San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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January 29th, 2009
A house is a house, right? Wrong!

By Amy DuBose
San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®

All houses are the same. Right? Well, of course not. Depending on your needs, your taste, and your budget, you can choose from a variety of properties. From fixer-uppers to foreclosures, here’s some information that will help you determine which type of property works best for you.

Condominium

Maybe living the “condo life” appeals to you. Condominiums are usually easier to maintain than a house, may come with added perks like a swimming pool or fitness center and can be less expensive than a single-family home in the same area.

Living in a condominium is quite different from living in a detached home. You often share walls with one or more neighbors, so privacy can be limited and noise may be a problem. It’s also important to remember that the common areas are exactly that – communal. So be prepared to share the perks.

When you buy a condominium, you are responsible for paying the condo association dues. These monthly assessments ensure continued maintenance and protect the value of your property. Before buying a condominium, talk to a Texas Realtor. He can give you some insight into what “condo life” might be like.

New home

Many buyers choose a brand new home because they get to pick out the window coverings, the carpet, the appliances and more. New houses often come with more space and require less, if any, repairs. They are usually more energy-efficient than older homes and may come with a five- or 10-year home warranty.

But there can be tradeoffs when buying a brand new home. Sometimes the advantages of a new property are overshadowed by smaller lots, cookie-cutter designs, immature trees and neighborhoods that don’t have the charm of more-established areas of town.

Additionally, if you buy one of the first lots in a new development and need to sell within a few years, you may be competing against the builder, who could have a series of brand new homes for sale and can offer buyer incentives that you’ll be hard-pressed to match.

Some consumers choose to purchase directly from the builder, i.e., without professional representation. I believe it’s wise to protect yourself by hiring a Texas Realtor. She will represent your interests – not the developer’s.

Resale property

Resale homes are properties that have been lived in before and are popular with first-time homebuyers. Buying an older home makes it easier to asses the type of neighborhood and, depending on the area, may be less expensive than a new house.

Remember that someone else has owned the home, and that someone may have had taste quite different from yours or an aversion to yard work. While a fresh coat of paint and a good lawn mower can be relatively inexpensive, be sure to have the property inspected before you purchase it. The problems may go much deeper.

Many Texas Realtors concentrate on specific neighborhoods or parts of town. This specialization gives them inside knowledge, familiarity and insight into details of the area.

Fixer-upper

Most homes need work – some just need a little more than others. For some first-time homebuyers, the thought of wielding a hammer makes them cringe. But for others, a fixer-upper is the home they’ve been waiting for. Not only can you tailor the house to suit your style and needs, a fixer-upper can be a great investment and an excellent way to get into the housing market with a lower budget. “Sweat equity” will likely go a long way to increasing the overall value of the home.

Some lenders even offer special loans that allow you to build the repair costs into the mortgage.

If you are thinking about purchasing a home that needs some work, be aware that you’ll need to be comfortable with household disruptions. It does require a lot of patience and the knowledge that some rooms may not be inaccessible while being renovated.

Also, be honest with yourself about your level of expertise. For instance, just because you can patch sheetrock doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing with electricity and major plumbing jobs. Be willing to hire a professional when necessary.

Foreclosure

If you are looking to save some money, a foreclosed property may be just the ticket. Typically, a property goes into foreclosure because the previous owner failed to keep up with mortgage payments and the lender takes possession of the house.

In some cases, the lender wants to recover their investment as quickly as possible, so homebuyers can often get significant discounts. No home is excluded from foreclosure if the owner can’t make the payments, so the properties will range in price and levels of repairs – from minor to major. If you think a foreclosure is right for you, find a Realtor who has experience in this area.

What’s really important

Whatever type of home you choose, meet with your Texas Realtor early in the game. Your agent can help you find the property that fits your needs and your budget. Options abound, and knowing what is right for you from the start can help narrow down your search. For more tips on buying a home in Texas, I invite you to visit TexasRealEstate.com.

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