We sat down with Jonathan Garza (Director of Development at Turner Brothers Real Estate) to discuss common questions surrounding one of life’s most pivotal milestones: buying your first house. Jonathan Garza began his career as a realtor in 2013 before switching to commercial in 2016 and becoming the Director of Residential in 2019. By March of 2020 Garza became Turner Brothers Real Estate’s Director of Development operating as a crucial player in the development of projects like Union Hall, Moonlight Park, and more.
How do you figure out what you can afford when buying a house?
“That’s kind of a complex question. As a realtor you typically have the client sit down with a local lender and they go through a pre-approval process with this lender. Then, the lender will tell you what you’re approved on up to a certain amount.”
Is all of this before you can even think about buying a house?
“In today’s market, yes, you would want to go through the pre-approval process because houses are coming off the market so quickly that you should definitely have your ducks in a row so when you do go look at houses you have the ability to jump on it.”
Is there any kind of benchmark before getting your pre-approval that someone could look to as a sign that they’re able to buy a house?
“I usually try to stay away from this kind of advice-speak. If I gave someone advice and told them you have to have, typically, ‘x’ amount of dollars, that wouldn’t be accurate to everyone’s situation. There’s so many loan programs out there. So you could do a USDA where you have to have 0% down payment. Not all homes qualify for that but there are different programs out there that only really the lenders are gonna know what qualifies, what’s best for them. A lot of times, with anyone who is interested in buying their first home, their best bet is to get with a local lender and then figure out from there how to go about that process.”
How do you know if you’re getting a good deal?
“A good deal is very objective. Everybody that’s buying a home has different intentions and purposes for their home; are you keeping it as is? Are you planning on renovating? I think it just depends on the individual as to what qualifies as a good deal and what their goals are long-term. When I worked with clients in residential, I would usually sit down with my buyers and do what’s called a buyer’s consultation where we go through a list of questions to figure out their goals and objectives. Some people realize as we go through the consultation that they’re only gonna be there for a year and that in today’s market it doesn’t really make sense to buy right now. I mean in today’s market you could purchase a home and then in a year sell it but in other markets it may not be conducive to that.”
What does the process of buying a home look like after you’ve had that conversation with your lender and potential realtor?
“As a buyer, once you get a home under contract, you go through your inspections, you work a lot with your local lender who walks you through their process and requirements they have. They’re going to have to go through an appraisal which doesn’t require the buyer to do anything really but those are just steps along the way. Getting it to close is obviously the goal.”
What are the benefits and disadvantages of living in an HOA (Home-Owners Association)?
“These actually aren’t as common in Waco as they are in other areas. Again, it really comes down to the individual and their wants and needs. Having an HOA means you may have some neighborhood benefits. There may be a neighborhood park, a neighborhood pool, neighborhood amenities. And that may be something an individual is looking for if they have a family or something like that. Living in a HOA also allows restrictions on homes in the neighborhood. You could have people controlling what you do with your house. It comes with good and bad.”
What are the benefits of buying a house vs renting an apartment or renting a house?
“Depends on people’s objectives. On the realtor side of things, people are concerned about interest rates right now. Interest rates are rising and your interest rate could be 6%, a year ago it could have been 3%. Yeah the interest rate has doubled but when you’re renting a home, you’re paying 100% interest, you don’t get anything back from that investment. As another example, somebody could move somewhere they only plan to stay in for a short while which would typically mean it doesn’t make sense for them to buy something at a high price. One could say you could buy something at a high price right now and maybe the market doesn’t increase in value in the way it was last year. You may not get your money out of the house you’re buying. If someone’s looking to make a return on their home, then maybe it’s best for them to rent in this case instead of trying to buy a house to get some kind of return when the market doesn’t support that at the moment. I’d say those are case by case.”
What are the benefits of going to a brokerage like Turner Brothers Real Estate when looking for your next home?
“You always want to have a professional. Somebody that specializes in it. And even though it looks like it’s an easy process, there’s a lot of things that can happen. Having realtors that are professionally involved on both sides, there’s still a lot of steps and hurdles that go into getting a deal closed. Often when you have somebody who doesn’t do it on a daily basis it just makes the process harder for everyone involved. Having someone like us makes your process and your journey a lot easier.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.