Austin, the capital city of Texas, is one of my favorite places to live in. And not only is mine, the city is at top of many people’s list of the best places to live in, which has made every inch of Austin real estate a hot cake among realtors. In 2009, Money magazine selected the city as the No. 3 Best Big City in “Best Places to Live”, and it was at No. 2 position in 2006. Other accolades that Austin has received include:

Greenest city in America, MSN
No.2 city with the best people, CNN Headline News and Travel & Leisure magazine
America’s No. 1 college town, Travel Channel
5th safest city
The least stressful large metro area, Forbes magazine.

Now can you see why the houses in the capital city of Texas are sold long before “Austin Homes for Sale” placards are placed before them? Not only that, the rub-off effect of Austin’s real estate success can be seen on homes in Kyle as well, a city 21 miles southwest of Austin. Call it Austin phenomenon that even “Kyle homes for Sale” placards do not have to wait longer before it is shoved inside the already crowded stowage.

The Silicon Hills not the Silicon Valley

Austin also goes by the name of the “Silicon Hills” because of the high concentration of high-tech firms operating in the city. 3M, AMD, Apple Inc., Applied Materials, Cirrus Logic, Cisco Systems, Dell, eBay/PayPal, Freescale Semiconductor (spun off from Motorola in 2004), Google, Hewlett-Packard, Hoover’s, IBM, Intel Corporation, National Instruments, Samsung Group, Silicon Laboratories, Sun Microsystems, and United Devices are the names of the high-tech companies running their from Austin.

These companies have made the price of local real estate go through the roof compared to the real estate prices in many parts of rural Texas. But still it is much cheaper than the housing cost in the Silicon Valley. That is why many tech giants are flocking to the city making “Austin Homes for Sale” placards disappear much more quickly than it should.

It is not only the high-tech companies that are coming to the city; it is pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well. 85 companies from the industry operate out of Austin.

These companies along with the state agencies, colleges, and universities produce so much of employment that it makes the city a place where a person can allow its dream to fly. The city is up for a dream run, and so are the people living here.

But, what about those who do not live in Austin? How can they take advantage of opportunities presented by this city? Well, they need to settle down in the city and for that they will need a home in the city. The following paragraphs will help them find a perfect nest I (almost) for themselves in the city.

5 Austin real estate buying tips

Research the neighborhood: This is something anyone will ask you to do. It is an absolute must because you are going to spend time with people there. See if the neighborhood is suitable for you or not, and if it can meet your needs or not. Check the following:

Crime rate
Grocery stores
Departmental stores
Sports club & gym
Doctors and hospitals
Police and fire department

Find a real estate agent you can trust: Finding a reliable Austin real estate agent is as important as finding a good neighborhood. A real estate agent will not only find a good home at the best price for you, but he will also help you settle in the locality. He will assist you in finding shops of daily requirement, and will also use his knowledge of the community to help you settle down. I have heard of many stories where Austin realtors have turned into a lifelong friend for their customers.

See a handful of houses: Do not commit a mistake of settling down for the house shown to you in the first go. Austin has many good houses in every neighborhood. Look at minimum 4-5 houses before deciding on any. Click pictures of each home that you visit, and ask for the benefits each has to offer.

Pay your Austin real estate agent well: Bargaining with an estate agent on his commission is not that good an idea. After all, it is on him that your property-search depends. A grumpy real estate agent may get you a bad deal, whereas, a happy agent will get you the house at the best possible price.

Hire a home inspector: A home inspector will help you evaluate the worth of the house you are considering. He will also tell you about things that will need immediate fixing, and things that can wait. He will spend a whole day in the house and will produce house audit report, which will cover every aspect of the ownership.

There are a range of Kenya real estate options to suit every type of buyer. These range from luxury beach homes which make for excellent second homes or vacation rentals, to villas, town houses and apartments.

Kenya is a reasonably big economy so besides Nairobi, there is a vibrant property market in Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi and Kisumu. Chances therefore are that you will be spoilt for choice when searching Kenya properties for your ideal home.

However, before you sign on the dotted line, ponder over the tips below very carefully.

1. Research the Neighborhood

When you identify a piece of Kenya real estate you like, drive or walk around the neighborhood. Is it lush and are there unplanned structures such as kiosks on the roadside?

Are the roads paved and how many alternative routes can you use to get to the city center? Does the neighborhood have a vibrant association that advances the community’s common interests?

Is your dream house near a shopping center so that you don’t have to drive to the other end of town to do your weekly shopping? If you have school-going children, how good are the schools in the area?

Is the house located near slums? The latter is an important consideration as it devalues your investment and may increase the incidence of crime. Although classified as posh suburbs for example, parts of Lavington, Loresho and Runda border slums so steer clear of these.

It may be a good idea to drive around the neighborhood at unusual times such as very early in the morning, after office hours and late at night to check out the traffic flow and the general environment in the neighborhood.

Some areas in the country are more prone to power and water outages than others. So walk into one of the local shops and ask about these issues so that you can make an informed Kenya real estate decision.

2. Do your Due Diligence on the Identified Property

Once you have thoroughly researched the neighborhood, it’s time to research the property at both the Ministry of Lands and the relevant city or municipal council.

Carrying out a search at the Ministry of Lands helps you to ascertain a couple of things…

First, the copy of the title will indicate whether the person purporting to sell the property is indeed the owner.

Second, it indicates the outstanding lease period if it is a leasehold property. It may not be wise to buy a property with a remaining lease period of less than 20 years. If, however, you will finance the purchase of the property with a mortgage, be aware that financial institutions will require a much longer outstanding lease period.

Third, any encumbrances on the property will be noted on the title. If, for example, the title holder has mortgaged the property, the mortgager’s interest will be noted on the title. As such, the property transaction cannot be finalized without this lender’s consent so you should plan to obtain this.

A search at the city or municipal council offices will help you ascertain whether all the annual rates have been paid. If there are arrears, the transfer of property cannot be effected by the Ministry of Lands as the city or municipal council will withhold their all-important certificate of clearance.

3. Negotiate

Negotiation is another important tip for getting value for money when buying Kenya real estate. Buying a house is, by all accounts, a major investment so do don’t be embarrassed to bargain. Try and lop a million or half a million Kenya shillings off the advertised price…

Timing is critical here though as it is easier to get a discount on uncompleted developments. Developers are keen to give considerable discounts when construction has just started in return for a substantial down payment. So, be prepared to pay substantially more than the 10 percent of the purchase price typically required upon signing of the sale agreement.

How much down payment you will eventually be required to make is entirely up to your negotiation skills so hone these in good time.

4. Identify a Good Lender

If you will be financing your home purchase with a mortgage, you need to research the mortgage providers in Kenya so that you pick the one who most meets your needs.

Several banks, building societies and mortgage companies provide 80-100 percent mortgages. These include Housing Finance, Kenya Commercial Bank, Barclays and Commercial Bank of Africa. In Kenya, mortgages typically attract variable rather than fixed interest rates but read the fine print to ensure that there are no hidden costs or oppressive clauses.

Obviously, before taking on a mortgage, make sure you can service both your existing and additional debt. This will avert that dreaded risk of foreclosure in future.

5. Hire a Good Lawyer

Lawyers play an irreplaceable role in concluding Kenya real estate transactions so you will need to hire one.

As with everywhere else, Kenya has a few wayward lawyers so choose your lawyer very carefully. If you don’t know one, ask your family or real estate agent to recommend a reliable one.

As an extra safeguard, do not grant your lawyer the power of attorney because this gives him a free license to do with the property as he pleases. So, you could be cheated out of your Kenya real estate investment.

Instead, set aside some money to have all documents that require your signature couriered to you. You will also need to courier these back. This may cost you a few hundred dollars and delay conclusion of the transaction by a few weeks but is well worth it to protect your interests.


If you are up to saving money on home buying, be well aware of certain facts. Purchase a house only if you are sure enough to live there for several years. Or else, it can be expensive for you. Purchasing home and then selling them with a profit requires good understanding of the real estate market trends. So, take up the idea of purchasing property only if you are well aware of the ups and downs of the market trends.

In case you are interested in buying home to stay, the following tips would help you to great extent.

Fix the amount of money that you would want to invest for real estate. To determine the amount the thumb rule is two-and-one-half times your annual salary. You may use better tools to calculate the amount for investment keeping in mind the income, debts, and expenses.
Rehearse well on how you would negotiate to get the best deal for real estate buying. The deal should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the area. Check out the sales prices of the houses of the last three months.
Though Internet is a good guide for you to get all the listings and the current rates of real estate buying, but engaging a professional agent would definitely make your work lot easier. He would help you in the bidding process for the best possible real estate deal. If you find that the price of the recently sold homes is 5% less than the asking price, you bid for 8 to 10% lower than the price quoted by the seller.

Property Loans

To save money, you may go for home loans. A home loan would help you to get a home of your own and pay for it in reasonable installments. Home loans come along with huge tax concessions. Compared to other forms of loans the home loans would help you to evade tax payments to great extent. Lets see how.

You would get tax deduction amount on the repayment of the principal amount of the loan that is granted to you for purchasing a house.
The rate of interest paid on the loan is deductible from ‘income from property’, even if the amount is not paid during the year.
Even the interest paid for a fresh loan which is taken to repay the old loan is also deductible.

Here are the basic steps of the real estate buying process:
1) Hire a Realtor: I’ll just give three example reasons: First, my state requires a Property Condition Disclosure from the seller. Most buyers and sellers don’t know this requirement; therefore, it would be easy for a seller to hide behind ignorance to avoid disclosing problems with the property. Second, it’s not always easy to find a good home inspector-I’ve gone through 8 myself; a real estate agent should have this connection. Third, it’s estimated that a real estate agent makes 200 phone calls during the closing process. Do you have time to make an extra 200 phone calls in a month?

2) Loan Approval: As a best practice, get approved for the loan first. Unless you have a very large bank account, then the buying process requires a lender. It’s horribly frustrating to find the perfect house and not be able to qualify for the loan. In addition, getting approved at the beginning makes sense logically: if you get in touch with a lender first, they’re able to give you advice about improving your credit score; within 4 months you could improve your score enough to get the loan. On the other hand, if you search for a home for 4 months, find the perfect home, and can’t get the loan, then you’ve wasted 4 months.

3) Find a Home: This is actually the easiest step. Finding a home is an emotional process. It’s best to look at a large amount of homes on the same day and weed down to your favorites. Then, go back and look at your favorites on another day. It’s amazing how buyers’ opinions will change based on mood, so it’s best to visit your favorites a couple of times.

4) Paperwork: There are generic contracts available at Office Depot and similar stores. Any document that says you agree to buy and the seller agrees to sell for a certain amount on a certain date could be considered a contract. The difficulty arises in the details, especially inspections and closing costs. Once again, it’s best to hire a real estate agent.

5) Inspections: Real Estate should always be inspected prior to buying, even new construction. A home inspection costs between $250 and $400 depending on the size of the home. Most home inspectors will do a 2 to 4 hour inspection of every visible part of the home, including attic and crawl space. Once you receive their report, you can use it to demand repairs from the seller. The inspection can save you $1,000’s down the road or keep you from buying a problem house, and even if the inspection doesn’t uncover anything, you’ll have the peace of mind.

6) Repairs: Once you have the inspection report, you’ll need to negotiate repairs with the seller. It’s usually best to ask for more repairs than you actually expect; then you can negotiate down if needed. A good knowledge of construction is also useful because many sellers will try to convince you that your repairs are cosmetic or nit-picky; you need to be able to explain why their not.

7) Insurance: Home owners insurance is the most forgotten step in the real estate buying process. The lender will require it, so not having it can hold up closing. Of course, you don’t want to wait until the last minute because shopping the policy can save you a great deal of money.

8) Closing: We must remember that closing on real estate is a complex legal and financial process. State and county taxes, home-owners insurance, title insurance, lender’s fees, and attorney fees are all paid out of closing. First-time home buyers are usually shocked at the amount of closing costs, which are usually 2% to 3% of the purchase price. If neither party expects to pay $1,000’s of extra dollars at closing, it’s easy for a transaction to fall apart.

Jerry Pinkas Real Estate specializes in Myrtle Beach Homes for Sale Whether it’s a cozy vacation cottage by the sea or a real estate investment, trust us with your home-buying journey.

Real estate buying bank owned is an investment strategy used to purchase foreclosure real estate. Real estate investors, individual buyers, and business owners are seeking out discounted properties owned by mortgage lenders because listing prices are often well below market value.

Using the real estate buying bank owned strategy can result in savings of 30-percent or more. However, bank foreclosures often require repair work, so buyers must calculate the true cost of the property prior to submitting purchase offers.

Buyers are often forced to take out high-interest remodeling or construction loans when investing in distressed properties that require substantial repairs. Lender-related fees for rehabilitation loans can add up to several thousand dollars. Once renovation is completed, property owners typically must refinance into a permanent mortgage loan which incurs additional closing costs.

Due to the abundance of foreclosure properties, many home buying programs are sprouting up. Caution should be used when visiting websites offering foreclosure lists for a fee. There are numerous trustworthy sources that provide lists of foreclosure homes for sale at no cost.

One of the best sources is real estate agents. Many realtors specialize in selling bank foreclosures and can help buyers easily locate the type of property they desire. Realty websites, such as Zillow and RealtyTrac allow visitors to enter specific search criteria to locate bank owned foreclosures.

Another popular source for buying bank owned real estate is Fannie Mae’s Home Path Mortgage program. Fannie Mae offers incentives and special financing options to individual buyers and real estate investors. Properties consist of foreclosure homes which have been repossessed through lenders with loans guaranteed by Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae offers two home mortgage finance options which include HomePath Mortgage Financing and HomePath Renovation Mortgage Financing. The first is offered for homes which do not require repairs, while the second is used when properties require light renovation. When buyers obtain rehabilitation funds using Home Path financing they do not need to refinance when work is completed.

Individuals interested in buying Fannie Mae HomePath properties should consider researching HUDs Neighborhood Stabilization Program which offers government grants to rehab foreclosure real estate. NSP grants are available to qualified individuals and real estate investors who purchase properties in areas with high rates of foreclosure.

Also referred to as Section 203(k), NSP grants fall under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) of 1977. CRA allocates funds to each U.S. state. Recipients of NSP grants are allowed to obtain mortgage loans which include additional funds for required repairs. This can eliminate the need for obtaining remodeling loans, which eliminates the need to refinance mortgages and can save buyers a substantial sum of money.

Qualified individual buyers can obtain one NSP grant, while investors can qualify for up to five public grants. Combining government grants with Fannie Mae’s special financing option and low down payment requirement can help buyers maximize their housing dollars.

Obtaining NSP grants can be a lengthy process, but savings can outweigh the time required to undergo the application process. Details of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program are provided at