Buying a Home? Make Sure All Work Was Done with a Permit

A newly renovated home sounds like a buyer’s dream—but if the seller didn’t get the necessary permits for the work, it can quickly turn into a nightmare. Depending on where you are in the buying process, you might be responsible for removing the work that was completed, paying any applicable fines and having to redo the work (with a permit) all over again. Avoid the hassle by ensuring that your closing costs include any necessary building permits in Alpine, TX.

How to tell if work was done without a permit

Depending on your location, you can usually find out what kind of work was done on a home by pulling the building permits from your local municipality. If the home has clearly been renovated, yet there is no record of a building permit for that work, you know you’re treading into murky waters.

Sellers are required to list any and all work done to the property, even unpermitted work, in their property disclosure. The property disclosure is required by law, and it’s meant to give buyers a clear picture of what assets and flaws a property has. This helps buyers make an informed decision, and allows them to decide if they want to continue with the purchase. Typically, this comes after the buyer has made an offer and the seller has accepted it, but some sellers will provide the information before the buyer makes an offer. Either way, make sure you do your due diligence by reviewing the property disclosure carefully and double-checking with your local building department.

What to do if you’re buying a home renovated without permits

Generally, as soon as the buyer signs the purchase agreement, they’re the ones on the hook for the renovations, so don’t sign anything until you know whether the work was done with all the necessary permits.

If your seller neglected to get the permits for their renovations, it doesn’t mean that you have to or should back out of the sale entirely, although in some cases that might be the wisest decision. Instead, have your attorney write a clause into the contract that the seller is responsible for pulling permits and ensuring that all building is up to code. If the seller refuses, revoke the offer.

Did you discover the permit problem after signing the contract? You might be able to get out of it through the home inspection. Professional home inspections can find work that wasn’t done up to code (or that was performed without permits), and depending on how your contract is worded, you may be able to halt the transaction if you’re unsatisfied with the results of the inspection.

Ultimately, it’s best to do your due diligence before proceeding with the sale, and ensure that any permits needed are included in the closing costs in Alpine, TX. Working with an experienced realtor like Carpenter Real Estate can help you spot problems before you sign, and ensure the buying process continues smoothly. Reach out to us today to learn more.

What to Know About Selling a Moldy Home

Selling a home is hard enough, so when homeowners find mold in their dwelling, they might panic. There are plenty of homes on the market that don’t have mold issues, and buyers are far more likely to find out about the mold and move on to one of those. After all, in addition to being unsightly, some types of mold cause serious health problems. Why risk it?

If you suspect that your home has mold, it’s important to get a home mold inspection in Alpine, TX and start on the remediation process. You may be able to save the transaction, although it’s likely that you won’t be able to command as much money.

Can you sell a house with mold?

In short, yes—as long as you disclose the mold situation to the buyer. Sometimes the seller doesn’t know that the home has mold until the inspection, which comes as a nasty surprise. Not all mold is toxic, however, and in many cases, if it hasn’t spread, it can be removed without too much trouble.

If you spot the mold before listing the house, repair the issue before your home goes on the market. Remediating mold can be a time-consuming process, which adds unnecessary days to your home’s time on the market—something that looks bad to potential buyers.

In many cases where you find extensive mold during the selling process, the buyer will simply choose to revoke their offer. Others might ask you to significantly lower your price.

How to save the transaction

So, what can you do when you’ve found mold in the home you’re selling? How can you ensure the sale is able to proceed? Here are some steps you can take:

  • Disclose the problem: You are required by law to tell the buyer that you found mold, even if it’s just a small amount. Depending on how large the problem is, they may revoke their offer—but that doesn’t mean your house will never sell.
  • Inspect for additional mold: Once you spot (or smell) some mold, it’s important to check the rest of the house to assess the extent of the problem. You may wish to get a professional home mold inspection in Alpine, TX to make this job easier.
  • Fix any leaks or moisture problems: Mold can develop anywhere there’s humidity and a surface for spores to land upon. Seal any leaks to prevent further spread.
  • Repair the problem: If your mold problem is small, you might be able to remove and replace affected drywall and other materials yourself. For larger mold issues, it’s prudent to hire a professional. They’ll be more adept at removing the mold, preventing cross-contamination and making sure all affected are treated. They will also use HEPA air filters to help remove any mold in the air and clean the mold stains.
  • Consider selling “as is”: If you can’t or don’t want to deal with the mold problem yourself, consider selling your home “as is.” That will require you to lower the price, but you won’t have to deal with real estate mold remediation in Alpine, TX yourself.

Are you selling your home and want to work with an experienced realtor? Call Carpenter Real Estate today to learn more about how we can help you throughout the process.

Don’t Let Minor Issues Get in the Way of a Home Purchase

First-time home buyers are often some of the pickiest customers, for a couple reasons: a) they’re not used to the process of purchasing a home and have a bit of anxiety about finding the “perfect” home for them, and b) they don’t know quite as much about what issues are and are not deal breakers. In other words, they’re not familiar with the reasons to buy or not buy a house in Alpine, TX.

A lot of people, for example, will pass over a beautiful home with a lot of potential simply because of cosmetic reasons—for example, some fixable damage to hardwood floors, siding they don’t like or color schemes inside the home. Part of going through the home buying process is figuring out what is and is not fixable, and what you’re willing to live with for a certain amount of time before you can make the changes you want. You always have the ability to negotiate the asking price to make the purchase more affordable.

There’s also a tendency for potential home buyers to shy away from purchases because they’re worried about hidden costs. But here’s the thing: any home is going to come with hidden costs—that’s just part of homeownership. So long as you get a good inspection done on the home beforehand, you can at least prepare for what those hidden costs might look like.

Situations in which purchasing is not a good idea

That being said, there are some circumstances in which you’re probably better off not purchasing a house, and it may or may not even have anything to do with the house in question. Here are some examples of some good reasons to put off a purchase or turn down a house:

  • You’re not financially prepared: You should have enough money saved up for a good down payment to save you money on interest over the long run. You should also have a good credit score, so you can get lower interest rates from your mortgage lender. If you’re not financially prepared to purchase a home, you could make life significantly more difficult for yourself in the long run.
  • The market conditions are poor: If the market is on the decline, you might purchase a home only to find its value continue to fall after you’ve taken ownership. There’s no guarantee your property will appreciate back to the level it was at when you purchased by the time you want to sell, especially if you’re not in the investment for the long haul.
  • There are significant issues with the home: Minor cosmetic issues should never be something that prevent you from purchasing an otherwise ideal house. But if the home has major issues with the foundation or other structural elements, or if the existing floor plan or number of bedrooms/bathrooms does not work for your needs, then it’s a wise choice to look elsewhere. Foundation issues are an especially large red flag, because they can be extremely expensive and difficult to repair.

For more information about when it is or is not a good idea to purchase a home and some good reasons to buy in Alpine, TX, contact an experienced realtor at Carpenter Real Estate today.

Shift Away from Urban Living Results in Increased Sales of New Homes

The COVID-19 pandemic has had some interesting effects on new home sales trends in Alpine, TX and throughout the United States. Initially, sales of new homes fell to a massive extent below normal levels, but by the fifth week of the pandemic, the numbers began to climb back up.

The coronavirus pandemic essentially brought the entire nation’s economy to a halt, so it’s no surprise that purchases of new homes and new home construction fell down by as much as 85 percent from the normal numbers at this time of year. As the numbers slowly started to climb back up after the first four weeks, however, the market was looking especially good for new home construction, particularly for first-time and entry-level buyers.

Why the increase in demand for new construction?

Part of the reason behind the demand for new construction is that renters are leaving apartments and looking for new homes. One study showed young couples with two incomes and secure employment were starting to grow weary of renting in major urban centers, but also are not necessarily willing to take on fixer-uppers. By building their own homes, they get everything they want in a house right from the get-go.

Another issue has been the changes in lifestyles under the pandemic. The lockdowns imposed by governments to contain the spread of the virus may have some lasting impacts on where Americans live, and how they live. The millennial generation has been leading a move back to denser urban areas, but worries about shelter-in-place orders may encourage first-time buyers to move away from these city centers to places where they have more space to roam and call their own.

Any concerns of future shelter-in-place orders could have people seeking areas where they’re not going to feel as confined. After all, most of your average urban apartments don’t have large back yards, basements for exercise rooms or easy areas to set up a home office.

In addition, it is expected that more companies will begin allowing employees to work from home even after the pandemic is over, which could result in some people deciding they’d rather live in a place with dedicated home office space.

Zillow, the largest real estate listing site in the United States, reported there has been a slight increase in search traffic after a drastic dip in searches at the beginning of the pandemic. As the demand increases, the supply is there—in fact, the supply of newly-built homes for sale is estimated to currently be twice the supply of existing homes for sale. There had already been a shortage of existing homes for sale even before the pandemic, but the pandemic seems to have had the effect of convincing would-be buyers to avoid putting their homes on the market until the economic situation across the United States stabilizes and values rise back up.

For more information about some of the new home sales trends in Alpine, TX resulting from the pandemic, contact the team at Carpenter Real Estate today.

Understanding Title Insurance

There’s a lot of paperwork that goes into any real estate transaction, and most people can find themselves overwhelmed by all of the new terminology they need to understand. It helps to work with a trusted partner like Carpenter Real Estate to help you make your way through these challenging times.

However, you’ll also want to familiarize yourself with some of these concepts on your own time so that you can feel involved and informed when it comes time to work through a real estate transaction. Title insurance in Alpine, TX is one of those things most buyers and sellers have questions about—what is it, and what does it do? We’ve outlined some brief tips below to help our readers understand this concept.

What is title insurance?

A title is the slip of paper that shows that you’re legally the owner of an asset or piece of property, so it’s a crucially important piece of the real estate puzzle. It’s important to also note that titles can either be purchased as part of a transaction, or they can be inherited.

Title insurance is basically a written guarantee that you own your piece of property. Titles can contain “defects”—flaws that undermine your claim of ownership to the property that you purchased—and title insurance protects you against any claims against your property resulting from any type of defect. Title insurance in Alpine, TX can be a complex topic, so call our professional team at any time to gather more information on this subject.

Types of title insurance

When it comes to title insurance in Alpine, TX, it’s important to understand that there are a couple different versions of the product. Lender’s insurance and owner’s insurance are the two types of title insurance, and they both do different things.

Title insurance is intended to protect against claims on a title, and the lender and real estate owner both need protection, so they each have separate title insurance policies. These protect both of their investments against claims like ownership by another party, incorrect signatures on documents, defective recording of legal documents and a host of other issues. All of these can make your title “dirty” and compromise your claim to the land or home you thought you bought, and title insurance stands as a safeguard against these problems.

It’s risky to forgo it

When you’re putting together a real estate transaction, it can seem that you’re paying for many things you didn’t even know existed, and title insurance can be one of those items. If you don’t have it, then you can be liable for things related to previous owners whom you don’t even know—things like back taxes can fall on your shoulders, so it’s ultimately very risky to not have title insurance.

If you’re in the real estate market, there are many factors to consider and many costs that get integrated into transactions. Call Carpenter Real Estate any time and we will be happy to walk you through why title insurance in Alpine, TX is such a good idea.

Warning Signs to Watch for When Buying Vacant Land

If you’re a real estate investor, there’s a lot of things you have to keep in mind at any given time. The prices and values of your properties are probably always foremost in your mind, as is the quality and longevity of your tenants. Many property owners these days are also starting to look into buying land that has the potential for investment, speculation or building new properties. If this sounds like you and you’re in the market for buying vacant land, Carpenter Real Estate is happy to give you a hand. With this in mind, here are some vacant land warnings in Alpine, TX we’ve put together over our many years of service:

·      Land is complicated: One of the mistakes many investors make is underestimating the complexity and intricacies of vacant land. There are many zoning laws and regulations that you need to account for, so you need to make sure the land you’re looking at is the right kind for the plans you have in mind. Additionally, the topography of land can change the equations of purchasing and owning, so don’t be shy about seeking expert opinions.

·      Remember the government’s role: The government plays a big part in real estate and in land development, and one of our biggest vacant land warnings in Alpine, TX is to keep their role in mind. Sometimes tax rates on vacant land can surprise landowners, so be sure to do your research ahead of time and you hopefully won’t be shocked during tax season. Additionally, you should see about things like the potential hookups for utilities, including water, sewer, gas, electricity and phone. These things can all influence the potential of a piece of land.

·      Water can be a big deal: If you’re looking to buy property that’s near water, you need to keep one very critical thing in mind. Flooding can be a huge deal and causes billions of dollars of damage in America each year, so do your homework and make sure you know everything there is to know about whether the land is in a flood zone and what that can do to your insurance and your plans for the property. Additionally, the presence of wetlands on a property can influence what you had planned, since it’s illegal to use land in any way that adversely affects wetland areas.

·      Taking a look has never been easier: Tools like Google Earth give you the opportunity to take a look at a property without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. You can also hire companies online these days that will tour the property for you, taking pictures and walking you through what it looks and feels like.

Finding vacant property that has the potential for investment or construction is a wonderful challenge. Whether it’s your first time or your tenth time exploring this option, our experienced team will be ready to assist you—give Carpenter Real Estate a call or stop by for a visit anytime! We know the vacant land warnings in Alpine, TX that you need to watch out for, and we would be proud to be your local partner.

Benefits and Tips for Buying Land in Texas

The idea of Texas land for sale can bring to mind many things for many different people. Our team works with people all the time who have visions of cattle ranches and horse farms dancing in their heads, while others have more modest but still wonderful visions of the perfect homestead somewhere in our great state. We are more than happy to work with all of these people, and over the years our team at Carpenter Real Estate has assembled quite the tool kit to work with folks who want to look into buying land in Texas. Some of our favorite tips are outlined below.

Financial benefits

There are a number of monetary benefits of Texas land for sale that might not immediately meet the eye. For example, many people are surprised to learn that there are property tax exemptions available. Basically, to meet these standards, you will need to make sure your land is set aside for a use like wildlife or agriculture. This can ultimately save you thousands. Another benefit is writing off expenses—if you are using your new land for farming purposes, then you can file a Schedule F on your federal income taxes, which entitles you to different tax exemptions and benefits as well. Doing your research is critical, but you will find that there are a number of chances to save a few bucks.

Experience matters

If you are looking into Texas land for sale, it really benefits you to work with a real estate team that knows what they’re doing and are able to help you through any challenges that you might meet. Our agents are all trained in the differences between different types of land and can counsel you on what you might want to look out for if you’re interested in keeping it vacant, in using it for farming or for building your dream home. The options are really limitless, and can thus be overwhelming, but you want to work with a team that knows what they’re doing and can guide you. Carpenter Real Estate fits the bill—we have the years of hard-earned expertise to help our clients succeed.

Understand the laws

One of the best tips for buying land in Texas is that everyone who works within this sector should have a great and thorough understanding of all relevant laws. This includes zoning regulations, local ordinances and the prospect of easements that can weigh on the mind of real estate buyers. You want to work with a team that can make you feel confident in the knowledge that they know these ins and outs—we can be part of that team.

Looking into Texas land for sale is a complex challenge. You want to make sure you’re well educated about the various opportunities and challenges, and work with a team that knows what it’s doing via years of experience. Carpenter Real Estate fits the bill, and can guide you through the process necessary to get you to your dreams. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.

Tips for Buying Vacant Land

One of the oldest tips/jokes in real estate is, “Always invest in land—they’re not making any more of it!” While an old and familiar line, there is some truth to it. Investing in land can be one of the smartest things you can do, depending on where you live, and it can make a very interesting addition to your portfolio if you’re smart and do your research. A vacant lot purchase in Alpine, TX might be just the thing to diversify your holdings and make your real estate investments all the more attractive. Our team has put together some quick tips for you to keep in mind as you begin exploring the world of land purchases:

  • Location, location, location: The very first rule of real estate is all the more true when you’re purchasing undeveloped land in Alpine, TX or elsewhere. You want to make sure you’re selecting land in an area that is currently desirable, will become more desirable or will become desirable one day. This requires time and research—it’s not a decision you want to rush, and it’s critical to take your time as you look into these matters. You will be glad that you laid the groundwork for sound planning.
  • Be prepared for costs: There are a number of costs to consider when you look into a vacant lot purchase in Alpine, TX, and our team at Carpenter Real Estate can absolutely help you navigate these waters. However, you should be prepared on your own terms to some extent. For example, you will likely want to look into title insurance, which offers you significant protections in the event of liens or other legal matters. You might also want to look into a land survey, which can give you a better idea of the parameters and challenges. These potential hurdles are just a few you need to consider.
  • Know the utilities: You will want to have a good idea of the utility situation when you look into potential properties. If you’re looking to just keep it vacant, then this will not be an issue, but if you want to eventually build, you need to consider these critical elements. Sometimes places will already have utilities installed, which can save you a lot of headache, but if not, you want to look into issues like water and sewage. It’s possible that your land will need a septic system if it’s far away from municipal sewer operations, for example, which can be a significant cost.
  • Flooding: If you’re interested in a vacant lot purchase in Alpine, TX, you want to make sure your assessment of the land includes the potential for flooding. Floods can be disastrous, so use all of the resources available to see if it could be a factor on your potential plots.

Looking into vacant lot purchases can be a savvy move on the part of a smart real estate investor. You can project your own fantasies and dreams on to a blank canvas, but you want to make sure that you’re going in with your eyes wide open about potential expenses and challenges. Reach out to the experts at Carpenter Real Estate for additional information and advice.

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.