Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Advantages to Buying a Home with Cash

Advantages to Buying a Home with Cash

Buying a home with cash has definite advantages in today’s market. National Association of Realtors® research on cash sales shows that about 30 percent of residential sales are cash transactions. Among investors and international buyers, more than 70 percent of properties are bought outright. If you can afford to buy up front, the advantages are many:
§  Sellers are likely to favor buyers who can pay in cash.

§  The home price may be reduced for those who pay in full up front.

§  All-cash purchases streamline the home-buying process: No loans means less paperwork and no delays for mortgage approval.

§  Cash buyers can save money on closing costs, bank appraisals, mortgage applications and fees, title insurance, and so on.

§  Cash purchases eliminate the risk of loan denial.

§  Cash buyers pay much less for their homes in the long run: No loans means no interest.

§  Cash buyers never have to worry about losing their homes because they can’t afford to repay their mortgage loans.

§  Cash buyers gain full, immediate equity in their home.

Financially and emotionally, paying with cash benefits the home buyer.

Sellers prefer cash buyers
Home sellers generally prefer quick, smooth sales. They know that even buyers who have been preapproved for mortgages might be denied by the lender later on. For example, a buyer who is an independent contractor might have difficulty proving two years of regular employment, or a buyer depending on a family member for a personal loan might later opt out (or the relative might). Therefore, when possible, sellers prefer to steer clear of buyers who have to apply for a mortgage. If you are buying with all cash, you have greater negotiating power on price, closing time, repairs, and more. Sellers are often willing to reduce the house’s price for cash buyers.

Cash purchases avoid the risk of low appraisals
Home appraisals are notoriously fickle. Lenders determine a home’s worth by weighing it against comparable sales — other homes in the neighborhood that may have sold at low prices for unknown reasons. A low appraisal could lead the lender to reduce the amount of the loan offer, even after seller and buyer have agreed on a price. If the loan amount comes up short, the buyer often cannot afford to buy the home. All-cash buyers sidestep mortgage applications, avoiding the need for a potentially deal-breaking home appraisal.

Cash purchases save money and time
Indisputably, cash purchases carry lower costs. Mortgage interest on a 30-year loan can double or triple the original purchase price. Additionally, closing costs are significantly lower when purchases are made with cash. Cash purchases also save buyers valuable time, eliminating the need to gather elusive documents and search for the optimal lender.

Peace of mind is priceless
Most importantly, all-cash purchases bring an inviolable sense of security. Owning your home outright means never having to worry about covering your mortgage. In the face of disaster, such as job loss or injury, full ownership eliminates the risk of losing your home to foreclosure. Moreover, if you have paid cash, you will have excellent equity in the house. In case of financial emergency, you can draw on that equity for quick cash.

Figure out how to pay in cash 
Buying your house with cash might seem like an impossible dream. Here are some tips to help you achieve it:

§  Set aside unexpected windfalls, such as work bonuses or inheritances.

§  Lock money in a long-term CD to earn interest.

§  Once you have accrued cash, look for a house you can afford without borrowing extra money.

§  Consider moving to a less populated area, further from a big city, where home prices are likely to be lower.

§  Avoid the temptation to waste money. Tell your friends and family about your goal of buying a home; they will help keep your spending on track.


Gilan Gertz wrote this article as a contributing journalist for the Texas Association of REALTORS®

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

You don't really want to know what prospective buyer's thought of your property - do you?

When agents show your property…….

By: Julius F Zatopek III – Broker/Owner – Zatopek Properties

When real estate agents show your property, wouldn’t it be nice to know what their clients really thought?  Wouldn’t it be nice to know that they actually showed up?  Wouldn’t it be nice if they showed up during their scheduled time?  Wouldn’t it be nice if they scheduled the showing within a one-hour window, versus two or three?
These are just some of the complaints sellers typically voice when they have their property listed for sale and an agent schedules an appointment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what the agent’s clients’ really thought about your property?  Maybe not!  However, it would be nice if all real estate agents would extend the professional courtesy to the listing agent, and more so to the seller, and give some type of feedback within a reasonable amount of time (i.e. 12 hours or less) after showing the property to their clients; especially when asked.  Most listing brokers use some form of automated system to schedule appointments and send feedback requests via email or text to showing agents.  When the showing agent does not respond, the system generally sends them another request – sometimes up to four times in a 24-hour period.  If the showing agent does not respond to any of the requests, it is not only irritating to the seller and listing agent; it also displays a total lack of professional courtesy and lack of professionalism by the showing agent.  Any feedback, whether positive or negative, is very much appreciated by the seller and listing agent.  Even totally honest feedback – for example:  I had a property listed with a gallery of windows from the master bedroom to the kitchen, which ironically extended right past the front door.  An agent showed the property to her clients who informed her they like to walk around in the nude and would be afraid they may offend the neighbors who could see into the gallery!  Obviously, there is nothing the seller can do to correct the situation – however, at least they knew exactly why their property did not appeal to these particular buyers - and we all had good laugh, as well!
Wouldn’t it be nice to know if the agent actually showed up with their buyers?  Believe it or not, it is against the Houston Association of Realtors MLS Rules & Regulations for an agent to leave a business card, unless the listing agent informs the showing agent is asked to do so.  Without going into detail about the reasoning, I actually agree with the rule and never ask showing agents to leave business cards; even though some irresponsible and unprofessional agents who do not keep up with the rules & regulations still leave them!  Anyhow, there are multiple other ways to know if the agent showed up or not, but nothing beats feedback from the agent as mentioned earlier.

Wouldn’t it be nice if showing agents showed up during their scheduled time?  And, wouldn’t it be nice if they scheduled the showing within a one-hour window, versus two or three?  Without harping on the unprofessionalism of some showing agents, of course it would nice for showing agents to show up on time and within a one-hour window.  It is not very difficult to plan your showings and have a pretty good idea of when you may arrive.  Those that don’t obviously struggle with organization and planning – and if that’s the case, I feel sorry for their client since this agent is going to be handling one of, it not the largest financial investments for them.  I would like to have someone with that type of responsibility on my behalf to be organized and now how to plan.  However, in defense of most agents, sometimes things do happen and they will fall behind schedule.  If that is the case, most will call the showing service and inform them of their new scheduled time.  One other note about the one-hour window – many sellers feel the agent will be showing the property within this window – and most times they do – however, it merely means the agent will arrive sometime within that scheduled hour.

I made mention many times to the unprofessionalism of agents in the above article.  I do want to say that this is typically not the norm.  Most real estate agents I know are extremely professional and will go out of their way to extend their professionalism to all parties in a transaction and within our industry – and to all of you – THANK YOU!

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

House Flipping Mistakes!

Top 10 Mistakes “Rookie” House Flippers Make:

By Mark Ferguson - paraphrased by Julius

1.       Thinking that house flipping is as easy as it looks on television

On television, they fail to include several important aspects; such as all the costs other than the actual repair costs when flipping a property (i.e. selling costs, carrying costs, financing costs, closing costs)

2.       Doing the work yourself on a flip

Although you may think you’re handy, hiring a professional contractor could save you lots of time and money in the long run.

3.       Counting on house prices to keep increasing to make a profit on a flip

Although home prices do appreciate over time, you aren’t interested in “over time” – your interested in “right-now”!

4.       Partnering with the wrong people on a flip

Define each partners role and have it in writing – deal with people you trust, and have the expertise for their role in the deal.

5.       Hiring the wrong contractors

Get references and ask to see their liability insurance policy – hiring a professional could save you thousands.

6.       Underestimating the time it takes to flip a house

Back to number 1 – television shows make it look quick and easy.  It could take several months to locate a property, several more to close, several more to rehab, and several more to sell.

7.       Underestimating the cost of repairs on a flip

ALWAYS double your initial estimate for the unknowns (a rule of thumb I have used and it’s typically right on!)

8.       Taking on too big of a project on your first flip

Start small – Although you may have the resources to go big right away, start small to learn the process first.

9.       Paying thousands of dollars to learn how to invest in real estate

Oh, my personal favorite!  I always have to ask myself – “If this person can make so much money flipping houses, why are they asking me for thousands of dollars?”

10.   Not knowing the value of the home you are flipping or overpricing a home

Hire a professional real estate agent that is knowledgeable about the area to get it right.  This will be the best money spent during the entire flip!

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Building and Maintaining a Boundary Fence between Neighbors

Building and Maintaining a Boundary Fence between Neighbors

Frequently, questions arise regarding how neighboring landowners must share in the costs of building and maintaining boundary fences.

A landowner in Texas has no legal obligation to share in the costs or future maintenance of a fence built by his or her neighbor on the dividing property line, unless he or she has agreed to do so. The Texas Supreme Court has held that, “if one proprietor [encloses] his land, putting his fence upon his line, the owner of the adjacent land may avail himself of the advantage thereby afforded him of [enclosing] his own land without incurring any liability to account for the use of his neighbor’s fence.”20 Even if a boundary fence is destroyed by natural causes, a neighbor still has no obligation to contribute toward its reconstruction.21 However, if the neighboring landowner does not participate in the costs of erecting the fence, it is not considered a common fence; rather, it is the exclusive property of the builder.22 Similarly, if a fence is built not on the property line, but instead on one landowner’s property, then the fence is also considered exclusive property of that landowner.

If the neighbors agree that each will maintain a portion of the fence, such agreement is legally binding and can be enforced.23 These agreements are rare, but may be extremely useful for neighboring landowners to specify their rights and obligations regarding fences before an issue arises. Once neighbors reach a friendly agreement, it should be written down and a copy given to each owner.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Homeowner’s or Property Owner’s Associations

Homeowner’s or Property Owner’s Associations (HOA/POA) – Understanding how they come into play when buying or selling a residential property.

Most planned residential communities have a Homeowner’s Association with Restrictions, Covenants, and By-Laws that are designed to keep the original integrity of the neighborhood in good standing; and most do an excellent job of doing so.
When purchasing a home in a residential community with an HOA or POA, it is important that you are aware of the membership requirements.  Most communities have mandatory membership, but there are a few that have voluntary membership.  The type of membership should be disclosed in the body of the purchase agreement.  In Texas, it is disclosed in paragraph 6.E. (2) of the One to Four Family Residential Contract (Resale) promulgated by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) form # TREC 20-11.
Within the body of the above-mentioned paragraph, it states that the buyer has the right to obtain a copy of the Restrictions, Covenants, Regulations, and By-Laws, which are all readily available at the County Clerk’s office as publicly recorded documents.  It also mentions a Resale Certificate.  The Resale Certificate typically must be ordered from the HOA/POA by the seller, and usually payment must be received before the HOA/POA completes and releases the certificate.  It discloses many important facts about the property, such as any lawsuits pending, transfer fees, processing fees, annual assessment amounts, special assessments, any reserve fund fees, etc.  In my opinion, the Resale Certificate is the most important document of all HOA/POA documents for a potential buyer.  These fees will most likely be payable upon closing of the property, or at least prorated in some instances.  At the bottom of this paragraph, in bold type, it states that if the Buyer is concerned with any of these items, then the TREC promulgated form #36-7 “Addendum for Property Subject to Mandatory Membership in a Property Owner’s Association” (the Addendum) should be used.
Herein lies a few common misunderstandings of the paragraph in the purchase contract and the use of the Addendum:
First – the paragraph in the purchase agreement does not specify who pays for the retrieval and delivery of the documents.  There is generally a fee within the range of $150-$500, depending on the community and the documents requested.  Therefore, the Addendum should be used to specify what is requested and who pays, so there is no misunderstanding.
Second – Many communities make it mandatory for property owners to obtain the Resale Certificate and some have a mandatory Certificate of Compliance, or both, prior to selling.  The use of the Addendum should be used to specify the documents requested and the obligations for payment.
Third – The Addendum is a request from the buyer to the seller of the documents requested and who is going to pay for these documents – not the other way around.  This is by the far the biggest abuse of the use of the form by real estate agents.  Many listing agents/brokers will pre-fill the Addendum form and supply it with the seller’s other disclosures.  It is not a disclosure – disclosure was satisfied in the paragraph of the purchase agreement – this is a notice from the buyer to the seller and should be completed by the buyer, not the seller, and presented with the offer; just as it states in the paragraph of the purchase agreement in bold type.
Whenever I see the Addendum form pre-filled by a listing agent, I feel the agent is violating many of the National Association’s Codes of Ethics and misrepresenting the seller’s best interest.  I will not go into detail, but the Addendum is specifically designed for the buyer to complete and make their request to the seller.  The Addendum has negotiable items within the context of the form, such as who pays and should be treated as such.  In my opinion, I feel a seller should readily supply a potential buyer with all the requested and required documentation at the seller’s expense.  It should be calculated as part of the seller’s estimated closing cost; and a good real estate agent/broker will inform the seller of these potential expenses up front when taking the listing agreement.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We all make mistakes - It's how we handle it that sets us apart!

I recently closed a new Trendmaker Home in the Bender's Landing Subdivision.  During the transaction, an event occurred that could have been "transaction stopping"!  However, the way it was handled by the Trendmaker Homes sales associate prompted me to write a letter to the President (posted below - names withdrawn).  This is truly Customer Service at its finest - and as always, I love nothing more than to share "Awesome Customer Service" experiences! 

Dear Trendmaker Homes President:

Just wanted to take a few minutes to congratulate you on hiring employees with professional character and integrity.  I especially want to recognize your sales associate in Bender’s Landing Estates.

Your sales associate displayed an exceptional level of integrity, recently.  I had a buyer interested in one of your inventory homes in Bender’s Landing.  Your sales associate walked us through the home and while we were walking through the buyers asked if the master and downstairs baths would have glass enclosures.  Your sales associate said they both would; the builder must have had a delay with installation.  My buyers were happy with the home and went under contract.

A couple weeks later, during the builder walk orientation, we noticed the showers still did not have enclosures.  The builder informed me and my buyers that this particular plan did not come with glass enclosures.  Naturally, my buyers immediately became upset.

I walked over to the model while the buyers were still walking the house with the builder and informed your sales associate of the situation.  Without hesitation, your sales associate acknowledged that she recalled telling the buyers the showers would have enclosures and immediately went to work with your corporate office.  Within the hour, while we were still walking the house with the builder, your sales associate sent me a message and informed me that glass enclosures would be installed – admitting her mistake and wanting to make it right!

Your sales associate could have easily said she did not remember telling my buyers that – or, simply I’m sorry I was wrong, this plan doesn’t come with enclosures – or any other excuse.  Instead, your sales associate owned up to her verbal statement and made it right!  We closed March 22, 2017.

I have been a broker for over 20 years and have sold hundreds of homes, and worked with many builders and their sales associates.  I can tell you that your sales associate's actions were above and beyond what I have become accustomed to in the industry.

My hat goes off to you and your management team – and especially to your sales associate in Bender's Landing.
Julius F. Zatopek, III

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


Welcome to Casa Creek – Where It’s all about you!
Casa Creek Realty launched as a division of Zatopek Properties.  Casa Creek Realty was formed to enhance our clients’ experience and to encompass a larger geographic area.  You deserve the best customer service possible when you are in a real estate transaction; which is most likely your largest or at least one of your largest financial decisions.
As we grow, your needs and your best interest will always be the most important factors during any real estate transaction.  It’s always all about you!

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