Monthly Archives: October 2018

9 Tips You Need to Know for Saving Money to Buy a Home

Admin 26/10/2018

In order to purchase the home of your dreams, it is essential that you take control of your finances. Without the right savings plan in place, it can feel like a daunting – and nearly impossible – task to save up money for a house.

Luckily, your experienced McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty know a number of fantastic strategies and tips to help you buckle down and save enough for that down payment. If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a homeowner, take the following money-saving strategies to heart.

9 Tips You Need to Know to Save Money for a House

1. Consider Your Timeframe

This is essential to determining how much you will need to save within a given amount of time. If you plan on purchasing a home within a 3 to 5 years, then you can calculate accordingly.

2. Track Your Money

Before you thought about buying a home, you might have been a little lenient about your spending. Going out with friends? No problem. Treating yourself to a nice meal? Why not.

But now that you’re saving up to buy a home, you need to become somewhat of a penny pincher. This means you’ll need to track your spending and expenses. You might be shocked to find out you’re spending a hefty amount on luxury items that you can definitely live without.

There are plenty of apps and online tools that can help you figure out how much is leaving your bank account and where you can save.

3. Budget, Budget, Budget

This tip goes hand in hand with tracking your money. Once you have an understanding of where your money is going, it’s time to set some limits. While this may not be the most exciting step, it is a necessary one, nonetheless, and will help you to get the keys to your dream home that much faster. Areas to keep an eye on include:

  • Groceries – Be a smart consumer and see what types of items can be cut and consider buying off-brand.
  • Monthly Expenses – What services are you paying for that you don’t actually need? Are you paying extra for unlimited data on your cell phone? Unless it’s essential, cut it. Look into your internet service, any memberships that you really don’t take advantage of, and the likes.
  • Luxury Expenses – Do you enjoy spending the weekends taking in all the local sights, attending concerts, going to the movies, and just generally being social? Awesome. Except these expenses tend to take a lot out of your bank account. While it’s ok to splurge every once in a while, it shouldn’t be happening every week.
  • Housing Expenses – If you think saving up might take you some time, it could be in your best interest to move into a cheaper place or rent out any extra rooms you may have.

4. Boost Your Income

If you are really invested in purchasing a home ASAP, one of the best steps you can take is to increase your income by working extra hours at work, picking up some part-time work, or using any talents or skills you may have to get some freelance work.

5. Pay Off Debt

High-interest debt can do a number on your paycheck. Having to pay off numerous credit cards and other high-interest loans can limit your ability to save.

If you budgeted correctly and cut back on unnecessary expenses, you can use some of this money to attack your debt and bring it down. Another benefit of this tip is that you’ll be improving your credit rating at the same time.

6. Save Any Extra Money You Get

Perhaps you’ve received a bonus from work or are expecting a sizable tax refund. Any sort of financial windfall should be put into a savings account that is going towards purchasing a home.

7. Set up an Automated Savings Plan

It can be a challenge to save money when you are receiving all of your paycheck in your regular bank account. You’ll see the money and be much more tempted to spend it.

By automating the savings process, you essentially avoid this. You don’t ever see money – so to speak – making it harder for you to spend it.

8. Open Up a Certificate Deposit (CD) Account

A CD account is a savings account with a fixed interest rate and a set date of withdrawal. There’s a penalty for withdrawing your money early, so there’s enough of an incentive to not touch your money.

You’ll add a couple of extra dollars to your savings with this type of account and also limit the possibility of dipping into it.

9. Keep In Mind Other Costs Associated with Buying a Home

Saving up for a house isn’t just about the downpayment, there are a number of other fees and costs that you’ll need to keep in mind. These additional costs include:

    • Appraisal and Inspection Fees – You’ll need to have your home inspected and appraised before your mortgage is approved.
    • Closing Costs – These fees must be paid before “closing” on a mortgage contract and can reach between 2 to 5 percent of your total mortgage.
    • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) – This fee is placed on your monthly mortgage payment if you put down less than 20% for the home.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of tips to saving money for buying a home, it should provide you with a great head start.

When you are ready to make that big purchase, make sure to reach out to the McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty.

Are you ready to find the perfect home? Contact Equity Assets Realty today at 956-994-9455. We have plenty of experience and success in helping individuals find their dream home in McAllen.

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15 Killer Tips for First-Time Homebuyers

Admin 16/10/2018

If it’s your first time buying a home, then you probably have plenty of questions and concerns. You might be worried about making a mistake during the home buying process or not making the right decisions.  

Luckily, your McAllen real estate agents at Equity Assets Realty have the experience, skill, and inside scoop to make sure this process is as smooth as it is memorable. Below we’ve compiled together 15 killer tips for first-time homebuyers that’ll help you save money and avoid making mistakes.

15 Tips First-Time Home Buyers Need to Know

  1. Your budget and credit are key to determining what kind of home you can purchase. Have your credit scores pulled by a professional agency and check for any errors or issues that can affect you when applying for a home loan (and don’t forget to work on improving them if necessary). Also, get an in-depth understanding of your budget, as these two together will affect your buying power.
  2. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Just because you get approved for a large mortgage doesn’t mean that you have to purchase a house at that price.
  3. Start saving for your down payment as soon as you decide you want to buy a house. The larger the amount, the less you’ll pay on your monthly mortgage. On the other hand, DO NOT stretch yourself thin by spending all your savings on a downpayment. Make sure to keep a “rainy day” fund, which can be a lifesaver when moving into a new home.
  4. Don’t go into the process blindly. You need to know what kind of house you want, what area of town you would like to live in, how many rooms you want, and a “wish list” of amenities.
  5. You need to act quickly if you are going to buy your dream home. Competition can be fierce in today’s seller’s market and you don’t want to hesitate. The team at Equity Assets Realty can help you to move quickly and effectively.
  6. A beautiful exterior can hide plenty of interior issues. You’ll want to do a thorough check of the inside, as well as ask about any plumbing, electrical, or maintenance problems that were handled in the past – these aspects can affect the quality of the home.
  7. The process of buying your home can be utterly exciting, but you don’t want to make an emotional decision. If you are interested in a specific home, inspect it multiple times and be objective about its pros and cons.
  8. It’s in your best interest to visit multiple properties in person before making your final decision. Don’t just consider the price but also the neighborhood, condition of the home, carrying costs, location, size, and all the other variables that will affect your decision.
  9. Get help from an expert realtor who can provide you with valuable guidance and assistance through the entire home buying process. An expert realty agent can help you to make the right decisions, help you to avoid purchasing a home that exceeds your budget, and can answer any pertinent questions you might have. Trust in the McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty to help you to find the home of your dreams.
  10. Try to get your financing in order before looking into purchasing a home. This will go a long way in making your offer much more appealing.
  11. The amount of debt you are carrying – including student loan debt, credit card debt, etc. – will affect how big of a loan you can obtain. The smaller the loan, the smaller the house.
  12. Make sure to budget for closing costs and additional taxes.
  13. Research the types of loans that are available to you. There are more options than just the conventional mortgage loan including FHA, Rural Development, Veterans Affairs loans, and others. You can also look into state and local assistance programs like Homes for Heroes.
  14. Don’t forget about after-move-in expenses including having to purchase new appliances, home improvements you may need to make, cosmetic improvements, and the likes.
  15. Make sure to purchase the right homeowners insurance policy for your needs and read through the contract carefully. Failing to have the right protection can leave you paying substantial amounts of money out-of-pocket if you file a claim. You should also be aware that flood insurance is an additional insurance rider you will need to purchase on the side if the area you will be living in is prone to flooding.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it should provide first-time home buyers with some valuable insight. If you want a little more guidance and support, the expert McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty are here for you.  

Contact us today at 956-994-9455. We have plenty of experience and success in helping individuals find their dream home in McAllen.

 

 

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5 Useful Tips to Increase the Value of Your Home

Admin 10/10/2018

If you are looking to sell your home, take comfort in knowing that we are currently in a sellers’ market and housing prices continue to steadily rise. You’ll want to take advantage of the current state of affairs and invest a bit in your home to really capitalize on its value.

At Equity Assets Realty, we have years of experience with helping sellers enhance their home to increase its value and the likelihood of selling it within a reasonable amount of time. Consider the following 5 amazingly useful tips to get the most out of your house.

Before You Begin…

Before making random adjustments and improvements to your home, the first thing you’ll want to do is make a plan. This will go a long way in ensuring that you are making solid investments and that any improvements you make are meaningful.

You’ll want to start off by creating a list of potential updates you would like to make. Do not hesitate to write down any big schemes – you’ll end up prioritizing at the end of the process.

Once you have jotted down your big to dos’, consider the type of timeframe you’d like to accomplish these changes. Will it take multiple years to complete? How will this affect your ability to sell your home in the immediate future?

Do some research to prioritize which changes would reap you the biggest benefit while also taking into consideration your budget. By this point, you should have a decent idea of what you can actually perform, how much it will cost, your schedule, and the potential value you would be adding to your home.

1. Cook Up Value in the Kitchen

Individuals and families spend a lot of time in the kitchen. From weekday dinners to football Sundays, there’s a lot of action that takes place in this area of the house. Because of that, you’ll want to make sure that this portion of your home gets plenty of love. Some key components that can make a major difference include:

  • Replacing the kitchen countertop (think quartz or marble).
  • Updating kitchen appliances (stainless steel is the to go-to option).
  • Replacing or refinishing flooring.
  • Cabinets and walls can benefit from a fresh coat of paint.   

2. Curb Value Starts With Your Yard

An unkempt yard can be disastrous for a gorgeous home. Remember, this is going to be the first portion of your home that a potential buyer sees, and you’ll want to make sure that your exterior is just as beautiful as your interior.

Luckily, landscaping isn’t very expensive and a few simple tweaks can really help your house to shine. Consider:

  • Trimming unruly tree branches and undergrowth.
  • Trimming bushes.
  • Pruning shrubs and hedges.
  • Avoid excessive amounts of outdoor furniture or other items.
  • A simple wreath on your door can add a welcoming element.
  • Keep your yard clean of strewn trash

3. Your Bathroom is Your Secret Weapon

Just like your kitchen, bathrooms see a lot of wear and tear. That means you want to perform the necessary maintenance and upgrades needed to keep it looking fresh. A subpar bathroom can really hurt your value and a potential buyer’s interest. Focus your upgrades on the following areas:

  • Bathroom countertops – just like your kitchen’s – should be made from marble, quartz, or granite.
  • Faucets should be modernized – and if within your budget – include under-mount sinks.
  • The spa vibe is definitely a plus for any bathroom. Consider stone surround tile for your shower with a dual shower head.
  • New grout is essential for all the grime that can build up.
  • Always – and we mean always – keep your bathroom clean.   

4. Eco-friendly Homes Are Great

When you hear the term “eco-friendly,” you might assume some major changes are in order – such as adding solar paneling. While these major updates can definitely add some value to your home, the truth is that small changes can be just as effective.

This is especially true when it comes to your energy and water use. To make your home a little eco-friendlier, you can make some of the following upgrades:

  • Government-rated Energy Star certified windows can have a major effect on heating and cooling costs, in turn, increasing the value of your home.
  • Programmable thermostats are the new standards for homes and can help to further reduce heating and cooling costs.
  • Upgrade your water heater to lower water bills and energy costs.
  • LED lighting offers excellent lighting while being energy efficient.
  • Invest in some insulation if your home is a little older.    

Eco-friendly homes are enticing to modern home buyers.

5. It’s Not About You

If you are truly invested in selling your home, then you’ll want to move away from your own preferences and give potential buyers an opportunity to project their own ideas onto your home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to paint doors and rooms with neutral colors that will allow them to develop their own vision.

Not only does this help to give them the chance to envision themselves in your home, a new coat of paint will help to revitalize your walls from any chipping and wear that might have occurred over the years.

You’ll also want to move away from decorations, furniture arrangements, and gaudy home decor that can draw attention in the wrong way.   

Want a little more guidance and support in making sure your home is ready for the market? Let the expert realtors at Equity Assets Realty help you make your home shine. Contact us today at 956-994-9455 and let our team of McAllen realtors make the selling process as easy and enjoyable as possible.

 

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7 Frequently Asked Questions About Buying a Home

Admin 10/10/2018

At Equity Assets Realty, we believe in helping people realize their dreams of owning a home. For many people, this an important life goal that takes plenty of research and preparation.

As with any major life decision, buying a home comes with plenty of excitement and possibility, but also with many questions. The following are a list of some of the common ones prospective homeowners might find themselves asking.

 

Can I afford a home?

The answer to this question lies mostly in what your current financial situation is like. Accounting for your income and various bills/payments is only part of the equation. Once you’ve determined what your budget is, you will still have to meet with a bank or other lender to see what size of home loan you will get approved for.

Getting pre-approved will go a long way in making you a more attractive buyer. Once you have a lender’s feedback, you can combine the cost of their loan offer with the additional costs that come with being a homeowner including taxes, utilities, furniture, and maintenance. Adding these together will give you a clearer understanding of whether your budget allows for it.

 

What should my bid be in relation to the list price?

This is dependent on two factors: the current situation of your local real estate market and whether the price was set in line with the true value of the home. In a situation where the selling price is much higher than what the home is actually worth, bidding below a listed price is a fine strategy, as there is little risk of your bid being ignored.

On the other hand, if the home you are bidding on is in a hot neighborhood, you can’t realistically expect a low bid to be taken seriously. It will be expected that you bid high in order to stand out amongst other buyers.

Thoroughly researching and understanding the local market will help ensure that you make the correct type of bid for the house you want.

 

Should I view multiple homes in my search?

The answer here is dependent largely on your personal tastes. On average, most people looking to buy a home will visit around 10 houses in person. Still, this is not necessarily the norm and how long people are willing to search for the right house will also impact the number of homes they view.

If you plan on putting weeks or months into your search, then you should be prepared to visit a larger number of available houses. For those looking to expedite the process, focus on a certain neighborhood and the homes available there and this will help limit the number of properties you check out.

 

Is it possible to sell my home and buy a new one simultaneously?

This is definitely a delicate juggling act to pull off because it requires that a number of things be timed perfectly. Failing to do so will create uncomfortable scenarios, but none that are necessarily impossible to handle.

If you buy a new home before selling the one you currently have, it will put a strain on all but the most extensive of budgets. However, selling before you have purchased a new house can leave you having to rent or scrambling to find other temporary housing.

One way to avoid being caught between two homes is to put a “sale contingency” into any contract you sign. Essentially, this means you will only buy if/when you are able to sell your current home.

While this does protect you, it is still within a seller’s power not to agree to this type of provision. The main reason a sale contingency arrangement could be rejected is if the seller was looking to make the sell within a certain time frame.

 

What is the “up front” amount I will need when I have picked a house?

The good news is that you won’t be expected to pay the total price of the house all at once. You will be required to provide a good amount, however.

This starts with the “earnest money deposit”, essentially a show of good faith that you are indeed a serious buyer. The amount won’t be a huge percentage of the price of a home and is usually between 1-2% of the list price. A seller will not be able to cash the check right away, especially since they should be made out to escrow companies and not the actual individual seller themselves.

This deposit can be lost if you decide not to buy and offer no valid reason or one that is not covered by your contract.

Once you have decided on the home of your dreams, you will then have to hand over the down payment. The amount you will have to pay upfront can vary from house to house, but most sellers will generally request 20 to 30 percent down.

Finally, additional upfront costs will include everything associated with closing including fees and mortgage points. Expect the total to be in the thousands.

 

What is the quickest time frame for me to “close” on buying a house?

Closing is the final act of transferring a house from seller to a buyer. It happens only once both sides have met all requirements of a contract and the deed has been recorded on a house.

Naturally, once everything has been done, the hope is that closing happens quickly. In most cases, this takes in the range of 30 to 45 days. This allows everything associated with a home loan to be completed and for a thorough inspection of the home you have purchased.

 

What if I change my mind?

While it might not be what a seller wants, a buyer is always able to back out of a deal. There are any number of reasons why you might choose to do so, but it can come at a cost. Walking away from a sale can leave you without your earnest money deposit. If your reason for canceling a contract is not deemed valid, you won’t see that money again.

But, there are ways for you to recoup your deposit if you decide you no longer want the home. One is asking for your money back after inspecting the home and reporting that something fails to meet satisfactory standards.

Additionally, if a home is deemed “subject to appraisal,” that can be a means of getting your earnest money returned to you. In this scenario, a property is deemed by your lender to not be worth the offer you put forth, allowing you to walk away from a deal.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what you will have to consider when looking to buy a home. There are many moving parts to these transactions and there is often not much margin for error between a good and bad purchasing experience.

That is where Equity Assets Realty comes in. We have plenty of experience and success in helping individuals find their dream home in McAllen.

Call us today at 956-994-9455 and find comfort in knowing that our team of McAllen realtors will help make buying your new house a beautiful memory you’ll never forget.

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