Austin Real Estate Blog - Austin Housing Market Blog

What You Need to Know About the 203k Loan

Homebuyer's Guide to 203k Home LoansFor those who see the potential behind a home rather than what's in front of them, the 203k loan is available to make those dreams into a reality. This loan technically falls under the FHA umbrella, but it's structured to help buyers fix up a home that may be in need of more than standard repairs. A 203k loan, however, can get complicated quickly, so learn more about this kind of available home financing option.

The Basics

A typical FHA loan requires a lower credit score of 580, but a 203k loan will ask a little more of the borrower. Lenders typically require a credit score of 640 or higher for this type of financing. In addition, borrowers will need to have at least 3.5% of the total cost of the home plus the estimated costs of repairs as a down payment. So a $60,000 home that needs an estimated $40,000 worth of repairs will cost a buyer at least $3,500 down to buy the home. The home will also need to be the borrower's primary residence to qualify. A 203k home loan can also be used to refinance a home that's in major disrepair. Borrowers will have two options when it comes to the 203k loan: standard or streamline.

Standard 203k Loans

A standard 203k loan does not have any limits when it comes to how much a borrower can request from the lender. When it comes to types of homes available with the 203k loan, demolished homes may still qualify if a portion of the...

5 Devices To Make Your Home Smart

5 Devices That Can Make Any Home SmartThese days, it’s impossible to walk into any sort of store that sells electronics without seeing some sort of smart device for the home. From thermostats to refrigerators, if there’s a way to connect it to a smart phone, it can be found and purchased. For those who have trouble keeping up with technology as it moves forward at the speed of life, here are five essential smart devices for homeowners who may be looking to add value to their home or even improve their home's energy efficiency not know where to start.

Smart Thermostats

Everyone has been in a situation where they’re rushing to get out the door and forget to turn down the thermostat, leaving the air conditioning or heat on all day long when no one is home. With a smart thermostat, homeowners can access their home’s thermostat from their smart device or computer to adjust the temperature at home from anywhere in the world. Smart thermostats can also learn the user’s schedule and adjust itself according to the time or weather outside to make sure the temperature is always optimally set.

Smart Security Cameras

Everyone likes a little extra security to protect their home and loved ones, and security cameras have become more accessible recently than they have ever been. Homeowners can buy just a single security camera, or even a set of multiple, to place around their home. ...

Everything Home Buyers Need to Know About VA Loans

What Is A VA Home Loan?Are you one of many who have proudly served your country during wartime or are a reservist? In such cases, you may be eligible for a special type of loan that makes homeownership more accessible and affordable for those making a small down payment. Military personnel and their spouses may find VA loans a useful pathway to owning their first home. Understand more about the VA loan, down payments, and eligibility requirements today.

Who May Qualify for a VA Loan?

Many of those individuals who have served their country may be eligible for a VA loan. Individuals who have served honorably for at least 90 days during a period of war or for a minimum of 181 consecutive days can apply. Veterans, members of the Reserves, those who are or have been in the National Guard and military spouses may be approved for a VA mortgage loan.

What Are Some Advantages of a VA Loan?

Those who may not be able to put down a large down payment and who may not qualify for decent terms on a conventional home loan, may benefit from a VA loan. VA loans offer lenders additional security as they are backed through the Department of Veterans Affairs. As such, lenders are willing to provide loans to buyers making a small down payment. Borrowers do not have to put down anything toward a purchase and still be approved for a VA loan. Those who are able to afford up to a 10 percent down payment may want to look into VA mortgage loans.

Borrowers who are able to put down a small down payment on a convention loan may...

Homebuyer's Guide to FHA Home Loan Essentials

FHA Home Loan GuideAn FHA loan helps home buyers who want to purchase property but who cannot qualify for a standard loan. FHA loans are one of the most popular types of loans available to home buyers. Knowing the benefits of an FHA loan and what you can do to apply for an FHA loan can help you get the mortgage that will allow you to purchase the property you want.

FHA Loan Benefits

Many first time home buyers are attracted to FHA loans because they require a relatively low down payment. For home buyers with a credit score of 580 or above, the down payment for an FHA loan is only 3.5%. Another benefit of FHA loans is that even home buyers with poor credit history can still qualify for a loan. For a home buyer with a credit history as low as 500, an FHA loan may still be secured if the home buyer is otherwise eligible and has a down payment of 10%.

Who is Eligible for an FHA Loan?

To be eligible for an FHA loan, you must have a credit score of 500 to 579 and a down payment of 10%, or you must have a credit score of 580 or above and a down payment of 3.5%. In addition, home buyers must meet the minimum income requirements to cover monthly payments and insurance. A debt to income ratio not exceeding 43 percent is also important.

Finally, a person must have a clear CAIVRs report in order to be eligible for an FHA loan. CAIVRS stands for Credit Alert Verification Reporting System. This is a federal government system for tracking people with delinquencies...

What You Need to Know About Making a Down Payment on a Home

Learn the Basics of Making a Down Payment on a HomeA down payment on a home is money given to a mortgage or other lending company by someone wanting to purchase a Buda home. The purpose of a down payment is to reduce the amount borrowed by the home buyer from the lending company and to potentially decrease monthly mortgage payments. Down payments are always expressed as a percentage of what needs to be borrowed to buy a home.

Down Payments Explained

For example, if a couple wants to buy a home costing $100,000 and they have $3000 available to use as down payment, they will need to borrow $97,000 from a mortgage company, bank or other lending institution. First-time home buyers should be aware that down payments made to mortgage companies could be lost if buyers are forced into foreclosure due to not making monthly house payments. Lenders consider down payments as an incentive for home owners to make timely mortgage payments.

What is the Minimum Down Payment Buyers Can Make on a Home?

The majority of mortgage companies require down payments be at least three percent of the cost of the home. If home buyers obtain an FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan, they will need to make a down payment of at least three and a half percent. FHA down payment amounts are also dependent on the buyer's credit history and type of home being purchased (multi-story, condominium, rental). Buyers with average or less than average credit may need to make...

What You Need to Know About Conventional Mortgages

What You Need to Know About Conventional MortgagesGetting a conventional mortgage may sound simple enough, but there are more than a few twists in turns that home buyers should be aware of. Conventional loans aren't backed by the federal government, meaning if a buyer defaults on the loan, it's the lender's responsibility to pick up the slack. Because of this, lenders have a few more stipulations than they would for secured loans. Learn about the most recent changes for loans, what buyers need before applying for a loan, and what lenders are looking for in potential candidates.

Recent Changes

The rules for conventional loans are always in flux, based on both societal and economic demands and pressures. Recently, the federal government made the rules more amenable to hopeful home owners. Now, buyers can successfully own a home with as low as a 3 percent down payment, so long as the mortgage is a fixed-rate and the loan amount is equal to or below $424,100. To qualify for this, a buyer must not have owned a home in the past three years, nor rent the property out at any time. This applies to a single-family home (one unit), condo, or co-op.

Down Payments 101

Just like any major purchase, lenders are looking for a down payment on the home before approving the mortgage. Conventional loans traditionally required people to have a down payment of 20 percent or more. While this is still what lenders...

How to Manage Capital Gains During a Home Sale

How to Use Capital Gains During a Home SaleMaking a profit in real estate is usually every homeowner's hope, even if it's not their sole goal. When it comes to the market, these profits are called capital gains. If a homeowner purchases a home for $100,000 and sells it 10 years later for $200,000, this sale would be classified as a capital gain for a home seller. This term is normally used for stocks, but it applies to practically any security—including a home. Learn more about both the basics and the complexities of how capital gains work in the real world.

The Basics of Capital Gains

Capital gains (or losses) only occur when selling a home. If the home price rises and falls during the time it's owned, it's called unrealized capital gains (or losses.) For most capital gains, the seller reports the net increase on the security on their income tax report. For those in the lower tax brackets (10 – 15 percent), capital gains are not taxed. For those in the highest tax brackets, capital gains are taxed at 20 percent.

The average percentage of long-term capital gains is 15 percent. Short-term gains refer to any securities held for one year or less, and they're taxed as normal income without a separate bracket. If the home is sold at the same price or at a loss, the homeowner pays no taxes.

Capital Gains for a Home Sale

A home sale in the US has several different provisions that may allow the homeowners to keep the full amount of their capital gains. If the homeowner has used their ...

5 Mistakes Buyers Make When Purchasing a Fixer-Upper

Fixer Upper Home Buying MistakesFixer-upper homes may need special attention that move-in ready homes don’t, but for some buyers, that’s what makes them perfect. However, all buyers interested in a fixer-upper home should be aware of common mistakes other buyers have made. Here are five easy mistakes to make when buying a fixer-upper home and how to avoid them.

1. Paying Too Much

A large part of the appeal of fixer-upper homes is that they cost far less than move-in ready homes. However, that discount is necessary because fixer-upper homes require so much work to bring them up to date and make them livable. So why would a buyer pay the same amount of money for a fixer-upper as they would a move-in ready home when they have to pour thousands of dollars into it after the fact? When purchasing a fixer-upper, be sure the price the owners are asking is fair for the home and keep in mind all the work it needs after all the final paperwork has been signed. 

2. Overestimating How Much Work You’re Willing to Do

Unlike buying in a new development, such as those in Pflugerville fixer-upper homes are a lot of work, and someone has to do it. Many buyers interested in fixer-upper homes plan to do as much of the work as possible on their own, and many buyers also underestimate just how much effort all that work takes. When planning to purchase a home, be sure to make a list of every last thing the home needs, and when it’s done throw in a few wildcards for surprises that only reveal themselves down the road. 


6 Landscaping Mistakes to Avoid

Landscaping Mistakes Some Homeowners MakeWhen people see a home, its exterior and landscaping are its first impression. Curb appeal is essential for attracting potential buyers, but many homeowners make mistakes when preparing their home's exterior. Here are some of the most common mistakes homeowners make regarding their home's landscaping and curb appeal and how to avoid them.

1. Too Much Work

While the home's gardens may be the homeowner's pride and joy, it may seem overwhelming to a buyer who doesn't do a lot of gardening. Many people don't have the time or money to maintain large gardens filled with annual plants that need to be replaced as soon as the next spring arrives. In order to make gardens more manageable to the average home buyer, try downsizing the flowerbeds, planting perennials instead of annuals, or planting native plants that require less special care.

2. Dead Plants

Under most circumstances, all plants in the gardens and the lawn should be healthy and alive, with the only exception to this being if it's the middle of winter. Even if it's Autumn and the plants have reached the end of their lives, homeowners can still go through the garden and clear it out of any dead sticks and leaves to make it look neater.

3. Obvious Necessary Repairs

When buyers come to see a home, they keep track of everything they want to change and everything that needs to be fixed. If the home has a lot of problems...

Impress Any Buyer With These Low-Budget Home Staging Tips

Impress Buyers With Affordable Home Staging

When looking at homes for sale, prospective buyers often make relatively fast decisions on which homes they find attractive and which ones they see as lacking in appeal. Since many of these decisions are based solely on how the home looks in marketing photos and during the buyer's visit to view the home, sellers who want to get the best possible purchase offers are wise to make sure that their homes are clean, attractive, and well-organized before putting them on the market. But even the cleanest, most well-prepared homes may not compete as well as hoped, especially if they are vacant during the showing process or fail to stand out in competitive markets like Kyle. For these and other homes that may need a little something extra to grab and hold buyer interest, home staging just might be the answer.

Make it Light

One of the first rules in home staging is to make sure every room is well-lit, with attractive lighting and no dark corners or shadowy areas. In addition to making sure that every light fixture, including ceiling fan and under-cabinet lighting fixtures are clean and working correctly, sellers should also consider:

  • Swapping harsh light bulbs for softer, warmer lighting that will help make the room more welcoming
  • Making sure that available natural light is maximized by keeping window glass clean and keeping blinds and drapes opened during daytime showings
  • Changing dark or drab...

How to Paint a Room: A Beginner's Guide

How to Paint a Home for BeginnersWhen it comes to painting a room, there are two options: hire someone to do it, or do it yourself. For many people, painting can seem like an intimidating project. However, painting can be a very straightforward process for any homeowner. Follow these easy steps to achieve a new look in any room in your Georgetown home.

Picking Paint

When it comes to paint, there are dozens of different types. For the average interior room, latex-based paint with an eggshell finish is a good choice. It provides just a little bit of shine and is easier to work with than oil-based paints, especially for beginners. Paint that has the primer already mixed in can also be a good choice because it helps reduce the number of coats the wall needs.

Other rooms, such as bathrooms and kitchens, or walls with cigarette smoke damage will have different needs, so be sure to ask for advice from the hardware store's paint attendant.

Before You Start

Before picking up a roller, be sure to lay out a tarp to prevent any drips from landing on the floor. Painter's tape is optional, but it can be a good choice for helping get sharp edges that look professional. It's also a good idea to remove all air vent covers and light switch plates so they don't get paint on them that needs to be scraped off.

When finally opening the paint can, give it a good stir. If paint sits still for too long, it can settle...

Georgetown Real Estate Roundup: 3 Noteworthy Market Trends

Located about 30 miles outside of Austin, the city of Georgetown has been enjoying a trickle-down population boom as a result of the Austin's immense popularity. Since the start of the decade, the population has increased by more than 25,000 people, and it seems that growth will continue into the near future. This has caused an increase in home prices, as buyers are searching for gorgeous homes in the suburbs that are located close enough to where nearly everyone works. Currently, the median sales price in Georgetown is about $370,000, and home values are expected to continue to rise.

So, with this in mind, it's important to recognize the different trends that are influencing the local market conditions. Here's a few that we think you should know about:

The Population in the County Continues to Grow

Williamson County has enjoyed significant population growth during the last decade, and that growth is not expected to slow down anytime soon. In fact, according to the chief economist with the TAMU Real Estate Center, the population throughout the county will rise to nearly 2 million residents by the year 2050. Georgetown, by association, will also continue to experience growth and development during this time. As new residents head to the area, the local real estate market will respond in kind. Homes will be in high demand, prices will continue to rise, and new construction homes will continue to be built. It is anticipated that many of the new residents will be young adults in search of jobs, so the preferences of the younger generations may influence the types and styles of homes that are marketable in Georgetown.

Georgetown is Investing in Its Public Schools 

The current residents of Georgetown have recognized the need for updates and refurbishments within their local schools, which is why voters ...

Enjoy a Night of Fine Wine and Creativity at Cedar Park and Leander Attractions

Sometimes a conventional night out on the town just isn’t enough. For residents of Cedar Park and Leander, there are a few unique venues to check out. In the case of Painting with a Twist and Sip and Stain, local residents have an opportunity to enjoy whatever beverages they like along with more creative pursuits like painting and sign making. Let’s take a look.

Painting with a Twist

Painting with a Twist is located in Cedar Park. At this establishment, attendees are free to bring their own beverages. Ice, refrigeration and wine chillers are provided and this venue also provides cups and allows patrons to bring in whatever food they like.

Past the food and drink, however, Painting with a Twist is all about creativity. This venue offers a variety of art classes for adults, kids and even specialized classes for everyone. At each class, attendees are given all the art supplies necessary to paint along with an instructor as they enjoy the food and drinks that they’ve brought along. This is a great opportunity to enjoy a favorite bottle of wine (if you're over 21) and to brush up on creative skills.

Sip and Stain

Sip and Stain is a Leander attraction that works similarly to Painting with a Twist. Here, patrons are asked to bring their own beverages with alcoholic beverages welcome for everyone over age 21. The main difference is the type of art projects that attendees will complete as they enjoy their beverages.

Here, the focus is on making signs. At the beginning of each class, attendees will have the opportunity to choose the type of sign that they’d like to make. The options are limitless. Everything...

3 Ways to Increase a Home's Energy Efficiency

Home Energy Efficient Upgrades

It is not only the demand for green home but the potential to save money over the lifetime of owning a home causing homeowners to look for affordable energy efficient improvements. Here are a few simple options for current and prospective homeowners to improve their energy usage and reduce their utility bills.

Energy-Efficient Appliances

Swapping out older appliances for newer models can provide homeowners with additional energy savings. Look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label. The use of such appliances have been known to save residential and commercial property owners approximately $300 billion on related utility bills.

Go Off Peak

When it comes time to do a load of laundry or run the dishes, run the appliances during off peak times. This taps in to the energy grid during times of lower usage and can save money for the savvy homeowner. Rather than run the dishwasher for a few dishes, wait until it is full before doing a load. In addition, unplugging items such as computers, televisions and toasters when not in use can reduce energy consumption. Simply using appliances and keeping them in good repair can help.

Look for Energy Leaks

Homeowners can save money while also performing regular maintenance tasks. Homeowners in older homes may need to address drafts around windows and doors. When homeowners properly insulate homes and seal air-leaks, they not only live in a more comfortable environment but help keep their home cool in the summer and warm during the winter. ...

In Austin, New Construction Homes Take the Lead

New Construction Homes in AustinFor many home buyers, building a new construction property is a dream come true. It's an opportunity for them to fulfill the very core of the American dream — purchasing land and building upon it. Buyers can customize the features within their home, make selections that fit their own preferences and desires, and create a piece of the world that is completely theirs.

So for buyers who are looking to invest in a new construction property, Austin and other Texas communities are like heaven on earth. A recent report released by Trulia and published in the Dallas News notes that the homes being built in Dallas, Houston and Austin make up about 10 percent of all new construction properties in the country. Dallas and Houston are on pace to have 50,000 new homes built within the cities this year alone, with Austin on track for another 30,000 homes. This is nearly double the average number of new construction properties that have been built annually in the city during the last 30 years! 

How is the New Construction Boom Impacting the Austin Market?

Reports of low housing inventory levels have been making the news across the country. While the inventory isn't nearly as much of a concern in Austin as it is in other booming metropolitan markets, such as Seattle and San Francisco, it has still presented buyers with plenty of frustrating challenges. Bidding wars, rising prices and increased commute times are just a few of the realities that home buyers are facing in the Austin market. Whether buyers are looking to...

3 Dog Friendly Places in Cedar Park and Leander

Landscaping Mistakes Some Homeowners MakeWhen searching neighborhoods for a new home, people often look for amenities like schools, shopping centers and area attractions for the members of their household. However, as any dog lover knows, pets have needs, too. Both Cedar Park and Leander have a few great places for dogs and their owners. Here are three of the best.

The Cedar Park Bark Park

There are dog parks, and then there is the Cedar Park Bark Park, which is almost like a resort for the dogs of Cedar Park residents. At the Bark Park, there are several major amenities such as a pond for dogs to play in, drinking fountains and even showers for the convenience of pet owners. Additionally, there are several different natural features in this five-acre park for dogs to play in and around plus a yearly festival for pet lovers to come and mingle.

Premier Pet Resort & Day Spa of Cedar Park

Cedar Park’s Premier Pet Resort is the go-to place for dog lovers that need a variety of services. Full-time groomers are on hand to do everything from a simple bath and nail trimming to a full cut and style as needed. There are a variety boarding services available as well, everything from doggie daycare to more long-term options for overnight or vacation stays. Dogs have access to TV and music to help them relax. 

A trainer is on staff for pet owners that would like to enroll their animals in sessions. Best of all, particularly those who worry about...

5 Great Neighborhoods for First-Time Home Buyers in Austin

Great Austin Neighborhoods for First Time Home Buyers

For many first-time home buyers, Austin is the perfect place to settle down. There's plenty of jobs, and the burgeoning tech industry is ensuring that there's more on the way. The cultural vibe is addicting, and people love to get together and hang out in the city's downtown areas. So, for those considering the move to homeownership, why not purchase real estate and make this your home for a while? 

It is important for first-time buyers to know ahead of time that they will likely be faced with challenges in the Austin market. It's a competitive market right now, and it can sometimes be difficult to get an offer accepted when you're up against previous homeowners who may have accrued wealth from their previous real estate investment. In addition, demand for housing in Austin has caused prices to rise, which puts many first-time buyers in a position where the down payment can be a barrier to entry.

However, more and more renters are finding they can break into this market when they have a plan. With the right real estate team on your side, and with the right preparation, you're sure to find the perfect starter home in Austin. Here's the top 5 neighborhoods to consider for your home search:

Anderson Mill

The Austin Culture Map considers Anderson Mill to be one of the best neighborhoods in north Austin for first-time buyers. Situated by some of the great parks and trails in Austin, this neighborhood is a good choice for those who love to get...

The Home Seller's Guide to Curb Appeal

Understanding Curb Appeal When Selling Your Home

Unless a seller is fortunate enough to have a professional staff of groundskeepers and maintenance personnel, the aspect of curb appeal is something that most homeowners find themselves dealing with in some capacity when deciding to sell their home. Since buyers often equate curb appeal with actual quality and value, sellers who miss the mark when attempting to improve their home's curb appeal may find themselves experiencing depressed levels of buyer interest, longer market times, and lower purchase offers than a comparable home that buyers view more positively.

If you are preparing your home for sale and want to make sure it is as appealing as possible from the curb, the following information can help cure problem areas and maximize a home's appeal in today's real estate market. 

Worried About First Impressions? Make Sure to Start With a Clean Slate

Much like when prepping the interior of a home, the lawns, gardens, flowerbeds, outbuildings, and hardscape areas also need to be clean, neat, and clutter-free in order to be attractive from the curb. Some suggestions to help with this include:

  • keeping lawns mowed and trimmed, making sure to remove or mulch excess grass trimmings or leaves to keep the grass looking healthy and green
  • feeding and aerating sparse lawns, as well as considering seeding them to help encourage healthy growth
  • removing weeds from flowerbeds, window boxes, and planters, and replacing any dead or unhealthy plants to keep these areas looking colorful and lush...

History Buffs Will Love the Historic Mason Homestead of Leander, Texas

The city of Leander has no lack of cultural attractions to suit a variety of tastes. One of those attractions is the Mason Homestead. There are several reasons to visit this historic site — visitors can come for the historic significance, to stay a while and experience a piece of living history, and more. Let’s take an in-depth look at what the Mason Homestead has to offer. 

History of the Homestead

The Mason Homestead was once a 300-acre plot owned by Charles C. Mason in the years after the American Civil War. Today, the homestead features 3 1/2 acres and it is a part of the Texas Century Farm registry. Originally built by Charles Mason’s father Alpheus S. Mason in 1866, this beautiful home gives people a look at Civil War era architecture. The home itself features Victorian styling with a double-galleried porch reminiscent of the colonial style.

Charles Mason himself was very active among the communities of Leander and Bagdad. Not only was he a church leader and businessman, but he was active in politics and in the Masonic order. No doubt the Mason Homestead served as a vital meeting place and community hub, much as it does today.

What to Do at the Homestead

This homestead features a variety of amenities including 1,260 square feet of interior space that can accommodate up to 49 people. There is also a kitchen for serving, though visitors are not able to cook. Two living rooms serve as entertaining space and a surround sound audio system lets hosts play music or other audio as needed for their event. 

In addition to this, visitors will have a chance to see much of ...

3 Austin Real Estate Trends and How They Might Impact Your Home Search

Can you feel the heat in Austin? No, we're not talking about the stifling temperatures throughout the summer months. We're talking about the record-setting housing market that continues to show gains in just about every section of the city. Home buyers are facing competition at every corner, and sellers are enjoying significant returns as they look to upgrade to more luxurious properties in and around Austin. This hot market doesn't show any signs of slowing down, but there are several trends identified by the Community Impact Newspaper taking shape that may impact your home search in the city.

1. In the last 5 years, new home construction in the city has more than doubled.

The Austin Board of Realtors reported that just 167 homes were built in the central part of the city in 2011 — but by 2016, more than 550 homes were being built each year. By May of 2017, 255 homes had already been constructed, with plenty more in development for the rest of the calendar year. 

New development is great news for potential home buyers, who are faced with a competitive market. Having the option to build or purchase a new construction home allows buyers to avoid the bidding wars that are taking place over existing homes and also gives them an opportunity to create the house that they want. City officials are encouraging this new construction as well. In April, the city council adopted a Strategic Housing Blueprint that calls for the creation of more than 135,000 housing units in the next decade. Outside of the city, areas like the Leander real estate market are growing quickly as well –...