Safety 101

safety-101I just had the pleasure of taking a safety course with our own city Sheriff Jim Kaelin, in lieu of Realtor® safety month. Although the course was geared toward real estate agents learning safety tips, it occurred to me that these tips and tricks apply to far more scenarios than just being cornered in a vacant home. So I thought I’d share some of the valuable and potentially life-saving techniques that we should all keep in our back pocket – alongside our tactical keychain.

Have a Plan

The most important key to escaping your attacker is to have a plan. The whole goal is to buy yourself time to get away. Sheriff Kaelin told a story that resonated with me. He’ll get groups together, put a series of tinker toys in front of them, and give them 15 seconds to use the toys to create a horse. After 15 seconds, none of the groups had anything that even sort of resembled a horse. They were then told to try again, but they now were given 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, the toys were organized by length, size, etc. and each group had a horse – a head, a body, four legs, a tail. For the third time, they were asked to build a horse, and again given only 15 seconds. The groups were silent, and after 15 seconds, they all had horses. The only difference between the first 15 seconds they were given and the second 15 seconds was that they had a plan.

In the case of an attack: Breathe. Think. Talk. Distract. Escape.

If You’re Grabbed From Behind

Do not immediately reach for your weapon. Talk. Ask them what they want. First, using your right hand, tell your attacker you’re going to grab your wallet or money clip to give to them. Then tell them you’re going to hand over your keys (or whatever it is you may have that they’re likely to want). Again, using your right hand, pass over something else. This is what they call verbal judo, where now your attacker isn’t on such high alert. Now it’s escape time. Using your left hand now, your attacker will only assume you’re reaching for more valuables (as most people are right handed and they will not expect you to reach for a self-defense tool using your non-dominant hand). Instead, pull out your mace, taser, knife, gun, pen, comb, etc. reach across your right shoulder and quickly spray, shoot, stab, etc. Your goal is not to kill – it’s okay if you do not even hit them. Your goal is to stun them enough to let you lose. Escape.

Hands as Tools

If you do not have a weapon, use your second most valuable tool – your hands. In an effort to trouble your attacker so that you have time to break away, start from the top. With your pointer and middle finger, go for the eyes. This will affect their vision and allow you to run. Nose, next. Use the palm of your hand and go straight for the nose and then their ears. Nose will cause tears and ears will cause ringing. Throat punch to knock their airway, knee to the groin (no explanation needed), and finally a kick to the shins. They should be down and you should be out!

Make Noise

DISTRACTION should play a major role in your plan. Once they think you may not be a threat as you’ve proven that you just want to cooperate, pump up the volume! All you need is for your attacker to be startled as they’ll lose their grip or look away just long enough for you to make your exit.

  • Gun shot – a clearly loud and scary noise sure to make anyone jump!
  • Keychain alarm – if you happen to still have your keys on you or in reach, hit your alarm button.
  • Personal alarms – these look like little remotes that can be set up as either motion-detector devices or as a manual activation. They emit an extremely loud sound when activated.

There are also several cell phone apps that can be helpful in a dire situation. One such app to consider downloading for your whole family is called Life360. It is a family locator, messaging tool and communication app all in one.

Chances are, you’ll never need to use these tactics. But, perhaps you and your loved ones should have the conversation – how are you going to build your horse?

 

Padre Island Housing Report – September 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET HAD A BIT OF SLOWING DOWN DOWN DUE TO HURRICANE HARVEY. AS WE MOVE PAST THE HURRICANE SEASON IN SUMMER 2017, WE ARE SEEING LOTS OF NEW BUYER ACTIVITY AS WE GET CLOSER TO HALLOWEEN.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA. LOOKING FORWARD TO A GREAT 4th QUARTER OF THE YEAR, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Padre Island Housing Report – August 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET IS SHOWING GREAT PROMISE WITH A CONTINUED UP TICK IN HOME VALUES, AS WE MOVE PAST THE HURRICANE SEASON IN SUMMER 2017.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA. LOOKING FORWARD TO A GREAT 3rd QUARTER OF THE YEAR, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Padre Island Housing Report – July 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET IS SHOWING GREAT PROMISE WITH MANY NEW LISTINGS, AS WE ARE IN THE DOG DAYS OF SUMMER 2017.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA. LOOKING FORWARD TO A GREAT 3rd QUARTER OF THE YEAR, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Padre Island Housing Report – May 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET IS SHOWING GREAT PROMISE WITH MANY NEW LISTINGS, AS WE MOVE INTO SUMMER TIME OF 2017.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA.  LOOKING FORWARD TO AN EVEN MORE EXCITING SUMMER AHEAD, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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PADRE ISLES PROPERTY OWNERS ASSOCIATION – DID YOU KNOW?

As a Real Estate Agent, I am commonly being asked questions regarding the Island’s POA. Whether you are new to the Island or have lived here many years, I hope to provide some clarity and possibly unknown information to those who may be wondering…what are they all about.

The POA oversees 26 subdivisions, with the exception of Packery Channel (who doesn’t have one), and Cane Harbor (who has their own). All but three subdivisions (Seapines, Section A and Section B) that DO belong to the POA pay the new fees (that aren’t really new anymore). Back in 2007, they changed. Annual POA fees are calculated by the size of the lot itself. Prior to 2007, the fees were .1 cent a square foot for an interior/water access lot, and .2 cents a square foot for a waterfront lot. With the exception of the three aforementioned subdivisions that did not approve the fee change, they’ve been .2 cents a square foot for interior/water access lots and .10 cents a square foot for waterfront lots for 10 years now. These annual fees cover the following: Maintaining the medians at Whitecap and Seapines, common area maintenance such as cul de sacs, canal end landscaping, and the 7 public boat ramps around the Island. The reason the cost is higher for a waterfront home is because these fees also cover canal bulkheads.

FACTS:

POA

  • When voting, POA board members need 50% + 1 to pass.
  • They have a seed account in the event of a hurricane in access of $9,000,000, of which they added $300,000 to this past year.
  • They spend roughly $500,000 a year on repairing canal bulkheads.
  • The architectural control committee (ACC) is responsible for reviewing plans for new builds, renovations, fencing, decks/docks, shade structures/any structure really, but NOT landscaping. Currently, the committee has 4 members, but they are seeking a 5th.
  • The ACC is also in charge of “unsightly properties,” defining them, and working on cleaning them up to maintain property values.
  • A gentleman is out on the canals every single day cleaning the debris.
  • On the POA website, you can find requirements for building, setbacks, decking depths, etc. for each and every subdivision.
  • The POA has three notaries.
  • The POA has a swapping library.
  • Approximately 5,300 residents are within the association, making PIPOA the largest HOA in Texas and possibly the United States.

ISLAND STATS

  • Available lots left:

629 interior

148 waterfront

87 multi-family

277 commercial

  • The population on the Island is approximately 13,000, compared to roughly 330,000 in Corpus Christi.
  • Of all crime committed in Corpus, only 2% of it comes from the Island, and 60% of that is “victim assisted,” meaning garages are left open, items in boats aren’t put away, etc.
  • 525 children are enrolled in the Island charter school.
  • All parks on the Island are actually owned by the city.
  • Water depths: 18 inches – 2 feet near the bulkheads, and roughly 6 feet in the center of the canals.
  • It is a NO WAKE ZONE until you get to the ski canals or the Laguna Madre.

ISLAND STICKER

  • Often referred to as the “vanity sticker” as Island residents are proud to show where they live, the sticker allows residents to park at the boat ramps.
  • Common misconception: the sticker DOES NOT allow you back on the Island in the event of an evacuation. Sticker or not, you’ll only be allowed back on with two forms of ID showing your Island address AND utilities have to be back on before anyone is allowed access.

 

 

Padre Island Housing Report – April 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES TO BE HEATING UP AS WE MOVE INTO SUMMER TIME OF 2017, THE HOTTEST TIME OF THE YEAR.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA.  LOOKING FORWARD TO AN EVEN MORE EXCITING SUMMER AHEAD, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Padre IslandHousing Report – March 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES TO BE HEATING UP AS WE MOVE INTO FULL SPRING TIME OF 2017, THE BEST WEATHER OF THE YEAR.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA.  LOOKING FORWARD TO AN EVEN MORE EXCITING SUMMER AHEAD, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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North Padre Island Housing Report – February 2017

THE HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES TO BE HEATING UP AS WE MOVE INTO SPRING OF 2017.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA.  LOOKING FORWARD TO AN EVEN MORE EXCITING SUMMER AHEAD, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Coastline Properties Voted Business of the Year

Seasons Greeting Friends & Colleagues!

Over the years it has been our pleasure to serve many clients in all different facets of Real Estate.  We have given our best whether it was representing a buyer, or seller.  Our property management division has been a very important part of our business for the past decade and we have brought many owners and tenants together to create a great working experience while maintaining all properties with excellence.  Coastline Properties has supported many great charitable causes over the years, and we do it because we love our community!

We strive to give our best in everything we do, not because we are required to…but because we know that relationships are the most important part of our business.  We like to often say “Amateurs focus on sales, Pros focus on relationships”.

We are truly grateful & honored to receive the award from the Padre Island Business Association as “Business of the Year”.  This award has come as a great surprise to the team, and we feel elated to work with so many Padre Island business owners and citizens.  We are thrilled to see how many more new faces and lives we can touch this New Year and want you to know our door is always open if we can ever help you in anyway this coming year.  We are much more than Real Estate agents, Coastline Properties is here to make an impact on our community and improve the lives of the people living here and our future residents as well.

Have a wonderful holiday season…Cheers to 2017!

All our best…. Coastline Properties Team

 

Meagan Furey – voted Citizen of the Year

We are thrilled to announce our very own Meagan Furey has been voted “Citizen of the Year” by the Padre Island Business Association. This is a very prestigious award and we feel it could not have gone to a more genuine, hard working community focused individual.  Congratulations Meagan …We are so proud of you for 2016 PIBA Citizen of the Year Award.  You inspire us all, thank you for all your dedication for making our little slice of paradise an amazing place to work and play! ~ Coastline Properties Team

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North Padre Island Housing Report – November 2016

THE HOUSING MARKET CONTINUES TO BE HEATING UP AS WE WRAP UP 2016.  TAKE A LOOK AT THE STATISTICS ON WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE ON PADRE ISLAND IN CORPUS CHRISTI, TX.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE BELOW AND GET A FULL PDF TO PRINT OUT TO KEEP TRACK OF THIS DATA.  WE WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON, GIVE US A CALL AND DISCUSS THE MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO OWN A PIECE OF COASTAL TEXAS! (361) 949-0101

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Regional Home Sales Report

As Realtors we are always asked about the market, and each market has different conditions that weigh in on whether its a buyers or a sellers market. We believe the article below handily brings some interesting statistics to the table, at the same time we believe each area of the city needs to be examined to determine the market conditions.  Also, keep in mind the time of year..it’s very typical for a slowing down to happen toward the end of the year as families settle in for the Holidays and typically don’t make decision’s about moving unless forced to by job’s or other circumstances.  Currently there are some great buys out here on Padre Island, and we welcome your questions about our local market to determine if it is good time for what your particular goals might be.  ~Coastline Properties Team

Via CALLERTIMES – Home sales in the Corpus Christi area were sluggish in October, falling to nearly their lowest level this year.

A total of 392 homes were sold in the Corpus Christi Metropolitan Statistical Area in October, according to the latest Economic Trends report by the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corp. The report, released Monday, cited data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That’s the lowest volume of home sales this year since January, when 322 houses changed hands.

Sales in October 2015 and October 2014 were 461 and 441, respectively.

According to the report, 954 residential permits have been issued by the city of Corpus Christi through the first 10 months of this year, compared 934 during the same time frame a year ago and 1,088 for all of 2014. The number of commercial permits issued from January to October also dropped slightly from the same time in 2015, to 269 from 272.

Other highlights:

  • Regional unemployment dropped below 6 percent for the first time in four months. The jobless rate in October was 5.6 percent, a drop from 6.2 percent in July, August and September. Unemployment was 6 percent in June. Before this summer, the last time unemployment was this high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, was May 2009, when the jobless rate hit 6.8 percent.
  • The number of year-to-date airline enplanements, or passenger boardings, at Corpus Christi International Airport was 282,581 from January to October. That represents a 3.3 percent decrease from 292,331 during the same period a year ago.
  • Year-to-date sales tax collection in Alice, Beeville, Corpus Christi and Robstown were well below their pace of a year earlier. Corpus Christi collected $60.4 million in such collections from January to October, compared with $65.5 million during the same period in 2015. Alice saw a 42.4 percent drop in revenues when comparing the same 10-month period. Its year-to-date sales tax collections were $4.35 million in October and $7.55 million in October 2015.   via Chris Ram

Proud To Be the Face of Padre Island Real Estate

We are so excited to be nominated for the 2nd year in a row from “The Bend Magazine” to be the Face of Padre Island Real Estate!  This year has been a great year for Real Estate and we are eternally grateful to all of our clients for allowing us to serve them by giving them the absolute best service in the the industry!  We look forward to another year ahead to give our current and future clients the very best attention and world class service.

OUR PLEDGE:

WE PLEDGE to be honest and always put my client’s interest first. WE GO BEYOND what the law requires.  WE FIGHT for homeowners’ rights.  OUR CLIENTS have a lot at stake. We owe it to them to be more than just an ordinary real estate agent. WE VOLUNTEER in our community, because we live there too.  WE WORK HARD to create opportunities for more to people to afford homes. WE TAKE COURSES to increase our expertise and skill sets, so we can better serve you as a homebuyer, seller, or commercial property investor & rental property owner. WE ABIDE by a strict code of ethics.  WE ARE PROTECTORS of our clients and insure they get the absolute best from us and their real estate transactions.  WE GIVE to our community and support many charitable causes, not because we have to… because WE BELIEVE it is our duty to our community to give back to those in need. IN GOD WE TRUST!

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THE TIME OF THE TOWNHOUSE

islandtownhomes448x298These dwellings are having their shining moment, thanks to an increased demand by both first-time buyers and Boomers alike! Both appear to be seeking the appeal for walkable communities in which the amenities are grand, you can get a great bang for your buck, and often less maintenance (big perk for both busy, young families and Boomers alike!).

Nationally, the number of townhouses built last year increased 18% percent over 2014. Here on the Island, the number is even more incredible!

70 townhomes were sold between September 15, 2015 – September 15, 2016

44 townhomes were sold between September 15, 2014 – September 15, 2015

That’s a whopping increase in townhome sales! The long-run prospects for townhouse construction are positive given the large numbers of homebuyers looking for high density “neighborhoods,” near the action (eh em, the new Marina District perhaps?) that offer proximity to the happenings along with community amenities.

Perk #1: Own That Land, You American Dreamer You!

What’s the main difference between a condo and a townhome you ask? It’s simple. As a condo owner, you own only your unit, nothing below or above you. As a townhome owner, you own the planet Earth beneath you, and the sky above you. And, as the Homeowners Association will nearly always maintain the complex grounds, you can be a lazy bum and still have a nice yard, albeit likely small.

Perk #2: That HOA Though…

So you own a nice patch of grass, or maybe a cute pom pom bush. Your HOA will take care of it! Many HOAs will even allow owners to plant that desired petunia border you’ve always dreamt of, just ask. So long as you pay your monthly dues, your grass will be mowed, your exterior painted, your roof re-shingled, your pool cleaned, your exterior insurance paid, and the list can go on. Now, each HOA will be different, and each will have a list of items they maintain and don’t maintain, so make sure you know what’s agreed upon and who does what in the yard. As many prefer to keep the fronts looking manicured and uniform, you may have to plant your Sneezewort Yarrow in the back.

Perk #3: Don’t Ever Leave!

When you buy a townhouse, it often comes with a community, and that community has amenities. Some developments have a pool, a laundry room, possibly boat slips (if on the canal) maybe a recreational room, etc. You may not have to leave but to go do your grocery shopping! This can be very appealing. And as an owner, you own a percentage of each of the common facilities.

Perk #4: Save Some $$

Although this isn’t a steadfast rule here on Padre, townhouses can be less expensive than single-family residences. Townhouses sometimes have the fancy upgrades built right in that you otherwise couldn’t afford in a house, like granite countertops, high-end appliances, or eco-friendly materials. And although they are often multilevel that share a side wall or two with another unit, they can have as many bedrooms and bathrooms as will fit in the floor plan, just like a single-family house. The point is, you can get a lot of the same stuff in a townhouse that you can find in a regular house, but you typically pay less for it.

Perk #5: Tight-Knit Community

Having Mrs. Kravitz nearby isn’t always a bad thing! With units that are close, and parking areas that may be shared, it’s possible that you and your neighbors see and know what’s going on with one another. As most townhomes on the Island do not allow short-term rentals, the neighborhood is often more stable in terms of less turnover and more face familiarity. This can be desirable for the young family who needs neighborly help watching kids, or the more “medically fragile” older couple who may find peace of mind knowing that their neighbors could check on them if they go sight unseen for a day or two. Travel a lot? Now Nosie Nelly doesn’t seem so bad, as she’ll be able to stink eye anyone who looks out of sorts lurking around your townhome.

With 84 townhomes currently for sale on the Island, maybe it’s time to pay them some attention!

Paddle For Parkinson’s Sept. 3, 2016

We are thrilled to once again be a sponsor for the “Paddle for Parkinson’s – Catch the Cure” Races here on North Padre Island Saturday, September 3 2016.  This is our 3rd year sponsoring this event and it is sure to be a great day for all participants and attendees. Last year many of our realtors & family members placed either first or second in several events particularly in the “Kayak Competition”.  Come out for a great day and participate and give to such a great cause!

GO TO their website at www.CatchtheCure.org
 

Save and Spend Smartly

piggy-bank-It’s hot here on Padre Island, and I’m not talking just the high temperatures. It is real estate’s steamy season, and properties are being listed and sold faster than season tickets at the ‘bahn. With the active market, it’s critical to take a look at your spending. How can you be assured you’re not wasting money? Here are some smart tips on how to save and spend during peak purchase season. Do not fall victim to these common money mistakes.

 

BUYERS:

DO NOT overpay. Unless you find yourself in a bidding war for the home of your absolute dreams, there is not a single home like it, and you do not plan to leave, ever ever ever, do not pay over the appraised value. Note: Do not get this number from the tax office, get this from an actual appraiser who visits the home and runs their own detailed determination of real value.

DO get an inspection. It’s worth the couple hundred dollars. Do your due diligence and know what you’re buying. If there is a deficiency on a large ticket item, it’s best to find out ahead of time so you can budget for it in the future or you can ask the seller to help right the wrong. You do not want to find these deficiencies later, once the sale is over, and you haven’t budgeted for them.

DO NOT make a lowball offer. Negotiating is normal, and it’s okay to not offer full price. But if you’re interested enough to make an offer, make sure it’s worth your time and the seller’s time. Your agent will be able to give their best advice as to what a good offer price would be, based on comparables and their knowledge of the market and area.

DO lender shop. Different lenders can offer different rates. Shop around, see with whom you can save and where.

DO NOT make large purchases prior to closing. This is a huge expensive mistake, as it can alter your credit score and can actually take you from having loan approval to not. You can lose your property and in turn gain something of expense (whatever it was that you bought, albeit a car, boat, etc.).

SELLERS:

DO NOT remodel what won’t pay off. If you’re going to do some upgrading prior to listing your property, spend money in the kitchen. This is a room that’s important. Otherwise, less expensive updates you can do include painting, new hardware, fixtures and carpet. Gutting bathrooms and shellacking your garage floor is likely not worth the pay off.

DO price properly. Your listing agent will be able to guide you to a proper sales price, so use their knowledge! You’re paying them, after all. If your property is priced too high, it’s likely to not sell as quickly, wasting your money on months of bills, taxes, mortgage payments, etc.

DO NOT reject reasonable offers. Letting your emotions get in the way of your sale can be tough, but you do not want to push qualified buyers away because you’re not remembering that this is in fact business. At the very least, provide a counter offer.

DO disclose. If there are issues that you do know about, it’s the law to disclose known deficiencies. If you do not, this could turn in to a lawsuit. Talk about expensive!

Try to keep these Dos and Don’ts in mind this summer and in to the fall, and you will be free from the most expensive mistakes that buyers and sellers tend to make. You work hard for your money, so keep your dollars where they will work for YOU!

Padre Island Housing Report June 2016

The Housing Market is Hot,Hot, Hot right now.  Take a look at the statistics on what’s happening here on Padre Island in Corpus Christi, TX.  Click on the Picture below and get a full PDF to print out to keep track of this data.  The summer is going by fast, give us a call and discuss the many opportunities to own a piece of coastal Texas! (361) 949-0101

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Hydrostatic Testing

plumbing-840835_640You got your home under contract! You’re so excited, a buyer loves your home as much as you do! Then, inspections are set up. The three inspections typically performed on a home here are the general inspection, the pest inspection, and the plumbing inspection.

It’s this last one that seems to be an inspection that, as of late, has been causing some unease among sellers.

Fear not, sellers! The truth is, this is not at all a scary or intrusive test. But it is an important one. The only way to calm a fear or unease is to be well informed. Here I’ll break it down so that when the time comes, as either a buyer or a seller, this test is nothing to think twice about.

Definition: A hydrostatic test is a way in which pressure vessels can be tested for strength and leaks.

Don’t let the word pressure fool you. There is a common misconception that pressure is put on your system during this test. That is far from the truth. What the plumber does is quite simple. They will find your sewer cleanout/sanitary drain pipe and insert a testball/balloon into the piping and inflate it near the perimeter of the foundation. Next, they’ll simply fill the system up with water. They will then find a commode and/or shower on the lowest level and monitor the water levels. If the water maintains its level (they’ll typically watch for roughly 15 minutes) then there are no leaks! IF the water happens to fall, there is indication of a leak somewhere in the system.

Leaks often occur when foundations have shifted. Because we are built on sand here on the Island, it’s relatively rare to have a failed hydrostatic test as foundations move less on sand. In the case of a failed test, the next step is to find where the leak actually is. That test is slightly more involved, but still not dangerous to the system. An Isolation Test is what should be scheduled next, and this test finds the actual source of the leak. It’s smart to have a different plumber perform this test to eliminate the possible suspicion of an intentional failed test to get more business (as the isolation test is far more expensive).

The entire inspection/hydrostatic test takes roughly 20 minutes. Like a ninja in the night, you may not even know they were there! Our local plumbers are knowledgeable, true professionals who are happy to answer your questions or concerns.

Note: This test typically costs around $85, and only a licensed plumber is to perform this inspection.

Did you know? A hydrostatic test is DIFFERENT than a static test. They are sometimes accidentally interchangeably used in casual conversation regarding the plumbing inspection, and there’s where some confusion can occur in terms of whether pressure is put on your system during a hydrostatic test. A STATIC test is what indicates pressure, and you can do it yourself – it’s a gauge that you can purchase at any hardware store that you screw on to your hose bib. Then, turn the water on and the gage will tell you how much pressure it is outputting. Don’t let a static test be confused with a hydrostatic test.

CONSUMER BEWARE: Rebuilding after a disaster

contractors2With the flooding and other tragedies that have occurred across the state, it is important that consumers be aware of Chapter 57 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code that was enacted by HB 1711 effective September 1, 2011. The bill applies to contractors who remove, clean, sanitize, demolish, reconstruct, or otherwise treat improvements to real property as a result of damage or destruction to that property caused by a natural disaster. Specifically, it requires that a “disaster remediation” contract must be in writing and prohibits a “disaster remediation contractor” from requiring payment prior to beginning work or charging a partial payment in any amount disproportionate to the work that has been performed. However, the statute exempts contractors that have held a business address for at least one year in the county or adjacent county where the work occurs.

Please see the text of HB 1711 for details. Contact your local Home Builders Association for a list of contractors.

Download this document for important phone numbers and information on rebuilding after a disaster. (CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR PDF)

Tax Time 2016

Your home is likely your largest asset, and therefore, deserves special attention at tax time. Be sure you’re handling them correctly this year, using these tips!

Deduct from the correct year:

Here, we’re billed in arrears on our taxes, which can be confusing when taking the tax deduction. You’ll want to be sure to enter the amount you actually paid in that tax year, no matter what the date on your tax bill says. Because of this, it can be easy to confuse your payments and actually claim the incorrect amount.

Note: If taxes were paid from your escrow account, do not just deduct the amount escrowed. That’s because sometimes the amount you pay from this account can be a little bit higher or a little bit lower. Your lender will align the two to make sure they end up matching.

For example: Your property taxes were $6,000. Your lender collected $5,800. Or, maybe your lender collected $6,200. You’ll deduct $6,000, the actual taxes paid. This number will be the amount noted on your Form 1098.

Deduct your mortgage interest:

A home mortgage interest deduction allows you, the taxpayers who owns your home, to write off any interest you paid on a loan secured by your home (main home or a second home). The loan may be a mortgage, a line of credit, or a home equity loan. This allows you to reduce your taxable income by the amount of interest paid on the loan.

Note: You must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), and prove your mortgage is a secured debt on a qualified home in which you own.

Exceptions: You cannot deduct mortgage interest on a mortgage that is over $1,000,000, or you have over $100,000 in home equity debt.

Refinanced?

If you’ve refinanced, you’ll be deducting points over the life of your new loan (as opposed to your regular mortgage, where you’ve been deducting points based on what you paid your lender to secure your mortgage over the course of your loan’s life – 15 years, 30 years…)

For example: Let’s say you paid $3,000 in points for a refinance of 30 years. You’ll divide 3,000 by 30 and pay $100 a year.

Went green?

If you made any energy improvements, such as installing solar electric, solar water heater, geothermal, any energy-efficient systems…you may be able to take a 10% tax credit up to a certain dollar amount. However, these are one-time credits. If you claimed your new energy-efficient windows last year, you can’t do it again.

Note: See Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits

Don’t forget to:

  • Keep track of your home-related expenses.
  • Track your capital gains (If you sold your main home last year, you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes on your profit from that sale). Keep your receipts as long as you own the property plus three years.
  • Deduct your home office (If you’re eligible, you can deduct $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or up to $1,500 a year).
  • Keep your mortgage payoff statements forever. You never know when you may need that proof.
  • Keep your appraisal or valuation used to calculate depreciation as long as you’re the owner plus three years.
  • Keep your property tax payment, year-end mortgage statement, PMI payment, and energy tax credit receipt for three years after the due date of the return showing the deduction.

WHAT’S YOUR NORTH PADRE ISLAND STREET NAME MEAN?

A La Entrada – An expedition or journey into unexplored territory, or, in Spanish it means Entrance.

Almeria – A city of southeast Spain on the Gulf of Almería, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea.

Aloha – Hawaiian word used when greeting or parting from someone.

Aquarius – The Water Bearer, a zodiacal constellation – A good person who doesn’t judge.

Aruba – An island in the Netherlands Antilles, in the West Indies.

Atascadera – Atascadero in Spanish means stumbling-block.

Barataria – A bay in The Gulf of Mexico, off Louisiana (See Laffite).

Beaufort – An empirical measure that relates wind speed to observed conditions at sea or on land.

Binnacle – A built-in housing for a ship’s compass.

Blackbeard – Nickname of Edward Thatch who was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies.

Bonasse – Easy-going and simple-minded.

Bounty – A British naval ship commanded by Captain William Bligh, which was on a scientific voyage in 1789 between Tahiti and the West Indies when her crew mutinied.

Bowsprit – A spar, extending forward from the stem of a ship, to which the stays of the foremast are fastened.

Brigantine – A two-masted sailing ship, square-rigged on the foremast and having a fore-and-aft mainsail, often with square main topsails.

Broomsedge – Broom sedge: any of several grasses of the genus Andropogon.

Bullion – Gold or silver considered in mass rather than in value.

Cabana – A cabin, hut, or shelter, especially one at a beach or swimming pool.

Cabo Blanco – It’s a fishing village in northwestern Peru, or in Spanish, “White Terminal.”

Camino De Oro – In Spanish, meaning “Path to Gold.”

Camino De Plata – In Spanish, meaning “Path to Silver.”

Canadian Mist – A brand of Blended Canadian whisky produced by the Brown-Forman Corporation.

Capstan – A revolving cylinder with a vertical axis used for winding a rope or cable, powered by a motor or pushed around by levers.

Captain Kidd – 1645(ish)–1701, he was a Scottish navigator and privateer who was hanged for piracy.

Caravel – A small, fast Spanish or Portuguese sailing ship of the 15th–17th centuries.

Carlos Fifth – Carlos THE Fifth is the name of a creepy looking candy bar from Mexico, what you call someone that does something in a stupid manner.

Cartagena – A seaport in SE Spain.

Catamaran – A yacht or other boat with twin hulls in parallel.

Cayo Cantiles – Cayo, in Taíno meaning “small island,” Cantiles in Spanish meaning “cliff.”

Cayo Gorda Ct – Cayo, in Taíno meaning “small island,” Gorda in Spanish meaning “fat.”

Cobo De Bara – Cobo, meaning “sea snail” and Bara in Hebrew means “heaven and earth.”

Commodores – A naval officer of high rank, in particular an officer in the US Navy or Coast Guard ranking above captain and below rear admiral.

Coquina Bay – A soft limestone of broken shells, used in road-making in the Caribbean and Florida.

Cozumel – In Mexico, the name was given to it by the Spaniards; however its origin is derived from the words Cuzam (meaning Swallow) and Lumil (meaning land of).

Crossjack – The lowermost square sail set on the mizzenmast of a ship or of a bark with four or more masts.

Cruiser – A relatively fast warship larger than a destroyer and less heavily armed than a battleship.

Cumana – A city in NE Venezuela founded in 1523 that is the oldest European settlement in South America.

Cutlass – A short sword with a slightly curved blade, formerly used by sailors.

Cuttysark – It is a British clipper ship built on the River Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line and was one of the last tea clippers to be built.

Dasmarinas – It is the largest city in the province of Cavite, Philippines. In the 19th century during the Spanish Colonial Period, Dasmariñas was originally called Tampus meaning “end of the forest.”

Dorsal – Relating to the upper side or back of an animal, plant, or organ. Fin – an unpaired fin on the back of a fish or whale.

Doubloon – A Spanish gold coin.

Dragonet – A marine fish that often lies partly buried in the seabed; the male is brightly colored.

Ducat – A gold coin formerly current in most European countries.

Dyna – Simply defined as “power.”

Eaglesnest – The nest of a bird built high up on a cliff or on the top of a mountain OR a room or building built high up so that people inside can see things happening below them.

El Soccorro – It’s a Portuguese-Spanish noun meaning “help” or “relief.”

Emerald – A bright green precious stone consisting of a chromium-rich variety of beryl.

Encantada – In Spanish, means “delighted” as in “pleased to meet you.”

Escapade – An act or incident involving excitement, daring, or adventure.

Finistere – Element which has reached the limits of its expansion.

Flintlock – An old-fashioned type of gun fired by a spark from a flint.

Forestay – A stay leading forward and down to support a ship’s foremast.

Fortuna Bay – Fortuna was the goddess of fortune and personification of luck in Roman religion and was represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Justice, and came to represent life’s capriciousness.

Grenadine – A thin fabric of leno weave in silk, nylon, rayon, or wool. Presently, a syrup made from pomegranate juice.

Gun Cay – Where the Lighthouse is located less than 10 miles south of Bimini.

Gunwale – The upper edge of the side of a boat or ship.

Gypsy – A nomadic or free-spirited person.

Halyard – A rope used for raising and lowering a sail, spar, flag, or yard on a sailing ship.

Hawksnest – The nest of a bird of prey OR a house located high on a hill or mountain.

Highland Mist – A Blended Scotch Whisky.

Isabella – A wine made from the fox grape. Also, Queen Isabella  of Castile whose marriage to Ferdinand of Aragon in 1469 marked the beginning of the modern state of Spain.

Isla Colon – Isla meaning Island in Spanish, Colon is a city of northern Panama at the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal.

Isla Pinta – Isla menaing Island in Spanish, Pinta was the fastest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage in 1492.

Jackfish – A pike or sauger, especially the northern pike.

Jacktar – It was a common English term used to refer to seamen of the Merchant or Royal Navy. By World War I the term was used as a nickname for those in the U.S. Navy.

Jibstay – In schooners, the stay to which jibs are hanked.

Jolly Roger – A pirate’s flag with a white skull and crossbones on a black background.

Keel  – The longitudinal structure along the centerline at the bottom of a vessel’s hull, on which the rest of the hull is built, in some vessels extended downward as a blade or ridge to increase stability.

Key Largo – The largest island of the Florida Keys.

King Phillip – [War] (1675–77) the first large-scale military action in the American colonies, pitting various Indian tribes against New England colonists and their Indian allies.

La Blanquilla – (N) A very small coin, A Californian fish, A white grape.

Laffite – Pirate Jean Lafitte: he and his brothers smuggled goods to local merchants through the La Barataria (See Barataria) berth on the Louisiana coast in the early 1800s, after the Embargo Act of 1807 barred such trades. Barataria was far from the U.S. naval base, and ships could easily smuggle in goods without being noticed by customs officials. Later, legend has it, he came to our own Packery Channel, as, when pursued, Lafitte’s shallow draft boats could escape into the knee-deep Laguna Madre where larger boats could not follow. Folklore says that he buried treasure here, right near the Port A jetties, and marked it with a golden dagger. 

Lafitte – See Laffite. Pirate Jean Lafitte and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used “Lafitte.”

Lanyard – A rope threaded through a pair of deadeyes, used to adjust the tension in the rigging of a sailing vessel.

Leeward – On or toward the side sheltered from the wind or toward which the wind is blowing; downwind (see opposite, Windward).

Longboat – A large boat that may be launched from a sailing ship.

Main Royal – [mast] Part of the mainmast situated immediately above, and generally formed as a single spar with, the main topgallantmast.

Man O War – An armed sailing ship.

Mingo Cay – An island of the United States Virgin Islands.

Mizzen – The mast aft of a ship’s mainmast.

Mutiny – An open rebellion against the proper authorities, especially by soldiers or sailors against their officers.

Nemo – In Oromo it means “The Man,” but in Latin, the same word means “Nobody.”

Palmira – A city of western Colombia southwest of Bogotá where coffee and tobacco are grown.

Palo Seco – In Spanish means “without anything else.”

Peseta – The basic monetary unit of Spain (until replaced by the euro).

Pionciana – A tropical tree with showy red or red and yellow flowers.

Playa Del Rey – Spanish for “Beach of the King.”

Port Royal – It is a city located at the end of the Palisadoes at the mouth of the Kingston Harbour, in southeastern Jamaica founded in 1518.

Portillo – It literally means “small port” from Latin portus.

Ports O Call – An intermediate port where ships customarily stop for supplies, repairs, or transshipment of cargo.

Primavera – The hard, light-colored timber of a Central American tree.

Punta Bonaire – In Spanish, Punta: point, Bonaire: an island in the E Netherlands Antilles.

Punta Espada – In Spanish, Punta: point, Espada: sword.

Quarterdeck – The part of a ship’s upper deck near the stern, traditionally reserved for officers.

Queen Johanna – She was Queen of Naples and Countess of Provence and Forcalquier from 1343 until her death. She also reigned as Princess of Achaea and claimed the crowns of Jerusalem and Sicily.

Reales – A unit of currency in Spain for several centuries after the mid-14th century.

Royal Fifth – An old royal tax that reserves to the monarch 20% of all precious metals and other commodities acquired by his subjects as war loot, found as treasure or extracted by mining.

Sabre – A heavy cavalry sword with a curved blade and a single cutting edge.

Salt Cay – The second largest of the Turks Islands.

San Felipe – A city in NE Venezuela, on the Orinoco River.

Skysail – A triangular sail set on a stay between the fore and main trucks of a racing schooner.

Tajamar – Spanish for the cutwater.

Tesoro – Spanish for the word treasure.

Three Fathoms Bank – Fathom: a unit of length in the old imperial and the U.S. customary systems, used especially for measuring the depth of water.

Topgallant – The section of a square-rigged sailing ship’s mast immediately above the topmast.

Topsail – A sail, or either of a pair of sails, set immediately above the lowermost sail of a mast and supported by a topmast.

Tortuga – Spanish for the animal Turtle.

Verdemar – Spanish for the color sea-green.

Vincent – From a Latin word meaning “conquering.”

Whitecap – A small wave with a foamy crest.

Windjammer – A merchant sailing ship.

Windward – The side or direction from which the wind is blowing.

Yardarm – The outer extremity of a ship’s yard.

Know Before You Owe

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The holidays are over, the sun is finally peaking out, and the buyers are making their grand debut from dormancy.

But as a buyer, knowledge is power. And The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau knows that. They have worked diligently to make the loan process more transparent. The new forms discussed below (the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure) were introduced to present less confusing information as to ensure consumers understand the terms of their loan and the fees they’re paying. Know before you owe!

To walk the walk, you have to talk the talk. Here is the new lingo and the new forms.

Let’s talk Terminology:

A lender is now a “Creditor”

The Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is now the “Loan Estimate” or LE for short.

HUD or Settlement Statement is now your “Closing Disclosure” or CD for short.

The GFE was meant to provide the buyer with a really good idea of what they’d be bringing to closing and the terms of their loan. But the rules behind its successor, the LE, are stricter, and provide a higher financial accuracy to the buyer. It includes interest rate, fees for both creditor and third-party services (ie: appraisals, title insurance, closing costs, etc.)

Before you do anything, shop around for a lender and get prequalified for a loan. There’s little advantage to visiting with a Real Estate Agent until you know what you can afford.

First you get prequalified, then you work with a Realtor who finds you the perfect home, and then comes your Loan Estimate.

SIX ELEMENTS TO GET THE LOAN ESTIMATE

  1. The consumer’s name
  2. The consumer’s income
  3. The consumer’s SSN to obtain a credit report (creditor shopping will NOT affect credit rating)
  4. Property address
  5. An estimate of the value of the property
  6. The mortgage loan amount sought

CLARIFY!

The prequal is NOT a Loan Estimate. If the consumer/buyer requests a preapproval or prequalification, and provides 5 of these 6 elements in their application, the creditor will provide the prequalification, but is not yet obligated to provide the LE.

Only when the consumer provides all six elements of the application, the creditor must get the LE to the consumer within 3 Federal Business days (if the creditor is open on Saturday, then Saturday counts). Once provided, the LE holds true for 10 days once a property has been determined.

The home does not actually have to be under contract at this point, but it greatly benefits the buyer if it is. Without knowing which title company the contract will be at, your creditor can’t know the exact fees. With the new LE, the liability and financial accuracy weighs much heavier on the creditor than it did in the past. So what if there are differences presented on your final CD than those on your LE?  There are zero tolerance fees, and fees that fall between a 10% tolerance. So if there is a difference between your CD and your LE, depending on which category the miscalculation falls under, the creditor may have to pay.

Moral is, sellers want strong buyers. Preapproval from a creditor shows just that, which is why it’s critical to get that first. Present that to your Realtor, house hunt, get under contract, and request the LE. Leave the rest to your happy and knowledgeable Realtor.

We’ll leave the changes to the consummation (the new term for closing) for a later discussion…

QUICK FACTS FROM 2015 COMPARED TO 2014

Demand was healthy in 2015, and the supply was enough to give the buyers options.

  • 1% increase in new listings since 2014
  • 7% increase in median sales price in 78418
  • -4.2% decrease in days on market
  • 15% new construction market share in 78418
  • 8% list to sale price ratio in 78418

Design Trends in 2016

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“This home is so ’70s.” How many times have we heard a home identified by a year based on its appearance and finishes? Well, 2016 will be no different, as fun and fresh designs are sure to be trending.

Outdoors, Indoors

Here on the Island, we practically live outdoors most of the year! Designs are beginning to recognize this. Homeowners are working on bringing the outside in with things like plants, and double doors, and also purchasing furniture that can be used both indoors and out. Create a fluid space where the indoor outdoor living concept is seamless.

Geometric Tiles

Tile backsplashes aren’t a new concept, but what we expect to see in 2016 are using the tiles to create more geometric patterns that feature fluid movement. New materials for this are coming onto the scene such as cement and wood. Whether it is a backsplash, an intricately patterned floor or a countertop, fluid geometry is eye-catching and coming in strong this year.

White Appliances

With so many homeowners going with the trending white cabinets, white appliances just blend right in. Also, many are becoming tired of the maintenance from the marks and handprints that are so evident and inevitable that show up on stainless steel appliances. Try Ice White from Whirlpool. Slate kitchen appliances can also bring a classic and modern look and are gaining momentum.

Metallics, Metals, and Minerals

All trends come back around, and the 1950s and 1970s are hot fashion trends in 2016, and this will also translate to the home. Gold and metallic finishes are exceedingly popular right now. Retro bling, shine, and polished geodes will rock your home (pun intended). Accessorize with oversized bowls of fools gold, big chunks of quartz, or even unpolished semi-precious stones turned into door pulls. Go au natural!

Chevron is Out

Herringbone, Chevron, Zig-Zag, the fun and often colorful pattern was so 2015. If you are still a fan of it, try putting it in easily removable ways, such as an area rug or throw blanket. Don’t stick it up on a large wall. Instead, try solid-colored, textured fabrics, or even animal hide is in!

Bye Brass

Brass hardware is one design element that almost immediately outdates a home. Hardware is one incredibly easy and inexpensive way to update! To replace brass hardware or other knobs, be sure to choose a size that will cover the “footprint” of whatever is currently installed. For 2016, try brushed or satin nickel hardware. Magic.

Fake Wall Treatments

Solids are back. 2016 interior design approaches emphasize authenticity. The prevalent use of natural materials (back to minerals, above) goes back to midcentury modern design. That means it may be time to get rid of the fake wall treatments such as Tuscan paint finishes and marbled columns. Use a solid paint! It’s chic, clean, and IN.

5 Real Estate Trends That Will Dominate 2016

real-estate-2016

This year may have marked the best for housing since 2007, but the market will likely get even rosier in 2016, according to a recent real estate forecast by realtor.com®. One of the main drivers behind the brighter 2016 is the projection that employment will continue to grow, which will add to consumers’ wallets and allow them to purchase their first home or upgrade to a new one.  Realtor.com® highlights the following housing predictions for 2016:

  1. ‘Normal’ is coming.

Expect a healthy growth in home sales and prices – at a slower pace than in 2015. “This slowdown is not an indication of a problem—it’s just a return to normalcy,” writes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “We’ve lived through 15 years of truly abnormal trends, and after working off the devastating effects of the housing bust, we’re finally seeing signs of more normal conditions.” New construction and distressed sales are expected to return to more historical levels, and home prices are expected to follow at “more normal rates consistent with a more balanced market.”

  1. Generational buying trends shape up.

Young adults’ presence on the housing market has been largely predicted for years, but 2016 may finally be the year they make a move in a larger way. Millennials represented nearly 2 billion sales in 2015 – one-third of home buyers. They are expected to continue to be a major buying pool in 2016 with the majority of buyers between ages 25 and 34 expected to be first-time home buyers next year. But two other generations will also have a big presence in 2016: financially recovering GenXers and older baby boomers who are entering retirement, realtor.com® notes. “Since most of these people are already homeowners, they’ll play a double role, boosting the market as both sellers and buyers,” Smoke notes. “Gen Xers are in their prime earning years and thus able to relocate to better neighborhoods for their families. Older boomers are approaching (or already in) retirement and seeking to downsize and lock in a lower cost of living.”

  1. New-home construction focuses more on affordability.

Builders have been faced with higher land costs, limited labor, and concerns about the demand of the entry-level market. As such, they have shifted to constructing more higher-priced homes, which has caused new-home prices to rise significantly faster than existing-home prices. In 2016, they likely will shift to more affordable product to cater to the entry-level buyers. “We are already seeing a decline in new-home prices for new contracts signed this fall,” notes Smoke. “In addition, credit access is improving enough to make the first-time buyer segment more attractive to builders.”

  1. Higher mortgage rates.

Mortgage rates will likely be volatile in 2016. But the recent move by the Federal Reserve to guide interest rates higher should push mortgage rates higher in the new year than the historical lows they have been at for years. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will likely end 2016 about 60 basis points higher than today’s level. “That level of increase is manageable, as consumers will have multiple tactics to mitigate some of that increase,” Smoke says. “However, higher rates will drive monthly payments higher, and, along with that, debt-to-income ratios will also go higher.” The markets with the highest home prices will see the effects from the higher rates the most.

  1. Rents to go up even higher.

Rental costs are skyrocketing, and the costs are likely to only go up in the new year. More than 85 percent of the nation’s markets have rents that exceed 30 percent of the income of renting households. “Rents are accelerating at a more rapid pace than home prices, which are moderating,” Smoke says. “Because of this, it is more affordable to buy in more than three-quarters of the U.S. However, for the majority of renting households, buying is not a near-term option due to poor household credit scores, limited savings, and lack of documentable stable income of the kind necessary to qualify for a mortgage today.”

Source: “The 5 Real Estate Trends That Will Shape 2016,” realtor.com® (Dec. 16, 2015)

THE REVERSE MORTGAGE, REVISED!

reverse-mortgage-corpus-christi

It’s no longer just a refinance tool, but now also for use with purchases!

First let’s review what a reverse mortgage is. It’s a loan available to homeowners who are at least 62 years old, where instead of making monthly payments to a lender, the lender makes payments to the borrower. The idea is to aid elders and retirees who have wealth in their homes, but have limited income, to cover their basic living expenses and health care expenses.

BUT there is a new program that we should know about. It is called the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) for Purchase product. This can greatly enhance the real estate service options we can offer our senior customers who would like to purchase a new home while still maintaining their retirement goals. Many mortgage companies in our Coastal Bend now have departments offering this option, which could be valuable for many seniors looking to relocate closer to family members, downsize, upgrade, or move to an active adult community.

This is an exciting option for qualified homeowners who are purchasing a home. This mortgage option allows homeowners to keep the home in their name while not having any monthly payments.

Who qualifies?

If you are 62 or older, will use the home as your primary residence, have no federal debt delinquency, can pay annual property taxes and homeowners insurance, vow to keep the property presentable, the property meets FHA guidelines, and agree to participate in a counseling session, YOU are qualified!

So how does it work?

When bundling the HECM with a new home purchase, the buyer can buy the property by mixing the HECM loan proceeds along with the proceeds from their previous home sale and/or savings to complete the transaction.

For example: Charlie is looking to downsize. He receives $700,000 from the sale of his home. He buys a home for $300,000. HECM loans Charlie $160,000 ($10,000 to cover closing costs). Charlie puts $150,000 as his downpayment. The remaining $400,000 goes straight into Charlie’s pocket!

  • It involves financing that doesn’t require monthly principal and interest mortgage payments
  • It includes increased purchasing power for those who are upsizing or downsizing
  • It has a streamlined closing process as the buyers are purchasing and getting a HECM all in one transaction
  • It may include supplemental income to support a better retirement, including a growing line-of-credit

Repayment

Just like other loans, the HECM loan must be repaid. But it is unlike traditional loans in that this repayment isn’t due until the owner has sold the home, no longer uses it as their primary residence, or passes away. When one of these scenarios occurs, the HECM and any accrued interest and mortgage insurance must be paid, but the perk is that the homeowner will never pay more than the home’s market value at the time of repayment.

So run, don’t walk! Your dream retirement home is waiting…

SECOND HOME BUYING ON PADRE ISLAND TEXAS

I, for one, admire Winter Texans. They’ve got the right idea: Come to our piece of paradise, spend a few months, spend a few bucks, then repeat! Some come in RVs, others have a home/townhome/condo to which they retreat. The time is coming to welcome our Winter Texans back, and it’s the Winter Texan “way” that reminds me of one powerful investment tool – real estate of course! We are lucky enough to live in a place where many come to vacation. Whether you live here and want to capitalize on the growing rental market, or you’ve got relatives and friends to whom you’d love to persuade to do the same or invest in a vacation home…Get your own piece of Padre Island Pie!

But WHY is now a good time, and WHAT makes real estate this aforementioned “powerful investment tool”?

WHY:

With the population of the Coastal Bend steadily increasing, more businesses coming to the area, and the increasing amount of national attention we’ve gained over the past few years, it’s no wonder investors and second home buyers have piqued interest.

Most would agree that the spring and summer are the good selling months. But I say, why discriminate?! Winter has its perks, too! The crowds looking to invest that haven’t already are coming at a good time…price reductions are common this time of year, and sellers aren’t competing with as many other homes for sale as, say, the spring time.

First thing is first, what are your goals? To be an investor, or to use the property for vacation and enjoyment? There is certainly NO wrong answer here!

WHAT:

But what are the elements of value to an investor? Well that depends on their commitment: Do they intend on having a long-term or short-term investment? Will they live there part-time themselves or will they use it as a rental? Property values and their projected appreciation may play a large role in a buyer’s intentions. So may tax depreciation, capital gains, and inflation hedge. As important as these matters are, they may be a little snooze-worthy. So let’s make it quick.

Let’s take a look at each of these potential advantages:

Projected Appreciation: This is a percentage that estimates what your property will be worth in the future. Of course nothing is promised, but the numbers could aid in the decision process.

Tax Depreciation: COULD help you maximize your tax savings. This is the depreciation that can be listed as an expense on a tax return, the gradual charging to expense of a fixed asset’s cost over its useful life.

Capital Gains: Another key tax advantages of owning investment property. Capital gains on investment real estate is the difference between the sales price and the cost of purchase and improvements. They’re taxed at either a short-term rate or a long-term or reduced rate.

Inflation Hedge: This has to do with the rent that’s charged to the tenant. Some leases have provisions for rent increases to be indexed to inflation. In other cases, rental rates are increased whenever a lease term expires and the tenant is renewed. Either way, real estate income tends to increase faster in inflationary environments, allowing an investor to maintain its real returns.

Selling: When rental properties are sold, the proceeds can be rolled into other rental property without paying capital gains taxes. This is called a 1031-Tax Exchange.

Now, what about those who’d like to get away from their primary residence and invest in a second home? Fortunately for many of us, you don’t have to be a part of the ultra rich to own a second home! This, too, could be wise, even if it will only be used for family and friends and not as a rental.

Here are some helpful tips that may guide you in the right direction:

  1. Have money. This may seem obvious but daunting, but let me explain that it doesn’t mean millions in the bank. Unless you’re paying cash, your lender’s underwriter needs to see that you have adequate reserves (as often your downpayment will be larger for a second property).
  2. Consider your debt-to-income ratio. If it’s too high, this may be an issue for your lender.
  3. Spend time in the area, first! Know that you love the region and foresee wanting to be there often before buying there. Do your due diligence on the right neighborhood, the costs of maintenance, HOA dues, taxes, insurance, etc.
  4. Double the fun, but potentially double the work! Assess the yard – will you need someone to mow it while you’re not there? Will the pool need weekly maintenance?
  5. Work with an agent that is very knowledgeable about the area. Here in our Coastal Bend, most agents are accustomed to working with investors/second home buyers.

DO BOTH!

If you meet the less-than-14-day-or-10% test, you can write off all the usual expenses associated with owning a rental property. Or, if you rent the house a quarter of the time, for instance, a quarter of your mortgage interest, property taxes, utilities, insurance costs, and repair expenses are deductible against rental income.

The options and advantages seem to outweigh the fear of dabbling in real estate investing or owning a second home. Try it, you may become a mogul! So come and stay and play at your leisure, then make the money, honey!

Coastline Properties – The Face of Padre Island Real Estate

We are delighted to have been nominated “The Face of Island Real Estate” in this months Issue of The Bend Magazine.

It’s incredible to discover so many other community leaders that are making waves in the Coastal Bend by being dedicated to their profession.  We salute all those businesses out there that truly understand the nature of customer service and work so tirelessly to care for and understand their clients needs.  Thank You Corpus Christi!!

coastlinebend1  coastlinebend2

 

The Bend Magazine – November 2015

Great Tips for Holiday House Hunting

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This time of year typically marks the unofficial time people begin thinking about the holidays. After Halloween, time seems to speed up and before we know it the holiday parties, charity functions and the like set in for familes. Real estate activity during the holiday season is typically discouraged because of the challenges posed on both sides of a transaction.

For sellers, there is the inconvenience of having to keep the home clean; leaving on a moment’s notice for showings; and limiting holiday entertaining. For buyers, there may be limited access to houses if sellers place showing restrictions due to personal schedules and commitments.

However there are some advantages and  other considerations that both sides should keep in mind.

Buyers will find fewer homes on the market, but the homes that are available have highly motivated sellers. This may provide a better negotiating climate, and there is less likely to be the type of competition for homes you see during high season. In turn, sellers will find equally motivated buyers, and may find that offers and closings move more quickly.  What this means is, bargains and negotiations are plentiful this time of year if you are working with a savvy real estate agent in corpus christi.

Holiday sellers should curb large plans to entertain, have family & friends stay over, or do excessive decorating. Focus on showing off the features of your home that will appeal to a buyer – not your family decorations and holiday traditions.  It sounds like a less attractive holiday, but the dividends will more than pay for themselves.  Remember to always keep a mindset of a buyer in mind.  Have a Happy and healthy holiday season!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SELLER’S DISCLOSURE FORM

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This one form, filled out by the seller of a property, is more important than you may have realized. I compare it to a hard hat at a construction site. Seems overly precautious until a large piece of material falls from above and suddenly you’re awfully glad you had that protection!

In 1993, this form became mandatory, exclaiming that “Texans would be bound to truth in selling their homes…is designed to protect Realtors from the burgeoning number of ‘failure to disclosure’ lawsuits…the bill would require sellers to complete a disclosure form detailing the condition of the house, property and certain equipment within the house.”

What is it?

This statement is a disclosure of the condition of the property in compliance with the seller Disclosure Act. This statement is a disclosure of the condition and information concerning the property, known by the seller. Unless otherwise advised, the seller does not possess any expertise in construction, architecture, engineering, foundation, roof, or any other specific area related to the construction or condition of the improvements on the property or the land. This statement is not a warranty of any kind by the seller and is not a substitute for any inspections or warranties the buyer may wish to obtain. NOTE: For sale my owners are also legally required to provide this form.

Can your agent help you fill it out?

No. As Realtors, this would infringe on our duties to abide by the National Association of Realtors “Code of Ethics and standards of practice.” We are not lawyers and cannot give any advice or interpret any law regarding what the form says or means. If there are any questions, sellers need to consult an attorney.

Both TAR and TREC have a seller’s disclosure notice. Which to use?

Both forms are in compliance with the law. With that said, the TAR form is far preferred. It asks more questions, is far more thorough, is easier to fill out, spells out specific safety hazards the TREC form does not, is more useful for buyers and is designed to serve as a better risk-reduction tool for sellers. It is in your best interest as the seller to ask your agent to provide you with the TAR form.

Who is exempt from filling this form out?

There are 11 exceptions, but the most common are:

  • A builder of a new home
  • A trustee or executor of an estate
  • The lender after foreclosing on a property
  • Duplex owners

Even though these types of sellers (and a few others) are not required to provide a disclosure notice, they still must disclose any known material defects. Requirements of Section 5.008, all sellers have an obligation to disclose known defects about the property. Failure to do so exposes them to liability under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act or other civil laws.

What about previous death in the property?

The statute does not require disclosure of deaths by natural causes, suicide, or accidents unrelated to the condition of the property.

Previous Inspection Reports

If a seller bought the home within the past 4 years OR if a seller receives a copy of an inspection report from a buyer but the contract with that buyer falls through, the seller and brokers should consider sharing the report and they have a duty to disclose any known material defects. Possession of a prior inspection report may be evidence of the seller’s or broker’s knowledge of a known defect, although no law requires that the report must be provided.

Consequences When Sellers Don’t Disclose

A seller who doesn’t disclose known defects can be sued by the buyer after the defect is discovered. As a seller, you don’t want to look back after closing!

If a court finds the seller responsible, they may be required to:

  • Repairs and other damages resulting from the undisclosed defect
  • Pay the buyer’s attorney’s fees and costs of the lawsuit
  • Take back the house if the court invalidates or rescinds the sale
  • Punishment for punitive damages of failure to disclose defects

 

A surprise birthday party is fun…a surprise moldy house is not! Use of this form may result in fewer surprises to the buyer after closing and less liability for the agents and the seller(s). Don’t make your home sale any more challenging than need be. A seller’s accurate and honest disclosure is worth it.

Texas Home Prices Climb Likely To Continue, Says Real Estate Economist At Texas A&M

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COLLEGE STATION – Recent home price indices (HPI) all indicate another increase in Texas home prices, a trend that will likely continue for a while, says an economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.

CoreLogic’s HPI, one of several key indicators that center researchers track, showed an 8.5 percent year-over-year increase in Texas home prices in February. Prices in Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown and Dallas-Plano-Irving increased 10.4 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively.

“As long as inventory stays tight, and as long as demand stays high relative to supply, we’re going to keep seeing these kinds of priceincreases,” said Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines.  Center data show statewide housing inventory in February was at 3.1 months. Houston’s inventory was at 2.7 months in February, while Dallas was at 1.8 months. An inventory of 6.5 months is generally considered a balanced market.

While the shortage of pre-owned single-family homes on the market is contributing to the market’s tightness, Gaines said there’s also a lack of new product.

“Home builders have not been building houses as fast as they have in the past,” he said. “They’re doing the best they can, but that growth is not adding to the total inventory.”

Gaines said the demand for new homes is still there, thanks to economic growth, job growth and people moving to Texas. The biggest problem is the lack of lot inventory and land development.

“Historically, Texas housing markets have maintained a good balance of supply and demand because our building industry could build houses fairly easily, fairly quickly and fairly cheaply compared with other states,” he said. “Land costs and labor costs were lower. The Texas land development model simply worked. But financing for land development and lot development dried up between 2009 and 2013, so all of a sudden there’s this shortage, and it’s going to take several years for that to get unraveled.”

Another problem is the effect local regulatory controls and impact fees are having on builders.

“The demand for goods and services provided by local governments has increased along with the population,” Gaines said. “The cost of those goods and services has also increased, and governments are faced with the problem of how to pay for them.

So they’re passing some of those costs on to developers in the form of regulatory costs, permitting fees, platting fees, direct impact fees for roads and utilities and that sort of thing. So all of our costs are going up.”

VIA – For more from Gaines on the Texas housing market, listen to the April 8 episode of the Real Estate Red Zone podcast (“All Housing, All the Time”). It’s online at http://www.recenter.tamu.edu/podcast/

What is the true cost when a Real Estate AGENT Cuts their commission?

In today’s competitive real estate market in Corpus Christi, some agents are offering to cut their commissions in an attempt to attract more business. The truth is that they want to be listing agents. Here are some questions to ask before listing your home with an agent who’s willing to take a “pay cut” to work with you:

WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE AGENT‘S PRIMARY MOTIVATION FOR CUTTING THEIR COMMISSION? In all likelihood, it’s because they are in a position where they simply need the business that badly. Do you really want to trust the sale of your property to someone who is desperate for your business? There is a difference between WANTING your business and NEEDING your business.

IF YOUR PROPERTY DOESN’T SELL, WHAT HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED? There is a difference between listing a property and selling a property. What the agent didn’t tell you is that they will make less money selling your property than if they sell another property on the market. You want an agent who’s going to be excited about bringing you an offer.

WHICH SERVICES ARE THEY GOING TO CUT? If you cut your commission, then you have to cut service. Many factors come into play in finding the right buyer who’s willing to pay your price. To get top price for a property, you need as many services for you as you can possibly get.

WOULD YOU REALLY BE EXCITED ABOUT A 15% PAY CUT? A 1% reduction in commission equals more than 15% of the total commission or 60% of the selling agents commission. How can the agent really be excited about working for you? Is the agent being honest with you when he or she tells you that they’re excited about getting the property sold?

ARE THEY GOING TO COOPERATE WITH OTHER BROKERS? What are they going to pay the other brokers? Why are those brokers going to be excited about taking a 15% pay cut? To get top price for your property, you need to have all brokers in the marketplace excited about selling it.

IS THE REAL ESTATE AGENT A SKILLED NEGOTIATOR? If the other broker is willing to let you negotiate them out of 15% or more of their income from the sale of your property, will they also let the buyer negotiate 15% or more from the purchase price of your property? What is that other broker’s sale price to list price ratio? You might be costing yourself tens of thousands of dollars by trying to save a couple thousand dollars in commissions.

What’s the most important thing to you in the sale of your home? Is it paying a lower commission, or is it getting “top dollar for your home?” We are in the business of “protecting” the financial interest of our sellers, and want you to receive top dollar for your property, at Coastline Properties it is our mission to insure that you receive the absolute best buyer for your home!

Oil prices drop, Corpus Christi’s rent prices don’t

corpus-christi-rentalsCORPUS CHRISTI – Plunging oil prices may be a relief for Coastal Bend residents at the pumps, but they’re having little influence on rents or mortgage payments.

Experts predict the falling price of crude will force housing costs in energy-dependent Corpus Christi to drop at some point.

That day won’t come in 2015, they say.

The housing market in Corpus Christi is perhaps the tightest it has ever been for both potential renters and those looking to buy a home. Things won’t change for the rest of the year, despite a rush on home and apartment construction, said Jim Lee, the chief economist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Oil field workers who lived in apartments in Corpus Christi are moving to Alice, Cotulla and other small towns within the energy play to be closer to work, said Melissa Gomez, a broker for AAA Apartment Locating in Corpus Christi. Others have been moving out of higher-end luxury apartments and into older, more-affordable complexes to cut costs.

The exodus has created hundreds of apartment vacancies since November, but rent prices remain unchanged. Instead of lowering rents, property managers have eased move-in criteria to insure occupancy. Applicants with credit and rental-history blemishes and those whose income is less than three times the cost of rent are no longer being disqualified for apartments.

“We’ll see a decline in occupancy rates here and there … but they (complexes) won’t empty out,” Gomez said.

The average price of homes in Corpus Christi hit a record high of $207,700 in December, according to the latest data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. That same month, the asking rent for a typical apartment in the city was 25 percent higher than it was just four years ago.

Five recently completed apartment complexes have been cleared since March to take in tenants. Another dozen are in various stages of construction and are due to open in coming months.

The Corpus Christi area’s apartment occupancy rate was 92.5 percent in December, according to ALN Apartment Data, a Carrollton-based firm that tracks rental property trends. That’s down from 94.3 percent in November and the record months of December and April, when occupancy hit 95.2 percent.

Average rent in Corpus Christi in December was between $842 and $880, an ALN report said, though it’s not uncommon for newer complexes to ask for more than $1,100 for a one-bedroom home.

Corpus Christi’s low unemployment has been a magnet for thousands of job seekers in the past three years, most of them eyeing work in the Eagle Ford Shale energy play. The trend has slowed recently as energy companies have scaled back shale production, even shaved jobs, trying to remain profitable.

Falling oil prices and cutbacks in shale oil production by energy companies will put “downward pressure” on the local housing market, Lee said. However, the majority of newly constructed apartments are likely to be absorbed by students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and personnel from the nearby Naval air station.

“The overall housing market in Corpus Christi, including single-family rental houses, will likely soften up after reaching its current peak, but the market for apartments might continue to be tight at least the rest of the year,” Lee said.

Apartment occupancy in Corpus Christi in January 2010 was 89 percent, and average rent was about $700.

Warren Andrich, CEO of the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors, was optimistic about the home sales market, while conceding more rental property was needed in the city.

The Real Estate Center reported that 375 homes were sold in Corpus Christi in December, typically a slow sales month.

The Coastal Bend’s economy, though heavily influenced by the energy industry, is diverse enough to support an increase in housing, Andrich said.

Although homes values are increasing and are being sold at or near their asking prices, Corpus Christi’s inventory of affordable homes — those priced between $125,000-$165,000 — is less than 300 units.

“These are all indicators that we were in need of the additional rentals coming on the market,” Andrich said.

Twitter: @Caller_ChrisRam

Corpus Christi Apartment Market (December 2014)

Occupancy Rate: 92.5 percent

Asking Rent: $880

Effective Rent: $873

Average Apt. Size: 850 square feet

Average Market Rent Breakdown By Floor Plan

Efficiency, $671

1 Bedroom, $753

2 Bedroom, $944

3 Bedroom, $1,084

4 Bedrooms +, $2,181

Source: ALN Apartment Data

Housing Activity (Annual figures)

Year No. of sales Average price Median Price Months of inventory

2004 4,745 $132,100 $113,800 4.6

2005 4,894 $147,300 $125,200 5.0

2006 5,192 $153,300 $130,400 6.2

2007 4,510 $162,000 $136,500 7.4

2008 3,773 $162,200 $138,900 9.0

2009 3,444 $155,500 $134,800 10.2

2010 3,445 $152,300 $136,500 10.3

2011 3,396 $157,500 $135,700 9.5

2012 4,058 $169,900 $142,300 7.1

2013 4,589 $180,700 $152,200 5.3

2014 4,721 $197,100 $168,600 4.5

Source: Real Estate Center, Texas A&M University.

via @callertimes

The Art of Negotiating

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Whether you’re trying to get the best price at the flea market, ask for a higher salary, or buy a new car, having good negotiating skills is important. Luckily, during a real estate transaction, you have a hired professional to do the tough stuff for you! Whether you are buying or selling, your agent should be representing your needs and wants through this fine art of negotiating.

Some may believe that negotiations are “all or nothing.” That one party wins over the other. This could not be further from the truth. While the goal of negotiation is most certainly getting what you want, the fact is that the best deals incorporate terms from both sides.

First, think about what you want to achieve from the process. Make a list of what you want from the negotiation and why. This helps determine what would cause you to walk away so you can build your strategy within acceptable terms. Try, also, to understand what your counterpart’s motivations are as this is equally as important. By studying the other side’s goals, it may help you frame your own by realizing that there’s a solution for you both. The single most important tool you and your agent have is preparedness. Communicating with each other the main goals and why they’re the goals gives your agent the best negotiating power there is. Follow these steps:

1.      Establish a fair sales price. Your agent should run a comparative market analysis (CMA) for you to assess what a fair asking price is based on other sales in the area.

2.      Establish what you can afford. If you’re buying, your agent should be able to help you with this a bit, and if you’re working with a lender they will be invaluable here. If you’re selling, what is your bottom line?

3.      Decide what other things would be a deal breaker. Price is typically the most important factor. However, it may also be a deal breaker if you’re selling and you cannot afford to pay the buyer’s closing costs at their request, or you’re the buyer and your insurance requires a windstorm certificate that the home doesn’t have.

4.      As a buyer, when it comes to inspections, negotiating repairs can become just as important as presenting the offer itself. If the home you’re seeking isn’t advertised as being sold “As Is” then you likely have some negotiating powers when it comes to repairs.

5.      Try not to get emotional. This is a tough one as a home is personal. And if you get too emotional, you may make an exception to your goals. But your agent is there to represent you, your goals and to make it about business so this doesn’t happen.

From there, your licensed Real Estate Agent should be able to clearly communicate your desires.  It’s your agent’s job to ensure you are represented correctly, fairly, and your voice is heard! It’s all about collaborating to meet both ends, making it a “win/win” situation.

What should you look for in an agent? These characteristics may be beneficial: An active listener, someone with a reputation of getting along with others, someone with a mild-mannered and optimistic personality, and a clear but firm communicator.

So sit back, and let US work for YOU. If you’re feeling like your agent is trying too hard to convince you to forgo your main goals, then perhaps it’s not the right fit. There’s a solution to every problem. Think outside the box, discuss rather than argue, and don’t forget, it never hurts to ASK!

8 Benefits of Buying a House at Year’s End

endofyearrealtorSummer may be real estate’s busy season, but winter offers great opportunities for buying a house, especially for renters looking to become homeowners, growing families trading up to larger houses and baby boomers seeking homes to fit their evolving lifestyles.

Generally speaking, your housing choices during the late fall are still healthy. October and November are great months to go house hunting. December is usually sparse, market-wise, but if that fits your timeline, you could luck out.

The benefits to buying a house at the end of the year include the following:

1. Tax savings

If you close by December 31, you can deduct mortgage interest, property taxes, points on your loan and interest costs. These deductions are significant, especially in the early years of your loan when you’re paying off a lot of interest.

2. Motivated sellers

Many sellers want to enjoy tax savings on the next home they purchase. They may accept lower bids in order to meet Uncle Sam’s deadlines. However, if you’re in a strong seller’s market, you’ll want to be conservative and heed advice from your real estate professional.

3. Builder incentives

If you’re buying a house that is brand new, there’s a good chance builders may push to close the books on their year—and meet quotas. They may offer upgrades or little extras to sell houses before the calendar turns.

4. Available movers

Many moving companies are booked six weeks or more in advance during the busy summer months. In the fall and winter, it’s normally easier to secure the services of a moving company or rental equipment on shorter notice.

5. Paying toward something you own

If you’re renting, your monthly check goes toward something that will last you a month: You’ll never see any return on that money. When you buy a house, your monthly mortgage payment goes toward an investment—and ultimately a roof that’s yours.

6. Consistent payments

Landlords can increase your rent. Once you secure a mortgage, you can rely on consistent payments if you have a fixed-rate loan.

7. Freedom to renovate

Modernize your kitchen, paint your home’s exterior neon orange, change your fixtures orreplace your carpeting; whatever inspires you, no one can tell you, “No!”

8. Gaining equity

In the beginning, most of your payment goes toward interest. But gradually more will go toward paying off your principal, meaning you build up equity—or savings—in your home. Another factor in equity is appreciation: As home values rise, so does your rate of equity.

via Realtor.com

WHY USE A LOCAL PADRE ISLAND REALTOR?

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WHY USE A LOCAL REALTOR?

This question probably prods every seller at one point or another…it’s your property, aren’t you the best suited to sell it? Perhaps. Then again, let me explain why maybe not. As a buyer, it’s just as critical to use a local Realtor. It comes down to the three Ts: Tools, Training, Transaction-Related Matters.

Tools:

Real estate agents have tools, and they don’t come in a box or on a belt. One of these tools is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This is a system paid for by agents to showcase listings to all other agents. It also allows us to see and search every other property for sale, along with what’s closed, what’s under contract, etc…always in real time. Because the MLS dates back decades, it is trend and individual property history at our fingertips. It gives agents the unique ability to create a comparative market analysis on your property with the knowledge we have from recent closures. As a tight-knit community, we have a network of other agents and a network of title company experts who keep us up-to-date on changes to contracts and changes to the law. We are vested in the community where we live and work, and where you want to live or sell. We are familiar with the local market, building guidelines, and numerous specifications that our seaside area requires.

Training:

OK, it sounds like we’re running a marathon, but seriously, sometimes a real estate transaction feels like one! Real Estate Agents went to a school focused specifically on real estate and can help you navigate the (sometimes rough) terrain. Both a national and a state required exam must be passed to become licensed. Pricing, contract paperwork, real estate finance and law, these are all areas we’re proficient in and experts at. Likewise, we’re required to continue our education with a certain number of hours each year to ensure we stay informed and updated on the ever-changing regulations occurring in this industry. Also, not all real estate licensees are the same; only those who are members of the National Association of Realtors are properly called REALTORS and can proudly display that trademark on marketing and sales literature.

Transaction-Related Matters:

This comes down to the meat and potatoes of it all, concerning the contract itself, to the negotiations, to possible repair work, to closing details, and every possible scenario in between. It also heavily involves our Code of Ethics – for over 100 years, this code ensures agents treat their clients professionally and ethically. These ethics are strictly enforced, and you know you will be working with a true professional who focuses on your needs and wants. Your agent is accountable for fulfilling their full “fiduciary responsibilities” to you (has your best interest in mind from finances to full disclosure to confidentiality).  Realtors are committed to treat all parties in a transaction honestly. An independent survey reported that 84% of home buyers would use the same Realtor again.

The best agent I know once told me, “You’ve done your job if you’ve made it look easy.” So I invite you to relax…have a lemonade…allow us to make the process appear as seamless as possible.