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Considering a Home Loan?

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

If you’re thinking of buying a home soon, now is a good time to get your financial house in order.  But where do you start?

Understanding what is required to obtain a mortgage can be confusing and overwhelming, especially with so much information available on the internet.

Maurice Matthews, a loan officer with Gold Financial Services at 2822 N. Loop 1604 in San Antonio, suggests prospective homebuyers sit down with a lender before house hunting.

Matthews, who has been a loan officer for 14 years, discussed his job and what people should know about the mortgage process.

Q: When people find out you’re a loan officer, what are some of the first things they ask?

A: The first thing they ask is what is the interest rate. And the interest rate is determined by a lot of different things. A lot of times, people just don’t understand the depth of what the interest rate is determined by. It’s determined by the credit score and the loan amount size. People also ask what their payment might be.

Q: Do you specialize in a certain type of loan?

A: Being prior military (Air Force), I specialize in VA loans. I can do all loans, but I guess I’m sort of partial to military loans. This is a military town. I love my veterans. The VA is probably the best loan out there because it requires no down payment and there is no mortgage insurance on the loan.

Q: What should people know before applying for a home loan?

A: Before you have your Realtor run you around, you need to know where you stand with your credit score and with your debt ratio.  You need to know if you qualify, if you’re a qualified buyer, that’s what a Realtor wants.

Q: How long does it generally take for an applicant to find out how much he or she is qualified for?

A: I can tell them the same day. Once I see where their income is, I can have a really good idea of if they’re qualified or not.

Q: Which type of home loan do most people get?

A: In San Antonio, most of them are VA. But people are hedging toward FHA loans. An FHA loan allows them to get a bit more buying power as compared to a conventional loan. FHA allows them to put 3.5 percent down and the debt to income ratios are not as stringent which again allows people to have more buying power. (FHA guidelines recently changed allowing some applicants to borrow more.)

Q: What do you consider a low credit score?

A: The low on the FHA is about 580. Now if you do what we call a non-qualified loan, which is anything outside of your standard loans such as FHA, VA or USDA, lenders can go a little bit lower than a 580 credit score. But with that there are a few more hurdles that borrowers might have to climb. They might have to put more money down. It’s a case by case basis.

Q: What are some of the financial mistakes prospective homebuyers make during the loan process?

A: Going out shopping. I tell clients not to spend or look at anything until you close.

Q: Can you share an unusual scenario you’ve come across in your career as a loan officer?

A: Man, I’ve seen it all. But when it’s all said and done my objective is to help people. For some it might be immediately, some a year from now. My goal is to help in every single scenario, regardless of what it is.

Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Don Johnson, Realtors. Contact Lisa at 210-380-9006 or lhrivas@realsa.com

Maurice Matthews is a loan officer with Gold Financial Services, a full-service mortgage banker. He can be reached at 210-366-1070 or mmatthews@goldfinancial.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Alamo City Music Hall on East Side Closes

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A local East Side favorite is closing after nearly a decade of hosting live music to make way for a new technology and research center.

Sylvia Fernandez, owner of Alamo City Music Hall at E. Houston and N. Cherry streets, posted on the venue’s Facebook page that:

“It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I must say goodbye to Alamo City Music Hall. Pete (her late husband) and I opened this venue in March of 2010 wanting to bring the live music scene to a new level. Through hard work, dedication and help from all of the fans, promoters and long time staff who have all been with us since the inception, we were able to make Backstage Live /Alamo City Music Hall known as THE live music venue in San Antonio,”

Texas Research and Technology Foundation purchased the Merchant’s Ice complex, a former industrial site, about two years ago, and soon became the landlord for the music venue. The city of San Antonio recently approved an incentive package for the foundation to begin a massive redevelopment of the Merchant’s Ice complex to include business startups, a research component, a hotel, and more.

“All of us at Alamo City Music Hall can’t thank the community enough for your support over the years and to the bands and promoters, we are eternally grateful you chose our venue.,” Fernandez said. We will carry the memories with us forever. I will have updated information regarding a new venture for concerts in the near future.

To read more about the redevelopment, go here.

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Ready to Build or Buy a House?

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By Lisa Harrison Rivas

So, you have a pre-approval letter from your lender and you’re ready to go house hunting.

Now, you must decide if you want to buy an existing home or have a house built.  If you choose to build, will it be a tract home from one of the well-known builders or will you choose a custom home?

A custom home is built to the specifications of the buyer, while tract homes feature similar styles and floor plans. Tract homes are what you see in most subdivisions.

As a Realtor, I can help guide you through the process for buying any of these types of homes.

But if you are considering a custom home, you’ll need land and design plans. Your lender can provide information about home construction loans.

The San Antonio area has numerous custom home builders including Abraham Solis, chief of operations for Future Tech Custom Homes. Solis says his firm can offer construction loans at 4 percent interest and provide help with design plans.

“We have three designers that you can work with each with different price ranges from low to high,” he said. Future Tech Custom Homes start at $250,000.

Solis now runs the business that began with his father’s framing business 30 years ago. He and I recently talked about some basics of custom home building.

Q: What surprises people most about the process?

A: I think for us it was the timing. People were surprised at how fast we were.  And surprised with how we work with them and how everybody treated them.

Q: How long does it take?

A: For a big home, a million-dollar home, it generally takes about eight months.

Q: How does the process work?

A: I have a little system before we even start. When we get the initial commitment contract signed, they put down a deposit and from there, I give them a checklist. They have to go and get all the materials for the flooring, everything, you name it. So, before we even begin anything, they already start doing that checklist. So right before I break ground, on day one, I’m already ordering floors, countertops things like that.

Q: Do you help clients order the materials?

A: We have vendors that we have been working with, so we can send them to our vendors. If they have vendors, that’s fine too.

Q: Where do you build?

A: We mainly build in the north area. We’ll go as far as Austin.

Q: How would you describe Future Tech Custom Homes’ style?

A: It’s Hill Country meets modern contemporary. You still have your metal roofs, the colors outside are the light beiges and on the inside, it has a Spanish feel.

Q:  Why is Tech part of the name?

A: The smart homes. There’s a crew that we work with, they fully automated one of our homes. Apple watches can be used to turn on lights and appliances.  People really like that.

Q:  How much would that technology cost?

A: A good setup would cost about $10,000 or $15,000 for a fully-automated home.

Q: Do most people want one or two stories?

A: One story. People just don’t like to go up the stairs. Another thing that I also heard is that they like to do away with dining rooms as well. They want a nook, that’s it.  An open floor plan and a little nook on the side.

Q: Any unusual requests?

A: One couple had a foyer with a dome ceiling and the woman wanted gold flakes up there. They ended up going with this copper type paint.  It shined, it looked beautiful.

Q: Why would someone have a custom home built?

A:  I’ll say it the way my dad would say it. In a custom home, you get what you want. Everything is pretty much beefed up on a custom home. You’ll get your bang for your buck.


Lisa Harrison Rivas is a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson Realtors. 
If you are planning to buy or sell, feel free to contact her at 210-380-9006 or lhrivas@realsa.com

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IKEA Opens in San Antonio Feb. 13

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IKEA opens in Live Oak on Feb. 13 at 9 am, but customers can start lining up at 5 am.

Visitors will be greeted with family-friendly events, special offers and a chance to win thousands of dollars in gift cards—including three gift cards valued at $500, $1,500 and $2,000.

Throughout the entire day, visitors who join the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program or scan their IKEA FAMILY card in-store at an IKEA FAMILY kiosk, will also be automatically entered for a chance to win one of 20 $250 IKEA gift cards. Two winners will be randomly drawn and announced every hour from 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on opening day.

“We are thrilled to be opening our 49th store in the U.S. and fifth store in the state of Texas,” said Diedre Goodchild, store manager. “We have received such a warm welcome from the San Antonio-area and want to return the favor by welcoming our shoppers with food, fun and iconic IKEA products.”

Entertainment for customers waiting in line will start at 6 a.m., followed by the grand opening ceremony at 8:15 a.m. Doors will officially open at 9 a.m. Customers can learn more about the grand opening plans and promotions at IKEA-USA.com/LiveOak or by joining the free IKEA FAMILY loyalty program.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at affordable prices. During the past year, 160,000 co-workers welcomed 838 million visits to IKEA stores and more than 2.35 billion visits to IKEA.com.

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