With interest rates still near historical lows, it may be tempting to refinance to a lower rate. Here are five questions you should ask yourself before you take out a new loan.

1800 Palmwood Cove-small-002-Exterior Front 002-666x463-72dpi1. How long do you plan to stay in the home?

It makes a big difference in recouping the cost of refinancing a home loan. If you don’t plan to own the home for roughly three years or more after refinancing, it might not make sense to refinance.

2. What are the closing or settlement costs for refinancing?

Expect to pay about the same amount as when you purchased. Expenses will include a new title policy (if applicable), new appraisal, and lender’s fees.

Typically, the lender will charge an origination fee or a “discount fee”. If it’s a “no-cost” refinance, the fee will actually be rolled into a higher interest rate.

3. What percentage rate are you currently paying?

Mortgage lenders once advised refinancing only if you could save two percentage points on the loan, but today they look at how long it takes to pay back the cost of refinancing your home.

Ask your lender to compare the savings in your monthly payment at the new rate. Take the monthly savings amount and divide it into your total closing costs. That will give you the number of months it will take to pay back your closing costs.

If it takes longer to pay back the closing costs than you intend to stay in your home, don’t refinance.

4. What type of loan do you currently have?

One good reason to refinance is to get into a fixed-rate loan from an adjustable rate or other type of loan. Adjustable rate mortgages roll over from a fixed rate to an adjustable after one year, three years, or five years.

With interest rates expected to rise in 2014, it’s a good time to get into a new loan.

5. Have your plans or circumstances changed from when you first purchased your home?

Perhaps you’re doing well and want to accelerate your pay-off by refinancing to a 15-year term. If you already have a fixed rate, run the numbers to see how quickly you can pay off your loan by making extra payments.

You may find that the savings from paying down your principal far outweigh the advantages of refinancing.

To compare multiple mortgage rates in just minutes, Click Here.

Written by 

Courtesy of: my Realty Times


Home Prices Are Rising: Yea! But That Also Means Higher Costs

If you’re like most homeowners, rising home prices mean you can finally let out the breath you’ve been holding since the start of the economic downturn — especially if you’re hoping to sell.

mortgagesWould you mind terribly if I added a little cloud to your silver lining?

Rising home prices might mean higher bills for you in the coming year because:

  • Your property taxes will rise unless your tax rate falls.
  • You’ll need higher limits on your homeowners insurance coverage to compensate for your higher home value.

Fortunately, you can do a few things now to reduce your tax bite, keep your insurance costs as low as possible, and continue your exhale of relief.

Property Tax Appeals

You pay your property taxes based on a formula that generally uses your home’s assessed value multiplied by the tax rate. When you home value rises, if the tax rate doesn’t fall, your taxes rise.

Take, for example, a property tax rate of $1 per $1,000 of home value:

  • You owe $100 when your home is worth $100,000.
  • You owe $110 when your home value rises to $110,000.
  • To keep your tax bill at $100 when you home value rises to $110,000, the tax rate has to fall to about 90 cents per $1,000.

Given the sorry state of most local and state government budgets, I wouldn’t count on the tax rate going down. Instead, work to get your home value assessed as low as possible by filing a property tax appeal arguing the taxing authority has over-stated your home’s value.

Here’s how you do it: When your home’s tax assessment arrives in the mail, contact your REALTOR®, tell her you want to appeal your assessment, and ask her to pull the last three comparable home sales for you. If those sales were lower than your home’s assessed value, you use those comparable sales as evidence that your home is worth less than the tax man says it is.

Also ask your REALTOR® if she knows of any tax discounts (some jurisdictions offer discounts to owner occupants or senior citizens).

Homeowners Insurance Discounts

When your homeowners insurance renewal comes in the mail, call your insurance agent and ask if you can earn a discount for:

  • Increasing your deductible.
  • Membership in an affinity group like AARP or because of where you work.

Focus on the Silver Lining

If those cost-cutting measures don’t work, focus on the silver lining. An extra couple hundred a year in property taxes and insurance isn’t much compared with gaining thousands in home equity that you can use to finance your child’s education, start a business, fund your retirement, or just put in your pocket when you sell.

By: Dona Dezube

Courtesy of: House Logic

Is Your Home Older Than Its Years?

Would you throw away $20,000? You are if you’re letting your home age faster than it should. Here’s a simple maintenance strategy to keep your home young.


You know how Dr. Oz says that if you keep your body fit and your mind nimble, you’re likely younger than your chronological years? The same principle applies to your house.

An out-of-shape house is older than its years and could lose 10% of its appraised value, says Mack Strickland, an appraiser and real estate agent in Chester, Va. That’s a $15,000-$20,000 adjustment for the average home.

But good maintenance can even add value. A study out of the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University finds that regular maintenance increases the value of a home by about 1% each year.

So if you’ve been deferring maintenance, or just need a good strategy to stay on top of it, here’s the simplest way to keep your home in good health.

Focus on Your Home’s #1 Enemy

If you focus on nothing else, focus on moisture — your home’s No. 1 enemy.

Water can destroy the integrity of your foundation, roof, walls, and floors — your home’s entire structure. So a leaky gutter isn’t just annoying; it’s compromising your foundation.

Keeping moisture at bay will improve your home’s effective age — or as Dr. Oz would say, “real age” — and protect its value. It’ll also help you prioritize what you need to do. Here’s how: Continue reading

F1 Weekend Parties & Events, from 365 Things to do in Austin, Texas

Friday, November 15th


Saturday, November 16th 

Sunday, November 17th

Courtesy of 365 Things To Do In Austin, Texas

By: Kristy Owen

Austin Added 23,800 Jobs in the 12 months Ending in August, making it the 12th Best Performing Job Market in the U.S.

capitol grounds

  • Austin’s government sector saw modest growth over the last 12 months by gaining 800 jobs or 0.5%. Overall, private sector job growth in the Austin MSA was robust at 3.5%, adding 23,000 jobs with all but two private industry divisions contributing to the growth.
  • Texas saw net private sector job growth of 2.7% with all private industry divisions but one adding jobs over the last 12 months. As with Austin, total job growth statewide was lower, 2.4%, due to the relatively slight growth (0.6%) in the government sector, which accounts for 16.5% of total state employment.
  • In the U.S., private sector growth was 2.0% for the 12 months ending in August with all private industries adding jobs. However, overall job growth was a more modest 1.7% because the government sector lost jobs (-0.4%).
  • Total U.S. jobs remain 3.2 million or 2.3% off the peak of November 2007. Jobs in both Texas and Austin peaked a year later. Austin is now 63,400 jobs (8.1%) ahead of its pre-recession peak jobs total. Texas now has 476,100 jobs or 4.5% more than the level seen in November 2008.
  • In Austin:
  • The industry adding the most jobs and seeing the fastest growth was professional and business services, which grew by 7,400 jobs or 5.9% over the last 12 months.
  • Financial activities lost 1,700 jobs or 3.7%. On a year-over-year basis, this industry has seen negative growth five of the last eight months.
  • Manufacturing employment was also down, by 300 jobs from August 2012.
  • In Texas:
  • Construction grew fastest, at 4.9%, and added 42,600 jobs.
  • The next two fastest growing industries both grew by 4.1% Professional and business services grew by 58,600 jobs and leisure and hospitality grew 45,600 jobs over the last 12 months.
  • Information also grew relatively fast, by 3.2% and added 6,300 jobs.
  • Manufacturing’s growth was weakest, only 0.1%.
  • In the U.S.:
  • Professional and business services grew fastest, by 3.4%, and added the most jobs (621,000).
  • Leisure and hospitality, construction and natural resources, and retail trade also grew relatively fast, gaining 3.0%, 2.8%, and 2.7% respectively in the 12 months ending in August.
  • Unemployment:
  • In July, Austin had the fourth lowest rate of unemployment among the 50 largest metros at 5.2%. Austin’s rate one year ago was 5.9%.
  • The rate in July for Fort Worth was 5.9% and 6.1% in Houston.
  • The statewide rate is now 6.3%, compared to 6.9% in August of last year.
  • The August national rate at 7.3% is improved over the rate a year ago of 8.2%.

4115 Columbine Drive, Austin, TX Home For Lease – $1,500

New lease flyer


4115 Columbine Drive, Austin, TX Home For Lease – $1,500:

  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, built in 1997.
  • .15 Acres with over 1500 Square Feet
  •  refinished deck, nice open floor plan, ready for new tenants. Owner prefers NO PETS, NON smokers only please.

Contact Ruth E. Powers for more information on this lease listing or visit or call 512.964.3434