Monday, November 19, 2012

New challenges.

Today brings with it new challenges and another interesting aspect of negotiating the VA home loan process.

The latest and greatest as of yesterday is that the appraisal came back and was approximately $12 thousand less than our contracted offer on the home. With a VA loan, the financing will only cover up to the appraised value on the home. So if I want to purchase this home, one of two things must happen now.

One would be to have the sellers lower their purchase price to match the appraised value, or two, have the appraiser consider other comparable properties within the neighborhood and surrounding areas and amend the original appraisal report with an updated value.

The challenge for any appraiser is to find the most appropriate comparable properties and utilize those to establish the most appropriate value for the selected property. The proper market area is a bit of a challenge for real estate professionals to determine sometimes with new properties and renovated ones springing up sporadically in an older, established neighborhood.

Take for example Tanglewilde, in the Westchase area of Houston. This is an older "established" neighborhood and there are quite a few properties inside of it which range in age from 1950 to 1980 as original construction dates. Throw in a few "investor" properties where a builder or ambitious consumer has decided to purchase and renovate one of these older, but very attractive properties.

Tanglewilde exists in the Westchase area of Houston, and offers many attractive neighborhood features which exist in great detail on the Wikipedia site dedicated to explaining the area. A link to that site is located HERE. 

I will await the results from the requested appraisal of value with nail biting tension as I want to be one of those Veterans who can achieve the goal of entering my home with no money down and minimal out of pocket expenses.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Been a few days.

It has been a few days since I have been able to take a breather and sit down to write a blog entry.

Even as I sit and type this, I don't really have the time. The kids are asleep, the laundry is folded, and I have been able to  work out a few more key items in regards to getting the deal on my home done.

It was a whirlwind of a weekend with Veterans Day and the observed Veterans Day holiday of Monday. I wonder sometimes if the commercialization of Veterans Day will be its downfall such as the groans from tired husbands on Valentine's Day or any other obligatory holiday where people give each other stuff. Not to say that all men hate holidays, I just happen to know many more that stress about holidays rather than enjoy them.

During the end of the week and over the weekend my realtor Ryan Ward was spending time going back and forth with our sellers and ensuring that I get the best deal possible on my coming home purchase.

We are at the stage in the process where the home inspection has been performed and we made a counter offer during our ten day option period based on the results of the inspection.

The home we have chosen to purchase was a project acquired by a custom home builder who wanted something to play with in his spare time and of course, make a buck. We are in America ladies and gentlemen, and everything has a bottom line.

Because a custom builder was the person doing the work to this 1959 classic American 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, the quality of materials being brought into the property are of very high standards and the labor performed is of a meticulous nature. Each and every detail necessary to keep the classic qualities which make this home desirable was kept, but updates bringing the interior to modern standards of efficiency and style were added.

Items such as high efficiency HVAC systems, low-e glass, energy star appliances, ceiling fans and travertine flooring are but a few of the modern enhancements to this property.

Walls were moved and space was created where unuseable spots existed previously. Wiring was restrung and bronzed fixtures were installed throughout the entire home, giving it a consistently warm feel.

At the end of today, Ryan called and we spoke about signing the latest amendment to our contract which fixes all of the small items that were brought up during the inspection. Thankfully, only a few, minor items were identified as deficient and the seller agreed to fix everything truly necessary.

Things like extra caulk in cracks or around edges of brick and mortar, proper size breakers installed, and a little beetle treatment are all easily fixed in just a few days. So I have no worries at all.

The next step in the process is to have the appraisal come back either even or above the dollar figure we offered. With a VA appraisal, the appraiser has ten days  to look at and report back about the property assigned. Our appraisal is due to be returned to us by Friday so we will be starting our weekend hopefully, with good news.

I will get into the appraisal process in my next entry, but for now, I will leave you all with this.

Armed Forces Day is to honor all active duty military personnel, Memorial Day is to honor those military members who gave their lives for our country, and Veterans Day is to honor all those who served once before.

Let us all not forget to think of all of these people when we go about our daily lives. To honor a Veteran, is as easy as shaking their hand. No formal words need be spoken. A heartfelt handshake and a smile can say so much, while speaking so softly.

There is never a wrong time to remember where our freedoms come from. Blood is spilt to protect our liberties. And it is all of our responsibilities, to remember it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A busy weekend.

Well it was a very busy weekend and is already shaping up to be a bit of a crazy week for our company and our Veteran outreach efforts.

At Security America, we always attempt to provide the best possible service, at the most affordable prices and that's not just ad lingo. It's a business ethic. Which is something new to a "fresh off the boat" Veteran like me. Business ethics compared to "core values" while on active duty.

The two seem to go hand in hand to me, but not to everyone I meet. Some of the mortgage lenders who claim to help Veterans, actually do not. I will never name drop out of professional courtesy, but when it takes 3 months or more for a Veteran to close a VA loan, something is wrong.

Let me present an example of what I have seen recently... a current client of ours was turned down by a "big bank" due to his insistence on utilizing his VA home loan. When we finally were able to speak with him, we discovered that he was fully qualified to utilize his VA loan, but the bank wanted to push him and his family into another product.

Why would a bank do this you ask? Profit margins.

An FHA loan might be easier for another mortgage lender to do because that may be where their expertise lies. But when a lender speaks with a client and is unwilling to do the legwork necessary to save them money by taking advantage of their VA loan benefit, that is a serious failure in my book.

Everyone in America wants to make money. Everyone has a family and personal priorities. But a conscious decision is made when one chooses to engage in unscrupulous business practices (predatory lenders anyone?) to make a profit.

We enjoy transparency. It helps to keep everyone, on both sides of the table, honest. And when two parties can engage one another on a level playing field in America, both can benefit and become prosperous.

I am eager to continue serving the Veterans in the City of Houston, and this weekend is a big celebration for our community, Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is a celebration of those who served in our nations armed forces, and is not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors our fallen armed forces members specifically.

Coinciding with the week long festivities spread throughout the city of Houston, was the Houston Texans Salute to Service football game, where the hometown Texans took on the Buffalo Bills for a large crowd of uniformed service members and retired or separated Veterans.

 This was a unique opportunity for Veterans and active duty military members alike to participate in festivities surrounding the game.

Houston Texans Salute to Service Photo Set

There were Bar-b-q cook offs, music by local Houston performers, autograph opportunities with the players, a sneak peak into a Texans practice and the game on Sunday where the Texans put the hurt on the Bills.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Houston Texans, plus... found a home!

A great 1960's renovated property with Travertine and hard wood throughout.
So, good news all around for me today!

I made an offer on a home in southwest Houston and the seller accepted!

This is great news for my family and I as we are really ready to get out of an apartment and get back into living in a home. It is in a wonderfully established, older neighborhood, with clean streets and quite neighbors.

My home search will only be completed when the seller hands me the keys and the property is transferred into my name at closing. Previously, we ran into a problem that came up only after an inspection was done on the home that we walked away from out in the Katy, Tx area.

So I will keep my fingers crossed that everything about this transaction goes smoothly. As a Veteran, I will always have my earnest money protected, and my realtor is working to ensure that throughout the negotiating process, all the items which are a concern for my family and I are addressed.

In other positive news, the Houston Texans replied back to me this morning as well about my photo's and approval of the set.

The Texans cheerleaders were on hand to support the troops!

Thankfully, only two did not make the cut, but that's perfectly ok! They did not add anything of real value to me telling the story. So no issues with deleting them. I can understand that if professional sports is your business, you never want to take a chance that some of the plays you run during practice would be seen on the internet by an opponent and possibly deconstructed for a strategic advantage.

The same reasoning holds true, albeit on a different scale, with photographing classified combat operations. I would never shoot photographs that could reveal tactics or procedures related to how we fight or maneuver.

The photo set is located on my Facebook page here:

When any military unit loses a tactical advantage, it could prove deadly, or for a professional sports team it could lead to losing which depletes revenue.

The Wounded Warrior Project and the USO were both on hand yesterday afternoon leading the festivities in partnership with the Lady Texans, the Lone Star Veterans Organization and of course, photo support from me at Security America Mortgage.

I feel honored and privileged to be granted access to document the event and I will do my best to serve the Veteran community of Houston in all the ways I can throughout the coming months and hopefully years to come. Thank you Evan at the Texans!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Texans' Practice.

Heroes take to Texans' gridiron for BBQ, spectacle: Some gridiron heroes got a chance to meet some real heroes.

Today was awesome. Not only did I get to spend time talking to Vets about ensuring they utilize their benefits, I also had the opportunity to enjoy some time on the football field watching a practice and learning a bit more about the NFL.

I am awaiting approval from my contact within the Texans Media Relations team to publish photos that I took during practice. Normally, it is never allowed to be photographed, but I was not there to take photos of the players practicing, I was there to document the Veterans and active duty military members who were enjoying the fun in the sun.

The USO and Wounded Warrior Project partnered up to make some great things happen for Houston's Veteran's today.

I will post again in the morning about this once I get the thumbs up to release photos to the public.