Author Archives: Mandy Lohrman

Do Houses Sell in the Winter? Here Are Some Tips to Help You Succeed with Your Sale

It’s no secret that winter isn’t the best time of year to sell your home. Buyers tend to purchase real estate in the spring and summer, when the weather is more favorable and there is less interference from the holiday season. However, while you might have a more difficult time selling in the winter, it’s not impossible. In fact, by learning a little bit more about winter real estate listings in Alpine, TX, you can ensure a successful selling experience.

There are a number of things that you can do to improve the appeal of your home on the market, but it’s important to keep in mind that you are unlikely to get as many offers as you might if you listed your home in the spring or summer. Unless you live in an especially popular neighborhood with a major demand for real estate, you will almost certainly receive fewer offers—and less competitive offers—in the winter than you would in the spring. If you need to sell quickly and you can’t wait for the spring, it’s important to invest some extra time and energy into creating an appealing listing for your home. Here are some tips:

  • Choose marketing photos carefully: If you have photos of your home from the spring or summer, it’s better to use those in your listing. Real estate listings in Alpine, TX with photos from springtime tend to perform better than those with photos from fall or winter.
  • Invest time into your home’s exterior: Your home’s exterior can make a powerful first impression on a prospective buyer, so make sure it’s a positive one. You should mow your grass and keep leaves raked up so that buyers can see your landscaping unhindered by debris and overgrowth.
  • Maintain your home’s systems: Furnaces and water heaters often break down during the winter months, so be proactive with your maintenance. Make sure that all of your systems are cared for and tuned up to avoid a maintenance disaster during an open house or showing.
  • Be prepared for less foot traffic: You are likely to get less attention from prospective buyers during the winter months. While you can still get an offer near your asking price during the wintertime from the right buyer, you shouldn’t expect the kind of competitive offers that are more common during the spring and summer.

At Carpenter Real Estate, we understand that it can be difficult to sell your home during the winter months, and that’s why we’re here to help you with effective real estate listings in Alpine, TX that can get your house the attention it deserves and help you close on a sale. No matter what the specifics of your property may be, our team would be happy to walk you through the listing process and ensure that you receive the best offer possible for your property. Learn more about all of our services and get started with your real estate listing by giving us a call today. We look forward to working with you soon!

Tips from a Realtor in Alpine, TX for Selling Your Home in the Winter

Most buyers prefer to purchase their new homes in the spring and summer months, when the weather is bright, warm and sunny. However, just because winter isn’t always the best time of year for real estate doesn’t mean you can’t still successfully list and sell your home by taking the time to prepare accordingly. Winterizing your home allows you to ensure that your listing makes a splash on the market, even during the fall and winter months. Here are some tips from a realtor in Alpine, TX:

  • Clean your home’s exterior and interior: First impressions are very important when it comes to selling your home, so make sure that your house is as appealing as possible to potential buyers. Wash your windows, clear leaves and debris off your roof and consider pressure washing your siding to scour away dirt and grime. You should also take time to clean inside your home. Sweep, mop or vacuum your floors and lay out a rug by the door to prevent guests from dragging outdoor debris through your home.
  • Keep things cozy: Nobody likes dealing with skyrocketing heating bills, but it’s worth it to splurge on a little extra energy to keep your home warm and inviting during open houses and property tours. You should make sure that any prospective buyers who visit your home are as comfortable as possible. Offer warm baked goods for guests, spread some extra throw pillows and blankets on your furniture and light some seasonal candles (or your fireplace, if you have one) to give your home a cozy atmosphere.
  • Stay on top of your landscaping: As leaves fall from trees and windy conditions start to pick up, it’s important to keep your landscaping under control. Rake up your leaves and invest in professional tree trimming to prevent falling limbs over the winter months. There should be a defined walkway for your guests so that they can safely access your home without stumbling over debris or slipping on fallen leaves. It’s a good idea to consult with your realtor in alpine, TX to help you determine whether your home is accessible enough.
  • Bring in some light: Since the winter months tend to be a little bit darker than spring and summer, it’s important to keep the inside of your home as bright as possible. Open up your curtains, wash the insides of your windows and keep the lighting turned on inside your home to make things as bright as possible. You can increase the effect of natural light by strategically placing mirrors throughout your home to reflect light.

Find out more about how you can get your home sold this winter by reaching out to Carpenter Real Estate. If you’re looking for a realtor in Alpine, TX whom you can trust to get you the best results possible, we are the team to call. We have sold over one million acres of property in Alpine since 1947, and we continue to develop an outstanding reputation among our clients. We are proud to be a family owned and operated business with extensive experience in the real estate industry. Contact us today to find out more about what we can do for you!

Tips from a Realtor in Alpine, TX for a Smoother Home Sale

Your home is almost certainly the largest and most valuable asset you have. It’s also a setting for some of the most important memories of your life. Selling a house, therefore, is not only logistically and economically challenging, but also emotionally challenging.

It’s not surprising, then, that the process of selling a home is often fraught with emotion and stress. Fortunately, there are ways you can make the process go significantly smoother so you can cut down on the amount of worry the process creates.

Here are some tips from a realtor in Alpine, TX for how you can make it go more efficiently.

Start early

Start the process much earlier than you would normally expect to, so you don’t have to feel rushed. This also gives you some more time to work through your emotions, cut out any bias you have and get a more objective look at your home and what it should sell for. Take the extra time to do some research, talk to other people you know who have recently sold homes and figure out what goals you have to help your realtor figure out the best path forward for you.

Get a good overview of the costs you face

You’re not going to pocket all the money you make in a sale. You need to consider realtor fees, for example, as well as whether you’ll be contributing to any of the closing costs. You’ll generally pay 6 percent of the home’s sale price when working with a realtor—3 percent to the buyer’s agent and 3 percent to your own listing agent.

Choose the right realtor

Your realtor is a crucial partner for you in the home sale process. You want to find someone who will be good with communication and help remove some of the stress you face. It’s critical to find the right person so you save the most money possible and don’t feel like you’re going to lose your mind while trying to sell your house. They should also be an aggressive marketer of your home, and provide you with all the information you need to make informed decisions about the sale.

Address small issues with the property

Almost every homeowner has little side projects they’ve been putting off, simply because they’re so small that they almost aren’t worth taking the time to do. Now’s the time to get some of those projects done! Get rid of mildew, clean the carpets, put a dehumidifier in the basement, fix any doors that aren’t opening or closing properly, give your rooms a fresh coat of paint—whatever it is you need to get done to help you make a better impression on potential buyers, just do it. You should also be sure to dress the home to impress—better staging helps people better envision what they can accomplish in the space.

For more information about how you can make a home sale go smoother, reach out to Carpenter Real Estate today to speak with a realtor in Alpine, TX.

Questions to Consider When Deciding Whether to Buy or Rent a Home

Looking for a place to live? You might be considering whether it makes more sense for you to rent or buy in your current situation. But how can you come to a decision that makes sense for you and be completely sure it’s the best route to go for your current life circumstances?

Here are some tips from an experienced realtor in Alpine, TX regarding questions you should ask yourself so you can make a better, more informed choice.

Can you actually afford to purchase a home?

This is going to be the most important question you can ask yourself when making this decision. If you can’t afford to purchase, then the rest of the questions don’t matter. Keep in mind that there are more costs than just the monthly mortgage payments you need to consider—otherwise, it would almost always be cheaper than renting. You must also consider the property taxes in your area, the down payment you’ll need to make on the house, the interest rates you’ll have to pay on your mortgage loan, the closing costs and the potential PMI you’ll have to pay if you aren’t able to make a large enough down payment.

How is your credit?

Potential lenders will take a good look at your credit score to determine if they’re willing to lend to you and how much they’re willing to give you in a loan. You’ll need a credit score of at least 620 for most lenders to be willing to accept your application, and to get the lowest interest rates you’ll probably need a score of at least 740.

Do you plan to stay in the area?

If there’s any chance you’ll be relocating any time soon due to anticipated career or life changes, a home purchase might not be your best option—selling a home takes time, and it can be difficult to break even if you have to sell relatively quickly after you purchase. There is always the option to rent your home out if you do end up needing to move, but keep in mind this requires a lot of commitment on your end as a landlord.

Are you willing to handle the general upkeep associated with owning a home?

Be honest with yourself when it comes to this question. Yes, homeownership is rewarding in some regards, but you also need to keep up with regular maintenance and be able to make the surprise repairs that come up from time to time. You aren’t going to be able to text your landlord and let them take care of it if something goes wrong—that becomes your responsibility. This means you should always have some cash stored away in case an emergency occurs and you need to make a sudden repair.

For more information about the factors you’ll need to consider when deciding whether to rent or purchase a home, contact Carpenter Real Estate to speak with an experienced realtor in Alpine, TX. We can guide you through the process of buying a home to make it as understandable as possible.

Common Contingencies to Be Prepared for When Buying a Home

When you purchase a home, it’s important to make sure you work with an experienced realtor in Alpine, TX so you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. For example, there are likely to be numerous contingencies you’ll have to deal with during the purchase, which you might not be aware of even if you’re an experienced buyer.

Here are a few examples of some of the most common contract contingencies you’ll need to be aware of when purchasing a new home or property.

The mortgage contingency

Most homebuyers will have to take out a mortgage loan when they purchase a home. The purchase and sale contract includes a mortgage contingency, which indicates the type of financing you’re applying for, the percentage that will be borrowed and the interest rate you’ll receive for the home.

In addition, the contingency will include a date as to when the mortgage commitment will be received, and the required repairs for the property. When the appraiser visits the property, he or she will look for items that must be repaired before the bank will approve the mortgage. The buyer will have a chance as part of this contingency to indicate how much money they would like the seller to be liable for with regard to these repairs—this number will be eligible for negotiation. Common issues include safety issues, like broken windows, foundation problems, missing handrails or other issues that might not be up to code.

Inspection contingencies

There are a variety of inspections that could be included as contingencies in your home purchase. The standard home inspection will be one of these, but other inspection contingencies could include radon inspections, mold inspections, pest inspections, chimney inspections, lead inspections and septic inspections. All of these types of inspections help to identify any potential issues with the home that would need to be resolved before the sale can go through.

Attorney approval

It can be helpful to have attorney representation when going through the home buying process. Some contracts will actually include attorney approval as a contingency. This gives the buyer and seller a chance to have their respective attorneys look over the contract and grant their approval. The real estate agent for the buyer will determine how many days each attorney will have to analyze the contract and grant approval. Attorneys will focus on finding vague areas within the contract that need to be clarified.

Sale and transfer of title contingency

If you already own another home, there’s a chance your contract could include a sale and transfer of title contingency. This shows a seller that you have an existing home that must be sold before you can purchase the property subject to the deal. The agreement often includes a set number of days for you to sell your existing home.

For more information about common contingencies in the home buying process, contact Carpenter Real Estate today to speak with a realtor in Alpine, TX. We look forward to helping you find your ideal home!

Fees You Should Prepare for When Buying a Home

When you’re purchasing a new home, you’re likely focused on costs, such as the price of the home and the interest rate you’ll get on the loan. These are, of course, important factors to take into account, as is the realtor in Alpine, TX that you’ll work with, but there are many more costs you’ll need to consider while you prepare to purchase a home. Some of these fees can be paid up front, while others will get included in your loan. It’s important to consider all of these potential costs so you can get a better sense of the true cost of your home purchase.

Here are some examples of those fees:

  • Private mortgage insurance: If you put less than 20 percent down on your home purchase, you will likely be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is provided by a separate private mortgage insurance company to protect a lender against losses in the event you default on the loan. There are two different types of payment you may need to make: monthly PMI premiums and an up-front PMI payment. The up-front premium can either be paid at closing or rolled into the loan.
  • Homeowner’s insurance: You should never attempt to skip out on a homeowner’s insurance policy. This policy will combine your personal liability and hazard insurance to cover your home and everything inside of it. In most cases, you must purchase this policy before you close on the home. You’ll need to pay the first year’s premium in advance, which demonstrates to your lender you have insurance in place before closing.
  • Title insurance: This type of insurance protects the lender if any issues pop up with the title of your home. You’ll be required to purchase this policy for the lender, and its costs will be included in your closing costs or put into the loan. Personal title insurance is optional.
  • Appraisals: You’ll need an appraisal to determine a fair market value for your home. The lender wants to know the home is actually worth the amount of money you’re looking to borrow. This fee will be paid to a lender up front before the appraisal actually happens.
  • Escrow: An escrow account holds your money during the closing process while you finalize an agreement with the seller. You’ll have some of your mortgage payments go into escrow to pay for property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. There are typically some fees associated with this.
  • Origination fees: These are fees paid to the lender for the services involved with creating the loan.
  • Document preparation fees: Your broker or closing attorney will typically charge you fees to cover the preparation of all the documents required for the closing and the loan. These fees will usually be included in closing costs.

There are more fees that will likely apply to your home purchase, so for a full overview of all the fees you can expect to pay, contact Carpenter Real Estate to speak with a realtor in Alpine, TX. We’ll be happy to provide you with additional information.

Why Should You Buy Instead of Rent?

If you’ve been renting an apartment or a home for a while, you may think that it’s not worth it to buy. While you dream of one day owning a home for you and your family, the process seems complicated, and you hesitate at the expense. But part of you knows that one day it would be smart to buy a home rather than throw away your money on rent month after month.

If you’re looking for a real estate broker in Alpine, TX, then Carpenter Real Estate can help. We’ve been in business for three generations, guiding first-time homebuyers toward properties that are perfect for their needs and budget. Let’s take a look at all the advantages of buying over renting:

  • Financial benefits: Perhaps the number one reason to buy a home instead of rent is all the financial benefits that come along with it. Think about it this way: By investing in a home that appreciates in value, you’re investing in your future. One day you’ll be able to sell the home and, hopefully, you’ll be able to sell it for more than you paid for it in the first place, as property usually appreciates in value. Paying your mortgage every month means you’re building home equity, too, which improves your credit-worthiness.
  • Fixed costs: Landlords can hike your rent whenever they want without any real reason. You could be paying more next year than you are right now. But a mortgage is usually a fixed cost. You’ll pay the same each month over the course of a fixed-rate mortgage.
  • Freedom to alter property: Have you always wanted to paint an accent wall? Maybe you want to hang artwork around the house. Landlords won’t look favorably on this, and often don’t even allow pets. But when the property is yours, you can feel free to go nuts and do whatever you want. After all, it’s yours!
  • Tax breaks: Did you know that homeowners can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes? That’s right—you can lower your tax burden by purchasing a home. This is an important thing to factor in when you’re considering the buying vs. renting decision.

Do you need to work with a helpful and experienced real estate broker in Alpine, TX? Then you’ve come to the right place. Carpenter Real Estate is here to lend everyone in the region a hand, from Marathon to Fort Davis. We have a deep understanding and familiarity with how best to negotiate the real estate market in this little corner of West Texas (or as we lovingly refer to it, “The Alps of West Texas”).

You’ll benefit from our firsthand knowledge that our company has built over the five decades we’ve been in business. No matter if you’re looking for a starter home or a ranch with plenty of acreage, we’re here to provide expert guidance. Call us right now to learn more and receive a free consultation. We look forward to helping you find the perfect property!

Should I Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before Looking for a House?

The short answer is definitely, yes, you should. The fact is that with today’s competitive housing market, it’s essential to get pre-approval for your mortgage before you start house hunting.

Many first-time homebuyers are hesitant to get involved in the process because there’s so much paperwork involved. But this is one of those times when, if you snooze, you lose! So it’s essential to get started early on and land that pre-approval for a mortgage so you’ll have it in hand when you find that dream house.

While the world of real estate may seem intimidating, an expert realtor in Alpine, TX can help smooth out the process. Let’s take a look at why getting pre-approval for a mortgage is the ideal first step in the homebuying process:

  • Resolve financial issues: The last thing you want is to find the perfect home for you, only to realize that unresolved financial issues, such as a low credit score, will prevent you from getting a mortgage. Obtaining pre-approval means you’re taking a close look at your finances right away. It’s something you might feel you want to avoid, but if you’re looking to move into a home, you’re going to have to do it at some point. Lenders can help you resolve any financial problems—but they need to know about them first.
  • Narrow the search: Mortgage pre-approval will determine what your price range is going to be. This means that lenders will agree to give you a line of credit on a mortgage up to a certain amount—that’s the top of your price range. Different lenders may give you differing maximum amounts, but this should give you an idea of how much you can feasibly spend.
  • Move fast when you need to: So you’ve found a house that’s in your price range and has everything you’re looking for. Now it’s time to make an offer. But wait—you haven’t gotten pre-approval on a mortgage? That’s going to hold things up. You want to be able to submit an offer and show you have serious interest, which means you need pre-approval.
  • Look for a good deal: Don’t just go to one lender—shop around for the best deal. After all, a home is probably the largest investment you’re ever going to make. It pays to compare the terms lenders are offering and take the deal that best suits your needs.

Are you looking for a trustworthy realtor in Alpine, TX? Then Carpenter Real Estate is the choice for you. We’ve served the region since 1947, selling over 1 million acres of real estate. We’re a family-owned and operated enterprise with plenty of experience in residential property, commercial property and ranches. Over three generations, we’ve built the knowledge base and expertise necessary to navigate all kinds of real estate dealings.

Our roots extend deep into the community because we’re here to stay. We are a member of the Alpine Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. Contact us today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we can help you.

How Does the Home Buying and Escrow Process Work?

Are you buying a house for the first time? If so, you might be wondering what you can expect to happen during the home buying and escrow process.

Here is a brief outline from a real estate agent in Alpine, TX about how that entire process works.

Step 1: Disclosures, inspections and credits

The very first step after the buyer and seller agree to a contract is to go through the disclosures and inspections.

The buyer will make a deposit of earnest money with the seller’s brokerage, an escrow agent or an attorney, depending on the terms of the contract. The buyer then reviews and signs any disclosures involved with the contract. These disclosures vary based on the type of property, but will include items such as known flaws with the property, necessary repairs or improvements and potential environmental hazards on the property. All of these disclosures will factor into the contract price.

Next, the buyer must arrange for inspections on the property in accordance with the terms of the contract. This is important for the buyer—the inspection could reveal hidden flaws about the property that make it unappealing or unsafe, and if that is the case, the buyer will be able to back out of the deal without having to forfeit their earnest money.

After inspections, the buyer can either ask the seller for repair work, ask for repair costs to be worked into closing cost credits or ask for a reduction of the price of sale to cover the cost of the repairs.

Step 2: Mortgage

The mortgage process is usually the most stressful part for new property buyers. It’s important to begin it as early as possible to give the lender plenty of time to complete the paperwork. Be ready to produce lots of documentation, including various bank statements, loan information, tax returns, pay stubs, contact information of your employer, explanations of credit inquiries, explanations about large deposits or cash gifts that fall outside your regular income and any other matters that could be material to your financial situation.

After reviewing all of this information, your lender will make their approval decision, and if you’re approved you’ll receive a loan commitment letter that includes the lender’s statement of willingness to fund the mortgage, granted you meet certain conditions.

The lender will usually order the appraisal, and if it comes in below the purchase price, the lender can decline to approve your loan unless the seller is willing to change the purchase price, or you change your down payment amount. The lender will also submit a request for title commitment to a title company, while you are responsible for purchasing homeowner’s insurance coverage and any necessary hazard insurance coverage.

Step 3: Closing

The final part of the transaction is the closing. You’ll submit your final loan documents to the escrow agent, and will then attend the closing at the title company, or the office of an escrow agent or closing company. You’ll sign all the documents, pay the remaining money of your down payment and closing costs, receive the deed and keys and take possession of the property.

For more information about how these processes work, contact a real estate agent in Alpine, TX!

What Happens to the Earnest Money If a Buyer Backs Out?

Every real estate transaction requires the buyer to submit an earnest money check at the outset of the sale, along with the signed purchase contract. This money demonstrates good faith on the buyer’s part, and the amount is usually determined by the seller. Its purpose is to provide the seller with some compensation in case the buyer ends up pulling out of the deal for any reason in which the seller is not at fault.

Here’s an overview from a realtor in Alpine, TX of what could happen to earnest money if the buyer backs out of the purchase, as well as situations in which the buyer can retain his or her earnest money.

When canceling the agreement does not result in lost earnest money

All contracts for real estate purchases have deadlines for achieving certain milestones in the transaction process. These deadlines are subject to negotiation on the part of the seller and buyer. While these deadlines can be changed if both parties are willing to do so, there is nothing that says each party must be flexible, so it’s important to set these deadlines at realistic dates from the outset of the transaction.

Each of these deadlines gives the buyer a chance to back out of the contract without losing their earnest money as long as he or she provides appropriate notice of the intent to withdraw from the purchase.

One example is the inspection contingency deadline. The buyer must negotiate a deal that gives them enough time to complete all desired inspections. If, during the inspection, the buyer discovers an aspect of the property he or she simply cannot live with, the buyer will have the option to drop out before that deadline without forfeiting the cash. Note that this only applies before the deadline—if the buyer discovers something else about the house that makes them wary but this discovery occurs after the deadline, the seller will be able to keep the earnest money.

Another big example is the loan contingency deadline—the date by which the buyer must secure financing for the house. If this date passes without word from the buyer, the seller will be able to keep the earnest money, and at this point that money is nonrefundable.

Getting back your earnest money

If you’re the buyer in a real estate transaction and want to back out of the deal, it’s important to know how to get your earnest money back. Depending on the terms of your contract, that money could be held in escrow by a title company, broker, bank or attorney. The buyer should contact that escrow holder, apprise them of the situation and the need to release the money, and then check to see if any specific forms must be signed and submitted to get that earnest money back.

A realtor in Alpine, TX can work with you throughout your real estate transaction to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. Contact Carpenter Real Estate today to learn more about how we can help.