First-time homebuyers? Look to No. 8 ranked San Antonio

First-time homebuyers? Look to No. 8 ranked San Antonio

Real Estate Center – Texas A&M

SAN ANTONIO – According to new data from SmartAsset, The Alamo City is the eighth best city in the nation for first-time homebuyers.

Despite its booming housing market, San Antonio still remains highly affordable with a price per sf of $80.50.
San Antonio shares a place among the top ten with a few other cities in Texas: Houston finished at No. 5 while Dallas and Fort Worth tied at No. 10.
SmartAsset came up with their rankings by examining cities with a population of at least 300,000 and considering key metrics reflective of mortgage accessibility, affordability and stability in each market.
Other Texas cities made the top 20 include Arlington at No. 13, Corpus Christi at No. 17 and Austin ranking No. 20.
San Antonio’s housing market has been strong over the past several years.
According to Federal Housing Finance Agency data, prices for San Antonio’s housing market increased 8 percent from third quarter 2014 to third quarter 2015.
The Alamo City had a loan funding rate of 62 percent—third best among the top 25 cities on the list.

10 Quick Home Maintenance Tips

10 Quick Home Maintenance Tips
Excerpted from the Popular Mechanics book When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, published by Hearst Books/Sterling Publishing.

Home maintenance isn’t restricted to repairs. In fact, certain tasks–when performed regularly–may actually prevent things from breaking in the first place. But when things do go wrong (and it’s inevitable that they do), we have some backup plans that you can try before you grab the phone to call for pro. Appliances and plumbing are the most frequent offenders, but they also often can be the simplest to care for. From the gutters to the living room carpet, there’s a reliable method for keeping every part of your home clean, safe, and well maintained.
MUST-DO MAINTENANCE:
The quickest fix is to not have the problem in the first place. Here’s a checklist of items every homeowner should get to regularly.

1. Test your garage door opener monthly to ensure that it reverses when it hits an obstruction or when its sensor beam is interrupted.

2. Vacuum the clothes dryer’s exhaust duct at least once a year. If the duct is plastic, replace it (it’s a fire hazard). Rigid sheet-metal ducting is best.

3. Replace furnace filters quarterly, or as recommended by the furnace manufacturer.

4. Test all GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets monthly. Press the test button and use a voltage tester to make sure the power goes off.

5. Clean leaves and debris from the condenser of a central air conditioner seasonally.

6. Once a year, vacuum the refrigerator coils underneath the appliance.

7. Have the fireplace chimney inspected and cleaned annually.

8. Inspect window and door caulking and weather stripping yearly.

9. Replace the batteries in smoke detectors yearly. And remember, even recent hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that must be replaced. If you have never checked yours, do so.

2:23 || GUTTERLY SIMPLE:
Cleaning your gutters is the chore you abhor.

THE QUICK FIX

Make gutter cleaning easier–and safer (no ladder required)–with a long spray wand made from a 1/2-in.-diameter by 10-ft.-long PVC pipe. Cut two 6-in. lengths of pipe. Then use PVC cement to join these short sections and two 90-degree elbows with what is now a 9-ft.-long pipe, forming a J-shaped hook. At the short end of the hook, glue on a solid endcap. Drill three 1/8-in.- diameter holes in the cap. Glue a threaded adapter onto the opposite end of the pipe and attach a garden hose. Place the short end of the J-shaped hook inside the gutter and turn on the hose. As you walk along the house, high-pressure streams of water will rinse the gutter clean.

Investing? ‘Best Buy’ lists San Antonio, Dallas, Austin

Investing? ‘Best Buy’ lists San Antonio, Dallas, Austin

Texas A&M Real Estate Center

TEXAS Ya’ll come! – Looking to make a big investment in 2016? According to Forbes, you’re in the right place.

Texas is the state with the second-greatest number of cities on the Best Buy list,

San Antonio (No. 3), where homes average $201,000;

—Dallas (No. 6), where home prices average $211,000; and

Austin (No. 7), $281,000.

While the rest of the country was in the depths of the recession, Texas experienced only a shallow one, and bounced back with force.

The energy boom helped fuel job growth; even with gas prices now way down and the industry hemorrhaging some 200,000 jobs, these three Texas metros are doing well overall thanks to their diversified economies.

The Gulf Coast  has welcomed a boom in petrochemical construction, and the state is seeing growth in leisure and hospitality, both activities reportedly fueled by lower gas prices.

Austin is welcoming growth in high tech.

Dallas is welcoming the relocation of Toyota, State Farm Insurance, and Liberty Mutual Insurance.

San Antonio has financial firms and data centers.

Winzer predicts that it will still be a while before Texas prices reach the point where these metro areas are no longer a good investment—by his estimate, when they are overpriced by about 20%

Year-over-year job growth is strong (San Antonio: 3.7%; Dallas: 3.5%; Austin: 3.3%) and people continue to move to the Lone Star State (three-year growth rates for San Antonio: 6.1%; Dallas: 6.2%; Austin: 9%), meaning it is an area flush with a pool of renters. Housing prices are rising but compared to the rest of the nation, still relatively cheap.

 

7 Things Your Home Inspector Wishes You Knew

By: Jamie Wiebe @ Realtor.com

No matter whether you’re buying or selling, the home inspection process can be somewhat terrifying: For sellers, it’s a stark reminder of the nagging issues you might have turned a blind eye to over the years. And for buyers, it’s a recipe for pure heartbreak—falling in love with a home that might just end up making no sense to buy.

But don’t let the inspection stress you out. And remember, that’s not what your inspector wants either—all he or she wants is a comprehensive to-do list and a happy client.

So form a team with your home inspector to make the process easier and more effective. Knowledge is key! Here are seven essential things you keep in mind.

For sellers
1. Move your pets

We know your puppy is adorable—but even if your home inspector loves dogs or cats, pets running underfoot makes the job much more difficult.

Inspections often require opening exterior doors again and again, offering pets far too many opportunities to dash to freedom. When you leave the premises for the inspection—and many inspectors ask sellers to do so—take your pets with you. Please.

With animals out of the way, “every time I walk in or out, I don’t have to worry about losing a cat or a dog,” says Alan Singer of Sterling Home Inspections in Armonk, NY.

2. Don’t forget to clean

Whether you plan on being there for the inspection or not, make sure to clean up beforehand. No, you don’t need to scrub—an inspector won’t ding you because your stove’s grimy. But all that clutter? Yeah, that’s all got to go.

“It makes a huge difference when I walk into a house where everything’s put away,” Singer says. “It’s a game changer not just for me, but for the home buyer.”

Often, the inspection is the first time the buyers are (almost) alone in the house for an extended period of time.

“If it doesn’t feel like how it did before—if we’re trying to dig through items—it can sour their experience,” Singer says.

For buyers
1. Your potential home WILL have problems

Your home inspector will likely come up with a seemingly endless list of problems after the walk-through. Don’t panic!

“I’m on their side, but still, I’m judging the house fairly,” Singer says. “Even my home has problems, issues, maintenance things.”

Yeah, there are times when you should worry (we’ll get to those a bit later). But not every issue is mission-critical, and your inspector will know which problems you should tackle first.

2. Almost anything can be fixed

There are a few starkly frightening home inspection terms that seem to be in everyone’s vocabulary: mold, radon, and asbestos.

And yes, they’re scary—but no scarier than a roof that needs replacing, home inspectors say.

“People who write articles tend to scare homeowners about mold or radon,” Singer says.

So let us—your humble (and rather defensive) writers—take a moment to correct that assumption: Don’t worry so much about mold and radon!

Singer, who started his career in homebuilding, says, “everything is upgradable, fixable, or replaceable. You just need to have a list of what those things are.”

Not convinced yet? Check out this Washington Post article about a couple who got a discount on a four-bedroom Colonial because they weren’t terrified by mold.

3. One thing you should worry about is water

Here’s one problem we give you permission to stress out about (just a little): water. No, it’s not a deal breaker (remember that part where we wrote almost anything can be fixed?). But it’s important to address any water-related issues before the deal closes—or at least immediately afterward.

Make a note of issues such as puddles and leaky ceilings. And give special attention to the basement. Addressing water problems in the basement can be an expensive and difficult proposition, Singer says. “A wet basement can be hard to fix.”

4. Home inspectors can’t predict the future

You might want to know how many more years the roof will hold up—and while your inspector might be able to give you a rough estimate, he can’t give you a precise timeline.

“People think that we as inspectors have a crystal ball,” Singer says. “Or that we have X-ray vision” to see through walls or examine the inner circuitry of your kitchen stove.

Sorry, folks: They don’t, and they can’t.

“We can’t tell you how long it will last,” Singer says. “We can just tell you if it’s in good shape.”

5. Find the balance between your heart and brain

It’s easy to forget your love for the home when you’re counting the dollar signs and hours you might have to spend on repairs. But just remember to take a deep breath, think rationally, and consider whether it’s a smart investment in your future.

Barring any major renovations needed—such as a new roof or mold removal—your inspector’s visit will simply provide a to-do list. But not everything needs fixing immediately, so don’t let a long list dampen your love for the home. Just take things one at a time.

Texas home sales, prices up 7 percent

Texas home sales, prices up 7 percent

By Bryan Pope, Associate Editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University
Sept. 28, 2015/Release No. 02-0915

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) – Latest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data show Texas home sales had a 7 percent year-over-year increase in August while the median price was up 7.4 percent.

“Generally speaking, the market’s still going strong,” said Real Estate Center Chief Economist Dr. Jim Gaines. “However, we are seeing some slowdown in demand in areas most affected by the decline in oil prices and weakness in the energy sector.”

Last month, 29,685 homes were sold statewide, almost 1,900 more than a year ago but about 1,500 fewer than in July. Gaines said the decline from July is the typical seasonal slowdown in sales.

Gaines said the state’s low housing inventory — 3.7 months in August, well below the 6.5 months that Center economists consider a balanced market — continues to elevate prices.

Last month’s median price was $203,300 compared with $189,300 a year ago and $204,700 in July.

Here’s how the state’s major metros fared in August.


August 2015 home sales data for most Texas MLSs are online athttps://www.recenter.tamu.edu/data/housing-activity/.

Funded primarily by Texas real estate licensee fees, the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University was created by the state legislature to meet the needs of many audiences, including the real estate industry, instructors, researchers and the general public. The Center is part of Mays Business School at Texas A&M University

Falling Oil Prices Not Stopping Texas Job Growth

Falling Oil Prices Not Stopping Texas Job Growth, Latest Real Estate Center Report Shows

By Bryan Pope, Associate Editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University June 2, 2015/Release No. 21-0615

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) – Texas’ economy continues to create more jobs despite lower oil prices, according to the latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy published by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. The state’s economy gained 304,200 nonagricultural jobs from April 2014 to April 2015, an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent compared with 2.2 percent for the United States. The state’s nongovernment sector added 282,200 jobs, an annual growth rate of 2.9 percent compared with 2.6 percent for the nation’s private sector. Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent in April 2015 from 5.2 percent in April 2014. The nation’s rate decreased from 6.2 to 5.4 percent All Texas industries except mining and logging (which includes oil and gas) and manufacturing had more jobs. The state’s leisure and hospitality industry ranked first in job creation followed by construction and transportation, warehousing and utilities. All Texas metro areas except Texarkana, Wichita Falls and College Station-Bryan had more jobs. Odessa ranked first in job creation, followed by Midland, Dallas-Plano-Irving, Corpus Christi and Beaumont-Port Arthur. The state’s unemployment rate in April was 4 percent. Amarillo had the lowest unemployment rate, followed by Midland, Austin-Round Rock, Lubbock, College Station-Bryan and San Antonio-New Braunfels.

The full report is online at http://www.recenter.tamu.edu/pdf/1862.pdf.

Texas Housing Market on Track for Second Best Year Ever

Texas Housing Market on Track for Second Best Year Ever

By Bryan Pope, Associate Editor, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University Oct. 24, 2014/Release No. 4-1014 COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (Real Estate Center) –

This year will end as the second best year ever in Texas in terms of existing home sales, said a housing market expert with the Real Estate Center. “Last year was the second best year ever in the state of Texas for home sales volume,” said Center Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines. “It was second only to 2006, which was at the height of the housing boom and all the easy financing. And 2013 wasn’t that far off from that. This is going to become the new second best year ever. We are having a really terrific year.” The latest Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data show that sales of existing single-family homes in Texas were 7 percent higher last month than in September 2013. About 24,640 homes were sold last month, over 1,600 more than the same month last year, but almost 2,800 less than in August. Gaines said the August-to-September downturn is the normal seasonal falloff. So far this year, 217,690 homes have been sold, about 1 percent more than this time last year. “We’re getting exactly what we thought we were going to get, and that’s a slowdown in the rate of increase,” Gaines said. “Last year sales went up about 16 percent. It was a big, big jump. This year it’s a little jump. Home prices are doing a very similar kind of thing. There’s been a step-up in prices the last five years, and we’re still seeing that step up. But the rise of the step isn’t quite as high. “As our prices have been going up progressively here in Texas, incomes really haven’t been going up at the same pace percentage-wise. Home prices going up faster than income means that ultimately affordability and what people can afford to pay becomes an issue.” Gaines said homebuyers getting hit the hardest are those on the lower end of the home-price spectrum. “Very few homebuilders are building homes under $200,000 or $250,000 in most of our markets,” he said. “So there’s no increase in supply on that low-priced end.” In addition, credit tightness is affecting first-time buyers and first-time move-up buyers much harder than older buyers at higher income levels. “The good news for Texas is that our prosperity is, in general, still continuing,” Gaines said. “On the horizon, it appears that it will continue. The only cloud on that horizon is what’s happening in the energy sector. In the last couple of weeks, the price of oil has dropped appreciably. When the trend is downward in the price of oil, you start looking ahead and saying ‘okay, just how far can this trend go before it really becomes a problem?’ Right now it doesn’t appear to be, but it’s one of those things we’ve got to keep our eye on.”

Our Team is Growing! Help us Welcome Zane!

Just this past week Hancock welcomed a new team member into our fold. Zane Koltermann was hired as an all-around office assistant and looks to be a very valuable addition to our staff. Zane’s immediate duties will include administrative tasks associated with home inspections in Austin / San Marcos as well as New Braunfels / San Antonio offices.  Coordinating office and field personnel will be a priority.

Zane will also have phone duties, so don’t be surprised when you hear a new voice the next time you call!

We are very excited to have Zane on board!

Bexar County Foreclosures Hit 12-Year Low

The number of Bexar County properties headed to the foreclosure auction next month has hit its lowest mark in about a dozen years.

For July, 469 properties are listed for foreclosure, a 29.4 percent drop from July 2013, according to data from RexReport.com.

The number of distressed properties headed to the auction block is the lowest since September 2002. July marks 20 consecutive months with declining foreclosure postings, a trend that started in December 2012.

So far this year, there have been 3,744 foreclosure postings in Bexar County — an almost 30 percent drop from the first half of last year when there were 5,305 listings.

Read more at the San Antonio Express-News