Susan Hilton College Station Real Estate

Realtor & Vice President of Sales of Bryan College Station Real Estate

Wife, Mother, REO Team Leader & Sales Manager for the BEST REAL ESTATE AGENTS in Bryan/College Station! Century 21 Beal, Inc. continues to provide the highest quality training and service in the Brazos Valley and it is an honor to be affiliated with this company!

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Susan Hilton College Station Real Estate

Realtor & Vice President of Sales of Bryan College Station Real Estate

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A Market in Recovery: Statistics up to July 2012 Suggest Real Estate Growth

The statistics are in and real estate in the Bryan-College Station area is, in many ways, much improved. There are far too many factors, however, to blatantly claim that the economy is back afloat and real estate will return in full to how it was before the market collapse. But it is safe to say that things are looking a bit better, and if things continue to improve at this rate, they just might.

What am I talking about, though? Well, real estate statistics from residential homes to recreational townhouses have been calculated and documented in every category by month for the year of 2012 by the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. These statistics, and comparisons with the statistics of the past three years, show a few promising results.

Total real estate sales, for example, have been increasing steadily from the beginning of the year. In January, the total sale amount was just 2.6 million. It increased consistently, however, climbing to 26.6 million in March, then 51.7 million in May, ending at 52.9 million at the end of July.

This extreme climb unfortunately represents an overall yearly trend, so that it is not likely for the total sales of real estate to continue climbing at such a rate for the next several months. The trend in real estate sales consistently peaks over the summer months, usually in June, and then begins to fall back down starting in July. But even despite this tendency, recent yearly statistics show that overall sales are climbing yearly.

For instance, the total monthly sales for all real estate Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Susan Hilton | Discussion: 1 Comment »

Using Technology to Find a Home – Does Zillow Help?

Through the technological development of modern industries, many dealings which were once done in person are now accomplishing many of the same achievements online, without so much as a spoken word – even in Aggieland.  This is obvious in the growing online market, visible through companies like Amazon, and is required for most, if not all, modern retailers to continue surviving. So why not the Real Estate Business? Conventional Real Estate has endured as a personal industry for much longer than many others, but the development and growth of the website, “Zillow” is trying to change everything.

So what is Zillow?

Zillow is an online, “user-friendly” website that allows potential home-buyers and sellers to view different options in their area without leaving the comfort of their homes or needing to contact a real-estate agent for insight on properties for sale in the area. Zillow currently has over 4 million homes listed for sale across the nation, allowing a venue for sellers to post their houses to a broad audience, and giving potential home buyers an opportunity to view a wide variety of options before making and committing decisions in the home-buying process.

But houses on the market is not all that Zillow has to offer. Zillow also provides 50,000+ ratings and reviews on local real estate agents, as well as 10,000+ reviews on mortgage lenders. From buying and selling to renting, leasing, financing and remodeling, Zillow has everything, and the information and reviews to back it up. Zillow also has a “Zillow Advice” section that allows customers to ask direct, specific questions about online browsing and the different offerings and aspects of Zillow.

How do they do it?

Zillow divides its search engine into individual houses, categorized by location first. Each of which provides a detailed description, price, statistics on the house (like number of bedrooms and baths, square footage, etc.), address, multiple pictures of the area, estimated mortgage, and much more. The search engine is also categorized by factors such as houses for sale vs houses for rent, houses recently sold, and even a “make me move” category which entices you with a cut-rate deal on a generally beautiful land that might be viewed as a gem, coming through the hands of the right Realtor.

Imagine a “Google” type home page, split into the categories “Homes, Rentals, Mortgage Rates, Advice, Professionals, Local Info, Blog, and More.” Then you select your category, enter in your zip code or a specific address for the real-estate you wish to search, and then POW: you have your results. Typing in a local zip code like 77840 in the “houses” catagory, for instance, will bring up over six-hundred results in the central, down-town area alone! Of these there is over 250 for sale, almost 350 for rent, only 3 recently sold, and then a precious 5 under the “Make Me Move” category.

Each house is posted by the seller, and it can be viewed how recently it was put on Zillow. For some locations and houses the information is abundant, while others are lacking certain statistics, descriptions, and pictures. Thus already it becomes clear that Zillow is not an end in and of itself, but rather a broad beginning.

How can you use it?

The CEO of Zillow, Spencer Rascoff, in an interview with Rick Roque, claims that “the company we resemble the most in both strategy and business is WebMD.” Rascoff compares how WebMD “showers you with information and articles,” but never goes as far as to hand over the prescription themselves. That is the doctor’s job, and WebMD only serves as a beginning for the customer to get an idea of what their symptoms are before they decide to see a doctor.

Zillow functions in much of the same way as WebMD. Zillow gives an idea of what the real-estate in a certain area might be like, and even gives specific prices, images, and statistics on houses which serve as a great starting position for a potential home buyer. But Zillow does not lead you through the house to inspect it yourself, and it does not put you in direct contact with the seller of that house. That is the real estate agent’s job, and Zillow can only point you in the direction of the correct real estate to choose, once you have an idea of what you are looking for. Rascoff himself admits that Zillow is a starting point, and should “you want a more specific appraisal then you should be working with a real-estate professional.”

And of course, in all reality, Texas is a non-disclosure state, so the public itself cannot disclose any  more than the Realtors know themselves about the actual price of the real-estate. Necessarily, then, interested home-buyers must deal with local real estate agents if they wish to get the most accurate information for real-estate in the Brazos valley.

So while the Real Estate industry has not succumbed entirely to the rapidly converting online business world, it has still provided a useful, if not necessary, tool to help home-buyers begin their adventures. By using Zillow as a starting point for real estate in the Brazos valley, it can be incredibly useful to learn a general idea about prices, statistics, and descriptions of houses in a certain area, as well as receiving possibly useful feedback on local Realtors and other professionals. But it only truly serves as a first stepping stone in the exciting process of home buying, and to continue to the next level it is necessary to get in contact with local professionals, and use the tools and resources of local real estate companies to research further into your future real estate interest.

As a real estate agent active in the listing and selling of real estate in the Brazos Valley I have found that the information on Zillow is interesting but often incorrect. Don’t rely on software from a company well outside the Bryan College Station (Aggieland) real estate market to give you information that really only a local professional Real Estate Agent can provide.

PS – Susan Hilton is Bryan College Station, Texas’ real estate specialist in foreclosure sales and real estate agent career building so if you need help –

CALL!                         979-764-2100

Posted by Susan Hilton | Discussion: 6 Comments »

Buying a ‘Green’ Home in College Station, Texas

When a home is marketed as being “green” in Bryan, College Station or beyond there are several things to consider before purchasing the home on faith alone. There are many variances on definitions of the word “green.” This term can represent many different things, including environmental conservation, responsibility to the community, and financial savings. Buyers should be wary to purchase a home believing it is “green” without first fully understanding the advertised features.

“Green” certifications are available for prospective home buyers, but can be rather expensive. These certifications set services or products apart as being environmentally sound. Several companies set standards for “green” products as well as compose and administer programs to encourage “greener” lifestyles and products.

Defining “green” isn’t where the complications stop. It is important to know differences between terminology to fully understand what a home and seller is really offering to the buyer. The term “eco-friendly” is not the same thing as “energy efficient.” This popular subject of improving the environment and essentially living a lifestyler healthier for the environment comes with its own jargon. Words such as greenie, solar, conservation, compost, vegetarian, vegan, reusable, locavore, herbivore, mindful consumption, carbon footprint, ecological footprint, vermicomposting, vermiculture, biofuel, ethanol, biodiesel, biomimicry, post-consumer recycled, compact fluorescent lightbulb, emissions, pollution, organic, global warming, and environmental can be just plain confusing.

Getting your terminology right is one of the more important things when it comes to dealing with “green” living. To define all of these words however, would take quite a while, so instead we will focus on what it means for your house to be classified as “green.” Keep in mind also, that even if your “green”-friendly features in your house are not certified, they can still benefit the house by making it easier to live in and possibly even increasing the value.

It is wise for homeowners to discuss any “green” features they wish to add to their house with an expert so they can more accurately consider their options. This will give homeowners a better idea of what they are considering in comparison to the entire field of “green” features, and will clarify what value it can add to the house. One benefit of this is that the buyer won’t make a return on some additions, such as solar panels, for up to several years. It is also smart for homeowners who add “green” features to their home to keep a running record of all of the items that have been added to the house. Tags, packaging receipts, and photos of these improvements should be kept and filed away. Realtors representing sellers should ask for these pieces of proof.

It is vital for consumers to ask questions, repeatedly, to ensure they fully understand what they are getting and to ensure that they are getting exactly what the seller is advertising. It is unwise for a consumer to take the sellers word for it or to feel that he or she has enough proof simply by looking at something that appears to be a “green” feature.

If you feel uncomfortable with the information you have about a “green” feature, do not hesitate to ask an expert. NAR Green employees are a great resource. It is beneficial to the environment to add “green” features to your house, however there are also benefits to making your living space comfortable and cost effective that are not technically considered “green.”

When you are advertising your home for sale, be wary of calling it “green” without the proper certifications and standards required by certain programs. Instead, it is effective to include statements about how you have made the house more environmentally friendly and cost effective. “We upgraded our insulation and we changed our windows” is a good alternative to using the term “green,” which can be difficult to defend. Many avoid using “green” and instead use “quality.”

There are “green” investments that are worth the cost to many buyers. There are several choices of course, the value varying depending on the homeowner’s opinion of what is most valuable. Some are low cost and some are more of an investment.

You can check your doors and your windows in your home for leaks. Making sure that the weather stripping around the home is in good shape is one way to do this. Also check to make sure that all the latches and locks are tightly secured.

Another thing you can do is switch to compact fluorescent lightbulbs. These light bulbs may cost more up front, but over time they pay back by consuming less electricity and lasting up to 10 times longer. Your savings become evident when your electricity bills begin to drop.

Spending extra money on low VOC paint is worth it to the environment. When you use paint that does not off-gas volatile organic compounds, it makes the environment healthier than it would’ve been with your alternative.

Change leaky faucets and install showerheads and spouts that are low flow. Checking for an efficient hot water heater can also save you money in the long run, as an inefficient hot water heater can actually be more draining on your budget than the cost of installing a new one altogether.

Ceiling fans are also a smart installment, as they increase air flow throughout your home and give you’re a/c a break during the long hot summers. Putting up blinds and other shades contribute as well to taking a load off of the a/c in a home by providing shade and cooling off rooms that are shaded.

Installing a rainwater catchment system will also make your home more “green.” Those who live in the country know that in today’s time it doesn’t take much to dry up a well, and it doesn’t take much rainwater to fill up a catch system and rainwater may be the very thing that gets you through a drought.

Choosing naturally “green” flooring and countertops will also avoid off-gassing that won’t be avoided in cheaper options.

Many people choose to implement “green” features into their home for cost savings, but the biggest benefit is in helping the environment. You don’t have to make large investments either to go “green.” All it requires are small daily choices that you can do to help out the environment.

PS – Susan Hilton is Bryan College Station, Texas’ real estate specialist in foreclosure sales and real estate agent career building so if you need help – CALL! 979-219-3970

Posted by Susan Hilton | Discussion: No Comments »

We BUY a HOME and Lose the HOUSE to Foreclosure in Bryan College Station, Tx

Working with buyers and sellers of the Brazos Valley I have learned that we BUY HOMES but when we lose them to foreclosure they are now just HOUSES.  We want to move into a HOME for our families but when times get tough and someone gets behind on their home mortgage the bank only considers it a house – an asset.

So, if you have gotten behind in your home mortgage and you have not been able to successfully complete a loan modification the bank is going to start down the foreclosure path.  Of course you may be able to bring your loan payments up to date but otherwise your options are very limited – there are no more loan options that allow you to stay in the house.

At this point our goal changes. It goes from helping you keep the home and changes to giving you more control over how you leave the house.

 

WHAT IS A FORECLOSURE?

When someone does not make their loan payments following the agreement made through the loan documents then the bank will foreclose taking back their asset.  Foreclosure is a LEGAL process. During this process the lender (one who owns the mortgage) sells the property to recover the unpaid loan amount. Normally this process begins 30-90 days after you stop making payments. At the foreclosure sale on the first Tuesday of each month at the county court house, the lender will become the property owner if no one else buys the property. In Texas most foreclosures are non judicial – no judge or lawsuit is needed.

POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF A FORECLOSURE

IF A FORECLOSURE – WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?
  • eviction
  • sale of the house to someone else
HOW CAN I AVOID THIS?
  • CALL ME and let me work with you to see if you qualify for a short sale or can get a loan modification!!! Bryan & College Station homeowners behind on their payments should NOT have to go to foreclosure! There are options!

 

979-764-2100

Are You Behind on Your Mortgage Payment in Bryan or College Station, Tx?

 

Foreclosures Are Happening in Bryan and College Station, Tx Too!

Bryan College Station Foreclosures Available!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Susan Hilton | Discussion: 2 Comments »

Are You Behind on Your Mortgage Payment in Bryan or College Station, Tx?

Are you behind on your mortgage payments? Do you know someone in Bryan or College Station, Tx who is? Do you know what happens next?

Since going through a foreclosure is one of the most traumatic things that can happen with a family, outside death or illness, if this can be prevented let’s choose THAT option!

Bank of America has published a Home Transition Guide to help provide specific instructions on how to go through the process.

Remember if you are behind on your payments you have several options –

Over the next few weeks I will be amending this post and adding links for each of the above topics. I will also be posting ideas and plans for homeowners to consider. My one request is… PLEASE don’t wait until the bank starts calling. If you find you are going to miss a house payment CALL ME and let me help you communicate with the bank and figure out if a loan modification or short sale is an option. The last thing you want is to get behind in your payments, not be able to catch up, have the house foreclosed, be evicted from the house, and then after you lose the home…. owe INCOME TAXES ON THE BANK’s LOSS!!!!!

Last week I had someone call saying they purchased a home, lost their job, lost the home to foreclosure, ruined their credit for years and thought it was all over.  NO! Now they have received a letter stating they had a loan guaranteed by the federal government and now they STILL OWE $58,000 MORE. If they had $58,000 they would have made their house payments. If they cannot pay the $58,000 this debt will be reported to the IRS and is now a federal lien which will not go away.  If they had gone through the Short Sale process rather than the foreclosure process this could have been avoided. So, Don’t Wait if you are behind in your payments!!!

 

Susan Hilton

979-764-2100

 

Posted by Susan Hilton | Discussion: 4 Comments »

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