Food for Thought

This month's Food for Thought includes recipes, hot deals, industry insight, Waco events and much, much more! 

Sept. 19, 2017

Ten Signs of Foundation Problems

foundation problems

As you tour homes for sale in Waco and the surrounding areas, you'll have lots of choices to make. Bedrooms, bathrooms, neighborhoods and school districts are important decisions when searching for a forever home. Dining, shopping, and entertainment are also things to consider. Be sure to learn about the age and characteristics of potential neighborhoods and any problems common to the area.

 

An important step when buying a home in Central Texas is to carefully check the foundation for any warning signs. Foundation problems are expensive to repair and can seriously affect a home’s resale value. Unfortunately, they are also very common in Texas due to the nature of our climate and soils.

What Causes Foundation Problems?

Foundation issues occur when the soil beneath a home expands and contracts from moisture and drought. These fluctuations interfere with a home’s weight distribution, resulting in major structural issues ranging from sticky doors and windows to a cracked foundation.

It's wise for homeowners to invest in landscaping and irrigation to maintain the health of their property. This keeps soil moisture consistent and good drainage pulls excess water away from the foundation. Such maintenance is important because repairing a foundation is costly and only acts as a stopgap to further problems.

10 Signs of Foundation Problems

When touring a home, be sure to check it carefully for the signs listed below. Take a walk around the outside and carefully inspect the walls and floors as you tour the interior. These are good indicators of a foundation problem and can help determine if you need any further inspections.

 

  1. Stair-step cracks running through the mortar on a brick home

  2. Visible cracks in the foundation

  3. Sagging rooflines

  4. Doors or windows that don’t close properly

  5. Cracks in the fireplace

  6. Cracks in the tile

  7. Cracks in the walls, particularly around doors and windows or at corners

  8. Floors that feel soft and uneven

  9. Molding/trim pulling away from the walls and corners

  10. Nails pushing out of the drywall

If you see any of these signs, enlist the help of a structural engineer to determine the extent of the damage and which repair method to choose.

Duck Brothers Real Estate

Whether you’re new to Waco or already call Central Texas home, Duck Brothers Real Estate can make your American Dream of homeownership come true!

Our knowledgeable agents can help you choose the perfect property for your needs and guide you through the closing process with skill and ease.

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, please visit our website for more information.

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Posted in real estate
Sept. 12, 2017

Are Home Warranties Worth It?

home warranty peace of mind

What is a Home Warranty?

A home warranty is a protection plan purchased during the sale of a house to provide coverage for major home systems such as heating, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical, and some appliances.

 

Home warranties should not be confused with homeowners insurance, nor should they be purchased in place of it. Warranties cover the repair or replacement of a home’s specific components should they fail, while insurance covers major events such as fire or water damage, crimes such as theft or property damage, and the owner’s possessions.

How Much Will it Cost?

These warranties usually cost between $300 - $500 for one year of coverage, plus an additional $50 - $125 service call fee each time the company sends a technician to the home.

 

Premiums are typically paid in full, but some companies offer payment plans for their products. Service call fees, however, are charged at the time of service.

Is a Home Warranty Worth It?

The Pros

The biggest advantage to purchasing a warranty is peace of mind. These products offer a discounted cushion against any problems that arise in the first year of owning a home.

 

This is particularly useful if the buyer is unaware of how the previous owner maintained their appliances or home systems. In the event that a costly repair is needed, the warranty will help absorb the majority of the expense and take the stress out of locating a contractor.

The Cons

Warranties restrict the owner’s ability to choose the service provider responding to their claim, and the service call fee must be paid even if the claim is denied and the item in question is left unrepaired.

 

Most policies have strict limits and terms for repairs or replacement and can deny coverage if the items have been improperly maintained. Unfortunately, premiums are non-refundable, even if you don’t experience any system or appliance failures throughout the year.

Know What Your Plan Covers!

Always carefully review the terms and conditions of any policy to make sure it fits your needs. Take note of payment limits for repairs, replacement terms for items that cannot be fixed, and understand exactly what is (and is not) covered under the policy.

 

Additional coverage can be purchased for items not included in the standard policy, such as refrigerators, laundry appliances, and spas or pools.

Duck Brothers Real Estate

If you’re interested in looking into home warranty options, Duck Brothers Real Estate can help you select the product that meets your needs and refer you to the companies best suited for providing that coverage. Just ask your Realtor® for more information!

 

If you’re ready to buy or sell a home, please visit our website for more information!

 

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Posted in real estate
Sept. 5, 2017

How To Save Time and Money with Mortgage Pre-Approval

mortgage pre-approval

Congratulations! You’ve decided to buy your first home! 

You already know real estate is an excellent investment and have an idea of what you want. You’ve been thinking about neighborhoods, number of bedrooms, and visiting furniture stores with stars in your eyes. You’re finally achieving your American Dream!

Buying your first home is incredibly exciting, but don’t get carried away just yet! Before starting your search for the perfect home, take the time to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. Did you know that not every home will qualify for every mortgage? It’s better to know that sooner than later! 

Pre-Approval Definition

Getting pre-approved for a loan will provide your agent with information about what you can afford and your financing options. Pre-approval clarifies the buyer’s price range, guarantees that amount for a set period, and establishes specific criteria that will save time during your search. 

A mortgage pre-approval letter will take time and stress out of the home buying process, and prevent you from spending unnecessary money.

The Mortgage Pre Approval Process

Clean Up Your Credit!

The first step to getting pre-approved is checking your credit history and scores. Lenders use all three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion) to evaluate your creditworthiness. Resolve any outstanding accounts or collections promptly and get any payment agreements in writing. High credit card balances negatively affect a buyer’s debt-to-income ratio. Clean up your credit and pay down that debt!

What Documents Do You Need?

Once your debts are paid, and any negative reporting is resolved, it’s time to collect paperwork and proof. You will need proof of income, such as W2 forms, pay stubs, and two years of tax documents. Lenders will consider bank and investment account statements alongside evidence of cash savings for down payments. They will verify your employment history and salary, and you will also need to provide photo ID and your social security number.

Types of Home Loans

There are several types of loans, and each has conditions that must be met. Some offer fixed-rate financing; others have variable APRs. Some loans only finance certain types of properties, and others have varying requirements for insurance, down payments, and appraisals.

Loans are considered on a case-by-case basis, and your lender might require additional information or paperwork from you. Cooperating promptly and providing correct and current records will help the approval process go smoothly. Once you've collected all this information, it’s time to decide what type of loan best suits your needs!

Conventional Loans

Conventional loans are fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgages from private lenders that are not insured or guaranteed by the federal government. These loans have strict eligibility requirements regarding down payments, interest rates, and income but will finance the widest range of properties. Conventional loans can be used to purchase single-family homes, multiple unit properties, and primary, vacation or rental homes.

FHA Loans

FHA loans are insured by the federal government and offer more relaxed standards than conventional loans. These types of loans are easier to qualify for and require a smaller down payment, making them a great option for first-time homebuyers. The Federal Housing Administration offers a broad range of programs and down payment assistance options. FHA loans can be used to buy single-family homes, vacant property with intent to build, HUD approved townhomes or condos, and manufactured homes with a permanent foundation.

VA Loans

VA loans are guaranteed by the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs for our country’s service members. They offer better terms and low or no down payment but require an eligibility certificate from the VA to qualify. VA loans can be used to purchase existing single-family homes or those under construction, modular homes, or condos/townhomes on the VA’s approved list.

Your American Dream is Our Mission

Having that approval letter in hand will allow you to begin your home search confidently. Let Duck Brothers Real Estate guide you through your real estate journey in Waco, Texas. 

Our company combines a home turf advantage with industry expertise to help our friends find the perfect place to call their own.

Call 254-613-6326 or visit our website to start your home-buying adventure today!

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Tiffany Edgecomb is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and lifestyle content ranging from food to personal finance. She’s the founder of The Alphabet Soup Company and has been writing for almost a decade.

Aug. 29, 2017

Why Do You Need a Realtor? The Importance of Expertise

Do you really need a real estate agent to buy or sell your home? After all, the Internet is endless, and every penny counts, right?

 

True, and true. But there are some things you just shouldn’t do yourself.

 

Buying a home is typically the biggest financial decision you will make, and the process requires lots of time, resources, and even more paperwork. A Realtor® will streamline this experience and offer the peace of mind that comes from working with a professional.

 

Not all real estate agents are members of The National Association of Realtors®, but those who are must adhere to a strict code of ethics that puts client interests first, demands honesty in advertising, and expects full disclosure of a property’s existing issues or potential problems. Realtors® found in violation of Association policies can face fines, suspension or expulsion.

The Benefits of Using a Realtor

Exclusive Access

Google is great, but there are benefits to using a Realtor® to buy or sell your home. Realtors have access to listings you can’t find through a basic search. They are part of an extensive network and have intimate knowledge of neighborhoods and properties, even ones that are not publicly for sale. Are looking for something specific? A real estate agent can help you find it.

Market and Industry Expertise

Realtors® are gold mines of market and industry knowledge. They know the values of neighborhoods and how those values fluctuate. They have access to valuable local information ranging from school districts and utility pricing to shopping and entertainment.

A Network You Can Trust

Local regulations are frequently updated or amended, and a real estate agent can help you avoid properties needing expensive updates or repairs. Hiring a Realtor® provides you instant access to the network they have been building their entire career. If you need a contractor, inspector, home photographer, furniture rental, or cleaning and landscaping services, your agent can provide you with references to people they know and trust.

A Champion for Your Best Interests

Commission is negotiable, but typical fees can range from 3.5 – 8% depending on the local market. Your Realtor® can better explain your circumstances, but it will be money well spent. Buying or selling a home requires communication and lots of it. Your Realtor® will take and return phone calls, make and keep appointments, handle all of the paperwork related to your sale, and negotiate on your behalf.

Excellent Negotiation Skills

Negotiation is tedious, and it’s wise for buyers to distance themselves from the haggling. Realtors® are skilled in objective negotiation and will consider every option to create the best possible outcome for their clients. If a property needs repairs, agents are capable of advising their clients on reasonable requests and referring them to trusted inspectors and contractors.

Experienced Professionals

Real estate has its own lingo, and Realtors® understand the contracts and various conditions of home sales. They are an excellent resource for advice and industry insight. Your agent will also maintain detailed records of your transaction and can provide these items should any issues arise.

Trust a Realtor®

Home buying is a stressful, frustrating process without a consistent and knowledgeable support system. Don’t let it be a negative experience! Invest your time and money wisely, and hire Duck Brothers Real Estate to help you with one of life’s biggest milestones. We look forward to showing you what Waco Texas real estate has to offer!

 

If you enjoyed this article, please like us on Facebook for more great tips and tricks, as well as industry insight and Waco area events!

 

Tiffany Edgecomb is a freelance writer specializing in real estate and lifestyle content ranging from food to personal finance. She’s the founder of The Alphabet Soup Company and has been writing for almost a decade.