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.

Five Etiquette Tips on Kids and Open Houses

If you are moving as a family, it’s natural to want to bring kids to see their potential new homes. However, even older, well-behaved kids may find visiting house after house a giant bore, and that can cause issues as you visit open houses. The best advice for real estate etiquette for parents in Alpine, TX is to hire a sitter and leave children at home, but if they must accompany you, here are five tips on bringing children to open houses:

  • Remember, it’s not yours yet: Open houses need to be treated with respect. That means no running around, no touching things without permission and if your teenagers get bored, no turning on the home’s electronics and hoping to see a movie. You know your children best, and if they cannot handle these basic rules, it is best to go without them. But if they are genuinely interested and want to participate, they are welcome.
  • Bring help: If kids must accompany you, bring a friend, spouse, partner or babysitter. One adult with three small children will not be able to properly supervise and assess a home at the same time. Even with this supervision, do not be ashamed to use mobile devices to entertain them with movies or games. You are making a big decision, and viewing and considering homes requires your full attention.
  • Don’t forget who pays the mortgage: While kids may have some input, your home choice is not ultimately their decision. Making kids decision-makers places pressure on them that is not appropriate. Many parents often elect to only bring kids to second showings, or even keep them out of the process until the home inspection. Just like bringing kids can be a distraction while trying to see homes, they can also derail the decision-making process with opinions that are more disruptive than helpful.
  • Narrow down your search: Many adults are more than happy to look at homes all day long. However, your children will likely not have the same interest and attention span. Narrow your search down so house hunting is a half day rather than a full-day endeavor. That way, you are less likely to tempt fate with outbursts or boredom. If your child’s temperament is not going to cooperate that day, reschedule for a better one.
  • Be prepared: Keep in mind that not every home you will view will be childproof. This is another reason to leave young children at home, but also know you cannot trust current homeowners to be prepared for your child’s visit. Before you leave, give your child ground rules for when you are visiting these homes. This includes staying away from other people’s possessions, not hanging on railings and never handling electronics that do not belong to them. Again, if you do not feel your child can respect these boundaries, make other arrangements for them.

Carpenter Real Estate hopes these guidelines for real estate etiquette for parents are helpful during your home search in Alpine, TX. Contact us today if you seek a new home or ranch.

Home for Sale? Prepare for Your Upcoming Move Now!

It’s so easy to get caught up in listing your home that you overlook preparing for the inevitable: the big moving day. Moving is stressful for most people, but knowing how to prepare for moving when selling your home will reduce much of that tension. However, do not put this off until the last minute—there are some things you can do now. Here are five tips for packing up your Alpine, TX home post-sale:

  • Declutter now: Old furniture in your garage, items you never use and clothes that no longer fit don’t need to follow you into the new house. Start getting rid of items now so you have less to pack later. This can be especially overwhelming when you’ve lived in one place for years, so go room by room or declutter based on types of items, like clothes, books, kitchen items, etc. Basically, if you do not need or want it for your new home, sell it or give it away.
  • Pack less immediate items first: After you declutter, start packing what you do not need every day. Start with items like books or wall art, and move boxes into the garage or a storage unit as you fill them. The kids’ playroom, the basement and closets are the best places to start. As you go through this process, you may find more items you no longer need and can combine this step with decluttering.
  • Store and organize: If you organize your everyday items, that will make it easier to pack them. Home offices, bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens are high-traffic areas that are often full of stuff. Use decorative baskets, bins and containers to organize but also keep it attractive. This can also help with staging as potential buyers start visiting your home.
  • Scrub appliances: If any of your appliances are making the move with you, clean them out now so it does not become an issue on a high-stress moving day. Ovens and stoves should be clean, as well as refrigerators, washers and dryers. Also, you likely do not want to move dirty appliances into a new house, so this helps with your moving-in steps as well.
  • Check HOA regulations: When you are moving out of a condominium or a neighborhood with strict HOA regulations, check to see what you can and cannot do when the moving truck arrives. For condos, there are likely load limits on elevators and certain doors your moving crew must use. Neighborhoods may have limitations on where trucks can park and for how long. While moving can be disruptive to you and your neighbors, it is only considerate to reduce that as much as possible. Know the rules, and if you must deviate from them, communicate that clearly and apologize when necessary.

Carpenter Real Estate can help ensure you need these tips for packing up your home post-sale sooner rather than later. We can focus on selling your home while you focus on how to prepare for moving when selling your home in Alpine, TX and moving on to the next step. Contact us today to list your home with us.

Signs You’re Ready to Buy a Home

Buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and many first-time homebuyers don’t understand all the implications involved. From getting rid of debt and saving for a down payment to having enough on hand to deal with the inevitable repairs, there’s a lot to consider. Here’s how to decide whether to buy a home in Alpine, TX.

Can you afford a mortgage?

The biggest factor in buying a home is, of course, whether you can afford to do so. If you have enough money saved up to pay cash, you certainly can feel comfortable purchasing now. However, most people need a mortgage in order to buy a home.

Typically, your mortgage company will look at your credit, your debt-to-income ratio and how much you can truly afford. Mortgage brokers prefer to keep the front-end debt-to-income ratio at about 28 percent or less—after all, if you lose your job, have unexpected expenses or need major repairs, you don’t want all your disposable income going to a mortgage. Plus, since they’re usually 25- to 30-year commitments, you’ll also need to consider how reliable your employment is.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage will give you a better idea of what you can afford.

Do you have a down payment saved?

The more of a down payment you have saved, the better—you’ll have lower monthly payments and interest rates. Experts suggest having at least 20 percent of the purchase price saved up. However, if this isn’t a possibility, there are other options. Ask your real estate agent and mortgage broker about other sources of financing.

How will you handle repairs?

As a homeowner, you’re financially responsible for taking care of your home—if you’ve been used to renting, this can come with sticker shock. What happens if you spring a leak or find out that there are foundation problems? What can you fix yourself, and what will you need to outsource? How will you pay for it? Don’t forget to factor in increased utilities, lawn care supplies and other hidden costs.

What does the market look like?

The housing market is another major factor in readiness. If it’s cheaper to buy than rent, you are likely making a smart decision in purchasing. You’ll also want to consider whether the market is appreciating and growing and how depressed real estate prices may be—a depressed market can mean that your bargain home will grow in value as the market rebounds.

Do you plan to settle down?

Finally, are you ready to settle down in one spot? Consider how steady your job is, your ties to the area, potential family planning concerns (especially if you’ll need extra bedrooms), whether you’ll be taking care of aging parents and other lifestyle considerations. Remember that if you sell your home before living in it for two years, you may be subject to capital gains tax.

If these tips for buying a first home in Alpine, TX have reassured you that you’re ready, contact Carpenter Real Estate to get started!

How to Avoid Common Home-Buying Mistakes

Buying a new home—especially if it’s your first one—is a milestone in anyone’s life. It’s also a time when your emotions can outweigh your more prudent nature. Homeownership is more than signing a contract and moving in—it has many consequences that can take new owners by surprise. Here are some of the main home-buying mistakes to avoid in Alpine, TX:

  • Know what you can afford: It’s easy to fall in love with houses, but the last thing you want is to fall in love with one that you really can’t afford. Instead of attending open houses indiscriminately, figure out your budget and limit your search to places you can afford.
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage: In the same vein, it’s very helpful to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start looking. This allows you to see the difference between what the mortgage company will approve versus what you can afford. It also allows you to put in an offer quickly when you do find your dream home.
  • Know what you want: Just like you need to know what you can afford and know that you’re approved for a mortgage, you should also have a good idea of your non-negotiables. For example, do you absolutely need a three-bedroom home in a good school district? Look at places in those categories—don’t make the mistake of settling for two bedrooms. You’ll end up unhappy, no matter how great a deal the property may seem to be.
  • Get an agent: Working with a real estate agent is a smart idea—they’re ethically bound to advance your interests. You’ll also have an advocate on your side to advise you about whether a purchase is a smart one, whether a location is increasing in value and other important, expert advice.
  • Shop around: Don’t buy the first house you tour, no matter how perfect it seems, and keep a healthy sense of skepticism about you. Staging and cosmetic fixes can be deceptive, eliciting a much higher price tag than a home without them. Ask your agent if you’re unsure. You should also be wary of fixer-uppers—don’t buy a home that requires more time than you can devote.
  • Get all the right inspections: Never skip inspections, no matter how honest the seller seems. Before you make a major purchase, it’s important to make sure there aren’t any expensive, hidden flaws that could lead you to regret the sale.
  • Be ready to say no: At the end of the day, the biggest mistake you can make is buying a house with glaring red flags, whether it’s in a bad neighborhood, doesn’t have enough bathrooms or doesn’t pass inspection. Desperation leads to poor decisions. Even if you’re able to turn around and sell the home right away, you’re going to end up paying additional closing and moving costs, as well as the agent’s commission.

Carpenter Real Estate can help you find the perfect home at a price you can afford. Get in touch with us to start your search and avoid the most common home-buying mistakes in Alpine, TX.

How to Get Acreage Appraised

To the average person standing on a plot of land in Alpine, TX, all the land may be the same. Of course, that’s not true in the slightest. Depending on where you’re standing, a parcel of land could hold incredible opportunity or dire predictions. It all depends on how the property is appraised. If you’re curious about how land is appraised in Alpine, TX, here is a primer.

The view

One of the first parts of a property that gets discussed is its “amenity features.” That is, are there parts of the property that make it especially attractive? A nearby body of water or a scenic view of the mountains can go a long way toward bumping up the price of your property.

Shape and topography

The natural and legal boundaries on your property play a big part in their value. For example, a strip of land that is too narrow may not be ideal for building in any scenario. A patch of land that changes elevation too rapidly or continuously may also be bad for building. It’s critical to understand how the property could potentially be used when determining value.


Hands down, the most important component of how land appraisal works in Alpine, TX is its access. Ideally, you should have paved, public access to your property. If the access to your property is landlocked, if it travels through private property or if it is one-sided, all of these things could drive down the value of your property.


It probably comes as little surprise that the location of your property is extremely important. That said, depending on how the property will be used, a “good” location could mean one of several things. If you want to cultivate agricultural property, making sure it’s far from civilization is a good thing. However, when opening a restaurant, you’ll want to make sure it’s near population centers.

Legal status

If the property in question is under an easement or an encumbrance, you could see its value diminish significantly. For example, if your property is under a conservation easement, development is all but impossible. County zoning rules and land use requirements will also play a factor in the appraisal of your property.


If your property has issues with flooding, or if the slope of the land doesn’t promote proper drainage, you could see your property lose value quickly. After all, potential buyers look at a poorly-draining property as money they’ll need to invest in improvements.

Put your land in the hands of Carpenter Real Estate

If you want to know more about how land is appraised in Alpine, TX, then come to the pros at Carpenter Real Estate. We have more than 70 years of experience providing the area’s most comprehensive real estate services. Residential or commercial, it doesn’t matter—we’re the team you can call on. Home sales, acreage, commercial real estate—we do it all!

All it takes is one call to Carpenter Real Estate to make your property needs a thing of the past. Call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

What to Consider When Purchasing Commercial Land

Whether you’re searching for a prime investment opportunity or you want to find the perfect place to build your dream business, your success will begin and end with the piece of commercial land you choose to buy. Before you invest your valuable capital purchasing commercial land in Alpine, TX, here are some crucial factors to keep in mind.

Know your purpose

If you are in the market for a piece of commercial land (as opposed to agricultural or industrial property), the odds are good that you are developing it for some customer-oriented service. Maybe you want to build an apartment building with ground-floor retail. Perhaps you want to open a restaurant. Maybe you’re developing a shopping center with a little bit of everything. Before you can begin your commercial project, you need to know what your end goal is.

Get on the right side of regulations

Every time you erect a commercial building or purchase an existing structure, the land will come with zoning regulations, deed stipulations and more. Before you commit yourself to any property, it’s essential that you have an idea of the legal and regulatory implications of your purchase.

Get the land surveyed extensively

It doesn’t matter how big or small the property is when purchasing commercial land in Alpine, TX—you should certainly have an independent land surveyor assess your property and deliver an up-to-date report on the specifics of the land (i.e., boundaries, topography, slope, protected areas, etc.).

Do your homework

You wouldn’t build a restaurant 50 miles from the nearest neighborhood, would you? You wouldn’t think about constructing an office building in a location that’s difficult to reach, right? Before you break ground, make sure you’re studying your property as well as the community surrounding it. Before you purchase a piece of commercial land, you’ll want to make sure that it will get enough interest to remain viable.

Think about the future

When you first set foot on your property, it may look like an isolated stretch of land. That may be true in the beginning, but thanks to an incredible increase in the U.S. population and a consistent number of people leaving larger cities like El Paso, that may not be the case for long. Investigate the area you’re planning to buy. See if anyone else has expressed interest. You could be standing on a gold mine.

Find the right team

Easily the most vital component of finding the perfect piece of commercial land is enlisting the help of the right realtor. When you’re purchasing commercial land in Alpine, TX, that means placing a call to Carpenter Real Estate.

Since 1947, we have sold more than a million acres in Alpine, TX and the surrounding areas. We’ve gotten to know the intricate ins and outs of real estate in the area better than anyone else, and we can’t wait to put that knowledge to work for you. Whether your needs are commercial or residential, we can help. Pick up the phone and give us a call today. We can’t wait to hear from you.

Tips for Flipping a House

House flipping requires careful investment based on detailed knowledge of real estate and property management. If you want to learn how to flip a house in Alpine, TX, use the following tips to reap the best ROI.

Focus on cosmetics

If a home is outdated and far from aesthetically pleasing, it has good potential for house flipping in Alpine, TX. What you want to avoid is a home that has major mechanical issues. If you have to replace the electrical system or HVAC unit, these costs will eat away at any profits and make the home a money pit rather than a healthy flip. Focus on homes where you can add new carpeting, a fresh coat of paint and new kitchen appliances to transform the interior and resell the home for a profit.

Complete an inspection

Never attempt house flipping in Alpine, TX without first completing an inspection of the home. At times, investors may be tempted to buy a property sight-unseen because it seems to be a great bargain. However, the property may have many hidden issues that will make it more hassle and headache than profitable in the long run. An inspection will reveal any red flags and help you make an informed decision about your investment.

Know your audience

This adage holds true in many fields, including house flipping in Alpine, TX. Keep in mind the type of prospective buyer to whom you plan to sell the home. This should guide your renovations and the ultimate price point of the home. Know the area, the potential buyers and the current market. This will help you avoid making unnecessary improvements, making the wrong improvements or buying the wrong home for your investment goals. It will also help you make the best profit when you sell.

Educate yourself

Don’t try to go into house flipping blindly. Read about the business, learn the industry, the terminology and the dos and don’ts of how to flip a house in Alpine, TX. You may even want to take a few courses to familiarize yourself with the business. You’ll need to learn how to work with contractors, choose the right projects, find buyers and use real estate auctions to your advantage. All of these topics require research and study to ensure you have success with house flipping in Alpine, TX.

Stay organized

There are many moving parts involved with house flipping in Alpine, TX. You’ll need a good system to track the various projects and contractors as well as potential buyers. Choose a system that works well for you and is easy to manage. Many software programs are available that help you track everything you need as you learn how to flip a house.

Start flipping

For expert input on how to flip a house in Alpine, TX, contact the professionals at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, we’ve sold over a million acres in Alpine and the surrounding area. Our in-depth knowledge of the market makes us your go-to source for all your real estate needs. Contact us today for a free consultation at 432-837-3325.

Open Houses During COVID-19

Many professionals have opted to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have been forced to work from home by order of their employer. For many, this is a viable option that changes little about their workload or paycheck.

The same is not true for real estate agents. Activities such as hosting an open house during COVID-19 in Alpine, TX have become more complex, making their jobs more difficult. Here’s how the pandemic is shaping the world of real estate and how realtors are handling the challenge.

Online options

Fortunately, the technology available today makes it possible for potential buyers to tour homes online. This eliminates the need for many home showings and open houses that were once necessary to gain exposure for the home.

Still, if a buyer finds a home online that catches their interest, they typically want to see it in person before making an offer. You simply can’t get the same impression from a camera that you can from an in-home visit. To handle these showings, realtors are taking typical precautions recommended by health professionals as well as taking some creative approaches to in-person showings that reduce the risk of exposure.

In-person showings

Self-showings have become popular during the current health crisis. This works especially well when the home is vacant. The real estate agent can give an access code to the potential buyer, who uses the code on a lock box to gain entry to the home. This eliminates any exposure between the client and the realtor while allowing the buyer to view the home in person.

When an agent must accompany a buyer, all parties can wear masks and maintain the recommended distance as they walk through the home.

Hosting open houses during COVID-19 in Alpine, TX

The need for social distancing during open houses in Alpine, TX makes the event a little more challenging, but it is still doable. However, many are opting to simply skip open houses and rely solely on individual showings of the home to sell their property. Real estate agents admit that open houses are more for them to meet new clients than to sell the home, so the homeowner is not really missing out on much by skipping this option.

If hosting an open house during COVID-19 in Alpine, TX is something the seller wants to do, masks, social distancing and disinfecting before and after the open house are essential. And if sellers decide an open house is not for them, real estate agents can effectively use online marketing to safely acquire new client leads and grow their business.

Learn more

To discover more about the current real estate market and hosting an open house during COVID-19 in Alpine, TX, contact the professionals at Carpenter Real Estate. Since 1947, we’ve sold over 1 million acres in Alpine and the surrounding areas. For three generations, we’ve specialized in residential properties, ranches and commercial properties. Our vast knowledge and experience make us the first place to go for any and all of your real estate needs. Call today for a free consultation.