4 Perks of Winter Home Buying

Buying a home in the winter isn’t such a bad idea after all. Here are four reasons why.
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Winter is upon us, and today we wanted to show you four different perks of buying a home in the winter. The market may not be as active as it is in the spring and summer, but it can be just as beneficial.
1. Motivated sellers. Since spring and summer are the most active seasons, many sellers wait until then to list their home. That means there are fewer homes on the market now, but sellers who are listed often have strong motivation to sell their homes quickly. 2. Less competition, more leverage. Just like there are fewer sellers on the market, there are fewer buyers too. This means less competition for you as a buyer and sellers who are more willing to accommodate you. A low number of potential buyers also gives you more time to make decisions. Use this knowledge to your advantage when making an offer.

This market can be just as beneficial.

3. Viewing a home in the winter. Although the winter months can be more hectic around the house, viewing a home during this time can give you a unique perspective. It’s also a great time to see how involved the neighborhood is around this time of year. Do a lot of people decorate their homes and yards? Do they come together for a theme? 4. Vendors are less busy. Everyone, from lenders to movers to title companies, tends to be in their slow season around this time of year because of the lack of buyers on the market. This gives you a distinct advantage in working with the different vendors on your time, not theirs. Lenders are able to focus more attention on you and push loans through quicker. Movers are also more flexible with scheduling and may even be open to negotiating prices. While you may be tempted to pack in your home search for the winter, don’t postpone. Now is the perfect time for a buyer’s market to work in your favor. If you have any questions for us, don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Enjoy Christmas in McAllen With These Special Events

Christmas time is here! Check out these wonderful holiday events and enjoy holiday lights, Christmas movies, and more!
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It’s that time of year again! When it comes to hot chocolate, Christmas lights, Santa sightings, and Christmas movies, we know exactly where you can go to enjoy the best holiday events this year.

Everyone is talking about seeing Santa with the kids, but where is he? The most recent Santa sightings have been at the La Plaza Mall in McAllen, the Valle Vista Mall in Harlingen, and at the Bass Pro Shop in Harlingen. You can also visit Quinta Mazatlan on December 17th for their “Santa in the Forest” event.

We have the latest Santa sightings!

Don’t forget to stop by the Hidalgo Festival of Lights, which goes on all throughout December. Check out www.hidfol.com to get the ful llist and map.

When it comes to Christmas movies, make sure to see Elf at the McAllen Convention Center. You could also enjoy the Nutcracker ballet at the McAllen Civic Center.

Finally, check out www.rgvfamilyplanner.com for a full list of events, including Santa visits, holiday lights, gingerbread house building, and live Nativity scenes. If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!
So, make sure to send us your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

Send Us Your Real Estate Questions

As 2016 comes to an end, we have a small favor to ask of you. Do you have any real estate questions? Send them in and we’ll answer with a video. You’ll also get a gift card!
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The holidays are right around the corner and the new year is fast approaching. As 2016 winds down, we wanted to reach out to you for a small favor.

We hope you appreciate the video emails we regularly send out each month about different trends, changes, and tips for navigating the world of real estate. Rather than simply guess what’s on your mind, we wanted to reach out to you and ask if you have any questions about real estate.

Ask us a question and we will answer you with a video!

Are there any concepts that confuse you? Are you curious about the market in a certain area? Do you want to learn how to prepare your home for the market?

Send us your questions and we’ll answer you with a video so that others can benefit from your curiosity. To sweeten the deal, if you send us a question and we select that topic for a video, we’ll give you a $25 gift card.

So, make sure to send us your questions. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Latest Market Trends in McAllen Real Estate

Are we in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market? How can you even tell what kind of market you’re in? We’ll tell you everything you need to know today.
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This summer was one of the busiest our team has ever seen, and it doesn’t look like the market will slow down anytime soon. August had the highest number of transactions in a month that our team has ever seen! As we head into fall, what is happening in the market? I am often asked if we are in a buyer’s or seller’s market, so I thought I would go over the latest market trends for you today. One key factor in determining what kind of market we are currently in is the absorption rate. The absorption rate is the rate at which available homes are sold in a specific real estate market during a given time period. The absorption rate is calculated by dividing the total number of available homes by the average number of home sales per month. The absorption rate in Hidalgo County has steadily declined over the past two years as the average days on market fell and the number of home sales increased. Right now, Hidalgo County has an absorption rate of 8.4 months.

Absorption rate only tells part of the story.

To put that in perspective, if the real estate market has less than six months of inventory on the market, it is considered a seller’s market. Six to seven months is considered a balanced market, and anything over seven months is a buyer’s market. So, if you look at the absorption rate for Hidalgo County, you can determine that we are in a buyer’s market. However, that is just the average absorption rate for the entire market. If you look at certain price ranges or cities, you will see a different story. For example, we have five to six months of inventory in the $100,000 to $150,000 price range, placing those homes in a seller’s market. Homes priced from $150,000 to $200,000 have 6.4 months of inventory, which makes it a neutral market. Finally, homes priced $200,000 to $250,000 have 11 months of inventory, putting those buyers and sellers in a strong buyer’s market. If you are considering buying or selling a home, we will take a look at the absorption rate in the area and price range you are interested in so that we can come up with the best strategy for you. If sellers are in a fast-moving area, we will position your home to sell quickly and for top dollar. If buyers are looking for homes that are in a seller’s market, we can help you figure out how aggressive you need to be. In the meantime, if you have any other questions about our current real estate market, give us a call or send us an email. My team and I would be happy to help you!

Single-Family Investments vs. Multi-Family Investments: Part II

We're constantly asked about single-family versus multiple-family homes from an investment perspective. Today, we're focusing on multi-family property investing.
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We’re constantly being asked about investing in single-family properties versus multi-family properties. Which is better? Last time, we discussed the pros of investing in multi-family properties, so today we’ll look at the pros of investing in single-family properties so you can decide for yourself which is better.

To reiterate, a single-family property is defined as a residential dwelling built on a single lot with no shared walls. Traditionally used for owner-occupancy, single-family homes can also be used as an investment vehicle to generate monthly income. With record-low mortgage rates and fast-rising rental rates, these properties offer an assortment of pros.

One of the more obvious advantages is cost. The price of single-family investments is generally much lower than multi-family investments. Single-family investments also tend to appreciate more than other types of properties. This could be for a variety of reasons, but it mostly pertains to how lenders value each type of investment.

Single-family properties are generally cheaper and easier to manage. 

Single-family homes are valued on the supply and demand of owner-occupied buyers. Although financing guidelines and rules vary from bank to lender, financing a single-family property is usually much easier. Because these properties are typically much more affordable than multi-family homes, many investors will forgo financing options and purchase a property with cash.

Finally, the one aspect that many investors fail to consider when investing in real estate is the cost of managing it, which can vary depending on the number of units. With only one tenant, single-family rentals are much easier to manage.

Investing in real estate, whether it’s for single-family properties or multi-family properties, is not something to enter into lightly. If you have any questions, please give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you!

The Best Ways to Invest in Real Estate: Part 1

We're constantly asked about single-family versus multiple family homes from an investment perspective. Today, we're focusing on multi-family property investing. Want to sell your home? Get a home value report
Want to buy a home? Search all homes for sale

As real estate professionals, we're constantly asked whether single-family or multi-family investment properties are a better option. It's one of the great debates in the world of real estate investments.

Because these properties are viewed so differently by investors, insurers, and lenders, it’s important to understand which investment does what for you as an investor and buyer. Deciding between single-family or multi-family properties is largely about personal preference and goals, as well. Today, in the first video of our series, let’s discuss multi-family investments.

A multi-family property is defined as residential housing with two or more units under one roof or several buildings within one common complex. The most common examples are duplexes, townhouses, and some types of condos. As an investor, there are several advantages of owning a multi-family property like one these.

Multi-family investments have less risk and a great cash flow opportunity.

Multi-family investments represent an innovative cash flow opportunity to generate income from a single investment. Rather than rely on one tenant for rent, you have multiple families or tenants paying rent. You also have more control over the value. The more income a property receives, the higher the value is. Because multi-family properties are comprised of more units, these types of investments are generally valued higher than single-family homes. With more tenants, you're also presented with less risk.

Rather than purchasing individual properties and building you business one transaction at a time, multi-family investments are ideal for those who are looking to both build a business and offset risk.

In our next installment, we'll discuss single-family investments to give you the full picture. In the meantime, if you have any questions about property investing or about McAllen real estate in general, give me a call or send me an email. We'd love to be a resource for you!

How The Ryan and Brian Team Helped a Seller Get His Home Ready

“We were really satisfied with the whole experience. They explained the whole procedure and who we would be working with. We went in with an idea of what we were asking for and they actually went a little bit higher and said they would be able to get that for us. It was a quick process. All we had to do was get the house ready. They got the house ready. They took photos, did all that. Within 3 weeks the house already had bids. We had a little bit of a bidding war. It ended up selling for above asking. It was a great experience. It was super easy, they were very communicative and let us know everything that was going on throughout the process. We had a renter in the house and we don’t live in the same city as the house we own. They were closer to the house so they pretty much ran around and got spare keys and did a lot of stuff for us. We were an hour and fifteen away from it – so they made it very easy for us. We would totally use them again.” 


How the Ryan and Brian Team Sold a Home in 10 days – Even With an Unexpected Delay

“We sold the house in about 10 days from the time we first listed to when we had an offer. The whole process working with Ryan and Brian’s team was very smooth. We did have some unexpected complications the first day we were going to be showing on – we were surprised to get up in the morning and find that we had a bee hive that had just showed up on the side of the house. It was a massive. The Ryan and Brian Team worked well with us to get the showings either cancelled or rescheduled. It all worked out in the end. They worked with us and even with that delay, we still sold in 10 days. The experience was very good and very positive. I highly recommend them to everybody.”


How the Ryan & Brian Team's Experience Helped Kathy Sell Her Home Quickly

“They were very professional but they knew what was going on and what to do. They talked to me every time I called, I got to talk to someone. If I needed to talk to Ryan instead of his assistant, he called me as soon as he could. They know the market. I wish I could have gotten more for my house – but I might have kept if for a year had they not known the right price to ask. I really do feel like they’re very experienced in the valley with what’s going on and what sells and how to sell it. This thing went really fast. I think only 2-3 people saw it. It went on the market on a Friday and then the next morning, maybe one or two people saw it. Monday morning, I had an offer. It sold really fast. In fact, I have a friend who also used them before I did who was moving out of the valley. Their house sold in like 5 days. I highly recommend them if I had any other reason to buy property or list a house.  I would use them without even thinking twice.”

-Kathy Steward

Why Interest Rates Are So Low Right Now

Global economics have had a positive effect on the American real estate market. How can you take advantage of these historically-low rates? Want to sell your home? Get a home value report
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It's not very nice to profit from your neighbors’ troubles. Sometimes, though, there's simply nothing you can do to stop it. At the beginning of the summer, as I'm sure you have heard, the UK voted to leave the EU. This became known as "Brexit," and it has created heaps of uncertainty and worry for our neighbors across the Atlantic. Here in the U.S., though, Brexit has been nothing but good news for the real estate market. Because of Brexit, investors all over the world wanted a safer place to invest, and this pushed already low mortgage rates down even further to almost unseen lows. In fact, we are now in the middle of the second-longest run of cheap mortgage rates in history. The 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.46%; this is only a few points above its all-time low of 3.31%. What does this mean for you? First, if you are looking to buy a home, now is an unusually good time to do so because these low rates mean you will be paying less. As an example, taking out a 30-year, $250,000 mortgage today versus a year ago (when the rate was 3.91%) would mean that you would save more than $25,000 over the lifetime of the loan.

These ultra-low mortgage rates won’t last forever.

The other way to look at it is that at today’s rates, you can afford a more luxurious home without paying more. For example, if you were to take out a 30-year mortgage, you could now afford $15,000 more for a home than a year ago while keeping the same monthly payments.

Clearly, this is a great opportunity.

Now, if you are looking to sell rather than buy, these low rates also benefit you tremendously. The more the mortgage rates drop, the more buyers there are, and the greater the demand is for homes.

This healthy demand keeps up the price of your home and ensures your home will get sold quickly. Not surprisingly, pending home sales are up by 1.3% this summer and are now at the second-highest level in over a decade.

As you can imagine, these ultra-low mortgage rates won’t last forever and will rise sooner or later.

If you are looking to take advantage of this unique situation while it lasts, give our team a call or send us an email. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, we’re always here to help.

Are You Hurricane-Ready?

There are a lot of things to love about September. The beginning of fall and the start of football season are important are just a few of the things we have been looking forward to. There is another important distinction that makes September important to us: hurricane preparedness.

September is Hurricane Preparedness Month, so we wanted to reach out to you and give you some tips so that you are ready when the storms hit. 

One thing you may not know is that you cannot update your homeowners insurance to include hurricanes or floods once the storm enters the Gulf of Mexico. The first thing you should do is speak with your provider to make sure you are covered. 

Once you’ve done that, there are three main steps you should take:

1. Make a plan
2. Build a kit
3. Get informed

We’ve got you covered on all three fronts with the links we’ve provided below.

Texas Prepares has information on each of these three steps at their website here. 

We’ve also found some other great resources for you on the internet, including some hurricane safety checklists, and an extended list of items to pack in your kit here. We also found some great information on home preparation during hurricanes.

If you have any questions for us at all, we would love to hear from you. Give us a call or send us an email; we look forward to talking with you soon.

How The Ryan and Brian Team Helped First Time Home Buyers Find The Perfect Home

“Everything was excellent. My wife and I had been looking for a house and we realized there was no way to be able to do it without a realtor. So we reached out and I’ve known Ryan and Brian for a lot of years. I don’t like to normally do business with friends because sometimes it ruins friendships, but in this case it actually helped further our friendship I believe. Her and I were not going to be able to do it ourselves. We got in touch with Ryan and he assigned us Kathleen. Immediately Kathleen met with us. We both have busy schedules and she was able to meet with us on a Saturday evening at 5:45. She was willing to work around us. Right there, that was a great sign. After that she interviewed us, we interviewed her. We had a lot of questions as first time home-buyers. She answered a lot of our questions and made us feel really comfortable. We told her what were looking for. From there we started scheduling viewings. The next day we went and saw two or three homes. She works fast."

"She had seen what we wanted and before that home came on the market she told us she had something she knew we both were going to like. She sent us a picture of it. We saw it on a Friday and we were ready to give an offer by Sunday. It was that fast. Kathleen met with us after hours and was ready to do anything. I had a lot of questions so I was calling her a lot and she was always very personable, very professional. I look forward to looking with you guys. I told Kathleen about it as well, and I want to work with her. I had such a great experience that I recommended two or three friends of mine”  

A Quick Process with The Ryan and Brian Team

“It was wonderful everything was really smooth and quick.  Everybody got on top of things really quickly. As soon as I said the house was ready, BAM, it was so quick.” 

5 Mistakes Buyers Make in a Seller’s Market

As you may have seen from one of our monthly market reports, the greater McAllen area currently favors sellers for homes listed under $200,000. Buyers in a seller’s market can get what they want, but they need to bring their A-game. Here are five common mistakes buyers make that you need to avoid:

  1. Not making your best offer. The drive to buy what we want for as little money as possible is practically in our DNA. When most people see the listing price of a home, they naturally wonder what they can really get the house for. Making an offer lower than the asking price is a perfectly reasonable strategy in some instances, such as when the house is overpriced in comparison with similar homes in the area, or it’s a buyer’s market with a glut of available inventory. Trying to “cut a deal” in a seller’s market, though, might not be the best idea.
  2. Waiting too long to make an offer. Just as impulse buying a home is risky, analyzing a home purchase to death in a seller’s market is inadvisable too. When you wait too long, you’re at risk of losing the home you’ve fallen in love with. Once you’ve determined the location you desire, your preferred price range, and you’ve found a home, just make the offer!
  3. Not being pre-qualified (or better yet, pre-approved) for a loan. You might know that you’ll be approved based on your steady income, your low debt-to-income ratio, and your high credit score, but the seller doesn’t know that. The only way to prove to them that you’re a qualified buyer is to be pre-qualified through a lender. Pre-qualification is absolutely paramount. A buyer has zero advantage if they do not have the cash to purchase without a mortgage and haven’t taken the time to speak to a lender. Not getting pre-qualified sends a message to the seller that you don’t have your ducks in order.
  4. Not learning from your mistakes. There’s no shame in learning that your offer has been declined, but it’s easy to get frustrated if your offers fail over and over again. Learn from your last transaction and come back with serious intent to lock up your next great opportunity.
  5. Not working with a serious agent. In a seller’s market, it benefits buyers to get all the help they can. If you have a seasoned agent on your side, you’ll have a better chance of getting the home you want. In most cases, buyers don’t even pay the real estate agents—sellers do. When you’re competing against other buyers in a fast-paced market, it’s vital to be offer-ready. Working with a real estate professional saves tons of time and stress, as they know the ins and outs of the process and can provide tremendous insight regarding upcoming inventory.

You need a plan in place to avoid making mistakes.

If you have any questions about buying a home or about real estate in general, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

Our Threefold Approach to Selling Homes

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Here at the Ryan and Brian Team, one of our specialties is working with sellers who have failed to sell in the past. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your property sit stale on the market and eventually expire. Here are some of the most common reasons homes don’t sell, and what we do differently to get our homes sold.

Let’s start with marketing. It provides exposure to your property, and brings more buyers to the table. Most agents don’t know that when they are in the business of selling real estate, they are in the business of marketing as well. The average agent spends only around $500 a year on marketing. Our team spends thousands each month to get our listings out there. We have a full-time marketing coordinator dedicated to getting your home the most exposure possible.

At any given time, we have a large pool of buyers who are actively seeking a home. When we acquire a listing, we immediately look at this list and see if any would be a good fit. There are over 800 Realtors in the greater McAllen area; it’s our job to highlight your property to these agents so they can match up their buyers to your home as well.
Your home won’t sell if the price isn’t right.

A lot of agents won’t tell you the hard truth if your home’s condition simply isn’t up to par for a quick and profitable sale. If you have put off maintenance or repair issues, it could end up costing you and turn buyers off to your home. An untidy home is also likely to keep buyers away. Treat your house like a product when you’re selling, and realize that it’s not going to sell itself. We will give you a plan to help your home become more appealing. We can uncover hidden issues before you go on the market and determine which upgrades are most cost-effective and will drive the highest number of buyers to your home before you get on the market.

Even if your home is in good condition, it won’t sell if the price isn’t right. If you overprice your home, it may end up sitting on the market for months and result in you getting a lower offer. Pricing right from the beginning is smart. We can help determine where your home will sell quickly and for the most money possible by looking at market statistics as well as comparable homes and current trends.

If you want to learn more about how our team can help your home sell for more, give us a call or send us an email today for a free consultation. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

3 Ways Using a CRM Helps You in Real Estate

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If you’re new to real estate, you may have heard of the acronym CRM. This stands for “customer relationship management.” A CRM platform can help you maintain contact with your current leads and former clients. A really good CRM platform can even help you automate communication such as mailouts and email campaigns. Today we’ll discuss the three main benefits of a CRM.

  1. It organizes all your information into one place. Smart real estate agents know that they need multiple lead sources. A good CRM will help you compile all these in one place, in addition to your phone numbers, email addresses, notes, and other useful information. Many CRMs allow you to track all your past texts, emails, and phone calls with clients.
  2. It facilitates automation. A CRM can help you automate a lot of your work, whether it’s helping you complete your 33 Touch Program, sorting email, or tracking closings. Having to manually remember and contact every lead and client will eventually become impossible as you grow. The CRM can take this mental pressure off you by helping you stay organized and in front of your clients.
  3. It helps you keep in touch. Keeping in touch with old clients is important for your pipeline. Statistics from NAR (National Association of Realtors) show that 88% of customers said that they would use their past agent again. The trick to keeping your clients is to stay in touch. CRMs will help you track things like birthdays and anniversaries so you can let your past clients know that you’re thinking about them.

A CRM can help you build
 your brand without losing your mind.

By doing all three of these things, you can stay on top of your business. A CRM can help you build your brand without losing your mind. Don’t just take our word for it - a recent ActiveRain survey showed that top-earning agents (those earning $100,000 per year or more) spent 22% more on their CRM solution than agents who earned less than $35,000.

These top-earning agents might be onto something. At the Ryan & Brian Team, we provide all our agents with a state-of-the-art CRM and can teach you the best ways to use and manage it. If you’re interested in what we have to offer, call us today (956)-307-4544 and schedule an appointment. I look forward to hearing from you.

Maximizing the Money on Your Home Through Pricing

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We're constantly asked by homeowners how to get the best price from the sale of their home. The one simple thing you can do to guarantee the maximum value is to price it correctly.

If you want demand for your home, price it low. This may seem counter-intuitive, but price impacts visibility. According to the National Association of Realtors, pricing a home at market value would allow you to reach about 60% of buyers. If you priced your home 15% above market value, that number sinks to just 10% of buyers.

On the other hand, if you go the other way and price your home 15% below market value, you can potentially reach 90% of all buyers.

Price impacts visibility.

Many homeowners think overpricing their home slightly will leave them room for negotiation, but in reality, all it does is lessen demand for the home and decrease the number of buyers willing to look at it. The home will sit on the market for a long time, giving buyers the perception that something is wrong with it. Most of these sellers end up having to reduce their asking price significantly.

You should price a home so that demand is maximized. That way you won't be fighting a buyer over the price, but rather, multiple buyers will be fighting with each other over the house. Today's buyers are informed. If you price your home at or slightly below market value, buyers will see the deal and bid up the price, especially in areas with low inventory. 

If you have any questions about pricing a home correctly, we can help you find the right number. Give us a call or send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon!

5 Ways to Improve Your Home’s Exterior this Summer

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We have five great ideas for you today in order to improve your outdoor living spaces and make this the best summer ever.

1. Buy some plants you won’t kill. Plants add a ton of beauty to your yard. Make sure to plant some that will do well in your environment and care. There are plenty of plants you can buy that require little to no maintenance.

2. Check your grill and outdoor furniture. Summertime is when everyone heads out to the grill. Before heading to the store, do a thorough check of your grill. Check your patio furniture too, as it may need a scrub as well.

3. Outdoor lighting. Look around your living space and determine if there is enough light. You may want to add some string lights or lights on your trees. Try some citronella to keep the bugs away.

4. Service your yard tools. Do regular maintenance on these so they are running smooth all season. If you have larger products in mind, you can rent tools from the local hardware store.

5. Keep up on your pool maintenance. In the summer heat, everyone is going to want to jump in the pool. It’s best to keep your pool maintained on a regular basis either on your own or by hiring a company to do it.

We hope these tips are useful to you as you get your summer started. Don’t forget if you are looking to buy or sell in the McAllen area, give us a call or send us an email. We would love to help you out.