Austin Mortgage and ARMs

Is an ARM Right for Your Austin Mortgage?

Austin MortgageAlthough they have been vilified in recent years, an adjustable-rate-mortgage (ARM) can be a smart move for your Austin mortgage in some circumstances.  ARMs start with a low fixed rate for an introductory period, which is usually lower than a fixed rate mortgage.  After the initial time period, the loan adjusts annually based on current interest rates.

There are also hybrids ARMs, which combine features of fixed rate mortgages and adjustable rate mortgages.  This type of Austin mortgage starts with an interest rate for a fixed period of time, usually 3, 5, 7 or 10 years.  After the fixed rate time period, the loan has an adjustable rate for the remainder of the loan time.

Austin Mortgage Advantages to ARMs

Both a regular ARM or a hybrid ARM have advantages, one of them being that the introductory interest rate can be significantly lower than the market interest rate.  For example, a 30 year fixed mortgage could be 4.5% while an ARM Austin mortgage could be 3.1%.  Not only are your initial monthly mortgage payments lower, but you can also save significant amounts of money on interest over the life of the loan.

Disadvantages of Austin Mortgage ARMs

One of the biggest disadvantages of ARMs is the unknown.  Your Austin mortgage rate will be subject to whatever the going market rate may be at the time your fixed rate ends.  At this point, you could refinance or sell.  ARMS work the best for homeowners who only intend to stay in the home for the initial mortgage period.  If only we all owned a crystal ball!

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Best Austin Schools

Best Austin Schools are Highly Rated

Best Austin SchoolsThe living is good in Austin, especially if you are sending kids off to school each day. Austin has some of the best schools in the country. Newsweek magazine rates the top high schools across the nation and Austin has three in the top 100.  The best Austin schools include the Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Westlake and Westwood high schools.

Eanes ISD Among Best Austin Schools

Westlake High School is part of the highly rated Eanes Independent School District in the southwest part of Austin, which includes West Lake Hills and Rollingwood. All nine campuses in Eanes are rated exemplary by the Texas Education Agency and considered among the best Austin schools. Westlake high is also a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon school.

Best Austin Schools Include Magnet Schools

While many people choose to live in West Lake or other areas that feed to Eanes schools, there are best Austin schools and access to magnets schools all across the city. The Liberal Arts and Science Academy is a magnet high school, which means students from all over the city apply to go there but it is considered a public school.

University of Texas Among Best Austin Schools

Austin also has a number of excellent private schools, both religiously affiliated and secular. And of course, the crown jewel of best schools in Austin is the University of Texas. Ranked in the top 20 graduate schools nationally, UT is synonymous with Austin. From the Tower to the football stadium, the sprawling UT campus is representative of all that is hip, intellectual and iconic about Austin.

Leader1 Mortgage of Austin loves to help families who are looking for the best Austin schools with finding the best Austin Home Loans. Contact one of our experienced Austin Mortgage Brokers today to discuss your Austin Home Loan needs: 512-356-9436.

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Austin Home Loans for the Self-Employed

Freelancers Can Apply for Austin Home Loans

Austin Home LoansI discussed the benefits of living in Austin for freelancers, but what about Austin home loans for these hardworking, self-employed folks?  It can be a challenge to get approved for a mortgage when you don’t have a regular pay stub, but not impossible.

The IRS provides a way to prove your income to potential lenders for an Austin home loan with Form 4506-T, Request for Transcript of Tax Return.  This handy form gives a summary of your income for up to the last four years.  This allows Austin mortgage lenders an opportunity to get a better idea of your income earning potential.  Freelancing can be feast or famine, so having a way to provide an overall picture is helpful.

Need a Good Credit Score for Austin Home Loans

Another way that self-employed members of the Austin community can get approval for an Austin home loan is to have a strong credit score.  A FICO score in the 700s is going to help the approval process for the self-employed.  Along with your income-earning potential, lenders need to know that you are credit worthy.

Down Payments Count for Austin Home Loans

Having money in the bank for a down payment is a good idea for a couple of reasons, and not just for the self-employed.  A down payment of at least 20 percent of the home sale price 1) tells the lender that you are responsible enough to save money and 2) means that you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance.

Having that kind of money in the bank is a nice thought, but not necessarily everyone’s reality.  That is why it is important to find an Austin home loans lender that will listen to you and help your realize your dream of owning a home.

Freelancers Love Austin Home Loans

Austin is a great place to live and work, especially if your place of work is your living room. Having a piece of Austin to call your own is well worth it and the professionals at Leader1 can help you with your Austin home loans.

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Austin School Ratings

Texas Education Agency’s Austin School Ratings

Austin School RatingsAs people new to Austin search for homes, they often go by the Austin school ratings to choose a neighborhood. The Texas Education Agency rates all the public schools, charter schools, as well as each individual school district in Texas using an accountability rating system.

Austin School Ratings Based on TAKS Scores

Exemplary Austin school ratings, which are the highest, means that over 90 percent of the student population passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills tests (standard and adapted for learning differences). For high schools, Exemplary school ratings signifies that not only have 90 percent of the students passed the TAKS, but also that 95 percent of students who start high school complete all four grades.

The next Austin school rating is Recognized, which means that 75 percent of the student population passed the TAKS tests. An Acceptable Austin school rating means that 60 percent of the student population passed the TAKS. Anything below 60 percent TAKS passing receives a rating of Unacceptable.

Austin School Ratings Impact Communities

As I discussed before, there are pockets of Exemplary schools scattered all over Austin. Parent involvement is high and Austinites feel passionately about the schools in their neighborhood.

Leader1 Mortgage of Austin knows how important schools are to our community—they are important to our families, too. We want to help you find the right neighborhood with the best Austin school ratings. Contact one of our experienced Austin Mortgage Brokers today to discuss your Austin Home Loan needs: 512-356-9436.

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Austin Economy Booming

Austin Economy is Healthy

Austin Economy Makes Top Ten Thriving Cities

That’s not just the sound of live music you can hear booming on the streets of Austin–the thriving Austin economy is coming through loud and clear. named Austin one of the top ten cities in the nation to weather these tough economic times.  Ahead of Washington, D.C. and Augusta, Georgia, Austin was named the top of “10 Cities Unaffected by a Bad Economy.”

Austin Economy Innovative and Strong

The Austin economy is a brilliantly weird mix of the new and funky music  industry and hub for innovative tech companies, as well as the old standards of a government and university town.  This combination has been a recipe for success for the Capital city, with a 6.8 percent unemployment rate, which is well below the 9 percent national average at 6.8.

Austin Economy and Austin Home Loans

Fortunately one of these days, the rest of the country will recover from this bad economy.  It will most likely start with a rebound in housing and home prices everywhere will start climbing again.  The crazy low interest rates will rise, too.  This means that now is the time to buy a house and own a piece of the successful Austin economy.

Leader1 Mortgage of Austin is proud to help present and future Austinites with Austin Home Loans. Contact one of our experienced Austin Mortgage Brokers today to discuss your Austin Home Loan needs:  512-356-9436 .

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Financial Benefits of Living in Austin

Living in Austin has its Benefits!

living in Austin - a photo by Kumar Appaiah from FlickrI know that everyone breathes a sigh of relief when tax season ends, if for no other reason than not to have to hear about taxes all the time! So bear with me one more time as I focus on the tax benefits of living in Austin. Earlier this year, we talked about tax deductions for homeowners living in Austin, the homebuyer’s tax credit, tax benefits of green living in Austin and taxes and rental properties.

Get a Pay Raise Living in Austin

Although we mentioned it, we didn’t really discuss what it means to live in a state with no income tax. Texas is one of six states in the nation where residents do not pay states taxes on their income. No state income tax means one less thing is deducted from your gross wages and this makes living in Austin that much more attractive!

Living in Austin Means Less Tax Paperwork

Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or you get your taxes prepared professionally, taxes involve lots of paperwork. It sure is nice to have not only one less tax liability, but also one less tax form to fill out by not having to file a state income tax return.

Tax Benefits of Living in Austin

While Texans don’t get any tax benefits associated with filing a state income tax return, they can get a deduction for sales taxes paid on the federal return if they itemize deductions on Schedule A, which allows taxpayers to either deduct State Income Taxes paid or State Sales Taxes paid (whichever is greater).

Freelancers Love Living in Austin

Austin is a great place for freelancers. If you work from home (freelance writers, designers, etc) you can have clients from all over the US and still not pay state income tax. So if you are considering a change of scenery, you may want to think about living in Austin, and the professionals at Leader1 can help you with your Austin mortgage purchase.

Living in Austin Photo Collage courtesy of Kumar Appaiah on Flickr (check out his other amazing photos!)

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Austin Mortgage Approval: Important First Step

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Austin Mortage Approval Tips:
Loan Pre-Approval Provides Confidence to Find Your Dream Home

Austin Mortgage ApprovalDid you know that more than half of Austin mortgage loan applications are denied?  There is a simple solution to increase your chances of an Austin mortgage approval.  Before you start your house hunt, call your Austin mortgage lender for pre-approval of your Austin home loan.  Watch the following video, from Leader1′s own Austin Mortgage Broker – Chad Mullenix, about the importance of Mortgage Pre-Approval before you view properties.

Pre-Approval for an Austin Mortgage:
A Little Time Can Save A Lot of Hassle

Taking the time to sit down with your Austin mortgage lender before you find the house of your dreams is a smart first step. 

Think about the Austin Mortgage Approval Process this Way:

  • You spend several weekends with your realtor looking at houses.
  • Finally, you find the house that has everything you want and more.
  • You scramble to get your paperwork together to apply for your Austin mortgage loan.
  • By the time you sit down with your Austin mortgage lender, you discover that someone else made an offer on your dream home. 
  • Then to make matters worse, your Austin mortgage loan is not approved.

Let our Austin Mortgage Brokers help you Secure your Dream House

Taking the time to discuss your finances with an Austin mortgage lender can provide excellent guidance and assurance as you begin your property search.  Getting a jump on the paperwork puts the power in your hands to buy the house of your dreams.

Call the Austin mortgage specialists at Leader1 today: 512-356-9436 to schedule an appointment with a knowledgeable Austin mortgage broker to get your loan pre-approval today.  Bookmark the video for valuable information about obtaining your Austin mortgage.

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Austin Economy Thriving: Biotech Industry Bringing new Residents

Thriving Austin Economy thanks to Austinites Innovation

The Austin economy has long been known for its tech industry, but over the last decade another industry has quietly been making a name for itself in the field of biotechnology. This industry that combines science, technology and manufacturing also creates jobs for the Austin economy, revenue and prestige for the Austin area.

Austin Economy can Thank the Texas Legislature for Recent Biotech Advances

Biotech uses the molecular science of cells to create pharmaceutical products, medical research, and improve food products, farming and manufacturing. The Texas Legislature has created initiatives and set aside funding over the last decade to build a thriving biotechnology industry in the Lone Star State fueling the healthy Austin economy. There are over 4100 biotech companies or ventures across the state, employing over 100,000 people with an economic impact around $75 billion.

Austin Economy Embraces New Biotechnology

Also instrumental in the biotech industry’s role in the Austin economy, is being the Austin Technology Incubator, in partnership with the City of Austin, to support the development of biotech companies and start-ups in the capital city. The Austin Chamber of Commerce hosts the BioAustin website to foster collaboration and provide resources for people and companies in the biotech industry.

Thriving Austin Economy Encourages Growth

It is this kind of innovation that keeps Austin and the Austin economy in the national forefront. The economic innovation think tank known as the Milken Institute has called Austin one of the top 12 biotech areas in the country. The growth of the biotech industry over the last ten years has been one of the important components in the growth of the Austin economy. The clustering of a wide range of companies, like biotech, will lead to more exciting growth in this area, as well as inspiring innovation in a cutting edge industry.

Strong Austin Economy Means Austin Home Loans will Continue to be in Demand

Leader1 Mortgage of Austin is proud to represent the current and future residents of Austin in aquiring Austin Home Loans. Contact one of our experienced Austin Mortgage Brokers today to discuss your Austin Home Loan needs:  512-356-9436 .

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Austin Things To Do: 4 Great Austin Coffee Shops

Get a Good Cup of Coffee at these Austin Coffee Shops

In Austin coffee shops, the quirky and unique gather. Take the South Congress area for example, where a major chain coffee shop could not compete with the local Austin coffee shops. It’s hard to contend with great coffee brewed by Austinites who are as passionate about their java as they are about their city.

4 Austin Coffee Shops every Coffee Lover should Try

  1. Jo’s Hot Coffee: The first Austin coffee shop on our list is a true Austin establishment that let’s you sip your coffee with a furry companion. Jo’s has two locations—in the heart of SoCo and also on Second Street. The people watching is terrific at either location and the Turbo Iced Coffee is perhaps the best iced coffee on the planet.
  2. Ruta Maya: Established in 1990, this South Congress, Austin coffee shop serves a good cup of coffee along with a mission to send a portion of the profits back to the families who grow the beans. Ruta Maya is an entertaining cup of coffee, with yoga, kids’ shows and live music.
  3. Little City Roasting Company and Espresso Bar: Award winning coffee and close proximity to the Capitol are just a couple of perks of this coffeehouse. Near the Paramount Theater, this Austin coffee shop is open late, serving coffee, food and spirits to replenish your spirits while out on the town.
  4. Progress Coffee: The owners of this East Austin coffee shop serve up an inviting ambiance along with a cup of coffee. You will be enticed to spend an afternoon hanging out to drink the organic coffee and eat the fresh, locally grown food.

Austin Coffee Shops known for Quirky Atmosphere and Excellent Coffee

Whether you choose one of the four Austin coffee shops listed above, or another local favorite, you can be sure that you’ll be surrounded by students, young professionals, muscians, artists and businessmen, quite an eclectic mix. Austin coffee shops are a great place to experience the diversity and culture prevalent throughout Austin and definitely do their part in Keeping Austin Weird.

Discuss your Austin Home Loan with an Agent at your Favorite Austin Coffee Shop

Call Leader1 Mortgage of Austin today at 512-356-9436 to schedule an appointment with a local, Austin mortgage broker and we’ll meet you at one of your favorite Austin coffee shops to discuss the details.

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Austin Homeowners and Taxes, Part 4

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It’s time for Austin homeowners to breathe a sigh of relief. Hopefully, you got your taxes done by yesterday’s deadline. You probably don’t want anything to do with taxes at the moment, but it’s never too soon to start planning for 2011 taxes. This post is the final of a four part series on taxes and Austin homeowners as you plan for 2011.

Austin Homeowners:  Taxes and Rental Properties

There are lots of tax perks for landlords, but the trick is keeping long term plans in mind when it come to deductions related to rental properties.  Here’s the ins and outs of paying taxes for Austin homeowners with rental income:

Reporting Rental Income for Austin Homeowners

Austin homeowners must include rental income in their gross income. According to the IRS, “rental income is any payment you receive for the use or occupation of property.”

Report your rental income in the year you receive it.  This includes advance rents you may receive, regardless of the time period they cover.

You don’t include a security deposit in your income if you plan to return it to your tenant at the end of the lease. On the other hand, if you keep any part of the security deposit for reason covered in the lease then you should include the amount you keep in your income in that year.

Be careful Austin homeowners, receiving property or services in lieu of rent is considered income and should be included at “the fair market value of the property or services” in your rental income.

If you use your rental property for personal use (say, if it’s a vacation home) you must divide your expenses between rental use and personal use.

Underreporting your rental income creates what the IRS calls a “tax gap.”   The IRS doesn’t like tax gaps  (the amount paid in taxes versus the amount that should have been paid) and pays very careful attention to returns that include things like rental income.

Deducting Rental Expenses can Help Austin Homeowners Save on Taxes

Austin homeowners can deduct expenses related to renting their property from their gross rental income in the year they pay the taxes.

As a landlord, you can deduct the “ordinary and necessary expenses” for maintaining your rental property. These expenses can include interest, taxes, advertising, maintenance, utilities and insurance.

Like other tax deductions, rental property deductions have a lot of fine print.  They can include any expenses incurred while trying to rent your property, too.

Improvements to the property can be depreciated as a capital expense.  If you are getting into deductions and depreciation, you should discuss your taxes with a professional.

The IRS has helpful information and forms on taxes and rental properties here.

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