Author Archives: Mandy Lohrman

Expert Advice Part 12: Hiring the Agent

The purchase of a home or other type of property is a major life decision and milestone. For many people, it will be the most expensive purchase they ever make. So, whether you’re buying for the first time or if you’ve done it a few times before, you will be best served by working with an experienced real estate agent to help you through the process.

There will certainly be no shortage of real estate agents for you to find. So how do you choose which one you want to work with? Here are some tips about hiring real estate agents in Alpine, TX:

  • Get preapproved for a mortgage before hiring: Before you begin shopping around for a real estate agent, you should talk to a lender and make sure you’re actually able to get preapproved. Assuming you’re able to do so, this will give you a clear idea of how much money you’ll be able to borrow, which will play a role in the kinds of homes your realtor can search for. It also helps demonstrate to your realtor that you are a serious buyer.
  • Ask family and friends: A great first step in finding a realtor to work with is asking friends or relatives who have recently bought houses about their experience, and whether they have anyone they can recommend. You can trust the recommendations of people close to you—they’re not going to want to steer you wrong.
  • Conduct some online research: You can search for candidates online as well, and if you’ve already developed a potential list of realtors, you can do some research on their background. Check out websites or professional social media profiles, and look for online reviews. You can get a sense from the kinds of properties they list if they’ll be a good fit for what you’re looking for, and reviews can at least give you an idea as to whether they’ll be good to work with.
  • Interview: Talk to at least several real estate agents over the phone or in person. This gives you a chance to get familiar with them and decide if you’ll be able to build a comfortable working relationship with them. You can ask them any questions you want at this point, including their availability, their preferred means of communication, the kinds of homes they tend to work with and areas in which they focus, etc. You can also request references that you can follow up with later to learn more about your potential realtor’s background.
  • Make a decision: Ultimately the best thing you can do is to go with whoever feels right. Select who you developed a rapport with and who you think is best positioned to find you a house in the area you want to be in. If you’ve researched the realtor’s background and are comfortable with their level of experience, then you should be armed with the information you need to make a good decision.

For more information about hiring a real estate agent in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate today.

Expert Advice Part 11: Closing Costs

When you reach the closing phase of purchasing a home, you’ll need to be prepared to pay a variety of fees for all the services required to finalize your mortgage and your purchase. Most of these closing costs in Alpine, TX are your responsibility to pay, but there are some that are also the responsibility of the seller.

Here are some examples of some of the most common fees you can expect to come up during a closing:

  • Appraisal: If you don’t pay the appraisal fee earlier in the home buying process, you can expect those fees to be added on during the closing phase.
  • Credit report: The lender will do a credit check to determine whether or not it will approve your loan and for how much money. There is a cost associated with generating this report.
  • Origination: These are the costs associated with making the mortgage loan, including processing the application, underwriting, funding the loan and any other administrative tasks associated with putting the paperwork together.
  • Points: Points are a percentage of your total loan amount. One point on a $150,000 loan is 1.5 percent of the loan, or $1,500. You can either avoid paying or receiving points entirely, pay points at closing to cut down on your interest rate or have points paid to you and use them to cover some of your closing costs.
  • Survey: In some cases, the lender might require you get a survey done on the property. The buyer is typically responsible for paying this fee.
  • Title insurance: Both the owner and the lender get a title insurance policy to protect each party’s investment. The fees associated with title insurance will be accounted for in these closing costs.
  • Title search: There is also a cost associated with searching the public record for the title of the property you are purchasing.
  • Document preparation: A variety of papers, including the mortgage, deed of trust, deed, note and other legal papers, must be prepared before closing, so you may be responsible for covering the costs of their preparation.
  • Recording fees: These are the fees associated with recording the new mortgage and deed.
  • Homeowner’s insurance: Lenders will require you to have a homeowner’s insurance policy in place by the time of closing. You’ll likely be required to bring a fully paid first-year premium to the closing.
  • Mortgage insurance: Depending on how much you put into your down payment, you may be required to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI), which essentially protects the lender, as it will be making a larger investment to cover you.
  • Property taxes: You may be required to bring a certain number of months’ worth of property tax payments to closing.
  • Home warranty: Part of your closing costs may include payment for a home warranty, which guards you against unexpected failures of the appliances or other major systems in your home.

For more information about the various closing costs in Alpine, TX that are associated with closing on a house, contact Carpenter Real Estate today to speak with an expert.

Expert Advice Part 10: Reading Listings

If you’re in the real estate market, you may find the sheer number of available listings overwhelming. How are you supposed to sort through all of the available homes and find the one that’s just right for you and your family?

Further complicating the matter is the fact that not all real estate listings are easy to parse. Some listings use language that is, to put it generously, creative. If you’re struggling to find a real estate listing that seems both legitimate and meets your needs, it’s often beneficial to stop and take a moment to familiarize yourself with the best way to read between the lines when viewing real estate listings in Alpine, TX.

Many listing agents use strategically worded listing blurbs and strategically framed photos to make homes seem as desirable as possible. It’s up to you and your real estate agent to analyze listings, and determine which properties seem worth pursuing further.

Here are just a few tips to keep in mind when it comes to analyzing and understanding real estate listings in Alpine, TX:

  • Learn your abbreviations: There are a number of abbreviations that are commonly used in online real estate listings. These abbreviations include the easy-to-decipher (“1BR” equals one bedroom), as well as more obscure terminology, like “HDW” to denote hardwood flooring, or “AEK” to indicate an all-electric kitchen. Taking the time to learn these abbreviations can save you a lot of guesswork.
  • Verify neighborhoods via online maps: Does a real estate listing, when you compare the neighborhood, price and size of the property, just seem too good to be true? If so, it probably is. Agents might list a home as being in a neighborhood that is nearby, but not necessarily where the property actually lies. Check the property’s address on an online map to see which neighborhood it is really located within. Checking the property’s Walk Score is also a good way to determine how close it is to community amenities.
  • Be wary of certain descriptors: If you see a property that’s described as having a lot of “potential,” prepare to spend a lot of money bringing that potential to fruition. Similarly, terms like “cozy” are usually code words for “small.” If a seller is “highly motivated,” it might mean that there’s something wrong with the property.
  • Mix of photos: Real estate listings in Alpine, TX should have a mix of photos attached to the listing. For example, there should be clear images of the building’s exterior, as well as its interior. Be wary of any property that’s photographed with a fish-eye lens—this is done to make the property appear larger and more spacious than it actually is.

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has been helping clients understand and analyze real estate listings in Alpine, TX. If you’re in the market for a new home, you can rely on our real estate experts to help you find and identify an abode that meets your needs as a prospective homeowner. Contact one of our friendly representatives today to learn more about ways that we can help you find the perfect residence for your needs.

Expert Advice Part 9: Consulting the Agency

When preparing to enter the real estate market, you probably spent a lot of time researching properties, neighborhoods and potential homes on your own time. When you approach the stage of home buying that requires you to actually move forward with a transaction, though, you’ll have to secure the assistance of one of the real estate agencies in Alpine, TX.

Real estate agents act as your representatives as you move forward with buying a home. They make sure that your interests are looked out for during the transaction, and they help you negotiate the best possible price and deal on your home purchase.

Choosing a real estate agent to work with, however, is often one of the most challenging parts of purchasing a home. You have to find and select an agent that you can count on to watch out for your interests during every step of the real estate buying process, which is far from easy. You have to trust your real estate agent with intimate financial details, and count on them to secure you the best possible deal.

Here are a few questions that you should ask when interviewing real estate agencies in Alpine, TX in advance of signing an agreement or contract:

  • How long have you been in business? This is important. You want to work with a real estate agency that has extensive experience in the industry and in your local market. If you’re working with an inexperienced agent, they may not be able to provide you with the full suite of services you expect and need.
  • What percentage of your clients are buyers? Most real estate agents specialize in serving either buyers or sellers. If you’re looking for someone to help you purchase a home, you should work with an agent that has more experience and more of a vested stake in helping buyers, rather than sellers.
  • How do you differentiate yourself from the competition? Your real estate agency should be able to easily identify several differentiating factors that set their business apart. If they can’t, you should take your business elsewhere. You deserve to work with a real estate company that’s outstanding.
  • Do you offer any guarantees? Ask about any guarantees that the agency provides in case something goes wrong with the transaction. If you discover problems with the house after the sale closes, what will the agency do to remedy the situation? Do they offer any discounts on warranties or services?
  • Can you provide references? Every real estate agent should provide you with several happy former customers that you can call. You should verify the quality of services that the references received, and ask them if they’d recommend working with that agent again.

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has been one of the most trusted real estate agencies in Alpine, TX. We’re proud to provide our clients with dependable, reliable representation. To learn more about ways that we can help you ensure your interests are looked out for during the real estate buying process, contact one of our highly qualified agents today.

Expert Advice Part 8: First-Time Home Purchases

Your home is the largest purchase you’re likely to ever make in your life. It’s understandable, then, that you might get a bit nervous about it, especially when you’re a first-time buyer. There’s a lot of information and paperwork to keep track of, not to mention the sticker shock you’re going to feel after signing and initializing all of the paperwork at your closing.

If you’re a first-time home buyer looking through real estate for sale in Alpine, TX, here are a few tips to keep in mind that will help you stay sane and confident in your purchase.

Seriously think about what you can really afford

There are far too many people who get wrapped up in finding their “dream house” that they don’t spend nearly enough time considering how much they can actually afford to spend on their home.

First, is it even the right time for you to be shopping for a home? Will you be living there for at least five years? Will your total housing payment for the home you’re looking at be less than 30 percent of your gross monthly income? You don’t want it to be difficult to cover other monthly expenses because you’re shelling out the bulk of your income to pay for a mortgage on a house you can’t comfortably afford.

Get your finances in order

Once you’ve determined you can afford a particular house, it’s important to make sure you’re financially qualified. Check your credit score first—you need to have a good credit rating to not only get approved by lenders, but also to get a good interest rate. If you need to boost your credit score, pay off your credit card balances and continue making timely monthly payments, and it will take care of itself over time.

Make sure you’re also saving up for a reasonable-sized down payment. You don’t necessarily have to put the commonly recommended 20 percent down, but just be prepared to pay for private mortgage insurance if you do put down less than that.

Finally, make sure you’ve got all your documents ready to provide to a lender as soon as possible so you can get pre-approved quickly for a mortgage. These documents include W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements and copies of your most recent several years of tax returns.

Find a lender

Shop around to several different banks and lenders to find one that will give you the best interest rate. It’s free to get pre-approved for a mortgage, and doing so shows you are a serious buyer who can be trusted. Consider whether you want a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage (most buyers should take out fixed-rate mortgages). Consider other mortgage fees that you might need to take into consideration, as well as PMI.

Don’t just accept whatever interest rate is provided to you in your first conversation with a loan officer. Spend a bit of time shopping around to see what you can get. The good news is that interest rates are still quite low at the moment, so you should be able to find a rate that is beneficial for you.

For more information that can benefit you as a first-time home buyer when looking at real estate for sale in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate today.

Expert Advice Part 7: The Down Payment

One of the most common questions we receive from people purchasing their first home is how much of a down payment they should aim to make on their purchase. In any circumstance, the answer is always going to be, “As much as you can afford, up to a certain point,” but if you’re looking for more specific advice, the answer really varies from buyer to buyer. You need to consider such factors as how much money you have saved up, how much money you earn each month, the price of the home and how much of a loan a lender is willing to give you.

Here’s some information from a realtor about home down payments in Alpine, TX and what you should know about them as you prepare to purchase a home or other type of property.

What is the purpose of a down payment?

The down payment is the amount of money you pay directly toward purchasing a home in cash. The amount of money you put into that payment is really up to you, and will typically be described as a percentage of the overall price of the home rather than a specific number.

Say, for example, you purchase a $200,000 home and decide to put $40,000 in cash toward the purchase right off the bat. That amounts to a 20 percent down payment. A cash payment of $20,000 for the same house would be a 10 percent down payment.

There are very few people who can afford to purchase an entire home in cash, and even if they can, it may not be in their best financial interests to do so. The down payment is helpful in this regard because it prevents you from having to cover the entire cost of the home up front.

Keep in mind that you can’t always just randomly choose your down payment amount. In some cases, especially if you’re involved in particular mortgage programs, there will be minimum down payment amounts you’ll have to make. Most of these minimum amounts aren’t very high. A VA loan doesn’t require a down payment at all, and an FHA loan only requires a 3.5 percent down payment.

When talking about conventional loans, the rules are slightly different. You must put a minimum of 3 percent toward the purchase of your home with a conventional loan, but 20 percent if you wish to get a loan without private mortgage insurance (PMI).

PMI exists to protect the lender from borrowers that pose a higher risk of defaulting on a loan, those being borrowers who put significantly less money down than average or who have lower income or asset levels. If you opt for a conventional loan but put less than 20 percent down, you will have added PMI costs to your monthly mortgage until you get to the point where you have at least 20 percent equity in your home, at which point you can have the PMI canceled.

While PMI might seem like a negligible number when you look at individual payments, it can really add up over time, especially on more expensive homes when you don’t put a lot of money down right away. This is certainly a factor you’re going to want to consider when deciding how much of a down payment you want to put on your home purchase.

One final consideration to keep in mind is that it doesn’t always make sense to make an especially large down payment. Large down payments can lower your rate of return on your investment, so consider market factors as well when looking at the size of the down payment you’ll make.

For more information about home down payments in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate today.

Expert Advice Part 6: Affordable Housing

Could you use some affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX? You’ve come to the right place. Many are struggling in today’s marketplace to find affordable housing in Texas. Several factors are affecting these conditions.

Following is an overview of some of the most important aspects of affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX. For additional information, contact your local experts at Carpenter Real Estate.

Income

A good principle of affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX is to look for housing that requires less than 25 percent of your income. When you spend more than this on housing, you don’t have enough left over to adequately meet other needs or pursue other interests. Of course, those with lower incomes may find this challenging. Fewer housing options exist when you limit a small budget to a low percentage. However, this is essential for financial success.

Rent

In order to make things more affordable, some Texans may look to rental options. While this may work out well for some, it’s important to note that rent typically uses more of your paycheck than a mortgage. Renters are far more likely to exceed the recommended 25 percent of their income allotment for housing. Consult with a realtor in Alpine, TX to determine your options for buying, as you might be better off in the long run.

Concentration

It is common for areas to develop concentrations of poverty. Research has shown that it is more difficult for those living in concentrated poverty to move up and out of these conditions. Affluent neighborhoods offer more prospects for jobs, health care and education. Areas of concentrated poverty lack these opportunities which can help people climb to a higher socio-economic status. If you’re looking for affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX, your local real estate agents can advise you which areas are best for investment.

Purchase

In addition to applying the 25 percent rule to housing expenses, those seeking affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX should follow the 2.5X principle. When purchasing a home, the buyer should consider properties that cost around 2.5 times his or her annual income. Of course, buyers don’t have to spend this much, but this amount should not be exceeded. If it is, the buyer will wind up spending a significant percentage of his or her income on housing expenses.

Shortage

Those seeking housing at the lower end of the price range may find it difficult to find many options. These homes are being built less frequently due to the costs involved. While they can still be found in some areas, it will prove helpful to work with a realtor who has knowledge of when and where to look for the best deals.

Find Affordable Housing

When you need affordable housing advice in Alpine, TX, contact the experienced professionals at Carpenter Real Estate. Family owned and operated, our company has been the go-to source for real estate throughout the area since 1947. We have deep roots in the surrounding communities, and our knowledge and experience make us an invaluable source for affordable housing. Call us today for a free consultation.

Expert Advice Part 5: Rural Living Continued

Owners of rural homes in Alpine, TX face unique challenges. A few pressing issues top the concerns that these homeowners must manage on a monthly, weekly or daily basis. Fortunately, there are solutions.

If you’re living in a rural home in Alpine, TX, consider the following concerns and how to overcome the challenges they present.

Education

With shrinking funding, some Texas school districts are facing potential closure. For some of the smallest districts, a lack of funding sources may mean they will close schools or cease crucial services at the institutions.

Another issue is student homelessness. Homeless youth need education, but services to assist these young people aren’t always available through schools that are struggling just to keep their doors open. Students needing assistance should look to food pantries, youth shelters and health clinics to provide the resources they need.

Medical Care

Large, high-quality hospitals are located in urban areas. But what about those living in rural homes in Alpine, TX? Finding quality medical care is often a concern. Not only are hospitals few and far between, but the ones that are in place are closing their doors. A slew of hospitals in Texas have had to close up shop due to lack of funding or lack of insured patients.

Specialized care is even harder to come by for those in many rural parts of Texas. Those seeking mental health treatment or prenatal care are often out of luck. New funding sources and regulations that encourage the development of better medical facilities in rural areas are needed.

Natural Disasters

Hurricanes and wildfires threaten various regions of the Lone Star State. While these destructive forces attack both urban and rural areas, it is the small towns that find it harder to recover. Businesses often shutter their storefronts. Farmers lose their livestock and fields.

The best bet to protect those living in rural homes in Alpine, TX from disaster is a proactive approach. Build with potential disasters in mind. Put appropriate insurance policies in place. Diversify investments. These steps will help with recovery if disaster strikes.

Environmental Hazards

Fracking, crop dusting and other agricultural efforts are taking their toll on residents of rural homes in Alpine, TX. They face contaminated drinking water due to chemical exposure. Crop dusters aren’t always as careful as they should be, spreading additional chemicals on people and animals. Fracking, meanwhile, releases toxic emissions.

Texas residents must take action to reduce or eliminate these environmental hazards. Report incidents of reckless procedures. Refuse to sign waivers that allow companies to pollute the area. Ask government officials to put policies in place that will protect the land, air and water of rural homes in Alpine, TX.

Learn More

Are you interested in rural homes in Alpine, TX? While the area is facing challenges, it also offers benefits. For more information about what the region has to offer, contact the experts at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, our team has sold over 1 million acres in Alpine and the surrounding areas. Our vast knowledge and experience make Carpenter Real Estate the first place to go to for any and all real estate needs in the region.

Expert Advice Part 4: Consider the Cost of Rural Living

When looking for a home in the country, many people envision the peace and quiet of rural living. There are many pros to living in the country away from the hustle and bustle of city life, traffic noise and other distractions. However, before choosing a rural property for sale in Alpine, TX, make sure you’re aware of the hidden costs of rural living.

  • Fuel costs: When choosing a rural property for sale in Alpine, TX, make sure you think about the commuting costs. This can be felt in terms of time and money. Increased fuel costs in rural areas and the time it takes to commute back and forth can be expensive.
  • Food costs: Food costs may also be higher in rural areas, since the supply of food is lower than in urban areas. You’ll want to plan trips into urban areas for groceries, since it will be more economical than buying large quantities of groceries in rural areas.
  • Rental availability and cost: If you’re looking at renting, consider the increased costs of rental properties, as well as the availability. The supply is low, so costs may be high and hard to find.
  • Remodeling contractor costs: If you’re thinking about doing any remodeling, consider that costs will be higher for the contractors, as they will have to travel farther for their supplies.
  • Builder costs: The same can be said for the initial builders of your property. Builders in rural areas are harder to find because the project may be much farther away than their typical service area. They may even charge a surcharge for their travel costs. Staying present while the building is in process can help make sure things are meeting your expectations.

Mitigating Costs

If you’re set on buying rural land for sale in Alpine, TX and building your idyllic country home, there are many things you can do to help mitigate the costs.

The best thing you can do is be selective about the professionals you work with and choose contractors who specialize in rural properties and who will efficiently handle costs in the best way possible. Make sure you also know exactly what’s included in the sale, including zoning, fencing, bridges, benches and anything else present on the property.

Hiring an agent, especially one that specializes in rural property, can be instrumental in helping you keep costs down and understand what you’re getting into. The agent will be working in your best interest and will be well-versed in the complex and unique road bumps that come with rural land for sale.

If you’re ready to find rural land for sale in Alpine, TX, contact the professionals at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, we’ve sold over one million acres in Alpine and the surrounding areas, and are well equipped to handle the specificities of rural land and properties. We can help you work with trusted professionals and contractors to get the best value for your money. Our vast knowledge and experience make Carpenter Real Estate the first place to go to for any and all real estate needs.

Expert Advice Part 3: Homes in a Subdivision

We’ve talked a lot about buying land and homes in our Expert Advice blogs, and now it’s time to discuss buying land for sale in Alpine, TX and building a home in a subdivision.

Plots in subdivisions are under different restrictions than land outside of a subdivision and may be subject to specific rules depending on the location. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about building your home in a subdivision.

Covenant restrictions

First, make sure you know the covenant restrictions that apply to the land for sale in Alpine, TX that you’re looking to buy. Every subdivision has different restrictions that you’ll want to be familiar with before deciding to purchase.

For instance, many subdivisions require you to submit the architect’s plan to a committee before building. There may also be restrictions around the types of road maintenance required, livestock restrictions and restrictions on hunting. You can expect that there will be no tolerance for hunting on subdivision property, with the exception of self-defense.

Land surveys and other considerations

Next, you should always have a survey done on the land you are interested in before you buy. You’ll want to know with certainty where the corners and limits are on your property. You can choose to fence it or not, but either way, you should know the limits of where you can build and what land will be considered yours once you buy the plot.

When choosing your lot, you’ll want to make sure you investigate the neighborhood at different times of the day and think about the commute times to all the places you frequent. You’ll want to listen for the types of noise in the subdivision you’ve chosen and decide whether or not the traffic levels are tolerable.

It’s important to get a good feel of the subdivision so you know what you’re getting into before choosing that land for sale in Alpine, TX.

Hiring an agent

Once you buy your plot of land, you’ll want to think about constructing your home. It’s a good idea to have an agent before even approaching the builders who will construct your new home. Otherwise, they may refuse to work with an agent or pay them later.

An agent can help you navigate the tricky waters of the negotiation. Often, the builder’s sales agents can use high-pressure tactics to persuade you into the contract, and you won’t be as familiar with the terminology or expectations as your agent is. Your agent is an expert at negotiating and will help you get the best sales price.

If you’re ready to start looking for the right land for sale in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, we’ve sold over one million acres in Alpine and the surrounding areas. Our vast knowledge and experience make Carpenter Real Estate the first place to go for any and all real estate needs. We’re familiar with subdivision regulations and can make sure you’re getting the best deal on your land and your home.