Realty ONE Group Prosper Blog

We are located in the heart of Hays County, right in downtown Buda, Texas. This blog offers tips, facts & solutions for homeowners as well as potential buyers and sellers.

March 4, 2019

Fantastic Blooms Set For Spring 2019

Living in Central Texas you are almost obligated to take cute family photos in lush fields of bluebonnets. Heck, most of the state’s spring visitors do it too. Whether it’s your yearly tradition or your first time, local horticulturists are saying 2019 should be a great year for bluebonnets. 

The blooms are a bit early this year, with their peak normally coming in the “first couple of weeks in April,” said Julie Marcus, senior horticulturist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It should be a very good year for the bluebonnets in Texas, because of the rainy and unusually warm winter we’ve experienced. “They like sunshine, … it will make them pop, it will push them into bloom.”

We’ve had a couple cold fronts recently but that shouldn’t affect the flowers too much. As Marcus puts it; “they’re conditioned for the extremes of hot and cold” in Texas. “I’ve seen the bluebonnets with ice on them and it just melts and they pop back up.”

Michael Eason, head of the rare plant conservation department at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and author of Wildflowers of Texas, a Timber Press field guide, agrees. “The [bluebonnets] are pretty well adapted to the weird changes we have in our weather.” “If they were in full bloom, they may have been nipped but for the most part, they should survive it unscathed,” he said. “We’re going to have one of those banner years I believe just from all the rosettes.”

Many people may not know that there are multiple species of bluebonnets in Texas, though they are all collectively the state flower. The “Lupinus texensis” is the most common and recognizable to those around the Austin area, but the blooms this year are going to be historically large across all six species in the state according to both Marcus and Eason. Especially in Big Bend National Park, where the “Lupinus havardii” could have “the best bloom that’s occurred in 30 years,” Eason said.

So grab the camera and matching outfits, and go cruise some backroads to find the perfect spot! Though do take caution to check before jumping in as you may disturb some of our not so friendly area reptiles.

 

Posted in News
Feb. 18, 2019

Austin Grand Opening Sneak Peak

Save the date!

April 18th at 4pm at our brand new Austin Office! Located at 4021 S. Capital of TX Hwy, Ste C, Austin, TX 78704. It’s the Thursday before Good Friday so swing by after school/work and enjoy the festivities! We’ll have catered BBQ, drinks, desserts, live music and fun activities for both adults and kids alike.

See our sneak preview of the Austin Office by clicking here!

Posted in News
Feb. 4, 2019

Wiener Dogs and Shaggy Dogs

Wiener Dog Races To Be Held At Buck’s Backyard

Buda City Park will be undergoing construction soon which has pushed the organizers of the annual wiener dog races to seek a change of venue.

According to the Buda Lions Club website, the 22nd annual Buda Country Fair and Wiener Dog Races is slated to be held April 27-28 at Buck’s Backyard. One of our agents, Robert Bishop Badger, owns Buck’s Backyard and is very excited to have the event at his venue!

While there could be a need for shuttles, Buda Lions are going to “weigh it out and look it over,” said Charles Handrick, Buda Lions official.

Charles also said that vendors and competitors are still on-board with the event, regardless of where its held. Buda Lions Club are receiving calls and registrations at this time.

Buda’s Shaggy Dog To Open Second Location In Kyle

The owners of Buda’s Shaggy Dog Market, a locally owned pet store selling high-quality food, toys and treats, will open a second location at 22510 IH-35 in Kyle. The first location in Buda has been open for about a year and a half. The new location has a similar inventory as well as three fully closed-in dog washing stations. One of our agents is the owner of Shaggy Dog, Craig Barron, and he hopes to open the new store by April! Check them out! www.ShaggyDogMarket.com

Posted in News
Jan. 21, 2019

Habitat For Humanity ReStore Now Open In San Marcos

Habitat for Humanity hosted a grand opening of its new ReStore location at 2521 N. I-35, San Marcos, on Dec. 13. The ReStore will sell and accept donated items such as usable building materials, lightly used furniture, appliances, tools, lighting and other household items.

If you’re not familiar with the ReStore, then you’re missing out. It is a DIY’ers dream come true! The only one we’ve had in the area was near downtown Austin. Now that we have one in San Marcos, it’s all the more easier to get to.

Now that you’re finished decking the halls for the holidays, you can move on to building a deck with this new tongue and groove pine that arrived at the ReStore early this month. If a deck isn’t part of your 2019 home improvement plan, this would also be great as flooring!

Dimensions: 14ft x 5in x 1 1/2in

Price: $14/board

Now let’s talk about flooring! The ReStore is able to order the square footage your project requires and can also provide contacts for installation upon request. Luxury vinyl is a durable, waterproof flooring that realistically mimics the appearance of natural materials such as stone or wood. It is glueless and does not require underlayment.

Don’t forget that they offer 20% off purchases on Tuesdays for Seniors (55+) and Wednesdays for Active Military/Veterans/First Responders with valid I.D. (excluding food & drink)!

Fore more info, visit the ReStore’s website https://www.austinhabitat.org/restoresanmarcos or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/smtxrestore/

Posted in News
Jan. 7, 2019

How To Create A Gym At Home You’ll Actually Use

It seems like every year people have the same New Year’s resolution, GET MORE EXERCISE! And while those people who resolve to exercise more diminishes by February, experts say those folks who have a dedicated space at home are more likely to stick with it. What are the design elements that will keep you motivated to keep going year round? See the pictures below.

Embrace The Home Gym

You should opt for dedicated home fitness space that balances style and function. When you have a space that has only the workout items YOU use, you’re more likely to want to fit in a workout. A room full of bulky equipment is no longer a must. Room for stretching and a select few anchor pieces, yoga or functional training may be a better use of space.

Choose The Right Spot

Before you decide what activity or what kind of machines you want to use, focus on choosing the right place in your home to setup your gym. In Texas, most home gym’s are in the garage and that has its advantages of a concrete floor that can handle the weight of heavy equipment and weights better than other rooms.

That being said, heading into a room that’s not temperature controlled may not be as inviting as a room that feels good year round and has lots of natural light. Try to find a spare bedroom or good chunk of a main room to dedicate some space. Choosing a location that’s a little more isolated might also help you focus.

Consider The Setup

You should ask yourself a few questions when setting realistic goals for your workout space. Think about:

  • What’s your budget?
  • How many people will be using the space?
  • How much space will you need?
  • What are you trying to accomplish with the gym?
  • How much space will you need?
  • What type of training will you be doing?

The answers to these questions can help drive the direction of your design. But you need to be honest with yourself too. Just because you’ve heard the latest and greatest machine burns the most calories doesn’t mean you’ll have enough room for it in your space. You don’t want to cram a bunch of equipment into a small space because you just won’t use it. Also PRO TIP: Never put a treadmill where it will throw you into a wall if you fall while running. Too many “treadmill fails” on YouTube will tell you why.

Focus On The Floor

The flooring is not only a safety consideration but an aesthetic one that sets the tone for the rest of the space. The Pros say, “Think of the floor as your fifth wall. It’s foundational, so if you do one splurge, rip out the carpet.” For the photo shown above, this Denver-area home gym paired a commercial rubber gym floor with calming bamboo veneer panels and an accordion window wall. This way the exterior wall folds completely out of the way so they can work out or do yoga either indoors or out. Other popular home gym flooring include vinyl, foam, hardwood or cork.

Shape A Positive Space

The Pros emphasize the importance of a home gym’s atmosphere and mood, which can play a big role in how much use it will get. Elements such as lighting, window view and sense of organic calm are essential. The white walls, large windows and warm wood decor to tie in with the view of the outdoors as in the picture above. Health is just as much about the physical as the mental.

Don’t Skimp on Details

To truly compete with a fully stocked commercial gym, you might consider polishing off the space by adding purposeful amenities such as shoe storage, water, a music or TV system, potted plants, artwork or other decorative details. Keep things organized so that functional items are accessible but in a way that is curated and still beautiful. For example, a nice wood pegboard to put water bottles in and to hang jump ropes/stretch bands on rather than stuff just being collected in a pile on the floor.

Stick To It

In the end, a home gym is an investment that can save you money on a pricey gym membership. Plus it makes your everyday routine more convenient. Just think, you can use your own shower and you don’t have to wipe off other people’s sweat from your stuff or wait for equipment. So create that beautiful space and stick with it!

Posted in News
Dec. 17, 2018

5 Reasons To Talk To A Lender Right Now

It makes sense to most people that they would wait to talk to a mortgage lender until they are ready to buy a home. Why bother rummaging through all your financial statements and filling out all the paperwork if you’re not “in the market” for a new home right now?

Here’s the thing though, if buying a home is one of your long-term goals, you may be hurting yourself by NOT talking to a lender right now. The goal of any good mortgage lender is to help you get “mortgage-ready”. What does this mean? It means getting your finances in a place so you can qualify for the best possible mortgage with interest rate and payment schedule that fits your budget.

Truly, if buying a home still feels like a few years away type activity, sitting down with a mortgage lender today can get you started on the right path to home ownership. Here are five reasons why you should talk to a lender, even if you’re not “in the market” right now.

1. You’d Be Surprised How Close You Are To Being Ready

One reason home-buyers are hesitant to chat with a lender is that they don’t think they’re financially ready. You might think your credit score is too low or you don’t have enough money set aside for a down payment. You won’t know until you ask and many a REALTOR® out there has heard stories of their clients coming away from a lender conversation with optimism in their hearts!

2. You Don’t Need Perfect Credit To Buy A Home

There are many people who put off buying a home until they have a “Good” credit score (typically a score of 700 or higher). According to Kristin Stark, Loan Officer with Movement Mortgage, a credit score of 620 is generally considered the minimum to make the mortgage process easy. “There is very little extra work that has to be done when someone comes to me with a 620 credit score. There are loans available for folks who have credit scores as low as 580 but know that there will need to be quite a bit of supporting documentation to fund those loans.”

3. A Lender Can Help You Create An “Action Plan” For Improving Your Credit

If your credit score is on the lower end, you may want to take some steps to improve your score so you can get that better interest rate.

“Usually the first thing to work on is paying down credit cards,” says Stark. “We do a credit simulator and play with improving the credit score by seeing what would happen if you pay down certain cards or move money around.” Basically the lender will go over options to get where you need to be. It really is a case by case basis but most lenders can find a solution within the next 6 months to a year.

To formulate an action plan, lenders will typically:

  • Review your financial statements: These statements consist of bank statements, retirement accounts or any other type of investment account that lets the lender know about your available income and assets.
  • Do a soft credit check: This soft check doesn’t hurt your credit score and gives your lender a sense of where you currently stand.
  • Ask you many questions about your financial history, income and budget: Be prepared to share personal information about your finances. Your lender is here to help you and the more transparent you can be about your money, the better. Lenders have heard it all so don’t be embarrassed by that car bill you’re behind on!

4. A Lender Can Specify What You Need For A Down Payment

There are a wide range of loans out there, all requiring different percentages of down payment. FHA loans, for example, require a payment of at least 3.5%. You can always make a larger down payment to keep your monthly payment lower or offset negative items on your credit. Another good thing about having a larger down payment is that it lowers the lender’s financial risk, making your application more appealing.

There are some programs out there that you may qualify for down payment assistance. Many of these programs are localized so ask your lender what you qualify for based on your location or the location of the house you’re trying to buy.

5. Talk To A Lender So You Know What To Expect

The application process for getting a mortgage can be quite long, even for experienced home buyers. For those first-time home buyers, sitting down with a lender ahead of house hunting time can keep the big picture a little more chewable. There is so much more to learn about the process that’s not even associated with the lending side!

“With interest rates going up and the housing market shifting, making an educated decision is the right move to make”, says Stark. “A good lender can help demystify the lending process and give you more time to get “mortgage ready” so you can get into that dream home when you find it. Getting pre-qualified to see how much of a home you can afford is invaluable information to have when working with your REALTOR®. Why look at homes you can’t afford? Be informed!”

Talk with your REALTOR® about who would be a good lender to sit down and chat with!

Posted in Mortgage Tips
Dec. 3, 2018

10 Easy Last-Minute Holiday Decorating Ideas

Taken from Houzz magazine, here are some of our favorite last-minute holiday decorating ideas that can be completed quickly!

1. Fill A Vase With Winter Berry Branches

Branches with berries that are kept in water will last much longer than fresh cut flowers. Arrange them in large clusters of branches in a glass or ceramic vases placed on side tables. You could even put smaller clusters of branches in bud vases to decorate bathrooms or bedside tables.

2. Swap In Some Festive Throw Pillows

Swapping out those year-round throw pillows for some festive ones can really brighten the holiday spirit in a room. If your year-round ones are neutral, you can layer them and double down on warm throws to help cozy up living rooms and bedrooms.

3. Dangle Extra Ornaments From Everything!

This is best if you’ve downsized your tree or avoided one altogether as it gives you an outlet for all those ornaments you have. You can thread them onto ribbons and hang them from a chandelier in the hallway or a suspended wire basket in your kitchen.

4. Display A Mini Christmas Tree

Talk about downsizing your tree and still getting that fresh smell of pine in your home. Just display a branch in a vase to stand up as your mini Christmas tree. Most stores will sell tiny ornaments or wire fairy lights that you can decorate it with OR just leave it plan and enjoy the fresh smell for weeks.

5. Make Everything Festive With Wire Lights

Your new best friend is called “Fairy Lights” and they are battery powered! You can make nearly anything look more magical with them. Turn a simple Texas star into a twinkling focal point by outlining the shape with lights. You can also wrap them around a wreath, houseplant, table centerpiece or run them down a mantel. PRO TIP: Hide the battery packs for the lights behind an unlit candle or potted plant or tuck it away in a wall colored drawstring pouch.

6. Decorate with Mini Wreaths

Another mini idea comes in the form of mini wreaths and they come together quickly if you have extra evergreen clippings to twist into a circle and hold together with some thin wire. You can hang them from red ribbons in a window or above a mantel. Make sure to vary the height to help fill up the space.

7. Layer Greenery on a Table Runner

For a more casual place setting, skip the tablecloth and lay a table runner topped with greenery down the center of the table. You can use evergreen cuttings with candles or pine cones and herbal greenery like rosemary twigs, seeded eucalyptus, myrtle or sprays of winter berries.

8. String Together a Pine Cone Garland

You’d be amazed at what dabs of liquid gold leaf can do for a simple pine cone garland. Create one yourself and save time by using a thin wire or ribbon rather than drilling in small screws, to attach the pine cones to a length of rope. You can hang them from a mantel, across a window or a long a wall.

9. Weave a Greenery Garland Down The Stairs

Whether you choose real foliage or go for the fake stuff, a garland of greenery can brighten any room! You can go down the banister and then drape onto a bookshelf or piece of furniture. Cut greenery has the nicest small but the plus side of using a fake one is that it can be used year after year.

10. Create a Simple Centerpiece

Most folks already have Mason jars, candles and seasonal fruit which are pretty much all of the ingredients you’ll need for this elegant centerpiece. You can layer evergreen cuttings in between those items and the arrangement can go on a table or mantel.

PRO TIP: Putting a bit of sugar, salt or pebbles at the bottom of the Mason jar will save difficult cleanup if the candle wax spills!

Posted in News
Nov. 17, 2018

FREE Headshots for REALTORS®

Calling all Real Estate Professionals! Need a new headshot? Just want to get a special pose for holiday marketing materials? NOW is your chance to do that for FREE! Just reserve your spot by emailing Chris@RealtyONEProsper.com today and he will get you setup for a time slot. NOTE: Headshots will be shot on a dark background. See you there!

 

Posted in News
Nov. 1, 2018

Fannie Mae Revising Forecast Upwards For Rates

Fannie Mae Chief Economist, Doug Duncan, was interviewed by Scotsman Guide News at the Mortgage Bankers Association annual convention and let them know what's been on his mind and the outlook for the mortgage industry.

The mortgage industry has been facing some tough times, but is there any reason to be optimistic?

The short answer is no. It's going to be difficult because rates are going up. There are multiple reasons that rates are rising. The economy is growing stronger than people had thought and that is putting pressure on rates. Also the Fed is tightening and we expect them to continue that trend. Third, the Treasury market is going to have to fund the size of the deficit adding to the size of the debt. This puts upward pressure on rates. In the mortgage realm, the competition you're seeing now is because of the decline in refinances is leading lenders to narrow spreads in order to compete to try and stay in business.

Eventually those spreads will widen back out to normal profit levels once "players" start to leave the industry. So if you're looking for an environment where rates are not going up, it's just not going to be very realistic for the next couple of years.

The long answer is, if you're in the business to finance the purchase of homes that people want to live in, it's a good business to be in because the population is ever growing! There is no change in the attitude about owning a home. It's a generational thing and there are more Millenials than Baby Boomers now. So, 90% of Millennials say they eventually want to own a home. Long answer, yes be optimistic. Short answer, it's going to be a tough market.

Is there anything significant about the 30-year fixed rate crossing the 5% threshold?

If you look at the 30-year fixed rate from WWII to the year 2000, it averaged 6% (if you take out the high inflation rate in the 70's). If you look at it that way, 5% is still a full 100 basis points under the long-term average of what that rate would be. That being said, people only see a 5% place as a negative since we're used to a 3.5% to 3.75% rate for the past five or six years. You have to keep the long term picture in mind.

This rise in interest rate has clearly been paired with the strong house-price appreciation to slow the market down. You'll see that total home sales in 2018 is less than total sales in 2017. I predict that 2019 will be pretty flat compared to 2018. Household income is just going to have to adjust to the higher level of interest rates. In our view, 2017 will be seen as the peak pace of price appreciation. It doesn't mean that prices are falling in 2018, just that they are not rising as fast. Same for 2019.

What do you think the big story of the next 12 months is going to be?

It all depends on how far the Fed goes. One of the things about the tax bill that was passed is that many of its provisions expire. The Republicans in the House passed some extenders to make some of the components permanent, but it was nto addressed in the Senate. These tax cuts will come to an end at some point unless the Congress elects to make them permanent. This all stems around the election and people should include the election in their list of risks to think about when doing planning for their companies.

Posted in Mortgage Tips
Oct. 14, 2018

5 Tips on Creating Your Own Modern Farmhouse Style

Imagine yourself snuggling up in an over-sized chair with a soft blanket over your legs as you flip through the latest Pinterest boards from Elle Decor. The last bit of day seeps in through the windows and casts itself over the hardwood floors and across the rug. Then there's the smell of rich oatmeal cookies baking in the oven. Is there a place you would rather be?

This is how we envision modern farmhouse - a style that encompasses sophistication and casual comfort. Rooms you can actually live in and homes that have a rich history and theme. Here are five tips that will allow you to create your own Modern Farmhouse style.

1. Display some history in the room. Whether it's an older item you've put some work into or a brand new item with a weathered vibe, build that foundation for a farmhouse design style with rustic wood pieces that feel a bit time-worn. Vintage items or items that have a family history work best when it comes to decorating with a personal touch. Make sure you have a themed color pallet so that everything ties together.

2. Think open, bright and spacious. One of the best things about the Modern Farmhouse look is the feeling of space. Lots of natural light with plenty of white and cream paint colors to keep it inviting and elegant. Displaying accessories in a minimal way shows off the modern vibe while warm wood tones help keep the space from feeling to sterile. Don't opt for heavy window coverings and instead go for delicate fabrics or blinds that can be pulled to the window top. Remember: Modern Farmhouse design style is meant to have the feeling of being out in the wide open country, so keep it simple.

3. Change out standard knobs for traditional hardware. This is one of the smallest but most effective ways to give furniture an upgrade. You can shop flea markets or consignment shops for good finds. Keep brushed metal hardware in mind in brass, copper or nickel. Also, don't be afraid to mix and match finishes for a more authentic look.

4. Don't be afraid of color! The typical Modern Farmhouse style features soft whites, creams and natural tones. Having a splash of color around can be the perfect way to add some contrast to the scene. Bright pillow patterns or a colorful flower pot can add variety and natural elements. Accent chairs with throws can also provide balance to the creamy colors. If you have large vintage pieces of furniture, those are even better and can add full color to enhance the eclectic feel.

5. Look overhead. If you've purchased a new construction home or have recently remodeled, you may lack the style and character you'd find in an older home. When creating the Modern Farmhouse style, remember that crown moldings, faux exposed beams and ceiling medallions give the room a historic feel and can counter act even the most cookie-cutter spaces. There's also rustic pendant lighting or modern it up with a chandelier to balance out the farmhouse feel.

These are all just suggested beginnings! For more Modern Farmhouse inspiration, check out Amanda Rickman, one of our very own agents, on Instagram @fourleggedfarmhouse

Posted in Home Improvement