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Guide Time your move right to save money Five tech tools that can help you get into a new home faster Tips for buying a home in today’s market How to choose a builder The basics of property taxes The basics of home warranties

F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013 T h e E ag l e • t h e e ag l m


How to choose a builder Metro Creative Connection (MS) -- Whether the kids have all grown up and moved out or if the kids are on the way and it’s time to expand a living area, building a new home is an exciting, yet often agonizing, experience. The reasons for building a new home are many, but regardless of the reason, the process of choosing a builder should remain the same. Andrew Nadalin, president of Pace 2000 Inc. and a fourth generation builder and craftsmen, offers the following advice to prospective homeowners with their eyes set on building a dream home to call their own. • Look for a builder with a solid reputation. A builder’s reputation speaks volumes, but it doesn’t have to speak for istself. That’s because a builder who has spent years providing personal service, innovative design and quality workmanship will no doubt have a host of happy former customers ready and willing to offer their input. If during the interview process a builder appears reticent to share his work or experiences with previous customers, this should be a red flag. Reputable builders will be proud of their work and more than willing to show it off. • Find a builder who is flexible. You will be paying to build your home, not the builder’s home. A builder should be

flexible and ready and willing to meet your needs, no matter how unique they might be. • Look for a builder who does more than build. A good builder should do more than just build. A builder should provide a network of qualified professionals to make the process go more smoothly. This network should include real estate and building consultants, interior designers, architects and engineers. Such connections can provide peace of mind and will also illustrate that a builder is both respected in the community and is intent on ensuring your home becomes the dream home you envision it to be. • Don’t build on the cheap. Buyers who plan to build their own home are in the unique position to ensure their home is as safe and high-quality as possible. This isn’t always the case when buying a resale, so make the most of your opportunity and use only top-of-the-line construction materials and features and choose a builder with experience in working with such materials and features. Building on the cheap could prove disastrous in the not too distant future, so don’t sacrifice on quality when building a new home. More information on selecting the right builder is available online at www.

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*SEE STORE FOR DETAILS. Subject to credit approval. A deposit equal to 10%, sales tax and delivery charges is required. 20% discount on furniture purchases of $3000 or more, 15% discount on furniture purchases of $1000-$2999, 10% discount on furniture purchases of up to $999. Previous purchases excluded. Cannot be combined with any other promotion or discount. Discount offers exclude Tempur-Pedic® and Simmons® and AshleySleep® mattress sets, floor models or clearance items, sales tax, furniture protection plans, warranty, delivery or service charge. HomeStores are independently owned and operated. ©2013 Ashley HomeStores, Ltd. Expires 4/30/2013


F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

Metro Creative Connection Paying property taxes is a necessary side effect of home ownership. Across the United States and Canada, residents are required to pay property taxes based on an assessment of their homes’ value. Taxes on land and the buildings on it are one of the biggest sources of revenue for local governments. In the United States, property taxes are not imposed by the states, but by the smaller governing bodies in cities, towns, townships, counties, and other jurisdictions. In Canada, property taxes, or milliage taxes, are levied by the jurisdiction in which the property is located. They may be paid to a federated state or a municipality or the national government. Sometimes multiple jurisdictions may tax the same property. Although the taxes are mandated by a higher governing power, the rate at which you pay taxes could be based on a very local assessment of the area in which your house is located and the current market conditions. An assessor will visit a home – usually prior to purchase – and make a determination on the percentage of tax to be paid depending on the condition of the home, the improvements that have been made and the climate of the economy in your particular town or city. Property

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S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

The basics of property taxes

taxes are usually calculated by taking the assessed value of your home and multiplying it by the tax rate that has been determined by your local government. While no one can “legally” escape paying property taxes, there are several ways to have them lowered. Getting your home re-assessed is one such way. Individuals who have reached a certain age may be eligible for certain discounts on property taxes, but this may require a very low income to qualify. There are also some tax credits or homestead exemptions that may qualify you for a limited assessed value on the property. According to data from the Tax Foundation and Forbes, areas of New Jersey, New York and Illinois boast some of the highest property taxes. Residents of Hunterdon County, New Jersey paid on average $8,600 a year

between 2005 and 2009. Those in Lake County, Illinois pay around $6,500. People living in Westchester County, New York can plan on spending $8,400 per year. Statistics indicate that homes located in Ontario cities in central Canada have the highest property taxes. Toronto residents, for example, pay an average of $3,900. In this tough economy, lowering property taxes (which are generally rolled into the mortgage amount for ease of payment) could substantially reduce bills. As many as 60 percent of properties across the United States are overassessed, according to the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit group that promotes lower taxes. If you suspect your property taxes are high, here are the steps to take: • Get a copy of your property tax assessment from the local assessor’s office and double-check all the information contained to see if it is

In this tough economy, lowering property taxes could substantially reduce bills. As many as 60 percent of properties across the United States are overassessed, according to the National Taxpayers Union.

correct. • Check the assessments of five comparable homes that have sold in your neighborhood in the last three years. • An independent appraiser can also provide you accurate information at a cost. Make sure he or she is licensed with the National Association of Independent Fee Appraisers or by the American Society of Appraisers. • It’s not possible to lower the property tax rate, just the assessed value of the home through an official appeal. There may be fees associated with this appeal, however. Some home improvements will increase the value of your home and, in turn, your property taxes. Here are some of the most common culprits: • extra stories to the home • outhouses, like a guest house • sports courts, like tennis • installation of an in-ground pool • improvements to fencing • addition of a garage or another room on the home A change in the status of a neighborhood can also give rise to higher property taxes. An influx of new residents or new construction of stores and homes can have a major effect on the assessed value of your home.

Found the Right House?

Let Us Make It a Home. Susan Meadors Craig Miller Stacy Worden Vice President 979.680.5557 Craig Miller Vice President 979.279.1420

Stacy Worden

You’ve searched long and hard to find your dream home, now it’s time to make sure you have the right home mortgage team to make that dream come true. First Victoria offers a wide array of loans meant to help you with your particular needs, including: t t t

Susan Meadors Bank Officer 979.680.5580


FHA Loans In-House Mortgages with Local Servicing New Construction Loans Home Improvement Loans

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to break down the demographics of student populations. It is typically up to the buyer to do his or her own research. Because the tax dollars that home owners pay largely go to fund schools and town improvements, it is important to look at the schools. Also, if the home will be a stepping stone to another home in a few years, buyers want to ensure their home has the best chance for resale. Oftentimes, a good school district is a factor future buyers will think about. There are some websites that can help prospective buyers look at the schools in the areas they are considering. and are two of the premier sites. They break down test scores, demographics, parent and student reviews and many other things that are vital to getting a picture of the school as a whole. The sites also use a ranking system from 1 to 10 (10 being the best) to show how the school stands in comparison to others in terms of test scores. Buyers also may want to make a trip to visit the area they’re considering during school hours. This way they can drive by the school

S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

Metro Creative Connection There are many factors buyers consider when shopping for a home. From the number of bedrooms to the size of the backyard, prospective buyers have their priorities with what they’re looking for in a home. Parents of young children or couples who are planning to start a family soon should also consider the school system. Although granite countertops and interior living area may be foremost on the minds of house shoppers, individuals also have to take school districts into consideration when looking at homes, particularly if they’re concerned about giving their children the best education possible. According to research by The Wall Street Journal, buyers are willing to pay more for a property if it is in a good school district. That’s because even if they do not have children, buyers know that a good school district helps a home remain attractive. Not all schools are created equal, and some rank better in test scores and teacher-to-student ratios than others. These are essential factors to think about when looking at homes. Although real estate agents can offer some basic information about what schools are in the area, legally they may not be able to share opinions on how “good”the schools are or be able

F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

Schools a big factor in home purchase

See School page 6

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F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

from page 5 and see for themselves the type of students and parents entering or exiting the building. One also may want to set up a brief meeting with the principal to learn more about the ideals of the school and its goals. It’s also necessary to look at the proximity of the school to the house. Some towns have rules in place regarding busing or walking to school. Students who live within a certain distance from the school may have to find their own transportation to and from school. This is something to mull over. Families that are interested in a host of extracurricular activities can also evaluate the town or school district based on the sports or other opportunities offered to students. Be advised that the school closest to a home might not be the one a

student will attend. Zoning laws, and not necessarily proximity, often dictate where a student will attend school. Therefore, it is important to check with the real estate agent or town to ensure the research being done is for the correct school. Some parents prefer their children go to private school, and many towns and cities have a number of options. In addition to the public schools, agents should be able to point buyers toward the private schools in the area. Some may be able to list tuition costs and acceptance requirements. Having a picture of the school district in the area buyers are considering will help offer a better idea of the neighborhood and the people around whom they’ll be living. School districts are important to consider when buying a home, so much so that buyers are willing to pay a little more if it means having a good school in their area.

According to research by The Wall Street Journal, buyers are willing to pay more for a property if it is in a good school district. That’s because even if they do not have children, buyers know that a good school district helps a home remain attractive.

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want to do some of the work to save money? 1729 Briarcrest Bryan, Texas 77802 Publisher Crystal Dupré Advertising and Marketing Director Ron Prince 979.731.4740



Special Projects Coordinator Dawn Goodall Ad Sales Geoff Moore 979.731.4741 Advertising Manager Joanne Patranella Creative Services Manager Jim Bob McKown 979.731.4706


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1532 Baker Ave, Bryan, TX

cause a mortgage lender to give pause. This may mean the lender will deem problems unsafe and refuse to fund the mortgage until repairs are made. A copy of this inspection report should be sent to the home seller to review with his or her attorney and real estate agent. The buyer working with his own real estate attorney and agent can petition for certain repairs to be made. Many sellers will make such repairs to ensure the purchase goes through, or they will accept a lower purchase price to compensate for the needed repairs, which the buyer will then make. Buyers might want to hire a good real estate attorney to write clauses into the contract to protect their interests. This allows the buyer to forfeit the sale and walk away from the contract should an issue arise. The rules often change when buying a home that is a short sale or in foreclosure. A home that is in distress is typically in this situation because the current owners cannot afford to pay their mortgage, and thusly, are not able to afford repairs. According to Think Glink, a moneymanagement Web site, buyers may try to negotiate repairs with the seller, but they shouldn’t assume that sellers (or lenders in the event of a bank-owned home) are responsible for the repairs. Generally speaking, most short sales

• leaky pipes • water penetration issues, including a bad roof • unsafe decking or handrails • wet basements or crawl spaces • insecure foundations or obvious structural damage • poorly functioning sewer lines or septic system

$159,900 - 3/2 House

$163,900 - 3/2 House

18362 Old Bundick • EdgE

4113 ShallOw crEEk lOOp • cS

It is always adviseable for buyers to speak with a reliable real estate attorney and a trusted real estate agent to guide them through the process of buying a home. These people can help buyers navigate the important decisions that can affect the home they’ll be living in for the next several years.

Adorable 3bd 2 ba with loft on 1.71 acres. This home has zoned heating and cooling. Aerobic System installed in 2006 and also has water well. Wild Blue and ADT installed. The 13.29 acres next to it is available for sale (MLS # 56029). Quiet, country living just 30 minutes to Bryan.

Must see home! Bosch stainless steel appliances including gas range. Energy Efficient air conditioning. Large living room with rock facia around fireplace. Kitchen cabinets with raised panel doors, tile backsplash and granite countertops.

Michelle Micheels (936) 349-6554 BCR Realtors

Katie Compian 979-880-5288 RE/Max Select

realtors ®

$126,600 - 3/2 House

$169,900 - 3/2 House

$127,000 - 4/2 HOME

1027 kEyStOnE • Bryan

1004 MEadOw wOOd • caldwEll

3901 tElluridE • Bryan

New 3 bedroom 2 bath home in Falls Creek subdivision on one acre lot. Open kitchen plan with large laundry room.

New 3 bedroom 2 bath in Copperas Hollow with spacious living/dining area. All brick exterior with covered front and back porch.

New four Bedroom two bath home located in Falls Creek Subdivision on one acre. Open kitchen and living area. Double vanities in bath.

BV Affordable Housing 979.595.2809 BV Affordable Housing

BV Affordable Housing 979.595.2809 BV Affordable Housing

BV Affordable Housing (979) 595-2809 BV Affordable Housing

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Under $ 180k!

and foreclosures are sold “as is” and may even specify that repairs and requirements for the certificate of occupancy are the buyer’s responsibility. A buyer also can ask to have the home price reduced to cover the repairs. But foreclosures are often already deeply discounted. Buyers should know that, for a home that is not in foreclosure, there are some repairs that should ultimately be the responsibility of the seller. If these repairs are not made, a buyer should think strongly about walking away from the deal, according to, a real estate marketing site. Such repairs include: • lender-required repairs that could impact home safety

S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

Metro Creative Connection Many questions arise during the home-buying process. Buyers looking at homes that require a good deal of TLC may wonder who is responsible for the home’s repairs, particularly if such repairs are needed to secure a certificate of occupancy. Depending on the situation, there is no clear-cut answer. There is no perfect home, and things that are acceptable to the current owner may not be acceptable to the buyer who is looking to become the next owner. The homebuying process is typically a careful cooperation between buyer and seller to find a middle ground. The buyer may have to make some concessions, as will the seller. Ultimately, it is this cooperation that often determines if the sale goes through or is terminated. Before any negotiations can begin regarding repairs, it is adviseable for a buyer to have an independent inspector come out and look over the home and property. Most real estate agents will suggest this be done as a first priority -- even before a contract is entered on the home. An inspection will unveil any potential problems in a home and indicate things that the buyer may not be aware of, including items that do not meet with code or could be unsafe. An inspector also may point out problems that could

F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

Who is responsible for repairs during a home sale?

70 Million in Property $

Your Source for Brazos Valley Real Estate. 7

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Metro Creative Connection

Buying a home is arguably one of the largest purchases a person will make. It can also be one of the most stressful. Individuals take quite a financial leap when buying a home. Even after careful consideration

of funds and budgeting, it’s easy to become overextended. A home warranty can take some of the bite out of unexpected expenses. Although home buyers are urged to hire an inspector and check a property and structure from top to

bottom before signing on the dotted line, a home inspector cannot foresee everything that may crop up after a person moves into a home. “When my home inspector reviewed the property he found only minor things that needed attention,” says Jeannine in New Jersey. “After I moved in, we learned that the crawl space had flooding issues that would require a lot of money to fix properly.” Home warranties can be a smart investment that take some of the financial pressure off of new homeowners. They can also be negotiated into the sale terms of the home so that the seller is responsible for providing the warranty to the new buyer. Home warranties do not negate the need for homeowner’s insurance, but they can add protection against large monetary pay-outs to repair many items around the house. Policies may differ as to specific coverage, but most home warranties will cover major systems of the home, such as heating/ cooling, plumbing, electrical and certain appliances. To decide if a warranty is the right investment, home buyers should consider the following: • Home warranties are only as good as the company backing them. Careful investigation into the

Julie Sturm, Agent 1737 Briarcrest Dr., Suite 11 Bryan, TX 77802 Bus: 979-776-1300


trustworthiness of the warranty company and its track record should be completed. • Read the fine print of the warranty. Learn what exclusions exist, which may not make the warranty practical. • Keep in mind that the warranty company reserves the right to determine if a repair or replacement is adequate in a claim situation. • In general, warranty companies work with their own set of contractors. This means a homeowner may not be able to hire his or her own preferred contractors to do work. • There may be a deductible or a fee charged prior to having a technician assess a repair situation. • The warranty company may require inspection of the house to be sure items are in good working order before offering a plan. • If a warranty is offered through a home seller, there may be no negotiation on the coverage or company used. Home buyers should keep in mind that there are many unforseen expenses that can arise when purchasing a new home. Having some additional protection, such as a home warranty, could mean saving money on out-of-pocket repairs.

Discover why over 17 million homeowners trust us.

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Learn the basics of home warranties


With your new home comes new responsibilities – like protecting your new investment with the right amount of homeowners insurance. That’s where I can help. LIke a good neighbor, State Farm is there.® CALL ME TODAY.

State Farm Lloyds, Dallas, TX

have continued to be done through slow, traditional methods. Now, the eighth largest mortgage company in the U.S., Guaranteed Rate, has upgraded its online services to allow buyers to apply for and get approved online - virtually instantly. Applicants can choose and customize a loan, submit an application, receive their credit scores from all three major credit bureaus, and receive an official approval letter that recognizes the borrower’s ability to be financed by the company - all online. On, customers can choose and customize a loan, submit an application and receive an official approval letter, recognizing the ability for the borrower to be financed by Guaranteed Rate. “Despite technological advances in other aspects of the real estate industry, the mortgage application process has remained largely manual - and time intensive,” says Scott Stephen, president of Guaranteed Rate’s online division. “By automating

See Tech page 10

$175,000 - 4/2 HOME

15230 FairCreSt dr • CS

5729 CheLSea Cr • Bryan

$119,500 - 3/2 House

3804 tangLewood dr • Bryan

$159,900 - 3/2 House

4012 Stony Creek Ln • CS

On a large corner lot, this beautiful home is on a quiet loop in Copperfield. You’ll be close to shopping, entertainment, restaurants schools and parks. The natural lighting highlights the hard wood floors and great floor plan. With 4 bedrooms and 2 baths this home is family friendly.

Location! Location! This wonderful property is close to shopping, restaurants, parks and the new Medical Corridor. Amenities include a large living area with fireplace and built-ins, kitchen/dining combination, 3 spacious bedrooms with 2 baths, and a covered patio with storage building.

Cherry Ruffino 979-691-4663 Coldwell Banker United

Cherry Ruffino 979-691-4663 Coldwell Banker United Each office is independently owned and operated

$165,000 - 3/2 House

2901 MirrorMere • Bryan Each office is independently owned and operated

$135,000 - 4/2 HOME

15203 Meredith Ln • CS

Located in a community offering a pool and a playground, this great home is also near restaurants, shopping and entertainment. With a split floor plan, the master suite featuring a garden tub, separate shower, his & her vanities and a large walk-in closet provides added privacy.

Check out this 3 bed/2 bath home with great curb appeal. Located close to everything this home has a large living area which connects to a 2nd living/ dining combination. The open kitchen has tons of storage and access to the garage & side yard. The fenced back yard has a patio and grill.

On a corner lot, this spacious home has tall ceilings, tile flooring and a great location. The open and split floor plan features a large, inviting living room, kitchen with eating bar, pantry and breakfast nook and 3 spacious bedrooms and 2 baths. Backyard offers a covered patio and deck.

Need a move-in ready home? This 4 bedroom/2 bath home is just right for you. This Meadowcreek, home starts with lush landscaping surrounding a covered porch and continues with beautiful laminate floors, spacious rooms & storage bldg. There is a neighborhood pool with a play area.

Cherry Ruffino 979-691-4663 Coldwell Banker United

Cherry Ruffino 979-691-4663 Coldwell Banker United

Cherry Ruffino 979-691-4663 Coldwell Banker United

Jon Nance 254-707-0607 Coldwell Banker United Each office is independently owned and operated Each office is independently owned and operated Each office is independently owned and operated

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Under $ 180k! $132,500 - 3/2 House

S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

(BPT) - Just 10 years ago, homebuyers would have started the purchasing process with a phone call to a mortgage broker or real estate agent, a drive through a desirable neighborhood and a perusal of the classifieds. In 2013, however, buying a house is a high-tech affair, with technology making it easier than ever to find and finance the home of your dreams. In fact, nine out of 10 homebuyers use the Internet as a primary search source, and more than half (52 percent) go online first when looking for a home, according to a joint study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Google. If you’re in the market to buy a house this spring, here are five must-have tech tools to make the process easier: 1. Online mortgage applications and approvals Real estate experts advise buyers to get approved for a mortgage before they begin shopping. Doing so allows buyers to move quickly when they find a home they want, and can make their offer more appealing to sellers. While many lenders allow borrowers to initiate the application process online, credit reviews and final approval

F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

Five tech tools that can help you get into a new home faster Each office is independently owned and operated


F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013 T h e E ag l e • t h e e ag l m


from page 9 the process, homebuyers now have access to the same tools as loan officers. The time it takes to obtain a mortgage approval has been compressed from days or even weeks to as little as 15 minutes.” Go to to learn more. 2. Mobile apps - The mobile Internet now accounts for 15 percent of global Internet traffic, according to Business Insider. What’s more, about one-fifth of real estate related Internet searches happen on mobile devices, according to the NAR/Google study. Google real-estate-related searches on mobile devices soared 120 percent from 2011 to 2012, the study notes. From (NAR’s multiple listing website) to lifestyle websites like Trulia and apps like House Hunter, homebuyers can access a wealth of real estate information, listings, news of buying trends and more via their Android-based mobile devices, iPhones and iPads. 3. Credit monitoring products While the arrival of truly automated mortgage processes may make it easier to apply, consumers still bear the responsibility of making sure their credit scores are good enough to qualify for a mortgage. Online credit monitoring products are a great tool for getting your credit score and report mortgage-worthy. All three major credit bureaus - Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- and a host of other financial services companies offer this type of product. Many allow

you to access your credit report in real time, obtain your score, view how certain credit decisions may affect your overall score, and even receive alerts when anything new shows up in your credit report and/or influences your score. 4. Multiple listing sites - Searching home listings still remains the most common way house-hunters use the Internet to aid in their efforts. One hundred percent of the buyers studied in the NAR/Google report used the Internet to search for homes. From national sites like and Zillow to to the home pages of local realtors, the interconnectivity of multiple listing services allows consumers to access a broader, more in-depth database of available homes than ever before. 5. Regional/local websites - For many people, the quality of schools and security of the community are key considerations when home shopping. A plethora of websites provide buyers with ample information, including local school district websites, municipal and police department sites, local and state chambers of commerce, state education department sites, and even sites maintained by homeowners’ associations. “Just as the Internet has touched virtually every other aspect of our lives, technology has truly transformed how consumers find and finance their homes,” Stephen says. “From finding just the right house to ensuring they’ll be able to pay for it, technology has made it easier than ever for buyers to get in the door of their dream homes.”

LOCAL BANK. LOCAL BANKERS. LOCAL HOME LOANS. When it comes to understanding this community, no one comes close to our experienced team of bankers. If you’re in the market for a new home, we’d like to be the first—and last—place you stop. Melanie and Dana are committed to finding the home loan that best suits your needs. Call Melanie or Dana today. You’re new home is just a local call away!



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Bryan/College Station

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All loans subject to credit approval and collateral review. Rates, products, and programs subject to change without notice. Payments on loans with variable rates may increase after closing.


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The higher your score, the better your chances of securing a mortgage for the amount you need at the terms you want. You should monitor your credit year-round, and take a critical look at things when you know you’re going to be house-shopping. Pay all your bills on time, pay down credit card balances and keep an eye on your ratio of credit available to credit used. Websites like freecreditscore. com can help you understand your credit and make informed financial decisions. You can track your credit score and report over time, and see how your financial behaviors impact your credit. • Stay at your current job - Long gone are the days when lenders signed off on mortgages without adequate proof of employment and income. Any mortgage company you apply to will want to see that you have a reliable work history and income. If you know you’ll be buying a house this year, now is not the time to switch jobs. If you know you’ll need to change jobs in 2013, consider putting off a house purchase, especially if you may need to relocate for a new job. • Cap other spending - Excessive spending in the months leading up to your mortgage application may make a lender question your ability to manage debt. When you know you will be applying for a home

$149,900 - 2/2 House

$169,900 - 3/3 House

1622 CuLture Ln • Cs

6022 steep HoLLoW CirCLe • Bryan

This 2 bedroom/2 bath townhome has warm colors, a split floor plan, cozy fireplace with crown molding and tile throughout. Wonderfully updated, it features a spacious kitchen with granite countertops, lots of cabinets and beautiful lighting. This gated community has a lovely pool.

Lynnea Parker 979-676-0353 Coldwell Banker United Each office is independently owned and operated

Securing financing before you go home shopping can help you make the most of your opportunities, and helps you move quickly when you find a house you want. By taking a few steps to impress potential lenders, you can make your mortgage application process a successful one - and secure the keys to your dream home.

$167,000 - 4/2 HOME

$149,900 - 3/2 House

3802 DresDen Ln • Cs

2035 Mountain WinD Loop • Bryan

You must see this 4 bedroom/2 bath, open floorplan home. It has a spacious kitchen, deluxe master suite and charming living room with fireplace. The covered patio in the large backyard is ready for entertaining. All appliances including the refrigerator, washer/dryer convey. Call today.

Come see this gorgeous home in Autumn Lake. With 3 bedrooms/2 baths, laminate flooring, granite counters , tile in all baths, utility & walk-in closets, and warm, inviting paint colors this home is ready for you. The spacious fenced yard backs up to a Green Belt. Great location.

Courtney Pitman 979-492-0741 Coldwell Banker United

Lynnea Parker 979-676-0353 Coldwell Banker United Each office is independently owned and operated

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Under $ 180k!

financing, there are other very good reasons to save for a down payment. First, it will help you get into the habit of saving for a goal. And, when you do buy a house, the down payment helps ensure you have instant equity - and ultimately reduces your monthly payment.

loan, reduce other spending. Avoid large credit purchases if possible. If you must use credit for a purchase, consider how it will impact your credit. has a patented Score Planner that lets anyone visiting the website see how their financial behaviors can affect their credit score. • Save up a substantial down payment - It’s harder than ever to get a no-money-down mortgage. Many lenders have stopped offering them at all. To maximize your chances of getting a good mortgage deal, you’ll need about 20 percent of the purchase price for a cash down payment. Beyond helping you secure

S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

(BPT) - Who doesn’t like to make a good impression? Whether it’s a first date, meeting the future in-laws for the first time or interviewing for a job, making a good first impression can pave the way for some of life’s happiest experiences. That’s especially true for home-buyers, whose ability to secure their dream home depends on first impressing a mortgage lender. In many areas of the country a seller’s market is emerging, with lower inventory of desirable homes and rising prices, according to the National Association of Realtors. That means increased competition for buyers, and more sellers giving preference to buyers who approach the bargaining table with their finances in order. Real estate experts and finance pros alike agree: It pays to get pre-approved for a mortgage when you’re in the market to buy a home. Gone are the days of easy approvals, no-money down mortgages and sub-prime borrowing, thanks to the Great Recession. Borrowers today need to show sound financial management skills and good credit in order to secure the best financing deals. If you’re in the market for a mortgage this spring, here are some steps you can take to impress potential lenders: • Examine your credit - Your credit status is key to securing a mortgage.

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Brenda Harmon 979-575-4663 Century 21 Beal

Brenda Harmon 979-575-4663 Century 21 Beal

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Time your move right to save Did you know? money Metro Creative Connection Buying a new home is the most expensive purchase a person is likely to make in his or her lifetime. It also can be one of the more stressful. The Employee Relocation Council states that moving is the third most stressful event in life, following death and divorce. But a well-timed move can reduce stress and save money. Moving during certain times of the year can result in considerable savings. Moving during the summer, when children are out of school and the weather is nice, can make a move more manageable. Keep in mind that because late spring and summer are the peak moving seasons, they also tend to be more expensive. Many moving companies and truck rental agencies will charge a premium if you use their services during the summer. Furthermore, crews may change in the summer when students on vacation could fill in for regular, more experienced movers. High prices are not only reserved for those who buy a new house during the spring and summer. Renters may find spring and summer is also the peak season for rentals. Many apartment managers can attest that the dates between June 2 and August 30 are quite busy in terms of apartment turnover. College students are more likely to move as soon as the academic year ends, and many landlords plan leases to expire in the summer months to ensure that re-renting places will be easier thanks to a flooded apartment market. According to Apartment Wiz, a Houston-based apartment locating service, although there might be greater apartment availability during the warm-weather months, it also means greater competition between prospective tenants. That greater competition can drive up prices. But apartments are harder to fill in the fall or at the onset of winter.

That’s because many people do not want the hassle of moving once school has started or the weather has chilled. Landlords who are stuck paying utilities and advertising fees for vacant apartments are far more likely to negotiate rent prices, lease terms and even security deposits during the winter in an effort to fill the apartment quickly. People sitting with homes on the market are also more likely to negotiate during cooler months when foot traffic has fizzled out. That can make shopping for a home in the fall advantageous to home buyers. Here are some other tips to reduce stress and save money when moving into a new home or apartment. Move mid-week. Weekends are a prime time for truck rentals and moving companies. Pick a Tuesday or a Wednesday to move, and you’re much more likely to find an available moving service (even during peak moving months); you may even be able to negotiate a lower rate. • Pick a mid-month moving date. Many people move at the beginning of the month when leases are up or after mortgage payments are made. Fewer people move in the middle of the month, so you might find more affordable moving deals if you can wait a few extra weeks. • Schedule a fall or winter move. The American Moving and Storage Association says half of all moves occur during one-third of the year -- between the beginning of May and Labor Day. Beat the rush by moving outside of these dates. • Get an early start. Many people underestimate the amount of time it takes to actually move their belongings. Try to schedule a moving company to come very early in the morning to give you ample time to pack up the truck and unpack at your new home.

Metro Creative Connection Primary mortgage insurance, or PMI, protects lenders in the event that borrowers default on their primary mortage by ceasing to make payments, resulting in homes ending up in foreclosure. But all borrowers do not have to pay PMI. Typically, home buyers must make a 20 percent down payment on a home when they buy it. However, some borrowers are unable to put down 20 percent. In such instances, the lender will require they pay PMI. This is because the lender views a borrower who cannot make an initial 20 percent down payment as a riskier investment, and lenders charge

PMI in an effort to protect themselves should the borrower prove worthy of their skepticism. PMI will be factored into the monthly mortgage payment, but borrowers should know they do not have to continue paying PMI once they have paid enough toward the principal amount of the loan. For most, this means once they have paid 20 percent of the principal, then they can ask that the monthly PMI payment be removed. Manyborrowers are unaware of this or even forget to ask, but it’s within their rights as borrowers and can save a substantial amount of money over the course of the mortgage loan.

(StatePoint) If you’re considering buying a home, some experts think you should get a move on it. Interest rates are at 65-year record lows and national home prices have finally hit bottom and are on the rise. Despite what you may be hearing, loans are available for those with good credit histories, stable income and sufficient savings. But don’t jump right in unprepared. Whether you’re a seasoned buyer or a newbie, there are strategies that can help you throughout the home-buying process:

Stick to Your Budget

Unscrupulous lenders can damage your credit and cause you financial hardship. Here are some ways to avoid becoming a victim: • Say ‘no’ to easy money. Beware if someone claims that your “credit problems won’t affect the interest rate.” If a solicitation is really appealing, get it in writing and seek a second opinion. • Talk to several lenders to find the best loan. • Know if the loan offered to you charges a fee if you pay it off early. If it’s a requirement of the loan, ask about other products that don’t contain this type of penalty. • Ensure documents are correct and complete. Beware of anyone offering to falsify your income information to qualify you for a loan. Never sign documents that have incorrect dates or blank fields. • Ask for written estimates that include all points and fees. When you get to the closing table, if any fees or charges differ from what was previously disclosed, delay closing until all terms are understood. • If you’re taking equity out of your property, only take the minimum. Equity typically builds slowly over time, so it’s important to try to preserve it.

• If you’re not sure, don’t sign! Get advice first from a reputable consumer credit counseling agency or housing counselor.

Know the Mortgage Process

Mortgages are serious long-term financial commitments. Selecting the right mortgage may make a big difference in your monthly payments and overall cost of your loan. To determine the best term for your personal situation and one that aligns with your financial goals,

talk with your lender or financial professional for guidance. More home-buying tips can be found at The prospect of making such a big investment can be intimidating, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer. Do your research, reach out to the professionals, stick to your budget and be sure you’re ready to take on the financial responsibilities of being a homeowner.

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Avoid Borrowing Pitfalls

S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013

Determining how much “home you can afford” depends on several factors, including your annual gross income, credit history, current mortgage rates and the amount of your down payment. In today’s market, you can expect a down payment to generally be between 5 to 20 percent of the purchase price for a conventional mortgage. Lenders recommend that your mortgage payment (principal, interest, taxes and mortgage insurance) be less than 28 percent of your monthly gross income. Before looking for a home, consider calling a Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor for free and confidential

financial assistance.

F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

Tips for buying a home in today’s market


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F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e S u n day, a p r i l 28, 2013 T h e E ag l e • t h e e ag l m


Caring for a freshly sodded lawn Metro Creative Connection Sod, sometimes called turf, can quickly turn a barren landscape into a rich, thick carpet of green. Homeowners hoping to revive their lawns commonly turn to sod as the quickest means to do just that. However, once the sod has been laid down, few homeowners may know how to keep it looking its best. Sod is real grass that is grown on special farms. It is generally grown locally to avoid long transport times that could dry out the product. Sod is typically sold in squares or rolls of grass that come with the roots and soil already attached. There may be some sort of thin backing material on the sod to keep the grass blades together. Many homeowners turn to sod when growing lawn from seed becomes problematic or too timeconsuming. Seeds can be blown around in the wind or be eaten by birds and other animals before they have a chance to germinate. Sodding a lawn is a major investment, costing as much as $1 per two-foot square. Depending on the size of your lawn, this can be a costly job even before adding the cost of additional supplies, such as soil, fertilizer and tilling equipment. Many homeowners who install sod want to ensure their investment lasts. Here are the main ways to care for and

protect sod until it is fully established: • Once the sod has been laid down, the lawn should be thoroughly soaked with water. Most experts recommend soaking it to a depth of 6 inches. • It is important to establish a watering schedule to keep the sod moist. Water the sod to a depth of one inch every other day for the first three weeks to enable the roots to securely establish themselves in the soil. • Water the sod every other day unless the weather has been very warm. After four weeks you can generally go up to five days without watering as long as you transition slowly. The sod will change colors if it is not getting enough water. Never let the lawn turn yellow, otherwise you may have to cut out dead spots and re-sod. • Wait two to four weeks before mowing the sod. Keep the lawn height to around two inches to ensure that it won’t scald in the sun. • After two months of established sod growth, aerate the sod to keep the soil from being too compact and to enable oxygen and nutrients to get into the soil. • Keep children and pets off of the sod while it is establishing itself. • Fertilize the lawn every 50 to 60 days, beginning in March and ending in October. • Inspect the sod for pests, which may include insects or problems like fungi or weeds. Treat accordingly with

Under $ 180k!

products designed to remove pests. Using sod to establish a lush lawn is a fast, albeit more expensive option to sowing seeds. After a few weeks the

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lawn will be thick and secure.

$164,900 - 3/2 House

1602 KingsgaTe • Bryan

This home is move in ready and will make you feel right at home! From the granite counters throughout, recent Deck and HVAC updates, to the laminate wood flooring, this home has been very upgraded in recent years! Come take a look at this 3/2 beauty with its large shaded yard.

This home is packed with custom features & has “WOW” around every corner! Recent updates include interior & exterior paint, gorgeous tile & frieze carpet flooring, extensive landscaping and more! The amazing patio with negotiable hot tub makes outdoor living at it’s best.

Kristi Fox Satsky 979-255-5369 Century 21 Beal

Kristi Fox Satsky 979-255-5369 Century 21 Beal

$159,900 - 3/2 House

$159,900 - 3/2 House

$144,900 - 3/2 Home

1608 KingsgaTe • Bryan

1711 summerwood • Bryan

2413 PleasanT rose Cir • Bryan

This gorgeous one owner home is jam packed with upgrades and ready for move in! Upgraded featured include Granite kitchen counters, decorator paint colors, updated light fixtures, and garden tub and separate shower with 2 sinks in the master. Take one look and you will be ready to come home!

Oh my goodness!! You have found IT! This home has everything you could want in your new home & more! Can you say Greenbelt? How about laminate flooring & Granite Counters on your new ISLAND kitchen? Stainless Steel Gas Range with warming drawer! Minutes to A&M!

Wonderful 3/2, on a huge lot in desired Austin Colony! Convenient to everything-shopping, movies, hospitals and easy access to Blinn and TAMU! Large living room is perfect for entertaining! Living is open to the kitchen and dining. Large master with 2 walk-in closets.

Kristi Fox Satsky 979-255-5369 Century 21 Beal

Kristi Fox Satsky 979-255-5369 Century 21 Beal

Kristi Fox Satsky 979-255-5369 Century 21 Beal

70 Million in Property $

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F IR S T - T IME HOME B UYER ’S G u i d e

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First-time Homebuyers Guide 2013  

The Eagle's guide for first-time home buyers

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