Veteran’s Benefits

News & updates for homebuying veterans

Usually around Veteran’s Day or other patriotic holidays I like to post reminders about some of the home buying benefits or specific programs offered to our nation’s vets, or updates about same.  And then it occurred to me: why am I waiting for just those few occasions? It’s not like those are the only days our armed services members need to know this kind of stuff.  So with that thought in mind, here are a few updates on new and existing home buying programs all service members, whatever their status, should be aware of.

VA LOAN LIMIT INCREASES

The Veteran’s Administration has announced an increase of VA loan limits  to $484,350 in Texas, up from $453,100.  And just to clarify, VA loan limits are not a cap on how much an eligible veteran can borrow, but a determination how much money qualified veterans can borrow before needing to make a down payment.  Meaning VA borrowers can definitely buy a home with a pricetag higher than $484,350, but anything above that amount will require a down payment, usually about 25% of the difference between the VA loan limit and the purchase price of the home.

M.O.M. – MILITARY ON THE MOVE

U.S. Military on the Move is a FREE REAL ESTATE REBATE PROGRAM for anyone who has served in the US armed forces. Not only does JB Goodwin Realtors 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.

There is no gimmick.  When we help you buy or sell a home, we will give 20% of our commission to you at closing.

Who qualifies?

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
  • Our agent partners are trained in national & state-specific veteran benefits

AMERICA’S FINEST

Through one of our preferred mortgage lenders, Premier Nationwide Lending, all active duty or retired military are eligible to take part in their “America’s Finest” program, which allows for a $500 credit toward your closing costs, whether or not you are using your VA eligibility to purchase.    This program is currently being offered through the end of this this year; if you have any questions about or would like to take advantage of this offer I will happily put you in touch with a loan originator from Premier.

As always, a huge thank you to all our current or former military service members (and their families) for making the sacrifices you do.  Please reach out to me if home buying is a dream of yours I can help you achieve; it will be my honor.

Worst Thing in the World: The Dread Popcorn Ceiling

Only slightly more beloved than Hitler

In the real estate business you come across all manner of things that can be a turn-off to buyers — things like pet stains, garden gnomes, and shag carpet — but I’ve found nothing is so universally despised and scorned as the ubiquitous popcorn ceiling.  How this EVER became a such a hot home-building trend I’ll never understand!  When I walk into a home and look up to see that mottled, cottage-cheesy looking surface staring down at me… well, a tiny part of my soul up and dies on the spot.  I can see the enthusiasm of my buyers, previously so buoyed up by the home’s great curb appeal, turn to dismay and disillusionment as they reflect upon the looming expanse of ceiling covered in a texture not dissimilar to curdled milk.

Ugh.  Hit the dislike button!

In its earlier iterations, just to add injury to insult, asbestos fibers were commonly used as part of the textured ceiling mix — because nothing says “Welcome home!” like toxic, whitish-gray curdles attached to the ceiling you sleep and eat under.  Even after the Clean Air Act of 1978 banned asbestos use for textured ceilings in residential dwellings, legacy stores containing it were still in use in a lot construction well into the 1980s.

So, what do you do when you encounter the ghastly stuff?  To start with, if your home was built anywhere before or around that mid-80s time frame, it’s a good idea to have it tested for asbestos before thinking about getting rid of it (you can buy testing kits online for less than $50).

If it does test positive, do have it professionally remediated.  It costs a bit, but better to be safe than sorry and leave it to the professionals.  And honestly, even if there is no sign of asbestos after testing, I think I’d personally still recommend paying to have it removed rather than trying to take care of it myself — popcorn ceiling scraping is NOBODY’S idea of a good time!  (But if I haven’t dissuaded you, I’ll let the fine folks at This Old House walk you through the removal process.)

Now, about that garden gnome removal… 😉

 

 

 

March Madness

It ain’t just about basketball

As a seller you love them, as a buyer you dread them: the multiple offer situation.  And in March, when the (somewhat) somnolent winter real estate market starts revving back up into high gear with the onset of spring, multiple offers become a more frequent occurrence.

Let the delight or dismay ensue!

From a buyer’s perspective, the obvious issue is that you don’t know what you might be up against when you hear the dread “submit your your best and final offer” phrase.  If you don’t know what the other offers are, how are you supposed to know how to beat them?  The listing agent can only disclose that there are other offers, but not what’s in those offers (unless specifically directed to do so by the seller — which is rare, but does happen).  You have to know how to structure an offer which will be the most appealing.

Obviously, upping your offer amount is the first thing to look at.  Offering more than the asking price is very common, especially in our crazy hot Austin real estate market, and something I alert my buyers to the possibility of when I’m certain we are going to be in a multiple offer situation.  I have often chosen to go in initially over asking price, as long as I feel that price will be supported by the appraisal.

But one thing to know about multiple offers is that sellers don’t necessarily always go with the highest dollar amount; oftentimes there are other factors which can be more enticing to them.  For instance, it can be a quick closing date that wins the day.  If a buyer can close in 2 weeks instead of 45 days that can be very appealing to a seller who needs to move in a hurry.  Conversely, it can be a buyer who doesn’t need to take possession right away but can allow the seller a leaseback for a certain period after closing while the sellers wait to close on their new home.

When offers received are very similar in price and time needed to close, other things which can tip the scales in your favor are a shorter option period (note: I would never advise NO option period) and/or a higher option fee, a larger earnest money deposit and a greater down payment.  These are things which speak to the seriousness of the buyer and to their financial stability, so there appears less risk that the deal will fall apart from financing issues.  I would also include in that same category (if it’s feasible) for little to no ask for seller contribution to closing costs, or an offer for the buyers to pay the owner’s title policy, which can be a substantial amount of money and is typically paid for by the sellers.  This would translate to a higher net for them — because for some sellers it is ONLY about the Benjamins!

Another contributing factor in some seller’s decision-making process is a bit more nebulous: the sentimentality factor.  While for some folks it’s just a piece of real estate and doesn’t mean anything to them on a personal level, for many sellers their home carries a lot of emotional weight and they want to know it is going to someone who will love the home and care for it as they did.  Many sellers like knowing that, after having raised their own family in a home, the new buyers will be doing the same.  They made many fond memories in their home and they want to see that continue with a new family.  They want their old home to be appreciated, its history respected.

Knowing this, one of the things I like to include in my offers is the “love letter”, which is just a short paragraph or two about the buyers and their hopes and plans for their life in the new house, what they love about the home and/or the neighborhood — them, their kids and the family pets all get starring roles in the love letter!  Nothing schmaltzy, mind you, just something to pluck the heartstrings a bit, or stir up fond memories for the sellers of when they themselves first bought the home.  I have seen sellers turn down a higher dollar offer on their home by investors who were planning to flip it and instead sell it to a family for a little less based on their love letter.  Never underestimate how much of a role sentimentality can play for some sellers.

My final thought on submitting an offer that stands out and hopefully wins the day is make it clean, fill everything out completely, attach all pertinent documentation (financing agreement, lender’s pre-approval letter or proof of funds letter from bank, and any other addenda needed) and summarize the offer in a cover letter with bullet points showing the specifics so they can quickly get a complete picture of your offer without having to read a dozen pages.  And then keep your fingers crossed! 🙂