Taylor County is located in West Texas. Abilene, the county seat and most populous city in the county, has come a long way from a cattle-shipping prairie town to a metropolis on the plains. Today, it is the geographic center of the world’s largest free trade zone.
Tour through Taylor County and you will find 65 historical markers, such as the Butterfield Mail and Stage Line and the Mexican-American Americanization School, established by the Taylor County Historical Commission to chronicle the rich history of this region.
Though the majority of Taylor County (population, 131,506) residents live in Abilene (population, 117,063), the surrounding communities have plenty to offer for those who aren’t the city dweller type.
Enlist the help of a reputable real estate agent to help you sort through the area’s diverse home options. The Abilene Association of Realtors is a central source of local real estate information and services. Its members can provide expertise and professional services for those interested in purchasing a new home. Visit www.abileneaor.com for more information.
Buying a home is a complex process and, as the recent housing crisis demonstrated, requires a thorough education on the part of the buyer. First, fully understand your financial position — credit score, available savings, monthly income and expenditures. Subtracting your expenditures from your income, for instance, will yield the amount you can afford for housing.
Be sure to account for all insurance costs associated with owning a home, possible homeowner association fees and property taxes in your monthly expenditures. According to www.ginniemae.gov, loan program rules vary on the percentage of your income used for housing related expenses. Most conventional loans allow 28 percent, with FHA at 29 percent and VA at 41 percent. Above all, avoid any advice about “affordable mortgages” from a real estate agent or a mortgage lender, rely instead on your own budgetary review to determine monthly housing expenses.
Next, research the different types of home loans to determine the right fit for your financial situation. The two main types of mortgages are fixed-rate and adjustable-rate (ARM). A fixed rate loan offers one interest rate for the life of the loan, which means the same monthly payment.
The adjustable-rate loan generally starts with a fixed rate but after the introductory period the rate will adjust periodically based on fluctuations in the interest rate. The fixed-rate loan offers stability to long-term homeowners. The ARM saves money in the short run as the initial interest rate is typically lower than a fixed-rate mortgage. Once the initial period ends, the ARM rate will rise and fall at predetermined intervals stated in the terms of the loan, sometimes above the rate for a fixed-rate mortgage. This mortgage favors short-term homeowners. For a thorough explanation of these and variations of these mortgages, be sure to discuss your options with a lending professional. A preapproved loan before starting your search for a home can determine your spending limits and signal any potential issues in the way of receiving a loan.
Knowing your monthly budget and the amount of your loan are invaluable during the next phase, especially finding the answers to questions before the hunt for a home begins. First, determine your home preferences. Do single family houses, condos, town homes and duplexes fit your needs and budget? Do you prefer a new home, an existing home or to build one? Though new homes generally cost more, existing homes may come with maintenance issues and renovation costs. What is the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like? Do you want an attached garage? Will you live in the city, a suburb or in the country? How close to work, school, shopping or public transportation do you want to be? Answers to the majority of these questions will greatly assist your search and the next stage — hiring a real estate agent.
The ideal agent will help find your ideal home and guide you through the purchase process. First, interview potential candidates to ensure they understand your needs, know your home buying preferences and neighborhoods and are readily accessible. You can find many local real estate agents in the yellow pages of this guide.
Once you have found the right home, have it inspected and have your offer accepted, initiate a purchase contract. This document should detail the final terms for the purchase of your home, including a description of the property, the price, the closing date and an estimate of closing costs. The contract also includes the standard clauses that specify the broker’s commission, inspection results and payment agreements for unforeseen damage and details of the closing documents. Closing day ends your home-buying experience. Once you’ve signed all the documents, paid the closing and secured the keys, you now own a home. The escrow company, attorney or title company will record the sale with the county.