5 Helpful Tips to Buy a Home in the Age of the Internet

5 Helpful Tips to Buy a Home in the Age of the Internet

 Buying a home can be an overwhelming process, and trying to cipher through the amount of information about the home buying process on the internet can be the hardest part. However, don’t let the endless amount of information overwhelm you! The internet is an incredible source to get you through buying your first, third, or tenth home. It is continually updated in order to help you through the process. Here is a great list of ways to utilize the internet to your advantage when buying a home by Andrew Fortune: “Local Neighborhood Info One of the most important aspects of buying a home is understanding the neighborhoods and areas in which you are interested. Using the internet to learn more about the areas you’re considering can help narrow down the neighborhoods that work best for your needs. Many neighborhoods with homeowners associations now post their bylaws, covenants and restrictions online. You can find all kinds of valuable info in these documents, and even the fiscal health of the association. Simply do a quick Google search of the neighborhoods in which you are interested to find out more about them. Step-By-Step Guides How-tos on getting a mortgage, finding a real estate agent and making an offer are all right at a homebuyer’s fingertips online. Even if you have previously bought and sold a few homes, it’s still nice to know that this information is online, in case you need a quick refresher course. But note that the process of buying a home can vary slightly based on different regions of the country. Be sure to find resources that are specific to the area in which you are looking for a home. Finding Professional Services Most homebuyers will need the services of real estate professionals to get the job done. Realtors, mortgage lenders, title companies, home inspectors and appraisers are all a part of the process. The internet is a great resource to research and find the right professional that fits your needs. Property Tax Records Tax records can show when a property was last sold, how much it sold for, how much the buyer financed and details about the previous owners. This information can be valuable for many different reasons. Property tax record websites differ by area – many times they are maintained by the county. If your county has a property tax website, this can be a great resource to find data about certain homes online. Permit History Most counties have some sort of regulation on building and construction permits. It’s likely that this information is available online and available to the public. If so, you can learn a lot about a property based on this information. Homebuyers can check to see when the water heater...

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Save energy at home to leave more green in your pocket!

Realtor View by Chaille Ralph Many consumers are mindful of the environment when making purchases these days. Look at the popularity of hybrid vehicles, alternative fuels, locally grown produce and a host of other products designed to use fewer resources and reduce pollution and waste. Housing definitely is on that list. You don’t think of houses being responsible for carbon emissions, but they are – to a significant degree. The energy used for heating, cooling, appliances and lighting most likely comes from a source that produces carbon emissions. Other factors, such as water use and building materials used to construct or remodel a home, can affect the environment significantly. You might think the best way to “go green” in housing is to start from scratch. And it’s true. If you’re building a new, custom home, you can make decisions that will increase energy and water efficiency greatly. You can select the most environmentally friendly building materials and construction methods. But if you’re not building a new home, there’s no need to throw up your hands. There’s still plenty you can do to make a difference. When looking to purchase an existing house, it’s possible to assess some aspects of its energy use. How old is the air conditioning unit? Does the landscaping consist of native plants? You might be able to secure energy bills from the current owner to review electricity and water usage (keep in mind your usage may vary considerably). You can hire a professional to determine how energy efficient or inefficient a home may be. Whether purchasing a home or wanting to make the best of the house you own, there are many steps you can take to improve energy efficiency. Here are some examples: Install rain barrels to collect roof runoff and use that water for irrigation. Replace water-thirsty plants with landscaping that requires little additional irrigation. Replace old windows with energy-efficient windows. Seal air leaks around windows, doors and other areas that may have gaps. Seal air ducts. Install additional installation. Replace appliances with newer models that have earned EPA‘s Energy Star designation. Replace heating and cooling units. Replace the water heater with a more efficient model. Change out incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. You probably know efforts such as these offer benefits beyond helping the environment. They also save money. Yes, you pay more on the front end to make improvements such as those listed, but each one of them reduces your expenses – often paying for itself in short order. As energy costs continue to rise, the more you can do to cut consumption, the more it pays off. Be informed You can find information online about how to lower your energy consumption...

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Curious about the return for your remodeling investment?

by Dana Dratch (Bankrate.com) Planning a home renovation? Do it for your own enjoyment, because there’s no guarantee you’ll get all of your expenses back when you sell. That’s one lesson from a 2014 Remodeling magazine study. The magazine looked at prices on 35 popular home renovation projects – and how much of that money homeowners can expect to recoup when they sell. In the study, prices were based on national averages for time and materials supplied by skilled professionals. While some projects moved the needle on home value more than others, most didn’t return 100 percent of the renovation cost at resale, according to the report. And the projects that yielded the least at resale all returned less than 61 cents on the dollar. If you renovate, “you have to understand that it may not add the value to your home that it cost you,” said Mark Ramsey, broker with The Ramsey Group at Keller Williams Realty in Charlotte, North Carolina. Home office remodel Cost (national average): $28,000 Return at sale: 48.9 percent This is not your typical stuff-a-desk-in-the-guest-room office. When Remodeling magazine priced out the project, it envisioned a professional-grade workspace with super-durable commercial-grade carpet and floor-to-ceiling hardwood built-ins, said Sal Alfano, editorial director for Remodeling magazine, who oversaw the study. At resale: Home offices don’t sell houses, said Ron Phipps, principal with Phipps Realty in Warwick, Rhode Island, and past president of the National Association of Realtors. “To spend money making more of the house office-driven – it doesn’t excite people the way a home theater might,” he said. “Or redoing other rooms or updating the kitchen.” Sun room addition Cost (national average): $73,546 Return at resale: 51.7 percent Anytime you have to add onto the foundation – and the footprint of your home – the price climbs, said Michael Hydeck, owner of Hydeck Design Build Inc. near Philadelphia and past president of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. It can make a big difference in your enjoyment of the home and help heat adjacent rooms, Alfano said. At resale: Resale value will vary by region, Phipps said. “You have to look at what your market is.” Whatever you build, if you want to get the biggest bump to your home value, opt for a licensed professional and permitted work, said David R. Tina, president of the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors and an owner/broker with Urban Nest Realty. Upscale master suite addition Cost (national average): $224,989 Return at resale: 56 percent This isn’t your typical master bedroom remodel. Picture adding a luxe hotel suite onto your house: a 640-square-foot space with a kitchenette, sitting room, high-end gas fireplace and a spa-quality bathroom – complete with a stone-and-glass dual-system shower and a jetted corner tub set in marble. By contrast, Remodeling...

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Overwhelmed by the Loan Process? You’re not alone!

by Chris Gash Plenty of mortgage websites define “balloon payments” and “debt-to-income ratio,” but borrowers are still struggling to get answers to the most important question: What will I owe? “Regardless of whether you’re an experienced or inexperienced home buyer, there’s a lot of information out there, and it’s difficult to discern what’s important,” says Cameron Findlay, chief economist at Discover Home Loans, which conducted the survey of 1,037 respondents nationwide and released the results in July. Of these, 59% have previously owned a home. 63% Percentage of survey respondents who say they are overwhelmed with information available on home financingSource: Discover Home Loans The study focused on buyers seeking homes at prices that don’t rise to jumbo levels—over $417,000 in most places and $625,500 in some high-price areas. While jumbo borrowers may be more financially savvy, Mr. Findlay adds, many of them may be buying a home for the first time since new rules went into effect that tightened lending standards. Discover, best known for its consumer credit cards, started offering home loans in mid-2012. The survey uncovered other mortgage misunderstandings. While 87% of the respondents had identified the type of property they could afford, only 52% actually had calculated their projected monthly payment, 41% hadn’t figured out their down payment, and almost half (48%) had no idea how much a more or less expensive home would raise or lower their mortgage payments. Home buyers sought multiple sources for help understanding the mortgage process: 59% of home buyers turned to mortgage bankers, 42% asked real-estate agents, 38% asked a financial adviser and 37% went to family or friends. A smaller percentage used online financial tools or calculators (30%). Plenty of mortgage-education websites include a general discussion about income and down-payment requirements, but don’t drill down to the specific questions of what documentation is needed so borrowers can plan ahead, says Tom Wind, executive vice president of home lending at Jacksonville, Fla.-based EverBank. EVER -0.06%What distinguishes the jumbo from the general borrower is they may have plenty of income to qualify, but it may come from diverse sources such as self-employment income or investments, he adds. “There’s a frustration about why you are asking them to provide all this information because they earn a lot more money and have a lot of assets,” says Mathew Carson, a mortgage broker at San Francisco-based First Capital Group. He recently had a client who received three stocks in 1987 as a gift that he had never touched and now were worth $20,000. But the $625,000 loan was delayed because two months of statements were required, and the management company had never issued statements. Another area of confusion is rates. A variety of websites offer mortgage...

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Steiner Ranch Holiday Event – November 2013

Beautiful Serving Stones sponsored by NEST Properties Austin and graciously crafted by Tom Henry! 100% of proceeds go to the Steiner Serves charity of the month – CASA (http://www.casatravis.org).  With the generous donations made, we’re assisting CASA in ensuring that the 1,000+ children in Foster Care receive at least one holiday gift this season.  And thanks to those who purchased the Steiner Serving Stones, an additional 17 children will receive holiday gifts on behalf of the Steiner Ranch community. Amazing! These stones will continue to be available at Cups and Cones and Hue Salon in Steiner Ranch through the holidays.  They make a GREAT gift and it’s a wonderful way to give back to the community!  Thank you for ALL of your support and generosity!...

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