3 Things to Consider before Buying a Piece of Residential Land

3 Things to Consider before Buying a Piece of Residential Land

There is nothing quite as exciting as buying your first home. If you have trouble finding a pre-existing home to purchase, having one built from scratch is advisable. Over 170,000 new homes are constructed in the United States each year. Before you can start designing your new home, you will have to find a piece of land to purchase.

In most cases, you will have many plots of lands to choose from in your area. Getting the help of an experienced real estate professional is vital when trying to find and purchase a quality piece of land.

3 Things to Consider before Buying a Piece of Residential Land

1. Find Out About Zoning and Utilities

When trying to narrow down the pieces of residential land at your disposal, you need to dig deeper to find out more about the zoning and utilities offered with each plot. Just because a piece of land is zoned residential doesn’t mean everything around it is zoned the same. Buying a piece of residential land that is surrounded by land zoned as commercial can be problematic.

The last thing you want is to have your new home surrounded by large commercial buildings. You also need to avoid buying a piece of land that is surrounded by plots zoned for agriculture. When researching a piece of land, you also need to find out whether or not utilities are already in place. Having to run new water, gas or electricity lines can be very expensive. This is why finding a piece of land with utilities already in place is advisable.

2. Invest in a Buildable Lot

Whether you are buying a piece of land to build a home on or as an investment, getting a lot that is easy to construct a residential structure on is wise. Buying a piece of land that is basically one big hill can present lots of problems when you try and build a home. Not only will you need to assess the lay of the piece of land in question, you also need to find out more how easy it will be to get approved for building a home on it.

Some people make the mistake of buying a piece of land based on price alone. While price is an important factor to consider, you need to avoid making rash decisions. In some cases, a low-priced piece of land can turn into a money pit. Seeking out the guidance of building professionals is a great way to assess how easy it will be to construct a home on a particular piece of land.

3. Where is the Land Located?

Before you go out in search of land, you need to figure out what your needs are. Do you want to live in a subdivision or would you rather be in the country? Having this information can help you narrow down the selection of land plots in your area. Meeting with a real estate agent is a great way to get a feel for what your options are and the going price on residential land in the area.

Start Your Home Building Journey Today!

If you are ready to start building a dream home, contact Dillingham and Toone to find out how we can help.

Ready to Build: How to Choose the Right Location for Your New Home

Building a home in Texas is a popular option for real estate buyers and something that continues to gain traction. There are many areas in this state that are experiencing ongoing and consistent growth. Recently, the Wall Street Journal even stated there was a “land rush,” pointing out that purchasing land in the Texas Hill Country for building custom homes is one of the latest and hottest trends in the luxury real estate realm.

However, before you can put down roots and enjoy all the benefits of a custom-built home, you have to choose the right home site. This is something that can be quite challenging. You must put in time and effort to ensure your land search is successful.

Choose the Right Size

While there is a motto in Texas – “Go big or go home,” when it comes to land, this isn’t always the case. For example, that amazing 20-acre property you were considering buying may be a maintenance nightmare.

Consider what you will use the property for, carefully. Do you want somewhere to keep your horses? Do you want a retirement home? Make sure you keep in mind what you really want so you don’t get sidetracked and wind up buying a property you will regret.

Consider the Location Carefully

When you are ready to purchase land anywhere in Texas, you have more than a few options to choose from. For example, you can go with rural land that is removed from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities to home locations in more master-planned communities with a lot of amenities for residents and located near the bigger cities.

Thinking about how you want to live will help you determine where you want to live. Sales agents who are in the areas where you are interested in should be able to help you by letting you know about the communities where the people are near your life stage and where the commute will be the easiest. They can also point you in the right direction to find areas that have the amenities you are searching for or that offer more privacy than others.

Discuss Your Options with a Lender

The process involved with purchasing land to build a custom home is much different than if you were to buy a pre-built home. Loan terms and down payments are often surprising and there may be requirements and details related to the home you want to be built that you must work through. Understanding the process upfront and getting approval for the amount needed to purchase the land and build the home you want is essential.

When you are ready to begin the process of selecting the location where your custom home will be built, get in touch with the professionals. They can guide you through this process and help ensure you find the location that meets your needs, wants, and most importantly, your budget for the purchase.

Pitfalls Of Managing Rental Property

Whether you have become a landlord out of necessity or have chosen to purchase properties intended to rent out, owning rental properties does not come without its own set of challenges. 

While the economic opportunities may be exciting, managing rental properties can become overwhelming for owners who may live out of the area or have other full-time work responsibilities. Like any other business, proper management of a rental property requires time, commitment, and dedication. 

Understanding that there will be challenges that come with owning rental properties is vital in helping you head them off before they become problems. Identifying these areas where pitfalls can quickly arise helps to create a profitable and less stressful experience. 

Unpaid Rental Payments

One of the most common areas in which landlords experience challenges is dealing with tenants that do not pay their rent. This challenge is part of the nature of rental properties, and unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate it completely. Even the most financially sound tenants can experience difficult times, causing them to get behind on their payments or simply stop paying altogether. 

Proper Precautionary Prospective Tenant Screening

You can lower the risk of renting to unstable tenants by taking some precautions during the initial screening process. Careful screening of each prospective tenant can immediately weed out those who have a history of defaulting on financial obligations. Making sure to contact references, employers, and past property managers can assist you in gathering a better picture of who you are screening.

Adding clauses into the lease agreement that specify additional charges and fees that the tenant will be responsible for in the event rent is not paid on time is also helpful in protecting your interests as it provides a clear deterrence to getting behind. 

Keeping A Tenant In Your Home 

It is also important that you keep the screening process managed quickly so that your home does not stay vacant for long periods of time. The idea is to get great prospective tenants to want to move into your home, screen them effectively, and finally sign a lease agreement to keep cash flow from experiencing too much lull. 

Dealing With Property Damage

Maintaining a rental home that is attractive to good tenants is important to increasing your investment return. Unfortunately, rental properties can also fall victim to property damage. Of course, these damages may be weather-related, age-related, or tenant-related, but all of it must be dealt with quickly to maintain the property’s value and keep worsening conditions at bay. 

Property Managers Can Make Life Simpler

Property managers can be lifesavers for people who need someone to manage their rental home needs effectively and efficiently. At Dillingham & Toone Real Estate, we treat your rental property as if it were our own, giving you expert service that provides you peace of mind and less hassle.

Let us help your rental property work for you without you having to do any work. Call Dillingham & Toone Real Estate today and find out how easy owning rental property should be. 

Plan For Your Perfect Home Purchase

For most, purchasing a home is the biggest investment they will make in their lifetimes. It stands to reason then, that if you are in the market for a new home, you want to be confident that you are choosing one that will meet your needs and bring your joy.

There are many different things to consider when looking for your next home that it can become overwhelming to gain a clear idea of what you even want to look for. Questions of how much money you can afford to spend, what type of home you need, areas of town in which to look are only the tip of the ice burg when it comes to beginning your real estate search. 

Create An Outline As A Pre-Home Search Plan

Having a plan in advance is a great way to streamline your thoughts and give you a more focused approach on the quest for your perfect home. Doing this prep work before contacting a Realtor will provide you with a baseline and a starting point from which to proceed. Once you reach a Realtor, you will be able to use this outline as a means by which to convey your initial thoughts and needs to help them develop a tailored approach to house hunting. 

Set A Budget

The basics of this pre-home search outline are typically the easiest and the first aspects to list. Securing a pre-approval for a home loan is the best way to being the process of setting your budget for purchasing a new home. Your budget is important as it will determine how every other need and desire is met, or not, within the framework of how much money you will be able to spend. 

Needs, Wants, & Some Of Both

Once you have a target amount you’d like to spend on the home listed in your plan, you can begin to write down your list of needs and your list of wants. These two categories can be arranged, rearranged, and ultimately listed in ranking from most to least as desired. Time and thought should be put into this effort as having a clear understanding of what you need in a home will help you make the best decisions when it comes to making a purchase. 

Enlisting The Help Of A Realtor

Your Realtor will be able to take your pre-purchase plan and work with it and you to develop a search criteria in which to begin. Your Realtor can also advise you as to options that you may not at first have been aware of, developing a relationship with you that will bring you one step closer to finding the home of your dreams.

If you are thinking of beginning your search for your new home, begin by creating a plan that will bring into focus the aspects of your new home that will fulfill your needs and meet your desires. Contact Dillingham and Toone Real Estate to help you find just what you are looking for in your new home.

Tax Deductions Every New Homeowner Should Know

If homeownership is a new thing for you and your family, there may be some tax write-offs that you are unaware of. If we helped you to find a home this year, make sure to help yourself out when it comes to tax time. Proper care and attention when it comes to filing your return can help to save you thousands of dollars. 

Mortgage Interest

This is usually the biggest one for homeowners, and it is essential. Throughout the year, mortgage interest can add up really fast. You can deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. If you took out your mortgage before 2017, you could deduct the interest on up to $1,000,000 of mortgage debt. Regardless of the origination of your loan, this deduction will likely knock thousands of dollars off of your tax requirements this year. 

Property Taxes

Some people don’t realize that as hard as that property tax bill can be to pay, it is a tax write off. This can make the sting just a little bit easier. Property taxes up to $10,000 can be deducted. 

Mortgage Insurance

If you are a homeowner that needed mortgage insurance to purchase your home, you can use that as a deduction on your return at this point. Mortgage Insurance premiums are only deductible if you make less than $109,000 per year. The year 2020 will be the last year for deducting these premiums, so make sure to take advantage of this benefit while you can. 

Home Office

Are you self employed and running a small business or sole proprietorship out of your home? If you are, then you are entitled to write off expenses related to your home office. You must be using your office regularly and be a registered business to claim these deductions.

Medically Necessary Home Improvements

Although most home improvements are not deductible because they increase the value of your home if you had to make any accommodations to make the home safer or more accessible for a disabled individual that is fully deductible. If you installed an entrance ramp or railings or had to make adjustments to the safety of a bathroom, you can fully deduct those expenses. Typically speaking, adding a ramp to your home does not increase the value, and that is why these things can be used as deductions. 


With all of the expenses incurred in buying a new home, don’t miss out on any of the money you can put back in your pocket. If you have questions about what things may not be tax-deductible, it pays to ask a licensed accountant or accounting firm before filing your return. If you spend a little money having a professional look at your tax return this year, it could end up saving you thousands of dollars. 

As always, if you have any questions about real estate or property management, we are here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact us today. 

The Benefits of Professional Property Management Services

Owning one, or more, rental properties is a great way to earn extra income. However, this ownership also comes with additional responsibilities. Managing properties involve an array of costs, including making repairs, maintenance and upkeep, marketing when you need tenants, and more. If you are wondering if you should hire a property manager, it may help to get to know some of the benefits these professionals have to offer. 

Screen Out Potentially Problematic Tenants 

One of the biggest advantages offered by property management services is that the property manager is going to handle all of the tenant screening processes. An experienced property manager will see many applications throughout the years. This means they can easily notice any possible problems or potential red flags when they are going through the paperwork provided by applicants. They can also spot potentially quality tenants – these are the ones that will pay their rent on time, take care of your property, and more. By allowing someone else to handle the tenant screening process, you can increase the likelihood that you will find a reliable renter. 

Serve as the Point of Contact for Tenant Problems or Concerns 

If something stops working properly or breaks at your rental property, it isn’t always possible or convenient for the owner to drive over to the location and inspect it – especially if they live out of town or out of state. A property management service can address issues that arise at all hours of the day and arrange for someone to come and make repairs or replace what the issue is. If you have a tenant who is always seeming to complain about something – regardless of if it is a dog or a noisy neighbor – you can feel confident the property manager will handle all the problems. 

Marketing the Rental 

A property manager is skilled in the rental market, which includes writing rental ads, taking quality photos, and hosting open houses. They also have knowledge of the local real estate industry and can help you establish a competitive rental price. 

By hiring a property manager with prior marketing experience, you will be able to get someone in your property faster and reduce the amount of time it is vacant. If you are planning to market the property on your own, there are options, but it will be much easier if you use the services of a pro. 

Reduce Tenant Turnover 

Any quality property management company will know what needs to be done to keep their renters happy. They are available and responsive, and they can take care of issues when they occur. When your renters are happy, this is going to reduce the likelihood that they leave and search for somewhere else to live. When it comes to property management companies, there is no question they have a lot to offer. Finding the right company for this job is going to pay off and provide you with all the benefits listed here, and more. Putting time and effort into this decision is recommended.

Benefits of Owner Financing for Sellers

Benefits of Owner Financing for Sellers
Benefits of Owner Financing for Sellers

If you own property that you’ve been trying to sell but need to transfer ownership of it fairly quickly, selling it with owner financing may work well for you. My Home SA can help you set up the arrangement so that you can sell your home quickly and effectively to a motivated buyer. There are numerous benefits to setting up an owner financing arrangement, including, but not limited to, the following:

Monthly Income
When you decide to offer your home with owner financing, typically you gain access to a monthly mortgage payment from the buyer, instead of a full lump sum for the house at one time. This income can then become part of your ongoing income, helping increase your overall budget and turning your house into a liquid asset.

Faster Sale
If you want to sell your home more quickly, owner financing may be the way to go. Often this type of sale can attract more motivated buyers who are willing to purchase a property that may have some minor flaws, and they may be willing to pay a higher price for it. When you need to get your home sold and move on, quickly, owner financing can be a great way to do so and My Home SA can assist you through the process.

Sell Property “As Is”
It can be difficult to sell an older home without renovations or to sell a home that needs some upgrades or that isn’t perfect. However, offering a house with owner financing may mean that you can obtain a buyer, even if the home itself is less than perfect. This means that if you still need to paint, redo carpeting, or make other small repairs and it’s been holding you up as you prepare to sell your home, it may be time to move ahead with the process.

Instead of waiting until you have time to handle all of the remodeling that you’d like to be able to do, work with a company that will help you sell it with owner financing, instead. You’ll gain freedom and liquid cash, and the buyer will gain access to a home that they can fix up just the way that they’d like. It winds up being a win-win situation for everyone involved.

When you own property that you need to get onto the market and sold, but you’d like to do so quickly and effectively, owner financing is often the best way to go. If this is an option for you and you’d like help setting up the sale and finding a motivated buyer, contact My Home SA to learn more about the process. We’ll help you get started with all of the necessary paperwork so that you can get your home on the market and move on to the next phase of your life.

How to Get a Custom Home Built in San Antonio, TX

How to Get a Custom Home Built in San Antonio, TX
How to Get a Custom Home Built in San Antonio, TX

Moving to a new part of the country can be tricky when none of the houses in the area have what you want for your family. Instead of finding a home where your family can move into quietly, you’re stuck with a situation where your family is forcing itself to fit into a living space that’s too small, too old, missing modern features, and other potential problems.

While some real estate services would recommend you keep looking until you find a house that’s good enough, there is a more comfortable option. At Dillingham & Toone Real Estate, we recognize these cases as the time for someone to planning a custom home be built in the area. Having a custom-built home has benefits for the house owner.

When you have a custom home built, you have far more control over the individual elements of the house. For example, buyers can choose more eco-friendly materials when manufacturing their house. This makes the home better suited for the changes in the environment that San Antonio experiences throughout the year.

To get started with a custom home, buyers need to look for local contractors that can handle designing and building a custom structure. At Dillingham and Toone, our agents will help you determine the best builder to fit your family’s needs, as well as help you decipher the builder’s contracts.  When it comes to contracts, we always recommend having an attorney review the contracts. Building contracts can be complicated, and our agents are not allowed to give legal advice or change the conditions of a contract.

Having a custom home built requires the buyer to search for a spot with ample land to cover the construction. This is another place where our agents can help. Our agents will communicate with the builder to ensure the property that is purchased, if needed, will accommodate the floor plans you’ve selected. Some builders will have lots available to buy with the new build, and others will build on the property you choose.  We will also help coordinate financing if needed.

While the home is being constructed, there are many decisions about the style and color that need to be considered. Deciding on what tile to choose, colors of countertops, paint, lighting, and all the other details can be exhausting, but your Dillingham & Toone agent can be an extra set of eyes for you. Their guidance will ensure you have all the choices made and that your options create a solidify your design choices.

During the construction of the home, there will be multiple chances took over the building process at various stages. Since many custom homeowners don’t know what to check for during this process, your Dillingham & Toone agent can help during the different steps to ensure the construction is on time and that the builder is meeting your needs.

Dillingham & Toone is here to help eliminate some of the stress of building a custom home.  We are knowledgeable in the custom build process and will communicate with the builder on your behalf.

If you’re interested in getting a custom home built in San Antonio, contact us for more information today at 210-504-4800 or send us a message online using the form on our custom home page.

Home Seller Tips

Home Seller Tips
Home Seller Tips

Selling your home isn’t the simplest task, but with the right help, it doesn’t have to be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, either. There are numerous ways that you can make the process easier, including working with a skilled real estate agent. When it’s time to consider listing your house, consider utilizing these tips to make the process as simple as possible:

Focus on Curb Appeal: The first impression a potential buyer will have of your home is when they initially park and see it from the curb or the driveway, so it’s important to make sure that the house looks appealing on the outside as well as the inside. This means that you’ll need to keep the lawn maintained, keep weeds to a minimum, and make sure that the exterior paint and trim are in good condition. If it’s near a holiday, put up small, seasonally appropriate decorations. Be sure that the house numbers can be clearly seen from the street and that there is no clutter in the yard, driveway, or on your porch. Keep the front area of your home well lit, as well, so that it’s easy for potential buyers to see.

Deep Clean: Spend some time going through your house and cleaning it as thoroughly as possible. Make sure to change the air filters in your HVAC system, clean the baseboards, and have the carpets shampooed. If you lack the time or physical capability to clean the building in this manner, it may be time to reach out for professional help. A skilled cleaning company can assist you as you get your home ready to sell. These agencies can help carry out the tasks that you may not have time to manage so that the home can look it’s absolute best when you put it on the market.

Remove Clutter:  As you prepare to sell your house, spend some time removing clutter, photos, and personal belongings. Set your house up with neutral yet attractive items so that it has a pleasant appearance, but individuals who are interested in purchasing it can walk through and picture their family in the home. If you need help with this process, ask your real estate agent for their best tips about staging a house.

Handle Small Repairs: Spend some time going through the house and making a list of small repairs that need to be completed. If you’re consistently bothered by a squeaky hinge, a broken light switch plate, or a loose floorboard, spend a weekend fixing these issues. Small repairs may be easy and inexpensive to fix, but dramatically impact the amount you’re able to ask for your house overall.

When you’re ready to put your house on the market, reach out to our skilled real estate professionals today to learn how we can assist you. We’ll help make the process as simple as possible, so you can sell your home quickly and easily.

3 Real Estate Trends to Watch For in 2020

3 Real Estate Trends to Watch For in 2020
3 Real Estate Trends to Watch For in 2020

The real estate industry a dynamic system that’s always changing. Every year, new locations become the hot spot for the industry, and new trends affect what buyers are looking for in homes they find on the market. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or sell your property, it’s important to have an idea of the trends that will shape the market you’re entering. At Dillingham & Toone Real Estate, we work with clients to help them make sense of an ever-changing, so they get the best value for their transactions. With a new year just a couple of months away, here are three real estate trends to watch for in 2020.

An Increase In Investment Property Buyers

Under most circumstances, real estate is a safe investment because the value of property tends to rise over time. Even if there’s a slight downturn in the market, the property will return to its original value, so long as the person didn’t pay too much for it in the first place. In 2020, fears of a global economic downturn could make real estate investments in the U.S. a safer bet for people with capital without a place to invest it. This would be great news for sellers because the increased market activity will lead to better deals for property owners who wish to sell.

Higher Prices for Houses in Tourist-Friendly Areas

One of the most significant disruptions to the traditional housing market has been the introduction of apps like Airbnb. A person with a house in an area that’s convenient for tourists no longer has to sell their home to someone who wants to live in a high-traffic area. People will pay top dollar for a home they never intend to live it because the house can be rented for far more money on Airbnb. While there are conflicting opinions on whether this is a good or bad thing for society at large, it’s great for property owners. Selling a house amid a busy tourist district can be tricky. Many people don’t want to deal with heavy congestion all year round. However, vacationers love being in the thick of the action for a few days. Investors who want to make money on Airbnb rentals are willing to raise the price for these locations to levels that would be too expensive for locals.

An Increasing Focus on Technology

Smart homes that use internet technology to make life better has gone from being something rare to something more commonplace. For people that want to sell an older home in 2020, they may want to consider some technological upgrades to go along with curb appeal improvements. A lot of the most commonly requested smart home features are expensive to install, but make your home stand out against the competition. For example, a smart thermostat is quick and easy to have installed; it makes the house more modern and can lower energy costs when used correctly. Similarly, internet-enabled locks and security are features that many house hunters like to see when searching for a new home. Compared to other potential renovations, making your home a little smarter with technology is inexpensive and can have a considerable impact.

If you’re looking to buy or sell property in the near future, Dillingham & Toone Real Estate is here to help. We have years of experience assisting people to get the best deals on real estate transactions in Texas. Send us a message online to discuss your real estate needs.

Owner Financing in Texas

Owner Financing in Texas
Owner Financing in Texas

An important bucket list item for many Americans is to own their own home. However, many people are finding that it’s more challenging to obtain a mortgage and purchase a home today than it used to be. It can be difficult to achieve this lifetime goal, and this is often complicated by previous generations, not understanding that the process of purchasing a home has changed dramatically.

Before 2008, the real estate market simply didn’t have as many regulations as it does now. It used to be very easy for sellers to offer financing programs that were a bit more creative. This process made it far easier for buyers to obtain the mortgage they’d always wanted. However, those easy mortgages built up and brought on the real estate market crash of 2008, in which many individuals lost their life savings, and some lost their homes.

Sellers who are attempting to sell their homes to buyers who have credit that is less than perfect may decide to finance the purchase on their own. Owner financing is a valid method, but sellers who want to go this route may want to contact a Real Estate Broker/Realtor with experience, and a skilled attorney to help draw up the paperwork.

If you’re selling your home and would like to consider owner financing in Texas, there are a few things to keep in mind:

The SAFE Act – If a seller engages in more than five owner-financed transactions in a year, they now have to have a Residential Mortgage Loan Originator License, according to the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) for Mortgage Licensing Act. This helps keep individuals from financing many properties in a row and possibly not doing so ethically. There are some legal exceptions to this Act, such as providing mortgages to family members or selling your primary residence. It is wise to work with an attorney in these specific situations.

Dodd-Frank/TitleXIV – The Mortgage Reform and Anti Predatory Lending Act went into effect in 2014 and states that sellers must determine if a potential buyer can afford the house before they set up a contract. This law originated to eliminate finance deals to sell homes that more unfortunate borrowers couldn’t reasonably afford but signed contracts for anyway. The law prevents balloon payments as the mortgage matures, as well as penalty fees for pre-payments.

If you’re a Texas buyer and are interested in purchasing a home, you must be aware of the changes to the real estate market over the last decade. If you’re planning to owner finance your home, speak to a real estate attorney or qualified real estate professional to learn more about details for funding. These skilled professionals can help ensure that you manage your legal liabilities appropriately as you put your property on the market or purchase an owner financed home.

Owner Finance Listings

Scroll through all Available Owner Finance Listings in San Antonio. We have access to HUNDREDS of properties and do more owner financing than anyone. CONTACT US for a free consultation and let’s explore what creative financing/owner financing option is right for you.