Tuesday, May 4, 2021

CARVANA 100

Thought y’all might be interested in a very unique experience and a very positive one at that! I am the first to admit, this is a bit of eating crow, but oh well, when necessary – eat crow!.

However many years ago it was when I saw them building the Carvana carousel on 1604 near I-10, I remember thinking who would ever want to buy a car that way? Perhaps jaded by a lifetime of going to a dealership and being sold – I was not ready for a change. Fast forward to 2021 and look at what happened!

To set the stage – my 3 prior vehicles during the last 10 years were brand new Cadillacs. Actually, since starting in real estate in 2005, I had always maintained a car that seemed suitable to take clients house shopping and that was fine - then. 


Experience in recent years, even pre-virus, seems clients prefer to meet at the perspective house. Folks shop differently now.

So, time for fun! Time for a sporty car that I enjoy driving! (Sorry Cadillac - your cars are fun to drive too - this is just "different") The question remained – could I have the casual car and still take care of the real estate business? I was not about to go brand new and take the new car first year depreciation if this was a bad decision. 

I needed a contingency in case it was necessary to return to a more traditional type of vehicle and this silver Camaro fit the need – nicely. It is not my first one – I had a red one 30 years ago – loved that car. Kept it 5 years and sold it with 10,300 miles on it. And now, I love this Camaro! Hopefully clients will understand.

The experience with Carvana was off the charts AMAZING. I got to look at so many cars, and see maintenance records and car history and where the car lived before – sometimes even original sticker cost. And NO PRESSURE – EVER! I browsed, saved, and changed my mind – and repeated those steps again – like the kid in the candy store with so many choices. I found their pricing very competitive. And, no worry about buying without having seen the car in person - knowing that there was a week-long option to work through any regrets and return the car if it was not a match (I did not return the car).


Now this story is NOT about a problem free transaction. The real story is how everything was handled and how everyone navigated the rough waters when things did go wrong. I ordered a different car at first. Weather issues were going to delay delivery from Indiana and Carvana gave me an option to wait or make another choice. Reflecting on that, I am glad it happened. When I made the new selection is when I decided on the Camaro – convertible!!!!

 

The convertible was in Arizona and needed to be shipped here – that does not take long at all. But, on arrival – the top was damaged. YIKES! This could not be happening. Carvana said they would not deliver the car that way and again gave me options – something told me to stay with the Camaro. They had to put an all new top on it and they do that with the professionals at a local Chevrolet dealer. The results – amazing – and it felt that my 2019 was brand new.

Throughout the entire transaction, from selecting the cars, calling for information, changing my order to a different car, dealing with the roof delay – EVERY person I talked with at Carvana had a “smile in their voice” – EVERY PROMISE ever made was kept, even a simple promise like calling me back was kept – no excuses. The delivery driver wore the necessary mask – but you could tell, even he had the Carvana smile and commitment.

And that is why I titled this post Carvana 100. It is not often you deal with a company that has a 100% rating. Carvana and its employees do. And this is a small way to simply say “Thank You”.

I bought the car in January - and all these months later still very happy with the car and Carvana.

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PS:  I don’t think I have ever added a PS to a story in this blog, but this last photo I am sharing is hopefully to give all you readers a smile today. This little pooch I bought in 1970 (NOT a typo) and he has been with me in every car I purchased or leased since then. He was a replacement for a pair of large dice that used to hang from the rearview mirror. Never thought about giving him a name – he is just family I guess.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Meal Prep


Mealtime can be very enjoyable in your own kitchen! Are you ready for your own home - and your own kitchen? Checkout today's video and some of our post on Pinterest for ideas.

Friday, April 30, 2021

What Mortgage Can You Afford

 

Hopefully, by now if you are considering a move, y’all have had a chance to explore our mortgage page on this blog. If you haven’t, you’ll find a lot of very useful information there about getting a mortgage, assistance for first time buyers, FHA, VA, USDA, Texas Home Buyers, and more. There is also information about free credit reports, credit bureaus and credit monitoring services.

I have just added another really cool site that provides an array of tools on mortgage calculators. I’ll share some of those tools in this post today, but first a heads up on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s site that features tools and resources for homebuyers. Do check it out and always be sure you are dealing with a reputable mortgage resource when buying a home. For many of us a home is the largest investment of a lifetime, doing it right and safely matters.  

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you are very familiar with my pitch on getting pre-approved for a mortgage – before you house shop! If you are not a regular, use the search tool in the right column to check out the reasons why you want to do that. It is important. If you want to talk it through, reach out to me.

If you’re wondering if you can afford a house, a mortgage calculator can give you a feel for affordability even before getting pre-approved. We’ll call this the planning stage. You already know your income and expenses and how much you have to put down, and, you may already have an affordable monthly mortgage payment amount in mind – so how about using that information to see how much house you can afford?  Or, how much income do you need to afford the house you want?

You may be tempted to shop first (who does not have a dream house in mind) but when you are seriously considering buying, that is the time to be well grounded and know what you can do. Information is a powerful asset in your arsenal and you will feel more confident as you begin the search for your new home.  However you choose to approach this, consider the disappointment if you find a home and then find it is not in reach!

For first time buyers, the home buying process can be intimidating - OK, maybe downright frightening! A real estate professional will guide you through that. Just remember, you are already paying a mortgage – your landlord’s mortgage. And, you are not going to increase your personal wealth by paying someone else’s mortgage. It is time to do something for you! 

Some folks have suggested that buying a home is a forced savings plan. I cannot disagree with that. You cannot live in a bank vault so why not fund the roof over your head and when you have paid off the mortgage – the house is yours.

Quite a few times in this blog I have written about rent vs buy – here is a calculator to show you the potential. Many folks still believe that you need 20% down or a perfect credit score to buy a house – YOU DON’T. There are programs to help. If you do not try, you will not know. If you try and come up short, you will know what you need to do to make it happen. And, you can reach out to me and talk about it. It is time to live the American Dream!

Some suggested reading for you – our magazine, Homes and Real Estate and one of our other sites  San Antonio Homes Blog or the Spanish version San Antonio Casa.

We encourage you to use the tools you will find throughout this blog. They are available to everyone whether you are a client or not. If we can help, just reach out. Are you ready to make a move?


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Your Moments In Time

Every once in a while I take this blog in a direction other than real estate – today is one of those times.

Some of you know I serve as a Lead on the Nextdoor app – indeed a privilege accompanied by responsibilities. Most of the time, it is neighbors sharing hyper-local news, recommending something and buying or selling something. Oh, and I should not leave out a lot of lost or escaped pets. Every once in a while, I come across something that EVERYONE should be aware of.

From a neighboring area, a resident reported that her FB account was hacked, connected emails and phone numbers changed – and they were locked out. Initially, one may think – report it, get another account and start again. Yes – moving on is probably best though it would be over the top if the account can be recovered.

BUT THERE IS MORE

The neighbor was very distraught as they had pictures and memories posted exclusively in the account that was now inaccessible! 

Consider if social media is your sole repository for precious photos and memories, you may suddenly discover them lost – forever. If it is the ONLY place you are storing photos, IMO - IT IS VERY RISKY. Anything can happen to a social media or online account. Anything can happen to your phone, your computer or any other device too. (In the case of a hack, not everyone has time or even knows how to download or screen capture their photos before the hackers destroy them.)

I feel sorry for their situation and their broken heart over lost photos and memories of their children. And, that is why I am writing and sharing this post. Whether it is FB or any other platform, bad things can happen. Bad things do not just happen to other people. Consider your moments in time!


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sharing Time


However you choose to spend your time - sharing with someone or a peaceful escape, it is nice to have your own backyard for the getaway! One really short video for you today.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

6 Tips for Filing a Natural Disaster Home Insurance Claim


Our Guest Poster Today:  Evette Champion
























The thing about natural disasters is that no matter how much you plan, you can never truly be protected. From tornados, hurricanes, snow storms and wildfires, the last decade has unleashed some of the worst naturaldisasters the United States has ever seen, costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars in damages.

When a natural disaster strikes and your home is damaged, do you know how to file a natural disaster insurance claim? Probably not - who wants to think the worst can happen to them? Well, unfortunately should your home fall victim to a disaster, you’ll need to know how to file a claim so you can get repairs done as quickly as possible, especially if you’re hoping for a fast home sale.

Today, we’re going to share six tips that will help to make this sometimes confusing process a little bit easier.

1. Choose a policy that covers natural disaster risks in your area

When you’re looking into natural disaster insurance, you don’t want to get just anything! You need to look at your area and determine what disasters you're most at risk of experiencing. For example, you probably aren’t going to need flood insurance if you live in a desert. You aren’t going to need coverage for wildfires if you live in an area that experiences a lot of rainfall.

If you don’t know what type of natural disaster insurance you should get, consult an expert.

2. Have an inventory of your personal belongings

Okay, so this particular tip may sound laborious, and it can be if you have a lot of stuff, but trust us, it is going to be worth it when it comes time to file your claim. You can go around your home and record what you see. You’ll want to take a detailed inventory of your belongings and home, you should go through every room (and outside) and take note of your big ticket items like appliances, electronics, furniture, and etc. You’ll then want to put it on a spreadsheet listing the serial numbers, the item’s name brand and model! Bonus points if you have receipts.

3. Take photos and notes immediately after the disaster strikes

Before you start cleaning up the mess left in the disaster’s wake, document the damage much like you did in the previous step. As you’re going through your property assessing the damages, note the items that have been damaged. This documentation will be extremely helpful when you and your insurance agent tackles the claim.

4. Call your insurance company immediately

To avoid any processing delays, call your insurance company immediately - especially if it’s a huge disaster that affects a huge number of the population. The sooner you can get that claim in, the sooner your claim will be processed (hopefully) and the sooner you can start to rebuild and recover.

5. Save what items you can

Once you’ve consulted with your insurance agent and have created a plan regarding the next steps in the claims process, you can finally go through your home and salvage whatever you can. This means opening cabinets to air them out, removing any personal effects that weren’t damaged. If your home has been flooded, make sure you do everything you can to remove the water and get the place dry to avoid mold from forming - most insurance policies won’t cover mold damage.

6. Only hire-out work that your insurance company won’t cover

As much as you want to get the various repairs done in your home, you’ll want to hold off until the insurance company assesses the damage and comes to a settlement amount. Of course, while you can look for qualified contractors with high approval ratings so you can begin repairs as soon as you get a settlement. Just be aware that insurance companies are going to be more inundated with claims the longer you wait.

Natural disaster insurance claims can be the light after the storm

No one wants to think of the worst case scenario, but you have to - especially when it comes to your home and possessions. It’s a huge investment! Natural disaster insurance policies can be the saving grace that’ll help you and your family begin the long road to recovering from the disaster. Yes, the claim may not be able to replace sentimental items, but it can at least repair or replace some of the items you’ve lost.


About the Author:  Evette Champion

For the past year, Evette has been writing informative articles for HomeLight.com and enjoys educating new home buyers about the world of real estate. She's an avid fan of the home improvement shows on HGTV and the DIY network and is always looking for affordable ways to improve her home - especially when it comes to boosting curb appeal without breaking the bank! Her ultimate goal is to find a forever home in the Poconos where she, her husband, and miniature pinscher pup can enjoy nature and go hiking.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Custom Built Homes


Have you ever thought about or wished for a custom built home? Checkout this short video. Depending on affordability, options vary from total custom home to semi-custom home. Seriously! We have some great builders in the San Antonio area that can handle either. The first home **  I bought when moving here in 2004 allowed for some customization and yet, the price was very reasonable. If you are considering it, you can reach out and we can discuss the options and you can also browse available builder options on our website. The builder pays for our services - and we represent you!  

** The video of my home is a remake and has been viewed over 1100 times!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Top 4 Reasons to Own a Home


There are compelling reasons to OWN! 4 of those reasons are the subject of today's video. There are a bunch more - any ideas? Tired of paying the mortgage you already are paying (the one in your landlord's name)? Call - let's find out together what we can do!

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Making Plans


Making plans - for the future! One short video, many big plans. We are here to help you with your own home choice.