Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Down Payment Assistance Programs Can Help You Achieve Homeownership

For many homebuyers, the thought of saving for a down payment can feel daunting, especially in today’s market. That’s why, when asked what they find most difficult in the homebuying process, some buyers say it’s one of the hardest steps on the path to homeownership. Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows:

“For first-time home buyers, 29 percent said saving for a downpayment [sic] was the most difficult step in the process.

If you’re finding that your down payment is your biggest hurdle, the good news is there are many down payment assistance programs available that can help you achieve your goals. The key is understanding where to look and learning what options are available. Here’s some information that can help.

First-Time and Repeat Buyers Are Often Eligible

According to downpaymentresource.comthere are thousands of financial assistance programs available for homebuyers, like affordable mortgage options for first-time buyers. But, of the many programs that are available, down payment assistance options make up the large majority. They say 73% of the assistance available to homebuyers is there to help you with your down payment.

And it’s not just first-time homebuyers that are eligible for these programs. Downpaymentresource.com notes:

“You don’t have to be a first-time buyer. Over 38% of all programs are for repeat homebuyers who have owned a home in the last 3 years.”

That means no matter where you are in your homeownership journey, there could be an option available for you.

There Are Local Programs and Specialized Programs for Public Servants

There are also multiple down payment assistance resources designed to help those who serve our communities. Teacher Next Door is one of those programs:

“The Teacher Next Door Program was designed to increase home ownership among teachers and other public servants, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination.”

Teacher Next Door is just one program that seeks to help teachers, first responders, health providers, government employees, active-duty military personnel, and veterans reach their down payment goals.

And, most importantly, even if you don’t qualify for these types of specialized programs, there are many federal, state, and local programs available for you to explore. And the best way to do that is to connect with a local real estate professional to learn more about what’s available in your area.

Bottom Line

If saving for a down payment seems daunting, there are programs available that can help. And if you work to serve our community, there may be even more opportunities available to you. To learn more about your options, let’s connect so you can start your homebuying journey today.

Courtesy of KCM

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row

In an annual Gallup poll, Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment. And it’s not the first time it’s topped the list, either. Real estate has been on a winning streak for the past eight years, consistently gaining traction as the best long-term investment (see graph below):

Real Estate Voted the Best Investment Eight Years in a Row | MyKCMIf you’re thinking about purchasing a home this year, this poll should reassure you. Even when inflation is rising like it is today, Americans agree an investment like real estate truly shines.

Why Is Real Estate a Great Investment During Times of High Inflation?

With inflation reaching its highest level in 40 years, it’s more important than ever to understand the financial benefits of homeownership. Rising inflation means prices are increasing across the board. That includes goods, services, housing costs, and more. But when you purchase your home, you lock in your monthly housing payments, effectively shielding yourself from increasing housing payments. James Royal, Senior Wealth Management Reporter at Bankrateexplains it like this:

A fixed-rate mortgage allows you to maintain the biggest portion of housing expenses at the same payment. Sure, property taxes will rise and other expenses may creep up, but your monthly housing payment remains the same.”

If you’re a renter, you don’t have that same benefit, and you aren’t protected from increases in your housing costs, especially rising rents.

History Shows During Inflationary Periods, Home Prices Rise as Well

As a homeowner, your house is an asset that typically increases in value over time, even during inflation. That‘s because, as prices rise, the value of your home does, too. And that makes buying a home a great hedge during periods of high inflation. Natalie Campisi, Advisor Staff for Forbesnotes:

Tangible assets like real estate get more valuable over time, which makes buying a home a good way to spend your money during inflationary times.

Bottom Line

Housing truly is a strong investment, especially when inflation is high. When you lock in a mortgage payment, you’re shielded from housing cost increases, and you own an asset that typically gains value with time. If you want to better understand how buying a home could be a great investment for you, let’s connect today.

Courtesy of KCM

Homes sold by Jessica Harless | FHA Limits

FHA Loan Maximum Increase for 2022

Good news, the maximum loan amounts for FHA and Conventional Conforming is going up about 18% in 2022, and are effective 1-1-2022

New FHA loan limit for Harris and surrounding counties will be $420,680 – up from $356,362

New Conventional Conforming limit will be $647,200 –up from $548,250.

This is great news for FHA buyers that can now borrow over $64,000 more in 2022 using the more flexible FHA loan

This is really great news for conventional buyers, who can borrow almost $99,000 more, without having to use the more stringent NON conforming loan products 

If you are thinking about a move in 2022, now is the time to reach out to your local lender. If you don’t have a lender you know and trust. I can provide you with a list of several who have helped my past clients.  When you are ready to start your home search or list your home- let’s talk!

Together we’ll make your dream home your NextHome!

courtesy of:
Amal Boulos
Sr. Loan Officer | Network Funding, LP
New texas HOA laws

New Texas HOA Laws In Effect

Recent changes in HOA Laws benefit Homeowners, Home Buyers | Sellers,  and REALTORS®!

From the Texas REALTOR® magazine September/October 2021 issue: Several new REALTOR®-supported homeowners association reform laws took effect September 1. These changes will bring more balance between the rights of property owners and their property owners’ associations.

The 87th Texas Legislature passed these changes as Senate Bill 1588, which was authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes and Rep. Chris Turner.

  • Fees are capped for subdivision information ($375), resale certificates ($75), and updated resale certificates ($75).
  • TREC will create a publicly accessible central database of Texas HOAs by December 1, 2021. HOAs that have filed management certificates in county records before December 1, 2021, are required to file with TREC by June 1, 2022.
  • HOAs are required to maintain websites with management certificates and meeting information and notifications.
  • HOAs that have at least 60 lots or contract with a management company are required to file dedicatory instruments with the county and provide certain contact information on all dedicatory instruments and management certificates.
  • Property owners have new protections from negative credit reporting when a fine or fee is in dispute, and HOAs are required to give a detailed report of charges and offer a payment plan before reporting delinquencies.
  • New laws improve some conflicts of interest within HOA architectural review boards.
  • HOAs are barred from requiring access to lease agreements and are only allowed to request a tenant’s contact info and lease beginning and end dates.
  • HOAs are required to solicit bids for contracts for services over $50,000.
  • HOAs are barred from prohibiting certain pool safety enclosures, the installation of certain security measures on an owner’s private property, or certain religious displays.
  • HOA boards are required to provide members with timely notice about meetings.
  • New laws improve due process in dispute resolution and provide additional legal avenues when seeking resolution from a dispute with an HOA.
Home Prices | Jessica Harless Next Home Realty Center

Home Values Projected to Keep Rising

As we enter the final months of 2020 and continue to work through the challenges this year has brought, some of us wonder what impact continued economic uncertainty could have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, the rules of supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what is to come.</p

Due to the undersupply of homes on the market today, there’s upward pressure on prices. Consider simple economics: when there is high demand for an item and a low supply of it, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. That’s what’s happening in today’s real estate market. The housing supply shortage is also resulting in bidding wars, which will also drive price points higher in the home sale process.

There’s no evidence that buyer demand will wane. As a result, experts project price appreciation will continue over the next twelve months. Here’s a graph of the major forecasts released in the last 60 days:Home Values Projected to Keep Rising | Simplifying The Market

I hear many foreclosures might be coming to the market soon. Won’t that drive prices down?

Some are concerned that homeowners who entered a mortgage forbearance plan might face foreclosure once their plan ends. However, when you analyze the data on those in forbearance, it’s clear the actual level of risk is quite low.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates and a highly-regarded expert in housing and housing-related industries, was very firm in a podcast last week:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

With demand high, supply low, and little risk of a foreclosure crisis, home prices will continue to appreciate.

Bottom Line

Originally, many thought home prices would depreciate in 2020 due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus. Instead, prices appreciated substantially. Over the next year, we will likely see home values rise even higher given the continued lack of inventory of homes for sale.

Shared from Keeping Current Matters

When the Inspection report is not good...

What to do When the Inspection report isn’t good

BY AMERICAN HOME SHIELD |OCTOBER 15, 2020

Whether you’re representing the buyer or the seller, the home inspection can be a critical time in the real estate transaction process. When the home inspection report is good, a collective sigh of relief can often be detected from agents and clients alike. When the home inspection report isn’t good, it’s time for agents to swing into action. Here are some steps to consider:

Know your market.

To some extent, reaction to a less-than-stellar inspection report may be tempered by whether you’re dealing with a buyers’ or a sellers’ market. If it’s a buyers’ market, sellers may be on the line to fix most of the deficient items noted in the report before the deal can continue. In a sellers’ market, buyers may not have as much negotiating power. It’s important to understand the current real estate climate and explain to your clients how the market conditions factor into home inspection expectations.

Work with the other agent.

As soon as possible, contact the other agent in the transaction to discuss the inspection report findings. Acknowledge that the report contains bad news and start the conversation about next steps. As much as possible, try to get a sense of their reaction and willingness to make concessions.

Ask for more time.

The real estate contract often specifies a date or timeframe for removing the home inspection contingency. Requesting an extension of that date may give you and your clients the chance to consider the report, gather additional information or estimates, negotiate repairs, fix deficient items, or decide your next steps. If you think some extra time would help keep the deal on track, request it.

Get multiple estimates.

If the cost of repair work noted in the report concerns the buyer or the seller, gathering several quotes from qualified sources may help pinpoint what exact costs are likely to be. In some cases, repair costs may be lower than the client’s project, which can be reassuring. If the estimates come in higher than clients predict, they have the accurate information they need for negotiation and decide whether to move forward.

Communicate.

With accurate figures in hand, have a heartfelt conversation with your clients to understand how the inspection report affects their financial and emotional commitment to the deal. Be ready to communicate their position to the other agent clearly.

Negotiate.

After you’ve assessed market conditions, have an accurate understanding of costs involved, and have communicated with your clients, it’s time to negotiate. In some cases, you may be negotiating which repairs the seller needs to make before the deal can close. In other cases, you might negotiate a reduction in selling price or a credit at closing to cover the repair costs. If you’re facing an unusual inspection issue, seek advice from trusted colleagues who may have handled similar situations in the past.

Request documentation.

For everyone’s protection, specify that sellers submit documentation of repair work performed from qualified service professionals. It’s also a good idea to schedule a follow-up inspection or a walk-through to confirm that the negotiated work was satisfactorily completed.

Add American Home Shield® Home Warranty Coverage.

300,000 real estate transactions per year include American Home Shield home warranties, and for a good reason. In addition to offering important budget protection for covered items, American Home Shield coverage can help mitigate unexpected home inspection issues to keep transactions on track. Home warranty protection can also offer valuable reassurance to buyers, especially when the age or condition of covered home systems and appliances are in question.

When home inspection reports are disappointing, it’s important for clients to see their agent responding calmly and deliberately. They will always remember the valuable, professional, and steady guidance that you offer during a critical time.

For more helpful tips from our partners at American Home Shield, check out their blog!

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | Next Home Realty Center

The Cost of Buying a Home – What Buyers Need to Know

Most buyers come into the home buying process with a budget already in mind. But if they match their home price to their available budget, they may end up in hot water come closing time. That’s why it’s so important to make sure as buyer,  you properly prepare for the hidden costs you’ll encounter on the road to homeownership. Here are a few expenses to be sure you are aware of.

Closing costs — Many of the closing costs are negotiable, but it’s common for buyers to pay most of them, particularly in a seller’s market. Mortgage fees, title insurance, recording fees, and appraisal fees are some of the small numbers that will add up to be the closing costs, which can vary and depends on the purchase price.
Moving costs — Once the closing is over and the home belongs to you, you’ll still have to shoulder the expenses of moving in. These numbers can vary depending on how far you’re moving and much of the moving labor you’re willing to do yourself, but you should know the answer to these questions before buying a home.

Utilities — While you may be able to afford the monthly mortgage payments, it’s important that you also consider the utility costs at your new home. Depending on their previous living situation, you may not think to consider the costs that come with water, electric, trash, and other necessary monthly utilities.

HOA Fees — If the property being considered is under the restrictions of a homeowner’s association, you could be looking at another few hundred a month in fees. Many HOAs provide services that you may find useful and worth the expense, but you may also want to look into what the HOA provides and make sure you feel comfortable signing on for the fees in exchange for whatever the service provides.

Property taxes — These are calculated based on the value of the property, as well as state and city regulations. This means that different properties even in the same city could come with different property taxes.

Insurance — Homeowners with a mortgage are almost always required to get homeowner’s insurance, so this is a non-negotiable expense for most buyers. The cost will depend on location and other factors, but you can expect their annual premium to be around a thousand dollars.

Once you have a complete understanding of the full financial picture of a home purchase, you may find that your budget has shifted. By getting this out of the way early, you will be looking at homes in your correct price range and will ultimately end up in a house that suits your needs and your budget.

Info courtesy of Russell Rhodes, SWBC Mortgage
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that was not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

 Keeping Current Matters – 5/6/2020
Homes Sold By Jessica Harless -| NextHome Realty Center

Have You Outgrown Your Home?

It may seem hard to imagine that the home you’re in today – whether it’s your starter home or just one you’ve fallen in love with along the way – might not be your forever home.

The good news is, it’s okay to admit if your house no longer fits your needs.

According to the latest Home Price Insights from CoreLogic, prices have appreciated 3.5% year-over-year. At the same time, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports inventory has dropped 4.3% from one year ago.Have You Outgrown Your Home? | Simplifying The MarketThese two statistics are directly related to one another. As inventory has decreased and demand has increased, prices have been driven up.

This is great news if you own a home and are thinking about selling. The equity in your house has likely risen as prices have increased. Even better is the fact that there’s a large pool of buyers out there searching for the American dream, and your home may be high on their wish list.

Bottom Line

If you think you’ve outgrown your home, let’s get together to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell.

smart Home - Jessica Harless

TOP SMART HOME TRENDS FOR 2019

If there is one thing we know about the future, it’s that smart technology will increasingly be an everyday part of our lives. And the public is ready. Each year, sales increase on voice recognition products such as Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, and Apple’s HomeKit. Currently, 60 percent of customers have one or more of these items in their homes, and each year the IoT category (Internet of Things – devices that communicates together wirelessly) increases, resulting in more smart products that would make George Jetson feel right at home.

2019 brings us even more products and advancements that show how smart tech is smarter. Here’s a look at what we’ll see during 2019.

INCREASED HOME SECURITY AND SAFETY

Home video surveillance has been a success and you will see much more of it. Updated products from doorbell companies such as Nest and Ring provide detailed video of your front door, and neighboring cameras will coordinate to allow for additional views (with your neighbor’s permission). Along with a slew of video doorbell and camera products, there are also updated smart locks that give you automatic locking capability and easy access automatically via your app or voice technology.

Additional safety features on the rise include warnings of water leaks and fires, allowing you to catch issues sooner.

CLEANING

There are continued advances with vacuum robots and this year brings us to the next level. One ongoing issue with these products is the need for constant emptying, but the iRobot Roomba i7 automatically cleans itself, reducing the frequency of manual emptying.

Vacuum robots are growing in popularity each year. They clean automatically at your schedule, avoiding stairs and ledges and attacking dirtier areas through the help of laser sight technology. And their ability to automatically leave and return to a charging station means you don’t have to lift a finger.

Other advances in the cleaning category are new self-cleaning toilets and stoves as well as wifi controlling capability for washers, dryers, stoves, and dishwashers.

HOME FRAGRANCE

Fragrances are perhaps the biggest extension of the beauty tech category. Products from companies like Kompoz and Moodo become your personalized home fragrance concierge. They use a jukebox-style system for creating ambient scents to suit your mood or occasion. Moodo’s product called MoodoGo also offers this tech for your car.

BATHROOMS

The biggest news in this category has been in smart toilets. They are now motion activated, lighting when you approach. You can talk to your AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant, listen to music, and even activate a light show for ambiance. Not only do these toilets provide our favorite benefits of Japanese-style features such as seat warning and bidet technology, but they are also now self-cleaning. The Kohler Numi even has a foot warmer.

Other areas of the bathroom are seeing advancements as well. There are voice-activated shower and tub controls and increased tech with mirrors that allow you to check the weather, order replacement toiletries via Amazon Replenishment, and get beauty tips from the ever-expanding line of beauty tech.

KITCHENS

There is an increased focus on AI interaction on products throughout the kitchen such as coffee makers and Instapots and even faucets. With the limitations of voice technology, there is a need for more involved smart screens that provide more information and interaction, so we are seeing interactive screens on refrigerators and stoves. Refrigerators such as the Samsung Family Hub series of refrigerators have a built-in screen that functions much like a tablet. You can download recipes off the web or download apps that specialize in all things food-related, including delivery company apps for easy ordering. You can check your calendar, create a shopping list, let your kid’s hand draw notes, and enjoy favorite TV shows and music. These screens are also handy controllers for smart home devices including doorbells, lighting, and other smart kitchen devices, communicating with AI devices such as Alexa and Google Assistant.

Similar features are appearing on ovens, with additional benefits such as touch screen doors for easy-to-use controls and technology that automatically senses how long to cook an item. You can even watch your food cook on your smart device thanks to onboard cameras. You can control functions remotely and make sure it’s off when you’re not at home.

SMART TVS

For TV’s in 2019, the biggest news is they are getting larger, more detailed, and some models even fold like a roller shade such as the LG Display 65” TV. This rollaway design may make a TV’s constant presence in your living room a thing of the past. With smart tech, we are seeing a continued focus on voice recognition, allowing you to ask Alexa and other devices to start your favorite shows and adjust volume controls or pause it without a need to stare at your controller.

BABY TECH

New smart tech in baby care is working hard to make parenting easier. You can track your baby’s breathing, vital signs, and movement as well as record video and more accurately hear and speak. One surprising addition is Nanit’s creation of Breathing Wear – a swaddling blanket that works with its camera devices to provide breathing monitoring without the need for a cumbersome and uncomfortable hand or foot band.

PET TECH

It’s the dawn of a new day for pets. We are undergoing the refinement of “digital daycare,” allowing you to care for your furry friends while you are away, avoiding the cost and hassle of pet daycare. More advanced microchip technology will track your pet’s whereabouts and communicate wirelessly with pet doors, allowing your pet in and other intruders out.

There is more focus on devices that monitor, track, and report your pet’s every move using more advanced HD cameras, LCD displays, and monitor detectors. Pets can also call you, and I assure you they will. In between their calls, they will have more activities to keep them busy. They can enjoy puzzle games that provide treats, play with automatic ball launchers such as iFetch, and play specially designed game consoles with special touchpads.

There is also an increased focus on automatic feeders and waste disposals such as self-cleaning litterboxes and even a new smart toilet for dogs called InuBox.

WATCH FOR INCREASING SMART TECH IN THE FUTURE

The continued focus on smart technology means we will expect much more in the way of convenience. They will gladly take on the tasks you hate, making home life easier and more fun. It’s hard to argue with that.

reprint from luxury home marketing…