The Ins and Outs of Getting a Home Loan: Interview with Keller Crowley, Senior Loan Officer at Legacy Mutual

Keller Crowley has been a senior loan officer at Legacy Mutual Mortgage for nearly 8 years. His job is to help people achieve the American dream of home ownership by providing the best financing plan available for their goals.

 How long have you worked with Charitable Realty?

I have worked with Charitable Realty more than six years. I met Lori Fowler right after she started her brokerage, and we have been partners ever since. Lori and everyone at Charitable are incredible, and I feel very blessed to be able to work alongside them.

 

What are some determining factors when customers are trying to decide which type of mortgage is best for them?

There are many factors that determine the best mortgage for each individual. The most important factors are their credit score, debt-to-income ratio, loan term and down payment. Every borrower is going to have different goals and needs when it comes to getting a mortgage, and it is my job to find them their best option.

 

Can you walk me through some of the down payment options for qualified buyers?

Down payment options are going to depend on what loan each individual qualifies for. The majority of the loans we handle are conventional loans that can have as low as 3 percent down payment for first-time home byers and 5 percent for anyone else. VA and USDA loans have 0 percent down payment options, which are incredible! FHA loans require a minimum 3.5 percent down payment and are very common loans for first-time homebuyers. We also have jumbo loan options with as little as 10 percent down.

 

What’s the difference between an adjustable-rate mortgage and a fixed-rate loan?

A fixed-rate mortgage will have a “fixed” interest rate that never changes throughout the loan term. An adjustable rate mortgage or ARM will have a fixed rate for a set amount of years, then can adjust after that term. For an example a 4.5 percent, three-year ARM will have a 4.5 percent interest rate for the first three years, but then can change to a higher or lower rate depending on market conditions.  

 

Can you give me a few reasons why someone might be denied?

Usually a borrower will be denied because of non-qualifying credit score or if their debt- to-income ratio is too high. The minimum credit score to qualify for a mortgage is 580 and their debt-to-income ratio would need to be less than 55 percent.

How Does the North Texas Housing Market Stack Up Against the Rest of the Nation?

After years of being one of the hottest housing markets in the U.S., the North Texas region has cooled off a bit. Sales in the DFW area slipped nearly 10 percent. If you look at the entire region stretching from Sherman to Granbury and from Rowlett to Abilene, studies show around 6,000 single-family homes were sold in November, a nearly 14 percent drop from November 2017.

Compared to the rest of the nation, however, North Texas is still on top. With a relatively low cost of living and population growth projections that beat out the rest of the U.S. by nearly two times, DFW has been named the top real estate market to watch in 2019. Demand will continue be strong in 2019, propelled by continued job growth in the Metroplex. Also our area, as well as the rest of Texas, is more desirable for transplants. Since property taxes are lower here and Texas has no state income tax, out-of-state people are finding they can own a larger home and pay lower taxes.

At the beginning of last year, prospective buyers could get a 30-year mortgage at below 4 percent, but at the end of the year that has slowly crept up to nearly 5 percent. Another contributing factor is that for more than two years, prices have escalated to the point that they are destroying affordability. In November median home prices hit $259,000, up 3.4 percent from November 2017 in DFW according to data from Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors.

Meanwhile, the median price in Fort Worth was $215,000, up 2.8 percent, in November compared to November 2017. Tarrant County median home prices shot up 4.2 percent to $225,000 in November compared to the previous year.

Not surprisingly, Dallas is the least affordable among Texas’ largest markets and below the national affordability level of 56.4 percent. Fort Worth’s affordability level was 55.8 percent, which is more in line with the national level. Sales for houses priced above $500,000 are decreasing, and homes in that price range are sitting on the market longer.

The bottom line is that the North Texas housing market is still a bargain. Businesses will continue moving here, and people are moving here for the opportunity of good employment and a higher standard of living.

*Information according to the North Texas Real Estate Information System (NTREIS), based on MLS data

Historic Homes on the Market Now: Choosing Charming Character Over Contemporary Trends

Historic homes have charm, beauty and oftentimes historical significance within the community. If you’re a home buyer, you may prefer the character that comes with a historic home over the modern or contemporary houses on the market.

A home is deemed historic or “architecturally significant'“ by the National Register of Historic Places—or by the local historic board—if it exemplifies a  signature architectural style , captures the essence of a given time period or is associated with famous people from the past. Also included in this category are homes located in neighborhoods designated as historic districts.

Now that you have set your sights on a vintage home, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts of purchasing your property. Here are some tips on buying an older house:

  • Have a  home inspection  conducted by a qualified home inspector who specializes in older homes and/or by a structural engineer

  • Get  price estimates from contractors  regarding all necessary repair work

  • Make sure the house meets safety and health standards, including passing asbestos and  lead paint  tests

Historic Homes Currently Listed

3223 Stanley Avenue, Fort Worth / 2 beds, 2 baths / 1,389 square feet / Built in 1928

Looking for an Updated Beauty only 1.3 miles from TCU? This 2.2 with large front porch has original charm and modern amenities. Wood floors throughout are accented by the working wood burning fireplace in the main living room. The open concept kitchen adjoins a spacious dining room and bar seating. Beautiful stainless appliances, marble flooring, granite countertops, a functional kitchen pantry and ample cabinet space make this home great for entertaining. Spacious master has room for king bed. Remodeled master bath has shower w pebble flooring. Other remodeled bath has tub shower combo. Utility room inside. Owners installed new garbage disposal, dishwasher and updated fireplace to working order. Roof replaced 2017.

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514 Featherston St. ,Cleburne / 3 beds, 2 baths / 2,208 square feet / Built in 1910

This is your opportunity to own an original Cleburne craftsman home. The home features a beautiful entry and a spacious screened in porch. The home has historical charm and character. It is just waiting for a new owner to bring this home back to its glory. The home is part of an estate settlement and will be sold AS IS.

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3540 Winifred Dr. Fort Worth / 3 beds, 2 bath / 1,748 square feet / Built in 1960

This property has been tastefully and lovingly restored by the person who made wonderful memories here as a kid. It’s located in South Hills, which was named one of Fort Worth Magazine's Best Neighborhoods in 2017. It is close to University area, Cultural District and shopping, Chisholm Trail and I-20. Upgrades include but are not limited to new roof, new doors, new windows, new stainless steel kitchen appliances, new insulation, electrical upgrade, new air conditioning unit, new bathroom fittings, new plants for front yard and lots of cosmetic upgrades. The backyard is great for entertaining and will not disappoint.

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3124 Tanglewood Trail Fort Worth / 2 beds, 2 baths / 1,749 square feet / Built in 1958

This impeccably kept gem in Tanglewood has stunning curb appeal with mature landscape that invites you through the custom door into the open floor plan. The formal dining has room for extra seating & the large living room has built ins accented by a brick fireplace. The breakfast area adjoins the galley kitchen with coffee bar. Enjoy the desk workspace amidst natural light. The master bedroom is oversized with two closets & the secondary bed has a walk in closet. One full bath has remodeled shower & the other has a shower tub combo with linen cabinets. The oversized garage boasts workbench space & room for full size washer dryer. The backyard is stunning with enormous trees & a seating area near the lush lawn.

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5529 Pershing Ave. Fort Worth / 5 beds, 5 baths / 4,500 square feet / New Build in Historic Cultural District

This true 5 bedroom home has 2 master suites, a separate study, 2 living rooms and a dedicated media! Owners added gated brick courtyard at entry with seating area and iron fencing. The grand entry welcomes you into the study and formal dining or third living space. Custom ceiling work and extensive molding throughout. Large kitchen has butlers pantry, coffee bar and wine bar. Extensive Master Suites up and down. Downstairs master has slipper tub and extensive closet.

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5405 El Campo Ave. Fort Worth / 5 beds, 4 baths / 4,200 square feet / New Build in Historic Cultural District

This lovely home has a classic-traditional style, numerous upscale features and is in close proximity to River Crest CC, museum district, SO 7 restaurants, local shopping, downtown Fort Worth and the Chisholm Trail Parkway.

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HOME INSPECTIONS (A Buyer’s Guide) Part One of a Two-Part Series

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at inspections from both the viewpoints of the home buyer and the home seller. In both instances, you will probably deal with a home inspection as part of the transaction. Even if the home is newer, renovated or in excellent shape, most buyers make their offer contingent on a home inspection.

Because buyers are investing a significant sum of money into the property, they need to know there are no surprises. On the other hand, buyers need to realize that owning a home involves a certain amount of repair and maintenance, and that they’ll want to make changes so that the house reflects their taste.

How to Hire an Inspector

Buyers are responsible for hiring and paying for an inspector. Typically, you have 10 days to complete the inspection, review the report and have your realtor send any requests to the sellers’ agent. If you are actively looking for a new home, you may want to research inspection companies ahead of time.

Your realtor should be able to suggest a reputable inspector. An online search will also turn up several prospects. When considering which inspector to choose, keep these things in mind:

  • Specific Requirements – If you are looking for a historic home, waterfront home or have other specific requirements, you may want to make sure your inspector has experience in these situations.

  • References – Most inspectors will include testimonials on their website, but you may also want to ask for references and talk to a few clients about their experiences.

  • Insurance – Buyers should ask if the inspector carries Errors & Omissions Insurance, which helps cover liability after the inspection is over.

  • Sample Inspection Reports – You may want to see a sample report to review how in-depth it is.

Should the Buyer Be Present During the Inspection

It can be advantageous to attend the inspection as a buyer. The inspector will be thoroughly looking through the house, top to bottom, and testing all major systems, including electrical, heating/cooling, plumbing and structural. In addition to learning about your new home, you will see his areas of concern and be able to judge for yourself how significant they are.

What Occurs During the Inspection

  1. The inspector will first look at the readily accessible exposed portions of the home, including the roof, attic, basement, garage/out-buildings.

  2. Next the inspector will typically test interior plumbing, heating/cooling systems, electrical outlets, water pressure, appliances and more.

  3. Similarly, the inspector will look at wiring, cabinets, railings, windows, chimneys, and on and on.

  4. Typically, the inspector will give the buyer a written report at the end of the inspection or, if supplied electronically, will email it within 24 hours.

What Steps to Take After the Inspection

An inspection contingency may allow buyers to renegotiate the selling price of the home or ask for repairs to be made. Repairs that could have been seen during the showings should have been taken into consideration when you made your offer, either in the offer price or as a contingency to have the repair done before closing. The inspection report does not provide the chance to go back and negotiate for conditions of which the buyer was already aware.

If there are major repairs or concerns that couldn’t be ascertained during the regular showings, then it may be appropriate to renegotiate. Things such as mold, insects, non-operating systems should almost always be addressed. Smaller items, though, like a loose board on the porch, sticking doors or a rotting step, may not. If there was competitive bidding on a home, the seller might just go to the next buyer. In a buyers’ market, the seller might be willing to make major repairs.

Sellers may agree to none, part, or all of the buyers’ request based on the inspection. They may choose to do the work themselves, hire their own contractors or lower the price so the buyers can fix the problems after the closing.

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How to Stage Your Home

One of the easiest ways to sell your home quickly is to understand the importance of proper staging. Staging a house helps potential buyers imagine themselves living in it. According to a study done last year by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 49 percent of buyers’ agents believe staging affects most buyers’ view of a home. Seventy seven percent of buyers’ agents say staging makes it easier for people to visualize the property as theirs. Staged homes sell faster too — 39 percent of sellers’ agents reported that staging a home “greatly decreases” days on the market.

Charitable Realty Founder and Broker says, “Now that we’re leaning towards a buyer’s market, it is even more important to properly stage a home to edge out competition and become a stand out. Staged homes allow buyers to imagine themselves in the setting and to better evaluate space ratios. For example - a large empty den may be difficult for some to imagine their sectional in. A staged home with sofas allows a buyer to compare their furniture to that in the home.”

Lori has additional home staging tips:

ACCESSORIZE IN THREES

When putting decor items together - group them in threes from tallest in back to shortest in front. 

DRESS UP YOUR FLOORS

Use rugs on hard surface flooring to warm up the space. Match the rug to any window treatments and throw pillows to bring all three together. 

KEEP IT CLEAN

The most basic task when staging a home involves removing clutter and cleaning the house. Remove personal items from all surfaces, box up spare belongings and get them out of the house. “Beyond having a clean home, close all toilet lids for showings. Organize the pantry, master closet and linen closets to show ample storage,” Lori says. 

GO LIGHT AND BRIGHT

Buyers like to see bright spaces, so lighting is an essential part of staging a home. Before showing your home, open your blinds or pull your curtains back. Make sure your light fixtures are clean and look appealing. In addition to your overhead lighting, create an inviting ambiance with table lamps and wall sconces.

PRIORITIZE MOST IMPORTANT ROOMS FIRST

If you don’t have the time or money to stage your entire home, you can get the most value by staging certain rooms. The NAR survey found the living room is the most crucial space to stage, with 55 percent of agents surveyed thinking it’s “very important” to stage it. Next comes the master bedroom, followed by the kitchen. Your last priority should be any extra bedrooms.

REMOVE AND/OR REARRANGE FURNITURE

It may be difficult and inconvenient, but remove about half your furniture. This makes your house look bigger and more appealing to buyers. Put your furniture in storage, or sell or donate it if you won’t be taking it with you. Once your furniture has been thinned out, or a rented set has arrived, position couches, chairs and tables away from your walls. This is a design technique called “floating” the furniture. Anchor the space with an area rug, even if the room has wall-to-wall carpet. This creates a cozy, intimate space.

CONSIDER CURB APPEAL

You’ll never get buyers in the door if you don’t spruce up the outside of your home.

  • Clean your windows

  • Power-wash your house and sidewalks

  • Make sure your house address number is easy to read

  • Mow the lawn and trim bushes

  • Plant colorful flowers

  • Put a welcome mat and potted plants on your front stoop

  • Clean outdoor furniture

ADD THOUGHTFUL DETAILS

Once your house is picture-perfect, add some defining touches. People love walking into a home with the smell of freshly baked cookies. Buyers like to see fresh flowers in vases, a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter and folded towels in the bathroom.

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Housing Market Trends in 2019

Charitable Realty Owner and Broker, Lori Fowler Ph.D., gives some insight on what the housing market could potentially look like in the new year.

What role do millennials play in the housing market right now?

Millennials have a great impact on the market. They have created a need for eco- friendly, urban gentrification and are responsible for much of the condo draw downtown. They are much of the force behind the respect of our old historical buildings being repurposed, and the Fort Worth market should thank them!

Which neighborhoods are the hottest markets right now?

The River District, 7th Street and Downtown areas are drawing great attention -especially with the new Stadium and Cultural District draw. The TCU and Tanglewood areas remain desirable. We are now being drawn more and more into Burleson and areas along South Chisholm with the new Tarleton Campus. Granbury was named the No. 1 weekend destination, so we show there now more than ever. All in all, DFW is a fantastic place to live!

How does the North Texas housing market look for 2019? What major changes do you expect from 2018? 

The market seems to be correcting itself a bit. We are still seeing lots of activity with buyers making more aggressive bids and getting them accepted now that homes are filling the inventory and sitting on market a bit longer. In 2018 it was difficult to win a bid for VA and FHA buyers in the $250,000 price range because of multiple offers. In 2019 we hope the market will allow for acceptance of more offers with reasonable concessions.

From virtual reality home showings and listing apps, what are ways in which you see innovation continuing to change the housing market in 2019?

With the great DFW economy, we draw buyers from across the country and overseas. Buyers are asking realtors to use Skype and drone footage now for remote purchases. Apps and virtual reality will become an everyday aspect of showing homes soon - but nothing can replace the value of a licensed realtor. Most all we work with still want to touch and feel the most important purchase they will make. These tools make us more efficient - as an added tool - but not as an only method.

What do you foresee the effects to be from factors such as rising interest rates and a larger inventory of houses for sale?

Rates have started to come down a bit now. Even though they have climbed into the high 4s and low 5s over time - comparatively - they are still affordable. Many buyers who couldn’t win bids in 2018 renewed their leases - so with those expiring shortly and inventory up - I believe we will see one of the strongest successful real estate markets.

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