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?

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.


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!

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.

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.

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!

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!

Making Plans

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

Tips for Reducing Debt Before Buying a Home


We welcome our guest poster today, Katie Conroy.

Photo via Pexels

Tips for Reducing Debt Before Buying a Home

You can find more great real estate resources on the San Antonio Real Estate Blog!

Are you planning on buying a home within the next year? Now is the time to scrutinize your finances, pay off debt, and start saving more aggressively. It’s not impossible to buy a home while in debt, but it can be more challenging to get a mortgage at rates you can afford if your debt-to-income ratio is too high. Here are some great tips to help you reduce debt, improve your credit score, and get your finances in order before buying a home.

Determine Your Down Payment

The amount of money you need for a down payment will vary widely depending on your housing market, your financial situation, and your type of mortgage. Start by researching local home prices so you can get a better idea of your home’s affordability. If you can afford to put 20% down on a home, you’ll have an easier time securing a mortgage with existing debt and your monthly payments will be more manageable, as well.

Just remember, buying a home comes with many additional upfront costs that are not included in the down payment. You may have to make a lower down payment so you have money left over to cover application fees, real estate agent fees, and lender fees. According to Forbes, you should expect to pay between 2% and 5% of the home purchase price in closing costs.

Consider Different Financing Options

When it comes to financing your home, a traditional mortgage isn’t your only option. Be sure to research alternative mortgage types so you can find the best solution for your financial situation. For example, a PennyMac FHA loan could be a good choice for first-time homebuyers with less money for a down payment and lower credit scores. FHA loans enable first-time buyers to qualify for a mortgage with broader financial requirements and down payment options as low as 3.5%. If you’re a veteran or military service member, be sure to look into VA loans for low interest rates and no down payment requirement.

Consolidate Your Debts

While special home loans will make it easier to get a mortgage, your lender is still going to scrutinize your debt-to-income ratio. If a high portion of your monthly paycheck is going towards regular debt payments, consider consolidating all of your debt onto a loan with a lower interest rate. This will reduce your minimum monthly payments to improve your debt-to-income ratio. At the same time, consolidating your debt can improve your cash flow so you can put more money towards your down payment. As a bonus, you'll no longer have to worry about paying several different bills every month — and risk late fees when you forget.

Track and Budget Your Spending

If you’re trying to pay off debt, it may help to make a few temporary cuts to your household budget. Go back through your credit card statements from the past couple of months and determine how much money you're spending in different categories. Based on what you learn, come up with a realistic budget that will enable you to reduce your spending in non-essential areas so you can put more money towards debt payments. Budgeting apps can help you track your money and stay within your allocated spending for each budget category.

Pick Up a Side Hustle

Another way to pay off debt quickly is to pick up a side hustle. There are many different jobs you can do on the side to make an extra $500 to $1,000 a month. If you know your way around digital advertising, you could run Facebook ads for small businesses. If you have a car and some spare time in the evenings, consider delivering food with DoorDash or Uber eats. If you’re just looking for a quick and easy way to put your organizational skills to good use, become a virtual assistant. Your options are nearly endless, so find a side gig that interests you and run with it.

Buying a home requires a lot of careful planning, especially if you have existing debt. If you have your heart set on a home purchase in the near future, start developing a debt management plan as soon as possible so you can get approved for the mortgage you need.

ARTICLE BY:  Katie Conroy, Blogger  



Texas Drivers License Heads Up

One of our very important business partners is Independence Title - our Escrow Officer is Autumn Cooke. 

Autumn has shared information important to folks closing on a real property - and, important for folks who drive! 

Gov. Greg Abbott granted a waiver in March of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which allowed Texans with driver's licenses expiring on or after March 13, 2020, to not have to renew them. Abbott's waiver ENDED on April 14, 2021.

So if your clients are still using an expired driver license, the title company now will have to obtain an alternative valid and unexpired form of government-issued photo ID at closing, or a renewed TXDL.

So, for all you drivers out there - Heads Up!

OH NO - Not a FSBO!

The title of the video is "Don't Get Fooled into Selling Your House on Your Own" - and it is named that for a reason. On the surface "SAVING" the agent commission sounds like a lot of extra money in your pocket. If you needed surgery, you could save a lot of money by doing that yourself too - but I wouldn't recommend it. I would not go it alone on a home transaction either. To be a professional means years of study and continuing education. Laws change, risks change, and things can get pretty complicated.

But did you also know that when you are selling your home on your own, the buyer looks at you and thinks "we can get this house for less because there is no agent". So who benefits or do you share?  Who wins? Then there is a risk that you could sell too low and lose money - often the case. The buyer wonders if the price is too high? Was too much paid? And what if something goes wrong? Really, really seriously wrong? Y'all get the idea.

Just like many other professionals out there, REALTORS are your best resource. If you want to talk it through, reach out to me and I'll do my best to explain it. Does not matter if you are my client or not. always glad to assist where I can. Goes without saying - never an obligation!

What do the rooms of your home say about you? #SanAntonioHomes …

What do the rooms of your home say about you?

#SanAntonioHomes …
What do the rooms of your home say about you? #SanAntonioHomes #TexasPremierRealty #HomesInSanAntonio #AlCannistra #SanAntonioRealEstate #HousesInSanAntonio #HomesForSaleInSanAntonio #home #design #RealEstate #RealEstateAgent #NewHomes
ian_flannigan: Hmm... clean and modern

* This article was originally published here

What have you loved making lately? #SanAntonioHomes …

What have you loved making lately?

#SanAntonioHomes …
What have you loved making lately? #SanAntonioHomes #TexasPremierRealty #HomesInSanAntonio #AlCannistra #SanAntonioRealEstate #HousesInSanAntonio #HomesForSaleInSanAntonio #home #design #RealEstate #RealEstateAgent #NewHomes

* This article was originally published here