Advice for Consumers

Welcome to the Advice for Consumers blog, where you'll find tips about buying, selling, and leasing property, and so much more.
  • I was reading user comments on a real estate website the other day. The questions buyers and sellers were asking reminded me that real estate transactions can get complicated in countless ways. Here’s a random sample of issues buyers and sellers were having … A lien the seller didn’t know about is making it difficult to sell the home. A person buying a home is thinking of renting out her current home rather than selling it. The seller accepted the buyer’s offer, and now the buyer has found a home he likes better. The homebuyer wants to move in before closing and rent the home until the closing date. An inspection revealed costly repairs are needed, and the buyer wants to renegotiate the purchase price. A buyer has a contract to buy a home and learned the seller has another a contract with a second buyer. The buyer and seller disagree about what items should stay with the property after the sale. A buyer of a commercial building doesn’t understand the seller’s reply to his offer. The seller wants to know how to handle multiple offers. The seller didn’t show up to closing, and the buyer doesn’t know what to do. This list could keep going and going. I understand why people would “ask the internet” about their real estate problems, but I would be wary of the advice found there. You don’t really know what you’re getting. On the other hand, a Texas REALTOR® is a professional with the experience and knowledge to help you avoid many problems, deal with those that arise, and help you reach the best possible outcome on your real estate transaction. 

  • Smart home technologies have obvious benefits, such as more efficient heating and cooling or being able to unlock doors remotely. But do you know a smart home can also be a safer home? Smart smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors are clear examples of devices that keep your family safe. If these devices connect to a central hub or mobile device, they can alert you to issues in the home and let you take action whether or not you’re present. Smart garage doors can let you know if they're left open. Internet-connected cameras and motion sensors can detect intruders in the home. Smart locks can quickly and easily be programmed to block a person who is now unwelcome in your home. Keep in mind that smart home features, like any online service, can be vulnerable to security weaknesses. Create strong passwords, secure any wireless networks or hard-wire devices, read reviews before purchasing devices, and stick with devices or systems from established brands that you can trust to update security features and provide support. Smart home features may not be at the top of your list when shopping for a home, but they can add value and safety.

  • If you’re financing a property purchase, you’ve probably come across the term points or discount points. Although there are other meanings, most often these terms refer to prepaid interest, with one point equal to 1% of your mortgage loan. Lenders offer borrowers the opportunity to purchase points on their mortgage, which means you’re paying up front to lower the interest rate of your loan. Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether you should buy points: How long will you live in the house? You usually benefit more from points the longer you stay in the property. That’s because the savings you realize on each monthly payment will accumulate and eventually offset—hopefully exceed—your points payment. Can I afford points? You need to provide a downpayment and cover the closing costs to secure a mortgage. Do you also want to pay for points?  How much will the rate come down? Each point costs 1% of the loan amount, but the interest-rate reduction you receive varies from lender to lender. Don't worry. Experts like your Texas REALTOR® are available to help you make the decision right for you.

  • Mark this date on your calendar: October 11. That's the deadline to register to vote for the November 8 election. Go to to learn how you can get and submit an application. If you’ve already taken this important step, there are a few other ways to ensure you’re ready for this historic election. Double check your info Did you move recently? Even if you just moved across town, you may be in a different district or precinct, so it’s important to keep your record up to date. The Texas secretary of state’s website is a great resource to see where you’re registered and to change your information. Learn when and where to vote Early voting will be October 24 to November 4. This convenient option lets you cast your ballot at any location in your county, but you may have to vote in your precinct on Election Day. Get deputized for democracy If you’re really dedicated to the election process, contact your county to find out how to become a deputy voter registrar. After completing a brief training, you’ll be empowered to educate people about the voter-registration process.

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