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    Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid: Not Doing Research First

    Last updated 3 days ago

    By Jeannette Morrison

    REALTOR ®, BE, CNE, Keller Williams

    Residential, Relocation, and Investment

    www.CentralTexasAgent.com

    512-233-9775 cell

    facebook | twitter | LinkedIn

     

    Mistake #2: Rushing to Buy Without Doing the Research First

    Many buyers are so excited and anxious to get started with their home search that they forget to do some research and planning first.

    A trusted Realtor can be a great resource and should be able to get you the information you need quickly. Your search will become much easier once you hone in on a specific area or specific neighborhoods. Your Realtor can set you up with a search especially tailored to your wants and needs so you will be alerted in real time once it becomes available.  A well connected and networked Realtor can even know about properties before they go active in the MLS, which is important in Austin’s competitive market. A buyer can gain a competitive advantage over other buyers.

    It is a good idea to make two lists – one of the must-have amenities and one of the would-like-to-have-but-not-that-necessary. For example, three bedrooms may be on the first list, but granite counters or a hot tub may better be suited for the second list.

    • Which area do you want to live in? Are the homes in that area in your price range?
    • How long of a commute can you tolerate?
    • How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you need?
    • How are the neighborhood’s schools, property taxes, homeowner association, and other important factors?

     

    Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid: Not Getting Pre-Approved First

    Last updated 8 days ago

    by Jeannette Morrison

    REALTOR ®, BE, CNE, Keller Williams

    Residential, Relocation, and Investment

    www.CentralTexasAgent.com

    512-233-9775 cell

    facebook | twitter | LinkedIn

     

    Buying a home in the Austin Metro Area just makes good sense! Recently, USA Today reported a 5.2% increase in apartment rent in Austin during 2013, and another 3.7% jump is anticipated for 2014. Home value appreciations are up and expected to increase by over 25% from now to 2018. As 2014 progresses and home values rise, it’s best for buyers to act quickly and secure a home that will appreciate with the market.  

    For many, purchasing a home is a very exciting experience. Unfortunately, it can also be frustrating, especially in our hot Austin Real Estate market where inventory is low (~2.5 months) and sellers have the advantage.  Here are some mistakes to avoid whether you are buying this month or next year. Stay tuned for more home buying mistakes over the next few weeks.

    Mistake #1: Not Getting Pre-Approved First

    The very first step towards buying a home should be getting pre-approved for the loan. This is an absolute must if you want to avoid major disappointments later. Getting pre-approved is often easier than people think.

    • Decide on a lender, then meet with them and discuss your purchase needs. You will fill out a loan application, and your lender will check your credit, verify your income and employment, and determine what kind of loan you can qualify for.
    • You will then know (1.) how much you will be able to borrow, (2.) how much you will need for the down payment, and (3.) how much your monthly payments are likely to be. Looking for your next home then becomes easier since you will know that you can get financing, and you know the price range to focus on.
    • The lender will also give you a pre-approval letter. You should also ask for a pre-qualification letter, which is more important than a pre-approval letter. The pre-qualification letter is stronger than a pre-approval letter and will confirm to sellers that you can obtain financing. It will be an important negotiation tool to give you leverage over those buyers that only have a pre-approval letter. In fact, many sellers will not even respond to an offer without a pre-qualification letter.

    If you're shopping for a home in the Austin, TX area, Amplify Credit Union offers great mortgage rates. And best of all, we're local, just like you!

    Stay tuned for more home buying mistakes and how to avoid them.

    Energy Efficiency Home Improvement Projects

    Last updated 15 days ago

    Houses don’t stay “new” forever. Every passing year brings wear and tear upon your home, opening up cracks, gaps, and other opportunities for air to escape and water to intrude. Here are a few ways to secure your home and avoid wasting money this summer.

    • Calk windows and doorways – A quick touchup can keep air inside the house from escaping throughout the summer. A tube of calk costs almost nothing compared to how much you will save over time.
    • Attic insulation check – When was the last time your attic got some attention? If neglected, your attic could be the number one reason why your AC is running all summer long.
    • Roof & siding repairs & touch-ups – “April showers bring May flowers,” but if your roof has a leak, April showers may also bring mold and mildew.
    • Appliances & HVAC upgrades—Austin residents should check out Austin Energy’s Power$aver Program that offers rebates and incentives to homeowners looking to upgrade their refrigerators, freezers, air conditioning, and heating systems, or even those looking to add solar panels to their roof.
    • Front & back door repairs – You’ll want to repair gaps in the weather stripping, fill cracks in the door, replace cracked or broken glass panes, and fix any damaged hardware that might keep the door from shutting completely, thus allowing air to escape.

    Spring is the perfect time to knock out your home improvement projects.  Not sure about financing? Don’t waste money by using a credit card! Let Amplify Credit Union help you get a low rate with either an Equity or Express loan or line of credit.

    Want to read more?

                    Home Loan Options: Equity Loan or Express?

                    Finance Strategies in Action: Using Equity Loans to Refinance Express Loans

    Value-Adding Home Improvement Projects

    Last updated 21 days ago

    Not all home improvement projects add value to your home, and some types of projects add more value than others. How do you know which types of projects will add the most? Check out Hanley Wood’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report to research costs and recouped values in your local area.

    Here are some of the best mid-range projects in the Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana region that tend to recoup the most value compared to money typically spent.

    • Entry Door Replacement (steel) – replacing your front door can add instant curb appeal and possibly limit the amount of air escaping from your home, especially if your current door has cracks or other issues. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report says homeowners can recoup up to 96.6% of the money spent.
    • Deck Addition (wood) – Adding a basic, wooden deck to your backyard can be a cost-effective way to add resale value and increase the value of the home to you as an occupant. Completing some of the work yourself can help you save even more money!
    • Attic Bedroom – Transforming attic space into a bedroom can recoup as much as 84.3% of the money spent on the project, according to Remodeling.
    • Garage Door Replacement – This is a relatively low-cost way to add instant curb appeal. Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value Report claims you can recoup as much as 83.7% of the money spent when it comes time to sell your home.
    • Minor Kitchen Remodel – Large-scale kitchen remodels can sometimes get out of control, leading homeowners to spend far more than they can ever expect to recoup when they sell their home. To get the most bang for your buck, stick to minor repairs and remodeling projects such as cabinetry, appliances, countertops, flooring, and the sink.

    When it comes to determining how to pay for the project, Amplify Credit Union has you covered! Whether you have equity available in your home or not, we have low-rate Home Loan solutions that beat credit card interest rates any day. Read these other articles to find out which is right for you:

                    Home Loan Options: Equity Loan or Express?

                    Finance Strategies in Action: Using Equity Loans to Refinance Express Loans

    Homeowner's Spring Checklist

    Last updated 1 month ago

    Being a homeowner can be a lot of work – especially if you don’t take the time to do these essential projects throughout the year, particularly after a hard winter. Here are a few projects that will make home life easier this summer.

    • Clean out gutters & downspouts – With more rain on the way, unclogging these waterways ahead of time can help keep debris like twigs and leaves from damaging the joints and causing leaks.
    • Activate your sprinkler system –A professional can help check for leaks and water pressure issues that may have developed during a winter freeze.
    • Organize the Garage—Not only will you feel better knowing your winter and holiday decorations are safely stored and organized for next year – you’ll have an opportunity to take inventory of your stored belongings and decide what needs to be donated to charity and what needs to be replaced.
    • Landscaping – You’ll need all the essentials to perk your lawn up -- fertilizer, mulch, new plants, trees, and weed killer. Does the lawnmower work? Do the garden hoses leak?  Don’t wait until the day of a planned project to discover these needs!
    • Foundation repairs – Texas is known for long summer droughts followed by freezes in the winter which causes concrete to crack. Foundation cracks happen and are normal, but a professional will know whether it is significant or negligible. For more information about foundation problems, check out this MSN article: “Is that crack serious? Foundation problems 101

    Uncovering unexpected damages isn’t fun, and neither is paying for them. When it comes to financing home improvement projects, Amplify Credit Union has you covered.  Our Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit offer low rates and comfortable terms, while our Homeowners Express Loans and Lines of Credit offer quick financing for those without equity in their home.

    Want more?

                    Home Loan Options: Equity Loan or Express?

                    Finance Strategies in Action: Using Equity Loans to Refinance Express Loans

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