Brent Hicks

Branch Manager / Sr. Loan Officer | NMLS 173756
Direct:
972-728-3401
Mobile:
972-977-6644
Fax:
469-567-0740
5001 Spring Valley Rd, Ste 500W, Dallas, TX 75244
 

Brent is an innovative thought leader, with almost 20 years of experience in the Real Estate Finance Industry. He's an industry leader, best-known for refining a series of systems and automated processes, that helped revolutionize the origination business. He has a proven track record of achieving exceptional results and has originated over $1 billion in personal loan production. Honesty and integrity are 2 core values that establish the heart of his business philosophy, and his dedicated team is a direct extension of this belief. Brent's #1 priority is to provide his customers with an innovative perspective, all while also providing them with the personal attention, exceptional service, and professionalism that they deserve.

Brent has been recognized by Mortgage Originator Magazine for 7 years and has achieved their ranking as Top 50 Nationwide (including #3 Nationwide, and #1 in Texas for FHA & VA). He's also been listed as a Top 50 Loan Originator by the Scotsman Guide.

Causes I Care About


Helping to feed malnourished children

My Favorite Restaurant


Nobu

My Ideal Vacation Spot


Beach or Ocean

My Favorite Pastime


Travel

"When you want something, all the universe conspires to help you achieve it"

— Paulo Coelho

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Everything a first-time home buyer needs to know about how to prepare to buy a house.

As the Millennial generation gets older, many of us are looking to put our renting days behind us and finally join the fold of homeownership. Yep, that’s right Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers who may be reading this: the prodigal Millennials are beginning to come home. With home prices and property values continuing to rise with no signs of slowing, it’s not like we have much of a choice. The time is now to start entertaining the thought of buying a home while we can still afford to. We’ve already busted a few myths that seem to be keeping Millennials from buying homes. Now it’s time to take action. It’s not going to happen overnight though. There’s a lot of research and preparation that goes into buying a home before you even start house hunting. Lucky for you, I’ve come up with a definitive, step-by-step, Millennial’s guide on how to prepare to buy a house. Take notes.

It’s not going to happen overnight though. There’s a lot of research and preparation that goes into buying a home before you even start house hunting.

1. Improve your credit

This one should be a no-brainer. It’s no secret that a higher credit score can get you better deals when you’re shopping for mortgages. The lower your credit score is, the more you’ll have to pay for fees or a down payment. Take some time to get your finances in order and take care of any outstanding debts you may have to get that credit score as high as possible. Don’t open any new credit accounts or make any big purchases. All your energy should go into erasing debt and being as financially stable as possible.

2. Figure out how much home you can afford

As a rule of thumb, most lenders will tell you not to look at homes that cost more than five times your annual household income if you plan on making the standard 20% down payment. These general rules are tricky though, because so much depends on your individual financial situation. Lucky for you, our mortgage calculator can do all that work for you. We even offer an online free rate quote that can get you an accurate estimate of your monthly mortgage payment in minutes. Once you get a good idea of how much home you can afford, finding your new home gets that much easier because you’ll know just what you’re looking for.

3. Save for a down payment

Saving money when you could spend it is never fun, but if you’re serious about buying a home you’re going to have to get to it to afford your down payment. Depending on your credit history and loan terms, you’ll need to save 3%–20% of the house price for your down payment. It’s never too early to start saving for a down payment though. In fact, the sooner you start saving, the better. Another cash expense you’ll need to start saving for is closing costs. According to Bankrate, the average closing costs for a $200,000 mortgage is $2,084. Shoot for something close to that amount just to be safe, but it won’t hurt to research the average closing costs in your state to get a better idea of what you’ll need to save.

4. Build your savings

Building up your general savings, not just for a home, is very important in the home buying process. Your lender will want to know that you’re financially responsible and that you’re not living check to check. If you have three to five months’ worth of mortgage payments set aside in your savings account, you’ll make yourself a much better loan candidate. A lot of lenders will give you more leeway on other criteria if they see you have a nice financial cushion in your savings. Not to mention, these savings can help pay for any maintenance or repairs that may be necessary. That means it’s time to cut back on superfluous spending and any big purchases that could set you back, credit-wise. Keep the end in mind.

Building up your general savings, not just for a home, is very important in the home buying process.

5. Get pre-approved and pre-qualified

Once you’ve got all your finances in order, there’s one more step before we get to the fun stuff. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage is the best way to truly find out how much you can afford to spend on a home. It’s not a long process. All you really need is basic financial information such as your income and the amount of savings and investments you have. Your lender will review your information and tell you how much mortgage you’re eligible to get. This will give you a more accurate idea of what exactly you’ll be able to afford when you start house hunting.

6. Buy a home

Finally, the fun part. House hunting can be a lot of fun, but it can also be pretty frustrating at times. The market can be competitive, so it’s important not to get discouraged. Since the market is so competitive, don’t count on a quick purchase. Chances are the process will take some time, so you shouldn’t settle. Short-term homeownership can be really expensive, so it’s important that you find a home that’ll make you happy.

Are you a Millennial who’s ready to buy your first home? Call us today and talk with one of our loan experts about your options!

For home buyers and sellers, here are a few real estate tips that might win you points with your agent.

When it comes to what real estate agents wish their clients knew about home buying and selling, we’ve heard the pain points. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and every real estate agent will have different advice, but here are some helpful real estate tips your agent might tell you to help you have a more seamless experience.

Real estate tips for home buyers

1. Might want to get that starter home now

The market is highly competitive right now. And mortgage interest rates don’t seem to be getting lower anytime soon. To add to the mix, some homeowners are still waiting for the perfect home to float their way before they make the decision to buy.

Given the current state of home buying and selling, this isn’t the most practical mindset. In fact, it’s the kind of attitude that could keep people from homeownership entirely. If you’re serious about hitting your goal of buying a home, it might be wise to just get that starter home now. Then, you can either DIY and put in the sweat equity to turn it into the home of your dreams or sell it later in order to level up a house. Of course, this isn’t a decision to take lightly, so we recommend you consult your financial advisor before you think about buying a starter home.

2. The serious buyer gets pre-approved

Pre-approval is the part of the mortgage process where your lender checks your credit and verifies your income and assets with the intent of lending you a specific amount. This preliminary step gives you a clear picture of how much you can afford. A serious (and smart) home buyer will get pre-approved before they go on the hunt for a home—or before they enlist their real estate agent to do so for them. Pre-approval shows your agent that you’re serious about buying a home. And by knowing exactly how much you’re able to afford, it helps narrow down your agent’s search and saves both of you from wasting time looking at homes you can’t afford.

3. Be frugal well after pre-approval

Many home buyers start out with a very frugal mentality because they don’t know how much it’s really going to cost them to buy a home. They err on the side of expensive and pinch pennies. Up until they get pre-approved. Then, they find out how much they can afford, realize it’s not so bad, and go opening new lines of credit and making purchases for the house they don’t yet have.

We can’t tell you what to do, but it’s best to avoid taking on more credit card debt and opening new lines of credit until after you’ve closed on the home. For one thing, we know you’re excited to furnish your home, but such frivolous spending can get you into trouble later. For another thing, your mortgage lender will pull your credit again toward the end of the process. New debt will have to be worked into your debt-to-income ratio. If your ratio was already close to the maximum allowed by lending guidelines, it could potentially result in loan denial.

4. I can’t tell you everything about the neighborhood

Every home buyer wants to know about the neighborhood they’re buying into. It’s normal to ask questions about the neighborhood’s characteristics: crime rate, diversity, economic status, and so on. These are honest questions that every home buyer is bound to have. What your real estate agent will most likely tell you is that they can’t give out that information—that would violate the Fair Housing Act. But what they may tell you is that you can find out for yourself.

There are plenty of trusted websites with those kinds of statistics, or you can ask around and see what the neighbors have to say. Just know that, if you ask the neighbors, you’re going to get their personal perspective, not necessarily unbiased data. There are many ways you can find out neighborhood demographic information, but you’re not going to get it from your agent.

There are many ways you can find out neighborhood demographic information, but you’re not going to get it from your agent.

5. Ask about flood insurance

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S. and, believe it or not, it affects every state. According to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program, flooding isn’t just caused by excess rainfall. It’s also caused by “dams or levees breaking, new development changing how water flows above and below ground, snowmelt, and more.” And with the hurricanes and flooding we’ve had in the last decade, FEMA is making more flood map changes and expanding flood zones.

While this may be good and safe for homeowners, it’s also increasing flood insurance mandatories, adding an expense to homeownership. What might your agent say? Don’t be blindsided by flood insurance premiums. Asking about whether the property you’re interested in is in a flood zone should be as routine as asking how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has. The idea is to be prepared. If you know ahead of time that a home you like requires flood insurance, you have the chance to either prepare yourself mentally and financially for that added expense or pass up that house and find a different one to pursue.

Asking about whether the property you’re interested in is in a flood zone should be as routine as asking how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has.

6. It’s not over until it’s over

Read it again: it’s not over until it’s over. It’s not time to celebrate until final funding goes through. Even if you feel like everything is in your favor and you’re confident that this house is yours, anything can happen over the course of the buying process—even up to the day you sign. Stay nimble and don’t get your hopes up until everything is said and done. Your real estate agent will appreciate your level-headedness and you’ll be glad you didn’t pop open the champagne prematurely.

Real estate tips for home sellers

1. Make sure the price is right

When you’re selling your home, it’s tough to come up with the right dollar amount. You may get nostalgic and think about all the memories you’ve made there . . . and how can you put a price on that? When deciding on a fair price to put on your home, don’t trust websites to do it for you. Remember, those are just estimates. They can be helpful, but you shouldn’t take that to the bank.

Don’t get attached to the number those free online calculators spit out. Trust your real estate agent to help you come up with an accurate amount based on nearby comparable homes. How might your agent weigh in? Price it to sell quickly, especially in this competitive landscape. Although the memories you’ve made are priceless, the house you’ve made them in is not. It’s ultimately about finding that balance between competing in the market and getting the price you deserve.

It’s ultimately about finding that balance between competing in the market and getting the price you deserve.

2. Don’t skimp on staging

Among the other to-do list items you have to tackle when selling your house, staging is one of the most important. Though, mentally, it may fall by the wayside, don’t let it. Take staging seriously. There are a few key principles to remember here. For one: depersonalize and declutter. You want home shoppers to be able to picture themselves living there, not you. Make sure your house is bright and illuminated, whether by opening the curtains or turning on the lights, or both. Clean like crazy and make sure the place smells good. You want to appeal to all the senses, not just the eyes. Some say baking cookies a half hour before the viewers arrive adds to the experience because, not only does your house smell amazing, you get to give away an unexpected sweet treat that turns out to be a pleasant surprise.

3. Your open house actually gives me more business

Real estate agents get a lot of business via word of mouth. You’re not just attracting potential buyers who may be interested in your home when you hold an open house. You’re inviting people who could potentially become your agent’s clients. During your open house, your real estate agent will be networking hard, passing out business cards, and trying to make connections. You may be welcoming neighbors who might sell their home later or home shoppers who don’t yet have an agent. Either way, your agent has a chance to meet these people and possibly gain their business.

4. I’m not made of money

This real estate tip goes for home buyers too. It’s a common misconception in the real estate world that agents make tons of money. And with that misconception comes the idea that a real estate agent can just *poof* magically make things happen. The agent is an advocate, but they’re definitely not made of money. And while some home sellers (and buyers) may feel like they’re writing a big check to their real estate agent, the truth is that the agent is only pocketing a small percentage of that amount. After splitting that check with their brokerage, they’re then putting some of that money toward various expenses like the sign in front of your house and access to the MLS. At the end of the day, they’re really only profiting a small portion of what you’re paying them.

5. It may take longer than you think to sell

Just like when you were buying your home, keeping realistic expectations is key. It’s a competitive market out there, and even though in past years it may have been faster and easier for people to sell their home, it might not happen the same way for you. Do you have an ideal timeline in your mind? It might not to go your way. A good home seller is a patient and prepared home seller—and one that makes the real estate agent’s job a little bit easier.

6. Don’t let a low offer get you down

We know you’ve made memories in your home, and no price tag can do that justice. But think about where bidders are coming from. They’re not coming from a place of nostalgia. Their perspective is looking out for their best interest and trying to get the best deal possible. You might be tempted to think that bidders who give low offers are selfish, but remember your agenda when you bought the place. You too were looking out for your best interest and trying to get the best deal possible. Just like buyers, sellers have to be savvy and nimble. Don’t get offended if you get a low offer. Work with your agent to counter-offer or decide whether it’s a fair price to accept.

Did these real estate tips help you in your home purchase or sale? Share this article with your friends and family!

What role does seasonality play in the housing market?

Just like any other market, there are patterns in the housing market that affect supply, demand, and price over time. In some markets, “over time” could mean multiple years or even decades, but in the housing market we see the same trend year in and year out. If you didn’t know, home buying and selling activities heat up during the spring and summer months and cool off during the fall and winter. This trend, known as seasonality, has a marked effect on home prices throughout the year to the point where it seems as if every season has a different housing market. You may not think that the time of year should have an impact on how much you can buy or sell a home for, but it truly does make a big difference—in some cases up to 10% either way. It’s important to know how to take advantage of house price seasonality and get the best possible price for your home, whether you’re buying or selling.

So, how do I take advantage of housing market seasonality? Well, my friend, I’m glad you asked.

Know your market

How do you take full advantage of seasonality and make it work for you? Well, you can start by knowing your real estate market, or speak to a real estate agent. The seasonality of a market can vary from location to location and each market has its own nuance. Many hot-weather destination cities in Florida and the Midwest experience a “snowbird effect” where markets heat up in winter months because of the influx of people coming in from different regions who are relocating or looking at buying a second home. Inversely, in cold-weather cities, the climate affects the seasonality by slowing down the market altogether.

You may not think that the time of year should have an impact on how much you can buy or sell a home for, but it truly does make a big difference—in some cases up to 10% either way.

As a buyer

With summer being the busiest moving time of the year, there are more people buying than in the winter, which limits the number of available houses, raises prices, and makes the market more competitive overall. However, in the winter, since nobody wants to move in the cold, demand decreases which can make it the perfect time to snag a good deal on a home. Sellers in the winter probably won’t be getting much interest or many offers from other buyers, so they may be more willing to negotiate on the price.

As a seller

Seasonality is a bit of a two-edged sword, because if you’re a seller, it usually means you’re also a buyer. Of course, as a seller, you’ll want to sell when demand and pricing is high and more people are viewing your property. But what do you do while you wait for the market to cool down so you can get a deal on a house? It’s a tough situation, but if you don’t immediately need the proceeds from selling your home to help fund the purchase of your next, then buying in the winter, setting up a short-term living arrangement, and selling in the spring would be the ideal way to make the most of seasonality as a seller.

House price seasonality matters because of the extra insight it provides when you’re planning to buy or sell a home. Making seasonality work for you is a skill that can not only make the process of buying or selling easier, but more worthwhile because of the money you could potentially save. In a housing market that can be pretty difficult to navigate, it’s important to be aware of any tools you could potentially use to your advantage, and seasonality is one of them.

Did you take advantage of seasonality when you bought your last home? Do you plan to next time? Let us know on social media!

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