Cain Realty Group Austin Real Estate Blog

Understanding the Job of a Home Inspector

It truly is a thrilling experience when an offer you've made to purchase a home has been accepted, but you might want to go through one more important step before starting to pack your bags. Hiring a home inspector is a crucial part of the home buying process, as it is the stage where major flaws that might need fixing are detected before you close the deal. Do not be misled by a home that looks good, because only a professional can determine how livable a house truly is.

A lot is on the plate of a home inspector, and for good reason: home inspectors ensure that you are buying your money's worth and that there would be no complications in the home when you finally move in.

National Association of Home Inspectors Executive Director Claude McGavic explains that there are 1,600 items in every home inspector's checklist, making sure that every facet of the home is checked. Because of the meticulous work poured in by home inspectors, home buyers have an advantage in case...

Lesser Property Taxes for Austin Residents as City Council Votes for Increased Homestead Exemption

The Austin City Council has finally voted in favor of increasing the homestead exemption from 6% to 8% this afternoon. The 2% increase in exemption means that owners of homes valued at $250,000 will save approximately $23 annually. The final decision came at the third reading set this Wednesday afternoon after council members took a month-long summer break. 

In a statement released by Mayor Steve Adler, he insists that the city council believes that, “we need to do all we can to make Austin more affordable, and extending the homestead exemption to save the homeowners money is an important step. Not every tool will help everyone, so we also need to find and implementing other tools, as this Council has done, to help renters and others.” 

The higher homestead exemption is estimated to lower the city's general fund by $3.8 million.

Against the Decision

A few council members were against the decision,...

Glassdoor Reports Austin is Among Top Cities Where You Can Land Your Dream Job

A recent survey by Glassdoor ranks Austin, Texas among the best city for jobs. Turns out millennials are heading to the right city in the south. Out of 25 cities in the U.S., Austin made it to the sixth place in a ranking based on the ease of getting a job, cost of living, job satisfaction, and work-life balance. Based on data Glassdoor already has, it's very clear that Austin deserves to be in the top 25 list.

Garnering a score of 3.3 over 5, Austin gained a very high spot in the list thanks to its 45,186 job openings, $61,000 median base salary, and 3.4 Glassdoor satisfaction rating. The most in-demand jobs in the city are reportedly positions for creative director, finance manager, and solutions architect.

The only other Texan city that made it to the list is San Antonio at the 20th spot. The top city with work-life...

Austin Makes it to List of Best Cities for Urban Nature Lovers

Eighty percent of Americans live in its urban cities. Who can blame them? Living in the city makes everything within reach. And in spite of the rising living costs, people prefer living in cities where the jobs are, and so are the amazing amenities that make life easier and enjoyable for them.

However, living in the city also has a negative effect on the populace. The air pollution, traffic, noise, and the lack of green, open spaces can truly drain our inner being. Therefore, it does not come as a surprise that urban planners are reviving the "Green Revolution" by way of reintroducing parks, spaces, and greenery in the metro for city dwellers to enjoy.

Realtor® compiled a list of "10 Best U.S. Cities for Urban Nature-lovers". Austin makes it to the list, thanks to the wide open parks and scenic views we all love. Realtor® made use of these six criteria in order to find the most "nature-tastic" big cities in the United States:

...

Basic Closing Costs for VA Buyers and Sellers

All home loans come with closing costs. But what makes the VA loan different is that closing costs are often limited for the benefit of the veteran buyer. This blog post explains the benefit program of the Department of Veterans Affairs and how closing costs are managed between buyers and sellers in a VA-backed loan.

Buyers are 'restricted' by the VA on what they can pay

The primary advantage of using a VA loan is its 0% down payment incentive. But what makes it advantageously unique on the part of the eligible buyer is the limitations imposed by the Department of Veterans Affairs on loan fees that the veteran or active-duty member is not allowed to pay. Called "non-allowable" fees, these costs are often covered by the seller, lender, or real estate agent. The non-allowable costs and fees are:

3 Things to Know When Choosing a Mortgage Lender

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has set specific guidelines with regard to pricing, rates, and other factors concerning loans, but it does not change the fact that lenders can choose to operate differently within those guidelines.
Certain lenders may be able to give borrowers better rates, but borrowers have to look deeper in order to determine if a certain provider is the best lender for them.  
 
Here are some of the things borrowers need to consider before choosing to work with a lender:
1. Affiliations with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This consideration is especially important for borrowers with complex income situations (ie freelancers) as these institutions determine the ability of a lender to fund a mortgage.
2. Lender Approval Guidelines....

VA Loans and What You Need to Know About 'em

Recent data suggests that the number of buyers intent on using a VA loan for their home purchase are steadily increasing. However, home sellers and their agents seem to be limiting their potential by ignoring this sector of the buyer's market. Could it be because of the myths that surround home purchase through VA loans? Is it true that selling a home to a buyer with VA-backed loan is risky? Is the process tedious? This facts vs myth blog post will help you decide for yourself.

Eligible Buyers Love the VA Loan...

An article written by Inside Mortgage Finance notes that VA-backed loans are rapidly increasing and have overtaken the amount of loans taken through the Federal Housing Administration. Why is this so? It's because VA-backed loans are preferable from a buyer's perspective. Qualified applicants can purchase a house without down payment (with the premise of a particular loan limit) and no Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) requirement. Therefore,...

Four Reasons Why Your Home Isn't Selling

An old, neglected "For Sale" sign at the front yard-- it's every home seller's nightmare. If your house has been on the market for months and there's no promising offer in sight, you simply can't help but worry. What if there IS something wrong with your house?

While some home sellers are simply paranoid with the length of time it takes to actually sell a home, there are certain factors that may be keeping you from selling your home that you should be aware of. This article will help you sort through mere paranoia and four actual reasons why your home isn't selling.

FACTS

  • Data gathering company Graphiq notes that a U.S. home stays in the market at an average of 73 days
  • There is a wide range of average days on market (ADOM), depending on the state; the average in Birimingham is 144 days while it's a mere 54 days in San Franciso.

ANTI-PARANOIA TIP:...

Ricky Cain of The Cain Team Joins Fashion Show Fundraiser

Fashion Show Fundraiser PT50 Austin

Cain Realty Group's very own Ricky Cain joined 32 other Realtors who "showed their strut" in the recently-concluded fashion show fundraiser named "What's Hot for Summer: Work and Weekend Wear for Men and Women" organized by Platinum Top 50 Realtors in Austin.

The annual event is sponsored by PT50 and supported by local realtors in the area to benefit a certain cause or not-for-profit organization, with proceeds from admission, additional donations, and percentage of transactions with featured local designers donated to the said beneficiary at the end of the event. And this year, the lucky not-for-profit is no other than Mobile Loaves & Fishes, an organization "that provides food and...

Ventilation Tweaks to Keep Your Home Cool This Summer

Summer is just around the corner! And knowing how hot things in Austin can be, can you regard yourself and your home as ready for the heat wave?

While most homes in Austin are equipped with central air conditioning, the summer months will not be lenient-- your summer wear and your budget for utility bills will surely be stretched to the limit. Here are some ventilation tweaks that can help you keep your cool (literally and figuratively!) without running the A/C 24/7:

Strategize with Open Windows

It's really tempting to open all windows of the house during the summer, but there is a more effective way to cool your house down without enticing a burglar (or a cheeky squirrel!). Always remember that hot air goes up, so open windows on the shady side of the house at the ground floor to suction cool air in, and open windows on the hot side of the house at the upper floors to pump out all the hot air that way. By doing this, you are creating a natural wind tunnel that will keep...

How to Get Multiple Offers for Your Home (and Sell Over Asking Price!)

It's the ultimate dream of every home seller-- to get to sell their property for much more than what they asked for. And the icing on the cake is an all-out bidding war among several interested buyers, with the victor shelling out more than what you asked for in your listing. Getting multiple offers is more than just having good luck, perfect timing, or a perfect location. Strategy is key, and today we share with you the proven techniques of Realtors® on how they can instigate a multiple-bidding war:

Low Asking = High Closing

A particularly risky and aggressive move to ensure a bidding war on your home is to price the property at 5-10% lower than its going market rate. The low price will attract buyers to look into the home, giving them a chance to look it over and see how great of a deal it is. A steep introductory asking price will turn away home buyers on a budget, so this strategy, albeit seemingly counterproductive, is actually a recipe for bidding...

Tax Returns and Home Purchase: What You Need to Know

Anyone who is planning on buying a home or getting refinanced for a property they already own should get ready for the ton of paperwork they have to take care of. Tax returns are, of course, an important part documentary requirement. But are they ALWAYS needed? NO.

W-2 wage earners are less likely to need to provide tax returns compared to self-employed individuals. Lenders require self-employed individuals to submit their tax returns because this is the only way they can determine your income. Tax returns, especially for self-employed workers, will show how much you took home versus your net income. In certain cases, all you need to present is a year's worth of tax returns. This commonly happens when you transition from being a full-time employe into a self-employed individual.

Automated Underwriting Findings

The standard requirement by mortgage lenders is for home buyers to submit tax returns for the past two years, plus two years of W-2s and pay stubs...

Are Low Credit Scores Keeping Millennials from Buying a Home?

A recent TransUnion survey found that a third of American millenials aged 18 to 34 are looking to buy a home within the next 12 months, but 43% of them have subprime credit scores.

TransUnion senior vice president Ken Chaplin says that credit scores are important in the home buying process. Credit scores is a huge factor that affects the size of the mortgage payment, the interest rate on a home loan, and even whether or not a home buyer will be qualified for a home loan.

“People with subprime credit may face financial barriers to homeownership, making it difficult for their dream home to become a reality.”

--Ken Chapin, Senior Vice President, TransUnion

TransUnion also found that a third of millennials aged 18 to 34 have VantageScores between 300 and 600-- scores that are regarded as subprime. Their average VantageScore for millennials is at 625; approximately 42 points lower than the national average...

How to Save up for a Home Down Payment in One Year

Unless you are qualified for a VA loan, you need to save a few grand for the down payment of your soon-to-be home. A down payment, however, can actually be a hindrance for first-time home buyers, since saving up tens of thousands of dollars is not that easy. And considering the fact that the average percentage of down payments for conventional loans is ten percent (10%) of the home's value, your options are either to qualify for an FHA or VA Loan, or start some serious savings plan to get the down payment challenge out of the way.

For a $200,000 home, a 10% down payment can cost you $20,000 upfront. Aside from this payment, you also have to worry about closing fees that you are going to share with the seller. Twenty grand is twenty grand, so are you supposed to live in a car, eat once a day, and work three jobs to meet that humungous financial goal? NOT REALLY. All you need is a reevaluation of your lifestyle and stop spending on the non-essentials. Here are several items you don't need in your life that could just...

Top Canine-Friendly Cities in the U.S.

A recent survey by the American Pet Products Association reveals that 54.5 million American households (or 44% of the total American population) owns at least one dog. And looking at the the spending of American dog owners from 2001 to 2015, it is amazing how much people are spending for "mans's best friend". APPA reports that people have doubled their spending on their canine friends from $28.5 billion 15 years ago to $60.28 billion today. Truly this data is indicative of how much we give importance to our pets, even giving consideration to them when choosing where we'll live.

Recent Realtor.com® data reveals that there are cities that are great for our canine friends, so living in them is perfect for families with K9 companions. Here...

Austin: The Latest 'In' City for Success-Driven Millennials

You're fresh out of university and you have three things in mind: pay off your student loans FAST, get a great job (that would help you pay off the loan quicker), and buy a home. Admit it-- being able to afford your home means you've done well in your career, and many young people use home ownership as a benchmark of their success. Want to know where millennials stand a great chance of getting all these three things at once? Austin, Texas.

A recent report from the National Association of Realtors® [again] hailed the southern metropolis as the best city for young home buyers (an accolade the city has been enjoying for the past few years). Using employment, population, income, and housing condition data as metrics for the study, Austin landed the top spot in the "Best Cities" List. The other cities that made it to the list are Charleston, Denver, Minneapolis,...