Interest Rates–What a difference!

Interest rates–everyone wants the best they can get when purchasing a big-ticket item like a car or especially a house!  The interest rate you qualify for depends on your particular situation, your credit rating, your debt-to-income ratio, and other factors.  But does it really make that much difference?

In a word–YES!  Your interest rate for a mortgage loan makes a difference in how much home you can buy for the money.  Click on the link below and see an illustration of how much a $999 payment will buy at 3 different interest rates.

This can be great news if you’re looking to buy a home–it’s a good time to get off the fence and do it!  No one knows where interest rates will be in 6 months or a year, but they won’t stay this low forever!  Eventually they’ll head the other direction and when they do, the price of what you qualify for will change.  Want the most bang for your buck?  Think about buying now rather than later!

For Sellers, this is also good news as it means more buyers will qualify to purchase the house you’re selling, or thinking of selling.  The other good news for sellers is that our listing inventory is still low.  Demand is high, supply is low, so it’s a seller’s market!  If you’ve been thinking about downsizing, upsizing, relocating, or just ready to make a change, this is a great time to do so!  Demand for your home will be good, property values have risen so it’s likely your equity has as well, and when you’re ready to purchase something else, you can take advantage of these low interest rates.

Bottom line–whether you’re buying or selling, there’s no time like the present!  As Nike says, just do it!



Thinking about buying a home? Know the lingo!

Below is a link to a blog post from Keeping Current Matters.  There are lots of terms that are tossed about during the home buying process by lenders and realtors alike.  I know I’ve been guilty of this, forgetting sometimes that some of these terms that I deal with every day may not be familiar to those not “in the business”.  And that is particularly true for first-time homebuyers!  Real estate has its own “lingo”, just as any profession.  So if you’re thinking about buying a home, or are in the process of doing so, here are some terms you should know.  And if your lender or realtor throws something else out there that you don’t understand, please don’t be shy about asking for an explanation or clarification!

Super Bowl LI–truly super!

Did you watch Sunday’s Super Bowl, NE Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons?  Most people probably did–at least for part of the time.  Toward the end of the 3rd quarter, you may have thought like I did, and probably most people did, that the game was really one-sided, tilting to the Falcons.  After all, they were ahead 28-3!

As I watched the game and listened to the talking heads, aka sportscasters, who went on and on about everything, I thought that the Falcons were going to win, and decisively at that.  But a little voice in the back of my head kept saying–don’t count the Patriots and Tom Brady out just yet.  They still have a quarter left to make things happen.  Wait and see what they do.

And, boy, did they make things happen!  And in a truly spectacular and Super way!  Everyone was blown away by what the Patriots, led by quarterback Tom Brady, did in 15 minutes!  They pulled up even with the Falcons and sent the game into overtime–for the first time in Superbowl history.

They won the coin toss and then just marched up the field, pass by pass, to score (barely!) a touchdown and win the game!  Mind blowing!  To fans in NRG Stadium, to the Falcons, to the talking heads, to those of us watching on TV, and to the Patriots themselves!  They made the Superbowl truly Super!  That’s what the game is all about!

There have been comparisons between the Patriots comeback win when it looked like a sure thing for the Falcons to the 2016 election results that looked like a Hillary win until Trump marched into the White House.  But besides that, there’s a life lesson there too that we should all remember.

Tom Brady had a goal–to win the game and make history for his team and himself with a 5th SuperBowl win and ring.  He had a goal and he kept it front and center.  He kept his team focused on the goal and together, they made it happen.  And I loved that he acknowledged that this was a team effort, it wasn’t just about him.  Everyone had a part in achieving this goal.  I think Brady demonstrated what a true leader is all about–leading his team to achieve the goal.  Working together for everyone’s benefit.  And making the achievement all about the team, not just about himself.  There are some people in leadership positions who could take a lesson from this.  Sadly, they probably won’t, but they should!

Super Bowl LI is history now, but it was really fun to watch history being made, and in a spectacular compelling way!  Hope you enjoyed the game, even if you were a Falcons fan.  The Falcons learned some lessons too.  I’ve heard that Vegas bookies are already predicting a rematch in 2018–that should be interesting if it happens.  We’ll see who learned the most from Sunday!





Annual Checklist for Homeowners

We’re getting to the end of 2016–hard to believe! But 2017 is right around the corner and here’s a list of a few things you might want to check on as we move from one year into a new one.

1. Change your smoke alarm batteries. Many people, myself included, like to do that when we spring forward and fall back, but if you haven’t done it yet, please take a little time to change those batteries, especially now as colder weather is coming.

2. Chop up a bar of Irish Spring soap and scatter it around your flower beds to discourage deer. I wish I had known this trick when I lived in an area that had a lot of deer who visited my yard!

3. Renew your home warranty. If you have a residential service contract active on your home, check the renewal date and decide if you want to keep it active. If you don’t and you want to add one, let me know and I’m happy to send you some names to contact here in San Antonio.

4. Check your homeowners insurance. Be sure you have the coverage you need. And shop around for premium prices, but be sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

5. Check your house for wood-destroying insects. Consider hiring a pest inspector to check for signs of wood-destroying insects–termites, carpenter ants, and anything else prevalent in your area.

6. Check your tax appraisal. In Bexar county, you can go onto to check your appraised value and be sure you’re getting all the exemptions you’re entitled to.

4 “Pearls of Wisdom” for First-time Homebuyers

Buying your first home can be a real roller coaster ride!  Up, down, all around!  Here are 4 “pearls” for you to remember when you decide to start on this journey:

pearl_12109  Pearl #1–There is no such thing as the “perfect home”–unless you have an unlimited budget!   Focus on what’s most important to you–things that can’t be easily changed.  1-story or 2=story, the floor plan, the location.  When you are swept up in someone else’s decor choices–the ones you like and the ones you may not like–you often overlook the basics.  Paint, countertops, appliances, flooring can all be changed.  The neighborhood, the layout of the house, the “flow”–probably not.  And don’t let yourself get caught up in seller’s furniture, artwork, accessories.  They won’t be there when you’re ready to move in!


pearl_12109  Pearl #2–Don’t search for a home until you’re ready to buy!  In our market today, homes you’re looking at now, probably won’t be available next month or maybe even next week!  Until you’re ready to go, save yourself the frustration of finding a house you love when you’re not able to make an offer and then finding that it’s gone when you’re ready.


pearl_12109  Pearl #3–Use a local lender!!!  I can’t stress this enough!!  Big banks are not pleasant or easy to deal with for a mortgage and I have had several clients whose transactions fell apart due to issues with big bank lenders.  Find someone local who can walk down the hall and meet with the underwriter to figure things out and make things happen.  Don’t know a local lender?  I do!  I’m happy to share some names of local lenders who go the extra mile to help you get your loan approved and funded!  Call me!


pearl_12109   Pearl #4–Make sure you have a Realtor who cares and knows what he/she is doing!  Your Realtor should be able to guide you to a home that fits your preferences/needs for size, location, and price.  And that is priced fairly and will provide good resale value.  Yes, it’s your home, but it’s also your largest investment so you want to feel confident that you’re investing wisely for now and the future.  And you want a Realtor who knows the market and knows how to do his or her job and will guide you along the path, helping to smooth any bumps that may arise.

I would love to be that Realtor for you!  Call me and let’s figure out the best path for you!  210-363-9282.




Getting Your Home Ready for the Market

Does your home need some improvements before you put it on the market? Most homes do and there are some things you can do to make your home look its best to prospective buyers.

But there are some things that you do NOT need to do–improvements that a buyer can do later. Here’s a list of some of those items for you to consider:

1. Don’t overimprove! What’s the “norm” in your neighborhood? If most homes have granite counters and yours is laminate, then that might be something to consider, but if not, don’t add them now. Same with other items like hardwood floors, fancy bathrooms, etc. Don’t add them if they’re not common in your neighborhood.

2. Focus on main areas of the house. Kitchens, living areas, bathrooms, entries are all areas people look at and that make a difference sometimes in a buying decision. Laundry rooms, garages, not so much.

3. Before you replace–clean! Get rid of hard water spots on shower enclosures, have dirty tile grout cleaned, clean dirty/greasy appliances and/or cabinets. Get professional help if you need it, but clean first before you decide whether or not to replace.

4. Consider embellishing what’s already there–baseboards, molding–try adding more to it and painting and see if that improves the look of the room.

5. Paint before you replace. Cabinets and trim look new and updated with some paint. Ditto with dated wood paneling, even a brick fireplace–both can look totally transformed with a good paint job. And did you know tile can also be painted with special tile paint?

6. Don’t replace what can be repaired!

7. Stage an area–maybe you have a kitchen backsplash that’s in good condition, but not special. Consider adding a plant and/or cookbook display to spiff it up.

8. Don’t add what’s best omitted. Best example–window treatments. Take down old draperies and hardware. Leave windows bare or with plain blinds–make that a blank canvas for whatever a buyer might want to do. Be sure to patch where the curtain rods were.

9. No need to replace what a buyer would prefer to buy. As long as things are in working order or not damaged, don’t spend money replacing things that a buyer might prefer to choose, e.g. carpet, flooring, lighting, appliances. But, if any of these items are damaged, stained, not working (and can’t be fixed), then replacement might be something to consider.

Bottom line–any work you do, items you replace now may make your home more sellable, but probably won’t make it more valuable. You want your home to show at its best but if you do extensive renovations, don’t expect to recoup your investment–you’re putting your home in a more competitive position for a buyer’s attention, but you may not be able to justify raising your asking price by the amount you spent to do those renovations.

Buyers, get prepared before you start!

If you’re thinking about buying a home this year, I hope you will take some time to get ready and get prepared before you officially start the process.  If it’s been awhile since you were “in the market” for a home, here’s a heads up–the rules have changed!

The mortgage melt-down of a few years ago has brought lots of changes to the lending/mortgage industry.  And these changes affect all lenders, not just the big ones that we heard so much about when things went bad.  They are federal guidelines that must be followed by all lenders.  Different changes in place for different types of loans, but all lenders now are requiring much much more information and documentation from borrowers.

I am not a licensed mortgage professional so  I can’t go into all the details, but after working with many buyers in the last couple of years and seeing them get upset, frustrated, and downright angry about what they were asked to provide, I have tried to prepare my current buyers for this new world!

Basically, before you actually go visit with a lender, either in person, on the phone, or online, gather all your financial documents from the last 2-3 years all together.  This includes, but is not necessarily limited to, bank statements, pay stubs, credit card statements, current loan/mortgage information, car payments, child support, divorce decrees, tax returns, income/dividend statements, any financial gifts you may have received, student loan paperwork, pretty much anything that has a financial impact on your life.

What about a lender?  Who should you choose?  How should you choose?  There are many excellent lenders out there who can help you.  Many specialize in a particular kind of loan, just as attorneys and physicians specialize in certain areas.  If you’re looking for a VA loan, for example, it makes sense to work with a lender who specializes in VA loans.  He/She will know the limits in  your area, have contacts with VA underwriters, VA appraisers, and other folks who will have a part in approving your loan.  A VA lender will also be able to advise and assist your realtor to help you present a compelling offer when you find a house you like.  As a Realtor, I always appreciate that kind of help and advice!

Where do you find a lender?  Ask your Realtor!  You should definitely be working with one!  Most of us (Realtors) know lenders who can help you with particular kinds of loans, if you have a lower credit score, etc.  My recommendation is to choose a local lender, not someone online who is not in your area.  A local lender can usually help you easier and quicker than someone you connect with online.

Most buyers like to contact more than one lender initially, to compare interest rates, and I encourage that.  But, as with anything you buy, be sure you’re comparing apples to apples.  Small variations in percentage points or fractions of points will probably not translate into a huge difference in your monthly payment, but the fees and other terms of the loan may make a difference at the closing table.  Be sure you’re considering everything, not just interest rates.  And, as with other purchases, it’s not always about the rate–those other fees and terms can make a difference in the overall cost of your loan and what funds  you’ll need at closing.  Shop carefully!

So, you’ve done your homework, gathered your paperwork and financial files, and chosen a lender, gotten pre-approved for your loan.  Good job!  Now it’s time to go find a house with your Realtor!  Once you’ve identified a property, made an offer, negotiated the terms, and gotten it accepted, be sure to let your lender know and provide a copy of the executed contract.  Then, get ready to start sending paperwork!   Figure on about 6 weeks from contract to closing, possibly longer for some loans or if you have unusual circumstances.

Be patient!  There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of people involved in the processing and underwriting process.  Your realtor and your lender should be keeping up with things as they progress and letting you know what’s happening, but if they don’t, then check on things yourself!  If you’ve done your advance preparation, have a good realtor, and a good lender, then you’ll be celebrating in your new home soon!  Congratulations, and good luck!




Welcome, Fall!

Well, it’s officially fall!  The weather in San Antonio is not as cool as I would like it to be, but it’s not as hot either so there’s hope that cooler weather is coming!  This weekend, if the weather guys can be trusted!

With cooler weather on the way it’s time to prepare your home for the change.  Here are a few tips for things to take care of now in anticipation of fall and winter.  If you live in snow country, there are probably some additional steps you need to take–I can’t comment on those because snow is not part of my winter experience, thankfully!

So, here are some things to check on around the house:

1. Windows and doors–check weatherstripping, seals, caulk, etc.  You certainly don’t want the heat you’re paying for going outside!  If  you see cracks or can feel air coming out, time to re-seal!

2. Roof–best done by a professional, but check the roof for any damage, particularly if you’ve had extreme weather events, like a hail storm.

3. Gutters–again, best done by a professional for safety’s sake. Gutters should be cleaned and clear so they can flow freely.  If you want to try it yourself, be sure to practice ladder safety!

4. Smoke detectors–time to change those batteries.  And remember to check carbon monoxide detectors as well.

5. Energy–if you haven’t already, this is a good time to invest in a programmable thermostat.  When used correctly, it can pay for itself in energy savings, winter and summer!

6. Your lawn–don’t let leaves pile up on your lawn.  Mulch with a mower or rake and bag them for disposal.  Leaves can kill the grass underneath if just left on top.  My pool lawn has had enough stress with heat and lack of rain–no need to make it work any harder!

7. Fireplace and firewood–have your fireplace checked for soot build-up and swept if needed before you use it for a cozy evening.  And be sure to store firewood away from your house.  It’s recommended that you not store firewood inside or too near the house due to the possibility of termite infestation–firewood piled up near the house is what’s known as a “conducive condition”.

8. Lawn equipment–you won’t be using it during the winter, so be sure to store it away correctly–empty any unused fuel from lawnmowers to prevent sediment build-up and for fire safety.

With a couple of exceptions, most of these tasks can be done on your own and with little effort/expenditure.  A good weekend project.  Be safe and enjoy the change to a new season!