Veteran’s Day 2019

When just saying THANK YOU isn’t quite enough

Today being Veteran’s Day makes it a prime opportunity for me to share briefly again about two programs available to active or retired US military that I believe a lot of veterans are unfamiliar with.

The first is our M.O.M. (Military on the Move) program.  This is a FREE REAL ESTATE REBATE program offered by JB Goodwin REALTORS, as a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, for anyone who has served in the US armed forces. Not only do we offer superior, military-specific real estate knowledge to aid with your real estate needs, we also offer you CASH BACK when we help you BUY or SELL a home.

Who qualifies?

It’s simple.  Whether you are active duty, retired, wounded warrior, or separated, if you have served any period of time in our US armed forces, we wish to thank you for your service by offering this program to you.

What are the Benefits?

  • The rebate is given to you at closing
  • No waiting for a rebate check
  • No rebate limit
  • The freedom to choose your lender

There is no gimmick.  When I help you buy or sell your home, you will receive 20% of the commission paid directly to you.  It’s not applied toward your closing costs; it’s twenty percent, paid to you at the closing and funding of your home sale or purchase, that you can use for whatever you want!

How is that for a nice closing gift?!

A second program you should know about is the AMERICA’S FINEST program which is being offered through the end of this year from one of our preferred mortgage lenders, Premier Nationwide Lending.  All active duty or retired military are eligible to take part in this program, which allows for a $500 credit toward your closing costs, whether or not you are using your VA eligibility to purchase.   It can also be used in tandem with the M.O.M. program, so you don’t have to pick one or the other!  If you need more information about or would like to take advantage of this offer please reach out to me and I will happily put you in touch with a loan originator from Premier.

As always, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to all our current or former military service members (and their families) for making the sacrifices you do.  You few carry the burden for so many of us, and I’m proud to be part of a team that believes in giving back even a small part.  Please let me know if there is any way I can be of service to you.

Land Ho!

How buying land differs from buying a home

Recently I’ve had a handful of clients looking at buying land, a process which goes down a little differently than the typical home-buying process.  It got me thinking that a blog post spelling out some of those differences might be in order.  So on that note, let’s jump in!

First, let’s talk terminology since there can be some ambiguity here. Raw land (also commonly referred to as unimproved land) is pretty much what the name implies: no structures or other improvements exist on it.  Improvements would be things like ready access to utilities, or paved streets.

That said, the terms do tend to take on slightly different meaning in different areas.  For instance, we were looking at lots in the newest phase of a subdivision in Liberty Hill (which, if you’re unfamiliar, is pretty rural but not all that far out from Austin proper — less than 30 minutes up the road).  The final plat map had been recorded (but only just) but no construction had yet taken place on any of the lots.   These lots were considered unimproved; though clearly improvements existed in that the streets were in the process of being graded and paved and utility access was available in the form of water taps and electrical boxes, individual lots were not yet cleared or graded and had no structures on them.

Now in other scenarios raw/unimproved land for sale might have none of those things — no paved roads, no ready utility access — so a necessary question to ask before considering a purchase is: How far away are those things? If a piece of land is very remote and you plan to eventually do something other than camp on it (and go stump jumping in your 4-wheeler to get to it) you need to know what you’re signing up for.  Or even if stump jumping and camping was your plan, you might be otherwise obligated anyway!  Do read on…

In the state of Texas your Realtor would generally use the TREC Unimproved Property Contract to purchase either of the above raw/unimproved land types.  One (of many) things to keep in mind is Paragraph E(6) which says the following:

“PROPERTY LOCATED IN A CERTIFICATED SERVICE AREA OF A UTILITY SERVICE PROVIDER: Notice required by §13.257, Water Code: The real property, described in Paragraph 2, that you are about to purchase may be located in a certificated water or sewer service area,which is authorized by law to provide water or sewer service to the properties in the certificated area. If your property is located in a certificated area there may be special costs or charges that you will be required to pay before you can receive water or sewer service. There may be a period required to construct lines or other facilities necessary to provide water or sewer service to your property. You are advised to determine if the property is in a certificated area and contact the utility service provider to determine the cost that you will be required to pay and the period, if any, that is required to provide water or sewer service to your property. The undersigned Buyer hereby acknowledges receipt of the foregoing notice at or before the execution of a binding contract for the purchase of the real property described in Paragraph 2 or at closing of purchase of the real property.”

I’m sure you can see where the part I’ve highlighted in blue above would be an important factor for you to research before signing on the dotted line.  Now if you’re unsure who the public utility provider is for a specific piece of land, here is a link to the Public Utility Commission of Texas where you can click on their handy CCN viewer, or just reach out to them via their contact info on the same page.

But assuming you’ve already got the public utility question sorted out, what are some of the other differences you should anticipate when purchasing unimproved land?  I’m glad you asked!

Financing will also be handled a bit differently.  Whereas a mortgage on your residence will typically be for 30 years, land is usually financed for 10 – 15 years max, will usually require at least a 20% down payment, and will be at a higher interest rate than what you’d get on a standard home loan (likely 1.5 – 2 points higher, or more).

Appraisals can also take a little more time, especially on more remote lots where there aren’t many comparable sales, and they will usually be more expensive than on a typical residence. (For example: We were quoted an appraisal fee of $800 on a 1-acre piece of land, as opposed to the $400 appraisal cost for another client’s single family residence less than 5 miles away.)

Other than that, most other aspects of the buying process will be roughly the same as with a home: the time it takes, the players involved, etc.  The Unimproved Property Contract is definitely a little different than the standard One to Four Family Residential Resale Contract, but it covers a lot of the same stuff — and, of course, a competent Realtor should be able to walk you through it for you to fully understand what it entails. (And I happen to know one, if you’re in need! 😉 )

As always, feel free to hit me up if you if you have any questions on this or any other real estate topics you’re curious about — I’m happy to help!

What Lower Interest Rates Mean For You

In REAL dollars and cents

As I write this, interest rates are close to the lowest they’ve been in 3 years, making this a GREAT TIME to buy (or possibly to refinance your existing mortgage).

As an example, I created a little side-by-side comparison of a 30-year fixed conventional loan, using a $300,000 purchase price, 20% down payment, and a buyer with a 740 credit score – your interest rate could be as low as 3.625% in today’s market!

Comparing that to the exact same loan with a 4.875% interest rate (which is where rates were at 3 years ago and is still a great rate in itself, especially when you look at the big picture of mortgage interest rates over the last 30 years  ** for details on this keep scrolling down **) and notice the difference in monthly payment:











Now obviously, your individual credit score and down payment amount, as well as the loan type you’re using will impact your interest rate, but you get the picture — using the example above that’s a monthly difference in payment of $176!

Next, of course, we need to talk about how that same difference in interest rate effects the amount of money you’d be paying in interest over the life of the loan: it would cost you over $63,000 MORE with a 4.875% interest rate versus a 3.625% rate on that same $240,000 loan — and that’s not nothing!

Historical Perspective

For a quick trip down memory lane you can click on this interactive chart (provided by one of my favorite lenders, Cheryl Bullard at Premier Nationwide Lending) to see what interest rates have been doing over the last 30 years, and you’ll see what I mean when I say that that 4.875 rate is still nothing to sneeze at. (Seriously: look at where we were at in 1989!)

If you’d like more information on this topic or are ready take advantage of near historically low interest rates I’d love to chat with you about it.  You know where to find me! 😉