Buy a Home

Overview of the Buying & Selling Process

Overview of the Buying & Selling Process Back To Top

Benefits of Home Ownership

  • Credit: Owning a home helps you establish financial credibility.
  • Independence: Owning your own home provides you with independence and more privacy than renting. You are free to paint walls, plant flowers, keep pets and anything else within legal bounds.
  • Investment: As you make more payments and own more of your home, you add to its investment value. Most improvements you make will also add to its value.
  • Pride: A home reflects its owner's values and lifestyle. Owning a home can provide you with a source of pride, enjoyment and satisfaction.
  • Security: A home can provide security against inflation because the value of your home increases as prices go up.
  • Stability: Being established in a community provides a sense of belonging, stability and security.
  • Tax Advantages: Interest on your mortgage loan is deductible on your yearly personal income tax return. Many of the closing costs associated with purchasing your home are deductible, as are your property taxes.
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Finding the Right Home

Real Estate Agents

You can sit down with a real estate agent and discuss your needs, type of area, style of home, amenities and everything you really want in your next home. Real estate agents can help you by accessing a Listing Service which covers all properties listed for sale within a specific area. Together, you can select the homes you would like to see, set appointments and preview homes in a short period of time. An agent can guide you through the entire process.

Newspaper Ads/Internet

Many people go through the real estate classified section or browse the Internet to find a home that appeals to them. However, your real estate agent will have many listings available that may not appear in the newspaper or Internet on a continuous basis. New listings come on the market daily.

Multiple Listing Service

Your real estate agent should have access to the multiple listing service if it is available in your area. It usually includes the following details about homes and properties for sale:

  • Location
  • Price
  • Photograph
  • Utilities
  • Amenities
  • Annual property tax
  • Current financing (when assumable)
  • Listing company

When Previewing A Home

  • Write notes when previewing a home so you will be able to discuss the details later with your real estate agent.
  • Ask questions about the home and discuss any objections or concerns you may have.
  • Ask about the community - schools, shopping and transportation.
  • Ask specific questions about the construction of the home; electrical, plumbing, heating, cooling systems, etc.
  • Have fun.
  • Relax. Finding your new home can be a rewarding experience. Have a good time and enjoy the process.
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Home Shopping Tips

Check For Properly Working Appliances/Fixtures

  • Bathroom
  • Sinks
  • Showers/tubs
  • Toilets
  • Vent fan
  • Heating fan
  • Appliances
  • Dishwasher
  • Stove
  • Oven
  • Ice maker
  • Garbage disposal
  • Range hood
  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Microwave
  • Trash compactor
  • Kitchen
  • Kitchen cabinet doors
  • Drawers
  • Sinks
  • General
  • Lights (interior & exterior)
  • Windows
  • Heating system
  • Ceiling fans
  • Hot water system
  • Air conditioning system
  • Electrical outlets
  • Door bells
  • Doors
  • Water purifier
  • Fireplace damper
  • Garage door

Ensure House Is Well-Built & Systems Are In Working Condition

  • Exterior
  • Brick bulging or cracking
  • Shingles missing or broken
  • Siding rotted or missing
  • Gutters damaged or need to be cleaned
  • Concrete cracked in sidewalks/driveway
  • Cracks in foundation
  • Poor ventilation
  • Interior
  • Sub-flooring damaged or loose
  • Cracked walls or ceiling
  • Cracked tiles
  • Loose plaster
  • Flooring damaged
  • Soft, springy floors
  • Water stains near windows
  • Water stains on ceiling below bathroom
  • Water stains in attic
  • Pipe insulation missing
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Home Inspections

What is an inspection?

There are numerous types of inspections. An inspection is meant to evaluate, at minimum, the structural and mechanical condition of a property. It is not the same as an appraisal which evaluates the market value of a property. Persons involved in real estate transactions need unbiased information about the physical condition of property they plan to buy or sell and your contract should include a contingency that you obtain a satisfactory inspection report. Talk with your agent about the types of inspections available.

Home Inspectors vs. Engineers

Home Inspector: A person who examines any component of a building, through visual means and through normal user controls, without the use of mathematical sciences.

Engineering: Analysis or design work requiring extensive preparation and experience in the use of mathematics, physics, chemistry and the engineering sciences.

Finding a qualified Inspector

  • Referrals from satisfied customers
  • Referral from a local real estate agent or mortgage company
  • Local consumer affairs office
  • Yellow Pages under "Building Inspection Services"
  • Ask if she/he is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). The ASHI has established standards of practice which include the specific services, limitations and exclusions that can be expected from private home inspectors. What the inspection, at minimum, includes.

Every inspection should include, but not be limited to, an evaluation of at least the following:

  • Foundations
  • Plumbing and electrical systems
  • Doors
  • Ceiling, walls and floors
  • Roof Hazardous materials concerns
  • Heating and air conditioning systems
  • Common areas (in condominiums) Insulation
  • Ventilation
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Ask The Expert

Why should I buy instead of rent?

In my opinion, it's a "no-brainer". Why pay your landlord's mortgage payment when you can pay your own payment and have a house to sell some time in the future? Some of the reasons include:

  • Equity accumulation - every payment that is made contributes to the "equity" of the home. After several years the loan balance goes down and the difference between market value of that home and the amount owed on the mortgage is called equity.
  • Appreciation - Historically, homes have appreciated in value. Example, a home purchased in the 1980's in The Hamlet subdivision sold for $60,000. That same house today is selling for $110,000--almost double that amount. If the homeowner had lived in that home and made the payments regularly, the mortgage would be paid up in 2010 and he would own the home free and clear. If the owner sold the property today, he would owe approximately $15,000. If the home sold for $110,000, after closing costs and fees, the owner would be paid approximately $85,000 at closing which he could either invest in another home or take the money and travel.
  • Pride of ownership - rental homes are usually located near other rentals. The lack of ownership and pride that goes with renting ultimately causes a neighborhood to go down, as evidenced by lack of repair to homes, parked cars in yards, trash everywhere, etc.

What are "HUD" homes and are they a good deal?

HUD homes are those houses that were financed on an FHA loan and repossessed by the Federal Government because the owners did not make their payments. These homes are always offered for sale on an auction style venue which requires a Realtor’s assistance. Very strict deadlines apply and there may be as many as 7-10 bidders on the same property.

People generally think they can “steal” these properties, however that is seldom the case. These homes, on the average, are in very poor condition and need a lot of work to be livable. Occasionally one happens to be ready for move in to, however that is rare. All HUD properties will need repairs and most will require major renovation.

Are they a good deal? Each house and situation needs to be looked at individually. In my opinion, the prices are usually bid up so that the price is no better than one you could find on the active real estate Market, and often times buyers end up paying too much because of the mistaken idea that they are getting a great deal. A working relationship with a REALTOR will allow you to look at everything on the market and make a buying decision and how much you should pay based on that search. You’ll be surprised that many similar properties, often in better condition than the HUD repossessed houses, are available for sale and can be purchased directly from the seller through a REALTOR rather than dealing with the hassle of government contracts and “iron clad” rules.

Can I become a homebuyer even if I have bad credit and don't have much down payment?

Lending guidelines have changed recently and the sub-prime loans (those to folks with bad credit) are not allowed any more. My advice to you is to visit a mortgage broker and get some counseling as to what you'll need to qualify for a loan. Then do what they say! In 6 months to a year, many people can clear up credit issues and be well on their way to homeownership.

What does a mortgage cover?

It covers the amount you owe to the bank for your home and is paid back to them in regular payments, usually monthly. This mortgage gives the bank or mortgage lender the right to repossess your house if you fail to comply with their requirements, i.e., make the payments on time, keep it insured, pay the taxes, etc.

How much money will I have to come up with to buy a house?

This depends on the price home you purchase. There are some 100% loans out there, however the borrower must have squeaky clean credit, a good steady job and not be heavily obligated with credit debt. Down payments can vary, but most lenders require 3% to 5% of the sales price to be paid at the time of closing, Of course, larger down payments are always allowed and could position the borrower for a better rate on the loan.

Besides my mortgage, what other costs should I consider?

There will always be closing costs and they vary from lender to lender. Some loans have as little as $2500 closings costs while other have as high as $5000. Calling around to several lenders will help you here. Ask for a "Good Faith Estimate" which will give you the total of expected closing costs as well as an estimated monthly payment. A buyer can “shop” various lenders to see which has the best rate and lowest closing costs.

Don’t forget that you’ll have utility bills, lawn care, maintenance expenses and possibly updating expenses that could effect your monthly obligation. Be sure to allow enough money in your budget to cover these items.

How can I find out about the school district in the area?

A call to the VISD main office will answer the question as to which school your child will attend if you purchase a home at a specific address.

If you're wondering about quality of schools, teachers, etc., I can't help you there. Your own research will serve you best.

How do property taxes vary?

Properties inside the city limits will have a little more tax obligation than those located out in the county. City taxes are currently $690 for every $100,000 value of home. School and County taxes are the same amount throughout the county. There are other smaller districts that have taxing authority which include Drainage districts, Road and bridge taxes, as well as Victoria College.

If you would like a more comprehensive explanation of taxes you may call the Victoria County Appraisal District or Victoria County Clerk’s office who could help answer more specific questions.

What should I look for when I’m walking through a home?

Floor plan — Does it have ease of access from one part of the house to the other? Do you have to walk through one room to get to another? Is the living area positioned where you would like it to be?

Structural integrity – Look for signs of leaks, foundation movement, bowed walls or ceilings, etc. Also, is there any rotten wood? Are there any shingles missing on the roof? Other signs of neglect?

Size – Are the rooms large enough to accommodate your furniture and family? Is the lot what you’re looking for? Large, small, medium?

Location is very important — what does the neighborhood look like? Is the house located next to an industrial park, major thoroughfare, railroad or blighted area? Is it near schools and shopping?

Livability – Does it feel like you? Can you see yourself sitting on the back porch enjoying a beautiful sunset or sunrise?

Some people make buying decisions based on logic and some make them on emotion. In my opinion, a little of both is needed to find the perfect home for you and your family.

What’s the real estate market like in Victoria?

The national media has talked about how bad the real estate market is doing but they fail to say that the information is based on 5-6 states out of the 50. The states on the west coast and east coast are indeed having trouble because their prices went through the ceiling and continued to climb to unreasonable levels for years. They are having a natural adjustment which happens every few years. Victoria and the state of Texas are not in that same cycle.

Our market is very strong. Our inventory of homes is typically turning over every 60-90 days, depending on the condition and prices the sellers are asking for their properties. Victoria is in a “seller’s market” whereby the prices are fairly firm with very little room for negotiation.

A few buyers are seeing 2-3% reduction off the list price, but usually not more than 5%, at most. When someone comes to us thinking they will buy a $150,000 home for $120,000, they find very quickly that those “steals” just are not happening in the Victoria market. Often times, when a property is priced right and in good condition, there will be two or more offers during the first week on the market. When that happens, the sales price usually goes over list price.

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