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.

Land Investing: What You Can Do to Get Started in 2021

Land and real estate continue to be popular investments for people across the United States. If you’ve been considering making investments in property, this could be your year to get started.

Of course, if you’ve never purchased investment land before, you might not know where to get started. Here’s a few things to know about beginning with this type of investment and some of the steps you can take in 2021.

There are several ways you can invest in land in Alpine, TX. Here are a few examples of some of the land investing strategies experienced investors take.

Land flipping

This is one of the more popular forms of land investing. It involves purchasing a parcel of land at a low price when you can get a good deal, and selling it for a higher price later. You might be able to find great deals at foreclosure auctions or tax sales if you’re interested in flipping.

Some of the best profits in flipping can be made if you get the proper entitlements for the property to make it more marketable, and thus more valuable. This could involve getting the property zoned (or re-zoned), clearing it for development, subdividing it for multiple developments, or getting it permitted. This work saves a new prospective buyer time and risk, and also makes the land more valuable.

For example, if you purchase a five-acre property, you might consider separating it into five separate parcels that you can sell individually, resulting in significantly more money than selling the single plot as one property.

Buying and holding

You might consider purchasing raw land and holding it long term, believing there to be some potential value for that land in the future. You could, for example, wait for demand in the area to increase, or simply hold rights to water, air or minerals on that land. Keep in mind that as long as you hold the land, you are responsible for paying taxes on it and keeping up with whatever maintenance is required.

Development

Development of raw land can also be very profitable for investors, though it is likely to take a lot of time and money. If you’re interested in development, it’s very important to make sure you have a long-term plan for how you will turn a profit, and that there is demand for whatever kind of development you will be producing on the property.

Buying and leasing or financing

You may wish to purchase the land to create an income stream by leasing it out to another party to use. Say, for example, you have several dozen acres of farmland, but don’t wish to farm it yourself. You could lease the land to a farmer, who pays you rent and then is responsible for all development, maintenance and taxes.

You could also purchase the land and then sell it with owner financing, in which you carry the financing for the buyer, acting as a bank.

For more information about how you can get started with land investing and for the best land investing strategies to use in Alpine, TX, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate today.

Risks and Strategies of Land Investments

Any veteran real estate investor understands that there’s a bundle of money to be made for the savvy entrepreneur eyeing a career in real estate. However, before you can start raking in your fortune, you should be aware of the various risks at play, as well as some of the most successful land investing strategies in Alpine, TX.

Here’s your primer.

Expect a wait

Many forms of investment are popular because they seem to promise a quick return. The stock market, for example, makes and breaks fortunes on a daily basis. Real estate investment is another beast entirely. Often, it requires a longer wait time between your initial investment and your ultimate payout.

Whether you’re hoping to rent out your land, opt for a fix-and-flip or sell it outright, you’re going to need to be patient to achieve maximum profit.

Understand your purpose

Why are you getting into the real estate market? There is an enormous number of potential ways to make money in real estate. Before you can determine the most effective land investing strategies in Alpine, TX, you should figure out what kind of real estate investment interests you. The same methods that yield results in commercial real estate don’t work for residential real estate and vice versa.

Don’t sink all your cash

Regardless of which kind of investment strategy you decide to pursue, you should ensure you don’t spend all your investment capital on a down payment and initial preparation. When you’re in real estate, the odds are solid that some unexpected (and costly) hurdle will pop up. After all, there are risks associated with buying land in Alpine, TX. When that happens, you’ll be happy you have some excess capital on hand to remedy the problem.

Look to the future

Those people who make the most on their real estate investments don’t purchase in active areas. They purchase in areas that will likely become active in the next year or the year after that. In addition to being patient, do your homework to determine which areas close to you show signs of revitalization. Look for land close (but not too close) to new developments or commercial installations.

Go local

If possible, look at your local community to determine strong real estate investments. Consider this: success in real estate comes from knowledge of the area and the surrounding communities. If you choose local real estate options, you’re already one step ahead of the game in terms of research. Plus, when you invest in local land, you can visit the property without hassle.

Trust your real estate pros

Of all the land investing strategies in Alpine, TX, the smartest thing to do is enlist the help of a professional real estate agent, like the team at Carpenter Real Estate. We’ve built our reputation for excellence on the back of seven decades of research, investment and service to our community. Let us guide you through the world of real estate.

At Carpenter Real Estate, we work alongside you to build your best future. Contact us today to find out more.

Five Things to Know About How to Avoid Lowball Offers on a House

Are you getting ready to buy a home? The last thing you want to do is make a lowball offer—that is, offering something well below the asking price. Sure, you want to get the best deal possible for your budget, but you also don’t want to offend the sellers. They might disregard your offer completely rather than working with you to come to a reasonable price. It’s a fine line, but it’s important to find the right balance between a great deal and something that makes the seller want to walk away. Here are our best tips to avoid a lowball offer on a house in Alpine, TX:

  • Decide whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market: Knowing whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market can help you determine how much to offer. For example, if you’re in a buyer’s market—in other words, there’s more house supply than demand—you could offer up to 10 percent lower than the asking price. If you’re in a seller’s market—that is, there aren’t enough houses for the number of people who want to buy them—you can expect to pay more than the asking price.
  • Look at how the price compares to similar homes: One great way to price your offer is to look at how much similar homes in the area have sold for recently. This will give you a sense of whether their asking price is reasonable, and how low you can go.
  • Figure out how long it’s been on the market: Knowing how long a home has been on the market can make a big difference in avoiding a lowball offer. Generally, the longer a home has been available, the more desperate a seller will be to get rid of it.
  • Call the listing agent: A listing agent helps the seller get the best price and terms possible. It’s always a smart idea to call the listing agent (or have your real estate agent reach out to them) first. For example, they might tell you that the home has already sold, or that it has multiple offers on the table already. Alternatively, you may find out that it’s available for a short sale (when a distressed home sells for less than the seller owes on it). Making the call almost always pays off, and can give you a better sense of what’s a reasonable offer.
  • Ask yourself how badly you want the home: Finally, think about how badly you want to purchase the home. Is this your dream home in your dream location, or is it just good enough and in a place where you wouldn’t hate living? That can make all the difference in your offer. Sometimes it’s worth putting in a lower offer if you’re willing to walk away.

When you need more advice about how to avoid your house offer being declined in Alpine, TX, Carpenter Real Estate can help. Call us today to learn more about our services or schedule a consultation with one of our realtors.

Eight Tips to Know When Making an Offer on a Home

Are you getting ready to buy a home? If you’re brand new to the process, or it’s been a while since you last took the plunge, there are some tips you need to know. The more you know about how the process works, what goes into a successful bid and how to get the concessions you want, the better off you’ll be and the more likely you’ll be to get the home you want. Here’s how to make an offer and negotiate a house offer in Alpine, TX:

  • Work with an agent: The best thing you can do to make sure you get a great deal is work with a real estate agent. They’ll be able to help you identify great homes that fit within your budget, the level of renovations you’re willing to perform and your absolute must-haves.
  • Know your budget and your limits: This is the time to review your “must-haves” along with your budget and lifestyle. Your agent will help you make an offer, but they have to know what they’re working with first. For example, if you want to avoid the hassle of an HOA, tell them ahead of time. You’ll also need to know how much you can afford to pay per month and put down as a down payment.
  • Review sample contracts: Although your real estate agent will the be resident expert, it behooves you to get familiar with sample contracts. Google or ask your agent for some sample contracts so you can learn the language, terms and conditions used.
  • Figure out your initial offer price: How much are you willing to offer on your dream home? Your agent will help you determine a fair price by comparing your potential home and offer price to similar winning bids in the area.
  • Look at the contingencies: Most home contracts have contingencies, like home inspections, that must be fulfilled before the contract can be finalized. Otherwise, either the buyer or the seller can walk away. Things like financing, home title, inspections and home sale contingencies are all common.
  • Make a deposit to show you’re serious: If you want the seller to know you’re serious about your offer, have your agent help you put a deposit down.
  • Write a letter to the seller: Another way to show the seller you’re serious—and maybe even tug at their heartstrings—is to write them a letter telling them why you want to buy the home. Is it the perfect place to raise your family? Do you have special ties to the community that make this your ideal home? Tell them why their house, in particular, is so attractive to you.
  • Read the fine print: Finally, make sure you read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Not only will it tell you what you’re dealing with in terms of utilities, appliances, fixtures and more, but it can also be a great negotiation tool.

Are you looking to make or negotiate an offer on a house in Alpine, TX? Call Carpenter Real Estate today. We can help you find and make a great offer on the house of your dreams.

How to Read an MLS Listing and What to Look For

When you’re looking into buying local real estate in Alpine, TX, you might encounter MLS listing sheets. If you’re unfamiliar with the abbreviations and terms used in these listings, it might come across as a completely different language. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the terms you’re most likely to encounter:

  • Status: This is the listing status of the property: active, pending or sold.
  • APN: Assessor’s Parcel Number, the number the county uses to track the property.
  • APX SF: Square footage in the property.
  • APX LSZ: Square footage of the lot.
  • YB: Year built.
  • FP: Number of fireplaces.
  • Zone: How the property has been zoned, which determines the kind of structures that can be built on the property.
  • STO: Number of stories.
  • DOM: Days the property has been on the market.
  • LP/SF: Listing price per square foot.
  • LP/OLP: Listing price and original list price. Compare these to see if there have been any reductions or other changes in listing price.
  • Sale type: This could include a standard sale, short sale, foreclosure, auction or other type of sale.

Other things to look for

Of course, reading a property listing will also require you to read between the lines in some cases. Beyond the specific facts such as those listed above, there are other things you should look for in an MLS listing that could make you more or less comfortable with purchasing the property.

The photos in particular will reveal a lot about the property. The verbiage in the listing will try to make the property sound as appealing as possible—that is the job of the realtor who wrote it. The pictures will determine whether or not the property is truly as good as it sounds.

Some things to look for include:

  • Number of photos: Ideally, you’ll want to see around 20 photos for a standard house. If there are just a couple photos, it’s hard to trust the property is truly as appealing as the realtor is attempting to make it sound. It’s reasonable to wonder what they might be trying to hide.
  • Quality of photos: While professional photos don’t necessarily mean the home is a high-quality home, it does indicate that more effort has been put into the listing, and thus it is reasonable to expect that more effort has also been put into taking care of the home.
  • Location of photos: If the focus of the set of photos seems to be the exterior of the house over the interior, this could be a red flag. Generally speaking, you’ll want the interior of the house to be the main focus. A good listing will show a couple exterior shots of the house and then bring the buyer inside.
  • Strange angles: Unusual angles in photos, especially when compared to other photos in the listing, could indicate the realtor is attempting to hide something.
  • Wide-angle lens: The wide-angle lens can distort the image to make the space look much larger than it appears.

For more information about reading and deciphering MLS listings when buying local real estate in Alpine, TX, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate today.

Important Qualities to Look for When Choosing a Real Estate Company

The process of buying or selling a house can be quite overwhelming, even if it’s not your first time doing it. Working with a good real estate agent can make the process go a lot more smoothly and remove a lot of the emotional burden you might otherwise feel.

But how can you find trustworthy and reliable real estate agents to work with in Alpine, TX? Here’s a quick overview of some of the most important qualities to prioritize in your search:

  • Honesty: Your realtor’s priority should be helping you find the best fit for you, and not making a quick sale. They shouldn’t attempt to force you into making a purchase you’re uncomfortable with, or push a home that has any clear defects. Realtors should be up front about any issues they see with a potential home and make sure they’re setting you up for years of happiness.
  • Responsiveness: The process of finding a house and then going through the purchase process requires a lot of back-and-forth communication with your realtor. It can be extremely frustrating to work with a realtor or real estate company that is not responsive to your questions.
  • Communication skills: Going beyond their responsiveness to your needs and questions, it’s also important to be able to carry on a good conversation with your realtor. How well do they explain the processes you will need to go through? What do they say to help put you at ease during what can be a stressful process? Great communication skills separate great realtors from average ones.
  • Knowledge of the process: One of the biggest stressors home buyers or sellers experience is their lack of personal knowledge about how the home buying or selling process actually works. Realtors can assuage those feelings by handling much of the process themselves, and guiding you carefully through the processes you need to handle on your own. A knowledgeable realtor is an outstanding resource when buying or selling a home.
  • Negotiation skills: Your realtor should serve as an advocate for you at the negotiating table. Depending on the circumstances of your sale or purchase, there may be a bit of give and take. A realtor with excellent negotiation skills will be able to find you the best deal possible in the sale without getting too far away from your own price goals.
  • Knowledge of the local market: A realtor who is knowledgeable about the local market will be able to leverage that knowledge in their negotiations, and will also have some insight into local ordinances or regulations that might influence your purchase decisions. They’ll also be able to compare the home to other homes in the area and determine what is a reasonable asking price.

In general, you should seek out a real estate agent who cares about delivering high-quality service to their clients and is an expert in their market. If you’re looking to work with a reliable real estate agent in Alpine, TX, get in touch with Carpenter Real Estate today.