Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Weekend Sans The Wife: Website Update

Well, since my wife kidnapped my unborn child and fled to her homeland, life has been lonely. She is about 6 months pregnant at the end of this month. I can picture her now, waddling the monsoon-season streets of South Korea. She's probably not doing well without yours truly, crying, can't sleep, and talking to everyone about how much she misses me. Clutching the sky with fistfuls of air with tears running down the side of her face as she screams, "When, when will I be finished with my vacation!?" No, she looks great. In fact, she is probably one of the most beautiful pregnant women I've ever seen. She is perfectly shaped. As she ages, she grows more and more ravishing. Me on the other hand, I look like something you would have discovered living in a mountain cave that villagers had pointed to and warned of being haunted. Next time maybe you'll listen....with the one ear that remains!! Sorry, that was unprofessional. I'm not one of those agents who chews the ear off of your head. I swore to myself during my licensing classes I would never become one of those people.

My website is coming along nicely and we are in the home stretch of development. The site was expected to be introduced in the beginning of June, but the massive amount of content and design work has pushed it back to the first week of July. It will be worth it to make it perfect. Soon, will be synonymous with real estate search and information for consumers. Imagine a world where you wanted to buy or sell a house in the Austin, Texas metropolitan area and all you have to do is go to one website to get the home sold or find the home of your dreams. Can you really put a deadline on that?!

My wife returns home on July 5th and the days have been counting down. I should really relish in my time alone, because once she gets back that means we are only a few months away from a life changing experience. Baby is born and all of sudden I have to try to look cool wearing a burping towel and a baby hammock on my chest. My only hope is that I can train my baby to be as cool as this one. Effortless. I promise I won't be the Realtor who arrives to a property showing with a baby under his arm. Rest assured. After the baby is born "Real Estate With A Pulse Blog" may have to be changed to "Real Estate With A Diaper Bag Blog." Doesn't sound quite as cool.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New Home Construction Tapping The Brakes

In May 2010, residential construction starts have slowed to their lowest level in a year. However, the slowdown was anticipated as home buyer's rushed to take advantage of the expiring tax credits offered up by the government. Those who may have delayed purchasing till later, purchased sooner to take advantage of the $6,500 repeat buyer and $8,000 first-time buyer tax credits.

Overall housing starts dropped 10% from April, while building permits fell 5.9% as reported by the Commerce Department. The single-family sector took the biggest hit in starts, down a whopping 17.2% from April. Nevertheless, permits (+4.4%) and starts (+7.8%) were both up from a year ago.

Home buyers should not be discouraged or weary about purchasing new homes because of the drops. The lower numbers were expected as many made the decisions sooner weighing in the financial benefit of doing so. In addition, new home sales jumped almost 27% nationally in March! New home sales will pick up again and level out to "normal." Summer is an active time for real estate and we should see some stimulation in the coming months. 

So you see, there is nothing to worry about citizens. Put your minds at ease because all is well with the housing market. If you need something to stress about perhaps you should think about the Gulf oil spill, Arizona's immigration law under attack, exploding Toyotas, a 6-month moratorium on drilling driving gas prices to $8/gallon, my iPhone being outdated after one year of ownership, LeBron James leaving Cleveland, people living in the Gulf relying on the body of water are unable to make money, Michael Jackson's estate making $1 billion since he died one year ago, United States in the World Cup, millionaires increased spending on yachts and jewelry in 2009, Joran Van Der Sloot getting marriage proposals (?!), unemployment decreased in seven states, unemployment increased in 27 states, rebuilding Haiti, Gary Coleman's ex-wife exploiting his death, hurricanes hitting the Gulf, Jesse James moving to Austin to stalk Sandra Bullock, how sweet the Detroit Lions will be this year, and me crying myself to sleep because my wife has been gone for 2.5 weeks now. 

Think about all of that and continue to buy houses. Historically, it's one of the safest investments you can make, but that doesn't mean it's invincible. Eventually, the curve will trend upward and you'll be glad you bought now when interest rates and prices are still low.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bond 77 Down Payment Assistance Program!

On May 15th the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) introduced a new bond program to assist buyers with their down payment on a home purchase. "Bond 77" is it's largest allotment to date and is $500 million in funds. The program will systematically release $50 million per month and it will be dispersed on a first-come-first-served basis. 

This program was released just in time to fill the void left behind by the first-time home buyer tax credit, which closings must be performed before June 30th, 2010. With generous income limits and available to existing home buyers in addition to first-time home buyers, this affordable alternative for a down payment will surely be a hit. Below are some major guidelines of the program.

"Targeted Area" is defined as a census tract in which 70% or more of the families have incomes that are 80% or less of the statewide median income or an area of chronic economic distress. A "first-time home buyer" is defined as someone who has not owned a home in the past three years.

Income Limits:
- Targeted areas: 1-2 persons = $87,960 / 3+ persons = $102,620
- Non-targeted area: 1-2 persons = $73,300 / 3+ persons = $84,295

Home Purchase Price Limits:
- Targeted areas: $316,177
- Non-targeted areas: $258,690

Bond 77 is available to BOTH first-time home buyers and previous home owners in targeted areas and ONLY first-time home buyers in non-targeted areas.

Down Payment assistance is in the form of a "silent" 2nd lien which means there is no interest, no payments, but when you sell the home you must pay the amount back. If you live in the home for 30 years, the loan "balloons" at that time, which means the entire amount is due.

Feel free to contact me with more questions (info in the side bar) or go here:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

All Alone....Sorry, No Real Estate Relevance On This One

As many of you know (as I have been howling at the moon perched on my roof), my pregnant wife has gone off to South Korea to visit family for the next month. She has stolen my baby and fled to her home land! I knew she was using me. I now have to pass the time as my wife gallivants around South Korea without me. I'm stuck at home chained to my desk working. It's not so bad because I LOVE MY JOB and each and every one of my beautiful clients. *Virtual Kiss* Even when you love your job though, you daydream about traveling to other countries on missions. At least I do.

This extra time without her here gives me plenty of time to finish my website which still has tons of content that  needs to be me.....alone. It's me and my dog Valen. My wife may be having a great time, but she doesn't even know what kind of adventures she's missing back here. Valen and I chased rabbits today, I saved a turtle that was in the middle of the road, I found a dime (10x good luck) at Walmart, and typed seven more content pages for my website. OH the excitement! If not for this blog, I may not be able to contain it! ....I miss my wife and unborn son. 

Life just is not the same when someone who is always there suddenly isn't. Kind of makes you think to not take people for granted and appreciate what you have. I was worried I may never see her again when she was about to go because she's pregnant and it's a 13-hour flight. I thought the womb would expand like a bag of potato chips at the high elevation of the airplane, but I guess the womb isn't vacuum-sealed because she got there without exploding. Apparently, the real danger of flying while pregnant isn't exploding wombs, but blood clots in the legs from sitting too long. I made sure she got up every hour to stretch out those veins and with my guidance, she arrived with two functioning legs! 

Who's the best husband in the world? Long story short..... it's me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Custom Website Unveiling Coming Soon! is my custom designed webpage that has taken months of research and work to create. It should be unveiled in two weeks time and will be one of the most comprehensive real estate websites in the Austin Metropolitan area. A veritable one-stop-shop for all your real estate needs.

Upon completion, will feature such tools as a full MLS up-to-date search index, resource tools aimed at helping buyer's and seller's with their respective processes, search maps, and featured properties section. The site also has an "Austin Rankings" page that lists the countless rank placements Austin has received from dozens of news sources!

Most notable features include a FREE iPhone and iPad home search app so you can search for homes on the road or pull up information if you see something driving by! In addition, the website will feature over 150 pages of communities in the Austin metropolitan area! Each page will be devoted to a description of a particular community with price ranges and averages.

Check back here soon for the unveiling of and what breaking my back results in!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Going Once....Going Twice....SOLD!

After twice being listed by another agent for 184 days and then again for 142 days, I completed the sale of my client's condo on Duval with a full cash offer on 99% of list to sold price in almost half the time. No repairs, no closing costs.  

This was a tricky sale because the Austin condo complex, Stonehaven Condos, is currently not FHA loan-approved. So, the options for lending are restricting because it cuts out a rather large segment of buyers who were hoping to do the FHA minimum, 3.5% down payment.

Secondly, the complex currently has a 69.2% owner-occupancy out of 32 units. What this means is that only 69.2% of the owner's of the units live in them. The rest have been rented out. Most lenders would prefer the owner-occupancy to be at 70% or greater. So, although there were a few lenders willing to accept 51%, it was limiting for buyer's wanting to work with a particular lender/banking institution.

Thirdly, competition. At the time, 5 condos for sale in a small 32 unit complex is pretty substantial competition and we definitely were not the most beautiful one. The goal is flattering picture angles, marketing, and staging that accentuate what you DO have. 

So, despite the challenges and obstacles, the human Dreamweaver dodged the impediments like Keanu dodging bullets in The Matrix. I am happy that I could get the job done for my client, she was so grateful and nice it makes me feel warm inside. After reading this some of you may have tears in your eyes at my uncanny ability to make dreams come true. Sometimes people just start crying when they look at me because like a sixth sense, they know what I can do for them. One time, a mother covered her little boy's eyes and I heard her say, "El es feo!" in Spanish. I don't habla espanol, but I think that meant "He is free" as in talking about my essence and spirit. I'm a soaring eagle. 

If I can assist you in finding a home or getting your home sold, contact me at the info in the sidebar! I'd be happy to help! 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Home Buying Tip! ALWAYS Get An Inspection

This is advice that could save potentially save you thousands of dollars: Always get an inspection when buying a home. Never forget that and picture me telling you while stroking my long beard and wearing a monocle.

To preface, when entering into a contract to purchase property, there is a place where you are granted an "option period" in exchange for money. The length of the option period is usually 7-10 days for residential, but since everything is negotiable, this can vary. The amount of money typically varies based on price of the property, but with negotiation can also be higher if there is competition for a piece of property because of it's level of desirability and interest.

The option period basically gives a buyer to terminate the contract and get their earnest money back for whatever reason they choose. The buyer doesn't really even HAVE to give a reason. They can just simply say "I changed my mind." BUT, if the buyer exercises their right to terminate, they lose the option money. If they follow through with the contract they can get it reimbursed at closing. 

OK, I had a point to telling you that. During the option period is when you perform an inspection of the property. Price of inspection varies on the size of the house, but trust me, it's worth it to be aware of what you potentially could be buying. Yeah, that cute house could look perfect, but upon further examination through an inspection you could find such things such as ripped ductwork, leaking toilet, busted HVAC system, termite damage, etc.

After the inspection you will be given a report and hopefully, a walkthrough of the property with the inspector to point out the biggest concerns. You and I (because I'm your agent) will then enter into a second negotiation period (the first being initial price and terms) to hash out how repairs will be done if necessary. It's important to point out that there will ALWAYS be things noted on inspection reports. Inspectors must note everything to cover their butts. As a buyer, don't get frightened. It is not unusual to find several things even on NEW homes.

Most new homes come with a "bumper to bumper" warranty (typically 1 year) that includes  everything. Most buyer's believe that most issues will be uncovered within that year and will get it fixed. However, it may take longer than 1 year for some issues to get to the point of being harmful. So, on a new home, do an inspection by an inspector YOU hire and hand the report to the builder prior to closing and say "fix it all."  

Finally, as a buyer it's probably not sensible to ask for every little thing on the report to be fixed. A buyer purchasing resale needs to take into account that there WILL be normal wear and tear. If you want some horrible carpet replaced that's fine, but if you get nit-picky, seller's can choose to kill a deal if they feel you are being unreasonable.

If you have any questions on why my brain is so large and efficient or on home inspections, contact me through the info on the sidebar. I'd love to help!