Friday, June 15, 2012

El Paso Homes TV

They don’t show up with big trailers full of lighting and sound equipment. No RVs for the stars or makeup people. No catered lunches on the set. As a matter of fact they look like any other people out looking at homes on any given day. But when all is said and done the quality of the work done by Christopher Jones of New Hero Productions makes El Paso Homes TV look like a big time Hollywood production.
El Paso Homes TV is a production of First Choice Realty headed up by Rene Gonzalez, a REALTOR® and Rick Snow the Broker for First Choice Realty. Rene is a life-long El Paso resident and Rick is an Army transplant coming to El Paso in 1999 for his final assignment before retiring from the Army in 2003. They met in 2006 and came up with the idea for the show in 2009.
El Paso Homes TV is a 30 minute show about El Paso real estate that currently airs on KVIA Channel 7. “The focus”, says Gonzalez,” is on new home builders in El Paso and on buyer education. The builders that are showcased get a segment on the show where we discuss their building techniques, floor plans and special incentives they may be offering at the time. We also have a segments dedicated to informing buyers about things like finding a mortgage or home inspections.”
“We try to make sure the show is entertaining as well as informative”, says Snow.” We have a good time with it. When we describe a builder’s product we try to hone in on benefits to the buyer as opposed to the features of the homes. People don’t buy ceiling fans and granite counters, they buy things that affect their lifestyle. So we describe the way the house flows or how the family members are able to interact with each other through design features.”
Various sponsors are integrated throughout the show to create a finished production that flows together almost like a story instead of like a commercial. Initially some resale homes were included but over time the emphasis was focused on the builders. The show has evolved into more of a storyline now. They are following a couple through the home buying process and viewers will get to watch them all the way through to closing. “It’s a way to get viewers to come back and watch next episode. Let’s face it, since we don’t have car chases or things blowing up we have to come up with different ways to get people coming back”, says Jones.
El Paso Homes TV provides an affordable marketing message to the consumer for new home builders that simply hasn’t been tapped into before in this way. It provides an opportunity for people to see and experience their homes before they come out and look in person. Rick and Rene aren’t stopping there either. They currently host a 1 hour radio show each Saturday from 11-noon on KHRO 1150 AM and will be launching a Spanish version soon. For more information visit

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Green Building

I am just about half way through the final course for my Green Designation and I am wondering how much consumers care about being green.

A study I looked at indicated that the number of people that say that reducing energy costs is important is on the upswing yet most surveyed had only taken minimal steps if any to reduce consumption. Perhaps they switched to energy efficient compact fluorescents or LEDs.

I know that energy efficiency renovations to an existing home can be very expensive. And it takes many years to recoup those costs through the money saved.

But when it comes to new homes is the average consumer willing to pay more for their home in order to save money on utilities or to be more environmentally friendly? And even if they are willing to pay more will the bank see the added value and loan the extra money? That may be a bigger challenge right there. If the consumer is willing to pay but the appraisal doesn't match the cost the buyer must come out of pocket for the difference or not buy the house. Then a builder would be stuck with a home he couldn't get appraised for the cost.

So it seems that builders would be reluctant to start green projects for fear of not being able to sell them. And when we go back to the renovation issue the costs far outweigh the savings, so a consumer would have to be "committed to the cause" in order to spend the money.

We have many things to consider here in El Paso when it comes to being green and sustainability issues. In addition to saving electricity we need to consider water conservation issues, recycling, and waste management.

Stay tuned for future posts about low cost conservation measures we can take to help preserve our environment and save some money too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

El Paso Homes with pools

Are you looking for a home in West El Paso with a swimming pool? Out of the 686 homes on the market as of this morning 160 of them have swimming pools. Asking prices range from a low of $140,00 up to a high of (are you ready?) $1.75 million. You can look at West El Paso homes with pools here.

From the simple fact that pools can be nice to sit beside to the fact that swimming is good exercise, there are many reasons to own a home with a pool.

If you enjoy entertaining then you are certain to draw more potential partiers to your place with a pool, especially with our warm weather. Make sure that you follow some good safety precautions, especially if you have small children.

In addition to the entertainment factor, many pool designs are just nice to look at as the central theme of the backyard. Landscaping, seating, lighting and the pool all combine to make your own private oasis in the desert. Water has a calming effect on the senses. Morning coffee and the paper or dessert after dinner on the patio. Can you picture it?

If you have never owned a home with a pool before make sure you do some research first and perhaps talk to some people that already have a pool to discuss maintenance issues and cost associated with a pool.

If you are in the market for a home in El Paso or the surrounding area, with or without a swimming pool, give us a call and we will be happy to guide you in the right direction.

Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Mortgage Credit Certicate may increase buying power

The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs Mortgage Credit Program helps low to moderate income families make home ownership more affordable. There is a focus on first time homebuyers.

Before I start let me say that I am not an accountant and the information here is strictly an example and may not reflect your personal tax situation.

A mortgage credit certificate (MCC) allows the home buyer a dollar for dollar tax credit of up to $2000 per year. In Texas you can get 35% of the mortgage interest credit up to the $2000 limit. The difference between a tax deduction and a tax credit is that credits act as tax paid versus a deduction from income. The mortgage interest deduction comes off your income and the amount of money saved is based on your tax bracket. for example (I'm using simple easy to figure numbers here) if you qualified for a mortgage interest deduction of $1000 and you made $50,000 you would deduct the $1000 and pay tax on $49,000 in income. If you were in the 15% tax bracket you would save $150 on your taxes. With a credit you would subtract that $1000 from the tax you owed so you would save $1000.

The benefit is limited to a $2000 credit per year and it is a non-refundable credit which means if your tax liability was less than $1000 you couldn't use it all, but then you wouldn't have a tax liability. You are also still able to claim the mortgage interest deduction on the remainder of the interest you pay during the year. If your interest was $3000 and your credit was $2000 you can deduct the additional $1000 under the mortgage interest deduction.

If you are eligible your lender may factor the increased savings into your income figures which would allow you to count that toward your qualifying income for your loan.

Some other points:

  • Not all lenders are able to offer the MCC. There is a network of participating lenders and fees apply, but the savings over the life of your mortgage could be significant.
  • Veterans are exempt from the first time homebuyer requirement
  • Income and purchase price restrictions apply
  • Must be used on an owner occupied property
  • Borrowers must complete a pre-purchase homebuyer education course.

For more information you can visit the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs website at

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

El Paso, You are on my List

El Paso has been making headlines, and not in a bad way. We have been in the national spotlight plenty this past year. We regained our ranking of 2nd safest large city in the United States to live. A couple of weeks ago we were named number 33 out of 100 best places to live in the nation by Forbes Magazine. Now Business Week has picked El Paso as number ten out of the top 15 strongest metro areas in the US (read about it here).

As the real estate market continues to fall elsewhere, El Paso maintains our values and even increases sales over the last couple of months.

If you have the ability, opportunities to invest, move up and plan for your future are abundant.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Home Buyer TaxCredit

Just to clarify the homebuyer tax credit for 2009. If you have not owned a home in the last three years you qualify as a first time buyer. The credit counts as tax paid so if you purchase a home in 2009, when you file your taxes at the end of the year you can receive a refund of that $8000. If you already have a refund coming the $8000 would be added to the refund. For example, you file your taxes and you have paid in $2000 from your paychecks and you owe $1000 in taxes, your refund would be $9000 (your $1000 + the $8000 tax credit)
So if you are thinking of buying a home this would be a good time. Rates are low and the tax credit is for this year only.

Happy house hunting.

Thursday, January 22, 2009