The Carnes-Hyatt Group Community Real Estate Blog

May 1, 2024

5 Smart Strategies To Lower Your Interest Rate When Buying A Home

Buying a home is one of the most significant financial decisions you'll ever make, and securing a favorable interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your mortgage. With interest rates playing a crucial role in determining your monthly payments and overall loan cost, it's essential to explore ways to lower them. Here are five smart strategies to help you save on your interest rate when purchasing a home:

1. Improve Your Credit Score: Your credit score is a key factor that lenders consider when determining the interest rate for your mortgage. The higher your credit score, the lower the risk you pose to lenders, and consequently, the lower the interest rate you're likely to receive. Before applying for a mortgage, take steps to improve your credit score by paying bills on time, reducing outstanding debt, and correcting any errors on your credit report. Even a small increase in your credit score can translate into significant savings on your interest rate.

2. Shop Around for the Best Rates: Don't settle for the first mortgage offer you receive. Instead, take the time to shop around and compare rates from multiple lenders. Different lenders may offer different interest rates and loan terms based on their underwriting criteria and business models. By obtaining quotes from several lenders, you can leverage competing offers to negotiate better terms. Online mortgage comparison tools make it easy to compare rates and find the best deal for your financial situation.

3. Make a Larger Down Payment: A larger down payment not only reduces the amount you need to borrow but also demonstrates your financial stability to lenders. Lenders typically offer lower interest rates to borrowers who make substantial down payments, as they pose less risk of default. Aim to save at least 20% of the home's purchase price for a down payment to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) and qualify for the most competitive interest rates. If you're unable to save a sizable down payment, consider delaying your home purchase until you can accumulate more savings

4. Choose a Shorter Loan Term: While a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is the most common option, opting for a shorter loan term, such as a 15-year or 20-year mortgage, can result in a lower interest rate. Shorter loan terms typically come with lower interest rates because lenders assume less risk over a shorter repayment period. Although your monthly payments may be higher with a shorter loan term, you'll pay less in interest over the life of the loan and build home equity faster. Carefully evaluate your budget and financial goals to determine the most suitable loan term for your needs.

5. Consider Buying Points: Mortgage points, also known as discount points, allow you to buy down your interest rate in exchange for an upfront fee paid at closing. Each point typically costs 1% of the total loan amount and reduces your interest rate by a predetermined percentage, typically 0.25%. While buying points requires an initial investment, it can yield substantial long-term savings, especially if you plan to stay in your home for an extended period. Use a mortgage points calculator to determine whether buying points makes financial sense based on your loan amount, interest rate, and expected length of homeownership.

Securing a lower interest rate on your mortgage can lead to significant savings over time. By focusing on improving your credit score, shopping around for the best rates, making a larger down payment, choosing a shorter loan term, and considering mortgage points, you can optimize your borrowing costs and achieve greater financial flexibility as a homeowner. Take the time to explore these strategies and work with a trusted mortgage professional to find the most favorable interest rate for your home purchase.

Sept. 2, 2021

If You Bought A House This Year, File For Your Homestead Exemption

Posted in Community News
July 19, 2018

Introducing Local Market Reports

We are pleased to announce a great new tool available to everyone in the Birmingham area. Our website's Local Market Report tool is an excellent way to keep up with current homes for sale, homes presently under contract, and recently sold homes. These reports can be broken down by county, city, price range, property type, year built, and several other criteria. As a site user, you can set up multiple property searches and/or market reports to be sent to you weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, or different times for each report.

Market Reports are a great tool to keep you up to date with every home that's on the market, or recently sold, within your community. Most real estate websites don't offer sold property information, so we felt compelled to make sure our website had a function to do so. The simplicity of this tool has made it very appealing to everyone that has utilized it so far. We hope it will be beneficial to you as well.

To set up a new market report, Click This Link. You will select your report criteria and then click "Go To Market Report." Only a name, email address, and phone number are needed to create an account. By the way, that information only comes to our team and is never sold to any third party. From that point, you'll be emailed an updated report as often as you choose. It's best to save a link to our site on your desktop or mobile device. You'll automatically be logged in every time you visit and will be able to search and view all properties for sale without the need to ever sign in again. 

We hope you enjoy this great new tool.

Posted in Market Updates
June 22, 2018

No Brainer Do's & Don'ts When Sellling Your Home

We generally take a pretty serious approach in everything we do, but we thought we’d have a little fun and cover some definite “Do’s & Don’ts” when it comes to selling your home. We’ve seen a lot, probably walked through more than 10,000 homes, and have many stories we could tell. Here are a handful of simple things to be mindful of when your home is on the market.

  1. DO take good pictures. Scratch that. DO take excellent pictures. Use a pro. The very first impression of your home to a potential buyer will likely be your home’s main photo in a thumbnail gallery on website. This photo needs to be an actual photo of your home, not a picture of the other home your agent listed the same day, or six years ago. And if it is your home, the entire home should be in it….not just the left side of the front stairs and part of a window to the side of the house.
  2. DO flush your toilets before showings. Close the lids as well. Double check them. This is important.
  3. DON’T have scented candles burning during showings. Sinus problems, instant headaches, bye-bye buyer.
  4. DON’T leave your dirty underbritches laying around the home. Hey, don’t leave the clean ones laying around either.
  5. DO leave the house during showings. We have showing apps, reminder texts, showing confirmation emails, etc. Many agents do. Some don’t. If you have trouble remembering when you have showings coming up, get a reminder app for your phone. It’s hard to hear the doorbell, or the family of buyers and their agent piling through the front door, when you’re in the shower.
  6. DON’T leave loud, heavy metal music playing for your potential buyer’s enjoyment. If you feel inclined, low volume classical or jazz playing throughout the home works well.
  7. DO make the beds, clean the counters, empty the sink, etc., etc. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but cleanliness goes a long way.
  8. DON’T leave Max at home. Max is a good dog, but your potential buyer had a bad experience with that exact breed years back. Plus, her son is allergic to him.
  9. Speaking of pets, DO leave a note on the door if your cat is an escape artist. A thoughtful owner left us a note once that read “Please don’t let my black cat out.” As we were leaving the house, we noticed a black cat outside. We chased that cat for nearly an hour before the owner got back home and informed us that her black cat was the one sitting up in the front window of the living room….not the one we were chasing.
  10. DON’T cook tacos the night before a showing. This particular smell lingers, gets sucked up into the air return vent, and permeates throughout the house for several days.
  11. DO take down the old country duck wallpaper.
  12. DON’T leave up the old country duck wallpaper.
  13. DO Google “Country Duck Wallpaper Images” to ensure nothing in your house resembles this type of wallpaper.
  14. DON’T shy away from leaving out freshly baked cookies and mini bottles of water for showings. Agents like cookies. Buyers like cookies. We like cookies. We highly recommend the large, chewy chocolate chip variety.
  15. DO remove any creepy, life sized dolls or clowns that you have out for “decoration.” We’ve seen some pretty crazy things, but kids find these scary. And let’s face it, many adults find life sized clowns just downright disturbing.

If you follow these simple steps, your potential buyers will likely have a good experience when viewing your home. Obviously this is not an all encompassing list. If you have questions, or just aren’t sure about some of these items, please don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime. We’re always here to help.

The Carnes-Hyatt Group at Keller Williams Realty Trussville. - Jason Carnes 205.612.2616 or Jonathan Hyatt 205.617.9957

Posted in Selling Your Home
May 22, 2018

The 5 Most Common Repair Items

As a team with over 25 years combined real estate experience, we’ve seen a home inspection or two. While the home inspection is an important part of the process in helping buyers determine if any serious adverse conditions exist with the property, it’s usually not serious conditions that pop up in most transactions. However, buyers typically want to see some sort of return for the money they spent on their home inspection. So we usually see a laundry list of minor items that may seem otherwise mundane to an owner that has lived in a home for many years. While a few of these may seem unimportant, a few can be conditions required by the appraiser in determining whether the lender will make the loan for the buyer.
Here are the five most common repair items we see requested.
  1. Standard Heat/Air Service - This is by far the most common item we see requested. In most home inspection reports, we see the inspector recommend that the heat/air system be serviced by a licensed technician. In addition, many buyers will be under some sort of home warranty during their first year of ownership. Being able to show that the heat/air was serviced prior to buying helps with any claims concerning the HVAC system when using their home warranty.
  2. Loose Railings - This is very common. Loose stair or deck railings can be a safety hazard, and repairing them is usually an FHA/VA Loan requirement as well.
  3. Rotted Trim - We see rotted trim mentioned quite often. The two most common areas we see are around exterior window casings and chimney trim. A close second would be trim around garage doors or basement service doors. Repairing rotted wood/trim is usually an FHA or VA Loan requirement
  4. Old & Worn Roof Vent Boots - These are fairly cheap to replace, but are a commonly seen item. In speaking with many home inspectors and roofers over the years, vent boots appear to be the most common area for roof leaks.
  5. Windows Won’t Open Or Lock Properly - This one is common on many older homes with wooden windows. They may just be painted shut, or there may be a bigger issue. FHA/VA typically require that windows open and close properly for safety purposes.


If you are planning to sell your home, these would be some of the most common issues to evaluate ahead of time, with possibly the exception of the heat/air. If your heat/air is in good operating order, we usually recommend waiting until after the home inspection to see if this might be a requirement. If you have already experienced issues with the system (coolant leaks, system freezing up, etc.), it might be a good idea to have it serviced prior to putting your home on the market.
April 23, 2018

Document Your Negotiated Repairs!

So now that your property is under contract, what comes next? For most real estate transactions in our local area, the next step is for the buyer to perform a home inspection. This can be done of their own accord, or as in most instances, your buyer will likely hire a licensed home inspector. Once that inspector has completed their inspection, they will usually have their report to the buyer within a few days, and then repair negotiations occur between both parties.

While this process is somewhat a back and forth exercise between the buyer and the seller until both parties agree on which repairs the owner will perform, and which the buyer will accept, we’re going to shift our focus to the actual documentation of those repairs and why that documentation is so important.

Most repair lists that our team sees are broken down into two main categories: repairs to be completed by the owner & repairs to be completed by a licensed professional in either a general contracting field, or specialty field such as plumbing.

As a homeowner, it’s important to keep in mind that once these repairs are agreed upon, the buyer will have expectations that they be completed as negotiated. Not doing so could result in a delayed closing, hiring a professional to repair what should have been done by a professional in the first place, or worse…..your buyer not closing the deal.

Documentation is key. If your repair addendum calls for a licensed electrician to evaluate and repair missing GFCIs, two missing breaker panels, and replace a bad light fixture, you should insist that once the work is completed, the electrician provide you with an invoice stating those exact items. This would go for any work to be completed by any licensed professional or contractor. Their invoice needs to show that the work was paid in full, and the itemized list of repairs should mirror the repair addendum as closely as possible. The clear expectations set in the repair addendum should be conveyed to the contractor/licensed professional in the same way; with expectations that they will detail their invoice in a manner that leaves little room for misinterpretation from the buyer.

Most buyers will perform a final walk-through prior to closing, and some will even bring their home inspector along to re-evaluate the items that were repaired. Being able to provide invoices for the work ahead of time goes a long way to easing the buyer’s mind, and getting them to the closing table without hesitation. In cases where certain work is to be performed by the owner, we always recommend providing receipts for items that were purchased (even if it’s just paint and caulk), and making sure that the work was completed in a good and workmanlike manner.  

And as always, before hiring a professional, we recommend checking local and state websites to ensure their licenses and certifications are up to date.

March 22, 2018

Finding The Buyer Is Only Half the Battle

Many homeowners, and even many novice real estate agents, assume that once they've found a willing and able buyer, a home is as good as sold. In many cases this can't be further from the truth. While finding the right buyer can be a daunting task for certain homes, this is only the first half of the battle to the closing table. Working a contract from the initial offer, all the way to the closing table, requires quite a bit of work. And that's for the easy deals.

An experienced agent can make all the difference during this phase of the home sale. And by experienced, we mean one that not only has the marketing know-how to find that right buyer, but one that also possesses the operational soundness to guide a transaction to a smooth closing. Some of the very top agents, or at least those that are perceived to be top agents, struggle with all the ins-and-outs of properly guiding a contract through its various stages of inspections, running point to keep all parties to contract deadlines, and coordinating with the many service providers that are involved from start to finish. Conversely, there are agents that only sell a few homes a year who are exceptionally good at this process, and never miss a beat.

When interviewing potential agents for the job of selling your home, we suggest asking about both sides of the selling process. A solid, experienced agent, should have a proven marketing program to get your home seen by all potential buyers, and a strong track record of actually getting those contracts finalized at the closing table. And as always, ask for a list of referrals.

Posted in Selling Your Home
Feb. 22, 2018

7 Quick Tips on Getting Your Home Market Ready

There are seven quick tips for getting your home market ready and ultimately SOLD!

      SELECT THE RIGHT AGENT: Your husband’s cousin’s sister may have a license, but you need to pick an experienced full time agent with the budget and tech-savvy know-how to get the job done right. – Helpful Hint: Contact The Carnes-Hyatt Group for an interview. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll get a full team of experienced professionals working for you. Plus, we have great commission rates!
    PRICE IT RIGHT FROM THE START: Everyone wants the most out of their home. So do we! And we work hard to get it. However, pricing the home outside the realm of reality based on comps and condition is not a good way to get started. Many over-priced homes typically sell months later for lower prices after all your competition has sold. This can cost you time and money. Pricing it right from the get-go is key. - Helpful Hint: We’ll work with you to get it right from the start. We’ve presented thousands of pricing opinions over the years and we know how to get you every dollar possible.
    STAGE ROOMS: Homes show the best when the rooms are staged as they are intended. Pool tables in the dining room or empty bedrooms are not the best way to “wow” a buyer. Clean, decluttered rooms can make a big difference and really help show off each room.
    CURB APPEAL: The exterior of your home is your first impression on a buyer. Clean gutters, make sure your lawn is cut and edged, and have flower beds looking fresh and neat. If anything needs to be painted, get it painted. You don’t want to turn off a buyer before they enter the front door. - Helpful Hint: Your home’s exterior photo is typically the very first impression a buyer will see. We want it to look so great that they can’t resist clicking on it to see more!
    FRESH AND CLEAN: After your rooms are staged with the right furniture, make sure they are organized and de-cluttered. Store boxes of knick-knacks in the garage or a storage unit. Make the rooms look inviting and larger. Lighter earth-tone or neutral paint colors can help tremendously. Make sure the home smells fresh. Also, deep clean the house. Dust and stains make selling a strain!
     GREAT LISTING PHOTOS: If your agent doesn’t have high quality equipment or use a professional photographer, get a different agent. Pictures are your first impression online, and 99% of your buyers are likely to start their home search there. Dark, blurry photos or drive-by smart phone pictures will not cut it. - Helpful Hint: Our team doesn’t compromise when it comes to photos. If we don’t think we can make your home shine with our cameras and equipment, we hire a professional!
    MAKE IT EASY TO SHOW: Most agents are pretty good at getting showings set up a day in advance, but many times they allow their clients to dictate their time and struggle to set up last minute showings. Be as flexible as possible. The day you leave the house a wreck is the day everyone will want to see it. If feasible, take your pets on a little road trip during showings, or have them secured in the garage. And whenever possible, have the alarm disarmed. Alarms are the bane of the showing agent’s existence.

These are the basics, but obviously there’s much more to selling a home than the tips above. When you’re ready to get your home sold, our team can guide you through the easiest and most cost effective ways to get your home ready, and ultimately get you to the closing table. Call us anytime.
Posted in Selling Your Home
Jan. 22, 2018

Tips on Pricing Your Home To Sell

When it comes to selling a home, nothing is more important than pricing it properly. Property condition, marketing, and even market conditions in general, all play second fiddle to ensuring that your price is right. Here are a few quick tips that can make all the difference when it comes to pricing and eventually realizing a sale.

1. When setting an initial price, only look at comparable properties that have sold in the last 6-12 months. This is the criteria an appraiser will use. And a bank will not make a loan on your property unless it appraises for the contract price or higher. This will help you determine the maximum price you can ask for your home.

2. Once you have set a maximum price that your home is likely to appraise, it’s time to evaluate your competition and adjustment the price to ensure that your home is competitive. If all of your neighbors are asking more for their homes, then no adjustment should be made. But if you have some stiff competition, you may have to lower your price a little to remain competitive.

 3. Evaluate your price every 30 days or so and make adjustments if needed. Market trends can change quickly. If a handful of your neighbors sell at a discount, it will affect your home’s pricing as well…not to mention the appraisal stats used by the appraiser and lender to form an opinion for the loan. 

4. Don’t get lost in the fray.  Price your home in $5k/$10k increments, as most home search websites are built to support those increments for searching.  This way your home will usually show up on the first page of those search results. 


Posted in Selling Your Home