These Three Free Apps Can Improve Your Home Search

There’s almost nothing you can’t use your smartphone for these days, information-wise. From movie schedules to finding the nearest pizza place to listing the signers of the Declaration of Independence, it’s all there on your phone.

Now, the Sales Team Realtors has exciting news for anyone who wants to search for a new home on their smartphone—there are three new and—and free—apps that make that very easy.

A recent Google study showed that more and more people are searching for new homes on their smartphone—and millennials in particular are doing it this way. Each of the three apps below offers its own set of advantages.

Users of Realtor.com can easily find desired homes by district and by schools.  See up-to-date available homes and it’s available on both Android and iOS.

Since every house is located in a neighborhood, which can be a major deciding factor in where to purchase, AroundMe gives you the scope of the area. Designed for iOS and Android, AroundMe provides a complete list of businesses, including banks, hospitals and restaurants, located near a home’s address. You can use this app when touring a home to see what’s nearby.

Once you’ve made your purchase you’ll want to start putting your own stamp on your new home, making changes to help it better meet your own needs. To help with that Houzz, for iOS and Android, is full of home design ideas. You can browse ideabooks and articles by style, room and location, save images or articles to refer back to later, and you can save images in order to create an inspiration board. The app also allows you to get in touch with design experts to ask them questions.

You’ll also find a lot of useful tools on The Sales Team mobile friendly website, www.salesteamrealtors.com.  Click on Property Search to begin looking in Midland or nearby areas. Input your criteria such as price range, bedrooms and more. If you’d like to start by going through open houses, go to the Open Houses tab and plan your route accordingly. In addition, there are tips for both home buyers and home sellers.

Of course, find and like The Sales Team on Facebook. They post daily with new information about the local market, upcoming events and inspirational messages.

As wonderful and as time-saving as all these tools are, your best experience comes through working with an experienced real estate professional who can answer your questions and prepare you for success at every step of the buying or selling process. With all the technology in the world, nothing beats the personal touch, which you’ll receive from The Sales Team.

So, tap, click, and use that smart phone for information—but don’t forget to use it to call The Sales Team Realtors.

Use a Realtor® or a National Online Service?

Everybody does at least some shopping from their computer or their smartphone these days. You can even buy groceries that way.

When buying or listing a home, there’s no doubt that a national website can be of some use but be careful.  There’s a lot it can’t do, say Brian and Laura Lyons Sales of The Sales Team Realtors.

Here are three things to think about when comparing a national website to an in-person Realtor:

What if you have questions?

Especially if you’re new to town, you’ll have questions about schools, shopping, access to major roads and other community questions. It’s hard to judge that on a map or just a website.

Your Sales Team Realtor Associate is personally interested in YOU. He or she will first listen to you and find out what you’re looking for, how you use your home, your budget, your timeframe and all the information needed to help you find the home you and your family can be happy in for years to come.

Your Sales Team Realtor Associate is also available for questions and answers all through the purchase or sale process. When you’re wondering about inspections, lenders, closing costs and anything else, you’ll get the answers you need from The Sales Team.

Is the online price estimate correct?

This mostly involves listing your home for sale. The estimate on what price you should set on your home is just that—an estimate, based on an algorithm—and the websites usually admit that. Your Sales Team Realtor will use more than an algorithm to properly price your home. They’ll make sure they compare prices to recently-sold homes that are the most like yours, in your neighborhood.

They’ll take into account recent trends. For example, in the Permian Basin prices have been trending up over the last six months. Your Sales Team associate’s market analysis will lean more towards prices in the last couple of months than those further back. The more accurately you price your home, the more qualified buyers you’ll get looking at it and the sooner it will sell for a good price.

The Sales Team website does everything you need anyway.

Through www.salesteamrealtors.com you can search current area listings based on factors you choose. You can sign up to be notified when a new home fitting your criteria goes on the market. If you’re selling, you can get a general idea of its worth through the Sales Team website—although you’ll want to talk to a Realtor Associate to get the number that most accurately compares your home to others like it.

Buying or selling a home is one of the two or three most important decisions of your life—too important to leave just to an impersonal website. You’ll feel so much better about your decision when you know you’ve had help and advice from a trained, experienced and caring Sales Team Realtor Associate.

Buying a Home?  Five Things to Consider Before Making that Offer

The things that make a home just right for you may start with the number of bedrooms and the size of the kitchen, but there is so much more to consider. Deciding which home to buy is always a challenge, but the real estate professionals at The Sales Team Realtors suggest you look at five things that could bring some clarity to your decision.

You may have heard that the three most important things in real estate are “location, location, location.” While that is somewhat simple, you’ll notice that these five considerations all relate in some way to the location.

First, learn more about the community near the home.

What kind of neighborhood will you be living in? Read the local newspapers to gain an overall insight into the character of the area. Drive around the neighborhood and talk to some residents. You may also want to drive by the home at different times of day to observe how quiet or noisy the neighborhood is.

Second, check out the nearby amenities.

Take note of shopping areas, parks and other things.

Third, preview your commute.

Are you moving further away from work than you were? Try driving from your new home to work and back, during your normal commute hours and track the amount of time that takes. You may have to adjust your departure times accordingly.

Fourth, find out about additional expenses.

More and more of the newer neighborhoods have Homeowners Associations that support neighborhood pools and clubhouses and enforce rules of appearance and other things. HOA dues may affect the homes affordability.

Finally, check out the schools.

As you can imagine, this is really important if you have children who will be attending them, but, surprisingly, a good school district can improve your home’s value even if you won’t be sending anyone there.

Whether you’re buying or selling, the Sales Team Realtors are ready to help you find the right buyer or seller and to navigate the process.   The Sales Team Realtors is a team of professionals and a place people can trust to find the right home, and to make that transaction as smooth as possible; and a place where those selling a home because of a change in life can also feel at ease knowing that they are working with professionals who care.

Thank You for Letting Us Be Your Trusted Real Estate Professionals

For the Sales Team Realtors, 2017 has been a great year of helping people all over town buy and sell homes—and providing lots of other related services. Our entire team is grateful for the opportunities they’ve had to be of service.

Did you know that they put their knowledge and network to work for you in many other ways besides just buying and selling?

For example, if your home needs maintenance, call your Sales Team Realtor for a referral to a trusted professional. The nature of their profession has allowed the Sales Team to build working relationships with the best tradespeople in town, and they will be glad to connect you with them.

And because they have their fingers on the pulse of the local real estate market, the Sales Team is who to call if you’re wondering about the market value of your home. If you’re thinking of selling your home, they can answer questions and do a market analysis of your property.

If that sale involves moving out of the area, the thought of finding the right real estate professional in another city can be worrisome. But with the Sales Team, you can relax—they’re part of a network of real estate professionals who will take care of you and provide you with the same high level of service you’ve come to expect. That will be one less thing for you to worry about in the transition.

So, if 2018 is going to be a move year for you—whether in town, over the state or across the nation—call on the Sales Team to help you get the right home, the right price and the right services to ease the transition.

Do you have a friend or family member ready to make a move? You can trust the Sales Team with your referral. They will be take great care of them!

And for those of you whom we’ve had the privilege to help in 2017, the entire team at the Sales Team says, “Thank you, and have a great new year!”

Let the Sales Team Realtors Help You Map Out Your Sale or Purchase

Remember those road trips where you unfolded and refolded paper maps to find your way? Now you’ve got Google Maps, GPS, and that that voice on your phone or car saying “turn right in 500 feet.” All designed to get you where we want to go, on time and to keep you from getting lost.

One could get lost in today’s Permian Basin housing market. The market is adjusting to new demands, prices, and days on market are ever changing. New subdivision developments are affecting existing homes sales. Well intentioned friends may be offering you all kinds of conflicting advice. It could be easy to get lost and mistakes could cost you financially or from achieving your ultimate purpose when buying or selling a home.

That’s why so many people turn to The Sales Team Realtors for professional advice and friendly service. If you’re selling your home, your Sales Team Realtor® will consult with you with advice on pricing and terms.

Your Sales Team Realtor will evaluate the market, checking prices for recently sold homes that are similar to yours in size, amenities, and neighborhood—and give you advice on how to appeal to the kind of buyers you’re looking for—directing you down the road to getting the right price, terms, and closing date to achieve your goals.

Getting your home sold also involves you. Your Realtor will walk through your home with an eye open for things that can give your home its best appearance.

Many blemishes you may have gotten used to—drippy faucets, a cracked switchplate; missing and mismatched lightbulbs; or some leaves and weeds in the flowerbed. You’ll be surprised at how much you can improve your home’s looks with just a few actions.

If larger repairs or remodeling are needed or warranted, the Sales Team Realtors have relationships with dozens of contractors, tradesmen and service people to refer to you.

When ready, they will market your home using all of the latest technologies to attract the widest audience possible. When your home presents well, is aggressively marketed, and strategically priced, offers will flow in. Your Sales Team Realtor will assist you in negotiating the right price and terms, then manage the transaction all the way to closing and on to your next home.

If you’re buying, your Sales Team Realtor will help you define your wants and needs in a home and help you find prospective homes that fit your list. They will connect you with great local lenders to get your financing in place, then visit prospective homes with you. Whether new construction, existing homes or for sale by owner properties, they will help you find the perfect one.

Your Realtor will counsel you in making the offer and negotiating a great deal with the seller.

Earnest money, option fees, inspections, survey, insurance quotes, appraisal, disclosures and other things can be overwhelming. They are there to guide you through the transaction.

In this busy market, getting everything done by the various deadlines is vital. Your Sales Team Realtor can give you a list of service providers and coordinate schedules.

Whether buying or selling, don’t navigate this housing market without the best professionals and tools. Let the Sales Team Realtors help you find your way.

Keeping You Informed of Changes in Mortgages, Interest Rates, Flood Insurance and More

Every day you get up in the morning it seems you are surrounded—and maybe overwhelmed—by changes. And if you are buying or selling a home in this very active market, this can be even more true. That’s why you need professionals like The Sales Team Realtors.   We’ll keep you abreast of changes that can and do affect your transaction.

In light of all the mortgage issues of a few years ago, the Federal Government made a number of changes in lending laws, with the goal of making sure home buyers did not borrow more money than they could pay back. So, if you’re buying now, you’ll need to know what the new guidelines are. The Sales Team Realtors can help connect you with professional lenders who are on top of these changes.

On a very closely connected issue, even small fluctuations in interest rates can affect the affordability for someone who is buying a home in this market.  When you make your loan application, can make all the difference. Again, for buyers, The Sales Team keeps a close watch on the factors involved and can help you get the best loan.

Another cost factor for buyers is the premium involved in flood insurance. When Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform act of 2012 (FIRM) they did so with the goal of making premiums more accurately reflect risk. The upshot is that some homeowners will pay higher premiums because subsidies will be done away with. In some cases, homeowners may pay less.

And yes, even in the desert of west Texas, there are flood plains. When it does rain here, it is often a gully washer, which fills certain drainage parks and floods streets and draws.  Many properties in our community are indeed affected by flood zones and lender required flood insurance.

The law also mandates elevation certificates for new quotes and renewals. If there is not already a certificate on file, the homeowner may be required to hire a surveyor to do a survey to determine the flood elevation and provide such a certificate. Basically, if the home is determined to be above the elevation of the flood plain, overall insurance premiums will be lower than if the home is below the edge of the flood plain.

Other changes to be tracked involve the Midland market in particular. With so much focus on providing housing for everyone who wants to move here, new developments are being approved on a regular basis by city authorities. If you want to be among the first in a development, in order to pick your ideal lot (close to school, near the main road or back in a quiet corner), The Sales Team keeps up with this information and can get you that information.

Don’t panic—the entire team at the Sales Team Realtors enjoys keeping on top of all this so they can help you find the right home, existing or new. Let them get started helping you today!

Six Great Reasons to Build a New Home

If you are looking to buy a home in this busy market, you may have noticed a few things. One, the selection is limited and a home may sell to someone else while you’re thinking about whether it’s right for you. Also, the price of an existing home is high enough that you’d expect something new for that price.

In fact, buying a new home is a great idea.

Here are six reasons to do just that.

Number one, the new home is built to your specifications. Not only can you customize the paint color and flooring, you may also be able to work with the builder to choose a home layout that will fit it exactly to your needs.

Second, you can decorate the home to your style from the start. Instead of spending days or weeks repainting, updating appliances or having a wall moved, you can move right in to a new home.

The third benefit of a new home is a warranty. Most homebuilders warrant their workmanship for the at least the first year, structure even longer and mechanical systems carry manufacturers warranties.

Fourth, new homes include the latest smart features. Hard-wired smoke detectors, accommodations for structured wiring, security systems, electronics and other smart features.

Number five, today’s building codes require increased energy efficiency. There is no wondering if the home has insulation in the walls or ceiling—new homes must include those features, along with insulated windows and other cost-saving ideas. New technologies have created more efficient heating and cooling systems. You’ll save money while staying comfortable all year long.

Advantage six is that you’re often part of a new, growing community. Many subdivisions offer amenities such as community rooms, swimming pools and other ways to connect with neighbors.

Lots and lots of new homes are being built all over town, giving buyers a variety of options. The Sales Team works with many builders in town so they can help you sort through those decisions.

It is important to have a Realtor represent you in any home purchase, including a new one from a builder.  They can not only help you get the best price, but they can negotiate in your favor for who pays specific transaction costs, they can arrange for surveys, inspections, document preparation, start and completion dates for building, and other details. “In most cases,” Brian says, “the Realtor fees are paid by the builder.”

And if you are selling your current home because it is too small (or the kids have graduated and it’s too big) or for whatever reason, they can get your existing home sold for a good price and do their best to coordinate closings.

Call the Sales Team today!

Recent Real Estate News

So, what does it take to get approved for a loan to buy a house this summer, whether you’re a first-timer or planning to move up or downsize? Maybe not all that you think. For most people, the key requirement is that you’ve got the right package of stuff — credit score, down payment, financial reserves, debt-to-income ratio — to get an acceptable grade from the automated underwriting systems, or “black boxes,” installed at the dominant investors in the market, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Debt-to-income (DTI) ratios are a major factor hard-wired into the black boxes that refer to the ratio between your monthly credit-related expenses — including housing payments, credit cards, student loans and the like — and your monthly gross income. In an important policy change taking effect this summer, Fannie eased its reserve and down payment requirements for DTI’s in excess of 45 percent up to a maximum of 50 percent. Note that FHA uses its own proprietary underwriting system, which often yields more-generous decisions on approvals than Fannie’s or Freddie’s. Regarding credit, in June of this year the average FICO score for home-purchase loans at Fannie and Freddie was 754. That’s a big reach for millions of would-be buyers. But that’s not the whole picture. According to data compiled by Ellie Mae, a software and analytics firm that tracks loan characteristics, substantial percentages of applications are receiving approvals from Fannie and Freddie with lower FICO scores than you might imagine. Nearly 13 percent of their approved loans in June had scores between 650 and 699. FHA’s average score for home-purchase loans was 683, but many were much lower than this average. Down-payment requirements also are super-low at the moment. Fannie and Freddie both have programs that permit just 3 percent down with many state and local housing agencies providing grants and/or loans designed to ease the cash required even more. The bottom line? Get rid of preconceived notions you may have about how tough it is to get approved. Standards are more flexible and not as tough as you probably thought. Sources: Ken Harney, The Nation’s Housing, Fannie Mae and additional industry publications