As 650 Winding Ravine continues to take shape, Stadler Custom Homes has provided us with some new drone footage to share with you. The home, which is being built to benefit the Military Warriors Support Foundation and the San Antonio Food Bank, will be sold with all net proceeds going to these two terrific charities. Kimberly Howell Properties is thrilled to be a part of this project and we’re excited to see the home take shape. The home will be a 4,814 square foot, four bedroom, 3.5 bath contemporary luxury home right in the heart of Stone Oak. There aren’t many opportunities like this left in Stone Oak and with all of the proceeds being donated to worthy causes, this home will be something you can be proud of for many reasons. If you’d like to schedule a tour, please contact Kimberly Howell.
If you’re going to be buying a home any time soon, you’re going to need to start thinking about your downpayment. Typically expressed as a percentage of the sales price, the downpayment is often one of the more difficult obstacles for people to overcome on their way to home ownership. You’ll need to budget your money and save up enough to make your downpayment, but how much will you need? You’ve probably heard the rule – you’ll need to save for a 20% downpayment before you buy a home. The logic behind saving 20% is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long term goal and it can also help you get favorable interest rates from your lender. Additionally, the bigger your downpayment, the less you need to borrow, so the less you’ll pay in interest in the long run.
But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a smaller downpayment — as low as three percent – rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.
The Downside of a Small Downpayment
The downsides of a smaller downpayment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay private mortgage insurance (often referred to as just PMI) for years, and the lower your downpayment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20% downpayment, which will put some higher priced homes out of reach for you when searching.
THe Upside of a Small Downpayment
The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20% or three percent, the increase in equity is going to be the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.
The Happy Medium
Of course, your home payment options aren’t binary. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20% and an investment focused, small downpayment. It’s always a good idea to talk with your Realtor and your lender to discuss the potential paths for you and to see what strategy works best for you and your personal needs.
image courtesy of AleXander Agopian
This post is for all the real estate agents out there who read our blog…
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It’s an ever changing world of tips and tricks to help get your website noticed and many people don’t have the time or skill to learn it or keep up with it as it evolves. Real estate agents, hungry for more traffic to their websites, often employ SEO companies to help them boost their sites in search engine rankings so they can get noticed. What they don’t know, is how many of these companies are doing it. As someone who spends a lot of time fiddling and tweaking their real estate website, I know a thing or two about the internet. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, there are people out there with far more knowledge and experience (and I turn to them often for advice and information), but I do know enough to know that real estate agents need to stop wasting their money on some of the garbage tactics that I’m seeing more and more of.
SEO: The Linkback
One of the best known tools for generating better search page rankings is the linkback. Every time Google sees a link heading back to your site with appropriate keywords, it starts to think “wait a minute, if everyone is linking back to this site, it must be important” and when Google starts to believe something is important, it begins pushing the value of that site up in their search engine results. The more links, the better your exposure to people searching for keywords related to your website’s topic.
Links are not easy to come by though. Many sites block the search engines from seeing and cataloging these outbound links, so as not to open up the floodgates to a flurry of spam comments with no purpose other than to gain linkbacks. However, some websites use what’s known as “dofollow” to allow such links to be read and cataloged by the search engines. We are an example of such a site. We believe in a more open, sharing web where we are more than happy to give our fellow webmasters and bloggers what tiny little boost we can provide in return for them stopping by our site and opening up good conversation.
But, this same openness can be abused…and it is quite often. An agent or real estate brokerage pays a company oodles of money to “get them to page one of Google” and these companies set out to spam the internet with garbage comments on sites like ours that allow links so that they might get a bit of a boost from what we have created. We don’t mind giving anyone a boost (as long as they’re a legit company and not trying to do something scammy or nefarious). What we do mind is watching agents waste their hard earned money chasing a dream without any understanding of what it is they’re chasing or how the company they have chosen is going about doing it. We see instances on this site all the time of links back to agents, some that we even know and respect greatly, where the actual comment is nothing more than some gibberish in order to just comment for the sake of getting that link. What does that say about the owner of the website it is linking to?
An SEO Appeal To All Real Estate Agents
Instead of hiring these companies and throwing your money at them, take same time to understand what it is they are doing for you. Get involved. Want a link on our site? Comment on our posts and leave your link in the field provided, but don’t just comment blindly. Take a moment to talk about the subject at hand – discuss, dissect, and add to the conversation. Give your thoughts, stories, anecdotes, and relevant additions. By being a part of the community, you not only get a link, but you also show people who you are. Agent from another company? Go ahead and comment on our website. We’d love to hear your thoughts. (Keep the need to advertise out of the picture – if you’re awesome, people will recognize that, we don’t need your phone number and company name plastered after every sentence.) We have a ton of content here on the site and there is sure to be something that you know a lot about or feel passionately about or even have some extra information to bring to the table (some of the posts are much older and as we know, rules and laws change, so maybe there’s an update that you’d like to discuss). We as an industry should be and can be more of a community – and we’d love to be a part of making that happen.
And if you’re an agent in San Antonio or surrounding areas, feel free to drop by and comment. I know in talking to many of you in person that you read our website. We love reading other blogs and we’d love to see more of them in San Antonio. Build a website and get involved in helping educate and inform the buyers and sellers of all the things we see on a daily basis. The more they know and understand what we do, the more we can do for them as an industry. Just stop wasting your money on junk services – we get the calls all day long, so we know what these snake oil peddlers are selling you. Don’t be impressed by fancy tech-speak and “we work with Google” sales tactics. You want linkbacks and a boost in your SEO? It’s right in front of you and you can get more out of some personal involvement than a poorly spelled, grammar destroying, nonsense filled post. Would you hire a doctor based on a comment and link if they posted an unfocused, rambling comment about the latest advances in neurology on a blog about the best ice cream in Texas? Probably not.
So come on over and have a seat. Read, comment, get involved, and boost your website’s SEO all while having a bit of fun with the real estate community. It’s not nearly as hard as those sales people make it sound.
PS If you’re a Realtor interested in blogging about local real estate and are looking for a new brokerage, let us know. We are always looking for ways to expand our website and the content we provide. Our website has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years and we can provide you with a platform for your voice to be heard and your business to grow.
image courtesy of Christian Schnettelker
We recently kicked off a summer contest at Kimberly Howell Properties and have been having a lot of fun with it. Agents are awarded points for all sorts of tasks and prizes are being given away for all sorts of different things. While we take our business very seriously, we also like to relax and enjoy a bit too, so we’ve been doing some more non-traditional point awards through the first few days, just to keep everyone on their toes and keep things interesting. That’s what this blog post is all about. Don’t worry, the next post will be back to normal and all about real estate, so you can just skip over this one if you’re not one of our agents.
Hello agents, how are you today? I figured I’d pick a different way to communicate an opportunity to earn some points since I know you’re all waiting for my next email. Today, the points are all about blog comments. Commenting on blogs is a great way to get involved and learn more about real estate. You don’t want to spam every website you see, but thoughtful comments can lead to some great communication and get you more involved in your local community. There are a ton of great blogs out there, many focused on the very same things that interest you. But today, we focus on real estate. Here’s how the points work on this one.
- First, go get yourself a gravatar. If you’ve ever written a blog post for our site, you already have one (we set it up when we posted your first article). Read our post about gravatars and how to get one and follow the instructions to set one up for yourself. This is worth 1 point…but only if you do the next step as well.
- Ok, now that you have a gravatar, find a blog post on this site to comment on. Don’t just post “here’s my comment” – make it meaningful. Read the post, think about the post, add something to the conversation…this is about more than points, this is about getting involved. Comments without gravatars will be disqualified as will meaningless comments (give us your thoughts and feelings about the post or add something to the conversation, don’t just comment to get a point). Only one comment per agent will be awarded points (but feel free to make multiple comments!). This step is worth 1 point, but much like the first point, only qualifies if you did the first step as well. (So you get two points if you do it correctly, no points if you skip either step.)
So there you have it, an opportunity to secure two points for yourself. This point offer expires on Saturday, July 23 at 2PM. Comments made after that will be appreciated, but will not earn you points.
PS No need to report your comments to the office, we see all of the comments made here on the website. We’ll know you made a comment and be able to see your gravatar alongside the comment (be sure you use the same email address when writing your comment as the one you signed up for a gravatar with).
image courtesy of austin.happel
Today is Independence Day – the 4th of July – a day filled with fireworks, backyard BBQs, and summertime fun. Today we celebrate becoming a country and the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. America has a unique history and we celebrate our formation like no other country. I once spent a 4th of July in London, England and I had a spectacular time – we found a Mexican restaurant (Mexican food in England does not come close to what we have in Texas) that had American flags for decorations at every table and later watched as some Americans set off fireworks over Tower Bridge from the Thames River – talk about an fun mix of culture and customs in one day! (I also once spent the day at a German public pool filming a special episode for German music television channel VIVA – that was one of the weirder days of my life.) I’ve always loved the 4th of July – it’s always a fun day and it holds special significance to me as both an American and someone who grew up in Philadelphia and spent a lot of time learning that part of American history in school (field trips to Independence Hall are a regular event when you grow up in the area).
Our offices will be closed today so that our agents and staff can celebrate with their families and friends and enjoy the summer. On Tuesday, we’ll be right back at it and open as always. If you have an emergency or need to speak with someone, call or email your agent and they’ll get you taken care of.
We hope you all (the closest I can come to saying y’all as a Northerner) have a terrific Independence Day and have enjoyed the long holiday weekend. Remember to be safe out there and we’ll see you this week!
image courtesy of jdtornow
I’ve been doing a lot of cooking lately thanks to Green Chef and in the calming moments of preparing my meals, I found my thoughts wandering (as they always do) to how to help our agents better prepare you for selling your home. As the office manager, I spend a lot of time advising our agents and talking to them about their various listings and transactions, so I get a varied glimpse into the daily life of sellers and what it takes to sell their home. We’ve talked before about the preparations between the listing appointment and your home going on the market, but what about the preparations you can be doing before ever deciding which agent you’ll be selling your home with? Enter the French phrase mise en place.
Selling Your Home – Mise en Place
Mise en place is a French phrase used to describe the act of preparing all of the ingredients for a meal before you start cooking. You’ve seen the photos before – the tiny bowls or plates filled with chopped ingredients, the various spices at the ready, utensils laid out, and all the pieces that will make the meal prepped so that the act of cooking is almost artful in its smooth, fluid movements instead of the haphazard method where you usually find yourself digging in the pantry for something as the water in a pot boils over and something starts to send smoke signals skyward as you leave it unattended. Mise en place means to “set in place” and it’s all about the act of getting prepared so that once you start cooking, everything is in its place and ready to go. It’s like the Boy Scouts motto – be prepared.
Selling your home is a bit different than cooking a meal, but in essence, the same rules apply. Prepare, take action, and enjoy the final outcome. It’s the preparation that sets the stage for everything that follows and a little work now, goes a long way in the future.
Before Your Listing Appointment
Before you meet with a real estate agent, there are some items you should prepare – the mise en place to selling your home. Having these items at the ready will help you sell your home and assist the agent during the appointment and once the home is listed for sale. Here are the items you should start preparing now, so that your agent can get your home on the market and sold.
Mortgage statement – You should actually pull this one out the moment you think about selling your home. Why? How much you have left on your mortgage until it’s paid off is an important number. Most mortgage statements don’t have a mortgage payoff amount on them, but they always have a number to call to receive one. Usually an automated system, calling this number will give you a loan payoff amount and a date that it’s good through. If you give this number to your real estate agent, they can calculate out a net sheet that will help you see how much you will make when you sell the house. Don’t forget that if you have a second mortgage or any home equity credit lines or loans, you’ll need the payoff numbers for those as well.
Documents from when you bought the house – When you bought the house, you were given a lot of documents and now is a great time to go digging in the attic or garage to find where you put those. Finding these can help you save money on the sale of your home as well as help in the process of buyers making a decision about buying your home.
- Survey – If you have a prior survey from when you bought the home, you may be able to use it again (which could save you money). This document, along with a T-47, can be provided to satisfy the survey requirement in the contract. It is up to the title company and lender to accept it, but as long as they do, you can avoid having to pay for a new one (on a typical house in San Antonio they cost between $400-500, but with larger homes or acreage, they can cost thousands of dollars).
- HOA documents – If you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, you should have a large stack of paperwork collectively known as the HOA docs. While these expire over time and you’ll need to get new ones when the home is under contract, these documents can have some important information in them. The section we are looking for is the covenants, conditions, and restrictions (often simply called the CCRs). Many prospective buyers will ask about these documents because they want to know what they can or can’t do on the property. If you live in a neighborhood without an HOA, you should still have a copy of any of these documents relative to the neighborhood or area you live in. These are especially important if your selling land as potential buyers will want to know what they can build on the land.
Power of attorney – If you have power of attorney related to the home, you’ll want to find your copy of these documents as they serve as proof that you are the one who can sign any documents pertaining to the listing or sale of the home. We see these often here in San Antonio because of the military, where the spouse is deployed, leaving the other spouse to sign for the military member. These also apply to you if you are an executor of an estate.
Inspections and insurance claims – If you’ve had any inspections on the home or made a claim on your homeowners insurance, you’ll want to have those handy as well. These will help document any issues with the home and what you’ve done to rectify them.
Invoices, receipts, and upgrades – If you’ve done any work on the home, dig up those receipts and invoices so that you’ll be able to document the work and the money you put into it. You rarely get a dollar for dollar return on the investment for upgrades and remodeling, but it will go a long way to help justify your asking price.
Now that you have your mise en place, you’re ready to list your home. There may be some additional documents you have or need, so it’s always a good idea to have all the paperwork you’ve pulled out of the closet somewhere handy during your listing appointment. Your real estate agent will advise you on what else might be needed or helpful. Preparing everything before selling your home will make the process flow much smoother as well as help you and your agent answer any questions potential buyers might have. Being able to answer those questions can be the difference between a buyer making an offer or not, so being prepared goes a long way.
Disclosure: The link at the beginning of this post contains a Green Chef promo code which will get you four free meals when you sign up and give the author a $25 discount on their purchases. We are not endorsed by Green Chef or asked to put their links on our page, but Matt is a huge fan and loves spreading the word about their services. We receive no compensation for the link. Other than the discount on Matt’s account and the offer provided to you, there is no other compensation for our mention of Green Chef.