Author Archives: Mandy Lohrman

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.

Expert Advice Part 2: Homes for Sale in Alpine, TX

Are you a first-time home buyer? Has it been a long time since you’ve looked at homes for sale in Alpine, TX? Whether the process is entirely new to you or you’re a little rusty on the workings of the real estate market, we’re here to help.

Use the following FAQs to guide your home search and your home buying process. Don’t be shy about asking the right questions that will properly prepare you and lead you to the ideal home for you and your family.

What can I expect during the home buying process?

Your realtor is an excellent resource. As you begin your search of homes for sale in Alpine, TX, sit down with a real estate agent to discuss the process. Your agent can walk you through what to expect as you search, make offers, negotiate, close and move. Don’t miss out on their valuable input that will make the entire process less overwhelming for you.

How will my real estate agent know what I’m looking for?

A real estate agent is not a mind reader. Communicate openly and clearly with your agent to let them know exactly what you’re looking for in a home. Then, the agent can apply their expert knowledge of the market and their access to available listings to connect you with suitable homes to view.

How much can I afford?

Obviously, your budget is key when looking at homes for sale in Alpine, TX. Don’t forget to include all of the costs in the equation. You’ll need a down payment, plus ongoing funds for taxes, maintenance and insurance, in addition to the mortgage payment. Don’t push your budget to the limit. Always allow for unplanned expenses.

Should I speak with a lender?

It’s always best to meet with a lender before you start looking at homes for sale in Alpine, TX. The loan officer will review your credit and available funds and can pre-approve you for the loan amount for which you qualify. This will guide your home search and prevent you from falling in love with something that it turns out you can’t afford. It will also strengthen any offers you make on homes for sale in Alpine, TX, as the sellers will know you are a serious, qualified buyer.

What should I look for during my home search?

As you look at various homes for sale in Alpine, TX, a few tips are helpful. Consider the neighborhood as well as the home itself. Research the school district. Visit the home at different times of day. Immediately following an offer acceptance, perform a home inspection to reveal any potential concerns. Before closing, always do a final walk-through. Again, your real estate agent will be with you to make sure you take these necessary steps that protect your interests and make the process as smooth as possible.

Ready to Shop?

If you’re ready to start shopping for homes for sale in Alpine, TX, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate. We’ve sold over 1 million acres in Alpine and the surrounding area. An industry leader since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate specializes in residential properties. Our vast knowledge and experience make us the go-to source for all your real estate needs.

Expert Advice, Part 1: Buying Land for Sale in Alpine, TX

Do you have your eye on a piece of property? Are you looking for land for sale in Alpine, TX? Before you jump into the process of buying land, it’s important to understand a few things. You should know what questions to ask, how to prepare for land ownership and development and what to watch out for as you choose the land for sale in Alpine, TX.

Use the following guide to educate yourself on this topic. Armed with this information, you’ll be better equipped to purchase land for sale in Alpine, TX.

Consider Zoning

What are your future plans for the land for sale in Alpine, TX? While it may be possible to have certain properties rezoned, this isn’t always the case. If you hope to build a business on the property, make sure it is zoned for commercial use or that commercial zoning is a possibility. The same goes for residential. Keep in mind that rezoning can be a hassle, so it’s best to simply buy a property that is already earmarked for the use you have in mind.

Get a Survey

If you’re seriously considering land for sale in Alpine, TX, you should get a new survey. The current owner may provide one, but you should get your own. This will ensure the survey is up to date and accurate. A survey can provide the boundaries of the land, the topography and information about structures on the property. It can also identify any easements or encroachments that you should be aware of on the property.

Check for Risks

Due diligence is important to identify any environmental concerns on the property. Before you buy land for sale in Alpine, TX, be sure to order an assessment of the environmental conditions. You’ll want to know how the property was used in the past and perform all necessary tests to clear yourself of any liability.

Review Access

Can you access major roads from the property? How difficult will it be to install utilities on the land for sale in Alpine, TX? Keep these factors in mind as you weigh the price and location of the real estate. It might be priced low for a reason.

Work with a Pro

A real estate agent who is experienced in buying and selling land for sale in Alpine, TX can be a very valuable source during this process. Partnering with a professional realtor is ideal when you’re looking for land. This agent will help you avoid pitfalls and assist you in finding a piece of land that is ideal for your needs.

Let’s Get Started

Would you like to find out more about land for sale in Alpine, TX? If you’re ready to get started on your property search, contact the pros at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate 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.

Make Upgrades to Improve Home Value in Alpine, TX Before Selling

Like any homeowner, you want to sell your home for the best price possible. You know your home could use some updating and upgrading to fetch a higher price, but you’re not sure where to invest your dollars. What will provide the best ROI? Realtors in Alpine, TX specialize in answering these types of questions.

Use the following tips to improve home value in Alpine, TX and get the most from the sale of your home. For additional guidance on your home sale, consult with experienced realtors in Alpine, TX.

Kitchens and Bathrooms Sell Homes

These spaces top the list for buyers. If you’re going to invest your dollars somewhere, start here. In the kitchen, you probably don’t have to completely remodel the space to make it more appealing. A few minor changes can add to home value in Alpine, TX. If appliances are outdated, consider updating them. If cabinets are out of style or need some TLC, you can often replace just the doors, paint the cabinets or add new hardware to create a fresh look. New countertops can also change the entire look of a kitchen without requiring any other remodeling.

In the bathroom, look at what you can do to make the space feel sparkling clean. Make sure there is plenty of light. Consider replacing faucets or other fixtures if they are dingy and worn. Keep in mind that a fresh coat of paint can often work wonders for any space.

Buyers Like More Space

Another important aspect of adding home value in Alpine, TX is the square footage of the home. This includes the layout of those square feet—not just the total amount. Consider how you can make the best use of the space in the home. Finishing the basement or adding a bathroom can add value. Sometimes, simply labeling a room as a “flex space” can make the home more appealing. For example, a first-floor room could be a den, game room or guest room.

As you prep your home for sale, it’s also worth putting some effort into your storage spaces. This might not even cost you anything but time. Clear out all clutter to show off your home rather than your stuff. Make closets, pantries, basements, attics and other storage areas look as big as possible.

Fresh and Neutral Is Ideal

Is your favorite color orange? Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with you. If you painted your master bathroom in a lovely shade of “volcano burst,” you might want to repaint to increase your home value in Alpine, TX. Neutral shades of beige and gray are typically more appealing to more buyers.

Even if your paint choices are neutral, you might want to freshen things up. If it’s been a while since your walls saw a new coat, a fresh paint job can really brighten up the space and make it more inviting. Consult with realtors in Alpine, TX to determine which rooms might need repainting.

Boost Your Bottom Line

The best way to improve home value in Alpine, TX is to partner with a realtor for the sale of your home. Realtors in Alpine, TX can advise you about what upgrades make the most sense for your market. If you’re considering selling your home, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate today for a consultation.

8 Things to Inspect When Buying a Home

Home Inspections in Alpine, TX and What to Look for When Buying a New Home

If you’re new to the home buying process, you might not be familiar with home inspections. This is an important part of the transaction. The home inspection should reveal any concerns that could prove costly down the line. It allows the buyers the opportunity to take a closer look at the property they are about to purchase, and negotiate with the seller to make repairs or provide credits to cover the costs of any work that will be needed on the home.

Of course, you must first know what to look for during the home inspection. Use the following guide to ensure your inspection is thorough. Realtors can also assist you with setting up the inspection and following up on any concerns it reveals:

  • Top: Your inspection should include an overview of the roof. What is the overall condition of the roof? How old is the roof?
  • Bottom: The inspection should include the foundation of the home. Look for cracks, shifts and any potential issues with trees. Be sure to check both inside and outside.
  • Sides: What is the general condition of the walls of the home? Check the drywall for large cracks and any signs of leaks. Do the same for the floors.
  • Below: If the home has a basement or crawl space, it is essential that the inspection include a thorough review of these areas. Look for dampness, proper insulation and cracks in walls.
  • Above: You may never use the attic, but it’s important to check it out anyway. Look at the roof structure from here. Check for leaks or pest infestations.
  • Inside: All interior systems should be checked during home inspections. Look at plumbing, electrical, HVAC, appliances (if they are being sold with the home) and windows. Check all systems for proper operation. Confirm when the HVAC system was last serviced by a qualified technician.
  • Outside: Check gutters and downspouts for proper attachment and flow. Look for any areas on the exterior that need repair. Be sure to review the condition of the lot as well. Does the landscaping provide proper drainage? Are there any safety concerns? Look at the condition of any outdoor structures, such as fences, sheds, pools and decks.
  • Within: In addition to inspecting the major structural components and systems of the home, examine the various features and fixtures. Look at the condition of cabinets, counters, vanities, light fixtures, fireplaces and any other amenities that are featured in the home. While the inspection does not encompass style and aesthetic choices, you should note whether there are any safety or repair concerns with any of these items.

Partner with a Pro

Buying a home is one of the most significant purchases you will ever make. It’s important to have a professional in your corner to help walk you through this process. When it’s time for home inspections in Alpine, your expert real estate agents at Carpenter Real Estate provide the insight you need. Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has sold over 1 million acres in Alpine and the surrounding areas. We are your go-to real estate agency in Alpine. Reach out to us today!