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

Why the Sales Team Realtors?

At the Sales Team Realtors, they understand that buying or selling a home is always about something bigger going on in life. Marriage, Babies, Graduation, Remarriage/Blended families, Retirement, Divorce, Job changes, Caring for aging parents, Illness or disability, Promotion, Death in the family are all examples of major life events that commonly motivate a real estate purchase or sale.

Regardless of economic swings or the price of oil, life goes on. The Sales Team Realtors understand that. While these kinds of life events are common to everyone, no two families are exactly the same. Whether you’re buying or selling—or both, as in upsizing or downsizing across town—your agent will take the time to listen to your needs and make a plan that will help you get there as smoothly as possible.

If you’re selling, yes there are buyers! Your Sales Team Realtor will collect recent sales and listing information to help you determine a strategic asking price, plan an effective marketing strategy and will give you great recommendation on how to best display your home. Often that can be something as simple as repairing a few “wear and tear” items, some new paint in a living area or updating a light fixture in the dining area.

If you’re buying, this is a great time for that! There’s more selection than Midland has had in several years, so you can relax and take the time you need to find the perfect home. It’s a great idea to make a list of your most important needs, whether it’s a nearby school, bedroom count, kitchen size, proximity to work and, of course, your price range.

Your list should include how you’ll use your home: Entertaining, home office, family time or others.

Want to preview some listings first? No problem! Go to and click on the Property Search tab, then follow the directions there to get some great ideas to jump start your search.

Once all the decisions are made and the day of the transaction approaches, your Sales Team Realtor will help you navigate any needed inspections, surveys and fine print, so you can move with confidence toward you goal of getting your family into the right home.

At The Sales Team Realtors, they understand that they’re in business to serve you through your major life events. Whether you’re buying or selling, your ultimate goal is to provide a warm, safe, affordable home for yourself and, if applicable, your family. Your Sales Team Realtor will do everything possible to make that happen smoothly.

Call The Sales Team Realtors today to set a time to discuss your real estate needs and rest assured you’ve made the right choice for your family.

PBBA Home & Garden Show – This Weekend 2/27 – 2/28/16

We are looking forward to meeting you at the Permian Basin Builder Association Home and Garden Show. Each year, the H&G Show, which is held at the Horseshoe Arena in Midland, attracts thousands of visitors. We’ll have a booth and our agents are ready to discuss the local market conditions, home buying process, and what it takes to sell a home in these changing marketplace.

Tickets can be purchased at the door for $10/ea. Kids 12 and under are Free. There will be interactive areas for the kids including a Lego Dream Home building contest and Special Appearances by Bob the Builder.

This year’s keynote speaker is Clint Harp of Harp Design Co. in Waco. Fans of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, will recognize Clint from many of the show’s episodes. Hope to see you there!

The PBBA is fundraising with chances to win a custom playhouse built by builder members; proceeds to benefit CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) children in our area.

Check out the PBBA website for details on the show including: PBBA website

How’s the Market?

Here are a few charts comparing recent #’s to the same period over the past several years.  On February 18, 2016 I pulled stats from the Permian Basin MLS to take a look at recent activity over the previous 100 days. Then, I compared that to the same time period in recent years – a 10 year comparison.

The first slide shows 402 residential sales in Midland, compared to 422 – 453 over the past couple of years.  A little slower certainly, but not a major drop at all.

Slide 2 compares the average sales price in the market place.  This category is holding it’s own.

The third chart compares the # of Active Listings on the market on the date of February 18 over a 10 year period. (Nothing special about February 18, it is just the date I pulled the stats.) This chart is the most telling of the 3.  More homes on the market means greater choice for prospective buyers and perhaps more flexibility on the part of sellers.

Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) Notices

TREC updated it’s forms that are mandatory for Texas real estate licensees to provide to consumers.  We have linked to these documents from our website homepage and our business facebook page.

The Information About Brokerage Services form defines “Broker” and “Sales Agent” and helps consumers better understand the roles of each.  The form further details the duties of the real estate professional to consumers and clients, for example: “Put the interests of the client above all others, including the broker’s own interests.”  This document informs consumers that whether they are a seller or a buyer, they can have an agent represent their best interests.

The Consumer Protection Notice provides consumers with contact information for the Texas Real Estate Commission for those who have questions of issues about the activities of a license holder – Real Estate Brokers, Sales Agents, Inspectors, Home Warranty Companies, etal.

The Sales Team Realtors strives to provide the very best service and real estate expertise.