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Supporting Our Veterans and VA Loans

by Tami Heitzwebel

I just love living in Texas.  We have a long, proud tradition of supporting our military veterans and honoring the sacrifices they make for all of us.  My father was in the Air Force, which makes Memorial Day even more special to me.

As part of their service to our country, qualified veterans are eligible for VA loans.   Did you know that there are over 21 million veterans that have access to this program?  There are several reasons to choose a VA loan if you are eligible:

  • No down payment – possible 100% financing
  • FICO (credit scores) don’t have to be perfect – although most lenders prefer a score of at least 620
  • Loans are not subject to monthly mortgage insurance – a plus that could save a buyer a couple hundred dollars a month
  • A seller or someone else (like a parent) can make gifts or contribute toward closing costs
  • Loans can be fully assumable by a qualified buyer – and the buyer does not have to be a veteran

I know that when I mention VA loans to other agents in my building, they tend to make a face.  There is a common misconception that VA loans take longer to close.  That may have been the case several years ago, but technology changes have greatly streamlined the process.   One thing to keep in mind is that VA loans are intended for primary residences only – they cannot be used for investment properties.  Another sticking point may be earnest money deposits.  If a VA loan applicant qualifies for 100% financing, some real estate agents will still insist on getting earnest money to protect their clients.  An experienced real estate agent (like me) can help you work through this process.  A final misconception about VA loans is that they are actually processed by the Veterans Administration.  Not true – the loan processing is still handled by a bank or mortgage broker.  If you are thinking of using your VA benefits to buy a house, give me a call.  I would be proud to help you make your home ownership dreams come true.

Power Up!

by Tami Heitzwebel

One of the many decisions buyers need to make as they approach their closing date is selecting various utility companies.  In today’s age of competition, it might surprise you to learn that you could have several options to choose from.  For some of my clients who grew up in small towns that only have one power company, one cable company and one gas company, this may come as a bit of a shock.

Here in the Kingwood area, there are several electric companies competing for your business.  Fortunately, all the information you need to make a smart, informed decision is online and available at https://www.texaselectricrates.com/?s_clid=03bbf152df72b802746ce17d22c51078

There are also several different television, internet and phone providers who service the area.  We have all seen the commercials asking if we can hear them now, showing maps with cell coverage and even luring us with voice-guided television remotes.  I haven’t used one of the remotes yet, but if they work like my Siri does, it might make for some interesting television watching.

All these choices can be a bit overwhelming.  One of the services I provide for my clients is a complimentary concierge service that will help you getting all these new services in place.  This can even include pest control and yard/landscaping services in addition to utilities.  

If you have any questions, please give me or my team a call.  We are here to help!

Lights! Stage! Action!!

by Tami Heitzwebel

You made the decision to sell your house.  You already called your favorite real estate agent (ME!), the listing agreement is signed and we are ready to get your house ready to show.  So what do you need to do in order to make your house stand out from the others?

Staging a house can be inexpensive and easy to do.  We have all seen the HGTV shows that have staged homes that look like they could be on magazine covers.  If you are willing to put a bit of work into it, there are several tips and tricks that could pay off:

  • First impressions are EVERYTHING!  Replace that old, worn-out front door welcome mat with a new one.  It tells buyers that your home is well-cared for, and is a relatively inexpensive fix.
  • Curb appeal is important and often overlooked.  One easy tip – neaten the edges and trim the hedges.  Camouflage utility boxes, grates or meters with a well-placed potted plant.  Wash down the front door and light fixtures – remember that yellow pollen from a few weeks ago?   
  • Do a walk-thru of the entire home interior.  Switch on every light.  Replace any burnt-out bulbs with good quality bulbs in the appropriate wattage.  Consider bulbs with a warmer hue, such as soft pink, for bedrooms and bathrooms. 
  • Set tables and serving areas.  Have a dining room?  Set the scene for a buyer to imagine a dinner with cloth napkins, wine glasses and coordinating plates.  Breakfast nook or bar?  Matching bowls, mugs and coordinating placemats are a great way to highlight this space.
  • Straighten out kitchen cabinets and organize pantries. Buyers will be opening doors and drawers, and they don’t want a precarious stack of pots and pans falling out!
  • Those family portraits are wonderful– but buyers need to visual their own pictures in that space.  Pack them up for now and replace them (if needed) with landscape paintings.   An inexpensive place to look for these is your local Goodwill store or even yard sales. 
  • Buyers are looking for master bedroom and bathroom retreats.  An inexpensive “bed in a bag” can give new life to your master bedroom and other bedrooms.  You can give your master bath a quick makeover with something as easy as fluffy white towels.  Roll them up like the ones at the spa, add a few nice soaps and some candles and a new, neutral shower curtain.
  • Empty those closets!  Buyers are looking for storage space.  While you don’t need to completely empty the closets, leaving them half-full gives the illusion that there is plenty of storage in your home.  Pack up seasonal clothing, unused toys and other items and put them into storage.  If you can’t rent a storage unit, then stack the boxes neatly in your garage.
  • Speaking of garages, this is another space that needs to be basically empty.  Buyers want to imagine parking their cars in the garage, and can be turned off by tools and outdoor equipment strewn all over the place, or worse, smelly garbage. 

Another option is to hire a professional stager to come in and help you.  If you decide to go this route, I have great staging experts I have used in the past.  If you have questions, please give me and my team a call.  Team Heitz is here to help!  

Contacts and Connections

by Tami Heitzwebel

As a realtor with over 17 years of experience, I know the value of contacts and connections.  Back in the “golden days”, I relied on my trusty Rolodex and tape or staples to keep track of business cards for various contacts, service technicians, bankers, brokers, etc.

Technology moved us forward to business card scanners, which allowed me to create databases for our contacts.  That worked well while we were in the office…but what happens if you can’t access your database?

Our smartphones now have the capacity to store all the information on those business cards virtually, and with a few swipes, I can access contact information while I’m on the phone with a client.  This really came in handy a few weeks ago, and saved not one, but two real estate closings.

I had clients who were scheduled to sell their house and close on their new home both on the same day.  A few days before the closing, the title company notified me that there was a documentation issue and that they would not be able to close until they provided (surprise, surprise) additional documents.  Did I mention that this bit of news came two days before the dual closings were supposed to take place?  I was out of the office when I got this news, but it wasn’t a big deal since I had all my title company contacts on my phone.  In a few minutes, I had a back-up title company ready to go.

It turned out that the original title company revisited their documentation requirements, and we were able to smoothly complete our back-to-back closings.  My sellers/buyers were able to pack up their former home and move into their new home on schedule.  Surprises are going to happen in any transaction—but a good realtor with great contacts can keep the transaction moving forward.   Team Heitz is here for you every step of the way.  

Looking to score? Check your credit.

by Tami Heitzwebel

If you are getting ready to buy a home, you have probably been tracking mortgage rates.  If you want a good rate, you should also be tracking your credit score.

Almost all lenders use FICO® Scores to analyze whether you are an excellent, good or poor credit risk.  The Fair Isaac Corporation developed their credit rating system back in 1956, and it has become the gold standard in assessing credit worthiness.

Following is a quick summary of what your score translates to as far as creditworthiness:  

Not everyone has exceptional credit, and let’s face it, things happen in life that can adversely affect your score.  If this has happened to you, it doesn’t mean your dream of home ownership is that—only a dream.  I work with lenders who have access to special programs and grants geared toward first-time home buyers, as well as loans for buyers with lower credit scores.   One of the biggest decisions you can make in buying a home is finding a lender who can work with you.  I can help you with that—give me a call and let Team Heitz make your home ownership dreams come true. 

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Tami Heitzwebel
RE/MAX Associates Northeast
2940 Oak St.
Kingwood TX 77339-5525
281-361-2245