Author Archives: Mandy Lohrman

Tips for Buying Your First Home

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might find the process overwhelming. Applying for a mortgage is daunting, and the sheer amount of paperwork associated with a home purchase is almost a second job in and of itself. Luckily, home buying doesn’t have to be too difficult—especially when you follow these tips for buying your first home in Alpine, TX.

Here’s how to go into your first home buying process armed with the right information.

Set a budget

Before you can buy a home, you need to know just how much home you can afford. It’s better to set a budget before you even start looking at the listings. You should also consider whether it’s smart to buy right now. Generally, if you plan to live in a home for more than five years, it makes sense to buy—but if you don’t think you’ll stay in the home or the area very long, there’s nothing wrong with renting.

Most importantly, you shouldn’t count on your home to appreciate in value. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to sell your house for a profit, so choose one you like simply because it’s a good house.

Generally, your mortgage payment should be 30 percent or less of your monthly income. If you spend more than that, you risk not being able to cover your other monthly expenses.

Work on your finances before applying for a mortgage

Next, you’ll need to whip your finances into shape. There’s no time like the present to start monitoring your credit report and improving your score. You’ll also need to save some money for the down payment (3.5 to 20 percent of the purchase price) and closing. Finally, get your financial documents together: W-2s, pay stubs, tax returns and bank statements.

Go mortgage-shopping

Now it’s time to apply for a mortgage—and don’t forget to shop around. You want to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start house-hunting. Otherwise, you risk losing out on your dream home before you can put in an offer.

When you’re evaluating mortgages, it’s important that you realize the difference between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). Look at the mortgage term and find out what other terms you may be dealing with. Finally, ask about the fees—they may be hidden in the mortgage payments or tacked on at closing. Either way, they can be a nasty and expensive surprise if you’re not prepared.

Don’t forget the homeowners insurance

Finally, don’t forget to purchase homeowners insurance. You’ll need to get adequate insurance to protect your future property—but the rates can vary depending on location, home size and style and even the age and condition roof. This is often a significant expense that first-time buyers forget to factor into their monthly expenses.

As you can see, home buying is not a fast or easy process—but it’s a lot easier when you follow these tips for buying your first home in Alpine, TX. To find the perfect house for you, call Carpenter Real Estate today.

What’s the Mortgage Rate Forecast for May 2021?

Thinking about buying a home? Now is the perfect time to act. Mortgage rates have been dropping over the last few months, making new mortgages a great deal, but experts forecast that May 2021 mortgage rates won’t last forever in Alpine, TX. Read on to learn more about mortgage rates—and why you shouldn’t miss this great deal.

Mortgage rates in May 2021

As of May 19, 2021, the mortgage rate dipped down to 3.18 percent. That’s the lowest it’s been since early March. Some lenders, like Freddie Mac, went below 3 percent. Although the economy is growing faster again, don’t expect sub-3-percent mortgage rates to last much longer.

Most experts think that the rebounding economy will probably cause rates to creep back up slowly—by the end of May 2021, they’ll probably all be in the 3.1 percent range. That’s because more companies are hiring again, and thanks to vaccinations and policy support, more people are funneling money into the local and national economies. Inflation, on the other hand, is not expected to rise along with it.

Mortgage rates are expected to stay low for a while, but not forever. Rates are stabilizing, and some experts predict that even if they continue to creep up, it will be a gradual process. The record-low rates we’ve been used to seeing during the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually disappear.

What will happen in the summer and beyond?

As we head into summer, mortgage rates will probably hover around 3 to 3.5 percent. The more money consumers spend, the more housing prices and mortgage rates trend upward. If the economy continues to rebound and inflation rises along with it, mortgage rates should stay steady. However, slower growth is predicted for 2022, which may that there’s a pullback in the second half of this year.

Remember, too, that we’re currently undergoing a major lumber shortage. This has driven the cost of new construction up by the tens of thousands, depending on how large the project is. On the other hand, as the global economy stabilizes, foreign investors may decide to snatch up American properties. That can drive the rates down.

Most lenders predict we’ll end the year with 30-year rates hovering somewhere around 3.5 to 3.7 percent.

Now is the time to act

If you’ve been considering a new home, now is the time to act. Most financial advisors suggest that this is the best time to lock in an ultra-low mortgage rate, especially if you can find something under 3 percent. Even if mortgage rates rise over the next few years, as predicted, we’re still in “historically low” territory. That means your dream home may just be within reach, even if you can’t afford to jump on the current rates. Remember, the historical fixed rate average is usually right around 8 percent.

If the May 2021 mortgage rate forecast has you looking for new homes in Alpine, TX, call Carpenter Real Estate today. We have over 70 years of experience working with homeowners in the area, and we understand this market. We look forward to working with you!

What’s the Housing Price Forecast for 2021?

Nearly every industry took a hit in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. One industry that’s bounced back the fastest, though, is the housing market. In fact, last year was a record-breaking year for realtors, with 5.64 million homes sold—a 5.6 percent increase over 2019. This post will cover everything you should know about the 2021 housing price forecast in Alpine, TX.

Higher demand and higher prices

Prospective homebuyers this year face a major challenge: greater demand than ever! With mortgage rates lower than they’ve been in recent memory, a growing percentage of the population is interested in buying instead of renting.

Ideally, demand and inventory would both be at all-time highs, but that’s not the case. While demand is greater than ever—especially among millennials—the inventory just isn’t there. In fact, there were 117,000 fewer listings in March than in the same month in 2019. Even with new home construction up 20 percent over the past few months, there’s just no way for the inventory to catch up with demand at this rate.

Due to high demand and low inventory, home prices are skyrocketing—the median sale price for a single-family home shot up 17.2 percent over the last year. Potential buyers are outbidding each other at record rates, many offering cash to secure the sale over their competitors.

Although experts predict mortgage rates will increase slightly over the next few months, our 2021 housing price forecast in Alpine, TX shows that prices and demand will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. While this is great news for sellers, it’s a tough pill to swallow for people looking to purchase a house.

Should you buy or build?

Buying an existing home might not be in the cards this year—so why not build your own? There are pros and cons to both buying and building, so it’s important that you weigh your options.

As long as you’re able to find the right house and outbid your competition, purchasing an existing home is relatively convenient and fast. The process is further streamlined when you work with a qualified realtor who can handle all of the heavy lifting for you. As long as you find a move-in-ready home, you can be set up in your new house as soon as all the paperwork is signed.

If you’re unable to buy one off the market, building a custom home is your next best option. When you build a home, you get to choose every detail of your living space. You also have the advantage of living exactly where you want—there’s no settling for a lesser location when you build! However, building does take longer and can cost more than buying an existing home.

Let us help you find your dream home!

If you’re tired of going to countless open houses or dealing with realtors who don’t put your needs first, call our team at Carpenter Real Estate. With decades of experience in the area, we’re experts when it comes to the 2021 housing price forecast in Alpine, TX and helping you find a home. Contact us today to learn more about our vast inventory of homes and lots for sale.

New Single-Family Housing Construction Trends

Potential homebuyers browsing listings on Zillow or similar websites may get discouraged at what they find (or don’t find). Home prices are higher than they’ve ever been, and inventory is at an all-time low. This is bad news for those who want to stop renting and own their own house!

While there are plenty of news stories out there about the existing housing market, not as many people are talking about 2021’s single-family housing construction trends in Alpine, TX. Continue reading to learn a little bit more about what’s going on in the new construction market.

Increasing inventory

Compared to existing inventory—which is shrinking by the week—there will be more new builds hitting the market in the coming years. In 2021, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) predicts 1.134 million new builds. They expect that number to increase to 1.165 million in 2022 and 1.21 million in 2023.

Higher sale prices

Just like with existing homes on the market, the price for new builds is on the rise. The median sales price for a new home was $349,400 at the beginning of April, up from $346,400 in January.

Rising material costs

The bad news for construction crews and people who want to build their own homes is that material prices are going up. Due to a lumber shortage caused by the pandemic, lumber prices have jumped more than 200 percent in the past year. If this trend continues, it’s hard to foresee a circumstance in which sale prices for new homes get much lower.

Why build a new home?

We’ve covered 2021’s single-family housing construction trends in Alpine, TX, but we haven’t really gotten into the benefits of building a new home instead of buying one off the market. Here are a few reasons to buy an empty lot and start from scratch:

  • Perfect location: A quality location is a must-have for any buyer. Unfortunately, when you’re shopping for a home, you might have to settle for a less-than-perfect area to get a house that meets your needs and budget. That’s not the case when you build—you’ll have tons of options for new lots to build your perfect home.
  • Total customization: There’s no settling for your home’s style or features when you build, either. You have the ability to customize anything and everything when you hire an architect and contractor to design and build your dream home.
  • Fewer worries: Buying a home off the market isn’t a total gamble. After all, there’s always an inspection performed prior to the final sale. But that doesn’t guarantee that something won’t go wrong in the near future! When you build from scratch, the likelihood of major issues right off the bat is exceedingly low. It’s often worth building just for the peace of mind.

Are you ready to start building?

Now that we’ve covered some of the top 2021 single-family housing construction trends in Alpine, TX, it’s time to buy a lot and start planning your construction. At Carpenter Real Estate, we have an inventory of high-quality residential lots that are sure to meet your needs. Contact us today to take a tour or to learn more about your buying options.

Make Sure You Understand the Fine Print in Your Mortgage

There’s a lot to think about when buying a home in Alpine, TX. Not only are there things directly related to the home to think about, like required disclosures and inspections, but there’s the financial side as well.

Odds are, if you’re buying a home, you will also be entering into a mortgage contract. There are a lot—and we mean a lot—of documents you will be signing and initialing related to your mortgage. Like any contract, there might be some things that are less easy to understand in those mortgage documents.

The language of a contract is often referred to as “legalese.” Indeed, it can sometimes seem like a completely different language than English. (Who actually talks like that, anyway?) But you will still need to sign the documents, and it’s important to read and understand everything in the documents, even the mortgage fine print. Here’s how to read a mortgage document in Alpine, TX.

Key terms to understand

There’s a lot to process in these lengthy mortgage documents, but you will see a few terms pop up over and over again. There are some key terms to understand when reading a mortgage document that will affect more than just the sale of the home.

While there are important terms to understand that pertain to the actual home itself, there are also some that pertain to the financial side. Once the documents are signed, it may be difficult to change and you may find yourself losing out on a lot of money down the road.

Interest rate

Of all the things to understand in a mortgage document, this is perhaps the most important. Many mortgage documents use similar language, but one thing that will be specific to your situation is the interest rate.

For example, is your interest rate fixed or variable? If it’s fixed, that means the rate you pay will not change. A fixed rate often looks like a higher number on paper, but it’s also a more stable and predictable payment.

A variable interest rate, on the other hand, can and likely will change after a certain period of time. While it may look lower on paper, this is often a “teaser” rate that can greatly increase after a number of years. You may end up paying more over the term of the loan with a variable interest rate.

APR

APR stands for annual percentage rate. This is the combination of all the fees associated with the loan and the total amount of interest to be paid over the length of the loan. It’s a quick way to compare mortgages. Be aware, however, that there is more to a mortgage than just APR.

When you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Alpine, TX, call Carpenter Real Estate to make sure you understand all the mortgage fine print related to your new home sale or purchase. With over 70 years of experience, we’re the authority on local real estate, and we look forward to assisting you!

Disclosures a Seller Must Make Before You Buy a Home

When you buy a home, the reality is that you’re likely buying it “used.” Unless you’re buying a newly constructed home, there will have been at least one previous owner. With any home that’s been lived in, there will be some things the new owner needs to know about the home and its history.

There are legally required Texas real estate disclosures that a seller needs to pass along to the buyer, according to Texas property code. This must come in the form of written notice and must include the seller’s knowledge of the property’s condition.

One reason for this is to assure the buyer is aware of any defects or issues with the property that might affect its value or influence the decision to purchase. Here are some of the specific issues that must be disclosed according to Texas property code.

Required disclosures

There is a standard form from the Texas Real Estate Commission that must be filled out by the seller that includes required disclosures. This form must be returned to the buyer by the time of the “effective date” of purchase.

If the seller neglects this duty, or does not complete it by the required date, the buyer can terminate the sale without having to suffer any financial consequences. The disclosures are only required to be completed “to the best of seller’s belief and knowledge,” according to Texas property code.

Here are some of the required disclosures on the form:

  • History of termite damage: This includes active termite issues, damage from termites that requires repair, previous termite damage and previous termite treatment.
  • History of structural damage: This does not only refer to the walls or framing of the home, but includes foundation repairs and roof repairs as well.
  • Evidence of toxic substances: This covers the entire property and includes harmful gases like radon.
  • Previous fires: If it is known that there was a fire in the home at some point, that must be disclosed, as well as if it was a result of a mechanical issue in the home.
  • Previous flooding: Water damage must be disclosed when selling a home. This includes water penetration and any flooding on the property.

Home sales will also require an inspection that will cover many of the issues listed in the Texas property code, but the inspector can only check what they see during the inspection. For example, they might not be able to check for roof leaks if it’s not raining.

While some buyers may want to know if anyone passed away inside the home, it’s not required to disclose “a death by natural causes, suicide or accident unrelated to the condition of the property,” according to Texas property code. The potential presence of ghosts is also not a required disclosure.

When you’re ready to buy or sell a home in Alpine, TX, call Carpenter Real Estate to make sure you check off all the required boxes on the Texas real estate disclosure forms and complete the process right the first time.

Financing Options for First-Time Homebuyers

The government likes to reward first-time homebuyers for their investment by providing a variety of programs and grants that can make that first home more affordable. Here are a few examples of some of the financing options for first-time homebuyers in Alpine, TX that can help you get into your very first home without having to make that 20 percent down payment.

FHA loans

Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans usually have smaller down payments and lower credit score requirements than most conventional loans. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you can purchase a home with a credit score of at least 580 even if you put as little as 3.5 percent down, or a score of at least 500 if you put at least 10 percent down.

Keep in mind that you’ll still need to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI) to secure the loans if you put down less than 20 percent, and depending on the circumstances, overall borrowing costs could end up being higher.

VA loans

Loans backed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allow for no down payment, so long as you are active military personnel or a veteran.

VA loans are ideal for people who qualify because they come with lower interest rates than most loans, and do not require you to put down a down payment. However, you will need to pay a funding fee, which can be included in monthly loan expenses. In some cases, certain servicemembers may be exempt from that funding fee. There’s also no minimum credit score and no requirement that you pay PMI.

USDA loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guarantees some loans for rural homes, and borrowers for these loans can get 100 percent financing. The home has to be purchased in a USDA-eligible area, but it does not have to be an agricultural property.

Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac conventional loans

Conventional loans backed by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only require a three percent down payment. Homebuyers who wish to qualify for such a loan will need at least a 620 credit score, as well as relatively few blemishes on their credit history and finances. You might still be able to qualify if you have up to a 50 percent debt-to-income ratio, but you will still need to pay for PMI if you put down less than 20 percent.

Section 203(k)

If you’re purchasing a fixer-upper, there are some benefits available to you as a first-time homebuyer. There will be some extra money required to take on the reservations, so the FHA offers Section 203(k) loans. The loan determines the home’s value after potential improvements, and allows you to borrow funds to pay for any home improvement projects you need to take on, rolling all of those costs into a single loan. Note that such improvements must cost at least $5,000, and you’ll need to make at least a 3.5 percent down payment.

For more information about how to finance your first home in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate today.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Your First House

Purchasing a home for the first time can be a rather daunting process, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the processes involved. Before you decide to place an offer, it’s important to make sure you’re fully ready for what lies ahead, and that you’re making the best decisions for your particular circumstances.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the most important questions first-time home buyers in Alpine, TX must ask themselves.

Q: How much of a mortgage can you afford?

You’ll need to address this issue right off the bat, because this will frame the price range you’ll have when looking for houses. This will, in most cases, be determined by the banks. When you go through the pre-approval process, the banks will give you a number up to which they’ll approve you for a mortgage loan.

Q: Should I get a fixed- or adjustable-rate mortgage?

Fixed-rate mortgages have an interest rate that is set and locked in from the time you take out the loan, with rates that will not change over time. Adjustable-rate mortgages will change over time, and often start lower than a fixed rate but eventually rise. Your choice will likely depend on the current state of interest rates. If rates are already low, you’d want to lock in those rates for the long term.

Q: What is PMI?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a way to protect lenders if a borrower puts less than 20 percent down on a home. If you default on your loan payments, this insurance policy ensures the lender gets their money.

Q: How much money should I put down?

You should put down as much as you can afford, but a good standard is to make a 20 percent down payment so you can avoid having to pay PMI. If you want to pay off your house faster or want to reduce your monthly payments, you can put down more money.

Q: What length of mortgage should I get?

Most borrowers will take out 30-year mortgages to make the monthly payments more affordable. However, this will also result in you paying more interest over time. Keep in mind that you can still pay off your mortgage early—most of the time there will not be any early payment penalties. Consider your financial needs and what your monthly finances look like when determining the length of your mortgage.

Q: What do I need to know about closing fees?

Closing fees will vary for every mortgage lender, so you should check with your lender about what you can expect with regard to closing costs for your situation. These costs can include appraisal fees, title insurance fees, attorney fees, documentation fees, insurance, prepaid taxes and other such costs. There might be several thousand dollars added to the loan amount to account for closing costs, which you’ll need to pay at closing.

Interested in getting more help with questions to ask before buying your first home in Alpine, TX? Contact Carpenter Real Estate to speak with an experienced realtor.

What Determines a Landowner’s Water Rights?

Water rights are the legal rights of a landowner to make use of a supply of water that sits on, next to or below a piece of owned land. Water rights can be an extremely valuable asset for a piece of undeveloped land in Alpine, TX.

But how are these rights determined? This depends on where you live, but there are some general principles all landowners should be aware of. Here’s a quick overview of what you should know.

Varying formats of water rights

Different parts of the country have different rules with regard to water rights. In the eastern part of the United States, riparian water rights allow landowners access to bodies of water that adjoin their lands. If you sell a lakefront property, you also sell the riparian water rights to the property—you cannot separate those water rights from the land and attempt to hold them yourself or sell those water rights separately.

In the western United States, rights to water in the land might be sold separately, though you cannot purchase riparian water rights separate from the land. You maybe able to sell surface or subterranean water with the land, but they might be owned by other parties already.

California is unique in that it uses a hybrid version of these rights that is applied to various real estate transactions. In California, property owners whose lands lie on top of water in underground basins have a right to use wells to draw water from those basins. If you sell the property and have been drawing groundwater from it, the new owner then gains the right to draw that groundwater. However, any surface waters, groundwater rights or subterranean streams might also be able to be sold separately from the land.

A few states, like Texas, allow landowners “absolute dominion” of groundwater beneath their land, which provides landowners with more options for sales.

It’s very important that you know your water rights as a landowner, especially in western states where water can be a scarce and highly valuable resource. The use and ownership of that water is likely to be very tightly regulated due to its scarcity. The water rights on a property can have a significant influence on its sale or purchase and its overall value.

There may be circumstances in which you own the right to use water associated with your land, but you do not actually possess traditional ownership of that water. The best thing you can do is check the laws and ordinances in your local area before purchasing any piece of property so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into with your water rights.

Are you interested in learning more about how to prepare for buying land in Alpine, TX, including the water rights and other rights you should be aware of? Contact Carpenter Real Estate today to speak with a qualified realtor. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about water rights, and we look forward to working with you to resolve your issues.

What to Do with Vacant Land

When people first enter the world of real estate investment, they often look toward plots of land with existing structures. That makes sense. Land with a house can generate rent. Land with a parking lot can start accruing fees. To the casual observer, a parcel of land without a structure on it may not seem like the best money-making opportunity. In fact, if you know what to do with undeveloped land in Alpine, TX, there are plenty of strategies you could employ.

Sell it

It might seem like the most obvious approach to your property: purchase the land and sell it at a premium. However, if you’re willing to wait, even the most affordable acreage will eventually appreciate in value. All you need is time.

Of course, if time is a factor, you can still implement several strategies that could generate income.

Boat and RV storage

If there’s one thing the locals in Alpine enjoy, it’s taking a trip in one of their recreational vehicles. Whether jetting to the gulf for a boating weekend or exploring the broader United States in their RV, the people in our corner of Texas like to travel in style. So, when you’re wondering what to do with undeveloped land in Alpine, TX, offering affordable storage for those people in need could turn a handsome monthly profit.

Camping spot

Few places in the world are as gorgeous as a sprawling piece of west Texas land at night, a star-filled sky spread above you. Countless people come to the area to enjoy the natural splendor around us. You could carve out a niche as the owner of a campground. With minimal upkeep, you could earn $20 a night from campers without breaking a sweat.

Energy exploration

The energy industry is alive and well in Texas, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t explore the moneymaking opportunities. You don’t have to rely on oil and gas discoveries, either—the solar industry is making a push into Texas in a big way. Energy providers always need new land to set up their panels—that’s where you come in with a nice monthly or yearly rental fee.

Animal storage

If you have some capital to build rudimentary stables, you might discover a group of people in search of someplace to safely and affordably store their horses. That’s just one example. Allowing business owners to use your land for grazing or breeding is also another option.

Get help with your vacant property purchase

Want some more insight into how to prepare for buying land in Alpine, TX? Come to Carpenter Real Estate. We opened in 1947 with the goal of providing top-notch service to all of our clients. Our family owned and operated company can help, whether you want to buy your dream home or the perfect investment property.

Our highly-skilled agents have sold more than 1 million acres of property to date. Now it’s your turn to take advantage of our skill and service. Contact us online or give us a call to schedule an appointment.