For Buyers

January
3

Your Guide to Moving in 2022

Moving into a new home can bring up mixed emotions. Surely you'll be excited to settle into a new space and start decorating. But you might also feel a little overwhelmed by all of the responsibilities, from packing to assembling furniture. The more prepared you are, the less overwhelming moving will feel. Our real estate agents have watched a lot of clients move, and they have some excellent tips to share below. 

  • Make a Budget First
    Moving can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to keep costs down. You can pack yourself instead of hiring movers. You can reuse boxes rather than buying them. The best way to make sure you don't overspend, though, is to set a moving budget from the get-go. This way, you can make choices that fit into your budget every step of the way.

  • Get Rid of Extras Before Moving
    The longer you've lived in your current home, the more "extras" you've probably accumulated. Rather than spend time and money taking all these extras to your new home, get rid of them before your move. Donate items that are in good shape to local charitable organizations, or sell them. Recycle or discard items that are broken or too worn out.

  • Create a Checklist
    Moving can feel like tackling an endless number of tiny tasks, from buying packing tape to calling utility companies. This tends to feel a lot less overwhelming if you create a checklist and check off tasks as you complete them. You'll be less worried that you might forget something, and you'll get a sense of satisfaction each time you check something off.

  • Label, Label, Label
    As you pack, label each box not only with its contents but also with the name of the room it belongs in. This will allow those who help you unpack to put boxes directly in the rooms where they belong. Your unpacking process will then progress a lot faster, and you won't waste as much time carrying things from room to room.

  • Pack a "First Night Box"
    The first night in your new home, you don't want to have to dig through 10 boxes to find the various necessities you need. So, pack a first-night box with just these essentials. Include basic toiletries, towels, a change of clothes, basic dinnerware and silverware, and your important paperwork.

  • Ask for Help Early
    Whether you hire a moving company or ask your friends for help, make these plans early. You'll have an easier time getting friends to help you if you ask for help before they have other big plans. Moving companies often book a few weeks out, so the sooner you book them, the more flexible they can be with scheduling.

  • Clean After Moving Out
    Wait to clean your current home until you've moved everything out. It's so much easier to clean thoroughly without furniture and boxes in the way. If you're short on time, consider hiring a cleaning company to tackle this task for you. 

  • Pack a Little at a Time
    Start packing a few weeks or even a month before moving day. Pack the items you rarely use first. Holiday decorations and out-of-season clothing are good examples. Work your way up to packing things you use more often.

As you look at various Georgetown homes for sale, don't let the idea of moving overwhelm you. Yes, moving can be a big job, but it's a job you can easily manage with the tips above. Contact us if you're looking for a real estate agent to help you through the home buying process. 

October
25

Save Up for a Down Payment with These Tips

Down Payment Tips

If you're planning to use a mortgage to finance the purchase of your home, it's essential to have enough money in savings for your down payment. Depending on the type of mortgage you choose, you'll typically need anywhere from 3.5 to 20 percent of the home's purchase price.

Our real estate agents recommend creating a plan to help you save the money for your down payment. Start by opening a savings account specifically for your down payment and follow these tips.

  1. Develop a Timeline for Your Homebuying Plans
    Before you can calculate how much you'll need to save, you need to decide when you want to purchase a home. This will allow you to make adjustments to your budget and income that match your buying timeline. For example, assume that you want to start the process of purchasing a home in six months. You want to have a down payment of $7,000. Over the next six months, you'll need to put away $1,167 each month to meet your goal. Or, if you want to buy a home in a year, this means you need to save $584 every month. 
  1. Look at Your Budget
    Once you know how much you need to save, it's time to write down all your expenses and income. Be thorough and realistic; while it's wise to reduce your discretionary spending, it isn't realistic for most people to go an extended period with absolutely no money devoted to outings and "fun" expenses. Assume that each month, you spend $400 on eating out, $200 on shopping, and $250 on vacations, for a total of $850. If you can reduce this amount to $450, you'll have $400 each month to put in your savings account. Over six months, this is $2,400. 
  1. Track Your Spending
    A budget is of little assistance if you don't stick to it. Monitor your spending (either via an app, a bank service, or keeping track of your expenses with a spreadsheet or even a pen and paper). If you overspend, try to reduce your expenses somewhere else to cover the overage. For example, if you spend $200 more than you budgeted on gifts, cut back on dining out, activities, and grocery budget by that amount. 
  1. Increase Your Income
    Increasing your income is another way to meet your monthly savings goal. Assume that you work an additional 6 hours a week and clear $15 an hour after taxes. This is an extra $90 a week or $360 a month. After 6 months, you'll have saved approximately $2,160. 
  1. Save Any Unanticipated Money
    Most people receive at least a little bit of money each month that they didn't anticipate. You might get a bonus at work, receive a cash gift, sell items you no longer use, or collect a refund. Save any and all unanticipated money in your savings account. If you can save $100 a month in unanticipated money, this is $600 over 6 months. 
  1. Adjust Your Tax Withholding
    For the 2020 tax year, the average tax refund was $2,800. If you adjust your tax withholding to have less withheld, this is an extra $234 a month. Over 6 months, this is $1,404. Or, if you're not able to adjust your withholding, your tax refund is an excellent windfall for your savings account. 

Ready to start touring Round Rock homes for sale? Contact us to start your search!

August
16

What First-Time Buyers Need to Know About Credit Scores

Round Rock Credit Score

Your credit score is an important piece of financial information that influences your ability to purchase a home. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, with 850 being the best possible score. 

Our real estate agents know that lenders will use your credit score when determining whether to approve your mortgage application. Here are a few things you should know about your credit score and homeownership as you prepare to buy your first home. 

  1. There's a Wide Variation in Acceptable Credit Scores
    The required credit score to purchase a home depends on the mortgage that you intend to use. For example, if you're applying for a conventional home loan, you'll likely need a credit score of at least 620. However, if you're interested in a jumbo home loan (a mortgage that exceeds conforming loan limits), it's best to have a credit score of 700 or higher. Some loans are ideal for buyers with less than stellar credit. An FHA loan has a minimum credit score requirement of 500. You'll need to make a 10 percent down payment if your credit score is between 500 and 579. For borrowers with credit scores of 580 or higher, FHA loans permit a down payment as low as 3.5 percent of the home's purchase price. USDA and VA mortgage programs don't have a specified minimum credit score. Instead, the lenders who issue these loans are permitted to set their own requirements. Generally, to qualify for a USDA or VA mortgage, you'll want a minimum credit score of 640. 
  1. Your Credit Score Affects Your Interest Rate and Loan Costs
    Your lender will use your credit score (along with other financial information, like your debt to income ratio and employment status) to decide what interest rate to offer for your loan. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. A lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. Many lenders also use your credit score when determining the costs associated with a mortgage. For example, buyers with higher credit scores are offered lower PMI (private mortgage insurance) rates. They may also qualify for mortgage programs with minimal mortgage points or lower loan costs. 
  1. There are Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Credit
    Before you start attending showings for Round Rock homes for sale, it's best to take steps to ensure your credit is at its best. Start by making all of your loan payments on time. If you've had late payments in the past, the effects of those late payments will decrease over time. Check the balances on your credit cards. If you're utilizing more than 30 percent of your available credit, pay them down, so your utilization is under the 30 percent mark. Ideally, do this for each card and for your credit card balance as a whole. For example, if you have a $4,000 balance on one card with a $10,000 limit, pay the balance down, so it's less than $3,000. If you have a card with a $2,000 balance and $10,000 credit limit and another with a $5,000 balance with a $10,000 limit, focus on paying the second card down, so it's less $3,000. Thoroughly review your credit reports and dispute any information that's incorrect. If you only have one type of debt on your credit report, consider opening another product to diversify your credit usage. For example, if you only have credit cards, take out an installment loan (and vice versa). 

Are you ready to buy your first home? Contact us today to start your search!

July
26

What to Look for During a Final Walk-Through

Final Walk Through Guide

You've made it to the final walk-through process, which means your long journey to securing your new property is almost complete. The final walk-through might seem like a simple formality, but it's one of the most important steps in the process. This is your final chance to ensure the seller held up their end of the bargain regarding repairs, maintenance, or contingencies.

Our real estate agents receive lots of questions about what to expect during the process. If you're in the process of purchasing one of these Round Rock homes for sale, below are some tips to guide you through the final walk-through process to ensure you don't miss anything.

Inspect All Repairs
As a homebuyer, your priority during the final walk-through is to ensure the seller completed any agreed-upon repairs or maintenance and that the work has been completed to your liking. Whether it's a minor fix such as doorknob replacement or a significant structural issue, remember to inspect every item closely. You can also ask the seller to leave behind any receipts or warranties if issues arise in the future. 

Look For New Issues
A lot can happen over 4 to 6 weeks, so it's also wise to keep an eye out for any new issues that may have popped up since the last time you visited the home. If you notice any significant problems that may have occurred since your last visit, this is your final opportunity to bring them to the seller's attention. Below are some common things to test during the walk-through process: 

  • Check the basement for new cracks or water spots
  • Run the garbage disposal
  • Open the garage door
  • Flip on and off the light switches
  • Flush toilets and run sinks

Check For Items Left As Part Of The Sale
If the seller agreed to leave behind any items such as appliances, lawnmowers, or pool tables, make sure they're still around after the seller has moved out. Most sellers won't attempt to skirt their end of the bargain, but it's still a good idea to check that everything is still in place.

What To Do If You Find Issues
While it doesn't happen often, sometimes buyers do find issues during the final walk-through process, so you should be prepared in the event there is a problem. If a seller did not complete required repairs or a new issue has occurred, you typically have three options:

  1. Delay closing until the repairs are complete.
  2. Negotiate compensation and make the repairs on your own.
  3. Back out of the deal. This is generally unfavorable for all parties given the amount of time and energy put forward and is only recommended under the most egregious of circumstances.

Make Sure Your Real Estate Agent Is Present
Your real estate agent has conducted dozens of walk-throughs, so he or she knows exactly what to look for. Having a second trusted set of eyes is highly advisable during the process. Your agent will have a record of all contingencies agreed upon during the sale and will be able to help ensure you don't miss anything.

Most of the time, the final walk-through process tends to go very smoothly, but it's still important to it seriously and check everything. If you're looking for guidance on the buying process, contact us today.

March
15

7 Tips for Introducing a Pet to Your Home

Austin Pet Tips

When moving to a new home or adding a furry friend to your family, a little preparation goes a long way in helping your pet better understand the boundaries and feel more comfortable in their new home. Our real estate agents know that homebuyers value the happiness of their four-legged family members when moving to a new property. Follow these tips to ensure a smooth transition when introducing your pet to a new home. 

  1. Introduce Your Pet to the Home Ahead of Time
    While it might not always be possible to take your pet to Round Rock homes for sale before your move-in date, ideally, you should introduce your pet to their new home ahead of time. Dogs especially benefit from a previous introduction to their surroundings. During this time, walk them around the neighborhood and their new yard. 
  1. Keep Supplies in an Easy-to-Access Area
    Whether you're welcoming a new pet or moving your pet to a new home, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need to take care of them. Some items to have on hand include toys, a leash, collar, food, treats, litter and litter box or poop bags, food, and water bowls, grooming supplies, and cleaning supplies for your floors. When moving to a new home, pack everything in a container or bag that you keep with you. If adopting a new pet, conduct a shopping trip before your pet arrives. You don't want to have to scurry for pet essentials when you're trying to welcome your new family member. 
  1. Avoid Giving Your Pet Free Reign of Your Home
    It's best to establish boundaries with your pet right from the get-go. Otherwise, you risk confusing your pet, delaying the training process, and damaging your home. Ideally, you should block off any areas that you don't want your pet to enter until they learn what areas are off-limits. 
  1. Try to Bring Your Pet Home When You Have a Few Days Off
    Introduce your pet to your new home when you have a few days to help them get acclimated to their new space. Try to pick a period when you can stay at home and don't have many other tasks on your to-do list. Your pet should be your primary focus during this time. 

  2. Establish a Schedule for Your Pet
    Decide ahead of time what your pet's day will look like in their new home. What time will they be fed, and who will do the feeding? How often will their walks and playtime be? While every moment of your pet's day doesn't need to be allocated, you should have a basic idea of when your pet's mealtimes and play sessions will be. 

  3. Discipline Your Pet When Necessary 
    Your pet isn't going to behave perfectly. When they misbehave, know how to set them straight. Don't yell or scare them. Instead, stick with a firm "No!" or "Tsk!" When you catch your dog or cat doing something you want them to do, reward them with a treat and plenty of affection. 

  4. Create a Safe Space
    New surroundings are often overwhelming. See that your pet has a safe spot to retreat to when they feel scared. For a dog, a kennel is a terrific option that mimics a natural den. A seldom-used room is an excellent safe area for a cat.

Ready to explore new homes perfect for your whole family...pets included? Contact us today!

Login to My Homefinder

Login to My Homefinder