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San Antonio Real Estate Law Blog

Check the septic tank lift pump before buying a new home

Some Texas homes are equipped with septic tanks while others are hooked up to municipal sewage and waste systems. It's important to know what kind of system the home you want to purchase has. If it has a septic tank, you definitely will want to check it to ensure it's not in need of costly maintenance and repair. One issue related to septic tanks deals with lift pumps, which may be used to move waste from a low-pressure environment into a high pressure one -- due to gravity and other concerns.

If the home you want to purchase employs a lift pump, here's how to inspect that it's okay:

Real estate transactions: The last 3 steps of your closing

Closing a real estate deal takes a lot of time, and if you don't do it properly, it may never get done. One simple mistake could ruin a carefully crafted real estate deal and send both parties walking in different directions, seeking new buyers and sellers with whom to interact. For this reason, both buyers and sellers should carefully review the different steps involved with closing such a deal, so they know what to expect -- both of themselves and the other party.

Here are the last three steps you'll have to make in your real estate deal:

What programs can help with an underwater mortgage?

If your mortgage is "underwater," it means that you owe more money on it than your residence is actually worth. This can happen to homeowners who take out a loan and buy a property before the real estate market starts to change for the worst. When property values decline, you could find yourself dealing with an underwater mortgage.

The federal Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program can assist you via three different programs if you currently have an underwater mortgage. These three programs are:

  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): For people who have not been able to refinance their homes because their mortgages are underwater, HARP offers refinancing options. If you qualify for this program, you may be able to get a more affordable and stable home loan.
  • Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA): For those people whose homes have fallen to a value that is severely below what they owe on their mortgages, PRA offers encouragement to mortgage servicers to give the homeowners a break and reduce how much money they owe.
  • Treasury/FHA Second Lien Program (FHA2LP): This applies to homeowners who have a second mortgage and whose first mortgage provider agrees to carry out an FHA Short Refinance. This may be a way to either eliminate or reduce your second mortgage. If your second mortgage provider agrees, your new refinanced mortgage will not be more than 115 percent of the value of your home.

Signs a home has termite damage

Before you purchase a home in San Antonio, you definitely want to check to see if the home has termite damage. If the home does have termite damage, then the owner will need to correct the issue before any home sale transaction is made. What, then, are the signs that a home is infested?

There are three telltale signs that a home has a problem with termites:

Are Mortgage Modification Interest Rates Dropping?

For homeowners struggling with mortgage payments, one of the first options that comes to mind tends to be mortgage modification. Of course, in order to be truly beneficial, the mortgage modification must result in a reasonably lowered interest rate.

Now, Fannie May and Freddie Mac have announced that they are dropping their standard mortgage modification benchmark rates to the lowest of the year. Could this prove beneficial to struggling homeowners?

3 steps to commercial real estate success

San Antonio investors may be feeling the urge to invest in the commercial real estate market. However, if you've never owned or purchased a commercial real estate property before, it can feel overwhelming to sort out what you should and shouldn't do. This is why it can be beneficial to have a real estate lawyer by your side during every step of your transaction.

In addition to having an attorney to represent you, there are several steps you should consider taking while shopping for the right property:

  • Get the insider's advantage: Novice real estate investors will want to learn as much as they can about the real estate market. You'll want to know, for example, how investors assign value to a real estate property. Unlike residential property, commercial property receives its value based on the amount of square footage that is available to rent. Another trick you should know is that purchasers who have cash on hand -- usually 30 percent of the property value -- will have a better chance of getting approved for a loan.
  • Create your action plan: Armed with the tricks of the trade, you'll next want to create an action plan. This involves getting clear about your budget. What properties are within your budget? What do you need to receive as a return on your investment? How much income do you need to make in order to afford your mortgage? Does the property already have tenants under contract, and how many? Do you plan to manage the property yourself, or will you form a relationship with a real estate management firm?
  • Know a good deal when you see one: Take time to assess the value of your prospective purchase. Keep a close eye on damage that you'll need to repair and how much that will cost. Check that the property is appropriately zoned for your intended purpose. Check for hidden costs. Calculate the income you need to receive, the cost of the mortgage and how much your profit should be.

Nonprofit technology foundation purchases 111,000-foot facility

The Texas Research & Technology Foundation announced that is creating a "superhub" to assist startups and entrepreneurs. The "superhub," dubbed VelocityTX, will offer manufacturing facility access, mentorship and capital to budding entrepreneurs and startup organizations in the technology sector. The facility will be based out of San Antonio.

VelocityTX wants to support the growth of companies in the industries of cybersecurity, bioscience and emerging tech. The organization has already contracted employees and it recently acquired a piece of real estate -- an industrial complex with over 110,000 square feet of space. The industrial complex includes five different buildings on five acres of land.

When a military service member faces home foreclosure

At the Law Office of Matthew J. Obermeier, we represent Texas homeowners in their foreclosure proceedings by presenting a strong defense against the foreclosure process. We also assist by recommending various strategies to homeowners that may assist them in keeping their homes and avoiding foreclosure altogether.

Home foreclosure is frightening no matter the circumstances. However, depending upon your situation, you might be able to prevail by stalling, delaying, preventing or presenting a successful defense against the foreclosure process. Of course, different strategies should be employed for different situations. For example, if you're a military service member on active duty, you may have the ability to delay the foreclosure of your home with relative ease.

Underwater mortgages: The condition and the cure

Do you know what an "underwater mortgage" is? Maybe you know exactly what it is and you're sorry that your home is currently worth less than the amount of money you need to pay on it. With the current state of the Texas real estate market, there could be many homeowners who -- after their homes declined in value -- owe more money on their homes in mortgage loans than their homes are actually worth on the market.

Here are some government programs that the holders of an underwater mortgage might be able to benefit from:

  • Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP): This program is for homeowners who are up-to-date on their monthly mortgage payments but can't refinance their homes due to a significant drop in the value of their residences. HARP is a government program that might assist you to refinance your home with a more stable mortgage.
  • Principal Reduction Alternative (PRA): This program helps the owners of underwater mortgages to get their mortgages under control by encouraging investors and loan servicers to reduce the amount that the homeowner owes on his or her mortgage.
  • Treasury/FHA Second Lien Program (FHA2LP): This program can help people who have second mortgages and whose original mortgage provider is willing to participate in an FHA Short Refinance. You might be able to eliminate your second mortgage if you qualify. Participants in this program cannot have mortgage debt in excess of 115% of the value of their homes.

What are wildlife management and agricultural tax breaks?

Did you know that some developers in San Antonio are receiving tax breaks for their high-priced real estate due to agricultural exemptions and wildlife management exemptions? Texans who keep wildlife or do farming on their properties can qualify for an agricultural exemption that discounts their property taxes. Also, Texans who have an unused piece of property that that they use to feed squirrels and birds might be able to classify their property as being used for wildlife management, which can result in property tax breaks too.

With a little bit of research, one can also find 85 properties that applied for agricultural exemption in San Antonio, but were denied. Those same property owners successfully appealed the denials and won, thereby reducing their tax burdens considerably.