What Could Hold a First-Time Home Buyer Back from Seeing Their Dream?

Owning a home has always been the cornerstone of the American Dream. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer young people are becoming homeowners as time goes on. According to the widely-respected Urban Institute, homeownership rates among Millennials is down about 8 percent from Baby Boomers. People aged 21 to 37 aren’t buying homes at the rate their parents did 20 to 30 years ago.

Why aren’t young people buying homes? It’s a hotly-debated issue with many sides to the conversation. Unfortunately, the chief reason stems from an inability to afford a home. There are too many first-time home buyer problems preventing up-and-coming adults from becoming homeowners—making it harder to buy a home from Alpine, TX to Zion, IL.

Student loan debt

The biggest factor preventing Millennials from buying homes is overbearing student loan debt. The average person’s student loan debt today is $37,172—roughly the cost of a new car. At a reasonable interest rate, that person ends up paying almost $400 per month against their loan. And, with such a large principal, it’s unlikely they’ll chip away at that loan very quickly. Most students have their loan for more than a decade.

Contrary to popular belief, banks don’t penalize home buyers for student loan debt—not in the same way as credit card or auto loan debt, anyway. The real burden of student loan debt is in how much it lowers the borrowing power of the buyer and strains their finances when taking on a mortgage. Thanks to that extra payment every month, a person isn’t likely to be able to afford a mortgage payment.

Healthcare hurdles

What does healthcare have to do with buying a home? Well, when you consider that about 26 percent of people have some form of healthcare debt looming over them, it starts to make sense. Not only does healthcare debt take away from a person’s buying power, it makes it extremely hard to save for a down payment.

Worse still, many Millennials are at an age where they no longer benefit from their parents’ insurance. Anyone working a job without benefits will need to purchase an affordable insurance plan… which typically comes with a high deductible. Even someone who saves diligently for a home down payment may find that savings erased by one visit to the hospital for an accident or illness.

Wage woes

It’s no secret that Baby Boomers are working longer. What this means for Millennials is a longer wait time for upward mobility in the job market. As Boomers retain their positions longer, Millennials are stuck in positions with wage caps that aren’t conducive to buying a home. Even established professionals might not be able to afford the costs of homeownership on their stagnant salary.

The American Dream is the same

Owning a home is still a cornerstone of the American Dream, but it’s becoming harder and harder to attain for younger generations. Mounting first time-home buyer problems are making it hard for Millennials and younger people to afford a house. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

Consider looking for a home in a smaller town like Alpine, TX, or applying for a loan through the state’s Housing and Economic Development Authority. It’s also smart to talk with a realtor and a lender about how to make the buying process more affordable. If owning a home is your dream, don’t let the headwinds slow you down—contact Carpenter Real Estate to arrange a consultation.

Follow These Simple Tips to Prepare for a Mortgage

Buying a new home is an exciting process—whether it’s your first one or the next one. Going out and looking at different houses, exploring the different neighborhoods of Alpine, TX and working with your realtor are all fun, adventurous activities. And when you’ve found the home you love, there’s no better feeling.

Unfortunately, things can take a turn for the worse when it comes to the mortgage underwriting process. If you’re not prepared to deal with the bank, the entire experience could sour. You might not be able to get the interest rate you want. There might be extra hoops to jump through before you can sign for the mortgage loan. You might even be denied! All this, because you weren’t prepared for the financial side of homebuying.

Don’t let the mortgage process keep your dream home out of reach. Follow these simple mortgage preparation tips and make working with the bank as simple as possible:

  • Boost your credit score: Before you go out and start actually looking at homes, check your credit score. Bad credit is the fastest way to derail the homebuying experience. If you’ve got a score in the middling 500s, it’s going to hurt your chances of getting a loan with great terms. Aim for the mid-700s or higher to get as much borrowing power as possible—including great terms. Fixing your credit score is tough, but not impossible!
  • Pay off debt: If you have any bad debt—like credit cards or unpaid fines—it’s best to clear these things up before talking with the bank. Your personal balance sheet should show minimal debt and paint a picture of fiscal responsibility.
  • Don’t make big purchases: The last thing the bank wants to see before you apply for a mortgage is a huge purchase for something else—especially a discretionary purchase. In this same vein, don’t open any new lines of credit right before you apply for a mortgage.
  • Get preapproved: Preapproval is the bank’s way of making sure you’re a creditworthy borrower and confirming it with you. They’ll provide you with a piece of paper that says “we’ll approve you for a mortgage of up to $X.” It shows sellers your buying power, so they can feel confident in negotiating with you. It also lets you, the buyer, know where you stand before the actual underwriting process begins.
  • Know your budget: Just because you’re preapproved for $X doesn’t mean you can afford to spend that much on a home! Use a mortgage calculator to figure out what you can reasonably afford based on your household income, and factor in the tentative interest rate your bank provides. Consider things like property taxes—for example, if you’re looking in Alpine, TX, you’ll need to look at property tax rates for Brewster County.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about mortgage preparation tips three to six months before you plan on buying a home. This gives you enough time to start working on presenting yourself as the picture of fiscal responsibility—someone ready to own a home in the eyes of the bank. Reach out to Carpenter Real Estate for more tips.

Expert Advice, Part 20: Time to Start Shopping

When you finally find yourself in the financial position to begin searching for a new home, it can be tempting to start your hunt right away. Depending on which time of year it is, however, you may be best served by waiting until the perfect time to kickstart your home-buying journey.

Knowing when to buy will help you establish a home buying timeline in Alpine, TX that can make a typically complex process run much more smoothly.

The best time to buy

Most real estate experts believe that the best time to buy a new home is in the fall and winter when market competition is at its lowest, and sellers are at their most anxious. To some extent, that’s true. That said, if you have the financial means to begin shopping around for a new home, then you shouldn’t wait.

Of course, the key to finding the best deal on your dream home is to exercise patience. Don’t commit to a property unless it’s perfect for your needs. Mediocre homes are a dime a dozen, but the right house is something you’ll need to wait to find.

Once you begin your search…

While you’re looking for a new home in Alpine, TX, here’s a house hunting guide with some strategies intended to help you avoid mistakes:

  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage: Before you begin your search in earnest, talk to a mortgage broker. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage accomplishes two tasks. Sellers are more inclined to sell their home to a buyer who already has a line of credit, and it sets the price range for your house hunt.
  • Use a professional: Don’t try to find a home yourself. No matter where you are in the country, the home-buying market is tricky. That’s why it’s crucial to find a real estate agent you can trust to offer helpful tips on your journey.
  • Keep your emotions in check: It’s easy to get drawn into an emotional whirlwind when you find the home of your dreams. After all, it’s the place you’ll be living for years to come. Don’t let those feelings lure you into bidding too quickly or paying more money than the home is worth.
  • Be realistic: Above all, make sure that you’re staying pragmatic about your budget. You might think that your income will eventually rise to meet the level of a mortgage, but that’s not true as often as you’d hope. Ultimately, if you stay true to your financial needs, you’ll find yourself much more comfortable in your new house than if you’d overpaid.

Ultimately, if you keep a level head and follow the advice of a professional, you’ll be just fine.

Your home-buying ally

The very best thing you can do to pin down your home buying timeline in Alpine, TX is enlisting the help of a seasoned real estate veteran. Throughout southern Texas, the best option for home buyers is Carpenter Real Estate. For more than half a century, our knowledgeable, courteous staff has provided commercial, residential and agricultural clients with the very best in real estate service.

We’re proud to help you find the perfect piece of property. Give us a call today to find out more!

Expert Advice, Part 19: Best and Worst Time to Buy

As volatile and chaotic as the Texas real estate market may appear to a newcomer, the market as a whole is a thing of patterns and repetition. The value of a property will rise and fall as a whole, and there are also certain times of the year when buying a home is advantageous and when it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

If you’re curious about the worst and best time to buy a home in Alpine, TX, we have your answer.

Avoid the paperwork tsunami

Anyone who’s ever purchased their own home understands that the process comes with a mountain of paperwork that needs to be found, filed and examined by a small army of financial and real estate experts. The more sales that these professionals have to juggle at once, the more likely they are to make mistakes. That’s just standard human error.

Which brings us to April, the time of year when, statistically speaking, most homeowners find the home of their dreams. The problem occurs when all these happy homeowners file their paperwork all at once. That puts a real strain on real estate companies throughout May, especially toward the end of the month.

Don’t buy in the spring

It’s natural to assume that purchasing a home just as spring is turning into summer is the best time to buy a home in Alpine, TX, but you’d be mistaken. Because of the increased buying competition, homes sell for inflated prices, possibly even more than their worth.

The resulting predictable backup in May can cause your paperwork to get pushed to June or even July, which could affect your loan’s interest rates.

Make your choice during the fall

August and September are statistically the best time of year to buy a home. Not only are there fewer buyers to compete with on the market (a factor that can result in lower prices), but sellers get anxious to shed themselves of their home because they believe that they won’t be able to sell the house during the cooler months of winter.

In fact, that same feeling—that a home is unsellable during the winter—can be a huge advantage to prospective buyers willing to wait until the offseason to make their choice.

Your home-buying steward

Whether it’s the best or worst time of year to buy a home in Alpine, TX, you can count on Carpenter Real Estate to help you navigate the complex waters of home buying. Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has established itself as one of the Lone Star State’s most capable and trustworthy real estate agencies. That’s how we’ve managed to sell more than a million acres since we opened our doors. For three generations, our family owned and operated business has worked to find the perfect plot of land for our valued clients. Commercial, residential and agricultural land cultivated for ranches—we do it all!

We’re proud to belong to the Alpine Chamber of Commerce as well as the National Association of Realtors. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Expert Advice Part 18: Selling Your Home

Property sales can feel overwhelming. There are many moving parts and complex legal documents involved. In addition to the logistics, there are also emotions to consider. Both the buyer and the seller are facing big changes. With so much going on, it’s crucial to follow the right steps to make your home sale as smooth as possible. Use the following tips for selling your home in Alpine, TX to lessen your stress and help make your move quick and profitable.

Work with an expert

Partnering with the right real estate agent when selling your home can make all the difference in the world. Choose someone who is familiar with the area because they have experience with home sales in the region. Look for an agent with extensive experience and an established reputation in the industry.

This real estate agent can help you prepare your home for sale, suggest the right price and market your home to potential buyers. This partnership will help you obtain a better sale price for your home and help you sell it faster.

Prep for showings

Most homes aren’t ready for buyer viewings right away. To capture buyers’ attention and fetch attractive offers, homeowners must prepare the home for showings.

Start by decluttering. Keep in mind that you want the home to look as spacious and inviting as possible. Place extra items in storage, or go ahead and donate things you won’t want to take with you when you move. Make closets and basements as neat and roomy as possible.

The next step is to stage your home. Remove personal items that might distract buyers. You want them to be able to visualize themselves living in your space. Consult with your real estate agent about what items should be removed, as well as any other furniture rearranging that might help make your home more appealing.

Lastly, consider any home improvement projects that need to be completed before you put your home on the market. Again, ask your real estate agent for specific recommendations. Projects might include updates to fixtures, repainting rooms or sprucing up your landscaping to improve curb appeal.

Market with quality photographs

Getting the right photos is one of the most important tips for selling your home in Alpine, TX. In today’s market, the images of your home will make the first impression to buyers as they search online for properties. Put your best foot forward by using a professional photographer to capture attractive pictures of your rooms and the home’s exterior. Your real estate agent can provide this service or recommend a photographer. The agent can then use these images to effectively market your home online.

Get more tips

To get more tips for selling your home in Alpine, TX, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate. We’ve sold over 1 million acres of Alpine-area real estate over the past 70 years. Family owned and operated, we specialize in both residential and commercial properties. Reach out to us for a free consultation on your next real estate sale.

Expert Advice Part 17: Negotiations

Negotiating the sale price of a home in Alpine, TX requires a certain finesse. By following the right steps, you can get the best price possible for the home. Of course, this requires the right knowledge and skills. Use the following agent tips to sharpen your negotiation skills for your next real estate transaction.

Do your research

To secure the best price for a property, you must be familiar with the current market. Research recent sales and current competition to learn about the going rates for homes in the area. This will allow you to develop a reasonable offer that does not offend the seller but still gives you a good deal on the home.

In addition to the prices of current and recent listings, consider the number of homes on the market. Current interest rates are also important. These factors help shape the nature of the real estate market, which affects how you should approach negotiating the sale price of a home in Alpine, TX.

Partner with a pro

It’s challenging for consumers to fully grasp everything that is involved with the real estate market when they are not immersed in it every day. This is where a real estate agent can help. The agent’s knowledge of the local market makes him or her an invaluable resource as you negotiate the sale price of a home. With experience in the market as well as the negotiation process, an agent is the perfect resource to tap in order to get the best price for a home.

Take a stand

Before you begin negotiations, decide what your walk-away price will be. This will be your absolute top dollar that you are willing to pay for the home. This should be based on the market research you have completed, input from your real estate agent and your own budget. If the seller will not move below this price, you must be willing to walk away.

Buying a home is an emotionally-charged process, so it’s important to make firm decisions ahead of time so you don’t get swept away. Keep in mind that many buyers make offers on more than one home before they ultimately purchase one that fits their search parameters.

Renegotiate

Once you’ve agreed on a price and signed a contract, you will probably order a home inspection. (Be sure to include this contingency in your offer.) Once this inspection is complete, you now have the opportunity to negotiate further. If the inspector brings up any items of concern, you can ask the seller to make repairs, offer a credit to cover the needed repairs or adjust the sales price accordingly.

Get the best price

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has sold over 1 million acres of property in Alpine and the surrounding areas. We are your go-to source for negotiating the sale price of a home in Alpine, TX. Family owned and operated, we specialize in residential properties, commercial properties and ranches. Our vast knowledge and experience make Carpenter Real Estate the first place to go to for any and all of your real estate needs. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

Expert Advice Part 16: Home Inspections

If you’re debating whether or not to complete a home inspection before buying in Alpine, TX, there’s no doubt what your decision should be. A home inspection is essential for any real estate purchase. Always order one. It’s well worth the investment.

Once you’ve made this decision, keep in mind the following four tips. This will make your home inspection and your entire real estate transaction go more smoothly.

Choose the right inspector

Many professional home inspectors are available to complete this service. It’s not always best to choose the cheapest option. Remember, you get what you pay for. Be sure to find someone who is licensed and offers experience in their field. Ask for recommendations from your real estate agent to find someone trustworthy.

If you’re handy, and are tempted to do the inspection yourself, consider allowing someone else to do it. A professional’s report will carry more weight if you need to refer to it later, and they are less likely than a DIY-er to miss important issues.

Attend your inspection

If you hire a professional to complete a home inspection before buying in Alpine, TX, you may be tempted to skip attending the inspection itself. This is a mistake. Attend the inspection and use this time to get to know your property. You’ll have the opportunity to ask the inspector questions, and he or she will be able to explain things to you in person. This includes any current issues, things to watch for and simple tips on how to operate certain systems in the home.

Make the inspection work for you

One of the main advantages of completing a home inspection is that it creates a negotiation tool. If the inspection reveals any issues with the home, you can present these to the seller and request repairs or compensation to cover the repairs. (Be sure to include a home inspection clause in your purchase contract in order to make this opportunity available.) If major issues are present that the seller is not willing to cover, you can then walk away from the deal.

Keep the inspection for future reference

The inspection report is helpful for more than the initial purchase. It may contain information that is helpful for you for the life of the home. Keep your inspection report on file to refer to in the future for HVAC operation, system repairs or other related concerns that are included in the documentation. You might be surprised how helpful this document proves to be if you have a question about your home in the future.

Find an inspector

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has sold over 1 million acres throughout the Alpine region. Family-owned and operated for three generations, we specialize in residential properties, commercial properties and ranches. Our vast knowledge and experience make Carpenter Real Estate the first place to go to for any and all real estate needs. Contact our team to find the right professional for your home inspection before buying in Alpine, TX. Call us today for a free consultation.

Expert Advice Part 15: Closing Process for Purchasing Land

An important part of any land purchase procedure in Alpine, TX is the closing process. Familiarizing yourself with this process will prove helpful as you navigate your purchase. There are four key components to the process.

Document review

When purchasing land, it might be tempting to think the process is simple and requires little to no paperwork. This would be a bad assumption. Simply because the property is land only, rather than a house or other type of building, does not mean you can skip essential documentation.

Be sure to review all the closing terms in the purchase agreement. Go over all contingencies and ensure these are met before closing. You won’t have time to review everything in detail at the closing and, for many items, it might be too late at that point to do anything about them.

Also review all financing terms. Look over the deed, loan summary and any other material that the bank provides. Again, the closing will be a time for a quick overview and signatures, not a time to thoroughly review terms, so do this ahead of time.

Lastly, review inspection reports, surveys and any septic system designs and soil logs, if applicable. Ensure all details are in order to avoid any surprises at closing or later on down the road.

Final walkthrough

You are entitled to complete a walkthrough of the property just before closing. The point of this inspection is to ensure the land is in the same condition as when you agreed to purchase it. Vacant land can be susceptible to dumping, so look for trash, appliances and other debris. Also check that all vegetation, sand and gravel are still in place.

Title insurance

Title insurance is required by the lender. Even if you aren’t getting a loan for the land, it’s important to pay for title insurance. This coverage provides a title search to reveal any issues with the property, such as liens, easements, boundary issues or anything else that could affect your ownership and marketability of the land in the future.

National title insurance firms handle this coverage. Your lender or your attorney will probably choose a preferred provider, but you can request one as well. Once the title report is completed, review it to ensure there are no issues with the property. If there are issues, you want to discover these as soon as possible so they can be resolved before closing.

Closing

The final step in your land purchase procedure in Alpine, TX is the closing. This is the meeting at which property ownership transfers from the current owner to the new one. You “close the deal.”

The closing can be “in escrow” or “in person.” In-person closings require a representative from all parties involved in the transaction to be present. For an in-escrow closing, a representative from the bank records the deed, and funds are held “in escrow” and distributed at the end of the day or week via checks to each party.

Partner with the pros

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has sold over 1 million acres in Alpine and the surrounding area. We are your go-to source for assistance with your land purchase procedure in Alpine, TX. Contact us today with any questions.

Expert Advice Part 14: Selling Land

A lot of people think of real estate investment in terms of home sales and purchases, but there is a huge market for buying and selling land. While people can enjoy a lot of benefits from selling land in Alpine, TX, it is far different from selling a home, and it’s important for you to understand the process in greater depth if you want to be successful in your land sale.

How land sales and house sales differ

If you go into the land selling process expecting it to be essentially the same as the house selling process, you will likely be caught off guard by the reality. There are several major differences between house sales and land sales:

  • Different buyers: Home buyers and land buyers comprise different target markets, which means you will need to take a different approach to reach land buyers than you would to reach home buyers. Depending on what a buyer is hoping to do with a plot of land, ordinances, zoning, location, topography and configuration are all incredibly important, more so than when you are selling a home.
  • Different market: The market for land is completely different from the market for houses. Typically, homes are in higher demand than land, which makes it more challenging to generate interest from a land listing. To reach potential land buyers, you need to adopt different sales and marketing techniques and be prepared to wait for an offer.
  • Different staging: Just like with home sales, staging can be incredibly important when you’re trying to sell land. However, the staging itself is totally different between home sales and land sales. You can’t create the same atmosphere and aesthetic appeal on a piece of undeveloped land that you can inside a home, but you can still stage your property. Tending to landscaping, clearing away clutter and potentially even planting wildflowers and attractive plants can make your property more appealing to potential buyers.

Land selling tips

If you’re ready to list a plot of land or vacant lots for sale in Alpine, TX, there are several thing you can do to maximize your chances for success. First, you should take the time to prepare your land by cleaning it up and getting it looking its best. Next, post signage on your property to announce the land sale and provide specific information about acreage and features of the property. Post your listing online on sites that cater to land sales. You should also consider hiring a professional realtor to help you sell your plot.

Lots for sale in Alpine, TX

At Carpenter Real Estate, we know how different the world of land sales can be from that of home sales, and our team knows how to successfully navigate these differences. If you’re looking for assistance with real estate sales or purchases, you can feel confident that you will receive the best service available when you choose to work with our team. Give us a call today to get started with a free consultation!

Expert Advice Part 13: Home Auctions

A lot of real estate investors choose to purchase homes at auction in order to save money on a purchase. While buying foreclosed homes in Alpine, TX offers a number of benefits to real estate buyers, it’s important to consider some key advice to help you make the most of home auctions and avoid some common mistakes that home buyers make.

Home auction considerations

When a home is up for auction, it’s important to understand why. Typically, home auctions are used to sell foreclosed properties. Foreclosure is a legal process by which a lending institution, bank or tax authority claims possession of a property from a homeowner due to a failure to pay mortgage payments or property taxes. After the foreclosure process is initiated, the institution or organization claiming possession of the property will appoint an agent to sell it.

The agent appointed to sell the property will arrange a home auction. During this time, the previous homeowner has a limited amount of time to leave the premises. While homeowners are supposed to take their possessions from the property, foreclosed homes often still contain many of the previous homeowners’ personal items, and the properties are often messy and in poor shape.

In most cases, foreclosed homes sold at auction are sold as-is and with all flaws. Homeowners often don’t have the opportunity to inspect a home prior to purchase, which increases the potential risk to the home buyer. Still, the amount of money that real estate buyers save by purchasing foreclosed homes often more than makes up for the amount of money that they have to spend to repair the property.

Getting the most out of an auction

Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your home auction experience is successful:

  • Get pre-approved for financing: To prove that you have the money necessary to purchase a home at auction, you need to get pre-approved by a mortgage lender. Bring proof of your pre-approval with you to the auction to demonstrate that you have the means to pay for your home purchase.
  • Research property auctions: Not every property that goes up for auction is worth buying, so make sure you do plenty of research to find a promising home auction. You should at least drive by the property in advance so you have a better idea of its condition prior to the auction.
  • Don’t blow your budget: During some auctions, the bids can quickly exceed the budget that you have established for your home purchase. When this happens, it’s important that you are prepared to let a property go so that you can avoid exceeding your budget.

Buying foreclosed homes in Alpine, TX

For more advice about buying foreclosed homes in Alpine, TX, reach out to the team at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, we have been dedicated to providing our customers with high-quality real estate services. As a family owned and operated business, we are committed to the quality of our services and the satisfaction of our customers. Give us a call to find out more about everything we can do for you and get to know our team!