Archives for April 2009

Fate: I was meant to sell this home – Georgetown Historic District

About 9 months ago, I posted an article about the Georgetown Historic District being one of the top 12 places in nation to buy an old home.  The funny thing is, the picture of the home they used in the article became a listing of mine just recently!  So here’s the details of the home you see in that article:

  • 1243 Main Street – $537,500 – 3332 SF with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths
  • An incredible .45 acres!  Very unusual in downtown – perfect for a future pool!
  • Also has a workshop and detached garage – perfect for adding a future casita, home office or game room
  • Built in 1901 with many updates – original wood floors, stained glass and 4 fireplaces! – Lots of charm!

Here’s your chance to own a piece of Georgetown history!  Totally unique home, that can never be reproduced.  Here are more pictures below:

Want to see how the home will look furnished?  Click here

Scurry over to 208 Scurry Pass – Sun City Texas

Here’s a home that is nicely landscaped, vacant and clean.  It’s just over 1300 SF and priced at $140,000 and is among the least expensive home you can find in Sun City Texas.  There are a lot of other properties in Sun City around this price range, but they’re duplexes or they’re only around 1000 SF.  This is a great opportunity to buy at the low end of a neighborhood with homes that go upwards of $700,000. Here are a ton of pictures below:

Looking for information on Georgetown Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Georgetown Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

Who’s In that Cemetery in Georgetown Village?

gravestoneThose of you who live in Georgetown Village have probably noted the old cemetery next to the entrance of Phase I. I’ve always had a fascination with cemeteries as there lie the repositories of the last remains of people who lived and experienced another time.

Not wanting to disturb the dead, or get arrested for trespassing, I overcame my innate curiosity, until one Saturday when I noticed someone inside the fence cleaning up all the brush and grass that had accumulated. I figured that if he could be in there working, I could at least step in to have a look around and ask a few questions.

The man was Rev. John Gurley, a local Baptist preacher, who said that he cared for old cemeteries that no one else was taking care of. He said that it was a way of paying respects to his parents who were buried too far away for him to care for their graves. By the time I got there, he had cleared away most of the brush that had clogged the cemetery. He told me that an armadillo had dug down into one of the graves and that he had had to replace some of the bones that the animal had disturbed. There are numerous unmarked grave stones scattered around the area, based on their small size, the Rev. Gurley said that most appeared to be young children, a sobering reminder both of the material poverty of most of the early settlers and the fact that not too long ago many parents buried more children than they raised to adulthood.

The mysterious two gravestones: The two graves stones that do have inscriptions are enclosed in a small wrought iron fence in the middle of the cemetery, the one that a burrowing armadillo had disturbed was Cretia Lord (Jan 23, 1846 – Nov 15, 1902). The other person buried there is her infant son, David (Aug 25, 1872 – Jan 25, 1873) who appears to have died from Scarlet Fever, a common killer of children in that age. I little digging on the internet found that Cretia’s father, Joseph Martin Fish, born in Germany, was a veteran of the war of 1812. Cretia’s mother Nancy outlived her daughter by two years, passing away in 1904.

Cretia’s husband, Leroy B. Lord also outlived her, passing away in 1911. He is buried in the IOOF Cemetery behind Southwestern University. Besides being sheriff of Williamson County 1868-1869 he was also a relatively wealthy man. In a 2001 proceeding of the Georgetown City Council in which permission was given to begin development of Georgetown Village, that whole area was referred to as the “Leroy B Lord Survey.”

I’ve always found history to be most interesting when I find a personal connection and now I have one with the lady whose mortal remains lie in the cemetery at the entrance to Georgetown Village. If you live in the Village, then your house stands on land that once belonged to that lady and her husband.

Edward’s bailout plan – save money on property taxes

obama-faces-tax-protest-angerjpgIt’s that time of year again, where the county assesses your home for a value that you could only wish you could get in this market. Well, here are two money saving tips for you:

1. This is easy, file a homestead exemption on your primary residence. This removes a portion of your value ($15,000) from taxation, and saves you about $200/year.

2. Protest your property’s valuation. This is a bit more involved. See my previous post here on my results from last year when I saved a whopping $1928/year in taxes:  Property Tax Protest – Results are in!

You can also find additional information at the Williamson County Appraisal District website and at this link.

Good luck and happy protesting!  For my clients, I’d be happy to take a look at your home’s valuation and send you some comparable homes that sold in 2008.  Just give me a call!

Looking for information on Georgetown Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Georgetown Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

5/12/2009 Update:

I just finished filing a protest for several properties and have totaled up the difference between the county tax assessment and my recommendation.  The difference?  $105,507.  At a tax rate of 2.4%, that equals a savings of $2532/year! I’ll post the results once I get them.  Remember, it pays to reduce your tax assessment!

5/13/2009 Upate:

The good news: I didn’t have to mail anything in, the Williamson County Appraisal District takes walk-in appointments so you can get this done quicker.  The bad news is that it’s probably a better “strategy” to wait.  Why?  The County usually sets appointments for big properties ($1 Million+) first since they have a deadline of July 25, 2009 to get everything done and set the tax rate by September.  Therefore, if most of the work (of raising money for the county through taxes) is already done by the time they get to a “small” $150,000 property, they are probably more lenient and they probably want to get things done quicker since they would be a bit more worn out from the months of work they’ve been doing.

The bad news: I went in early as a walk-in, and my appraiser (beware of Cliff, he has a mustache) was definitely not worn out.  I think he was having fun keeping my assessments high.  As a result, I was only to reduce the total assessment by half of what my goal was.  I wanted $105,507, and ended up with a $50,454 reduction, about $1211/year in tax savings. A modest savings, but a savings nonetheless.

Things to watch out for: Pulling comps from the same neighborhood isn’t good enough.  I pulled homes from Georgetown Village, but Cliff was being very picky in wanting homes from the same section!  I can understand the logic when there are many builders in a neighborhood, but if the builder is mustacheconsistent in the different section, it shouldn’t matter.  The same quality of home is being compared.

The other thing that bugged me is that the sold prices they use are artificially inflated.  What do I mean by that?  Well, they don’t take into account the amount of closing costs that a seller pays for the buyer.  So if a house sells for $180,000 and there is $5,000 of closing costs paid by the seller, the true market price is $175,000.  However, the appraiser did not take that into consideration.

Lastly, just because you show them the sales price of a home you closed in the year of the assessment, they won’t necessarily use that price for the new value.  I tried…and failed.

The worst thing about this is the inconsistency.  In previous years, the appraiser would take into consideration closing costs and would use the sales price on the HUD and would even use homes in different sections just as long as the builder was the same.  This year, it was not so.  My advice, go towards the end of the year when they don’t want to spend as much time arguing with you…and just in case it is the appraiser, avoid Cliff, the guy with the mustache. (No, I don’t have anything against mustaches).

What Documentation Is Needed to Apply for an FHA Loan?

What Documentation Is Needed to Apply for an FHA Loan?

Buying a home can be a trying experience. From negotiating a price to home inspections; whether it’s your first or fifth time there always seems to be surprises. Being as prepared as possible to meet with a lender will help make qualifying for an FHA backed loan a more pleasurable experience.

A loan officer will need several pieces of information, both personal and financial, to help you qualify for an FHA loan. The information is required of both you and a co-borrower if applicable. Bring this information with you to your first meeting with the FHA loan officer.

  • Your Social Security number
  • The addresses of all the places you have lived in the past two years
  • The names and addresses of all the places you have worked in the past two years
  • Your Gross Monthly Income (before taxes) or your current job or jobs
  • Pay stubs from the past four weeks
  • W-2 forms from all employers for the past two years
  • Personal tax returns for the past two years
  • Information about all current bank accounts
  • Bank name and address
  • Account numbers
  • Current available balance
  • Average balance over the past six months
  • Information regarding all current loans
  • School loans
  • Credit cards
  • Car loans
  • Any other loan – Information should include; account numbers, loan balance and minimum monthly payments
  • Information regarding any other real estate you own
  • The approximate value of your personal property including; jewelry, cars, bonds, etc
  • Self-employed individuals will be required to furnish a business balance sheet and current income statement
  • A certificate of eligibility is required for Veterans

Additionally, you should be prepared to pay for a credit check and property appraisal.

Being fully prepared for your first appointment with a loan officer will ensure fewer surprises on the road to home ownership.

(Article courtesy of www.fhaloansource.com.  Interested in advertising or posting content on www.GeorgetownCustomHomes.com/blog that will be beneficial to my readership?  Please contact me for details.)

Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown, Texas

Ok, I know what you’re thinking…”A festival that’s named after a flower?”  But, what a beautiful flower it is:

1533_902_poppies_23a29dcb5ab3cd622269ab5b1c757b8d (Photo was taken by Lucas Adams)

Every year, the city of Georgetown Texas celebrates the introduction of the Spring season and along with it, all of the beautiful flowers of the Hill Country landscape.  Georgetown, just happens to be the Red Poppy Capital of Texas.  If you love flowers, that’s a good thing.  If you only like flowers because you can give them to your wife when she’s mad at you, it’s still a good thing.  The Red Poppy Festival has something for everyone:  Lots of live music and performances; food (time to get your Kettle Corn!); a car show (for you non-flower enthusiasts); and ofcourse a parade.

This festival definitely has the kiddos in mind with lots of free entertainment being offered from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.  There will also be many local artists and crafts that will be showcased in the Red Poppy Marketplace.  If local art really appeals to you, check out the Williamson County Art Guild.  They have a Framers Gallery that starts the 1st Friday of every month and for the month of May, my friend Jason St. Peter will have his photography showcased.  Get a sneak preview of his gallery by clicking here!

Ok, let’s talk food and the discounts you can get.  Thanks to Marcy H. for providing this information:

Several Georgetown Restaurants will be offering dining specials to help kick off the Friday Night Concert.  Be on the lookout for the following Red Poppy Plates:

Applebee’s: 2 Can Dine for $20 (Includes 1 Appetizer and 2 Entrees.  Selection is limited.)
Chick-fil-A: 1 Free Red Poppy Peppermint Chocolate Chip Milkshake to all customers who ask.  Offer is limited to only 1 per customer.
County Seat Cafe: $19.99 Prime Rib Dinner
Dia Thai Cuisine: $15 Basil Seafood Combo Plate, $9 Dia Thai Wrap Plate, $9 Pad Woon Sen Plate
Georgetown Bar-B-Que: $7 Two Meat (sliced meat only) Plate
Georgetown Winery: $3.00 Glass of Red Poppy Passion Wine, $5.00 Margaritas
Monument Cafe: $15.95 Seafood Platter, $19.99 New York Strip Steak
Nonna’s Cucina: $9 Nolan Ryan Half Pound Burger with Fries
Pit BBQ: $7.99 Half BBQ Chicken Dinner with Drink
Smokey Mo’s: $8.75 Sandwich with Two Sides and a Large Drink
Tony and Luigi’s Italian Mediterranean Restaurant: All Entrees are Buy One, Get One for Half Price

Fore more information, check out the website for the Red Poppy Festival.

Ok, now for those of you who really just want to see the Red Poppy’s don’t worry, I won’t let you down.  Here’s a map downtown where you can catch them:

red-poppy-map1

~Your favorite HOMEboy, Edward

Looking for information on Georgetown Texas Homes For Sale? Visit my website or call me anytime!! Want the latest updates on Georgetown Texas Real Estate, news and latest developments? Sign up for the blog by clicking the link below:

I want to make a bunch of “lowball” offers, can you help?

a1With the type of real estate market we’re in right now, many of us are looking for GREAT DEALS…buying opportunities that come around just once in a lifetime.

And if we can’t find the great deals, we think we can create them with a wonderful thing called the “lowball offer.”  Now, technically there is no real definition of what constitutes a lowball offer, except that it’s low ofcourse.  In the market that I’m used to working in (Greater Austin), anything more than 10% off a reasonable list price is considered a lowball offer.  I say “reasonable list price” because there are plenty of agents who list their homes way to high, just to get the listing, and an offer of 10% off list price would actually put the home at market value!

Well, the question that you have to ask is:  Is it worthwhile for a buyer to pursue this strategy for their next home or investment?

I received an email from a client regarding this very thing and I wanted to share my response with my readers:

I know this sounds bad…but given the market conditions and how many houses seem to be going up I want to buy something for what I consider a steal…I am sure there may be buyers in front of me but I figure what the heck I might as well try. We really are happy renting as we will be moving in 2 years for sure into Austin and will turn it into a rental property or sell it. I guess I would be willing to lob bids in on properties in the $125k area for sellers that are desperate. Tell me if I am wrong but, from what I have read, I think that should be doable if I am patient, and like I said I am buying for the bargain, not b/c we particularly need or want a house in Gtown. Your thoughts are appreciated! – JW

Dear JW –

Hmmm, you bring up some interesting points.

You’re not the only one wanting to snag a steal…I do too…in any market!  However, there is a reason why I, as a guy involved full time in real estate, have never gotten a good as a deal as you’re wanting to get through the lowball method even though I own 5 homes:

1.  I’m not savvy enough
2.  I don’t have the patience
3.  I haven’t been in the right place at the right time
4.  I never offered anything that lowball and it got accepted.

I’d say it is a combination of maybe all 4 of those reasons to some degree.  However, my goal is to own homes, not make offers, so eventually I need to be able to use the resources I have (time, money, patience, savviness – i know i didn’t spell that right), however limited they may be, and buy something.  Not because I need to, but because I want to.  For me, it’s better to own 5 pretty good deals, then 1 super great deal.

I don’t know how productive it would be for me to make the 50 offers for you just to get 1 accepted…..especially if I’m not willing to do it for myself! That is a full time job…and I already have one.  In my early (read: desperate) years of real estate when I had time to twiddle my thumbs, I helped a lady do this and we made a good handful of offers….in the end, all I did was spend my time and money and she never bought a home. I told myself that in the future I would never do that again.  If somebody insisted that I represent them on making lowball offers on a multitude of properties, I could only justify it from a business standpoint if I charged my client for every offer made.

If you’re trying to get a home for $125K and it’s worth $150k, why would the owner lose $25k to you when they can just lower the asking price to $135k (10% below market value!) and still sell it quickly and for $10k over what you’re offering?  What you’re trying to do can and has been done….but I haven’t personally been able to be successful with it.  Believe me, I’ve tried.

BOTTOM LINE: Value is not determined by how much of a discount you can get off a home.  To many lowballers think that if they can get a huge discount off the home, they can brag to their friend’s “I’m da man!” yet really have no idea of the true value of what they bought.  I would much rather determine the value of a home and purchase it at a great price rather then feel the need to have to lowball everything in sight.  I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to lowball (offer a ridiculously low amount) a home in order to get a great deal.  Real estate investing is determined by the end result…how many homes you own is more important than how many offers you’ve made. Case in point:

On the market today is a home on 1125 Boxwood Loop in the city of Georgetown, Texas.  It’s listed for $157,500 and is 1953 SF.  If you are an investor or homeowner, I can help you own this home for probably around $150,000.  Is that a lowball offer?  No.  Is it a great price?  Well, let’s just say that it will be the second cheapest home to sell in Georgetown Village since January of 2005 (according to the MLS).  I’d say that’s a great deal!  Interested?  Call me before I buy it for myself.


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