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OWNERS NEWSLETTER — MARCH 2019

“He that blows the coals in quarrels that he has nothing
to do with, has no right to complain if the sparks fly in
his face.”-Benjamin Franklin

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – MARCH 2019

$30 MILLION PLANT OPENS – In August 2017, shortly after U.S. Highway 190 was designated as Interstate 14, MGC Pure Chemicals America decided to make Killeen home to its $30 million chemical plant after considering locations in San Antonio, Bryan-College Station, and Louisiana. Located in the Killeen Business Park, the plant just celebrated its grand opening and will soon begin production of super pure hydrogen peroxide for use in the semi-conductor industry.

HOMEOWNERSHIP – According to a recent Bankrate homebuyers survey, 79% of the consumers surveyed believe that owning a home is vital component to achieving the American Dream. The respondents placed homeownership ahead of retirement (68%), a successful career (63%), and owning an automobile (58%).

SECOND HOMES – In a recent mortgage data analysis, financial web site Smart Asset looked at mortgage data from 402 U.S. housing markets and found that Killeen ranked 31 overall for second home mortgages. Many of the markets listed in the ranking were vacation and retirement destinations like Ocean City, Panama City, Florida, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Killeen has a robust market for real estate investors. Additionally, many military families keep the home they purchased in Killeen as an investment and buy another home at their new duty station.

RENTAL MARKET – Demand for rental housing has been the highest we’ve experienced in over 33 years and doesn’t show any signs of slowing. We are maintaining almost 100% occupancy in all categories and with the small supply of available homes and apartments, rents have been on the increase for most properties as they become available or as renters renew their leases.

A/C CHECKS AND SERVICING – We have started our annual servicing of air conditioning units for those owners that have requested this preventative maintenance. The service includes checking the wiring, housing, and fan relay of the inside unit. The fan motor, housing, blower wheels, air filter, thermostat, plenum, attic ducts, evaporator coils, and drain lines are also checked. The outside unit coils, wiring, fan motor, blades, Freon level, and pressure are checked as well. The cost of this service is $65.00 plus tax and does not include parts should a repair be necessary. If you wish to have your property added to our list, please e-mail our maintenance department at repairs@HunterRentals.com

David Gerke
Broker

Owners Newsletter – February 2019

“Science is good furniture for one’s upper chamber, if there
is common sense below.”  -Oliver Wendell Holmes

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – FEBRUARY 2019

TAX EXEMPTION – Homestead property taxes were entirely eliminated for 100% disabled veterans beginning in 2009. In 2011, the exemption was extended to the spouses of 100% disabled veterans. In Bell County last year, 7,403 properties were tax exempt. Of that number, 4,297 of those properties were located in Killeen. Additionally, $1.27 Billion in veteran owned land was also tax exempt in Bell County. Killeen is projected to lose over $5 million in tax revenue this year when factoring in these exemptions and other exemptions granted to less than 100% disabled veterans. Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Committee to Support the Military is pushing the state’s Legislature to give full reimbursement to cities like Killeen and counties surrounding military installations for 100% of the lost revenue. Tax revenue is what funds police and fire departments and other vital programs and services to our communities. Updates to follow.

INSURANCE – Please take a few minutes this month to review your existing homeowners insurance policy. Do you have adequate coverage on your investment property? Are you paying too much? Your investment property may not be located in a flood plain, but does your existing coverage protect you against flash flooding or run-off resulting from new construction? What about sudden and accidental water discharge, foundation, or back-up of sewer drain lines and seepage? Does your current policy protect you against dog bite claims? More than one-third of all homeowner’s insurance liability claims are the result of dog bites and canine related injuries. Toby Brooks (toby.brooks@goosehead.com) is an agency owner with Goosehead Insurance and an expert on all matters related to property insurance. Give Toby a call (254-721-8104) or e-mail him if you have insurance questions. Toby will work hard to find you the best policy and can save you money in most cases.

OFFERS TO BUY – If you receive a letter or postcard in the mail or even a phone call from someone wanting to purchase your property, chances are it’s a scam, especially if it sounds like an amazing deal for you. If the person contacting you is legitimate, you can be certain that he or she is looking for a deal that serves their best interests, not yours. The real estate market in our area is robust and the public tax rolls make property owners an easy target for scam artists and bargain hunters. The best advice is to ignore such solicitations entirely. If you’re curious about selling or interested in knowing your property’s value, simply give us a call or send us an e-mail. The information and advice we provide is free. You’ve already entrusted us with the care of your investment and can feel confident that the information we provide is sound, accurate, and that we represent your best interest.

David Gerke
Broker

Owners Newsletter – January 2019

“If it were not for injustice, men would not know justice.” -Heraclitus

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – JANUARY 2019

BEST PLACES TO LIVE – In a recent US News ranking of the best places to live in 2018, Austin, Texas came in at the #1 spot out of 125 of the study’s most populous metro areas in the United States. Killeen was ranked at #90, Dallas#19, and Houston at #26. Criteria for the study included place value, desirable place to live, strong job market, and high quality of life.

BACK FROM THE BORDER – Of the approximately 700 Fort Hood soldiers that were deployed to the South Texas-Mexican border last November, nearly all of the 297th Inland Cargo Transfer Company’s (part of the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade) troops have returned home. These soldiers were part of the 7,000 military personnel that were sent to secure the border late last year.

LOAN LIMITS INCREASED – The conforming loan limit for VA loans in 2019 has been increased to $484,350 in most US counties, an increase of $31,250 from last year. The conforming loan limit for FHA loans in 2019 has been increased to $314,827, which is an increase of $20,312 from last year. The new loan limits are even higher in some areas where homeownership is more expensive.

CREDIT REPORTS – Experian, one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the nation, recently announced that it will soon allow consumers the option of having their cell phone bills and utility payments factored into their credit scores. This move could allow approximately 46 million consumers with limited credit data to instantly increase their credit scores.  A recent REALTOR® Magazine article mentioned that Fair Isaac Corp., the creator of the FICO credit score, will soon be initiating a new credit score with Experian that will look at a consumer’s history of managing their savings and checking accounts. This could boost the credit scores of consumers that maintain several hundred dollars in their accounts and don’t go into overdraft. Negative information, such as tax liens and judgments, have already been removed by Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion in an effort to boost the credit scores of consumers.

SINGLE-FAMILY RENTALS – Now the largest source of rental housing in the United States, single-family rentals make up about half of the overall rental market according to Freddie Mac in a recent REALTOR® Magazine article. Single-family rentals provide housing to 25 million Americans and this particular market is primarily driven by small investors, according to Steve Guggenmos, Vice President of Multi-Family Research and Remodeling. These small investors have portfolios consisting of anywhere between one to as many as fifty properties and are in a market that has the potential for growth over the next few years, according to Freddie Mac.

David Gerke

Broker

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – DECEMBER 2018

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”-Sir Winston Churchill

 OWNERS NEWSLETTER – DECEMBER 2018

NEW NAME – For over thirty-two years, we have been known as Hunter Rentals & Property Management. Beginning this month, we are proud to announce our new name (and logo), Hunter Rentals & Sales. Although property management has been and continues to be the staple of our organization, real estate sales and listings are services we have always provided as a brokerage. Since real estate sales and property management are nearly inextricably linked, Hunter Rentals and Sales seemed the perfect fit for our rebranding while maintaining our very recognizable namesake. Other than the name change and new logo, our staff, professionalism, and dedication to providing the best possible property management and real estate services remain the same.

VA STATISTICS – The Veterans Administration (VA) loan benefit turns seventy-five years old next year. This valuable benefit allows military veterans to obtain home financing with a zero-down payment, no private mortgage insurance, and somewhat less stringent qualifying requirements than other loan programs. According to the software firm Ellie Mae, the VA loan has had the lowest interest rate on the market for the past 58 months. Amazingly, the VA loan has had the lowest foreclosure rate of any loan product on the market for forty-eight consecutive quarters in spite of the zero down payment perk. In a recent Veterans United press release, it was noted that VA loans now make up 10% of the loan market. In 2018, the VA backed a record 610,000 loans worth $161 billion. In 2018, the Fort Hood area saw 3,400 homes purchased with VA loans.

INTEREST RATES – The VA fixed interest rate on a thirty-year mortgage is presently 4.5%. The thirty-year rate on an FHA loan is 4.625%. The interest rate for thirty-year conventional loans is presently 5% (4.5% on a fifteen-year loan).

RENTAL ACTIVITY – Demand for rental housing continues to remain strong as we near the year’s end. We ended the month of November with 99% of our single-family homes occupied, and nearly 100% of our multi-family units occupied. The market typically slows down to a crawl around mid-month December, but is expected to pick up steam again during the last week of the year and into the New Year.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS – From the entire staff here at Hunter Rentals, we wish you a safe and blessed holiday season. We sincerely appreciate your faith, support, and patronage. Best wishes for a happy and successful New Year!

David Gerke

Broker

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER 2018

“Be thankful we’re not getting all of the government we’re paying for.” -Will Rogers

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – NOVEMBER 2018

RECORD RAINFALL – Less than three months ago, area counties were experiencing “extreme drought” conditions, the second most severe category. This past summer was one of the hottest and driest summers on record according to the Texas state climatologist, John Nielsen-Gammon. May through August of this year were tied for the second hottest on record. However, rainfall we received in September and October made it the wettest two-month period on record, with close to seven inches of rain in September and more than seven inches in October. By the end of October, Texas had received more rainfall than it receives on average in an entire year. The Killeen area saw close to ten inches of rain last month. Belton and Stillhouse Lakes are both thirteen plus feet above normal presently.

MORE JOBS – Z Modular has purchased a 230,000 square foot building in the Killeen Industrial Park and will be hiring 250 workers within the next three years. The company will be manufacturing American-made steel framed modules for different markets such as university student housing, and affordable multi-family housing.

AMONG FASTEST GROWING – Killeen has been ranked in the top 100 fastest growing cities in the nation according to a recent study released by Wallet Hub. The study looked at 515 cities nationwide.

CARMAX – CarMax, a national used car dealership chain, will be opening a new dealership in Killeen early next year. The dealership currently has 190 stores nationwide in 41 states. The dealership’s new 7,480 square foot facility will be located along Central Texas Expressway in Killeen where Faith Point Church used to be located.

MORE APARTMENTS – The frontage area of Rosewood Drive and Interstate 14 will soon be the home to a new 216-unit three-story apartment complex. The community will include nine multi-family apartment buildings and a club house.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING – Many thanks for your trust and continued loyal business. We are ever mindful that you are the reason for our success. We salute those of you serving in the armed forces and for the sacrifices you are making. Our thoughts are with those of you that cannot be with your families or loved ones this holiday. We wish you all a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

David Gerke

Broker

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER 2018

“He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER 2018

  

INTEREST RATES – Interest rates continue to inch upwards. The fixed rate for a conventional thirty-year loan is currently 4.875%. The current VA fixed rate on a thirty-year loan is 4.375% and for FHA loans, the rate is now 4.625%. These rates are still relatively attractive, so now is still a good time to buy or refinance an existing loan.

BRIGADE REACTIVATED – After being inactivated in 2015 during the Army’s drawdown, the 166th Aviation Training Brigade was officially reactivated at Fort Hood this past June 1st as a result of congressional approved funding in the National Defense Authorization Act. The 166th “Archangels” Aviation Training Brigade is comprised of approximately 175 soldiers.

KILLEEN RANKED 21stOut of 234 medium sized cities evaluated by Military Times, Killeen was ranked 21st in Best for Vets: Places to Live 2019. Veteran and military culture, services, and livability factors were among several categories considered in the ranking. Education also factored in the placement, with Central Texas College ranking 3rd in the Best for Vets: Online and Non-traditional Schools category in 2018.

I-14 – Last year, twenty-five miles of Highway US 190 from Copperas Cove to Belton was added to the Interstate Highway System and became I-14, (AKA the “Forts to Ports” highway). Earlier this year, members of Congress from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi introduced legislation to expand I-14 across their three states, which would link six military installations, include spur routes to strategic military seaports at Beaumont and Corpus Christi, and extend into Mississippi, where it would tie into I-59. From El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico, I-14 will be of great importance to the military, the West Texas energy industry, create additional hurricane evacuation routes for the three gulf states, and generate an economic boon in its path.

RENTAL TRAFFIC – Demand for rental housing was solid last month. We leased twenty-four single family homes and twelve apartments in September and ended the month with 99% occupancy in all categories (houses & multi-family). We also renewed the one-year leases of twenty-four of our existing renters. Our on-line marketing continues to attract much attention on the more than one-hundred web sites where our properties can be viewed. Close to 1,000 prospective renters (990) registered on our web site in September.

David Gerke

Broker

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – SEPTEMBER 2018

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”  -Abraham Lincoln

 OWNERS NEWSLETTER – SEPTEMBER 2018  

NEW MULTI-FAMILY APARTMENTS – Thayer Point Apartments will be opening this fall in southwest Killeen. The 188-unit, upscale gated community, will feature one and two-bedroom apartments (650 and 966 square feet respectively). Located near the west end of Stan Schlueter Loop, the apartments will feature covered parking, a salt water pool, outdoor grill area with a pergola, fitness center, sand volleyball court, dog park, and many other amenities.

RENTAL TRAFFIC – An interesting phenomenon has been taking place over the past year or so, which we’ve recently started tracking. For the better part of the past thirty years, the majority of our renters (95% or more) have been active duty soldiers and their families. Presently, soldiers and their families make up approximately 40% of our renters. Of the thirty-two properties we rented last month, about 80% leased to non-military families. In spite of the demographic shift, the rental market remains relatively robust. We ended August with 98% of our single-family homes occupied, and with 99% occupancy in our multi-family.

INTERNATIONAL HOME SALES – Texas ranks 3rd for international home sales in the nation according to the Texas International Homebuyers Report released by the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Only Florida and California (respectively) had more international home sales between April 2017 and March 2018. Of the 266,800 homes purchased by international buyers during this time period, Texas accounted for 9% of those sales, with 24,012 international home sales.

HEATER CHECKS & SERVICING – It’s that time of year again. In a few weeks, we will begin our annual inspections and maintenance of furnaces for owners that requested this service. Having this service performed ensures that the heating units are operating safely and efficiently. With regard to gas furnaces, carbon monoxide poisoning cases always increase this time of the year due to faulty heating systems that run on natural gas, propane, etc. Carbon monoxide is a gas that is both invisible and odorless and can cause illness or even death. Often times, its symptoms are confused with flu or food poisoning. The inspection includes all aspects of the following: Air handler, switches/relay, fan, filter, thermostat, plenum, ducts, alarms, gas lines, valves, burners, pilots, etc. The cost of this service is $65.00 plus materials if a repair is required. Please contact our maintenance department at repairs@HunterRentals.com if you wish to have your system inspected and serviced.

David Gerke

Broker

Owners Newsletter – August 2018

“Success in business requires training and discipline and hard  work. But if you’re not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were.” –David Rockefeller

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – AUGUST 2018  

$350,000 – Number of jobs created in Texas in the past year, making Texas the top state for business in the nation according to a recent CNBC News article.

8,513 – Approximate number of Fort Hood soldiers deployed as of July 10, 2018, according to the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance.

500 – Approximate number of staff for the Army’s new Futures Command, a high-level headquarters that will be setting up shop in Austin and will be headed by a four-star general. Fifteen cities were being considered for the location, including Austin, Boston, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Raleigh. The new command will aid in countering the growing threats from countries such as China and Russia.

112 FAHRENHEIT – Record high temperature recorded last month on the 23rd. We also experienced a record number of consecutive days at 105 degrees or above in July, and a total of twenty days at 100 degrees or above. By comparison, we had ninety days of triple digit heat in 2011.

INTEREST RATES – Still inching up. The current fixed rate on a conventional loan is now 4.75%. The VA and FHA 30-year fixed is now 4.375%.

7,403 – The number of tax exempt properties in Bell County in 2018. This is ten times the number of properties that were free from taxation in 2009 when homestead property taxes were eliminated for 100% disabled veterans. In 2011, the tax exemption was extended to the spouses of 100% disabled veterans. In addition to buying homes, veterans also buy land, which as of this year, has exempted $1.27 billion in land from taxation in Bell County. In 2009, $87.3 million of land was tax exempt. Property taxes are what fuel the government and fund valuable services. The huge number of tax exempt properties is creating a financial crisis for cities surrounding Fort Hood. Killeen, for example, is expected to lose an estimated $4.76 million next year from tax exempt properties. Of the 7,403 tax exempt homesteads in Bell County, 4,297 are located in Killeen.

David Gerke

Broker

Owners Newsletter – July 2018

“When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content.” -Niccolo Machiavelli

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – JULY 2018                    

DROUGHT – Bell County is once again experiencing drought conditions, which current commissioner, Tim Brown, considers dire and severe. We are experiencing a significant rain deficit presently, and for the last week of June, daytime temperatures were one hundred degrees or higher. July and August are typically our hottest months of the year, so it’s likely that conditions will remain hot and dry. Many lawns, trees, and shrubs will suffer under such conditions and some may not recover from a prolonged drought. Slab foundations and underground plumbing are also at risk as our caliche soil contracts from dehydration. If the soil beneath a home becomes too dry and contracts, it can cause the home’s foundation to shift, and damage to walls and ceilings may result. Slab leaks are a common problem in our area since the plumbing lines for most homes are buried under the foundation. In many instances, foundation damage and plumbing leaks do not occur until after the soil rehydrates and expands. We are reminding our renters of the importance of watering their yards and keeping the soil moist around their home’s foundation. As of now, most municipalities have implemented voluntary water conservation measures, which contrary to popular belief amongst some renters does not translate into a watering prohibition.

HOUSEHOLD LIFE EXPECTANCY – One of the many challenges of managing rental property is performing the resolution of security deposits, determining the chargeability of damages, and assigning the appropriate charge for items deemed tenant chargeable. Everything has a life expectancy, and renters and owners are often at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the estimated cost and the life expectancy of household items. We have encountered some renters that believe a full interior painting and complete carpet replacement should occur every time a renter vacates, which for some residents is a very convenient belief if they badly damaged their walls and flooring in twelve short months. On the other hand, some property owners have been shocked upon hearing the news that their eighteen-year old vinyl flooring needs to be changed out or that their twenty-year old water heater has finally died. The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) provides a useful and reliable life expectancy chart for most household items. Here are some examples:

Interior paint – 5 to 10 years                  Garbage disposal – 10 years

Microwave ovens – 11 years                   Carpet – 8 To 11 years

Garage door opener – 10 years             Toilets – 50 years

Central air conditioners – 15 years     Water heater – 15 years

It is important to note that these are averages. The life expectancy of household items can be more or less depending on use, quality, environmental conditions, etc.

SOLDIERS BACK HOME – More than 1,900 soldiers with Fort Hood’s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, returned home earlier this month from their nine-month deployment in Europe. The soldiers deployed last October in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve. 

David Gerke

Broker

 

Owners Newsletter – May 2018

OWNERS NEWSLETTER – MAY 2018 

“Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need.”-Kahlil Gibran     

TROOP MOVEMENTS – The Army is considering converting its 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division (currently based at Fort Carson, CO) from an Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armored Brigade Combat Team. If this comes to fruition, both Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas, are in the running to be considered for the Armored Brigade Combat Team’s new home. If Fort Hood is selected, the brigade would add an additional 4,000 plus soldiers and their families to our area.

NEW BRIGADE COMING TO FT. HOOD – The Department of the Army recently announced that the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade will be stationed at Fort Hood. The brigade will add an additional 800 soldiers to the post’s present assigned strength of approximately 36,000 soldiers.

MOST PATRIOTIC – Killeen was just named the most patriotic city in Texas by Insurify, an on-line insurance shopping platform. Killeen was awarded this title for having the highest percentage of past and present military service members of any other community in Texas.

100th ANNIVERSARY – Fort Hood’s III Corps marked its 100th anniversary this month. The Corps was created on May 16, 1918, during World War I.

INTEREST RATES – Rates continue to inch higher. The current fixed interest rate on a thirty-year conventional loan is 4.75%. The current fixed interest rate on a thirty-year VA loan is 4.375%, and the current rate for a thirty-year FHA loan is 4.5%.

AREA SALES – According to information provided by the Real Estate Center at Texas A & M, Killeen, Copperas Cove, and Harker Heights had 269 combined home sales of listed properties last month and a combined inventory of listings of 692 residential properties. By city, Killeen had 162 sold listings in April, with an average sales price of $137,350 and a median sales price of $125,500. Harker Heights had 39 sold listings with an average sales price of $208,612 and a median sales price of $207,450. Copperas Cove had 68 sold listings with an average sales price of $129,338 and a median sales price of $130,450.

RENTAL TRAFFIC – Demand for rental housing remains high. We ended the month of April with 99% of our rental inventory occupied. We leased eighteen single-family homes last month and four apartments, and successfully renewed the leases of thirty existing renters. We are off to a good start to the summer!

David Gerke

Broker

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