Category Archives: Seller 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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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.

Article courtesy of

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Home Selling Goals in Brownwood, TX

How to Meet Your Home-Selling Goals

Whether you’re selling your home for the first time or the fifth, your goals stay the same: Attract buyers and secure a good sales price. Take these simple steps to reach your home-selling goals.


A REALTOR® can access reliable market data to help you determine the right price for your home. And when your home is priced properly for the market, you will get more interest from buyers. A home priced too low for the market may mean a quicker sale, but it also means you’ll be missing out on extra cash. Finding the sales price sweet spot is how you’ll meet your goals.


You might be surprised at how many sellers don’t de-clutter or make basic repairs before listing their home. Even in a seller’s market, buyers won’t make it past your listing photos if they are less appealing than others. Simple changes—like potted plants on the porch and a new coat of paint for the front door—can help make your home more marketable. Talk to your REALTOR® about what appeals to buyers in your market.


A REALTOR® will try to accommodate your schedule, but you should be realistic about having potential buyers see your home. Weekend and evening showings are helpful for prospects with a 9-to-5 job. And if your area attracts people relocating, they might only be in town for a few days with a compressed schedule. Most important: Give buyers space. It’s hard to get a feel for a property when an anxious seller is following you around during a showing. Your REALTOR® can help you meet buyers’ showing expectations.

A REALTOR® can help you market your home effectively to attract buyers and secure a good sales price.


Article courtesy of the Texas Association of REALTORS®

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Increase the Value of your Homes in Brownwood, TX

Improve the Value of Your Home


Making extra payments on your mortgage isn’t the only way to build your home’s equity (though it is something to consider).

Here are 8 easy ways to make your home more valuable:


To increase your home’s value, you’ll need to know where to start. A home inspection will uncover non-cosmetic improvements your home may need, such as a termite problem or outdated electrical system. A home inspector can tell you about any hidden issues you may have been unaware of and recommend solutions.


If you are looking to make cosmetic improvements to your home, we recommend starting with the outside. The street view of your home is it’s first chance to make a good impression. Of course, fixing any obvious defects is the first step, but there is more you can do to enhance your home’s value. The front door is often the focus point from the curb and is easily updated by putting on a fresh coat of paint or installing a new doorknob. A cheerful welcome mat and porch furniture are inviting. A mailbox can be upgraded for as low as $20. Adding complimentary house numbers and brighter exterior lighting will improve the overall look of your home while making it easier to locate. And of course…


Landscaping is a low-cost, high-return investment. Front yard greenery is an eye-catcher, so if your yard is lacking, plant a tree, shrubbery, or flowers. We recommend native and/or drought-resistant plants. These require less maintenance and expense. If you’ve already got plants, keeping them trimmed and tidy boosts appeal significantly.  An investment of around $400 or $500 dollars in landscaping can bring a return of four times that, according to a 2007 survey done by HomeGain.


Lighting is essential to your home’s appeal. There are many options for improving the lighting in your home. Dimmers are great for setting the mood. Sun tubes allow in natural light without the expense and exposure of skylights. Use high wattage bulbs to make small spaces feel larger and soft lights to make empty rooms feel warmer.


A simple and cost-effective improvement, painting is a go-to upgrade that any home can benefit from. Freshly painted walls make rooms look clean and updated, which is a huge boost to your home’s value. Painting also helps shield your home’s surfaces from wear and tear. We recommend neutrals because they are the most universally appealing and are the best choice if you intend on selling soon.


Improving the air quality in your home is a subtle but important task. Smell is one of our strongest senses and is directly tied to our subconscious. A pleasant smell can make all the difference in people’s impression of your home.

Carpets and rugs are infamous for trapping dirt and odors. To improve air quality, get your carpets professionally cleaned or replace them with hard flooring such as laminate, tile, or wood.


Of course square footage affects the value of a home, but did you know that the visual space, or how large the home feels, can too? We’ve got a few tricks for making small rooms appear larger and more spacious.

First, replace heavy curtains and drapes with blinds or shutters. Vertical blinds will make the room seem taller, and letting sunshine in makes any space feel more airy. Mirrors are also a great way to trick the eye into seeing more than is actually there. A single large mirror or a collection of mirrors on one wall does wonders. Last, but certainly not least, clear as much clutter as you can. The more stuff is in a room, the more cramped it feels. Installing shelving in an underused space is a great way to add value, since it both declutters and is valuable in itself.


Energy-efficiency is the “next big thing” in home updates. Not only are these updates environmentally-friendly, they save you a ton of money in utility costs and are a big draw for buyers. There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a green update. We recommend LED lights since they’re one of the easiest and most inexpensive boosts. If your heating or air-conditioning systems are old, then an upgrade to a newer model could save you up to 30% or 40% in electricity costs!


Paying for these updates is nothing to brush off. It’s important to consider your finances and future when investing in home improvement. Check out these options for financing your project. Your choice should also limit the amount of interest you’ll pay for your home improvements.

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How to stage your home in Brownwood, TX

How to Stage Your Home


And happy Friday everyone! Today we’ll be discussing ways you can make your home as inviting as possible for potential buyers.

Preparing your home for potential buyers is, more than anything, about getting into their heads. When someone is looking for a new home, their imaginations are wild with possibilities. The key is to use subtle methods to push their imaginings in a positive direction. This is easier than you might think, and can be achieved in a few simple steps.

  1. The way your home smells is one of the first things a potential buyer will notice. Scents are known to trigger the subconscious and affect mood. If the buyer feels good in your home, that emotion will stay with them as they make their decision. So clean your carpeting and drapes to eliminate odors and open the windows to air out the house. Then fill the home with fresh scents. We suggest citrus, as the smell of limes has been determined by scientists to be the most universally pleasant. For quick fixes in the kitchen, cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract or orange juice can instantly make the fridge a nicer-smelling place. Add boiled lemon juice to your dishwasher and run lemon rinds through the garbage disposal to eliminate odors.

2. Well-lit spaces are perceived to be happier spaces. Cleaning windows and screens will help bring more light into your home. Replace burnt bulbs, and consider higher wattage in low-light areas. Replacing yellow bulbs with white can brighten a room considerably. Clean the walls or brush on a fresh coat of bright, neutral paint.  We recommend lighter shades that make rooms look bigger, instead of a dark color that can make a space feel closed in. Exchanging heavy curtains with sheer ones will open up spaces and show off your view. 

set-the-scene3. This tip is the one that’s all about getting the buyers’ imaginations going. The trick is to set up ‘props’ that ignite ideas of the buyers’ future instead of telling stories of your past. A bright afghan or new accent pillows add a sense of comfort to a room, but they shouldn’t have your family’s name or monogram on them. Pretty dishes or a simple centerpiece on the tables can help buyers picture themselves living there. If you have a fireplace, lay fresh logs or place a vase of flowers on the mantel. Avoid putting out personal affects that might shake the buyers out of their daydreams. Speaking of personal affects…

4. Remove any clutter. Cleared spaces help buyers to picture their own belongings in the home. This can enhance the buyers’ sense of belonging, whereas seeing your items everywhere can make them feel like invaders. Clear off counters and pack unnecessary decorative items. Put extra furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season items. Don’t forget to clean out the garage, too.


5. A clean space is an inviting space. Most buyers will be more inclined to chose a home that they don’t have to deep clean before moving in. Performing a deep clean before listing your home will also make upkeep easier while it’s on the market. Consider hiring a cleaning service to help.

6. Maximize comfort. Despite the picture, we’re talking about temperature control rather than blankets. We suggest keeping your thermostat set to 76º in the warmer months and 68º in the cooler months to keep your home comfortable while keeping the electric bill down. In the summer, shut a few of the A/C vents on the first floor so more air will get upstairs. Reverse the process in the winter. 

fix-it-up7. Take care of minor repairs. Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or a dripping faucet may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well-maintained. 


8. Even as they’re pulling up to your home, buyers are forming an opinion. An up-kept yard and facade let’s buyers know immediately that you are an attentive homeowner. Therefore, they infer that you have lovingly cared for the rest of the home as well, casting you and your home in a positive light in their mind. Capture their good-will by cutting the grass, raking the leaves, adding new mulch, trimming the bushes, edging the walkways, and cleaning the gutters. A pot of bright flowers near the entryway can also add great curb appeal. 


9. Bathrooms are easy for both buyers and sellers to overlook. But a luxurious bath? Guaranteed to stand out and inspire dreams of coming home to unwind in a bubble bath. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight, along with old towels and toothbrushes. Add a new shower curtain and fancy guest soaps. A touch of greenery can also invoke feelings of the spa.  doggie

10. As cute as your furry friends are, they shouldn’t be in the house when buyers come to call. Even if your pet is the friendliest, calmest, best pet in the world, you can never know how someone else may react to them. Even if the potential buyer loves animals, pets are a huge distraction from visions of the future you’ve worked so hard to create in the buyer’s mind.  Send the pets to the neighbor’s or a friend’s house. Or take them with you. If that’s not possible, crate or confine them to one room or the backyard, and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be, so there are no surprises.


11. Though we try to think the best of people, it’s better not to take unnecessary risks. Lock up valuables and medication; Agents can’t watch everyone all the time.

12. It can be tempting to give in to curiosity and try to be there while a possible buyer goes through your home. But please, head out. It can be awkward for everyone if you’re home at the time of a showing and it’s far easier for the buyer to imagine the home as theirs if you’re not still taking up the space, literally. 

Have a suggestion for making a buyer feel at home or a question about one of our tips? Comment below!

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