Expert Advice Part 12: Hiring the Agent

The purchase of a home or other type of property is a major life decision and milestone. For many people, it will be the most expensive purchase they ever make. So, whether you’re buying for the first time or if you’ve done it a few times before, you will be best served by working with an experienced real estate agent to help you through the process.

There will certainly be no shortage of real estate agents for you to find. So how do you choose which one you want to work with? Here are some tips about hiring real estate agents in Alpine, TX:

  • Get preapproved for a mortgage before hiring: Before you begin shopping around for a real estate agent, you should talk to a lender and make sure you’re actually able to get preapproved. Assuming you’re able to do so, this will give you a clear idea of how much money you’ll be able to borrow, which will play a role in the kinds of homes your realtor can search for. It also helps demonstrate to your realtor that you are a serious buyer.
  • Ask family and friends: A great first step in finding a realtor to work with is asking friends or relatives who have recently bought houses about their experience, and whether they have anyone they can recommend. You can trust the recommendations of people close to you—they’re not going to want to steer you wrong.
  • Conduct some online research: You can search for candidates online as well, and if you’ve already developed a potential list of realtors, you can do some research on their background. Check out websites or professional social media profiles, and look for online reviews. You can get a sense from the kinds of properties they list if they’ll be a good fit for what you’re looking for, and reviews can at least give you an idea as to whether they’ll be good to work with.
  • Interview: Talk to at least several real estate agents over the phone or in person. This gives you a chance to get familiar with them and decide if you’ll be able to build a comfortable working relationship with them. You can ask them any questions you want at this point, including their availability, their preferred means of communication, the kinds of homes they tend to work with and areas in which they focus, etc. You can also request references that you can follow up with later to learn more about your potential realtor’s background.
  • Make a decision: Ultimately the best thing you can do is to go with whoever feels right. Select who you developed a rapport with and who you think is best positioned to find you a house in the area you want to be in. If you’ve researched the realtor’s background and are comfortable with their level of experience, then you should be armed with the information you need to make a good decision.

For more information about hiring a real estate agent in Alpine, TX, contact Carpenter Real Estate today.

Expert Advice Part 9: Consulting the Agency

When preparing to enter the real estate market, you probably spent a lot of time researching properties, neighborhoods and potential homes on your own time. When you approach the stage of home buying that requires you to actually move forward with a transaction, though, you’ll have to secure the assistance of one of the real estate agencies in Alpine, TX.

Real estate agents act as your representatives as you move forward with buying a home. They make sure that your interests are looked out for during the transaction, and they help you negotiate the best possible price and deal on your home purchase.

Choosing a real estate agent to work with, however, is often one of the most challenging parts of purchasing a home. You have to find and select an agent that you can count on to watch out for your interests during every step of the real estate buying process, which is far from easy. You have to trust your real estate agent with intimate financial details, and count on them to secure you the best possible deal.

Here are a few questions that you should ask when interviewing real estate agencies in Alpine, TX in advance of signing an agreement or contract:

  • How long have you been in business? This is important. You want to work with a real estate agency that has extensive experience in the industry and in your local market. If you’re working with an inexperienced agent, they may not be able to provide you with the full suite of services you expect and need.
  • What percentage of your clients are buyers? Most real estate agents specialize in serving either buyers or sellers. If you’re looking for someone to help you purchase a home, you should work with an agent that has more experience and more of a vested stake in helping buyers, rather than sellers.
  • How do you differentiate yourself from the competition? Your real estate agency should be able to easily identify several differentiating factors that set their business apart. If they can’t, you should take your business elsewhere. You deserve to work with a real estate company that’s outstanding.
  • Do you offer any guarantees? Ask about any guarantees that the agency provides in case something goes wrong with the transaction. If you discover problems with the house after the sale closes, what will the agency do to remedy the situation? Do they offer any discounts on warranties or services?
  • Can you provide references? Every real estate agent should provide you with several happy former customers that you can call. You should verify the quality of services that the references received, and ask them if they’d recommend working with that agent again.

Since 1947, Carpenter Real Estate has been one of the most trusted real estate agencies in Alpine, TX. We’re proud to provide our clients with dependable, reliable representation. To learn more about ways that we can help you ensure your interests are looked out for during the real estate buying process, contact one of our highly qualified agents today.

When Can I Back Out if I Change My Mind About Buying a House?

If you are planning on buying a home soon, or are already in the process of buying one, then it is natural to feel a bit of trepidation. After all, buying a home is the biggest purchase that most people will make in their lifetimes, so of course you are going to wonder whether you’ve made the right decision.

If you put a lot of thought into the decision before beginning the process of purchasing your home, then you probably do not have anything to worry about. While you may experience some last-minute anxiety, those fears will soon fade away once you move into your new home and fall in love with it.

But sometimes, you might have a legitimate reason for wanting to back out of a real estate deal at the last minute. As a real estate agent in Alpine, TX, we have seen it happen before. Here is an overview of some reasons why people need to back out at the last minute, and how it works.

Why you’re backing out

When people need to back out of buying a home, their reason usually falls into one of two categories: either their life plans or situation has suddenly changed, or something is wrong with the house.

That first category can include things like the death of a loved one, a sudden unexpected breakup or divorce or a change in your job or income level. When one of these things occurs, most people are willing to part with a bit of their upfront cash to get out of the larger responsibility of buying a house.

When it comes to the second category, final inspections can sometimes reveal problems with a home that were not already evident. In this case, there might be a chance you can walk away from the deal without losing a dime.

Contingencies and loopholes

When backing out of a real estate deal during an escrow period, you will probably lose some of the “upfront money,” generally equal to two or three percent of the total home value. But if a final inspection brings new, negative information about the home to light, then there will likely be a contingency in your contract that you can use to get rid of any obligation on your end.

“Subject to appraisal” is another contingency you ought to put in your purchase agreement. If a bank or other lender does not determine that the home is worth what you initially agreed to pay, then you might be able to get away scot-free.

Ask your realtor

At the end of the day, the process for backing out of a real estate deal will depend on your unique situation. That is why it is so important to have a real estate agent in Alpine, TX whom you can trust to help you through every step of the process. Realtors know to expect the unexpected, so they are always prepared to deal with curveballs as they come up.

If you need a realtor’s expert advice, get in touch with Carpenter Real Estate today!

The Homebuying & Escrow Process

How Does the Home Buying and Escrow Process Work?

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

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

Step 1: Disclosures, inspections and credits

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Mortgage

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

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

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

Step 3: Closing

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

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

What Credit Score Do You Need to Buy a House?

You want to buy a house, but you already know that your credit score is on the poor side of the spectrum. The good news, though, is that you might still qualify for certain types of home loans, as different types of mortgages will vary in the minimum credit scores they are willing to accept. So, what range should your credit score be in before you even think about buying a house? Let’s ask a real estate agent in Alpine, TX!

Credit score ranges

First things first, let’s look at credit score ranges. In the United States there are three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax), all of which individually grade your credit history on a range from 350 to 850. Since not all creditors will report to all three, your score from each credit agency will be different. Keep in mind that a score of 700 is generally considered good, while a score below 620 is generally poor:

  • 740 and higher = great credit
  • 680-739 = average credit
  • 620-679 = fair credit
  • 580-619 = poor credit
  • 500-579 = bad credit

FICO score

There are many steps to the home loan process, but checking your FICO score is the first step a mortgage lender takes when checking if you qualify for their loan. Keep in mind that although there are a number of factors that play into home loan qualification, your credit score is the most important one. So, what is the minimum credit score a person needs to purchase a home? The answer depends on the type of home loan you qualify for.

Here are the typical average minimum FICO scores by mortgage types:

  • Conventional loan: 620 and up
  • FHA 203k loan: 620 and up
  • USDA loan: 640 and up
  • VA loan: 620 and up (some lenders will approve a score of 580)
  • FHA loan: 580 and up

Minimum credit score to get a mortgage loan

First time homebuyers with poor credit ratings may still qualify for an FHA loan, as these loans have lower requirements than other loan options. FHA loans are backed by the Federal Housing Administration, but the FHA doesn’t issue loans itself. What they do is insure them in case the borrower defaults on the loan at any point. It is done this way to reduce the risk of the lender accepting a lower credit score to buy a house.

For an FHA loan with the lowest credit requirements, the borrower must have a score of at least 500 with a 10 percent down payment (this is not typical). The average (and most likely) FHA loan goes to borrowers with a 580 or higher credit score with a 3.5 percent down payment.

In general, your credit score will affect the interest rate you can get. For instance, someone with poor credit will have higher mortgage rates and increased closing costs, and therefore a higher monthly payment. And the higher your credit score, the lower all of this will be.

Contact Carpenter Real Estate today to work with a phenomenal real estate agent in Alpine, TX!

Why Should I Hire a Real Estate Agent?

A natural first step for many people about to enter the real estate market is to find a good real estate agent in Alpine, TX. This all-important step comes with a huge number of benefits—namely having someone on your side who is well-experienced within the market. It’s not every day you buy or sell a home; for a real estate agent, however, this is an everyday occurrence!

Buyers or sellers who decide to jump into the market without an agent might be fine at first, but when it comes down to actually facilitating a sale, they’re quick to become lost. Working with a real estate agent from start to finish is a great way to cover all of your bases and give yourself peace of mind when it comes to this life-changing experience.

Filtering Out the Spam

There can be hundreds of home listings within a 10- or 20-mile radius of you. How do you know which ones to check out, versus which ones to pass up? More than just narrowing down by price, a real estate agent will hand-select potential homes that are ideal for you based on a number of traits. From nearby schools, to amenities offered, to locale and more, an agent will go through the trouble of filtering out unworthy homes, so you can dedicate your time to looking at true prospects.

As a seller, this same benefit applies. Don’t waste time entertaining buyers who aren’t ready to make a serious offer or ones who want to lowball you and see what happens. An agent can be your mouthpiece, turning away these types of interactions so you can sit down with serious buyers only.

Understanding Cost

Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, understanding the pricing game is crucial. When buying, you need to know things like the appraised value of a home, its sales history or the property taxes paid on it over the past year. As a seller, you’ll want to know comparable home values in your area, appraisal value and what break points people stop searching at. All of these variables factor in how much you should offer on a home or how much you should list your home for. A real estate agent in Alpine, TX is your key to getting this information.

Paperwork Duties

Buying or selling a home is a process riddled with paperwork. Unless you want to thoroughly read every single form and try to understand which forms are needed for specific situations, it’s best to put this task on a real estate agent. They’ll provide you with the right forms in a timely manner, so you can move the buying or selling process forward swiftly and accurately.

Answering Your Questions

Both buying and selling are scary prospects! Above all else, a real estate agent will quell your fears by answering any questions you have or providing insight into your decisions. Think of them as a Sherpa who can lead you down a positive path. With a good agent on your side, you’ll avoid the potential pitfalls of a complex, complicated process.

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