Christina Martinez - WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briarwood Real Estate



Posted by Christina Martinez on 1/17/2019

House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.

Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.

Putting together all the stats on the home

Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.

Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.

Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.

Snooping around the neighborhood

If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.

However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.

Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.

Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.

Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.

If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.





Posted by Christina Martinez on 1/10/2019

Obtaining a home loan is a must for most homebuyers. However, there is a lot to think about to ensure a homebuyer can secure a loan that matches or exceeds his or her expectations.

Some of the key questions to consider about a home loan include:

1. What is a home loan's interest rate?

It is paramount to understand a home loan's interest rate, along with any associated loan fees. That way, a homebuyer will know exactly how much he or she will be paying over the life of a home loan.

If a homebuyer chooses a fixed-rate mortgage, he or she can lock in an interest rate for the duration of a home loan. This means a homebuyer will pay the same amount each month. And in many instances, a fixed-rate mortgage can be paid off early without penalty.

On the other hand, a homebuyer may prefer an adjustable-rate mortgage. With this type of mortgage, a homebuyer may receive a lower interest rate initially that rises after a set period of time.

Compare and contrast the different home loan options and their associated interest rates. By doing so, a homebuyer can make an informed home loan decision, one that serves him or her well both now and in the future.

2. Does a home loan require a minimum down payment?

Ask a lender about whether there is a minimum down payment required as part of a home loan agreement. Typically, a homebuyer will need to pay at least a small portion of a home's price to secure a home loan, and it certainly helps to have this information available before you start evaluating available residences.

In addition, it may be worthwhile to save as much money as possible prior to starting a home search. With money at your disposal, you may be better equipped than ever before to make a large down payment, thereby reducing the amount that you'll need for a home loan. Plus, you may even be able to boost your chances of getting a favorable home loan interest rate.

3. Will I need to provide legal documents to obtain a home loan?

Lenders will require you to provide proof of your income and assets, W-2 statements and other legal documents to finalize a home loan agreement. If you stay organized and have these documents readily available, you should have no trouble providing them to a lender as needed.

Overall, the home loan application process may vary from several weeks to many months. The time it takes to secure a home loan can be stressful, and if you need extra help along the way, it never hurts to reach out to a real estate agent.

With a real estate agent at your side, you can streamline the process of buying your dream home. This housing market professional can offer expert tips throughout the homebuying journey and ensure you can discover a great house at an affordable price.

Take the guesswork out of securing a home loan – consider the aforementioned questions, and you can move one step closer to getting the financing you need to obtain your ideal residence.




Tags: Buying a home   loans  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Christina Martinez on 12/27/2018

Want to buy a house? If you plan ahead for the homebuying journey, you may be better equipped than ever before to reap the benefits of a seamless homebuying experience.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prepare for the homebuying journey.

1. Figure Out Where You Want to Live

Do you prefer the hustle and bustle of the big city? Or, would you like to reside in a small town? Think about where you want to live, and you may be able to speed up the homebuying journey.

A homebuyer who narrows his or her search to houses in a set number of cities and towns may be able to quickly discover the ideal residence. Thus, if you know where you want to go, you can act fast to pursue your dream house. And once you find your dream home, it may be only a few weeks before you can finalize a home sale.

2. Obtain a Mortgage

A mortgage generally is a must-have for a homebuyer, regardless of where he or she decides to live. If you submit a mortgage application before you embark on the homebuying journey, you can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.

Oftentimes, it won't take long to get pre-approved for a mortgage. You can meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, and these financial institutions can teach you about a wide array of mortgage options. Next, you can select a mortgage that satisfies your personal requirements.

When you meet with banks and credit unions, don't hesitate to ask plenty of questions, either. If you receive expert mortgage insights, you can make an informed mortgage decision that likely will serve you well for years to come.

3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent

Let's face it – pursuing a home should be a quick, easy process, but problems may arise that prevent you from buying your ideal residence. Thankfully, real estate agents are available in cities and towns nationwide, and these housing market professionals can help you make your homeownership dreams come true.

A real estate agent is a housing market expert who can teach you how to discover a terrific house at a budget-friendly price. This housing market professional can explain the differences between a buyer's and seller's market and help you map out a successful homebuying journey. That way, you may be able to improve your chances of acquiring a superb residence if you hire a reliable real estate agent.

In addition, a real estate agent will serve as your guide along the homebuying journey. He or she will keep you up to date about new residences that become available, set up home showings and help you submit homebuying proposals. And if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, a real estate agent is available to respond to them.

Achieve the best-possible results during the homebuying journey – use the aforementioned tips, and you can plan ahead to acquire your ideal residence.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Christina Martinez on 12/20/2018

Buying your first home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. But, it does come with its advantages. Among them are tax breaks and deductions that you can take advantage of to save money if you play your cards right.

In today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the tax breaks and deductions that first-time homeowners should seek out this tax season to help them lower their tax bill.

Mortgage points

While earning points is a good thing on the basketball court, it can be a financial drain on a mortgage. Mortgage points are what buyers pay to the lender to secure their loan. They’re usually given as percentage points of the total loan amount.

If you pay these points with your closing costs, then they are deductible. Taxpayers who itemize deductions on their IRS Form 1040 can typically deduct all of the points they paid in a year, with the exception of some high-income taxpayers whose itemized deductions are limited.

PMI costs

If you’re one of the many people who made a down payment of less than 20% on your home, odds are that you’re going to be stuck with PMI, or private mortgage insurance, until you pay off at least 20% of the loan balance.

The good news is that homebuyers who purchased their home in the year 2007 and after can deduct their PMI premiums. However, the state on premium insurance deductibles is something that frequently comes up in Congress, so homeowners should ensure that these deductions are still valid when filing their taxes.

Mortgage interest

Mortgage interest accounts for the biggest deduction for the average homeowner. When you receive your Form 1098 from your lender, you can deduct the total amount of interest you’ve paid during the year.

Property taxes

Another deductible that shouldn’t be overlooked by first-time buyers is local property taxes. Save the records for any property taxes you pay so that you can deduct them during tax season.

Home energy tax credits

Some states are offering generous tax credits for homeowners who make home improvements that save energy. There are a number of improvements you might qualify for, including things like insulation and roofs, as well as photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

IRA Withdrawals

Many first-time buyers withdraw from an IRA account to be able to make a larger down payment on their home or to pay for closing costs. In most other cases, withdrawing from an IRA will count as taxable income. However, if your IRA withdrawal is used toward a down payment or closing costs, the tax penalty is waived.


Keep these tax breaks and deductions in mind this tax season to help you save money and get a larger refund.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Christina Martinez on 11/21/2018

Some people dread winter due to the cold temperatures associated with the season. Yet winter may prove to be an ideal time to purchase a house.

Ultimately, there are lots of reasons to search for a home in winter, and these reasons include:

1. Limited competition for the top listings.

Whereas some buyers search for houses in spring and summer, winter is usually a "down" period for the real estate market. As such, there may be a shortage of buyers searching for residences – something that could work to your advantage.

If you conduct an in-depth home search in winter, you may find first-rate houses at budget-friendly prices. Plus, once you find your ideal house, you can submit a competitive offer to purchase this residence. And as a result, you may be able to acquire your dream home in no time at all.

2. Sellers may be in a hurry to get rid of the house.

Winter is often a buyer's market. If you enter the real estate market in winter, you could capitalize on a seller's desire to get rid of their residence as quickly as possible.

Of course, regardless of when you conduct a house search, you should be diligent. If you assess the real estate market closely, you can identify a house that matches your needs and expectations. Then, you can set up a showing to view this residence. And if you believe this house is the right choice, you can submit an offer to purchase it.

3. You could secure a quality house that you can enjoy for years to come.

The ultimate goal of searching for a house is to find a residence that you can enjoy both now and in the future. If you conduct a search for a home in the winter, you may find lots of great listings at your disposal. Which means you may quickly discover a terrific residence that suits you perfectly.

As you get set to search for a home in winter, you may want to get pre-approved for a mortgage as well. If you meet with a variety of banks and credit unions, you can assess your mortgage options. Then you can select a mortgage and enter the housing market with a homebuying budget in hand.

Lastly, you may want to hire a real estate agent before you start your home search in winter. A real estate agent understands the ins and outs of the housing market and will do what it takes to help you achieve the optimal results. So if you want to acquire a two-bedroom house near the city of your choice, a real estate agent can help you do just that. On the other hand, if you want to purchase a home that provides convenient access to parks and other family-friendly attractions, a real estate agent can help you hone your house search accordingly.

Begin your search for a home in the winter. By doing so, you may soon discover a wonderful house at a price you can afford.




Tags: Buying a home   winter  
Categories: Uncategorized  




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