Twelve days of early voting yielded Bexar County’s lowest pre-Election Day turnout in the last eight years. That means plenty of folks still need to head to their local polling place to vote today. What’s on the ballot? Besides several municipal races and local propositions, there are seven state constitutional amendments, including a property tax break for spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty. Other state propositions would establish new term limits for gubernatorial appointees and make several changes related to home equity loans, including a lower cap on loan fees.
Polling sites are open until 7 p.m. today. Not sure where you need to go to vote? You can find your polling location on the Bexar County Elections Department website.
If you read my blog last week, you know that buying a house while you are selling your existing home can be tricky. Whether closing on the sale or purchase first, you hope everything will go smoothly; but in case it doesn’t, you need some insurance. I walk my clients through the pros and cons of a variety of strategies that might be useful in reducing risk and managing setbacks. Take a look at a few worth considering:
There are many contingency clauses that are commonly used in real estate transactions. If the home doesn’t appraise for the agreed-upon sales price, for example, the buyer may terminate if an appraisal contingency clause is part of their agreement. Less used, but worth considering, is the sales contingency clause. If you’re unable to sell your current home within a certain time frame, this contingency allows you to cancel your offer on the new home. While this sounds perfect, there is a catch. When the market is hot, sellers many prefer to look for a “sure thing” rather than gamble on whether or not you can sell your home in a timely manner.
Extended Closing on Purchase
This is similar to a contingent offer but without the contingency. If you’ve found a new home and are confident your existing home will sell within a given time frame, you can ask for the closing on the new home to be a few weeks later than the standard 30-45 days. This move does have its drawbacks. The seller may ask for more earnest money, to insure that you are committed to the purchase, and in a competitive market, you might need to boost your offer price to make up for the added flexibility.
If you are selling in a seller’s market, where good homes in your price range are tough to come by, you may be able to ask for a “rent-back” provision. Usually for a period of 60-90 days maximum, a rent-back means you get to stay in your home after it sells. Of course, there’s a cost, either in a reduced sales price or in daily rental to the new owners. And in a buyer’s market, when there is plenty of inventory, your buyers may not want to become your landlord, even temporarily.
Clients who buy a new house before selling their current home might also consider using a short-term bridge loan to cover their down payment expense. The lender will give you a certain amount of money based on the amount of equity you have in your current home so that you “bridge” the money gap between the equity in your current home and the down payment on the new one. This allows you to make a more competitive offer that doesn’t contain a contingency clause. The downside? Bridge loan terms vary widely in cost and conditions. Plus paying two mortgages in addition to a bridge loan while waiting for your existing home to sell can create financial stress.
As a REALTOR®, I am positioned to help my clients understand financing options and identify qualified lenders, as well as help with any negotiations regarding price, terms, date of possession and the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or appliances. The Dunlap Real Estate Team guides each client from listing through the closing process, making sure we have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” so that there are no delays from our side of the table. We are committed to providing detail-oriented service along with carefully considered experience-based guidance to our clients. Let us know if we can help you navigate your next home sale or purchase.
Buying a home can be difficult, but try selling your home and buying another at the same time. Two major life events at once—talk about stress! But it’s a situation that most homeowners will face at some point in their lives. So which comes first—the sale or the purchase?
In a perfect world, most buyers would prefer to sell their home first, then immediately use the equity in that home for a down payment on a new one. It certainly simplifies financing, but in reality, it is hard to pull off simultaneously. Closings can be delayed, and deals can fall through. When you sell before you buy, there is less financial risk, but more logistical hurdles. Where will you live if the house you are selling closes before you are able to complete the purchase of the new one?
But buy before you sell? You will certainly have someplace to send your furniture, but you could get stuck paying two mortgages…for a very long time. That is, if you can find a lender to finance that purchase in the first place.
If it sounds like a catch-22, it is. But it’s far from impossible! I have successfully helped clients buy and sell (or sell and buy) throughout my 17 years as a realtor, and I’ve learned a few strategies along the way that help make the whole process go smoothly.
Know your financials
It’s a rare client who is able to buy a new home with cash and sell the old home at leisure. That means you will be dealing with financing, and the first step here is to have a good grasp of your financial picture. Know your credit score, and clean up any discrepancies that may be lowering your credit. Look at your debt-to-income ratio. Build a relationship with a lender, and get prequalified for a mortgage. Assess whether you can swing two mortgage payments at once for a few months.
Know the market
This is where I come in. In a buyer’s market, with falling house prices and lots of inventory, selling first may make the most sense. The last thing sellers want is to be paying interest costs on two loans. To help speed up the process, I work with my clients on paring down belongings and staging their home so that it will appeal to the widest range of buyers possible. I also suggest they do any quick fixes—taking care of that toilet that has run off and on over the last year—that may come up during an inspection and possibly delay the process unnecessarily.
In a seller’s market, buying a home first might be the best option, as your property would likely be sold more quickly. Sellers may have more power when it comes time to negotiate a timeline that is favorable to them, as buyers are generally more willing to accommodate sellers’ needs when inventory is low.
No matter which side of the transaction the market seems to be favoring, pricing the home right for market conditions is vital. I stay current on citywide statistics, changing local conditions, and neighborhood inventory to help my clients set a price that is competitive.
Don’t rely on timing
Closings get delayed. Buyers might have difficulty securing a mortgage, or a home inspection might bring to light issues that will need to be fixed. My clients are only part of the equation, and I help them prepare for setbacks. Preemptive planning may include contingency clauses, renting back the home after sale, extending the closing timeline on the purchase, or using a bridge loan to cover expenses.
Check back next week as I discuss the pros and cons of these preemptive planning strategies.
San Antonio’s red-hot culinary scene is set to heat up even more this August—Culinaria’s Restaurant Week is back! The event doesn’t begin until next month, but the official list of almost 100 participating restaurants has been released, which means tables are already booking up. On the menu—palate pleasers from barbecue, to Tex-Mex, to seafood—in restaurants ranging from funky tapas bars to special occasion steakhouses.
The two week-long event, running August 12-26, is the perfect time to finally test out the places you’ve been meaning to try, or to revisit fancy favorites without breaking the bank. Craving J. Prime’s filet mignon, or Perry’s “famous” pork chop? Culinaria has you covered! Thinking sushi? Kona Grill has a rainbow and Picasso roll on their menu. Special three-course prix fixe dinners run $25 or $35 per person, depending on the restaurant’s price point, and certain restaurants are also offering lunch for $10 or $15.
Best of all, your dining experience will be a charitable one. With each meal ordered, restaurants will donate $1 for lunch and $2 for dinner to Culinaria in support of their culinary scholarship and farm programs. For more information, as well as the most up-to-date menus for the event, go to Culinaria.org.
Zillow recently confirmed what most of us in the industry already know: San Antonio is a great city for first-time homebuyers looking for a more affordable home. According to a new analysis from Zillow®, Orlando and Tampa top the list as the best markets for first-time buyers, with affordable homes and relatively more inventory than other markets. San Antonio and Dallas were right behind, ranking 5th and 9th, respectively.
Zillow’s list of the best markets for first-time buyers is based on five key metrics
⋅Lower median home value for a more affordable down payment
⋅Strong home value forecast as an indicator of building equity
⋅Higher inventory-to-household ratio to capture available supply
⋅Shorter Breakeven Horizon to show a financial advantage of buying over renting
⋅Greater share of listings with price cuts to indicate a less competitive market
In all but three of the 10 best markets for first-time buyers, the median home value is lower than the national median home value, which means they require less money up front as a down payment–especially important for first-time buyers who may not have accumulated as much savings.
While San Antonio is a sweet spot for first-time homeowners, it’s not exactly a well-kept secret. I am seeing more situations, especially at the more affordable end of the market, where multiple offers are in play. And with the hottest months for homesales upon us, buyers need to prepare to compete. “Prospective buyers looking to move this summer should prepare by seeking preapproval from a lender, knowing their budget and getting with a REALTOR® to discuss their housing priorities,” according to Angela Shields, SABOR’s President and CEO. “They also need to be ready to make a decision quickly.”
Ten Best Markets for First-Time Homebuyers
1. Orlando, Fla.
2. Tampa, Fla.
3. Indianapolis, Ind.
4. Las Vegas, Nev.
5. San Antonio, Texas
6. Pittsburgh, Pa.
7. Atlanta, Ga.
8. Detroit, Mich.
9. Dallas, Texas
10. Cleveland, Ohio
My team saw an uptick in home sales last month, and we also had buyers in multiple offer situations. So we weren’t surprised when we reviewed the San Antonio Board of REALTORS’® (SABOR) February report on the market and saw a three percent increase in home sales when compared to the same period in 2016. Homes spent an average of just 63 days on the market, an 11 percent drop from February last year.
Not only are we seeing sold signs going up more quickly in front of area homes, SABOR reports that the price per square foot grew four percent to $110. Even better news for sellers—97.6 percent of homes sold for list price.
“Though prices here have grown, the increases are steady and sustainable unlike many other large cities in the country,” said Michele Bunting Ross, SABOR’s 2017 Chairman of the Board. Anyone who has lived through a bursting housing bubble can appreciate just how important it is that San Antonio’s strong economy (including growing wages) supports the reasonable growth in home prices—no bubble here!
In a market like this, sellers need to make sure they are pricing and marketing their home correctly, and buyers need the expertise of a professional to help them write an offer that will be attractive in a competitive situation. My team and I are staying on top of these trends and communicating them to our clients, so that we are able to help our buyers and sellers be proactive in changing market situations.
Spring Break is upon us and summer trips to those fabulous destinations you’ve been researching all winter won’t be far behind. With all the planning that you put into your get-away, from Airbnb to airlines, have you planned for the one thing you will be leaving behind? Get your home vacation ready before you leave so you’ll have one less thing to worry about while away. Use our checklist to knock out common culprits and avoid any headaches upon your return.
“Vacation Ready” Checklist
- Stop the newspaper and mail. Go to the USPS’s online mail management tool to hold mail up to 30 days.
- Park your car inside the garage, and lock the garage door using the interior bolt. (There has been an uptick in theft from parked cars on the Northside, so better safe than sorry on this one.)
- While you’re at it, lock the door from the garage into your house.
- Ask a neighbor to park in your driveway occasionally if you will be gone more than a week.
- Put at least one light in your house on a timer. Wemo switches are available for under $40 at Home Depot and Lowe’s or online and allow control of lights and other appliances from your phone while you are away.
- Install a motion-activated sensor on an outdoor light near the garage or front door. Not only is it nice to have the extra light when you arrive home at night, burglars avoid well lit entry points.
- Make sure your lawn stays trimmed. (Bonus points if you hire a neighbor’s teen to do the job while you are gone.)
- Unplug small appliances and electronic devices. That toaster and phone charger still use energy even when not turned on or in use, and the amount adds up.
- Turn off water valves to the dishwasher, washing machine and all sinks. (Trust us on this one. We speak from experience, and you wouldn’t believe the damage a burst pipe in the laundry room can do before neighbors notice water running out the front door.)
- Set your thermostat to a warmer temperature in the spring and summer, but don’t cut it off completely. An unexpected heat wave could harm your home and furniture inside without a little help from the AC.
- Leave your emergency contact information with a neighbor, and include hotel names and locations if you are traveling out of the country where cell service may not be stellar.
- Some cities, such as Shavano Park, offer courtesy home checks by police officers while you are away. Neighborhoods like Deerfield, with security officers on patrol, also offer this service. Simply let them know the dates of your trip before leaving.
Have you seen signs for the new garden home neighborhood coming to Shavano Park? Pond Hill Garden Villas, near the intersection of NW Military and Loop 1604, is being built by Davis Custom Homes, and will have models available to tour in the spring. Four lot sizes with six different floor plans will be available, along with an option for a custom-designed home. The 39 villas will feature interiors with clean lines and open floor plans, and range from 2,100 to 2,700 square feet.
The neighborhood will feature mature trees, gorgeous landscaping and its own homeowners association, according to the builder. Pond Hill’s close proximity to hiking and biking trails along the Salado Creek Greenway, as well as its location right next door to the Shavano Park Tennis Club, make it a great choice for those with active lifestyles. Another plus—Shavano Park is developing paved walkways so residents will be able to walk to nearby restaurants and shopping along NW Military Highway.
Keep an eye on my blog or the Dunlap Real Estate Team Facebook page for more information as it becomes available.
If you were planning to do most of your last minute shopping online, but you’re worried the package with that iPhone 7 or Xbox One won’t be there when you get home from work, Amazon has you covered. San Antonio residents can now have their Amazon packages delivered to secure lockers at many area 7-Elevens rather than to their doorstep. Amazon Locker locations can be found when selecting a shipping address during the checkout process on Amazon’s site. Choose the locker location most convenient to you, and once your package is delivered, you’ll receive an e-mail notification with a unique pickup code that includes the address and opening times for your selected location. When you arrive to collect your package, just enter your pickup code and follow user-friendly directions displayed on the screen. All packages delivered to Amazon Locker locations must be picked up within three business days. Be aware: If you’re not able to collect your package within this time frame, the package will be returned to Amazon for a refund.