VA loan limits



This provides more options for veterans

in choosing a new home!


Effective immediately, VA loan limits have increased to $453,100! This is a 6.84% increase from last year’s loan limit.

Housing Trends eNewsletter – December 2014 Issue

Existing-Home Sales Lose Momentum in November as Inventory Slightly Tightens

WASHINGTON (December 22, 2014) – After hitting their highest level of the year, existing-home sales slid in November as housing supply showed some tightening, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions experienced a decline in sales compared to a month earlier

San Antonio Board of REALTORS® reports median single-family home price up 3.7% in Nov-14 over Oct-14, sales fall to 1,365.

Nov-14 Quick Facts:

  • The median price of existing single-family homes increased to $171,000 up 3.7% vs Oct-14.
  • Existing single-family home sales decreased -27.0% from Oct-14 for a Nov-14 total of 1,365 sold units.
  • Condos decreased in price to $96,250 down -1.3% vs Oct-14.
  • Existing condo sales decreased -37.7% in Nov-14 over Oct-14 for a total of 38 sold units.

…For a Full Report  Click here:

Karie DiMarco

Andrea has worked hard and is always looking out for the best interest of her client. She goes above and beyond to help sell the property especially constantly inspecting the property for any problems that may arise. Sincerely, Karie DiMarco

Bee Keeping AG exemption

If you wish to get your own bee hives!! Bandera County has their standards published here is more info…

Here is the snap shot of the “bee keeping info on Pg 17”

G. Beekeeping Operation
This type of operation provides many products: honey, beeswax, propolis, pollination of crops, and bees to sell to other beekeepers. To qualify for agricultural appraisal, state law permits keeping bees for two purposes:

  1. pollination of crops, and
  2. production of human food or products that have commercial value.
  1. Typical requirements in the District include keeping a minimum of three (3) active hives of honeybees. Each hive must include at a minimum one brood box (8 or 10 fram es) with a cover and bottom.  The District also requires that not less than five (5) or more than twenty (20) acres be used in this type of operation.
  2. Management practices for this type of operation include maintaining the required number of hive boxes, providing adequate shade and water for the bees, providing adequate pest control, receipts for purchases and sales of equipment, bees, and products. The landowner does not  need to own the bees, but the hives must belocated on the property seeking open-space agricultural appraisal. The landowner may choose to lease the land to a beekeeper who manages the bees on the leased land.
  3. Typical equipment for this type of operation include, but is not limited to,protective clothing (head net, suit, gloves),smoker, hive tool,hive boxes (deep broodboxes, honey supers, etc.)

The term also includes the use of land for wildlife management. The term also includes the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value, provided that the land used is not less than 5 or more than 20 acres.  more follow this link.

The new tax code change that now qualifies beekeeping as an agricultural use enterprise in Texas open-space land appraisals has generated a lot of interest, said Dr. Chris Sansone, Texas AgriLife Extension Service entomologist in San Angelo.
Sansone said that in a recent update, Deborah Cartwright, director of the Property Tax Assistance Division from the state comptroller’s office ( ), announced the Texas Legislature added beekeeping as another agricultural use for purposes of open-space land appraisal.

Tax Code Section 23.51(2) was amended to include in the definition of agricultural use “the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value, provided that the land used is not less than five or more than 20 acres.”
“The second option states that the food or products must have commercial value, not commercial production,” Sansone said. “While human food and products must be produced, the law does not require that they be sold commercially. Commercial production of agricultural products, such as livestock or crops, is not required for land to qualify for open-space land appraisal under current law. The other option requires that the land be used for raising or keeping bees for pollination.”
Sansone said the Texas Comptroller’s office recommended that each appraisal district consult their local AgriLife Extension office concerning the number of acres and hives needed to fulfill the requirement.
“A bee yard or apiary can be run on a pretty small scale,” he said. “Bees forage over a large area, sometimes well over a mile depending on available resources. Central Texas is not the optimum for beekeeping because of the lack of a consistent pollen and nectar source compared to the Houston/College Station areas. Sansone said the website: offers a good overview of managing bee populations.
“There may be some differences in how the different County Appraisal Districts apply the regulation, and I suspect that some burden may be on the property owner to justify the use of land for bee pollination and to show how the bees are an agricultural enterprise,” Sansone said. “Property owners should think about a landscape plan of the property that shows how different plants and plantings would contribute to the bees’ foraging. Property owners may also be required to provide a basic marketing plan on how honey, and related products such as beeswax candles, soaps, etc. could be sold. They may also discuss renting the hives for pollination services.”
Sansone said local appraisal districts will determine the number of hives that are required on a per-acre basis and other requirements for beekeeping as an agricultural enterprise.
Sansone said Paul Jackson, chief apiary inspector for the state with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service, is an excellent resource person for local appraisal districts needing information. He can be reached at:

More information provided at:

What to expect regarding housing during the government shutdown!

Hello All….Below is an article released by the National Association of Mortgage Professionals…….I just want everyone to be “in-the-know” so we all may set expectations up-front regarding Mortgage and Real Estate transactions to our clients.  …..Thanks  for the info Tony Stevenson

Government Shutdown Arrives … Who in the Housing and Finance Sector Feel Its Impact?

NAMB Tue, 2013-10-01 06:16 — Eric C. Peck – …

The midnight hour came and went as Congress battled back and forth and Americans will wake up Tuesday morning to many of its previously offered governmental services shut down or cut back. Our elected officials will resume talks at 9:30 a.m. EST to try to hammer out their issues and come to a resolution and end the first government shutdown in 17 years as it began at 12:01 EST.

With Obamacare at the heart of the matter, federal employees who are considered essential will continue to work. However, for the 800,000-plus deemed “non-essential,” they will be faced with furloughs, unsure of just when they will be able to work or be paid again. Most are expected to be out of their offices within four hours of the start of business Tuesday morning, Oct. 1.

“The shutdown isn’t going to help the U.S. economy continue to grow and interest rates across the board could very well increase, depending on what the bond market does during this time,” said Don Frommeyer, president of NAMB—The Association of Mortgage Professionals.

“Let us resolve our differences,” said House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). “The House has voted to keep the government open, but we also want basic fairness for all Americans under Obamacare.”

The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) lists a current staff of 8,709. During the shutdown, only 349 of those employees are deemed “essential,” as 8,360 will be furloughed. In a document issued Sept. 27, HUD indicated that the FHA will be able to endorse single-family loans during the shutdown. However, only a limited number of FHA staff will be available to underwrite and approve new loans so the process will take longer. Most loss mitigation for homeowners facing foreclosure (including FHA loan modifications, FHA-HAMP, etc.) will continue. The FHA will also not approve any lender applications during the shutdown. Last week, HUD issued a Contingency Plan detailing ways the Department will deal with the shutdown.

USDA-Rural Development currently employs 4,730, and only a mere 53 will be kept on during the furlough, leaving a total of 4,677 out in the cold. There are certain limited activities conducted by USDA-Rural Development for the purpose of preserving the government’s property. This property includes Rural Development’s loan portfolio, which currently exceeds $190 billion and serves as collateral for loans and borrowers’ funds paid to Rural Development in escrow for real estate taxes and property insurance.

One of the largest government sectors, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employs 332,025 total. Of that number, only a small portion (14,224) are expected to be furloughed. The reason for so many VA employees being kept on is that most are funded through multi-year and other types of appropriations.

Of the U.S. Department of Justice’s 114,486 total workforce, 17,742 are expected to be furloughed, while 96,744 are considered “essential.” The majority of workers at the FBI, ATF, the DEA and other agencies within the Department of Justice would report to work. However, U.S. Attorneys would curtail a good portion of civil litigation and the U.S. Antitrust division would not prepare any new proceedings.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) job is to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering, such as mortgage fraud and cyber fraud. Of the Network’s 345 total employees, only 30 will be kept on and the remaining 315 will be furloughed. The Network will continue computer operations to prevent the loss of data and maintaining minimal telecommunications.

A total of 8,752 of the workforce at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be kept on. Employing 94,516 total, a whopping 85,764 would fall victim to the furlough. Impacted by this situation are all of the IRS’s audit functions; examination of returns and processing of non-electronic tax returns that do not include remittances; non-automated collections; legal counsel; taxpayer services, such as responding to taxpayer questions (call sites); information systems functions (except as necessary to prevent loss of data in process); and all planning, research and training and development activities.

One office not impacted will be the employees at the offices of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP). Its 193 employees will maintain business as usual, continuing oversight for the 2008 Wall Street bailout. SIGTARP is financed by multi-year appropriations and is essentially exempted from a shutdown.

The Social Security Administration’s 62,343-strong workforce will see 18,006 of its employees furloughed. The 44,337 who will continue to work will provide services such as verification of mortgage borrowers’ Social Security Numbers.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) are funded outside of the appropriations process, so these agencies will continue to function. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is funded through the annual appropriations process and will not be impacted by the shutdown.

And as Congress goes head to head on these issues, are they really in a big hurry to take action and get these 800,000-plus back into the workforce? It turns out Congressional members are safe from the furlough, as the 533 current members of Congress will continue to be paid, protected by the 27th Amendment which prevents any Congress from changing its own pay.

“The idea of putting the American people’s hard-earned progress at risk is the height of irresponsibility, and it doesn’t have to happen,” said President Barack Obama. “Let me repeat this. It does not have to happen.”  (End Article).

Keep in mind that even Conventional loans may be delayed as most Underwriting guidelines require a copy of Tax transcripts and from my understanding the IRS is shutdown as well.

By all means-keep selling.  As they say, “this too will pass.”  We just have to educate our clients on both sides-Seller and Buyer-as to what to expect and the process involved.

I got this article from Tony Stevenson  He is well informed!! 

Has it become a seller's market in Texas?

he Texas housing market posted a 14% increase in sales volume with roughly 6% increases in both median and average sales price, according to the 2012-Q3 edition of the Texas Quarterly Housing Report. Here are some highlights from the report:

Median sales prices for properties was $161,500, which is 6.46% more than third quarter 2011.
Average sales price had a similar increase, up 5.74% from the same quarter last year, to $208,515.
The latest statewide inventory figure indicates Texas overall has shifted to a seller’s market, and data show this is also true in many local real estate markets.

Download the full report,  covering real estate sales statistics statewide and in 48 markets in Texas, and share its findings.

Real Estate & Mortgage Industry News

San Antonio has been selected as one of eight cities by the Washington-based Brookings Institution to participate in the Metropolitan Export Exchange Program, aimed at boosting the city’s exports and attracting foreign investments. Great news for the economic development for the Alamo City.  Further news is that the Eagle Ford Shale is expected to last at least 16 years in the South Texas area. When more people are working, more are willing to spend.  That is why when communities invest in their future, such as San Antonio is doing now, can only result in a positive impact for the area.  What  happens in San Antonio/Austin, spills over into the Texas Hill Country as well.

Put October 19th-20th and October 26th-27th on your calendar to experience the Parade of Homes “All Across the Hill Country” in Horseshoe Bay/Fredericksburg,  16 beautiful new completely decorated homes and beautifully landscaped homes will be on display.  For more info go to:  www.hillcountrybuilders.or and


Record low Mortgage rates are helping the Mortgage and Real Estate industries.  The 30 year fixed rate index dropped to yet another record low in the past two weeks to 3.36% and 2.69% for the 15 year fixed rate index.  Keep in mind that these rates include an origination fee and/or discounts points. Refinancing?  The Mortgage Banker Association’s Refinance Index hit its highest level since April 2009 in the week ended September 28, rising 20 percent from the previous week.  The jump in refinancing is attributed to the record low rates as well.  The question to ask yourself ( or someone you know)  is,  “are you going to take advantage of these low rates?”  I am even refinancing clients who to advantage of the times only  about three years ago when rates were considered low back then.  Whether you are considering buying a home or refinancing, doesn’t it feel good to know you got in at the right time? Or, are you……?



Tony Stevenson

Senior Loan Officer, SWBC Mortgage Corporation

NMLS# 216213

9311 San Pedro Avenue, Suite 100
San Antonio, Texas 78216

(210) 376-6133  –  Direct

(800) 460-6990  –  Toll Free

(210) 846-4666  –  Mobile


Economic News Week: September 24, 2012

By Tony Stevenson/SWBC Mortgage

The DOW closed slightly downward at 13,579.47 on Friday.  Global news is that Europe is moving closer to solving its own debt woes. Especially, giving  Spain a way out of its own debt crisis.  Friday, a week ago, the DOW closed at 13,593.  So the see-saw continues  before U.S. election day.  As almost predicted the markets have been fluctuating from 12500 to 13500.  I have noticed that some economists are predicting a “sky is falling” outlook and  that we could take huge losses once again in stocks, using transportation stocks as the predictor. I am not saying either way what I think will happen except phooey!  If the average stock  investor listens to these so-called “woe-is-me” economists, bad things could very well happen, especially  if they  start a sell-off and money grab. But, I like to keep things in perspective and look for the positive.  Besides Europe’s good news, oil has dropped, causing most Americans to have a little more spending cash from the little savings in gasoline prices we have seen recently.  Oil slid from $100 a barrel to $92 a barrel this past week.  Hopefully, gas prices will slide even further in coming days. One other bit of positive news is that the U.S. trade deficit dropped 12.1 percent in  the second quarter. Weekly jobless claims fell slightly last week too.  The U.S. economy is not where we want it to be, but it is far better than it used to be-just a few short years ago. So,  Christmas may be a little brighter this year as a result.  Welcome Fall weather and activities!


Real Estate, Mortgage Industry, and Other Economic News


The Unemployment rate dipped to 6 percent in August for San Antonio, down from 6.8% the month before.  This is the Alamo City’s lowest level in more than three years as 4,300 jobs were added according to the Federal Reserve Board in Dallas.  The jobless rate for Texas is 7.1% compared to the U.S. average which is 8.1%.  Austin has the lowest unemployment rate for metro areas at 5.7%.  Keith Phillips, the senior economic policy advisor for the Dallas Fed in San Antonio said, “I look at the numbers and see a pretty healthy San Antonio.”  He said the area’s job picture has been clouded since the summer of 2011 when government hiring fell off, mostly related to layoffs in schools. In my opinion, our state government should be ashamed of themselves  for cutting back on our children’s future. Keep pressure on your Texas Legislatures to find a better way to fund education in Texas.


Statewide, “a major component in Texas’ long term economic development is consistent job growth, and that is exactly what we are seeing across a number of different industries (in Texas),”  commission chairman Andres Alcantor said in a recent news conference. I will also add that yes, jobs are a major component in growth, but  so is income.  We have to have good paying jobs to create a better economy as well.  The Eagle Ford Shale is helping in that area.


Existing home sales rose 7.8% in August year-over-year to a seasonally adjusted rate of 4.82 million the National Association of Realtors said.  This is the highest increase since May 2010 when a government first-time home buyers assistance program was in existence. According to the Commerce Department, housing “Starts”  were up 29% in August compared to August 2011 as well.  Confidence among home builders rose this month to its highest level in six years according to the National Association of Home Builders.  The housing markets seem to be rounding the corner in most areas across the nation.  I know that in Texas-as a whole-we are experiencing better housing numbers among the major metro areas, including the Texas Hill Country. I recently had closings in Boerne, Johnson City, Fredericksburg, and Kerrville. Business has been good and I expect it to get even better.


Kudos to Boerne for making “Liveabilitys”  Top 10 list of places to live/visit/vacation in the U.S. ranking at the number 4 spot nationwide.  Like many other Hill Country towns, Boerne offers a number of amenities, including the arts, beautiful nature areas and rivers , outside sports, shops, restaurants, and its good people.  Boerne also hosts events such as Boerne Berges Fest, Kendall County Fair, the annually Dickens on Main, and Christmas Parade, and much more.  Way to go Boerne!


According to Freddie Mac, the average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell to its previous record of 3.49 percent last week.  The rate on the 15 year fixed Mortgage rate hit a new record, 2.77 percent. Keep in mind that these rates include a 1% origination fee and/or discount point.  After the Fed announced QE3 last week, we expected rates to drop further. The Fed’s announcement to purchase $40 billion in Mortgage-backed securities did cause rates to drop, but not to expected levels.  Mortgage Bankers/Lenders are having to calculate their losses in newly re-locked rates as some consumers threatened to go elsewhere if their  current rate-lock was not adjusted downward. What most folks don’t realize is that when a Mortgage rate is locked, it  costs Lenders and the secondary markets  money.  Those losses were calculated into current rates. Still at historically low levels, Mortgage rates and home prices are now at levels that it may be worth more to buy a home, than to rent.  Find a Local realtor and Local Mortgage Loan Officer and let them be your guide in the most important purchase you will most likely make in your lifetime.  Oh, and by the way, it is still fun and exciting  to buy a home as long as you find the right folks to help you with the process.


Economic Data Due this week:  Watch for Thursday’s 2nd quarter GDP report.  And  Friday’s Consumer Spending report as it will  show  how well consumers are doing just that-spending/consuming.  70 percent  of our economy relies on consumer spending.  The question is, “ did consumers tighten their wallets?”  Tuesday:  Consumer Confidence Index.  Tuesday:  Case/Shiller Home Price Index.  Wednesday:  New Home Sales report.  Thursday:  Weekly Jobless Claims.  Thursday:  GDP 2nd Quarter.  Thursday:  Durable Goods report.  Thursday:  Pending Home Sales Report.  Friday:  Consumer Spending Report.


About the 3.8% Tax – Top 10 things you need to know!


1) When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will NOT be subject to this tax.
2) The 3.8% tax will NEVER be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll NEVER pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.
3) You’ll NEVER pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property. Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.
4) If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home. If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return. Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will NOT pay this tax. If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.
5) The tax applies to other types of investment income, not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).
6) The tax goes into effect in 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.
7) In any particular year, if you have NO income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll NEVER pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.
8) The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will ALWAYS protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would NEVER be imposed on more than $1000.
9) It’s true that investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. BUT: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.
10) The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. NAR strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it will not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.


For the report directly from NAR (National Association of Realtors)

Texas homes sales and average sales prices are up!

The latest Texas Quarterly Housing Report, compiled by the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M and issued by the Texas Association of REALTORS®, shows marked improvements in Texas real estate over last year’s figures.
In second quarter 2012, statewide home sales were up 13%, the median and average sales prices were up 7%, and the inventory of homes for sale was down 27% from second quarter 2011.
“Texas has been leading the economic recovery and these results are more proof that our state is one of the nation’s best places to own a home,” said Chairman Joe Stewart. “Now, we must protect the high quality of life that fueled that recovery and work on absorbing the growth of our state. That is the focus of the Texas Association of REALTORS® as we once again begin preparing to advocate for Texas homeowners during the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature in 2013.”
For the full report please download the PDF