Tucson Real Estate and Community News

Aug. 14, 2018

VA Loans Help Military Members Own a Home With No Money Down

We owe a lot to the brave men and women of our military. Their families deserve a lot of respect as well. They make considerable sacrifices for us and they don't expect anything in return. Taking care of daily expenses can sometimes be a bit of a burden. So you can imagine what the idea of saving up for a Tucson home feels like. Fortunately, VA loans help military members own a home of their own.

Current and former military members in good standing can utilize VA loans to purchase their Tucson home with no money down.

Benefits of VA Loans

One of the biggest benefits of VA loans is that you don't have to put any money down. That eliminates a huge hurdle in the homeowner process. And unlike FHA loans, no one pays mortgage insurance either. When a buyer puts less than 20% of the purchase price down on a conventional or FHA loan, they pay extra for PMI (private mortgage insurance) each month. When you don't have to pay that, it can save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year.

There's a Fee

Search Tucson homes for saleEven with no money down, VA loans require that borrowers pay a funding fee. For buyers using VA loans for the first time, this fee typically costs about 2.15% of the amount borrowed. However, if you put 10% or more down, the fee reduces to 1.25%. National Guard members and Reservists pay around 2.4% for their first time or 1.5% with 10% down. If this is your second or third time (or more) using your VA loan benefit, you pay around 3.3% of the loan amount. Still, this fee is less than the amount you would need to save for your down payment through an FHA or conventional loan. And you still avoid paying PMI.

Am I Eligible?

Active-duty military members tend to qualify after their first six months of service. There's a six-year wait for National Guardsmen and Reservists unless they get called to duty within that time. Then, they become eligible after 181 days of service. During a time of war, anyone serving active duty becomes eligible for a VA loan after just 90 days. You will need a Certificate of Eligibility. However, your lender can obtain this for you after you start the mortgage process if need be.

VA Loan Requirements

The Department of Veterans Affairs guarantees the loans. But they are not a mortgage company. You must qualify for a loan through your lender's specific credit score, debt ratio, and ability to repay requirements. Most lenders like to see a minimin credit score of 620. If you bring a little cash to the table (in the form of a down payment), they might be able to work with a lower score. The Tucson home you purchase must be your primary residence. The highest amount you can borrow through VA loans is $453,100. For most Tucson buyers, this will be plenty.

Looking for a new Tucson home? Interested in utilizing your VA loan benefit to purchase it? Contact me today.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
Aug. 7, 2018

Tucson's Birthday Party Celebration

In 1775, founding father Hugo O'Conor authorized the construction of the Presidio San Agustin del Tucson. This fort protected the City from outside forces and allowed it to grow in its early stages. To celebrate, the Presidio will be hosting Tucson's birthday party celebration on its official 243rd birthday, August 20th. And they invite the public to join them.

The official Tucson's birthday party takes place on August 20th at the Presidio Museum. Enjoy a pre-birthday celebration at Southern AZ Transportation Museum on the 19th.

What: Tucson's Birthday Party
Where: Presidio Museum (196 N Court Ave)
When: Monday, August 20th, 4:15 pm to 8:30 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: Presidio Museum (520) 837-8119 or via email

Tucson's Birthday Party 2018

Search Tucson homes for saleFestivities for Tucson's birthday party begin at 4:15 pm, when the Presidio unveils its new sign. Then, enjoy dinner at La Cocina Restaurant (201 N Court Ave) from 5 pm to 7:30 pm, when happy hour is in full effect. The restaurant offers a no-host bar as well as a taco bar for guests. Must be at least 21 with a valid ID to consume alcohol on the premises. Gertie & the TO Boyz perform live on-stage at the restaurant. Los Changuitos Feos perform as well. For dessert? How about a little free birthday cake created by La Cocina's very own pastry chef Nick Carson? 

After dinner, head back to the Presidio for a free one hour tour. Beginning at 7:30 pm, museum historian Ken Scoville takes guests on a guided tour through the museum. Learn about our city's history as well as how the Presidio helped us become the thriving community it is today.

Pre-Birthday Party Celebration

Want to know even more about our city's history? The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum celebrates Tucson's birthday with a free party of their own on Sunday, August 19th. Beginning at noon, the Mayor presents an official birthday proclamation for the City of Tucson. Then, listen to Mariachi Innovacion and the Southern Comfort Blue Grass Band perform live. And, of course, there'll be birthday cake.

Give a warm "happy birthday" to the city at Tucson's birthday party. Enjoy birthday cake twice, if you'd like. And learn all about how our city evolved throughout the years. These events can be enjoyed by the entire family. So, don't miss out on the fun!

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Community News
July 31, 2018

What is an FHA Loan?

Unless you intend to pay cash for your Tucson home, you most likely need to obtain a mortgage loan. As I discussed last week, saving up for a down payment is easier than you think. But, when it comes to mortgage loans, which one works best? That depends on your particular situation. For many first-time home buyers, an FHA loan jumps to the top of the list. Why? Read on to find out.

An FHA loan allows a buyer to purchase a Tucson home with as little as 3.5% down and a lower credit score than a conventional mortgage.

What is an FHA Loan?

Search Tucson homes for saleAn FHA loan is one of three mortgages backed by the government. VA and USDA mortgages are the other two. With the FHA's backing, lenders tend to loosen their guidelines slightly in comparison to other non-government backed loans. Now, the FHA does not approve loans. They simply back the loan in case you default. For this, they charge an upfront insurance policy that is rolled into the loan. It runs about 1.75% of the loan amount as of the writing of this post. That could change in the future. They also charge a monthly premium of 0.8% of the current loan balance. However, this proves popular with first-time home buyers because they require just 3.5% down and take on customers with lower credit scores. Although, if you can afford to put more down, it's highly recommended that you do so.

FHA loans also allow the use of gifts as part of your down payment. This includes sellers paying as much as 6% of the closing costs on your Tucson home. No prepayment penalty exists. Also, an FHA loan can be assumable. As interest rates go up, this could be a great selling point in the future. That's because the interest rate stays the same as when you purchased the home. And, you can buy a home through an FHA loan even if you had a bankruptcy as recently as two to three years ago.

FHA Loan Requirements

Minimum standards vary from lender to lender. They tend to be higher than FHA's minimum requirements. No minimum income is set. However, you do need to show enough of an income to repay the loan, of course. Lenders like to see a debt-to-income ratio of around 31% of your house payment and 41% for total debt (including credit cards, personal loans, car payments, etc.). Some lenders allow up to 50%. Most lenders accept no less than a 580 credit score. Some want to see a score of 620 or higher. Anything between 500 and 580 will require a much higher down payment. Even so, that doesn't guarantee that you'll qualify for an FHA loan.

Is an FHA loan right for your Tucson home purchase? Set up an appointment with your lender to find out. It's definitely an option worth exploring, especially if you have less than stellar credit and a low down payment. Then, when you're ready to start looking for your next home, contact me.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
July 24, 2018

Saving for a Down Payment is Easier Than You Think

Financial experts agree that putting 20% of the purchase price down on the Tucson home of your dreams is ideal. This helps you avoid paying a private mortgage insurance (PMI) and lowers your monthly payment. When you're considering a $180,000 home, that means coming up with a $36,000 down payment. And that's before your closing costs. Don't fret, though. Saving for a down payment is easier than you think.

Overwhelmingly, buyers cite "saving up for a down payment" as one of the biggest hurdles to buying a home. But it's easier to save up than you might think, especially if you think slightly outside the box.

Where to Look for Down Payment Assistance

Lender Programs

Saving for a down payment - Click here to search all available Tucson homes for saleFirst of all, don't let that 20% figure scare you. Many lenders offer programs that allow a down payment of just 3% to 3.5%. That brings the number down to somewhere between $5400 and $6300 on that $180,000 Tucson home purchase. For most veterans (active and retired), the down payment and PMI both disappear. You can buy a home with 0% down. Of course, if you can afford to put any money down, you should. That'll just lessen the amount you borrow and lower your monthly mortgage payment. Several lenders offer special programs for first-time buyers as well. It doesn't hurt to ask your lender a few questions to find out what kinds of programs they offer for buyers in your situation.

Government Programs

Homeownership helps the economy. Buyers consistently rank "saving up for a down payment" as the biggest hurdle to buying a home. The government wants to help. That's why they've set up certain programs to help you save up for your down payment. Tucson offers a down payment assistance program called the Pima Tucson Homebuyer's Solution. It allows you to borrow 3-5% of your down as a "silent second" and gives you 36 months of equal, no interest payments to pay it back. The Tucson Housing and Community Development also offers programs for home buyers that meet certain requirements.

Wedding Registry

In the past, wedding gifts were given to help a couple furnish their household. Today, many couples cohabitate before they wed. So, they don't really need a blender or a toaster. A current trend for couples getting married is to ask for money instead of gifts. The amount of money a guest would normally spend on a gift could be donated to the couple's online registry through places like CMG Financial's Home Fund Me and Feather the Nest. Once you create a profile and receive your link, add the link to your wedding invitations in lieu of a gift registry.

Employer Programs

Some companies offer Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) programs for low and moderate-income workers. Terms and benefits vary depending on what kind of program the employer provides. Talk to your human resources officer or benefits personnel to find out if your company offers any EAH programs.

The Seller

Finally, ask the seller for help. It happens all the time. When the seller grants concessions (paying the closing costs, lowering the asking price, paying buyer fees), the money that the buyer would have paid for those expenses could be transferred over to the down payment. There are limits to the concessions, however, depending on your type of loan. Ask your lender what those limits might be for you.

As you can see, buyers have several options to help them save up for a down payment on their Tucson home purchase. With a little homework, you might be able to find the assistance you need to buy the home of your dreams sooner rather than later.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
July 17, 2018

What Stops Buyers from Purchasing Your Tucson Home?

Has your home been on the market for a while? Has the initial steady stream of buyers whittled down to a tiny trickle? Not seeing any offers? What stops buyers from purchasing your Tucson home? The answer might be simpler than you think.

Has your Tucson home been on the market for a while without so much as a nibble? Learn about potential "sale killers" and how to avoid them.

Avoid These Potential Tuscon Home Sale Killers

Damage to the Property

Search Tucson homes for saleProperty damage makes up one of the biggest killers for a Tucson home sale. Even silly things like a squeaky hinge or broken floorboard make buyers wonder what bigger issues might lie elsewhere. Your home needs to be in tip-top shape to receive top dollar. Fix/repair whatever you can right away.

Foul Stains and Smells 

Another Tucson home sale killer involves stains and smells. No one wants to see your pet's favorite place to go to the bathroom. Nor do they want to smell it. Cigarettes and pets provide the worst smells in any home. And, they are the toughest smells to get rid of. Deep clean the carpeting, upholstery, and draperies. Then, scrub the walls. Not only does cigarette smell penetrate here, but it leaves behind an ugly residue that dulls the paint or wallpaper. Clean out your kitty litter box every single day. And always make sure it's empty and out of sight before a showing. 

For strong odors, go to your local home improvement store. Pick up some zeolite/volcanic rock. Simply set it out in the sun for a couple of hours to activate it. Then, sprinkle it into decorative bowls and place the bowls inconspicuously around your home. They absorb bad smells quickly and continuously for weeks at a time.

Clutter

No buyer wants to buy a hoarder's house. You must declutter. Get rid of all the "extras". Extra clothing, furniture, kitchenware, artwork. All of it needs to go. But don't toss things in a drawer, stuff them in a closet, or set them in the garage. Buyers look in all of these places. Instead, rent a storage unit off-site and put all of your "extras" in there for safekeeping until your Tucson home sells.

"Unique" Decorating Choices

Do you fancy yourself a bit of a DIY decorator? That accent wall that you carefully sponge-painted back in the '90s might not appeal to today's buyer. In fact, it could be the reason buyers aren't interested in your property. Clean and simple never goes out of style. Create a neutral palette on the walls, windows, and flooring. Then, add pops of color with throw pillows, vases, or lamps in each room. Choose one or two colors to use as accents throughout your entire home. More than that will feel overwhelming to a buyer.

Lack of Any Curb Appeal

Dead spots in the lawn. Overgrown shrubs. Weeds everywhere. Children's toys lying about. All of this could be killing your Tucson home sale. Reseed where necessary. Trim the hedges. Pull out those weeds. And always make sure toys and tools are safely tucked away. Also, keep trash bins neatly out of sight behind the fence. Then, buyers might be enticed to actually step inside your home.

Not Being Flexible

Have you limited private tours to between 1 pm and 3:30 pm every Tuesday and Thursday? Don't want to negotiate repairs of issues that come up on a home inspection? Have you decided that you won't even consider any offers below list price? If you don't want to kill a sale on your Tucson home, you're going to need to be flexible. That doesn't mean you should be a pushover. Talk to your agent about what is considered reasonable where these issues are involved.

Less Than Desirable Agent

And speaking of agents...is yours rude, brash, or unhelpful? It might be time to replace them. Start interviewing new ones. Only settle for someone who you feel comfortable representing you. Make sure you get references, too.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Selling Your Home
July 2, 2018

Property Liens: What Are They? How Do I Find Out if I Have One?

One thing that could provide an issue when selling your Tucson home is if you have any property liens attached to it. Any liens associated with your property must be settled in full before you can sell your home. But you might not even know you have one. What are property liens and how can you find out if you have any of them?

A property lien might delay or even destroy your Tucson home sale. But they are pretty easy to locate and rectify if you take the time to look before you list.

What is a Property Lien?

Search Tucson homes for saleFirst of all, you might be wondering what a property lien is. When a debt isn't paid, the debtor might attach a lien to your property. When you go to sell your Tucson home, the lien must be cleared up to provide a clean title. Even if you try to refinance, a lien could hold up the process. Contractors place liens on properties when they aren't paid for work they performed on your home. Forgot to file taxes? Uncle Sam places a lien on your home. So will your local tax assessor's office when property taxes aren't paid. And, if you skip out on child support, medical expenses or credit card bills, a judgment lien could be placed on your property.

How Do I Find Out If I Have a Lien on my Tucson Home?

Sometimes, you might not even be aware that a property lien was placed on your home. And, sometimes, mistakes are made. It's best to get these cleared up before you place your Tucson home on the market to avoid delays. The Pima County Assessor's Office provides one of the quickest and easiest places to search. Call the Pima County Recorder's Office at (520) 791-4247 for more information. You pay nothing for the search but might need to pay a small fee for a copy of the lien. Title companies also perform property lien searches for a fee.

I Found a Lien. Now What?

If your search uncovers a property lien, just breathe. It's not the end of the world. Has the lien been paid? If so, contact the lien holder to obtain a lien release (proof that it's been paid). Do you still need to pay the lien? Contact the lien holder to find out what is owed and arrange to make payment. This needs to be done before you sell your Tucson home.

Property liens can be a stumbling block to selling your Tucson home. Luckily, they are also relatively easy to rectify. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I'd be happy to help in any way possible.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Selling Your Home
June 26, 2018

Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018

In just 10 days, we celebrate America's independence. For many, that means gathering with friends and family for a backyard barbecue. No matter what you're doing during the day, you're going to want to spend the evening at the Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018. 

When the sun goes down, the skies light up thanks to the Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018 at the Tucson Convention Center. Admission is FREE.

What: Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018
Where: Tucson Convention Center, Parking Lot B & C
When: Wednesday, July 4th, 7 pm
Admission: FREE
Contact: Tucson Convention Center (520) 791-4101

Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018

Search Tucson homes for saleFor over 20 years now, the City has partnered up with Desert Diamond Casinos to put on a pyrotechnic display that rivals all others. The Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018 looks like it may be the biggest and best yet. Food vendors ensure no one goes hungry. Just make sure you bring some cash to pay for their fine cuisine and beverages. Organizers have family-friendly activities scheduled for the evening. But, after the sun goes down, the skies above Tucson light up! 

Parking for the Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018 is provided absolutely free of charge. Guests are welcome to visit Parking Lot B or C of the convention center to watch the show. However, the parking spaces here tend to fill up pretty quickly. Luckily, Sun Link runs all around the convention center. Just park anywhere along their route. Pay at the conveniently located vending machine near each stop. The shuttle drops passengers off at Cushing St, right at the Tucson Convention Center parking lots. The last shuttle leaves approximately 30 minutes after the fireworks end.

What are you doing this 4th of July? Barbecuing? Golfing? Going to the grand opening of the brand new Cactus Springs Water Park? When you're done with that, watch the Tucson July 4th Fireworks Show 2018 at the convention center. Spending time with your loved ones is the best way to celebrate our freedom.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Tucson Events
June 19, 2018

Tucson Washer Rebate Program in Effect Now

How old is your clothes washer? Is it time for an upgrade? If so, now's a great time to do so. The City has implemented its Tucson Washer Rebate Program to help Tucson Water customers pay for their new washer. When you get rid of your old washer and replace it with a new one, you could receive as much as $200.

If you're interested in reducing your water usage, a $200 rebate through the Tucson Washer Rebate Program can help pay for a high-efficiency model upgrade.

Tucson Washer Rebate Program

Search Tucson homes for saleWhen you live in a desert climate like ours, reducing your water usage should be at the top of your mind. According to the EPA, the clothes washer makes up approximately 17% of our water usage. A high-efficiency washer can reduce a Tucson household's annual usage by thousands of gallons each year. Less water means lower utility bills as well.

Do You Qualify for the Tucson Washer Rebate Program?

In order to qualify, you must be a current Tucson Water customer. Any high-efficiency washer purchased after August 1st, 2015 qualifies for the $200 rebate as long as it's on the approved product list. You also must have had an account with Tucson Water at the time of purchase. Finally, your old washer needs to be completely removed from your household and not used in your home anymore. 

Applying for the Tucson Washer Rebate Program

If you meet the qualifications listed above, download an application here. You must include your original purchase receipt with your application. You'll also need the model, brand and the serial number of your previous washer. Once approved, you'll see the rebate as a $200 credit on your utility bill. The entire process may take six to eight weeks to complete.

Do your part to reduce your water usage. The $200 rebate from the Tucson Washer Rebate Program will help pay for a high-efficiency upgrade. And you'll save money on your utility bills as well. This makes sense from a monetary standpoint as well as an eco-friendly standpoint. 

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Homeowner Tips
June 12, 2018

What Makes a Tucson Home Inspection So Important?

Buying a home takes time, effort, and, of course, money. It seems natural that you might want to skip the home inspection in order to save yourself a few bucks. You're already spending so much with the downpayment, loan fees, title fees, agent fees, etc. What makes a Tucson home inspection so important that you can't just avoid it altogether? I'll tell you why. Because the few hundred dollars you save today could end up costing you thousands in repairs down the road.

What makes a Tucson home inspection so important? An inspector looks in places you don't normally see on your initial walk-through of a property. They might find issues you were unaware of.

What Makes a Tucson Home Inspection So Important?

Looks Can Be Deceiving

Search Tucson homes for saleSo, the home you're looking at offers a great open floor plan. The chef's kitchen appears to be a dream come true. And the spa-like master bathroom sends shivers up your spine. However, it's what you don't see that could get you into trouble. No home is perfect. Even newly constructed homes could have problems. A Tucson home inspection will look at the areas you don't normally view in a walkthrough with your agent (the roof, the crawl space below, the attic above, etc.). The inspector also looks for leaks, structural problems, and possible safety issues. Knowing what's going on behind your walls can better prepare you for what to expect once you own the home.

Gives You Options

A Tucson home inspection gives you the option to go back to the seller to request that repairs be made before the final sale. Or, your agent can negotiate a reduction in the sale price to compensate for the cost of repairs. If the inspection uncovers issues far beyond your tolerance level, you can back out of the sale completely. But you must put the home inspection contingency in writing and complete an actual home inspection first.

Cost Effective

Spending $400 to $500 on a Tucson home inspection may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, the report may uncover plumbing, electrical or other issues that could cost you thousands down the road. If that happens, you'll be wishing you spent the few hundred initially to find out about these problems before you signed on the dotted line.

At the very least, a Tucson home inspection provides the buyer with peace of mind. And you can't put a price on that. Talk to your Tucson REALTOR® about home inspectors they recommend. They work with a wide variety of professionals every day. So, they can be a valuable resource for reliable people.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Buying a Home
June 5, 2018

Free Summer Meal Program for Tucson Kids Now Open

According to FeedingAmerica.com, more than 41 million people in the USA struggle with enough food to eat each day. More than one million of them live right here in Arizona. Of those, almost 371,000 of them are children. In fact, one in four Arizona children experiences hunger each and every day. As one of the richest countries in the world, this shouldn't happen. Schools provide the only full meal some children receive every day. But when school's out, where do they go? Tucson Unified School District offers a free summer meal program for Tucson kids that continues through mid-July. No judgment. Just good, quality food.

More than 370,000 Arizona children go hungry every day. But they don't have to. TUSD offers a free summer meal program for all Tucson kids ages 1 to 18 (breakfast and lunch) through July 18th.

Free Summer Meal Program for Tucson Kids

Search Tucson homes for saleMost of the schools in the Tuscon Unified School District (TUSD) and off-site locations with recreational programs offer a free summer meal program for kids enrolled in their summer activities. However, this offer also extends to any child between one and 18 who aren't enrolled in a summer program. You'll find a complete list of participating locations here. With the exception of July 4th, kids receive breakfast and lunch absolutely free of charge every Monday through Friday. The program closes on the 4th for the holiday. Just show up and your child will be served. Any parent wishing to eat with their kids pay just $2 for breakfast and $3 for lunch (exact change, please). 

What's on the Menu?

Enjoy pancakes, bagels, burritos or a sunrise sandwich for breakfast. Then, fill up on hamburgers, corn dogs, pizza, calzones, chicken nuggets, and other items for lunch. Each day offers its own unique menu. For those with nut allergies, please be aware that some items may include peanuts or peanut oil. Ask before being served just to make sure. Take a peek at the complete breakfast and lunch menu on the TUSD website.

Do you know someone who could use a little help feeding their kids? Let them know about the free summer meal program available for Tucson kids. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Food Services office at 225-4700. A bilingual helpline has also been set up at 800-352-3792 for those who may need it. Kids should never have to go hungry. Healthy bodies need a healthy mind to operate them. Food nourishes both. Help me spread the word about this very important summer program for our children. Thank you.

Rebecca Schulte, Schulte Real Estate Group, Your Source for Tucson Real Estate 

Posted in Community News