Real Estate in Crosby
Terri Aubain
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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Breakthrough Tips for Saving on Homeowners Insurance

February 11th, 2015 by Terri Aubain

Homeowners insurance is vital for protecting your investment. It’s also required by lenders holding the mortgage on your home. For some reason many homeowners overlook ways they can save money on their premiums. Shopping around is a good idea, but much like auto insurance, there are many simple things you can do to impact how much you pay annually to protect your home.

Raise your deductible.
Do you really need a low deductible on your insurance policy? Many people can absorb the hit if they go from a $500 deductible to a $1000 deductible, and in some cases this simple move can reduce rates up to 25%. Deductible can have a dramatic impact on your premium, so ask your company rep to quote you the difference.

Don’t insure for your home’s purchase price.
Remember, you don’t have to re-buy the land your home is on if you have to rebuild. If you’ve asked for coverage which includes the land cost as well as the structure cost, you could be paying far more than you need to pay to protect your home.

Retired? Seek a discount.
If you’re over 55 and you’re retired, your insurance company may be willing to drop your rate by as much as 10%. Retired folks are home more often. This can help reduce burglaries and provide an early warning system for fires.

Ask for a loyalty discount.
If you’ve been with your insurance company for at least three years, call them up and bring this to their attention. Let them know you’re considering shopping for a new policy, and you’re curious if they can extend you a discount for being a loyal customer. Savings can range from five to ten percent.

Adjust your coverage for possessions.
You may be insuring for more than you own. Certain high-end computers and other luxury goods may depreciate over time. If the limits on your policy far exceed the value of your possessions, make changes to your policy. The difference can add up. (Do this every year.)

Factoring in insurance costs is an important part of determining how much home you can afford. For more information on how different types of homes can have different insurance costs, talk to me today:  Terri Aubain 832-777-8850 ~ terriaubain@gmail.com

Housing Trends E-Newsletter

January 28th, 2015 by Terri Aubain

Take a look at the most current Housing Trends Newsletter. This Newsletter is specially designed with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

http://terriaubain.housingtrendsenewsletter.com/

Thinking of Buying or Selling…

January 15th, 2015 by Terri Aubain

Take a look at the most current Housing Trends Newsletter. This Newsletter is specially designed with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.
http://terriaubain.housingtrendsenewsletter.com/

From The Heart

December 17th, 2014 by Terri Aubain

As I’m sure you’re well aware, we live on a crowded planet with sharp contrasts between those with abundance and those with barely enough to survive. As the news tells us, human suffering is rarely more than a click or a video away.

When we consider the modern surplus of despair, we risk paralysis. So many of us turn our backs as a defensive measure against all that we can’t alleviate for others. But nowhere is it written that the greatest good is solving problems for millions. Sometimes, the best you can do is help those in your vicinity. Helping just one person in need is infinitely better than helping no one at all.

Though you may not have the money to apply to your neighbor’s problems, you can probably offer something more valuable: Your service. Offering helping hands in a shelter, sharing your time with seniors in nursing homes, cooking for a family in need, cleaning up litter in your community… all are ways to serve that provide an immediate benefit.

The real secret to “service-as-a-gift” is that it gives two ways. Money may help one person, but service helps two: Volunteering has a way of making your problems seem smaller. It lightens your neighbor’s load as well as your own. Many who have found themselves depressed about the state of affairs report a feeling of well-being after volunteering their time and energy.

While Black Friday and holiday deals dominate our screens, take a moment and ask yourself: Who can I mentor? What skills do I have that can be donated to a service organization? Where can I uniquely ease someone else’s burden?

There is great peace in discovering all the gifts you have to give.

Wishing you all the best this holiday season.

Terri Aubainheart

House Hunting Tips for Homebuyers

October 26th, 2014 by Terri Aubain

So you’re thinking about hunting for a home. Congratulations! How do you plan on finding the home you want? It’s surprising how few people can answer this question. Most people say: “Well, I guess I’d look online and maybe contact a real estate agent.” Sure, that’s a fine place to start… but if you want to hunt for a home like a pro, here are some simple tactics that will make your experience much more efficient, pleasurable, and likely to land you a home you want to buy.

1. Know what you can afford. How can you begin to look before you know what you can buy? Price range usually narrows the field considerably. You may not even know how much you can afford, though an agent can help you work through that math. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage can also help you find the answer to this question.

2. Know where you want to live. Seems obvious, right? But within cities and communities there are all manner of neighborhoods with different flavors, amenities, and schools. Understanding things like walk scores, commute times, and the quality of the school district can have a huge impact on your choice. If you find a home you love in a neighborhood you can’t stand, you aren’t going to be happy.

3. Know what type of home you want. How much room do you need? What are your future plans? Do you love gardening, or would you rather never worry about a lawn? Do you work from home? Do you want an historic home? Is new construction your dream? Knowing what you can afford can help with this question, but you’ll still need to look at your desires and priorities to determine what’s right for you.

4. Give yourself plenty of time at showings. You may have an urge to see as many homes as you can in a single day or weekend, but feeling the crunch of the clock can keep you from really inspecting the home and getting a feel for the property. You want time to open drawers, cabinets, and walk around the yard areas as well. If the clock’s ticking, you won’t truly evaluate what you see.

5. Sign up for property alerts. Homes show up on the market all the time. Sign up for as many online property alerts in your target neighborhood(s) as possible.

6. Tell friends and family what you’re looking for. One of the best times to find your home is before it’s on the market. Friends, family, work associates, and their network of friends may know someone who’s thinking about selling just the sort of house you want. Ask around!

I am more than happy to help you work through these with you. Let’s talk about your home search together.  Terri Aubain 832-777-8850 / terriaubain@gmail.com

How to Make a Down Payment Possible

July 13th, 2014 by Terri Aubain

Every month you pay the rent, you’re probably thinking, “I wish this money was going into my future.” For a lot of would-be first-time home buyers, it’s the down payment which makes home ownership seem impossible. Climbing the “down payment mountain” isn’t impossible. Like any major challenge, it’s all a matter of breaking your big, hairy, audacious goal down into practical steps.

Here are some tips to conquer saving for a down payment:

Find out where your money goes. You can’t start saving if you don’t know where you’re spending. For a month or two, track each expenditure, no matter how small. Get an objective picture of where you’re spending the cash.

Get specific about how much you need to save. Even if you’re not 100% sure what your down payment needs to be yet, it’s good to start doing a little math to figure out how much you need to save. Pick a dollar amount and a timeline to hit that dollar amount. For example, a $25,000 down payment in two years comes to $1,041/month. Sound unrealistic? Either scale down your home desires to something smaller or scale up your timeline. If you can wait three years, that monthly savings goal drops to $694/month.

Determine the big moves you can make. If you’re in a three bedroom apartment and can stomach the idea of scaling down to a one bedroom, how much would you save in rent? What about going from two cars down to one? If you can make it work, these sacrifices will have a huge impact on your savings goals.

Setup a separate savings account. Don’t let your dream home money mingle with your regular checking or savings account. Establish a high-yield savings account with a credit union or money market account to protect and build your stash. It’s important to have a separate account with a “hands off” attitude.

Mind the risky investment schemes. Once you have a little momentum, you might be tempted to take some of that cash and invest it in order to make it grow faster. Be very prudent about this, as investing in stocks, startups, or high-yield funds can easily decimate your savings. Be conservative.

Of course, it’s important to know how much home you want to buy when you’re saving up for your down payment. I’m happy to give you an idea what homes are selling for in your area. Feel free to get in touch any time if you have questions: terriaubain @gmail.com

HOME BUYING ADVICE: DON’T LOOK BEFORE YOU THINK

February 4th, 2014 by Terri Aubain

It starts innocently enough… you pass a house in a neighborhood you like, you hear someone is selling their home, you happen to look up home prices online. Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in home shopping and open house visits. This can actually be exceedingly dangerous to your financial future.

Falling in love with a home before you actually know what you want in a home is risky. To avoid the “buy first, think later” syndrome that burdens family finances, marriages, and work life, ask yourself these important questions:

1. How much do we want to spend each month on home expenses? There’s a tendency for people who shop first to try and “make the math work” on purchasing a home. Often this leads to stretching the home budget and ignoring crucial expenses such as maintenance and property taxes in order to “make the mortgage.” Determine a comfortable, conservative range for home expenses first.

2. Which neighborhoods make sense from multiple angles? You may love a neighborhood for its leafy streets and family-friendly atmosphere, but what if it adds thirty minutes to your commute? Are the schools good? What are the crime stats like? What’s the walkability score? Don’t view a neighborhood with rose-colored glasses based on a single quality you like.

3. What’s a priority and what’s a nice extra? You may think you want extra bedrooms for guests and a home office, but which one is more important? Rank the must haves against the “nice to haves.”

4. What’s our long-term ownership picture look like? Are you settling in for ten years, or do you suspect you’ll need to move in four? While you can’t predict the future, you can make some estimates. Those estimates will help you understand how much home you should buy, what kind of down-payment you’ll want to have, and what the picture might look like in terms of renovations.

5. When can you move vs. when would you like to move? Rental leases, selling your current home, and job and schooling factors all impact the timeline for a purchase. Wrap your head around the pragmatic timeline as best you can.

I’m more than happy to help you think these through. Contact me for help today: 832-777-8850 / terriaubain@gmail.com

 

Will Your Loan Be Harder to Get in 2014?

January 6th, 2014 by Terri Aubain

In case you haven’t been following it, there are big changes on tap for the lending industry in 2014. The January 10th change may make it tougher for certain buyers to qualify for a loan, though the overall goal of the changes are aimed at long-term consumer protection and mortgage industry stability.

Below are highlights of the three rules most likely to impact buyers. A complete PDF guide explaining all of the changes may be downloaded at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/mortgage/).

1. The Ability-to-Repay Mandate sets a standard for “qualified mortgages.” Lenders will now be required to follow uniform guidelines to determine borrower eligibility. This looks at income, assets, and other debts / obligations. The mandate was designed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to qualify each borrower.

2. FHA loan limits drop. The upper mortgage limit determined by the FHA (Federal Housing Administration) decreases from $729,750 to $625,000 in 2014. The rule means buyers in competitive urban and “hot” markets might need to secure a jumbo loan. Problematically, most jumbo loans will require a 20% down payment instead of the minimum 3.5% for non-jumbo loans.

3. Self-employed face additional scrutiny. Debt-to-income proof for those who work from home / are self-employed (Form 1099) will become more challenging, even with a great credit history and high net-worth. Typically, a borrower must have a debt-to-income ratio (including mortgage payment) of 43% or less.

The news isn’t all bad, though. New rules also cap points and fees at 3% of the loan’s amount (for loans above $100,000). They also generally prevent lenders from initiating a foreclosure until the borrower is 120 days delinquent. Additionally, foreclosure can’t begin if the lender is also working with a homeowner who has submitted an application for help. If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage, keep these rules in mind.

Are you, or someone you know, ready to pre-qualify for a home loan? Let me connect you with a reputable mortgage professional today: Call Me ~ Terri Aubain 832-777-8850 or terriaubain@gmail.com

3 Big Myths About Home Shopping

October 28th, 2013 by Terri Aubain

I’m here to save you pain, buyers. There are myths about the home shopping experience that must be addressed. I like to make the home buying experience as stress-free as possible, so please hear me out on these three big myths about home buying:

Myth #1: “That house has been on the market so long I bet we can work the seller down easily.”

Not necessarily. Exceptionally high days on market could mean almost anything. The seller could be bullheaded about their price. The seller may not be particularly motivated to sell for emotional or other personal reasons. Don’t forget: A sales-weary seller isn’t likely to respond to your host of rational reasons why their house should be a bargain.

Myth #2: “I want to look at foreclosed homes because they’re a real bargain and the banks need to unload them.”

Banks, like entrenched sellers, don’t always make decisions which seem rational based on obvious information. You can have a hard time divining the reason a bank chooses to reject an offer for a foreclosed or distressed property, and their decision may be based on financials which seem counterintuitive. The truth is, many distressed sales can be longer and more fraught than regular sales.

Myth #3: “I liked this house a lot, but with this market, I bet it will still be there if I decide to buy it.”

It’s very, very painful to see a client love a home but fail to make a move to purchase that home. If you fell in love with it, why wouldn’t someone else? Just because a property has been on the market a little while doesn’t mean it will stay on the market. The bonus myth in this one? Your “perfect” home is probably going to be a home with some small compromises. If you don’t make an offer on a home, you’re effectively saying, “I’m comfortable losing this home.”

My job as an agent is to represent your interests and do my best to protect you along the way. If you’re pursuing a home purchase in the near future, please get in touch. There are many other ways I can lower your stress and help you find a great home.  832-777-8850

Less Stuff, More Happiness?

October 8th, 2013 by Terri Aubain

I often work with clients who find themselves outgrowing their home. Sometimes these are couples who have welcomed their first child into the world, and other times it’s the simple accumulation of “stuff” over time which has crowded their house.

While I’m always glad to help homeowners make the “upgrade” to a bigger home (and now is a pretty good time to buy a lot of house for comparatively little money), I’m also interested in helping them make the most of the home they have today. Given the amount of time we spend in our homes, it makes sense to work towards a clutter-free, organized, peaceful environment.

Sometimes I work with clients who find the things they own have ended up “owning them.” What we own and what we actually use are often very different, and what we don’t use can take up a lot of space. Have you ever calculated the usable square footage an abandoned treadmill or stationary bike takes up in a spare room or garage?

Recently, I came across a very interesting guide to help clients and friends “unclutter” their lives. Written by Dinah Sanders, Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff is a handy way to approach the problem of a packed house (and the stresses associated it). From a review of the Discardia:

“With three key principles and numerous practical tips, Discardia helps you solve specific issues, carve away the nonsense of physical objects, habits, or emotional baggage, and uncover what brings you joy.”

Whether you’re looking to downsize, feel cramped in your current home, or get a sense that you could have more happiness if you had “less stuff,” I recommend you check out this actionable, inspiring, (but not sappy) book. Dinah also runs a blog (http://www.discardia.com/) where you can learn more about her approach and read articles on the topic of enjoying more with less.

If you’re looking to upgrade or downgrade your home, I’d be happy to help. Get in touch with me here: terriaubain@gmail.com or 832-777-8850