Real estate apps and why you need a REALTOR

Listing sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Craigslist have become the go-to source for many buyers and sellers (particularly people attempting to buy or sell property on their own) to get information about the market, view properties, and connect with property owners.

But while most people believe these listing sites are a reliable source of information, there’s actually quite a bit of misinformation that can throw a wrench in your home search or sale.

Here are the three things real estate apps commonly get wrong (and how you can avoid them while selling or buying your home):

1. Not all postings are real

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One of the biggest problems on most real estate apps is that they don’t require any verification from the people placing listings. So essentially, anyone with an internet connection can post any listing they’d like — including listings that are completely falsified.

There are an immeasurable number of fake listings on these sites; posters either use the “bait and switch” method, posting photos of one property when they’re really selling another (one New York real estate company was caught red-handed using celebrities’ properties in a highly publicized bait and switch scam in 2015), or create a completely fake listing in hopes of gathering people’s personal information for marketing purposes or, in some extreme cases, identity theft.

For these reasons you may waste a lot of time and energy looking through and engaging with fake listings, which can keep you from finding real listings — the kind that could end up being your dream home.

2. Not all postings are up-to-date

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Another big issue with these sites is that often times, listings aren’t updated. So a listing you see for sale might have actually been sold the previous week or a listing that reads “sale pending” might actually be back on the market.

This failure to update is a bad situation for both buyers and sellers. As a buyer, it means you might get excited about a home only to find out it’s already been sold or you might pass on an amazing home, thinking it’s already been sold… only to find out after the fact it actually was available. If your listing is out-of-date as a seller, it means you could miss out on potential buyers thanks to inaccurate information.

Without up-to-date information, it’s impossible to effectively manage either the search or the sale of your home. But unfortunately, when you work within these types of real estate listings sites, you’re pretty much guaranteed out-of-date information.

3. Property information is often incorrect

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On top of fake listings and out-of-date listings, many listings on these sites are just flat out incorrect. And this can be a big problem for both buyers and sellers.

As a buyer, you want to know what you’re getting into when you look at a property. But if the information is incorrect — for example, the listing states the property is 4 bedrooms when it’s really only three or that the home sits on 2 acres when it’s really only 1 — you’ll end up wasting a lot of time looking at properties that don’t actually fit within your parameters.

As a seller, not only will incorrect listing information waste time by connecting you with buyers who are looking for something different from what your property has to offer, but it can actually affect the price of your offers. Zillow, one of the top real estate apps, offers a popular feature called “Zestimate” which estimates how much a property is worth whether it’s on or off the market. Anyone can access this information, including potential buyers. And buyers use Zestimates as a way to come up with offer prices.

Unfortunately, Zestimates are often inaccurate. In fact, they’re off by an average of 8% nationally, which is a pretty shocking disparity.

Apps and listing sites readily admit their information might not be accurate; most all have a disclaimer page stating that information on their site may be inaccurate and encouraging potential buyers or sellers to verify all information independently. 

Moral of the story: when you deal with real estate apps, you’re also going to be dealing with a lot of misinformation, which can derail your home sale or search.

What to do instead

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As you can see, real estate apps aren’t your best bet when it comes to buying or selling a home. You’ll end up wasting time and energy on fake or out-of-date listings or inaccurate information. That’s why it’s always best to work with a real estate agent. Agents have access to the most up-to-date, accurate information through the MLS, which will ensure that as a buyer, every home you see is exactly what you expect it to be, and as a seller, every potential buyer that comes to tour your home will know exactly what they’re getting into.

Buying your first home? Read on!

Buying your first place can be an exciting but often overwhelming experience. From finding “the one” to figuring out how you’ll pay for it, you’ll face many choices along the road to home ownership. 

Before you box up your belongings and prepare to put your new welcome mat in place, you’ll have to do some serious soul searching. Let’s explore the most common decisions first-time homebuyers face. 

1. Location vs. square footage?

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When it comes to real estate, the first thought that flashes through most minds is the old “Location, location, location!” But if you want a home in a coveted spot, you may have to make certain sacrifices in order to afford it. 

For example, if you’re seeking waterfront property, a swanky pad in the city, or a colonial in a top school district, you’ll quickly realize that you’ll get a lot less room than you would in an area that’s off the beaten path. It’s a tough decision to make, so put together a list of priorities and choose accordingly.

2. Turn-key vs. fixer-upper?

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Buying a place that needs a little TLC can save you a bundle — if you’re handy and capable of working a little DIY magic, that is. Taking care of renovations yourself also gives you a chance to redecorate to your own specifications and taste.

On the flip side, if you select a home that’s in turn-key condition, all you have to do is put your feet up and enjoy. Of course, you’ll probably pay more for that, but you can entertain right away rather than waiting for the paint to dry and the new carpeting to arrive. Both sides have their pros and cons.

3. Big loan vs. big down payment?

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Having a nest egg saved for a down payment is a blessing, but figuring out how to divvy it up can feel like a curse. While putting 20 percent down typically saves you from springing for mortgage insurance, it can feel like a heavy hit. Throwing as much toward a mortgage as possible also means you’ll pay less interest over the life of your loan, but it leaves you with less in your pockets to put toward any emergencies that may pop up. Still, deciding how to spend your money is never a bad problem to have.

4. Starter home vs. forever home?

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Moving typically ranks high up there among the most stressful life changes a person can experience, so it makes sense that someone might not want to do it more than once. 

Choosing between a starter home and forever home can be a real conundrum. If you’re hoping to live out the rest of your days in the same space, chances are you may have to save up a little (or a lot) longer to afford it, delaying your purchase by a few months or years. Once you’ve got that down payment ready, you’ll probably put a lot more time into your search. Starter homes can offer an affordable way to stop paying rent, just be sure to choose one you won’t outgrow too soon. 

5. Condo vs. free-standing home?

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If you love the idea of owning a home but dread the thought of doing all the not-so-little things that go with it, such as landscaping, snow removal, and other routine headaches, er, maintenance, you may be better off in a condo or townhome where, for a fee, those issues are handled for you.

Of course, there are times when you may see -— and hear — your neighbors more than you’d wish, making you feel like you’re back in your college dorm. 

Also, if you want to make significant changes to your place, you’ll probably have to run everything past a condo board first.

6. Single family vs. duplex?

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Do you treasure your privacy or would you rather play the role of landlord to defray the cost of your mortgage? This is a tough choice. Rents go up over time while your mortgage stays the same, making the thought of buying a duplex an attractive one. 

But remember, if you live right next door and anything goes wrong, your tenant knows exactly where to find you the split second there’s an issue. But, there is good news for owner-occupants in that they often have more options when it comes to mortgage loans.

7. Urban vs. suburban?

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If you love easy access to mass transit, cultural happenings, and a bustling world just beyond your doorstep, city living may be for you. If you prefer a quiet, residential area where you can hear crickets as opposed to blaring horns, you might want to put down roots in a suburb. 

Consider how you feel about your commute and what you value most. The cost in living in a city is typically higher than it would be in a suburb because of additional amenities and a superior infrastructure. So you’ll have less space, but if you find that you’re rather be out and about exploring, that may suit you. If you’re more of a homebody who cherishes peace and quiet, a suburb could be the right move.

Do I need a pre-approval?

Ever had an agent deny to show you a home because you weren’t pre-approved for a mortgage? It’s not because they’re mean, or they don’t value your business… it’s actually because they’re looking out for your best interests.

Let’s face it, shopping for a home before getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like walking into a grocery store without a wallet. You may have the desire to buy, but you lack the ability. Let’s cover some basics…

What is a mortgage pre-approval?

In a nutshell, a mortgage pre-approval is written assurance from a lender or broker that you’re able to borrow money to purchase a home up to a certain amount. It’s based on the income, employment and asset documentation you supply at the time of application, in conjunction with your credit history. So let’s look at the 6 reasons you should get pre-approved.

1. It carries more weight than a “pre-qualification”.

pre-approval differs from a pre-qualification. With the former, the lender has actually checked your credit and verified your documentation to approve a specific loan amount (usually for a particular time period such as 30, 60 or 90 days). A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home, but it’s a less accurate indicator of your ability to purchase. A pre-approval always carries more weight.

2. You’ll know how much house you can afford.

Getting pre-approved before you begin house hunting allows you to know how much house you can realistically afford. Knowing this narrows down the options and makes the selection process more efficient. Not to mention, it protects you from the unpleasant surprise of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t fit your budget.

3. It adds clout to your offer.

In many markets, homes attract more than one offer. If the sellers are weighing one offer against another, they may lean towards the one accompanied by a pre-approval letter. That’s because pre-approvals instill confidence that the buyer is financially capable of purchasing their home.

4. It could increase your negotiating power.

In addition to strengthening your offer when compared to buyers who haven’t taken this step, getting pre-approved may give you the upper-hand when negotiating the price. If the homeowner is eager to sell, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer from someone they’ve been assured is financially capable of purchasing their home. 

5. It saves time.

Obtaining a mortgage is a lengthy process. Getting pre-approved ahead of time shortens the time between contract to close — this way you’re ready to proceed with finalizing the mortgage once you’ve found the home you want to purchase.

6. Without it, most agents won’t work with you.

Makes sense, too. Right? Think about it: when you hire an agent, he/she will invest countless hours showing you homes over the course of your house hunt. If you were in their shoes, wouldn’t you want assurance that your hard work would lead to a favorable outcome for both you and your client?

Time to apply for your Homestead Exemption!

If you purchased a property last year that is your principal residence, you can now file for your homestead exemption. A Homestead exemption is an application filed with the county appraisal district that removes part of your home’s value from taxation, so they lower your taxes.

For example, if your home is appraised at $35,000, and you qualify for a $15,000 exemption, you will pay taxes on the home as if it was worth only $20,000.


Effective September 1, 2011, in order to qualify for a residential homestead exemption you must provide the following to the Central Appraisal District when submitting your application: 

• Texas Drivers License or State ID Card
The address on your driver’s license or state ID card MUST match the physical address of the residence for which you are applying.

If you are in Guadalupe County click here for more information:

http://www.guadalupead.org/index.php/Homestead_Exemption

Simple modifications to increase your homes appeal today!

Check this link out for some great ways to add appeal to your home today!

https://www.bestrealestateblog.com/23-modest-home-upgrades-thatll-wow-buyers?m=hHjKYSVOivoObOFpPPTA

8 Mistakes When Pricing Your Home for Sale

Picking the wrong asking price for your home can cost you a lot of money. Here are nine don’ts when coming up with your number:

Don’t assume your house is worth the same as your neighbor’s

Your neighbor’s home sold recently, but it has a pool, an updated kitchen, and a cracked foundation. Your house doesn’t have a pool, doesn’t have a cracked foundation, and has an extra floor. Comparing the two just won’t work.

Don’t go way back in time

Real estate prices can move up or down quickly. Old sales have little to do with the amount you should ask for your home today.

Don’t look far away

A recent property sale that has the exact specifications as yours doesn’t mean much if the home is in a completely different neighborhood. Sometimes property values can even vary from one block to the next.

Don’t put a price on your memories

No buyer will pay more because the house was your first, your parents’, or where you raised your children.

Don’t start high to allow room for negotiations

Most home seekers don’t want to deal with unreasonable sellers, which is what they could think if you price your home too high. You may eventually have to lower the price below what would have attracted an offer if you had started out with a reasonable number.

Don’t think buyers will understand your financial goals

You may want to net a certain amount from the sale of your home to buy another property or pay down debt; unfortunately, that doesn’t matter to buyers.

Don’t assume your upgrades have a dollar-for-dollar return

A remodeled kitchen boosts your home’s value, but by how much? It could be more or less than you paid.

Don’t rely on unreliable sources

You can find websites that tell you how much your home is worth. Look closely at what they say about their accuracy, though.

What should you do? Hire a REALTOR®. A REALTOR® has the most accurate data for your current market and the aspects of your property that can affect your asking price. Together, you can come up with a pricing strategy for a successful sale.

First Time Buyer Interest Strong Despite Rising Interest Rates

Interest rates are rising. According to Freddie Macthe current rate for a 30-yr fixed mortgage is 4.81%, which is up a nearly a full percentage point from a year ago. While some were concerned the rising interest rates would have a negative impact on the market, particularly with first-time homebuyers, it looks as if the changes in interest rates are doing little to dampen buyer demand.

According to First American’s most recent Real Estate Sentiment Index (which explores how sensitive first-time homebuyers are to rising interest rates), mortgage rates would have to hit 5.6% before first-time buyers delay entering the market. And because mortgage rates aren’t predicted to rise that drastically anytime soon, we shouldn’t see any negative impact on buyer interest in the coming months.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been hesitant to list your home thanks to fears that rising interest rates will limit the number of buyers, there’s nothing to worry about. Buyer demand is showing no signs of slowing.

New listing – New Braunfels Avery Park Home for Sale

We have a great new listing in Avery Park ready for you to enjoy a beverage of your choice on the back patio! Perfect location for commuting to San Antonio or Austin and close to great eating and shopping options. Call us today to schedule your showing! At only $217,000 this one won’t last long!

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Winter is the perfect time to buy a home!

Winter is the perfect time of year for plenty of things: making snow angels, going ice skating, and drinking hot cocoa by the fire are all things that come to mind.

But do you know what else winter is the perfect time of year for?

Buying a home.

There’s no better time to find your dream home than the winter months. Here are five reasons why winter is the perfect time to find a home:

1. There’s less competition

One of the best reasons to purchase a home during the winter is that there’s typically less competition.

Winter isn’t the most popular time of the year to move; kids are still in school and potential buyers with children tend to wait until spring or summer to start looking to avoid having to pull their children out of school. And because there’s less buyers on the market, you’ll face less competition on the homes you’re interested in.

You’re also less likely to face multiple offer situations when the market is less competitive — which means that when you find a home you love and put in an offer, you’re not going to be up against anyone else, which greatly increases the chance of your offer being accepted.

2. Prices are more competitive

Another major benefit of buying a home in the winter is that the pricing is more competitive.

This means that in the winter, you’re far more likely to get a deal on your home than spring or summer. In fact, recent research shows that while buyers paid $1500 more than the sale price of the average US home during the peak spring season. But in the winter? They paid $3100 less.

3. You’ll deal with more motivated sellers

Another plus of buying in the winter?

Because there aren’t as many buyers on the market, sellers are much more motivated to sell — which means they’ll be much more willing to negotiate with you.

That can mean anything from coming down on the price, covering some (or all) of your closing costs, working with you on the closing date, or even throwing in extra appliances to sweeten the deal.

If you buy during the peak season, sellers don’t have as much incentive to negotiate since there’s a lot of competition, so do yourself a favor and buy in the winter when sellers are much more motivated to get their home sold.

4. You get to see how your new home holds up in the cold

If you live in an area with harsh winters, another benefit of buying a home in the winter is that you get to see how your potential new home will hold up in the cold — while it’s actually cold outside.

If you buy during the warmer months, your new home may look great. But when winter rolls around you might find that the chill in the air travels from outside to inside, or that your home is properly insulated to keep ice from building up on the exterior.

Bottom line: When you buy in the winter, you get to see your potential new home’s winter performance before you buy. You can make sure that your house has proper heating and insulation instead of buying in summer and hoping for the best — which can be an expensive mistake.

5. You get to take advantage of your real estate agent’s slow season

Because the winter months are typically slower in the real estate industry, your agent likely doesn’t have as many clients as they would in the peak season — which logically means you’ll probably get more of their attention.

A great real estate agent will always take care of you — no matter how busy they are. But there are only so many hours in the day, and during the peak season, he/she will likely have multiple clients they need to split their attention between.

But less real estate activity in the winter means less clients for your real estate agent, which means they have more time and energy to devote to you and your home search. They’ll be more available to research potential homes, show you new properties, and answer your questions — which will make your home search easier, faster, and more enjoyable.

As you can see, winter just might be the perfect time to buy a home. So bundle up, call your agent, and get out there and find your new home!