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How To Create A Home Inventory Just In Case

by Mary Ann Sawyers

How To Create A Home Inventory Just In Case

 

            Do you know every single item you own – and would you be able to remember it all if you had to recall from memory?  Taking a detailed home inventory requires making a thorough list of everything you own including a description, serial number, and estimated value.  Having this inventory can save lots of time and headaches after a home fire, robbery, flood, or other disaster, but it’s also a good exercise to make sure you have enough home insurance and for tax purposes, if necessary.

 

Taking The Inventory:  Walk through every room in your house.  Write down, take pictures or video, and/or create an audio recording of every single item.  A visual inventory provides a more detailed overview of your belongings.  Expensive items like jewelry and collectibles should be photographed from several angles.

 

Get Technical:  A number of apps make it even easier to keep track of your personal items using photos, bar codes, and sorting options.  These apps include American Family Insurance’s DreamVault (Android/iOS), Sortly (iOS), The Home Inventory (Android), and Know Your Stuff (Android/iOS).  For Android, go to play.google.com/store/apps and for iOS, go to itunes.apple.com.

 

Note Prices And Serial Numbers:  Keeping purchase receipts makes it easier to record how much you paid for each item.  Look up the prices of those items for which you are unsure, and don’t forget to make a note each time something new is added to your home. 

 

Store The List:  Keep your list updated and stored in a safe or bank deposit box.  Don’t forget to keep a digital back-up in an accessible location as well.

311 Whitechurch Ln. Victoria, Texas

by Mary Ann Sawyers


 Click Here to view this fabulous 4-5 Bedroom, 3 1/2 Bath Beauty in Estates of Colony Creek. Home has been updated top to bottom with finest, top of the line  finishes and details. This is the home you have always dreamed would come on the market - A MUST SEE!

What Not to Do as a New Homeowner

by Mary Ann Sawyers

Mary Ann Sawyers Victoria Texas Real Estate - South Texas New HomeownerWe know so well the thrill of owning your own house — but don’t let the excitement cause you to overlook the basics. We’ve gathered up a half dozen classic boo-boos new homeowners often commit — and give you some insight on why each is critically important to avoid.

1. Not Knowing Where the Main Shutoff Valve Is

Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home’s interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight — including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

Quick-twitch reaction is needed to stave off a major bummer. Before disaster hits, find your water shutoff valve, which will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone knows where it’s located and how to close the valve. A little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when you need it to.

2. Not Calling 811 Before  Digging a Hole

Ah, spring! You’re so ready to dig into your new yard and plant bushes and build that fence. But don’t — not until you’ve dialed 811, the national dig-safely hotline. The hotline will contact all your local utilities who will then come to your property — often within a day — to mark the location of underground pipes, cables, and wires.

This free service keeps you safe and helps avoid costly repairs. In many states, calling 811 is the law, so you’ll also avoid fines.

3. Not Checking the Slope of Foundation
Soil
The ground around your foundation should slope away from your house at least 6 inches over 10 feet. Why? To make sure that water from rain and melting snow doesn’t soak the soil around your foundation walls, building up pressure that can cause leaks and crack your foundation, leading to mega-expensive repairs. 

This kind of water damage doesn’t happen overnight — it’s accumulative — so the sooner you get after it, the better (and smarter) you’ll be. While you’re at it, make sure downspouts extend at least 5 feet away from your house.

4. Not Knowing the Dept of Attic Insulation 

This goes hand-in-hand with not knowing where your attic access is located, so let’s start there. Find the ceiling hatch, typically a square area framed with molding in a hallway or closet ceiling. Push the hatch cover straight up. Get a ladder and check out the depth of the insulation. If you can see the tops of joists, you definitely don’t have enough.

The recommended insulation for most attics is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose. BTW, is your hatch insulated, too? Use 4-inch-thick foam board glued to the top.

5. Carelessly Drilling into Walls

Hanging shelves, closet systems, and artwork means drilling into your walls — but do you know what’s back there? Hidden inside your walls are plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

You can check for some stuff with a stud sensor — a $25 battery-operated tool that detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts.

But stud sensors aren’t foolproof. Protect yourself by drilling only 1¼ inches deep max — enough to clear drywall and plaster but not deep enough to reach most wires and pipes.

Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches — wiring runs along studs to reach switches.

6. Cutting Down a Tree

The risk isn’t worth it. Even small trees can fall awkwardly, damaging your house, property, or your neighbor’s property. In some locales, you have to obtain a permit first. Cutting down a tree is an art that’s best left to a professional tree service.

Plus, trees help preserve property values and provide shade that cuts energy bills. So think twice before going all Paul Bunyan.

Article From HouseLogic.com via National Association of REALTORS®
By: John Riha

402 Charleston Dr. Victoria, Texas

by Mary Ann Sawyers


402  Charleston Dr. Victoria, Texas  Video Tour - Home For Sale

402 Charleston - Former "Parade of Homes" with recent updates.  This stunning home is located on the 16th green, 17th T-box.  Outdoor kitchen and in-ground pool & spa are yours to enjoy and entertain. Click Here to view the video.

Rehab or Rent Out? Real Estate Investment Tips for Beginners

by Mary Ann Sawyers


With mortgage rates still hovering near historic lows, more people are turning to real estate investments as a way to build and preserve wealth. Whether you start fixing and flipping properties or buying and renting them out for monthly cash flow, either investment style can make your money work harder for you.

Before you start investing in real estate, it’s important to line up professionals to help you make offers when you find them. Among your team members, you will want to include:

 

  •     • A savvy, local real estate professional
  •     • A mortgage broker or banker to help you get financing
  •     • A real estate attorney to write and reviewing contracts
  •     • An appraiser who knows the market and will help you get a correct property appraisal
  •     • An accountant who is well versed in real estate investments
  •     • A good contractor, for rehabbing or repairs

Then, you’ll need to determine your real estate investment style.



Rehab or wholesale properties for short-term ROI

The advantage of flipping properties is that you can end up with a good return on investment (ROI) in the short term. For example, you buy a property for $100,000, and invest $50,000 into repairs. Once it’s rehabbed, your property is valued at $200,000, and you sell it for a $50,000 profit.

Once you know where to find rehab opportunities, you can easily repeat the process by reinvesting proceeds from a previous flip into the next property. This is where working with savvy real estate professional can help. They can help you find the right fixer-uppers that may be under market value. A Realtor will have access to many properties that may not be publicly available.

When you are evaluating a property, you will need to look at the whole picture to ensure it will bring you a profit once you resell it. Beyond the actual purchase price and rehab costs, your budget should include carry mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and insurance. If it looks good on paper, you can get your real estate team to help you quickly make the offer.

 

Buy-and-hold rental properties for monthly cash flow

If you find the right long-term buy-and-hold rental property, you can earn consistent cash flow each month. However, you’ll need to carefully review the operating expenses on the property and what tenants are willing to pay for the space to know if you’ll make or lose money each month.

Does your long-term investment make sense on paper? In other words, you will need to understand if your monthly cash flow will be positive or negative.

For example, say your total costs to buy a duplex was $20,000, including down payment and closing costs. You can rent each of the units for $600. Assuming your building is 100% occupied, you’ll make $1200 per month in income. Your expenses include mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, utilities, and management fees, and you want to set aside some cash each month for capital expenditures and routine repairs. You calculate that your expenses add up to $1100 per month. Once you subtract your expenses from your income, you’ll have a positive cash flow of $100 per month.

You can also add amenities, such as coin laundry and vending machines, to increase your potential monthly income. If your property has space to add a billboard, you can earn advertising revenue from renting that space, too. And when you decide to sell, your property’s value will likely have increased both from the overall rising property values and by the improvements you made to increase the cash flow.

 

Where should I start investing?

Contact me if you want to learn about investment properties in your local area. My team and I can help you find the right properties that will fit into your budget and your overall goals. 

Mary Ann Sawyers
Coldwell Banker The Ron Brown Co
MaryAnn@MaryAnnSawyers.com

 

 

 

183 Kendal Rd. Victoria, Texas

by Mary Ann Sawyers

You deserve it - Peaceful Living on 1 1/2 acres only minutes from town! Click here to see this home with all the amenities you expect in new construction.  Mom will adore her modern kitchen and Dad will love his oversized 3 car garage for all his boy toys.  Evenings on the large outdoor patio call for serious stargazing.  Priced right, This is a MUST SEE!

319 Richter Rd, Inez, Texas 77968

by Mary Ann Sawyers


319 Richter Rd, Inez, Texas - Mary Ann SawyersExecutive living on 1 acre in the Industrial School District, Click Here to view the video

Get Your Credit Score in Shape Before Buying a Home

by Mary Ann Sawyers

Get Your Credit Score In Shape Before Buying A Home - Mary Ann Sawyers
How strong is your credit? Cleaning up your credit is essential before you make any major financial moves. Having a bad score can hurt your chances of being able to open a credit card, apply for a loan, purchase a car, or rent an apartment.

It is especially important to have clean credit before you try to buy a home. With a less-than-great score, you may not get preapproved for a mortgage. If you can’t get a mortgage, you may only be able to buy a home if you can make an all-cash offer.

Or if you do get preapproval, you might get a higher mortgage rate, which can be a huge added expense. For example, if you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of $100,000 and you get a 3.92% interest rate, the total cost of your mortgage will be $170,213. However, if your interest rate is 5.92%, you’ll have to spend $213,990 for the same mortgage  - that’s an extra $43,777 over the life of the loan! If you had secured the lower mortgage rate, you could use that additional money to fund a four-year college degree at a public university.

So now that you know how important it is to maintain a good credit score, how do you start cleaning up your credit? Here, we’ve collected our best tips for improving your score.

 

Talk to a loan professional

You can protect your score from more damage by getting a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional will be able to guide you to whether your score is in the ‘good’ range for home buying. Plus, every time that you request your own credit score, the credit companies record the inquiry, which can lower your score. Having a professional ask instead ensures that you only record one inquiry. Once you know your score, you can start taking action on cleaning up your credit.

 

Change your financial habits to boost your score

What if your score has been damaged by late payments or delinquent accounts? You can start repairing the damage quickly by taking charge of your debts. For example, your payment history makes up 35% of your score according to myFICO. If you begin to pay your bills in full before they are due, and make regular payments to owed debts, your score can improve within a few months.

Amounts owed are 30% of your FICO score. What matters in this instance is the percentage of credit that you’re currently using. For example, if you have a $5000 limit on one credit card, and you’re carrying a balance of $4500, that means 90% of your available credit is used up by that balance. You can improve your score by reducing that balance to free up some of your available credit.

Length of credit history counts for 15% of your FICO score. If you’re trying to reduce debt by eliminating your credit cards, shred the card but DO NOT close the account. Keep the old accounts open without using them to maintain your credit history and available credit.

 

Find and correct mistakes on your credit report

How common are credit report mistakes? Inaccuracies are rampant. In a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people identified at least one error on their credit report. In their 2015 follow-up study, almost 70% thought that at least one piece of previously disputed information was still inaccurate.

Go through each section of your report systematically, and take notes about anything that needs to be corrected.

 

Your personal information

Start with the basics: often overlooked, one small incorrect personal detail like an incorrect address can accidently lower your score. So, before you look at any other part of your report, check all of these personal details:

●Make sure your name, address, social security number and birthdate are current and correct.

●Are your prior addresses correct? You’ll need to make sure that they’re right if you haven’t lived at your current address for very long.

●Is your employment information up to date? Are the details of your past employers also right?

●Is your marital status correct? Sometimes a former spouse will come up listed as your current spouse.

 

Your public records

This section will list things like lawsuits, tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. If you have any of these in your report, make sure that they are listed correctly and actually belong to you.

A bankruptcy filed by a spouse or ex-spouse should not be on your report if you didn’t file it. There shouldn’t be any lawsuits or judgments older than seven years, or that were entered after the statute of limitations, on your report.  Are there tax liens that you paid off that are still listed as unpaid, or that are more than seven years old? Those all need to go.

 

Your credit accounts

This section will list any records about your commingled accounts, credit cards, loans, and debts. As you read through this section, make sure that any debts are actually yours.

For example, if you find an outstanding balance for which your spouse is solely responsible, that should be removed from your report. Any debts due to identity theft should also be resolved. If there are accounts that you closed on your report, make sure they’re labeled as ‘closed by consumer’ so that it doesn’t look like the bank closed them.

 

Your inquiries

Are there any unusual inquiries into your credit listed in this section? An example might be a credit inquiry when you went for a test drive or were comparison shopping at a car dealer. These need to be scrubbed off your report.

 

Report the dispute to the credit agency

If there are major mistakes, you can take your dispute to the credit agencies. While you could send a letter, it can be much faster to get the ball rolling on resolving a mistake by submitting your report through the credit agency’s website. Experian, Transunion and Equifax all have step-by-step forms to submit reports online.

If you have old information on your report that should have been purged from your records already, such as a debt that has already been paid off or information that is more than 7 years old, you may need to go directly to the lender to resolve the dispute.

 

Follow up

You must follow up to make sure that any mistakes are scrubbed from your reports. Keep notes about who you speak to and on which dates you contacted them. Check back with all of the credit reporting companies to make sure that your information has been updated. Since all three companies share data with each other, any mistakes should be corrected on all three reports.

If your disputes are still not corrected, you may have to also follow up with the institution that reported the incident in the first place, or a third-party collections agency that is handling it. Then check again with the credit reporting companies to see if your reports have been updated.

If you can keep on top of your credit reports on a regular basis, you won’t have to deal with the headaches of fixing reporting mistakes. You are entitled to a free annual credit report review to make sure all is well with your score. If you make your annual credit review part of your financial fitness routine, you’ll be able to better protect your buying power and potentially save thousands of dollars each year.

 

How to clean up your credit now

Does your credit score need a boost so you can buy a home? Get in touch with me (MaryAnn@MaryAnnSawyers.com or 361-550-4304) and I can connect you with the right lending professionals to help you get the guidance you need.

 

Top Decorating Do’s & Don’ts

by Mary Ann Sawyers

Victoria Texas Real Estate - Do's & Don'tsHere are a few common do’s and don’ts from decorating experts that are guaranteed to improve the look of your rooms.

Don’t:  Put too much furniture in a room and line most of it up against the walls.
Do:  Bring the furniture in to create a conversation area.  Define the space with a sizable area rug and anchor the furniture on the rug.

Don’t:  Rely too much on overhead lighting.
Do:  Use a combination of the three types of lighting:  general (ceiling and wall fixtures, table lamps); task (pendant lighting or desk lamps that help you read or do homework); and accent (fixtures that spotlight things such as architectural features, paintings or plants).

 

Don’t:  Be afraid of color.
Do:  Neutrals are fine but try adding an accent wall.  Test color samples at different times of the day before you paint all the walls. Take a white bookcase or built-in from "blah" to "aha" by painting the case's back wall in a cherry, contrasting hue.

Don’t:  Ignore window treatments.
Do:  Add appropriate curtains that lighten up the room, not darken it.  Hang them two inches above the frame of the window or all the way to the ceiling to make a room with a low ceiling seem bigger. 

Don’t:  Allow unfilled corners to become big, eye-grabbing decorating blanks.
Do: Add a comfy chair, silk plant or insert an interesting floor lamp.

Don’t:  Hang artwork too high.
Do:  Place it so the middle of the picture is at eye level of an average sized person.  If the art is placed above a sofa, make sure the bottom edge is six inches above the top of the sofa.

Don't: Load the room with too many family pictures and knickknacks.
Do:  Be selective.  Group a few items together and change the groupings periodically. 


Thinking Of Selling Your Home Soon?

Don't attempt to sell your home without my free consumer guide, "6 Steps For Selling Your Home for Top Dollar." My exclusive report will give you all the facts for a fast, top dollar sale. Just call 361-550-4304 or email me: MaryAnn@MaryAnnSawyers.com and I'll rush a copy out to you for free.

November 2015 Victoria, Texas Housing Market Snapshot

by Mary Ann Sawyers

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Mary Ann Sawyers
Coldwell Banker The Ron Brown Co.
2505 N Navarro
Victoria TX 77901
361-550-4304

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