Finding the Right Home – Q & A

Are you considering buying a home in Texas? With so many exciting options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to find the right one. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or an experienced real estate investor, this guide will help you make the best decision for your needs. Finding the right home in Texas doesn’t have to be stressful. By researching beforehand and working with an experienced team of professionals, you can quickly find the perfect property for your needs.

What Are My Options When It Comes To Buying A Home In Texas?

When buying a home in Texas, you have several different types of homes to choose from. You can buy a single-family residence, a duplex, a condominium, or an apartment. Depending on your budget, you may also have the option to purchase land and build a custom home. Of course, if you want something unique, you can always search for historic properties or other off-market listings.

What Should I Consider When Buying A Home In Texas?

When purchasing a home in Texas, there are a few important factors to remember. First, consider your lifestyle and what type of neighborhood would be most beneficial for meeting your needs. Also, consider whether the area will likely appreciate over time. Finally, make sure to factor in all estimated costs of owning a home, such as taxes, insurance, utilities, and any potential maintenance expenses.

How Do I Find The Right Realtor For Me?

Selecting the right realtor is essential for finding the perfect home in Texas. Do your research and look for agents with experience in the area where you plan to purchase. Additionally, ask questions about their processes, fees, and other pertinent details to ensure they are the right fit for you.

What Is The Best Way To Start Searching For My Dream Home?

The best way to start searching for your dream home is by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. This step will allow you to know exactly how much you can afford and narrow the list of potential properties. Once you have that information, you can search for homes within your price range and contact your realtor to schedule viewings.

How do you choose between buying and renting?

Homeownership offers tax benefits and the freedom to make decisions about your home. An advantage of renting is not worrying about maintenance and other financial obligations associated with owning property.

There also are several economic considerations. Unlike renters, homeowners who secure a fixed-rate loan can lock in their monthly housing costs and make prudent investment plans knowing these expenses will not increase substantially.

Homeownership is a highly leveraged investment that can yield substantial profit on a nominal front-end investment. However, such returns depend on home-price appreciation.

“For some people, owning a home is a great feeling,” writes Mitchell A. Levy in his book, “Home Ownership: The American Myth,” Myth Breakers Press, Cupertino, Calif.; 1993.

“It does, however, have a price. Besides the maintenance headache, the amount of after-tax money paid to the lender is usually greater than the amount otherwise paid in rent,” Levy concludes.

As for evaluating the risk associated with home ownership, David T. Schumacher and Erik Page Bucy write in their book “The Buy & Hold Real Estate Strategy,” John Wiley & Sons, New York; 1992, that “good property located in growth areas should be regarded as an investment as opposed to a speculation or gamble.”

The authors recommend that prospective buyers spend a few months investigating a community. Many people make the mistake of buying in the wrong area.

“Just because certain properties are high-priced doesn’t necessarily mean they have some inherent advantage,” the authors write. “One property may cost more than another today, but will it still be worth more down the line?”

What are the pros and cons of adding on or buying new?

Before choosing between adding on to an existing home or buying a larger one, consider these questions:

  • How much money is available from cash reserves or a home improvement loan to remodel the current house?
  • How much additional space is required? Would the foundation support a second floor, or does the lot have room to expand on the ground level?
  • What do local zoning and building ordinances permit?
  • How much equity already exists in the property?
  • Are there affordable properties for sale that would satisfy housing needs?

Ultimately, the decision should be based on individual needs, the extent of work involved, and what will add the most value. According to Remodeling magazine’s annual “Cost vs. Value Report,” remodeling a home improves its livability and curb appeal with potential buyers. According to the survey, the highest paybacks come from updating kitchens and baths and, most recently, adding on a home office.

For more information, check out “The Do-able Renewable Home,” a free booklet available from the American Association of Retired Persons, Fulfillment Department, 601 E St., N.W., Washington, DC 20049; (202) 434-2277.

What do all of those real estate acronyms in the ads mean?

Don’t be alarmed if you stumble over weird acronyms in a real estate listing. There is a method to the madness of this shorthand (which is mostly adopted by sellers to save money in advertising charges). Here are some abbreviations and the meaning of each, taken from a recent newspaper classified section:

  • assum. fin. — assumable financing
  • dk — deck
  • gar — garage (garden is usually abbreviated “gard”)
  • expansion pot’l — may be extra space on the lot or possibly vertical potential for a top floor or room addition. Verify actual potential by checking local zoning restrictions before purchase.
  • fab pentrm — fabulous bedroom, a room on top, underneath the roof, that sometimes has views
  • FDR — formal dining room (not the former president)
  • frplc, fplc, FP — fireplace
  • grmet kit — gourmet kitchen
  • HDW, HWF, Hdwd — hardwood floors
  • hi ceils — high ceilings
  • In-law potential — the potential for a separate apartment. Sometimes, local zoning codes restrict rentals of such units so be sure the conversion is legal first.
  • large E-2 plan is one of several floor plans available in a specific building
  • lsd pkg. — leased parking area, may come with an additional cost
  • lo dues — find out just how low these homeowner’s dues are, and in comparison to what?
  • nr bst schls — near the best schools
  • pvt — private
  • pwdr rm — powder room, or half-bath
  • upr- upper floor
  • vw, vu, vws, vus — view(s)
  • Wow! — better check this one out.

* “Real Estate’s Ambiguous Language You Oughtta Understand,” Glennon H. Neubauer, Ethos Group Publishing, Diamond Bar, CA; 1993.

Do we dig deep and buy a dream home or settle for a starter home?

Choosing between a smaller house in an affluent neighborhood, an older, bigger house in a more working-class community or a brand-new home is not easy. If you’re in this situation, start by examining your priorities and asking the following questions:

  • Is the surrounding neighborhood or the home itself the most important consideration?
  • Is each of the neighborhoods safe?
  • Is the quality of the schools an issue?
  • Do any of the areas seem to attract more families with children or adult residents? And where do you fit in?

As for the return on your investment, home-price appreciation is hard to predict. In the late 1980s, the more expensive move-up housing appreciated wildly. But during the following recession, smaller homes tended to hold their value better than more expensive ones.

How do I get the real scoop on homes I am looking at?

Home inspections, seller disclosure requirements, and the agent’s experience will help. Disclosure laws vary by state, but the law requires the seller to complete a real estate transfer disclosure statement in some states. Here is a summary of the things you could expect to see in a disclosure form:

  • In the kitchen — a range, oven, microwave, dishwasher, garbage disposal, trash compactor.
  • Safety features include burglar and fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, security gates, window screens, and intercom.
  • The presence of a TV antenna or satellite dish, carport or garage, automatic garage door opener, rain gutters, and sump pump.
  • Amenities include a pool or spa, patio or deck, built-in barbeque, and fireplaces.
  • Type of heating, condition of electrical wiring, gas supply, and presence of any external power source, such as solar panels.
  • The type of water heater, water supply, sewer system, or septic tank also should be disclosed.

Sellers must also indicate any significant defects or malfunctions in the home’s major systems. A checklist specifies interior and exterior walls, ceilings, roof, insulation, windows, fences, driveway, sidewalks, floors, doors, foundation, and electrical and plumbing systems.

The form also asks sellers to note the presence of environmental hazards, walls or fences shared with adjoining landowners, any encroachments or easements, room additions or repairs made without the necessary permits or not in compliance with building codes, zoning violations, citations against the property and lawsuits against the seller affecting the property.

Also, look for, or ask about, settling, sliding, soil problems, flooding or drainage problems, and any major damage resulting from earthquakes, floods, or landslides.

People buying a condominium must be told about covenants, codes, and restrictions or other deed restrictions.

It’s important to note that the simple idea of disclosing defects has broadened significantly in recent years. Many jurisdictions have mandated disclosure forms, as do many brokers and agents. Also, the home inspection and home warranty industries have grown significantly to accommodate increased demand from cautious buyers. Be sure to ask questions about anything that remains unclear or does not seem properly addressed by the forms provided.