commer to the professional world of real estate the points made in this article by Realtor.com are right on. The issues are varied, complex, legally binding, and no place for the uninformed. All you have to do is go thru the finance process or sign 20 pages plus at the closing as you hand over your cashiers check to understand the need for a trusted professional to help keep you out of trouble. I have always thought that the best definition of a profession is that thru their education and expiriance they able to anticipate the issue or problem before it occures so that it can be avoided or so that a well thought action plan is already in place. Think of a pilot that must alway know what a plane is going to do before it happens.
This has always been the case with real estate, but in todays very difficult economic climate, a real estate pro is not an option.

Why Consumers Need Proper Representation from Real Estate Professionals | REALTOR.com® Blog

Why Consumers Need Proper Representation from Real Estate Professionals
Posted: 15 Feb 2012 06:00 AM PST
Our belief – one of our CORE beliefs – is that consumers are best served through proper representation from a licensed professional.
For most, buying or selling a home is an infrequent transaction with enormous financial and emotional considerations.
It’s stressful, emotionally-charged and high-stakes. Having a real estate professional central to the process of pricing, listing, selling and purchasing a home is important; real estate is not entertainment, and it’s not a game – bad data, inaccurate “value estimates,” and inflating inventory levels on websites creates confusion about what’s really happening in a market.
We understand that serious consumers want the real facts about a market. And we understand that these consumers also want to find a professional who can clearly articulate what these facts mean to their personal situation.
That’s why REALTOR.com® works tirelessly to be the most accurate site with the largest database of homes for sale. And that’s why we update most listings every 15 minutes.
Consumers know they can trust the data; the quality and accuracy of the listing content is second to none.
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 consumers move forward and take their search from online to real-life, we help them with the next step:
Connecting with a local real estate professional that can help.
A professional that’s immersed in local trends. Well versed in neighborhood nuances. Someone who can take the science of real data and apply it to the art of local real estate.
For sellers, this professional is someone who can navigate changing markets deftly and help price a home appropriately. Someone that helps ensure a smooth ride all the way from contract acceptance to settlement.
For buyers, this professional is a sounding board during their search, and their advocate during contract negotiations all the way to the first day in a new home.
Ultimately, there is a lot more than search to consider throughout the course of a transaction.
Pricing. Negotiations. Offers. Counter-Offers. Contracts the size of novellas. Addenda. Financing. Contingencies. Walkthroughs. Punch Lists. The list goes on and on and on. Navigating all of this takes skill and determination, and licensed real estate professionals are just the folks that can help.
After all, it’s what they do for a living, 24-7, 365.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Buyer and Seller Hints from Trulial.com

The following is from a Trulia newsletter written by TAra-Nicholle Nelson a broker in San Francisco.

I while I may not totally agree 100% with everything written, she does hit some very important areas. Buyers need space to take ownership and discuss the pros and cons of any house. People tend to buy emotionally and justify logically. The emotional side needs time to see themselves in the home and imagine their furnishing.

Messy doesn't just mean that our Lab Dutch created a mess or licked the sliding door. Messy can just mean too much stuff! Make sure they can see the beauty of the home. They may be cross state rivals and don't like all your alma mater "stuff".

Today it is still a buyer market. Make sure your home is competitively priced, not necessarily what you would like to sell it for. The highest selling prices are achieved in the first couple of months. Pricing high and thinking you can always reduce the price is not a good proven strategy.

Finally, make sure your agent is knowledgeable and proficient with the internet. 80% plus buyers start by viewing property on line.

Talk to you soon. Roy

6 Ways to Turn Off Your Home's Buyer (or Seller!)


Posted under: Home Buying, Home Selling, Financing | February 8, 2012 1:32 PM | 44,999 views | 84 comments

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In the wild world of dating, when you encounter a “turn-off,” you can just pack it in and not to go on another date with that guy or gal again. But turnoffs can be much more detrimental when they come up in the realm of your real estate goals. Indeed, turn a buyer off, dear sellers, and you risk not selling your home - period - or getting a lower price than you might have otherwise.

And, contrary to what you might assume, the same goes for buyers. Even in today’s ‘buyer’s markets,’ multiple offers do happen. And even in cases when you’re the only buyer on the scene, having a cooperative seller goes a long way toward everything from getting access to the place for inspections to getting a price reduction when the appraisal comes in low. Thus, the potential still exists for buyers to turn sellers off, and risk having their dream home slip right through their fingers.

As you proceed on your quest for drama-free real estate, factor in these frequently occurring gaffes that turn off buyers and sellers, and my tips for avoiding them.

Top 3 Ways to Turn a Buyer Off: If you’re a seller courting buyers, here are 3 faux-pas to avoid:

1. Hanging out when buyers are viewing your home: Buyers stalk properties online and off, checking obsessively for price reductions and the like. But buyer-side home stalking is unobtrusive to sellers. On the other hand, buyers can feel personally stalked and stifled in their ability to fully explore or verbally process their impressions of a home when you, seller, hang out inside your home while it’s being shown.

As soon as a buyer sees you in the house, it instantly becomes much more difficult for them to”
(a) envision themselves living there (it’s your house, after all),
(b) be comfortable opening up drawers, closet doors, etc., and
(c) express their thoughts about how this house might be exactly what they’re looking for, if they can knock out that wall and get rid of those cukoo murals you so lovingly painted in your children’s rooms.

Sellers: If you want to sell your home, it’s best to not be around when buyers are looking. Give them some breathing space and a chance to truly walk around and consider what they like and/or dislike about your home without lurking and looming (and, let’s be real - eavesdropping) nearby.

2. Showing a messy house: Life gets hectic, and it’s easy for things like laundry, dishes and other house cleaning tasks to fall by the wayside. It’s also difficult to keep the home in which you and your 4 kids, 3 gerbils and 2 Labrador Retrievers live perfectly spotless for months at a time, while you’re waiting for an offer. But when you decide that you’re going to sell your home, it’s imperative that you make a pact and a plan with yourself and your family that the place will be in tip-top shape when buyers come knocking.

Remember: your home is competing with dozens of others, as well as with buyer’s HGTV-infused visions of what their next home should look like, so first impressions really count.

Sellers: Stuffing the closet is not the answer. (Buyers will be opening that closet door, after all.) Pack up your personals like you were moving (best case: you are), and put all but the essentials in storage, if needed. Get the carpets cleaned, do the dishes, make the beds, mow the lawn, dust, sweep and mop. Ask your agent to give you a gut check on whether your idea of clean is clean enough (better yet - ask them for the number of a house cleaner who you can engage to get the job done to showable standards).

This might all seem obvious, but agents and buyers alike are constantly amazed at the condition of some of the homes they walk into. Take my word for it; I’ll spare you the ‘ewww’-inducing stories.

3. Overpricing your home: Buyers already have lots to do before making the largest purchase of their lives. They have to wrangle their finances into order, jump hoops to qualify for a loan, collect the cash for down payment and closing costs, and invest sometimes hundreds of hours into market research and house hunting. With all of this already on their plates, the prospect of trying to negotiate down a crazily high asking price is just too much work (and too outside their comfort zones) for most buyers to deal with. The average buyer won’t even bother looking at your home if the asking price is clearly high and off base compared with other similar, nearby homes for sale; they’d rather sit tight and wait .

Sellers: Price to sell from the beginning. Work with your agent to determine a price that is supported by the data on how much nearby homes have recently sold for. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and anguish and get a lot more legitimate bites from serious, qualified buyers.

Top 3 Ways to Turn a Seller Off: Buyers, if you want a home’s seller to play ball, best practice is to avoid these 3 pitfalls:

1. Unjustified, extreme lowball offers: It’s no secret that buyers have the upper hand in many markets right now. (To be clear, I said ‘many’ - not ‘every’ - your agent can help you understand what the dynamics are in your market.) But let’s be realistic, here. No seller can afford to give away their home at a price far below what it’s worth on today’s market. Lowballing a seller at a price far below the recent sales prices of similar homes in the neighborhood on the ‘let’s-take-a-stab’ plan, is highly likely to turn them off. And that, in turn, will cause the seller to view your offer - and you - as disrespectful and wasteful of their time.

Not only will they turn down your offer, but they may not even bother with a counteroffer, rendering your efforts at securing that particular home dead in the water.

Buyers: Review the recent sale prices of similar homes in the neighborhood (aka “comps”) with your agent before you make your offer. Also, ask them to help you factor in other market data, like the average list price-to-sale price ratio and the average number of days neighborhood homes stay on the market. It’s all right to come in lower than asking, if the market data supports such an offer; just be sure your offer is based on reality - and not your fantastical hallucination about scoring the bargain of the millennium.

2. Buyer-side mortgage fails: Plenty of employed buyers with decent credit and cash in the bank have been turned down for a mortgage these past few years. That means buyers can’t assume (a) that they’ll be approved for the amount of loan they need to buy the house they want, or (b) that they’ll be approved for a loan at all. Your inability to get approved for a home loan can create all sorts of problems not just for you, but also for your home’s seller. The average seller’s worst case scenario is that they accept your offer only to find out a few weeks, or months, later that you can’t get the loan you need to close the deal.

Buyers: It’s not overkill to start working with a mortgage professional as far as six months or a year in advance of starting your house hunt to get pre-approved for a loan. Make sure you get a clear understanding of the amount you qualify for, then work with your real estate agent from there to determine the price range you should house hunt in. And whatever you do - don’t buy a new car, open new credit cards or even change your line of work before your escrow closes, unless you consult closely with your mortgage professional before you make that move.

Tip for Sellers: Work with your agent to vet buyers before you sign a contract. Factor in their down payment and earnest money deposit, and feel free to counteroffer these items, not just the offer price. It’s not overkill to have your agent contact the buyer’s mortgage broker to see how reliable the buyer’s pre-approval really is.

3. Bashing the seller’s home: Home bashing happens when buyers start bad-mouthing (aka “trash talking”) the place and/or the neighborhood in hopes of getting a lower asking price. Examples: pointing out all the foreclosures in the area, saying the house down the street just sold for much lower than the asking price on this house, saying you’ll need to rip out the entire kitchen before you even consider moving in - saying any of these things to a seller who happens to be at home during the showing or the inspection is probably one of the fastest ways to turn them all the way off.

Buyers: Bad-mouthing a house or neighborhood won’t work to get you a lower price. Instead, it only serves to irritate the seller and motivate them to come up with all sorts of reasons why they shouldn’t sell their home to you! Remember: homes hold incredible emotional experiences for owners. Make an offer you’re comfortable with and keep the negative comments to yourself.

If there are legitimate, factual reasons underlying your decision to make an offer at a price the seller might see as a lowball, ask your agent to respectfully communicate those facts to the seller’s agent.