Category Archives: Buyer Questions

First-Time Home Buyer Loan Programs in Texas

First-Time Home Buyer Loans in Texas: Programs and Requirements

First-Time Home Buyer Loans in Texas: Programs and Requirements

So, you’ve decided to purchase your first home. Congratulations! Now, you likely have a lot of questions. The biggest questions out there are about first-time buyer home loans. There are many programs designed to assist first-time buyers in their home purchases, but where do you begin? What exactly is required to qualify for these first-time buyer programs? The realtors at Ann Jones Real Estate can help you sort through the loans, programs, and qualifications. Here’s an idea of what you might need to know to get started.

First-Time Home Buyer Loan Programs in Texas
Navigate with ease through the complex world of first-time home buyer loans in Texas. Trust Ann Jones Real Estate, Brownwood, TX, for expert guidance and support.

First-Time Home Buyer Programs in Texas

If you live in Brownwood, Texas, or the surrounding area, you need to know what programs are available in Texas. You’re in luck. There are programs for you.

Texas has basically six different FTHB (first-time home buyer) programs specific to the state. Here is a list of those programs.

  1. My First Texas Home

This loan is specifically for first-time home buyers. Applying for this loan is simple and some of the features include

  • Low downpayment requirements of 2-5%
  • 3-year forgivable second loans
  • 30-year second loans at 0% interest rate
  • Downpayment assistance with a mortgage credit certificate
  • My Choice Texas Home

This loan is available throughout the state of Texas. Some of the features include

  • No FTHB restrictions
  • Assistance with down payment and closing costs
  • Higher income limits than the My First Texas Home program
  • Home Sweet Texas

This loan has a little different flavor. You choose a lender, and the lender has to be approved for the TSAHC DPA programs.

  • Home for Texas Heroes

This loan is for teachers, firefighters, police officers, veterans, corrections officers, EMS, and nurses.

  • Texas Bootstrap Loans

This loan is designed to assist Texans with building their own homes. Some features include

  • 0% fixed rate 30-year loan (limited to $45000)
  • Works best for people who are interested in doing their own building
  • Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate

This is a tax credit program. It allows Texans to receive credit toward their mortgage payments up to $2000/year.

Requirements for First-Time Home Buyers in Texas

For the My First Texas Home Loan, the home buyers must be first-time homebuyers or not have owned a home in the past three years. You must also have a credit score of 620 minimum and meet the income requirement. The property value must also meet the requirements of the program and you’ll need to work with an approved mortgage lender.

The qualifications for the My Choice Texas Home Loan also include a credit score of at least 620, you must meet income limits, your home must meet the loan requirements and you must work with an approved lender.

In order to qualify for the Home Sweet Texas Loan, you must meet the following criteria. A FICO score of 620 for VA, FHA, or USDA or a credit score of 640 for a conventional loan is required for this loan. Approval from an approved lender and income limits are also required. In addition, this loan requires the completion of a homebuyer education course by one or both of the borrowers.

The Home for Texas Heroes is a wonderful program that basically just requires the borrower to have one of the qualifying professions to be approved for the loan.

The Texas Bootstrap Loan is a great loan for those who wish to do much of the work on their property, with that really being the one major requirement. The home buyer must be doing at least 65% of the work and must fall below 60% of the median income level.

The qualifications for the Texas Mortgage Credit Certificate include being a first-time home buyer or showing proof of not having owned a home in the past three years.

Nationwide First-Time Home Buyer Loans

The three types of nationwide first-time home buyer loans and their features and requirements are

  • VA loans-must be members of the military or their family members. These loans are for the full value of the home and require no downpayment. However, there is usually a fee that can be substantial depending on the size of the loan
  • FHA loans require a credit score of 580 or higher, this loan is provided through the federal government and requires only a down payment of 3.5%. This kind of loan is ideal for those who don’t have much of a down payment.
  • USDA loans-this unique loan is designed to help home buyers moving to rural areas. The income level of applicants cannot exceed 115% of the median income of the area, but if you qualify, it covers 100% of the home loan, meaning no downpayment is required.

Conclusion and CTA

With so many first-time home buyer loan options in Texas, there’s no time like the present to apply and begin looking for that first home. If you aren’t in Texas, there are many options on the national level that the federal government offers. If you have saved for a downpayment that is a wonderful benefit, but there are still many zero downpayment options available.

Ann Jones Realty

The best option when looking for that perfect first-time home buyer benefit is to contact someone who can help you navigate your options. If you are in the Brownwood, Texas area and looking to buy, sell, or rent look to the team at Ann Jones Real Estate. We are ready to assist you in all your realty needs. Helping with locating a property, creating a friendly environment, finding financing options, or selling, Ann Jones and her team are willing to help. They believe that the clients are their purpose and therefore they deserve quality service. If you are interested in learning more, visit the website or contact Ann Jones Real Estate at (325) 646-1500.

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What Does a Tiny House Cost? Prices, Hidden Costs, and Other Factors to Consider

What Does a Tiny House Cost? Prices, Hidden Costs, and Other Factors to Consider

What Does a Tiny House Cost? Prices, Hidden Costs, and Other Factors to Consider

The world of tiny houses can be very exciting! As our society moves more toward simplifying our lives and minimizing our carbon footprint, the idea of owning a tiny house can be very appealing. After all, tiny houses are much more affordable to build, and the energy bills are much lower than a large home. Imagine a home that requires minimal maintenance because of its size. But are there hidden costs associated with these ‘tiny houses’? What does owning a tiny house entail exactly? Let’s look at the pros and cons of having a tiny house and help you avoid spending more than you need to on a tiny house.

What Does a Tiny House Cost? Prices, Hidden Costs, and Other Factors to Consider
Explore the true cost of tiny houses with Ann Jones Real Estate. From hidden expenses to pricing factors, get the complete guide for your tiny home journey.

What is a Tiny House?

Any house that is 400 square feet or less qualifies as a tiny house. A tiny house will usually include a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and a bed. The bed is usually full-sized or queen-sized. Obviously, these homes are much smaller than a regular house.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Tiny House?

A tiny house could cost as little as $25,000 or as much as about $180,000 depending on it’s features. A tiny house that is on the low-cost end might be missing a few amenities. With the cost of a regular house being about $280,000 to build you are obviously saving money by building a tiny house. Due to the fact tiny houses cost so much less than regular houses, many people use the opportunity (and extra savings) to get high-end finishes in their homes, such as granite countertops, home cameras or security systems.

Tiny House Prices: What Do You Get for What You Pay?

For the price of a lower-end tiny house, such as a $10,000 or $20,000 house, you may get very few amenities. Some tiny houses don’t have bathrooms. In some states, this could present a problem so it’s best to check the state’s building codes before you commit any capital. There is a wide range of “what you pay and what you get” when it comes to building a tiny house and much of this has to do with what amenities you will choose as well as what building materials used to construct the tiny house.

The Hidden Costs of Tiny Homes

We spoke briefly about checking the various city, state and federal codes before building. There are many other costs associated with tiny homes that people fail to consider. Here are ten hidden costs of buying a tiny home.

  1. Zoning Laws
  2. Some people have the idea that they will build their tiny home on the property of a friend or family member. However, this is against zoning laws. This is just an example of one of the many zoning laws you may run into when building your tiny home. One good idea is to hire a property surveyor. This is someone who can help you figure out if the property on which you chose to build is the right one for you. They can also help you with the zoning laws in your area about what kinds of features you can have on your tiny house. A property surveyor will usually charge several hundred dollars. Suburban communities usually have very strict zoning laws, so it’s important to have sound advice and cover all your bases legally.
  • The Cost of Building Materials
    • Over the past few years, the cost of building materials has gone up substantially. This is due to the pandemic and due to the ebb and flow of building projects during that time, there was a breakdown in the supply chain. Inflation has also caused this price increase. The building materials alone could cost tens of thousands of dollars which could double or even triple the cost of your tiny home.
  • The Cost of Land
    • Speaking of inflation, the cost of land has also increased substantially. It could add to the price of your tiny house even more than you expect. Meeting with a realtor to purchase the most affordable land you will help you reduce costs.
  • The Cost of Towing the Home (if applicable)
    • Sometimes, people prefer a mobile tiny home instead of a stationary tiny home. This home will have to be towed and you will need to afford the appropriate towing vehicle.
  • Utilities
    • Consider living in a tiny home to be living “off the grid.” However, you will still need to pay for electricity, water, and gas. It is important to consider that these will still factor in. The upside is that with a much smaller home, there is less space to heat or cool. Solar panels can be an option, but they can also be quite expensive.
  • Loan Costs
    • Lenders will turn down loans for tiny homes due to the cost of the home being so low. If you can’t qualify for the mortgage, you may have to apply for a personal loan which can be much more expensive.
  • The Adjustments
    • Going from a few thousand square feet to several hundred square feet can be quite an adjustment. It can be a shock to realize that you may need all new appliances. The expense of this can really add up as you obtain appliances that are made specifically to fit tiny houses.
  • Storage
    • Most people can’t fit everything they own into a tiny home. They will have to rent a storage unit to store everything they own that doesn’t fit into a tiny home. The expense of this can escalate quickly, depending on how large your storage unit needs to be.
  • Resale Value
    • Tiny homes can be hard to resell. While traditional homes appreciate value, tiny homes frequently do not. Part of the reason is that very few people want to buy tiny homes. The number is much smaller than the number of people who want to buy traditional homes.
  1. Tiny Home Insurance
    1. Even though tiny homes are small, you will likely still need to have homeowners insurance. If you have a loan, your lender will likely require you to have homeowners insurance.

Is a Tiny House the Solution for me and my Family?

A tiny house is a decision that is a very personal one. The first recommendation is, of course, to discuss the idea of life in a tiny house with your own family. If you are looking for a way to decide whether a tiny house could be for you, you may want to weigh the pros and cons. If you are looking to downsize, want fewer houses to maintain, and have a property where a tiny house is permitted, building one might be for you. However, if you are nervous about the expenses that may accrue during the process, the necessary space for a family (3 or more individuals), or the potential hurdles with financing, a tiny home may not be the right choice.


Don’t let the hidden costs associated with a tiny house use up all your resources. It may be a better choice to just use your financial resources to make a nice down payment on a traditional home. Either way, we’re here to help!

Ann Jones Realty

Have questions about whether you not to build or buy a tiny home? Why not ask a realtor? In the Brownwood, Texas area, the clear choice is Ann Jones Real Estate. If you’re in the Brownwood area and looking to buy, sell, or rent look to the team at Ann Jones Real Estate. We are ready to assist you in all your realty needs. Helping with locating a property, creating a friendly environment, finding financing options, or selling, Ann Jones and her team are willing to help. They believe that the clients are their purpose and therefore they deserve quality service. If you are interested in learning more, visit the website or contact Ann Jones Real Estate at (325) 646-1500.

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Moving Checklist

The best way to organize your move is to set your move-in date then use this guide to keep you on track from two months right up until you move. If you wait until the last minute, you might find yourself stuck renting a U-Haul and begging friends to tote your boxes for pizza and beer. There’s a better way.

First, determine your move date, then get busy with this checklist.

60 days before move

  • Sort, purge and donate – Make sure you only move things you want, need, and use. Start by tossing out anything damaged, donate what can be, give away items, and purge the unusable.
  • Find a mover – The process is more intense for a long-distance move, and it pays to start early. Check reviews for customer complaints of lost/broken items. Narrow to three options, interview, then decide.
  • Make a moving journal – Both digital and paper records are helpful. Create a spreadsheet to track due dates, the checklist, and to-dos. Use a paper journal to jot notes as you go, so nothing falls in the cracks.
  • Organize records – Locate all your critical documents, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. School, shot, and vet records, passports, birth certificates, etc.

45 days before move

  • Gather moving supplies – You can buy, but why? Craigslist and Freecycle often have free boxes and packing stuff from others that recently moved. Otherwise, buy what you need
  • Start paring back – It’s time to look again at what you can cull after the initial purge. Offer unwanted items on LetGo to get them out of the way, do another round of donations, and organize.
  • Measure and plan – Measure your new space and furniture. Find out what will fit and decide what to shed, replace, and buy. Apps like Amikasa, Home Design 3D, and Rooms are helpful.
  • Pack up out-of-use items – Pack things you won’t miss. Start with out-of-season clothes, décor, books, and rarely-used items. Label and stack boxes by room.


  • Confirm mover arrangements – Choose your mover, sign the contract, and pay the deposit. Consider moving insurance, but first, check with your renters or homeowners policy to see if they cover moving loss.
  • Pack and label – Begin serious packing. Take pictures off walls, pack up clothes, and start boxing up the kitchen including appliances and less-used items. Label and sort boxes by room.
  • Register change of address – Change your address with: bank, credit cards, magazines, insurance company(s), employer, and set up a change of address and mail forward with the USPS. See when you can get your driver’s license changed.
  • Change bills – Update digital subscriptions if they require zip code info for credit card processing. Go through your bank statements to jog your memory. If you change banks, reset auto-payments as well.


  • Secure your records and valuables – In addition to your critical records, identify valuables you don’t want to misplace while moving. Identify and organize jewelry, portable heirlooms, and items of particular value.
  • Get time off work and clear your calendar – Schedule time off a day before and after your move and clear your social calendar. You’ll be busy and exhausted and don’t need distractions during your move.
  • Confirm movers and engage critical services – Reconfirm the mover. Set up utilities at your new place. Most services can be engaged quickly. Turn new services on several days before your move and shut off the old a day after.
  • Order new furniture/mattress – Order needed new items. Is your mattress fit to move? (See below). Shopping online for a mattress is convenient. If possible, schedule delivery a day or two before your move, so it’s ready and waiting at your new place.


  • Clean and repair – If you’re renting, it’s time to scour everything, putty nail holes, and break out the carpet cleaner, so you get your security deposit refunded. If you’re selling your house, cleaning and touch-up paint is just the start.
  • Refill medications – Make sure you have enough medication on-hand and don’t pack it – take it with you. Keep a first aid kit out for any moving incidents and prep other necessities.
  • Donate unused food – If you have perishables, you might not want to move them. Eat your leftovers, use what’s in the freezer and donate food you can’t consume. Canned and non-perishables are great to move.
  • Pack up everything else – With just a week to go, do your laundry, pack up everything except toiletries and some clothes. You can switch to takeout and paper plates so that you can pack most of your kitchen, too.


    Get a good night’s sleep – If you follow the checklist and are organized, there’s no reason to stay up late worrying. Get to bed at a reasonable time for a full night’s rest. Keep a notepad at your bedside for last-minute notes.

  • Dispose of mattress – Moving is a great time to get a new or larger mattress if needed. Schedule pick-up of your old one.
  • Hand-carry valuables and documents – For the things you can’t afford to be misplaced, keep them with you. Hand-carry your passport, birth certificate, and critical documents plus jewelry and other valuables.
  • Monitor the movers closely – Keep an eye on the movers to ensure your things are handled carefully and nothing goes missing (or misappropriated). Have cash on hand to distribute gratuities at the end for a job well done.

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Types of Mortgages

Hello Again!

Today we’ll be discussing mortgages and the lingo that comes with them. Choosing a mortgage is one of the most significant financial decisions that the average person will make, so it’s important to understand which one will work best for you. We’ve done our best to simplify and summarize the most common types of loans.

Before we get into the loans, take a peek at this Glossary to help clear up some of the jargon:


Hopefully, those definitions help as we move into finding the best loan for your circumstances.

Conventional Loan: Good for Buyers with Average and Above Credit.

Quick Overview: Requires 620+ credit score and larger down payment.

A conventional loan is a straight agreement between a bank and a buyer, and so is not backed by the federal government. It is the most commonly used and typically has the best interest rates. This type of home loan works well for buyers with strong credit and who can afford the larger down payment.

FHA Mortgage: Good for First-Time Home Buyers.

Quick Overview: Backed by the government, requires 600+ credit score and smaller down payment.

An FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loan is common for buyers who cannot afford a higher down-payment, as the required down payment is only 3.5%. This loan is backed by the federal government and does not require as high of a credit score as a conventional loan. The downside to this loan is the slightly higher interest rates. This loan is great for first-time home buyers, but is available to anyone.

VA Loan: Good for Buyers who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces. 

Quick Overview: Requires 620+ credit score, and is one of few 0% down options.

The Veteran’s Administration Loan is, as the name implies, specifically for eligible veterans and their families. The federal government guarantees these loans, which means the VA will reimburse the lender for any losses if the borrower defaults. The ability to receive 100% financing for the purchase of a home is a huge advantage for qualifying buyers.

USDA Rural Housing Loan: Good for buyers with average credit and a moderate income.

Quick Overview: Requires 640+ credit score, is one of few 0% down options, but requires the property be rural according to the Department of Agriculture.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture created this loan to encourage buyers to purchase in specific rural areas. According to the USDA map feature that verifies addresses, much of Brown County and the surrounding area qualifies. You’ll need a moderate income to qualify for this loan, which the USDA defines as $82,700 for a 1-4 person household (page 276) in Brown County.

203K Rehabilitation Loan: Good for buyers looking to renovate.

Quick Overview: Requires 600+ credit score and needed repairs $5000 and up.

The “Rehab loan allows buyers to buy a home that needs fixing-up costing $5,000 or more. With this loan, you can pay for the cost of the home and any improvements. You need to start any repairs within 30 days and complete them within 6 months. Your lender will pay for the repairs regularly as the work is completed. Buyers who don’t mind putting in a little extra work on their new home will find this loan very helpful.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage: We do not recommend this loan!

Quick Overview: Similar to Conventional Loan, but the rate varies according to the market.

The most risky of the average buyer’s options is the Adjustable Rate Mortgage, also known as a Floating Mortgage or ARM. It starts with an interest rate that is lower than average, but after a few years the rate can change dramatically – usually for the worse. While the initial rate may seem inciting, it is all too temporary, and not a risk we recommend buyers take.

Have questions about mortgages or loan lingo? Comment below and we’ll find the answers you need!

In a hurry or just don’t feel like reading? Watch this video for a overview of Mortgage Options:

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