While the winter season can be one of the more challenging times of the years to put your home on the market, you may not have much of an option due to personal reasons and time constraints.
But just as serious as you’ll be about selling your home, interested buyers are likely to be just as committed to making the purchase. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that your home is properly staged and that you follow a few essential tips so that your home leaves a lasting impression. (You’ll also want to avoid certain missteps that can cost you a sell.)
Our dedicated team of McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty understands that life happens and sometimes you need someone who can help guide you through the process. If you are placing your home on the market during the winter season, consider the following steps to help you make the selling process a better experience.
Tips to Help You Sell Your Home During the Winter
1. Keep the Lights On
During the winter, the day gets darker earlier. This means the outside of your home can be difficult to see for potential buyers. Make sure to have some outdoor lights on that accentuate the parts of the home that you want to draw attention to. While holiday lights aren’t necessarily the best option, if you do decide to go that route, just make sure to keep things to a minimum.
Don’t forget the inside of your home, either. Turn on as many lights as possible to brighten up dark rooms.
2. Price It to Sell
If you are invested in selling your home, then you’ll want to price it to sell right out the gate. There’s no sense in playing games with a potential buyer and asking for an unreasonable asking price only to lower it a few days (or even weeks) later.
Your real estate agent can help you to come up with a reasonable price for your home. Don’t make reductions after an offer, cut down the price beforehand.
3. Use Excellent Real Estate Photos
Most listings go online, so you’ll want the most flattering, high-quality photos of your home for individuals who are browsing on the Internet. If you’ve had the opportunity to take pictures of your home during the spring or summer, make sure to include those as well.
A first impression goes a long way.
4. Create a Virtual/Video Tour
Why not help out potential buyers by providing them with a virtual or video tour of your home? This can help to provide them with a preview if they are short on time and can be especially beneficial for individuals moving down from elsewhere who might not be available to view the home for some time.
Coordinate with your real estate agent to see if this is possible to include in any online listings.
5. Spread the Holiday Cheer
Sometimes it’s the little things that count, especially during the holiday season. Consider having some cookies and nice hot coffee or hot chocolate for potential buyers who may be visiting in the evening when temperatures dip.
What NOT To Do When Selling Your Home During the Winter
1. Failing to list your house.
Enlisting the aid of a qualified realty agent can be the key to getting your house sold in a timely manner. They can list your house on their company website as well as local publications, helping it get sold quicker.
Failing to list your home can draw out the home selling process longer than you intended.
2. Not Opening Your Home on Certain Days
Christmas Eve. New Year’s Eve. These aren’t days that we think would be great for selling a home. But the reality is that some interested buyers may only be able to view your home on those days and failing to meet their needs can limit your opportunity to get that sale.
If you’re a bit wary of opening your home during these days, have another family member host activities at their house – you can even ask them to hold your gifts there, too.
Keep in mind that serious buyers may be moving in from another area and with little time. Allowing them to view your home on these “off days” may be just what helps you get the sale.
3. Not Having Your Home Prepped
Yes, the winter season can be extremely hectic with the holidays and family time. But if you are truly invested in getting your home sold in a timely manner, you’ll need to have it always ready for a tour.
Some areas to pay extra attention to include:
While we rarely, if ever, get any ice or snow in the Rio Grande Valley, we do get plenty of rain during the winter. That means making sure walks ways to your home are safe to individuals walking up to your door.
Speaking of the outside of your home…the winter months can dry up trees and leave them with unsightly limbs. Trim your trees as necessary and make sure your yard is spruced up properly. Curb appeal really counts.
Your entryway needs to be clean as this is the first section of the home a visitor will likely see. Make sure to have an area where they can wipe off their feet and you can place any wet coats, gloves, hats, etc.
Declutter your home from personal items that can make your home feel smaller. Depersonalizing also helps potential buyers to visualize where their belongings would go.
Make sure your home is always clean.
4. Do Not Let the House Get Cold
Sure, you might love the cold weather so much that you want the inside of your home at a crisp temperature. But when trying to sell your home, it isn’t about what you want. It’s about making your house as attractive as possible and that means keeping things nice and warm inside.
While your home shouldn’t be boiling, it should definitely feel cozy. Especially in comparison to the cold winter day outside. In fact, a warm interior might encourage them to stay inside a couple of extra minutes longer to avoid going back out into the cold, which can be just enough time to help your real estate agent make that perfect pitch.
5. Not Adding That Extra Pop
Maybe you want to avoid personalizing your home too much with a Christmas tree and the likes. But that doesn’t mean you should completely avoid decorating. Consider adding a wreath to your front door, lighting some gorgeous candles to add a nice winter smell, and some colorful decor to add some life to the home.
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.
Are you interested in becoming a homeowner? Are the complexities of property taxes stopping you from making a decision?
Don’t worry! Our McAllen real estate agents at Equity Assets Realty want to provide you with the information you need so you can make the best decision for your situation. Keep on reading to learn some valuable information about property taxes.
What You Need to Know About Property Taxes
The Factors Used to Assess Your Property Taxes
Property taxes are assessed in three distinct ways:
The value of the home as determined by the local government tax appraiser
The local government’s budget
The mill rate
The last method of assessment is a little more complex than the other two. For mill rates, a certain dollar amount is assessed in tax for every thousand dollars of assessed value, which is factored into the calculation of your property tax bill.
Usually, your property deed or your municipal tax office will set the mill rate.
A Tax Assessor Will Calculate Your Property Taxes
A tax assessor usually calculates property taxes by assessing the property value of your home and adjusting it to local guidelines. In Hidalgo County recently, a new property tax rate for the City of McAllen was proposed at $0.479234 per $100 USD.
If the new tax rate goes into effect, your property tax in McAllen would calculate as follows:
(rate) x (the taxable value of your property) /100 = Your property tax amount
While we know what the tax rate could be, a tax assessor would have to find out what the taxable value of your property is. For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that the taxable value of your home is equal to $150,000.
By taking the above formula and plugging in the rate and value, you’d get something that looks like this:
(0.479234) x ($150,000)/100 = X (where X is the total amount of your property taxes)
(71885.1)/100 = X
718.851 = X
As a result, your property taxes would equal $718.85. While this is a simplistic view of how property taxes are calculated, they essentially work in this manner.
It’s worth noting that certain homeowners may be eligible for exemptions, including:
If you are disabled
If you over 65 years old
If you are a veteran
If you are 100 percent disabled veteran
It is Important to Know What the Property Tax Will Be Prior to the Purchase of a Home
For individuals interested in buying a home, it would be in your best interest to know what the property taxes will be ahead of making the purchase because:
The majority of mortgage companies will encourage the property owner to escrow the property taxes. Because of this, it will become a part of your monthly payment that needs to be evaluated for affordability.
Property taxes can — and do — rise because of a reassessment of value after the home has been purchased. Homes are usually assessed every year based on the budget of the local government and the growth of value within the housing market in the area.
Every town has different property taxes, allowing potential homebuyers to shop for better value.
Due Dates for Property Taxes Differ By County
Just as property tax rates differ by counties, so do the due dates. Some counties require that you pay the annual property tax in one lump sum, whereas others may allow payment in two installments. For this reason, it is important to NEVER ignore a second tax notice.
Forms of payment also differ from county to county. For convenience sake, some counties may allow you to pay these property taxes via an online credit card system. On the other end of the spectrum, some counties may require a check.
If you pay a mortgage, the bank may charge an extra amount each month to put into an escrow account to pay the property taxes for you.
Penalties May Be Applicable If You Fail to Pay On Time
In a statement made popular by Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,” and property taxes are no different. It should go without saying that property taxes must be paid, and if not, there will be legal consequences.
The truth of the matter is that these penalties depend on the city and the state in which you reside in. Regardless, if you fail to pay your property taxes, you could eventually lose your home and property.
Property Taxes May Provide a Tax Break
While purchasing a home can make a dent in your bank account, so to speak, owning a home can lead to some nifty little perks like tax deductions, tax credits, and tax rebates on your next tax bill. When filing your federal income tax, you’ll have an option to deduct what you paid in property taxes throughout the year.
With these tax breaks, the amount of taxes you owe can be reduced, and may even help you to qualify for a refund. Keep in mind, however, that you will want to pay off your taxes by the tax deadline.
Limitations on the Reassessment of Property Taxes
Luckily for certain homeowners, some states and areas have implemented laws that cap the amount that a reassessment of property taxes can grow to.
In the state of Texas, that cap exists at no more than 10 percent in accordance to the homestead exemptions law. So if your home is valued at $175,000 this year, but was valued at $150,000 last year, your home would be taxed at a $165,000 value. (150K X 10% = $15K +150K = $165K)
You have questions. Equity Assets Realty has answers.
The home purchasing process can be complicated. There’s plenty of questions and concerns that a first time home owner may have. Luckily, our experienced team of McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty have the answers you need so you can make an informed decision.
For first time home buyers, purchasing a house can be a daunting experience. At times, it can feel like having a Ph.D. in finance is required just to figure out the costs and hidden fees that go into your mortgage.
Luckily, our expert McAllen realtors at Equity Assets Realty have plenty of experience helping first time home buyers — and even fifth time home buyers — get the best mortgage possible so they can acquire the home of their dreams.
Our realty agents have learned many meaningful tips and strategies to help our clients determine how much of a mortgage they can afford. Below are a few of the most useful tips they have uncovered to help you find an economical, and ultimately, comfortable mortgage for your budget.
1. Know the Golden Rule of Mortgage Affordability
Our experts know Rio Grande Valley realty and mortgage affordability. In the real estate industry, it pays to know the golden rule.
That golden rule? That’s the 28/36 rule.
The 28/36 rule recommends that you spend no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income on total housing expenses and no more than 36 percent on all monthly debts.
Let’s dissect exactly what this means.
The first half of the rule is known as the “front-end ratio,” and it encompasses all expenses in your PITI, which is monthly payments, interest, property taxes, and insurance payments. Let’s not forget that this includes condo and/or housing association fees, but excludes monthly utility bills like light or cable.
For example, let’s say that you take home around $5,000 a month. If you take 28 percent and times it by 5,000 (5,000 X 0.28), you get around $1,400 as a result. That number is the most a borrower should spend in terms of a monthly mortgage, homeowners insurance payments, and/or property taxes.
On the other side, the 36 percent is known as the “back-end ratio,” and it is calculated by taking all debts you have into consideration, including:
PITI payments for your mortgage
Homeowner’s association dues
Credit card debts
Other personal loans
Monthly alimony payments or child support
So why not call it the 36 rule and just be done with it all? Because there is a complete distinction between the front-end and back-end ratios.
Monthly payments are only included in the back-end ratio when they are expected to be paid for the next 10 months or longer. Still paying off that car you bought for the next 9 months? That won’t be factored into the back-end ratio.
To illustrate this point, pulling from the example above, let’s say all of your PITI payments are equal to $1,400. Now, let’s stack on other monthly debts like car loans, student loans, and/or utility payments, and the new total is $1,850.
In order to qualify for the back-end ratio, a borrower would have to make at least $5,138.88 in gross monthly income (1,850 ➗ 0.36 = 5,138.88).
In the end, it is important that borrowers pay down all of their debts and other loans in order to qualify for larger mortgages.
2. Your Down Payment Matters
It may seem like common sense but it’s definitely worth repeating—the larger your down payment, the lower your monthly mortgage will be.
If you want to save even more money in the long run, you will want to pay down at least 20 percent of the home’s total value. Why? Because at that point, you generally will not have to purchase a private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender should you default on your home. Suffice to say, these insurance plans aren’t cheap—they can come at a cost of a couple hundred dollars a month.
That’s why your down payment is so important. While it may take some time to acquire the funds, it will be worth the longterm investment of owning a home, and as the old saying goes, “All good things take time.”
(But don’t take too much time. Taking too long to build up the capital for a large down payment may come at the cost of an increased price tag or higher interest rate.)
3. When in Doubt, Use Your Rent to Figure It Out
It’s a smart move to use your current rent as a gauge to figure out how much of a monthly mortgage you can afford. If you are struggling to make ends meet rent-wise, going for a home that has a higher monthly mortgage than what your rent currently is can be a disaster waiting to happen.
It’s also worth noting that houses come with many provisional expenses that renting helps you to avoid. For instance, are you experiencing some sort of plumbing issue? That’s coming out of your pocket. Did one of your appliances break down? You’ll have to carry the cost. Ant infestation…well…you get the idea.
If you have no wiggle room for these extra expenses, you will be financially stressed, and that is never a good thing.
Getting on the good side of a tax adviser could also be beneficial as a homeowner because you will want to itemize your deductions. A tax adviser (or even a tax software program) can help you find the best options for tax purposes.
Looking to purchase a home can be a scary ordeal, but with the right McAllen realtor by your side, it can be a memorable and exciting experience.
Our McAllen realtors are ready and eager to help get you into the home of your dreams. Contact us today at (956) 994-9455 to start that journey.